Monroeville moves ahead, sort of, to appoint chief and manager

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Monroeville's new police chief was sworn in Tuesday night in a routine ceremony, and a new municipal manager was hired after hours of quarreling among residents and council.

More than two-thirds of the crowd packed into council chambers left the building after the ceremony for Chief Steven Pascarella.

Then, the meeting got back to being what has been the norm in Monroeville since the end of January: contentious.

Meetings have been tense in the wake of former manager Jeff Silka's resignation, the appointment of former municipal secretary Lynette McKinney as interim manager and the demotion of police Chief Doug Cole, which Ms. McKinney announced two days after she was appointed to the interim position.

Council voted 4-3 to appoint as manager Ms. McKinney, who has more than 20 years of experience in the municipality, including the two stints as interim manager. However, she has earned only an associate degree; past managers have been required to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree.

At a meeting Thursday, some residents questioned Ms. McKinney's qualifications and a plan for the municipality to pay for Ms. McKinney to earn a bachelor's degree. That provision was removed from the ordinance appointing Ms. McKinney as manager before the vote.

Ms. McKinney will earn a salary of $88,808.

Residents criticized council for being opaque and asked them to slow down with plans to hire Ms. McKinney as the permanent manager.

"You'll look so much better if you wait a minute, settle down ... and work together," resident Betsy Desmond said.

The four who voted to appoint Ms. McKinney -- Diane Allison, Lois Drumheller, Bernhard Erb and Clarence Ramsey -- have voted together consistently since Mr. Silka's resignation. The other three -- Steve Duncan, Nick Gresock and Jim Johns -- have voted together and accused the other four of pushing an agenda for the police department and manager's office.

Georgianne Woodhall told council Ms. McKinney has "exemplary knowledge" of how the municipality operates and encouraged them to vote to appoint her.

Mayor Greg Erosenko said he would review the ordinances passed Tuesday night but wouldn't comment on whether he would veto Ms. McKinney's appointment. When she was appointed interim manager, he vetoed her salary increase, saying it put the manager's office over budget. Ms. Drumheller said Ms. McKinney's appointment actually results in an $8,000 savings.

After the vote, Ms. McKinney implored council to "find a way to work together."

"I promise that I will work hard for you, and I will produce measurable results," she said.

The new chief, who will earn $119,350, listed two goals: for the force to be more proactive and less reactionary and to find "new and more creative ways to do business."

neigh_east

Annie Siebert: asiebert@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.


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