Council members vow smooth transition after unexpected change in leadership
Newly appointed City Council Member Adam Tabliski said a vote Monday night to change council leadership was something no other council member warned him was coming, and even Eugene Jankowski, who replaced Brooks Hawley as council president on a 5-4 vote, said he wasn't sure he would even be nominated for the position until it happened.
Jankowski said he doesn't believe the unexpected move signals a power shift toward a new council coalition with its own agenda.
Four of the five votes for Jankowski -- Jankowski, with new council members Paul Viele and Al McGinnis, and incumbent Kathy Briggs -- came from members observers have said want to replace Jason Molino as city manager.
Rose Mary Christian also supported Jankowski for council president.
After the meeting, Jankowski, Viele and McGinnis all denied they were part of any such movement and said they support Molino continuing as the city's top administrator.
"I can only speak for myself and I don't feel that way," Jankowski said. "I don't see that as an issue. I plan to carry on with the regular weekly meetings just like Councilman Hawley did and disseminate that information to council like it was done in the past and keep things public."
Ask if he anticipated a movement to change city managers, Viele said he didn't see that happening.
McGinnis said, "Not from me, there won't be."
Viele said his priorities are the mall issue, the deer issue and what to do with the police department.
McGinnis put the police issue at the top of his agenda, followed by the mall.
"I'm pro having a police department," McGinnis said. "I want to have a police department."
As one of the task force members who recommended the Swan Street location for the new police headquarters, he said he still favors constructing a new facility on that vacant lot.
Tabelski, selected by the City GOP to replace John Deleo, who was elected to the County Legislature, was confirmed as the new appointed by the City Council in a unanimous vote at the start of Monday's meeting.
There are a number of big issues facing the city, Tabelski noted. The council must dive right into a new budget; there's the law enforcement issue, the mall, the comprehensive plan and brownfield redevelopment.
"I'm eager to be part of the discussion," Tabelski said.
Given the sudden change in leadership, and despite the denials from other council members, Tabelski acknowledged some concern that there might be an effort among some on the council to change city managers.
"I have a concern that that might be a direction some would want to go in. That's not my direction," said Tabelski, whose experience includes a term as mayor in Medina. "I have a lot of confidence in the current manager and the very professional team he has assembled."
It would take five votes to replace the city manager.
Tabelski, like other council members, said he does believe that the 5-4 vote does not signal a potential inability for council members to work together. Jankowski said the council has a history of not always agreeing on their votes, but continuing to work together in a congenial manner.
"This is not a split on the council," Jankowski said. "There are new people on the council and they want to take it in a different direction and I think we're all going to work together, so I don't think it's a problem either way."
The City Council: Brooks Hawley, front row, left, Eugene Jankowski, Paul Viele; Kathy Briggs, back left, Patti Pacino, Al McGinnis, John Canale, Adam Tabelski and Rose Mary Christian.
It was time for a change.