Either state representative or police chief
by Jack McNeely
Jun 22, 2014 | 828 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jack McNeely
Jack McNeely
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The City of Jasper announced Tuesday that it will seek an opinion from State Attorney General Luther Strange on the legality of Jasper Police Chief Connie Rowe keeping her city job after stepping into her elected state job later this year.

Rowe defeated incumbent Bill Roberts in the recent Republican Primary Election for the District 13 seat in the State House of Representatives.

Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey said Tuesday that he would like for Rowe to stay on as chief of police. Rowe said she was flattered, but that she wants to make sure it’s legal under the state’s new “double-dipping” law as both jobs are financed by our tax dollars.

Rowe’s current annual salary as city police chief is $61,336.

State lawmakers receive an expense stipend of $4,174 per month, or $50,088 annually, with a cost-of-living increase each April 1. The salary of legislators is fixed by the Constitution at $10 per day while in session. In addition, they receive $150 per diem weekly while in session.

Meanwhile, Rowe’s comments Tuesday lead me to believe that a positive AG opinion may not keep her from appropriately resigning as head of Jasper’s police department.

“If it were to say that I could do both, I’d want to sit down and talk to the mayor and the council,” she said. “I love my job and serving the city of Jasper as police chief, but it is a full-time job and requires a great deal of concentration and focus.”

I agree with Mayor Posey that Rowe has done an outstanding job as police chief. She and the department have regained the public’s trust since taking over in July 2011 as the city’s first female police chief.

And there is no doubt in my mind that she will do a good job in Montgomery after being sworn in following the Nov. 3 General Election, in which she faces no Democrat opposition.

However, I do not believe anyone could juggle these respective taxpayer-funded responsibilities effectively.

Those who elected Rowe to represent District 13 in Montgomery and the district’s more than 40,000 constituents should expect her undivided attention while representing them. I do.

While I realize it may be difficult for the city to replace her, it’s the right thing to do. The city may find a strong candidate within the ranks of its police department just like it did last year when it named David Clark as its new fire chief.

If not, a nationwide search could cultivate a strong, disciplined law enforcement professional that would focus 100 percent of his or her time fighting crime here – not a bad alternative.

Jack McNeely is the publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be contacted by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at jack.mcneely@mountaineagle.com.