The appointment of a new high-ranking public relations officer within the San Diego Police Department is being delayed because of a complaint filed by an applicant who was disqualified.
On Thursday, four members of the city Civil Service Commission, meeting to rule on the grievance filed by Officer Linda Zweig, were unable to reach a decision on her complaint that she was unfairly rejected because of her academic background.
After several attempts to break a voting logjam, the commissioners reluctantly agreed to put the matter on hold until all five members could be present to consider the complaint at the panel's next meeting in December.
The chief cannot select an officer to fill the spot until the city Personnel Department certifies a list of those meeting the qualifications. And the Personnel Department cannot certify the list until the Zweig complaint is decided.
"If this thing goes on, that's OK," said police Cmdr. Keith Enerson. "We're still going to go on doing what we do, providing police service."
He noted that the department already has two other community relations assistants reporting to the chief's office and that the third position was being created to expand their role in projecting a positive image of the Police Department.
The announcement of the new position got off to a rocky start when it was reported that Chief Bill Kolender favored one candidate, Officer Matthew Weathersby. Kolender could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The other officers who applied for the post are Zweig, Rick Carlson, who works in the department's public information office, and Harry Eastus, assigned to the department's backgrounds investigations unit.
Michael Kemp, a Personnel Department supervisor, said his office had been prepared to certify only Weathersby and Carlson for consideration. He said Eastus and Zweig had been rejected because they did not meet various requirements.
Zweig was passed over because she had not yet earned 60 or more college credit units. She filed her complaint on Oct. 29, alleging that the academic requirements were vague.
Zweig conceded to the commission that she had earned only 57 units so far, but maintained that she had an educational level "equal to" 60 college credit units. She said she is currently enrolled in "work experience classes" at San Diego City College that will give her the additional units soon.
She also told the commission that the academic requirement did not specify a deadline on when the 60 units must be obtained.
Zweig said she is qualified for the job because she has worked in the public affairs unit for 18 months.
She said she thinks the news media overplayed reports that Kolender initially favored Weathersby for the job. "I think what he said about Matt Weathersby has been interpreted wrong," she said. "I think we all have a good chance."
Eastus could not be reached for comment Thursday.