The mysterious and previously undisclosed 29th member of Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett’s grandiose transition team was revealed last week to be none other than Joseph Bray – the one-time Aberdeen police officer and Municipal Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 128 president, who was recently terminated from both positions.
Despite his recent firing from the Aberdeen Police Department and forfeiture of his FOP presidency, Bray is expected to remain a member of the now 29-person transition team, so said team coordinator Art Helton.
Although there has been great speculation regarding why he was apparently on some sort of extended leave from APD, Bray’s firing came two weeks ago without an official reason for his dismissal.
“I can only confirm that he was terminated effective 12/06/07. I can’t comment on the reason for the termination,” APD Det./Sgt. Kirk Bane said.
Early last week, just days after Bray’s firing, it was acknowledged that Bray is and will continue to be a member of the mayor’s transition team.
Bennett was initially said to have picked a 30-member transition team, yet the official roster released on Nov. 27 included just 28 names. At the time, Helton – the architect of Bennett’s recent mayoral victory, who was put in control of the transition team by the new mayor – said he believed there were “a couple more names” to be added once Bennett had confirmed them. Helton later said he misspoke about additional members and that the team stood at 28 members.
Last week, Helton acknowledged he had erred and that Bray was indeed on the transition team and should have been listed on the roster from the beginning.
“His name should have been on the original list. He is on the infrastructure sub-committee,” Helton said.
When asked if Bray would be removed from the transition team following his termination from the APD, Helton said there is no reason to kick him off the team.
“I wouldn’t believe his position or questions about his APD status would interfere with any role he is serving on the transition team. I have not talked with the mayor about any changes to the transition team,” Helton said.
Perhaps anticipating further consternation from members of the APD and FOP, who are already in disbelief that former city police officer and failed city council candidate Rick Denu was put on the transition team, Helton pointed out Bray’s work on the volunteer advisory team involves infrastructure and not police issues.
“He is not at all involved in any information gathering for the Public Safety committee,” Helton said.
Elaborating on the growing discord within the city police department, Helton offered his own opinion.
“It seems to me one of the problems that was created in the APD was [former mayor] Fred [Simmons] making promises for their support in the campaign. Promises he most likely couldn’t or wouldn’t keep. That has created a level of expectation that will have to be dealt with,” Helton said.
Helton said he believes everyone understand the issues of the APD, including the Law Enforcement Officers’ Pension funding shortage, and that they need to be resolved, but reiterated that the entire purpose of the transition team is to “get a handle on the totality of the APD issues and the rest of the city’s problems.”
“There needs to be a comprehensive approach to the CITY’S PROBLEMS NOT JUST APD,” Helton wrote in an email.