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There is a new Pageant coming soon to Oklahoma this month, and I don’t mean “beauty pageant”.
November 2, 2015 marked an important turning point for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs. This was the day that OBN Director, Darrell Weaver, sent an email to the OBN agency staff members that he was effectively abandoning his leadership post in 2 weeks. In his early 50’s, Weaver is not anywhere close to the usual “retirement” age, although he and the agency are trying desperately to “paint” it that way. Retirements are planned. They do not come “unexpectedly” as this one did. What has been revealed from The Oklahoman article about this matter is that OBN commissioners held a meeting to evaluate Darrell Weaver’s performance. Following that meeting, Mr. Weaver tindered his ‘resignation’. From the sound of it, this seems to be suspiciously like a “firing”, but one in which the employee (Weaver) was given the opportunity to save face.
When asked for further “Details” about his decision to “retire”, Mr Weaver declined further comment through a spokesman. Again, this does not sound like some one who is acting on a voluntary basis. Rather, it sounds like someone who has lost the confidence of his bosses and has no results to demonstrate any effectiveness of his leadership. If this were not true, he would be getting a raise, and not shown the door to ‘retirement’.
What is clear is that the agency has been embroiled in a series of Public Relations disasters and missteps leading to skepticism and leading the public to question its fitness and sufficiency to be a credible force in Oklahoma’s War on Drug Abuse and Diversion. These embarrassments impact not only the agency itself, but the State of Oklahoma and its leadership. We are informed through the article that an Interim Director will be chosen on November 16.
Obviously, the OBN commissioners have an extremely important task at hand. Choosing an interim director who may become a permanent director, who can give the Bureau renewed credibility and competences in meeting its stated mission of making Oklahoma a “Drug Free State“, even more importantly with some semblance of “Honor, Integrity and Excellence“, very little of which has been shown since 2006.
The commission has the choice to appoint one of the senior members of this agency to become the new director or to appoint someone from outside. Because they are limited by the short notice of this resignation, they may have to appoint ‘internally’ ( ie from someone within the OBN agency.
Who could that person be?
The most highly-paid and senior law-enforcement officials within the OBN are:
Agent Cynthia Cunningham, Agent Robert L Cook, Special Agent Mel Woodrow, and Special Agent Mark D Stewart
Because of there seniority, we expect that they will be given a closer look for the leadership position. But hopefully, the OBN commissioners will consider the pitfalls and dangers of choosing one of these individuals. Namely, any corruption, collusion, mismanagement, ethical lapse, moral lapse, judgement failure that is associated with OBN likely came with their participation in some form, directly or indirectly. If there were problems at OBN leading to Darrell Weaver’s exit, the commissioners must know that he probably didn’t act alone. He didn’t act in a vacuum. While overdose death rates increased in the State of Oklahoma, the senior members of that agency were there watching it happen, perhaps, allowing it to happen, and apparently with no evidence that they acted to introduce ideas to control it. In my opinion, they had to be willing participants, who went with the flow. And the senior leadership is where those actions and faulty ideas were executed.
My question for the OBN commissioners is: Do you really want one of these people to now lead this agency, now that it has been weakened and compromised?
We will consider the special case of Agent Mark D Stewart in an upcoming post. Stay tuned.