Meriden’s City Council made the right move on Monday, voting to appoint Emily Holland, city attorney, as city manager while the search to find a permanent city manager is underway. It’s clearly the forward-thinking move, considering Police Chief Roberto Rosado was facing the overwhelming challenge of filling in.
Rosado had been acting city manager for about three weeks after City Manager Tim Coon resigned. Following a police incident outside his home, Coon was put on medical leave and will leave the position at the beginning of the new year. That will end a relationship tested severely since Coon’s arrest on a DUI charge in April. As part of the search to replace Guy Scaife as city manager, Fire Chief Ken Morgan had filled the role for 9 months, and it did not seem like a good idea for Rosado to follow suit. The city needs to take its time in the search for a city manager, and asking the police chief to take on dual responsibilities for an extended period of time was simply asking too much.
During the council meeting in which Holland was appointed, it was argued that Rosado should stay in the role. “Why fix it if it’s not broken?” asked Councilor Bob Williams, of the We the People party. And Kevin Scarpati, Meriden’s recently re-elected mayor, made the point that the shift in roles would present a challenge to the city’s legal department as well.
While these are fair-enough points, the concern that prevailed has at least kept the responsibilities from draining too harshly on important public safety roles. The leaders of the police and fire departments need to be drawn from those duties when troubles call for it, certainly, but it should be at least temporarily if at all.
Holland also made the point following the 8-2 council vote to appoint her that the law department staff could cover for her. And she offered the words you like to hear from someone about to take over in so essential a role: “I thoroughly enjoy working for the city of Meriden and am happy to fill the role to keep the city moving forward,” she said, in a prepared statement.
She’ll take on the role for 90 days. Scarpati said there’s room for evaluation and change if necessary. The search for a new city manager could mean a long process. The council vote has set up a good way of moving things forward.