Meriden’s City Council now faces important duties following the resignation of Tim Coon as city manager. The major task is to find a new city manager, something that could take many months. The secondary task, also important, is to decide on who should fill in as city manager while the search is underway. Finding a good fit for that interim position is important because the process of finding a new city manager is not something to be rushed.
By now city residents should be well familiar with the circumstances that led to this situation. Coon had stayed on as city manager following a DUI charge in April. City officials responded quickly to an incident at the beginning of November in which the city manager was found asleep outside his Pleasant Street residence. The “police incident” was cited when Coon was placed on leave, and the responsibilities of the city manager passed on to Police Chief Roberto Rosado. Days later, Coon’s resignation was accepted during a special meeting of the council.
As Record-Journal coverage has noted, it’s the second time in recent years that the council has faced removing a city manager and finding a replacement. After Guy Scaife was terminated from the position at the end of 2017, Fire Chief Ken Morgan took on the role of acting city manager. Morgan told the R-J recently that “... it was a little overwhelming. I didn’t realize what other departments were doing and there was a lot of moving parts. If you don’t have a good understanding of what other departments do, it can be challenging.”
Tradition now places the interim role in the hands of Rosado, but with potentially months ahead for the dual role it becomes an important question as to whether the police chief ought to be shouldered with so heavy an extra burden. The council is set to meet on Monday to discuss that very question.
It’s worth noting that the developments leading to this point took place just before Election Day. The task of finding a new city manager will fall to the new configuration of the council. That being said, the council making the decisions now has done an admirable job, responding quickly in taking on difficult decisions. Yet the most difficult are still ahead.
It’s not a comment on Rosado’s abilities to say the police chief is not the best choice to handle the dual role for any time longer than a few weeks. Rosado has a police department to run.
“No decisions have been made,” said council Majority Leader Sonya Jelks. “There are a lot of discussions up in the air.”
Finding an interim manager from outside the city, perhaps someone who has retired, would be a way to allow Rosado and Morgan to focus on two crucial departments that deal with public safety. You certainly want to avoid their taking on extra duties for an extended period of time. Morgan, it should be noted, was in the interim role for 9 months.
That’s way too long for the police chief. The council has some difficult decisions ahead. Monday is the opportunity to start making them and get the city moving forward.