Archive for Thursday, September 15, 2005

City council keeps ahold of police chief

September 15, 2005

The Baldwin City Council amended Police Chief Mike McKenna's contract during a special meeting Thursday at City Hall. The amended contract allows McKenna to live outside the city limits, among others.

It took three executive sessions to come to the agreement and the council voted 4-1 -- with Ted Brecheisen Jr. the lone no vote -- to amend the contract. The offer was made to counter one that McKenna had from Concordia. After the vote, McKenna said he's staying.

"I want to thank you for extending the offer for me to stay in Baldwin City," said McKenna. "Yes, I'm staying."

"I appreciate that," he said. "I appreciate the vote of confidence. If I'm not doing something that you want done, I want to know about it. I'd appreciate it if you'd come to my office and discuss it."

The offer also included a salary of $65,000, approximately a $3,000 raise. Council member Nancy Brown summed up the council's feeling on the vote.

"It's a salary adjustment to market value," said Brown.

McKenna made it clear that he had not gone looking for a job. The offer from Concordia was the result of the city administrator there, Larry Paine, who hired McKenna while he was Baldwin's city administrator.

"We know you have the job offer from Concordia," said Mayor Gary Walbridge. "Larry Paine has tried to make an offer you can't refuse."

Walbridge made that statement after the first of three executive sessions. Brecheisen then made the motion to amend the contract with other items, but not including the out-of-city-limits stipulation. It died for a lack of a second. Brown then made the motion to amend the contract, it was seconded by council member Amy Cleavinger and then came the 4-1 vote.

However, the amended contract did not address salary, so the council went back into executive session, then extended it again. On the third try, the offer was made and resulted in the same 4-1 vote. Although it was a raise, council member Tony Brown pointed out it did not limit the normal process.

"We do want it clear that this does not exclude you from merit review," said T. Brown.

McKenna has been Baldwin police chief since December of 2002. He had retired from the Wichita Police Department. Since he became chief, the Baldwin police department has undergone a complete turnover in personnel.

None of the officers remain from the department that went through turmoil beginning in 2001 which eventually resulted in the resignation of Chief Steve Butell. Lawsuits filed by four former police officers have been dismissed both in district court and at the appeals level.

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