Monroeville council accepted the resignation of Manager Jeffrey Silka on Wednesday night after issuing an ultimatum earlier this month: Remove police Chief Doug Cole, or we'll remove you, according to documents obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Mr. Silka wrote a letter to municipal solicitor Bruce Dice on Monday stating "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 held the job for just seven months, wrote in the letter that he met with three members of council Jan. 16 at the request of Councilwoman Lois Drumheller and was given the ultimatum.
"[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."
Mr. Silka added that "while council has the authority to vote to remove" him, he feels the council members' "actions and ultimatums" are in violation of the municipality's home rule charter. At Wednesday night's meeting, Mr. Dice would not comment on whether this was in violation of the charter and deferred related questions to a council member.
In a memo accompanying the letter, Mr. Silka wrote that Ms. Allison said "she believes that I am the right manager for Monroeville and we are doing good things" and that Councilman Bernhard Erb said Mr. Silka has "council's support and [is] doing a good job."
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 said in the letter that if he is given six months of severance pay and benefits and no challenge to the filing of unemployment benefits, he would "make no public comments as to the meeting and perceived charter violations, term the separation 'not a fit,' have no local political involvement and waive any right to legal action."
The council approved a $67,592 severance package for Mr. Silka on Wednesday night and appointed Lynette McKinney, the municipal secretary, to serve as interim manager with a salary of $86,808. Ms. McKinney held the interim manager position last year after former manager Tim Little resigned in January 2012.
Ms. Allison, Ms. Drumheller, Mr. Erb and Clarence Ramsey were the only council members present at Wednesday night's meeting. Steve Duncan, Nick Gresock and Jim Johns were absent.
Mr. Johns said he, Mr. Gresock and Mr. Duncan did not attend the meeting because they "didn't want to be a party of what [the other four council members] were doing."
Mr. Silka did not attend Wednesday's meeting and declined to comment by phone earlier this week.
Chief Cole termed the council members' plan "an internal political thing" and said he suspects some members aren't happy with how he handled an investigation involving another officer. He declined to go into further detail about that investigation.
In the memo to the solicitor, Mr. Silka wrote that Mr. Erb "stated that the chief has to be removed or we would have blood on our hands. He stated that natural laws supersede the charter."
Mr. Erb did not return calls seeking comment.
Ms. Allison called the documents obtained by the Post-Gazette "completely inaccurate" and said they should not have been distributed to a reporter because of attorney-client privilege. She would not comment further.
Mr. 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.
Mr. Johns, who provided the letter and the memo to the Post-Gazette, said he felt it was time to alert the public.
"It's enough of their shenanigans. They are totally out of control," he said, referring to Ms. Allison, Ms. Drumheller, Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Erb, who met with Mr. Silka later and separately from the other three council members.
Several community members spoke against the approval of the severance package at the special meeting Wednesday.
"Regardless of personal or political cabals and back-door dealings, it's a waste of taxpayer dollars in a time when not a penny can be wasted," Rich Lopiccolo said after the meeting. Mr. Lopiccolo is former deputy mayor of Monroeville and former Gateway school board president.