The vetting of the city’s deputy police chief was delayed Tuesday when a disagreement between a common councilor and the mayor resulted in an abrupt end to the meeting.
Middletown Republican Councilwoman Deborah Kleckowski, one of three members of personnel review subcommittee, says she received notice of the meeting packet between 3 and 3:30 p.m. Monday, just after the mayor announced his selection of Acting Police Capt. Michael Timbro in a press conference at the police department.
With a common council meeting that evening at 7, Kleckowski charged, there wasn’t adequate time to review Timbro’s qualifications before the personnel review committee meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. She said with something as important as the deputy chief position, PRC members should be allowed more notice.
At the meeting, Kleckowski said, Mayor Dan Drew, “stood up and was hurling comments. He was enraged.”
The mayor refuted her account. “I never stood up. I never shouted. It’s much ado about nothing.”
Drew said Kleckowski “failed to do her due diligence” by picking up the paperwork in time and reviewing it ahead of the PRC meeting. “That’s her responsibility,” Drew said. The deputy director of personnel, he said, emailed Kleckowski and called her with a reminder the packet was ready to pick up.
“She teaches class,” Drew said. “What would she say if she gave her students an assignment a day and a half in advance then they showed up in her class giving that excuse? As a professor in college, would she accept that excuse?”
Kleckowski wasn’t able to make the regular council meeting Monday because of other obligations.
Only two of the three PRC members, Kleckowski and chair Hope Kasper, made the meeting, which constituted a quorum. The third member, Mary Bartolotta, did not attend.
“This is about process,” Kleckowski said. “Had the past administration provided only 24 hours prior to a council meeting, the Democrats would have gone ballistic.”
In addition, Kleckowski said, how Timbro was chosen over the other candidate, Capt. Sean Moriarty, is information that taxpayers “deserve to know how — the interview process was done — [and] the union deserves to know more than three hours ahead of time.”
Kleckowski, Drew said, is on the council’s public safety subcommittee. “She works with [Acting Capt.] Timbro. She’s had a lot of interface with him in the last one and a quarter years. It’s not like he or his record is a total mystery.”
Her objection was not just about the vetting of the deputy police chief. It was also about changing the job description of a Council 4 AFSCME Local 466 sanitarian. “Christine Bourne, the union president, did not receive the job description change until 3 p.m. Tuesday,” Kleckowski said.
“She’s preventing the people’s business from getting done,” Drew said. “The police department needs to move forward.”
If he is unable to reschedule the PRC meeting ahead of the February common council meeting, Drew will propose a resolution to councilors about Timbro. “Then the full council can vet him right there.”
Council rules state, “the mayor may place a resolution on the agenda whether it has been through committee or not and shall have a member of the council’s name sponsor the resolution along with the mayor.”
PRC members will know by Friday through email if he is able to reschedule the PRC meeting, Drew said.