Fire and police commissioner calls Troup ‘manipulative’ and ‘somewhat threatening’ during process to hire new police chief

Steve Meckes

Steve Meckes

QUINCY — Steve Meckes, one of three members of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, said Quincy Mayor Mike Troup has been “manipulative” and “somewhat threatening” during the process to find a new chief of the Quincy Police Department.

Meckes expressed his concerns Monday afternoon, hours after a press conference Troup and two aldermen held Monday morning, and hours before the Quincy City Council meets Monday night. Troup is expected to ask aldermen to request that the commissioners extend a 12-month probationary appointment, an increase of six months, to Jonathan Lewin to become the chief of police.

Meckes, who will complete his ninth year as a commissioner in March, said Troup “ignored” a list submitted by the commissioners about which people should be invited to be in the stakeholder group to interview the final three candidates during the selection process for the new chief.

He said the commissioners invited the people in the stakeholder group when a new fire chief was selected last summer. Troup picked the members of the group for police chief interviews.

“He ignored virtually every suggestion that we made about who the stakeholder groups should be. He was very forceful in terms of who he wanted,” Meckes said. “It ended up including two aldermen who supported his desire to remove the condition (of having the commissioners handle) the selection of fire and police chiefs. It also included only businesspeople (as at-large selections) and did not represent the wide range of people from the community who might have some interest in who the police chief is.”

Meckes: Troup threatened not to participate if certain people were in stakeholder group

Troup proposed during the Oct. 4 City Council meeting an eight-step process to hire police and fire chiefs. His plan called for the commissioners to review the candidates. A search committee of the mayor, two aldermen, a commissioner and an at-large member of the community would do the final interviews and select the candidate.

Troup then proposed to table the ordinance, but aldermen defeated the motion 8-6. Mike Rein (R-5) and Jack Holtschlag (D-7), both members of the stakeholders group, supported Troup’s motion during the Oct. 4 meeting. They also joined Troup at Monday’s press conference, urging the council to step in to the negotiations.

The two other members of the stakeholders group were Angela Caldwell, director of workforce development for the Great River Economic Development Foundation, and Julie Bonansinga, president of Bonansinga & Associates, LLC, Inter-Connect Employment Services LLC and Industrial Workforce Ltd.

Meckes said a list of preferred candidates given to Troup included former judges and attorneys, as well as the directors of local social services agencies who Meckes believed would provide a perspective about what to expect of a police chief.

“(Troup) has tended to, in my opinion, be manipulative of the process and somewhat threatening as to how the thing was going to go, even to the point that he said he wouldn’t participate (in the interview process) if certain people were in the stakeholder group,” Meckes said.

He did not want to publicly name the people who Troup wanted to boycott from the list. He also did not want to reveal the people on the list provided by commissioners.

‘Don’t you think (Troup) would call us if there were issues?’

Troup said during Monday’s press conference he didn’t know the process for how Lewin was selected as the top choice.

“I don’t know how (the commissioners) calculated it, but I learned (the morning of May 2) that Jonathan Lewin had the (best) score,” he said. “(The stakeholders group) didn’t do anything but interview the candidates and make our selection. We didn’t know exactly how the formula was going to work in that process.”

Meckes said Troup’s claim is not true.

“(The commissioners) participated in a conference call, along with Troup, that explained the scoring process,” he said. “We went through the scoring in great detail. He gave indication that he understood how that process was going to work.”

Troup said during the Monday morning press conference that the six-month appointment is a sticking point with Lewin.

“Jonathan says this is a good opportunity, but he believes he is getting mixed signals as to, ‘Do the commissioners really want me? Are they looking for reasons to find something that kicks me out of the process?’ ” Troup said.

Meckes said Troup told the commissioners in an email last week to stay out of the contract negotiations. Commissioner Barry Cheyne said Monday morning that he hasn’t talked to Lewin since last Tuesday.

“(Troup) said, ‘It’s not your responsibility,’ ” Meckes said. “So, we’ve stayed out of it.

“Don’t you think (Troup) would call us if there were issues? It’s just amazing. Why wouldn’t (Troup) pick up the phone, get Barry and Lewin on the line and work it out? Any new manager fresh out of college would do that first before going to the boss (the City Council) to complain. The boss in a similar situation would tell the manager to go work out his problem.”

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