"It's fiction. He would be a great fiction writer," Common Council member and Democratic majority leader Tom Serra said of Mayor Sebastian Giuliano's charges that Serra had inappropriate contact with a candidate for Police Chief.
Giuliano said that Serra had lunched with Michael Custer, a candidate for the job of Police Chief, prior to Giuliano's decision was made to appoint Acting Chief Patrick McMahon to that role.
"By the way, it's nominate, not appoint," Serra said. "The mayor nominates, and we, the Common Council, confirm."
"I never had lunch with Custer," Serra said. "It's a total fabrication that is trying to divert attention from the process of the appointment and the appointment itself."
Giuliano also accused Democratic council member Hope Kasper of meeting with Custer to help him plan to be able to keep his Middletown pension, and receive his full compensation as chief, if he were to be appointed.
"First of all, I never met with Mike Custer," Kasper said. "He called me and asked it would be possible for him to continue receiving pension payments along with his Chief's salary. I just gave him other examples of municipal employees who collected a pension, and a salary at the same time."
Kasper and Serra questioned the alleged inappropriate communication as a way to disqualify Custer as a candidate for the opening.
"All the candidates have spoken with Council members," Serra said. "And Custer spoke with members of the minority caucus."
Serra mentioned that Custer had spoken to Republican council members Phil Pessina, David Bauer and Joe Bibisi.
Giuliano had called upon Serra and Kasper to recuse themselves in the vote for the chief's appointment. Kasper said that Giuliano should also call upon Bauer, Pessina and Bibisi to recuse themselves in the vote.
Councilwoman Kasper is demanding a retraction and an apology from Mayor Giuliano. Kasper released a prepared statement and said that she was planning to call Giuliano first thing Monday morning.
'I'm willing to work with the mayor, but only if he apologizes," Kasper said.
Serra also expressed a willingness to consider all candidates, with conditions.
"It's difficult," Serra said. "We should be able to review the professional panel's ratings of the candidates so we can all judge. And we haven't seen that. And we should be able to review the ratings of the citizen panels. But nothing has been shared with us, and we are half of the appointment process."
This is the statement released by Council member Hope Kasper:
Mayor Sebastian N. Giuliano’s accusations about myself and Councilman Thomas Serra in articles published Friday and Saturday are wholly untrue and I believe were made knowingly as such. The mayor’s demand that Councilman Serra and I recluse ourselves from voting to confirm his nominee for chief of police, Patrick McMahon, is unreasonable. The mayor is making this claim to attempt to disqualify our votes and artificially create an environment he perceives as more favorable to his chosen candidate.
The mayor accused me of meeting with a candidate for police chief, Michael Custer, to discuss Custer’s pension options. As the review process for chief began, Custer and all other candidates signed a notarized form acknowledging the members on the Common Council with whom they had had contact. Custer, in a notarized form, acknowledged having spoken to me by telephone and three Republicans – Councilmen Pessina, Bibisi, and Bauer. Given that such a form was notarized and turned over as part of the process, Giuliano should also be calling for Pessina, Bibisi, and Bauer to abstain from voting.
Mayor Giuliano I believe knowingly made false statements to the media on Friday when he said I had met in person with Custer. Custer and I had only spoken by telephone—as Custer did with Republicans on the council—and it was acknowledged in a notarized form prior to the review process.
I have been told that Mayor Giuliano and the personnel director demanded that a City of Middletown employee sign a statement affirming he knew of a conversation between Custer and me. The employee was told that if he did not sign the statement as demanded by the mayor and personnel director, he would be fired.
Mayor Giuliano has displayed a wanton disregard for fairness and equitability throughout this selection process. He stated recently that Acting Chief Patrick McMahon was always his sole choice for nomination as permanent chief. But he had previously told the public that he needed a review by a panel of police chiefs, and a panel of Middletown citizens. Then, he discounted the panel of Middletown citizens and argued that their results had been compromised. Then, he appointed a new panel. Then, he included the first panel’s results in justifying his final selection. Giuliano has said one thing and done another throughout this entire process. He has told lies about myself and Councilman Serra and has made false accusations in an attempt to impugn our credibility.
Giuliano knew he would appoint McMahon all along but he spent thousands of taxpayer dollars and requested dozens of hours from volunteer citizens to create an appearance otherwise. Giuliano has made slanderous statements and contradicted his own claims of what he did, why he did it, and when he did it.
Mayor Giuliano must apologize for the false statements he knowingly made about me and Councilman Serra. And more importantly, he must apologize to the people of Middletown for telling them he was doing one thing, while knowingly doing another.