Rhinelander Mayor Chris Frederickson broke a tied vote from the city council and long-time Police and Fire Commission leader Todd McEldowney will remain on the commission.
After Frederickson nominated McEldowney for another term on the commission, some long-festering issues from the time of hiring the new police chief came into the open.
The Commission hired David Funkhouser of Kiel to lead the department. Two local candidates, interim Chief, Captain Ron Lueneburg and Sheriff's Captain Lloyd Gauthier were bypassed. When Funkhouser withdrew, the Commission selected Gauthier as the new chief. The process left a scism between the council and the independent commission.
Council President George Kirby..
"How did the commission show any consideration or respect for Ron or Lloyd once the application process was closed? When your choice was established and then reniged, because another candidate was deemed better choice for the city?"
Council member Dawn Rog questioned why McEldowney allowed one member, Pete Tenderholt, to remain on the commission even though he had moved out of the city. City ordinances require commission members to be city residents...
"They went through the whole 5-6 months of looking for a new police chief and we had an individual who was not a resident of the city of Rhinelander, refused to resign, and the chairperson refused to ask him to resign..."
Other council members joined Kirby in opposing McEldowney's reappointment, saying media reports from the commission cast an unfavorable view of the council.
McEldowney has served on the commission for 37 years and many years as chair. He defended his record...
"As legal representative of the Police and Fire Commission, not once has there been a question raised or an issue about whether we utilized the proper procedure. And I guarantee you here today that we utilized our statutory procedure and discretion in trying to make the best decision we could for our new chief of police...."
Two other current commission members asked that McEldowney be retained. The council split 4-4 on McEldowney's appointment, with Mayor Chris Frederickson casting the deciding vote to keep McEldowney on the commission.