"If anything stinks about this process, the stink is coming from the majority caucus," the mayor said at a hastily called press conference Friday afternoon. "And it's not a stink. It's a stench. Two council members have compromised the process by meeting with a candidate."
Giuliano accused Council members Hope Kasper and majority leader Thomas Serra of meeting with candidate Michael Custer before the mayor announced his decision.
Giuliano said that Kasper met with Custer prior to the interviewing of candidates by the first of two citizen panels the mayor appointed. Giuliano said that Kasper had discussions with Custer which indicated she would work to allow Custer to keep collecting his city of Middletown pension, on top of his chief's salary, if he was selected.
Giuliano said that Custer admitted to the mayor that he had spoken with Kasper.
In the case of Serra, Giuliano said that the Democratic majority leader met with Custer at a lunch a Eli Cannon's within the past three weeks.
The mayor said that because of these meetings, he disqualified Custer from consideration as a candidate for the chief's position.
"And when it comes to a vote on the candidates (McMahon and Sneed), I expect them (Kasper and Serra), to abstain," Giuliano said.
Friday, the mayor released votes from two citizen panels chosen to interview and rank candidates for Police Chief. In the first panel, later dismissed by Giuliano because information was leaked, the ranking was: Patrick McMahon 88, Michael Custer 82, Gregory Sneed 81, Peter Agnesi 77. In the second panel the ranking was: Michael Custer 88, Patrick McMahon 85, Gregory Sneed 84, Peter Agnesi 82.
The mayor said that based on the information he had on Custer's meetings with Council members, and the fact that McMahon was ranked highly by both panels, and based on his own assessment of McMahon and Sneed over the past 13 months, he made his decision.
Giuliano said that he made Sneed his choice for Deputy Chief because of his performance in that position as acting Deputy Chief over the past 13 months, because of his qualifications and because he is the only possible candidate from within the ranks of the Middletown Police department.
"There's not another Captain with enough rank," Giuliano said
Mayoral assistant William Pillarella, who sat with the mayor at the press conference, said that the mayor had been forewarned by Serra not to deliver McMahon and Sneed as candidates to the Common Council.
"If he came to us with these candidates we'd vote no," Pillarella said the mayor was told by Serra at a meeting during which Serra pounded the table, and exited abruptly.
"They don't want these candidates," Giuliano said. "They want their guy."
Giuliano confirmed that "their guy" refers to Custer.
"There are about seven and a half billion people on the planet," Giuliano said. "So I've got a lot of people to go through before I get to 'their guy.' If they reject these candidates it will surely be because of politics."
Democratic Councilman Vinnie Loffredo stated firmly that he has not prejudged any candidates.
"My understanding is that the mayor would make his appointment, and that we would interview candidates at the Personnel Review Committee," Loffredo said. "The mayor would make his appointments and we'd go from there."
Loffredo also indicated that the Democratic caucus had not met to discuss the appointments of McMahon and Sneed.
Giuliano said he expected the Common Council to reject his choices. He said he will not call a meeting with Council members, or lobby on the candidates' behalf, but he allowed that McMahon could lobby the council members himself.
"Frankly I would have a hard time putting another candidate in front of this council, if they can't get a fair shake," Giuliano said. "McMahon and Sneed can stay in their acting positions indefinitely."