BAKER — Ignoring the advice of the state legislative auditor, the Baker City Council on Tuesday refused to consider removing from a surplus weapons list a gun that had been issued to then-Mayor Harold Rideau — a weapon sold after he left office at below fair market value and later given to him by the purchaser.
Councilman Pete Heine made a motion to remove Rideau’s gun from the list of surplus weapons allowed to be sold to certain retired city employees. The list includes guns used by retired Police Chief Mike Knaps and retired police officers Darryl Rainwater, Randall Dunaway and Glenn Daniels.
The motion died for lack of a second.
Only Rideau’s weapon would have been removed from the list, which the council approved last year to declare the weapons surplus and authorize their sale.
When Rideau left office in July 2016, the Fraternal Order of Police bought the weapon he used during his time in office and gave it to him.
Under state law, however, only police officers retiring with 20 years of service or more are allowed to leave office with a weapon, city attorney Ken Fabre said Tuesday.
Though Rideau served as mayor for 12 years, he was never a police officer.
The city sent a letter to the Fraternal Order of Police asking the organization to retrieve the weapon from Rideau and return it to the city as requested by the state legislative auditor, Fabre said.
Among the findings of an audit conducted for the city by Melvin Davis and forwarded to the Legislative Auditor's Office were issues regarding the sale of weapons to retired police officers and the mayor. The Auditor's Office advised the city to remove Rideau's weapon from the surplus list.
Davis said the city sold some of the weapons, including the ones used by Knaps and Rideau, to the Fraternal Order of Police below their fair market value, violating state law.
The Fraternal Order of Police then gave the weapons to the officers and Rideau.
“You could make the argument that (Rideau) was a chief executive officer (and thus in a sense a police officer),” Heine said.
“That argument has been made, but if the (legislative) auditor asks you to fix something, you fix it," Fabre said. "I don’t think Harold Rideau has a problem with keeping the weapon; for all I know, he’s already returned it to the FOP. We’re just trying to clean up the ordinance (setting up the list). We can’t repeal it because of the the other weapons on the list.”
The city also sent letters to the Fraternal Order of Police, as required by the legislative auditor, regarding the other weapons, saying they were purchased below fair market value, Mayor Darnell Waites said.
No change to the city’s ordinance was necessary in those instances, because declaring those weapons surplus and eligible to be purchased by the officers did not violate state law, Waites explained.
“I take offense that people say this is some kind of vendetta (against Rideau),” Waites said.
Councilwoman Glenda Bryant declined to comment on her decision not to second Heine’s motion, only saying that the issue is complicated.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” councilwoman Doris Alexander said about the motion. “Rideau served six years in office without taking a raise. No way am I going to take a $250 gun away from him.”