A bloc of Monroeville council members has given the municipal manager an ultimatum: remove police Chief Doug Cole, or we'll remove you, according to documents obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Manager Jeffrey Silka wrote a letter to municipal solicitor Bruce Dice on Monday stating that "it has become apparent over the course of two different meetings with members of the council ... that an ordinance will be published to remove me from the position of municipal manager."
Mr. Silka, who has held the job for just seven months, wrote in the letter that he met with three members of council at the request of Councilwoman Lois Drumheller and was given an ultimatum to "remove" police Chief Doug Cole or Mr.Silka would lose his job.
"[Councilwoman Diane Allison] at that meeting voiced that the majority of council has no confidence in Chief Cole and I need to remove him," he wrote. "She then gave the ultimatum that if I did not remove him, I would be removed. She made me repeat this statement to make certain that I understood what she stated."
He concluded the letter by saying he "would like to provide the opportunity to leave the position of municipal manager in a passive manner and not provide any public responses to the termination."
Mr. Silka has declined to comment, and Mr. Dice and Chief Cole have not returned calls seeking comment.
Ms. Allison called the documents obtained by the Post-Gazette "completely inaccurate" and said it should not have been distributed to a reporter because of attorney-client privilege. She would not comment further.
Clarence Ramsey, one of the council members with whom Mr. Silka met, said their intention was not to fire the police chief but to demote him to assistant chief. He declined further comment this afternoon.
Councilman Jim Johns, who released the letter to the Post-Gazette, said he felt it was time to alert the public.
"It's enough," he said. "It's enough of their shenanigans. They are totally out of control," he said, referring to Ms. Allison, Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Drumheller and Bernhard Erb, who met with Mr. Silka separately from the other council members Saturday.
Mr. Silka wrote that during the meeting with Mr. Erb, "the same conversation on Chief Cole was basically reinstated."
Mayor Gregory Erosenko agreed with Mr. Johns' sentiment.
"In my opinion, it's public knowledge now, and I think it needs to be exposed," Mr. Erosenko said.
Mr. Erb has not returned calls seeking comment, and Ms. Drumheller said the documents obtained by the Post-Gazette are "not representative of conversations that have taken place." She said the matter will be discussed in executive session at 7 tonight.
Annie Siebert: 412-263-1613, firstname.lastname@example.org or @AnnieSiebert.