Alderman-at-large Larry Eggert blasted what he believes is the unprofessionalism of the police chief search and the transition period arguments between Acting Mayor David Wohleben, a Republican, and mayor-elect Michelle Roman, a Democrat.
“Quite frankly, it’s been a problem,” Eggert said during Wednesday night’s meeting.
In regards to the effort to find a successor to recently retired Police Chief Michael Niethe, Eggert said he believes the police board has not shown the candidates the proper amount of professionalism they deserve. The police board was poised to pick a successor on Monday but delayed the selection because one of the commissioners was not present.
He said the police board failed to inform the four candidates they interviewed that they did not pick a candidate on Monday.
“I talked to two of the candidates and the only reason they knew that they weren’t going to be selected was because they read it in the newspaper,” Eggert said. “We had some qualified candidates and I think it’s unfair to them from a professional perspective not to give them the courtesy.”
The other issue Eggert touched on was the transition arguing between Wohleben and Roman. He said the time for “politicking” is over and now it is the time for governing.
“During the transition period, there has been several problems on both sides,” Eggert said.
Roman came to the Common Council meeting on Nov. 7, the night after her election, and criticized the proposed 2019 budget. During that meeting, she criticized proposed raises for the department heads, suggested the city use more fund balance to pay off debt and asked why the Common Council had appointed seven members to the youth board, rather than waiting until next year when she is in office.
“I come from police work and in police work we’re all about what’s best for the community, without regard for politics or anything,” Eggert, a former police chief, said.
He also criticized Wohleben for canceling a transition meeting with Roman. She had requested a meeting with Wohleben and her transition team, and he denied the possibility of her transition team being at the meeting.
“I understood our scheduled meeting to be a ‘one-on-one conversation’ between the two of us to discuss city business. I did not realize that you wanted members of a transition team (some of whom are not employed or elected to the City of Lockport government) present at the meeting,” Wohleben wrote.
“Why you can’t sit down in the office ... and walk through what’s important so we don’t lose things in the transition?” Eggert asked.