Monroeville's newly appointed interim manager, Lynette McKinney, said Thursday that her No. 1 concern in her new role will be public safety, citing a need to replace a group of officers who will soon be retiring. She also said the police department's leadership "needs to be looked at."
A majority of council members accepted the resignation of manager Jeffrey Silka Wednesday night. Earlier last month, a bloc of council members gave Mr. Silka an ultimatum to remove police Chief Doug Cole or lose his job as manager, according to a letter sent from Mr. Silka to municipal solicitor Bruce Dice.
Chief Cole on Thursday said he will continue his responsibilities as chief.
"Obviously, I don't think I've done [anything wrong] and this is a political thing," he said. He said his goals are similar to Ms. McKinney's; he hopes to hire at least six officers in the coming months. He added that some officers may be promoted because some supervisory officers are retiring.
Ms. McKinney said she has not received any direction from council members to fire or demote the police chief but said that all hirings and firings are handled by the manager, so a termination or demotion of the chief would be her responsibility.
She said that the police department's leadership is something that "needs to be looked at."
"I will give the issue serious deliberation," she said. "I need to take into consideration that the majority of council has a lack of confidence in our chief."
Chief Cole, who has been with the department for nearly three decades and has served as chief for three years, said he "understands the political nature of the police chief."
"But the priority for me is to serve the residents, make the community as safe as possible and manage the department," he said.
Four council members -- Diane Allison, Lois Drumheller, Bernhard Erb and Clarence Ramsey -- approved a $67,592 severance package for Mr. Silka Wednesday night and appointed Ms. McKinney to the interim manager post, which comes with a salary of $86,808.
Steve Duncan, Nick Gresock and Jim Johns were absent from the meeting. Mr. Johns said the three did not attend because they "didn't want to be a party of what [the other four council members] were doing."
Mayor Greg Erosenko questioned Ms. McKinney's qualifications and said that the job description for the manager post states that a bachelor's degree is required and a master's degree is preferred. The municipality's home rule charter states only that the manager "shall be appointed solely on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications and ... have at least three years' experience in governmental administration."
Ms. McKinney said she holds an associate degree from the Community College of Allegheny County's Boyce campus. She has worked for the municipality for 24 years, serving as a secretary in the manager's office for the past 20 years.
Mr. Erb said Ms. McKinney "did a very good job" when she held the position of interim manager before, after former manager Tim Little resigned in January 2012.
Annie Siebert: email@example.com or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.