The employment and management consulting firm the Newton City Council authorized the City Administrator to hire to conduct an investigation into the "no confidence" vote taken by Newton firefighters against the department's chief withdrew its offer of services today.
City Administrator Bob Knabel said that the council had authorized his hiring of Clive-based Two Solutions, LLC to look into workplace complaints brought earlier this month by the 14-voting members of Newton Firefighters Local 1457 against Newton Fire Chief Jerrod Wellik.
Knabel said that he received word this morning from one of the partners in the firm that the other partner's father was terminally ill and that they would be unable to provide timely service to the city in the matter. Knabel said Two Solutions withdrew its service offer this afternoon.
"We do plan to move forward with the investigation, but not as expeditiously as we had hoped," Knabel said of the firm's decision to withdraw.
On New Year's Day, Newton firefighters took a no confidence vote on Chief Wellik claiming he has "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."
City officials, in a release issued Friday, acknowledged receipt of the firefighters' no confidence vote and said an independent investigation by a third party would be conducted with the findings reported to Knabel and/or Mayor Mike Hansen.
The administration, however, stood behind Chief Wellik's job performance.
"The statements contained in the letter in no way reflect the way the Administrator and Mayor have viewed the Chief's conduct or performance," Friday's release stated. "It has been our perception that he has performed at a very high level."
It is uncertain when another firm might be hired to conduct the investigation.