Newton city officials said late this afternoon that they will conduct an independent investigation into the vote of no confidence brought by Newton firefighters against the department's chief, Jerrod Wellik.
Last Friday, members of the Newton Association of Professional Firefighters notified Chief Wellik, council members and City Administrator Bob Knabel of the no confidence vote taken by its 14-voting members on Jan. 1.
"You have fostered a work environment which continues to be contentious, demoralizing and displays a lack of leadership, lack of communication, dishonesty and has lost the trust of the members of the Local 1457," the letter to Chief Wellik, provided to the Newton Independent following an open record request this afternoon, states. "We feel that this is the onlyu course of action that we have to pursue our concerns in these areas and others."
Contacted this morning, Local 1457 President Tom Richmond would not espouse on the specifics of the firefighters' complaints other than to say its 14 members stood "united" in their non-support of the chief.
Richmond said this morning that city officials had acknowledged receipt of the no confidence vote against the fire chief though uncertainty existed as to the next steps in the process.
City officials made clear the next steps in the process, and their continued support for Chief Wellik, in comments provided in connection with the Newton Independent's open record request earlier this afternoon.
"We are in receipt of the letter stating the Union has taken and passed a "Vote of No Confidence" in the Fire Chief," Newton Mayor Mike Hansen said in comments regarding the open record request. "The statements contained in the letter in no way reflect the way the Administrator and Mayor have viewed the Chief's conduct or peformance. It has been our perception that he has performed at a very high level."
Despite the administration's backing, Hansen said an independent investigation will be conducted, though no time frame or who might conduct the investigation is mentioned.
"[T]he City takes these types of actions and the allegations contained in the letter very seriously," Hansen goes on to state. "We have been in consultation with our labor attorney and we will commence an independent investigation into the allegations. The investigation will be conducted by an independent third party who will report the findings to the Administrator and/or Mayor."
You can download the documents provided by the City late this afternoon below.