Ed Harness's bitter and weird resignation
By Dennis Domrzalski
Video by Charles Arasim
Ed Harness resigned Thursday night as the executive director of Albuquerque’s Civilian Police Oversight Agency. That’s no big deal. But the way he quit probably ensures that he will never get another job again.
Harness, in an on-line, televised public meeting, basically accused the Police Oversight Board members—the people who are his bosses—of being ignorant slobs who didn’t recognize or appreciate his genius. Harness could be right on that point, but in today’s internet and social media world, his ninety-second tirade will live forever. And anyone looking to hire him will undoubtedly do an internet search of his name, and the two-and-a-half-minute video of Ed looking angry, bitter and hurt will pop up.
Harness told the board members that the CPOA had become a “shining star” under his six-years as executive director. He then made it seem like he was entitled to the job by saying that he had asked to be reappointed to the job and added, “despite my request that I be reappointed as executive director, you decided to deny my request and open my position to applicants.”
Ed, you’re not entitled to the job. The job isn’t yours for life. You don’t own it.
For Harness to be angry that the POB was looking at other applicants is the height of hypocrisy. Just two years ago, in November of 2019, Harness was looking for a job as the director of the civilian police oversight agency in Fort Worth, Texas.
And Harness’s tenure here hasn’t been without controversy. He spied on board members by checking their emails, and one board member accused him of being insubordinate.
Here’s the transcript of Ed’s remarks to the POB:
“Tomorrow (Oct. 15) is my six-year anniversary with the CPOA. Since my appointment I’ve had 29 different bosses. Under my watch the CPOA has been restored to its rightful position as a meaningful oversight body. We have been a shining star, according to the DOJ and the monitor. Yet, despite my request that I be reappointed as the executive director, you decided to deny my request and open my position to applicants. You reached this conclusion without speaking with or consulting with any of the stakeholders in the community and in the CASA (Court Approved Settlement Agreement), without consulting with the DOJ, without consulting with the City Council, without consulting with the monitor or any member of the monitoring team. But most shameful is the fact that you didn’t even have enough respect to speak with any member of the CPOA staff, the people that do all of the work to support your efforts. This decision has permanently damaged the relationship between the agency and the board. Additionally, you will set back the organization in its ability to maintain compliance with the CASA. Because being the executive director of the CPOA is not a plug-and-play position. Please remove my application from consideration for the position. Effective November 15th, I am terminating my employment with the city. That is my report.”
In what had to be an infuriating moment for Harness, POB Chair Eric Olivas asked board members if they had any questions or comments regarding Harness's resignation. There were five seconds of silence, meaning no one had any questions or comments, and Olivas thanked Harness for his service and wished him luck.
"It comes as a shock to all of us, I imagine, but we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors and thank you for this information tonight," Olivas said.
It was basically a "Don't let the door hit you in the ass" moment.
Who knows why the POB started looking for a new executive director. It could be pure politics in that someone in city government wants a friend, uncle, cousin, niece, aunt, mother, grandmother, wife, sister, brother, son, daughter, mistress, paramour, campaign manager or dog to have the job. It's not right, but that's how things work. Maybe the board actually thought that Harness wasn't doing a good job. Whatever the reason, the board has the right to hire and fire its executive director, Harness is not entitled to the job for life.
Now, the video will follow Harness wherever he tries to get a job, and no matter how much he tries to explain that he was gravely wronged, no one will want to hear it. No one in government wants someone who throws public tantrums. That's not right either. We should appreciate and approve of people speaking their minds and giving their version of the truth. Keeping silent is cowardly. And, being told that you and your talents and skills are no longer wanted is a devastating blow to almost everyone, and I can see why Ed was so hurt.
So, good luck, Ed. You'll need it.