Monroeville manager suspended by council, could be fired in January
By Kyle Lawson
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Monroeville officials will determine in January whether they should fire municipal Manager Lynette McKinney, who was suspended with pay last week by council.
Three of the four council members who attended the special meeting — Jim Johns, Steve Duncan and Nick Gresock — voted in favor of the suspension. Councilman Bernhard Erb, who voted in January to promote McKinney from secretary, abstained. Council members Diane Allison, Lois Drumheller and Clarence Ramsey, who also voted to promote McKinney, did not attend.
“We're trying to stop the bleeding,” Johns said after the Nov. 26 meeting. “After what happened tonight, maybe Monroeville can get some sanity for the police department and all employees.”
McKinney did not return phone calls or emails.
Per the advice of a municipal attorney, Johns last week ordered two police officers to escort McKinney out of council chambers.
McKinney made personnel decisions this year — including the demotion and eventual firing of former police Chief Doug Cole — that were criticized by some officials and residents.
“I don't think she was qualified,” resident Ralph Greco said after the special meeting last week. “I think she was doing a bad job.”
Johns said publicly at a meeting earlier this year that he would do everything in his power as a councilman to have McKinney “escorted out of this building and off the property.”
Ramsey defended McKinney, citing the results of a recent audit by the state attorney general's office.
When McKinney removed former police chief Doug Cole from the position “without cause” in February, it was amid an audit of the 911 dispatch computer system by the Attorney General's office.
The audit has since determined that Monroeville emergency responders outside of the police department accessed 911 police records that included criminal history information that could have caused harm to police officers or residents.
Ramsey said it proves McKinney was correct in the personnel moves she made and that he would continue to support her.
“We weren't crazy,” he said. “We weren't lying.”
Erb said McKinney was a productive manager up until the last few weeks, when she made one or more personnel moves he disagreed with. He would not be more specific.
“There's been some disregard for council that I never stood for, now or before,” Erb said.
Monroeville administrator Joe Sedlak was appointed interim manager. Johns said he would have the position for about two months while candidates are interviewed.
Sedlak has experience in multiple municipal departments, including risk management, open records and the senior citizens center. He was told the day of the special meeting that his newest venture would be as municipal manager, he said.
“Anything that has been asked of me to do, I've done it,” Sedlack said Monday. “What I've told the other employees is, ‘We all need to pull together and work as a team until a new manager is named.' ”
McKinney's supporters on council argued that McKinney was doing a fine job as manager, citing a balanced proposed budget for 2014 that kept municipal services such as the dispatch center and library in tact without a tax increase. The proposed budget also included the consolidation of the senior citizen center with the parks and recreation department, which some senior citizens argued against.
Some council members argued in October against a proposed, long-term contract with the police department that was spearheaded by McKinney.
Duncan, Gresock and Johns said the contract was placed on the meeting agenda for a vote before they had a chance to discuss it with all of council.
But Allison said the contract was a good deal for taxpayers. Other than a cost-of-living increase, the deal would have kept salaries the same over the next four years, she said.
Gresock said he would have liked to discuss a lower cost structure for new police officers who would be hired, while maintaining the pay structure for current officers. The contract would have been approved more than a year before the current contract would expire, but Mayor Greg Erosenko vetoed the deal.
Four newly-elected council members who all have spoken out against McKinney's promotion to manager are slated to vote Jan. 6 on her possible termination, along with Gresock, Duncan and Johns.
Removing McKinney as manager is “what the people asked us to do when we were campaigning,” councilman-elect Tom Wilson said.
“The people were speaking loudly.”
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or email@example.com.
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