The Pendleton Town Council violated the public's trust by reappointing Marc Farrer as police chief at an Aug. 8 public meeting.
The police chief's position wasn't on the agenda, but during the public comment period at the end of the three-hour meeting, council member Shane Davis made the motion for Farrer to be reinstated.
Vice President Robert Jones urged fellow council members to table the motion, saying it was unfair to the town's 4,000 residents who weren't aware that such a vote was to be taken in the meeting.
Jones was absolutely right. But the council, spurred by a large pro-Farrer audience, voted anyway.
By a 3-2 margin, Farrer was reinstated as Pendleton police chief.
That's the same council margin that approved his demotion in January after insensitive social media posts made by Farrer surfaced. In one 2018 post, he shared a meme depicting a tree sapling under the label "Islam" being watered by a man with a hangman's noose around his neck under the label "liberals."
Some of Farrer's other Facebook posts conveyed bigotry and disrespect for various groups – transgender people, Native Americans, the Black Lives Matter movement and Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Will, a Muslim who wears a hijab.
The swing vote that gave Farrer the edge he needed for reinstatement came from Davis, who was appointed to town council in April by the Republican Party to replace Chad Wolfe, who had moved out of Pendleton.
Wolfe had voted in January to demote Farrer; Davis voted Aug. 8 to reinstate the chief.
Jones and Chet Babb voted with Davis, while council President Jessica Smith and member Jessica Bastin voted against Farrer's reinstatement.
Council made a mistake by taking a vote without the police chief's position on the agenda, opening itself up to criticism for lack of transparency and failure to follow what should be standard procedure.
The council majority also exposed the town to renewed scrutiny for having a police chief whose social media posts reflect a personal religious and racial bias, as well as a basic lack of good judgment.