Council backs off fire chief

Published 7:30 am Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Talk over the new fire chief’s start date — July 12 — turned into a heated council exchange Monday night that delved into some lingering issues.

On the top of that list is just how involved council should be with Michael “Mickey” Healey as he starts his new job.

Councilwoman Marian Clennon said during Monday night’s meeting that she’d like to see council meet with Healey before he starts to go over expectations.

However, several other council members disagreed, saying that doing so would contradict a report filed by Minneapolis attorney Margaret Skelton in the wake of an investigation into former chief Dan Wilson, which stated that council too often undermined the chief’s authority and needed to let the person in charge be more autonomous.

Councilman Steve King said he wanted council to be very careful to give Healey room.

“City Council is really here to govern,” he said. “Not to run day-to-day (operations).”

Clennon said she wasn’t suggesting that council run the fire department day-to-day, but rather that they simply meet with Healey and go over some guidelines.

What transpired was a compromise of sorts — council will not go over specific expectations with Healey before he starts, but they will get a status update after he’s on the job for six months.

“He’s got to know he’s in charge,” Mayor Tom Stiehm said.

Council extended a job offer to Healey on June 7.