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Published: Thursday, 2/26/2004

Perrysburg: Process, not chief, has critics

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Selection of a new police chief in the city of Perrysburg is causing some concerns - not over who was selected, but how.

Because of the concerns, council s personnel committee will take a look at the appointment process, said Maria Ermie, committee chairman.

The process, she said, upsets a lot of people, in part because Mayor Jody Holbrook, who has the responsibility for appointing a new chief, didn t interview applicants for the position.

About 30 applications were received last fall after the retirement of Chief Nelson Evans. Among those who applied were Lt. Richard Gilts and Detective Sgt. Dan Paez of the city s police division.

By unanimous vote last week council approved the mayor s appointment of Lieutenant Gilts as chief. He was acting chief for four months.

The vote occurred after a closed-door executive session to discuss personnel matters.

“It is important for people to understand that the mayor is responsible for appointing the new chief, and council is responsible for either approving or rejecting that appointment,” Councilman Ermie said. “We didn t have any problems with the person” who was appointed, but “we had a problem with the process.”

Detective Sergeant Paez said he was disappointed that Mayor Holbrook didn t conduct an interview with him. He said when he applied, he expected he would be interviewed but “that did not occur.”

Mayor Holbrook did not respond to repeated attempts to reach him for comment.

Kim Klewer, a former council member, said that previous councils used a committee process that involved all candidates in the selection process. That process, he said, involved interviews of some of the candidates and then a short list was sent to the mayor who did follow-up interviews.

“Apparently this process no longer is being used. My feeling is that hopefully council would reenact this process,” he said.

But Mrs. Ermie said that it is up to the mayor, not council, to decide the format for the selection process.

Council does not have authority to tell the mayor how to pick or choose the chief, she said.

“We could have chosen to reject the appointment, but we did not have an issue with the candidate. The personnel committee made sure that the mayor had been urged to interview” Detective Sergeant Paez,” Mrs. Ermie said.

David Creps, city clerk-finance director, said the mayor recommends the candidates, and council has the authority to approve or disapprove. “As far as I know there are no specifics on how to designate” the candidates, he said. “It is up to the mayor.”

Councilman Liz Larson-Shidler said she requested an audience with the mayor about the hiring process, but he was unable to meet with her because of his impending vacation.

“My concerns are that this method is rather amateurish. While Rick is certainly my choice for chief, so much of the process was wrong it diminishes his appointment,” she said, adding that she questions why the city advertised for candidates “when we had no intention of moving forward with the process.”

That wasted money and the good will of potential candidates, she said.



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