McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

July 3, 2013

McAlester city councilors out of loop on police chief's ouster

McALESTER — Jim Lyles is not the only one surprised at his abrupt dismissal from his job as McAlester police chief Monday.

Members of the McAlester City Council with whom the News-Capital spoke on Tuesday said they had no indication that Lyles lose his job and have been told nothing since about the reason for the ouster.

Five of the six city councilors said they first learned the police chief had been ousted after reading it in the News-Capital or on the newspaper’s on-line edition.

City Manager Pete Stasiak terminated Lyles from his job as McAlester police chief on Monday. Lyles said on Tuesday that Stasiak had told him only that he was being terminated “for the good of the service.”

Stasiak confirmed to the News-Capital on Monday that Lyles was no longer police chief, but answered “no comment” when asked about a reason for Lyles’ ouster.

Ward 5 City Councilor Buddy Garvin is not pleased at how Lyles’ termination transpired.

“I’m very upset,” Garvin said.

“I found out yesterday evening at 5:15 that Chief Lyles had been dismissed,” Garvin said — and that was after he received a phone call from a constituent.

Garvin said he was “shocked” to hear of Lyles’ dismissal by Stasiak after Lyles’ years of service to the McAlester Police Department.

Garvin said he’s had to tell his constituents he knows nothing at all about the matter.

“There was no discussion whatsoever about the dismissal of Chief Lyles,” Garvin said.

He said early Tuesday morning that he’s heard nothing since then from the city manager’s office.

“I have not received a phone call or an email about what has been done to Chief Lyles,” Garvin said.

Ward 3 Councilor Travis Read also said he had no advance knowledge regarding Lyles’ removal from the police chief’s post.

“I first heard about it when I read it on your Website,” Read said when speaking to the News-Capital.

Read noted that McAlester’s City Charter grants Stasiak the authority to hire and fire the police chief and most other city employees.

“The council has no authority over that at all,” Read said.

Still, Read said  “I’m a little disappointed I didn’t hear about it before I read about it in the newspaper.”

As to the reason for Lyles’ termination, Read said “I don’t have anything to tell you, because I don’t know anything.”

Ward 2 Councilor John Titsworth also said he didn’t know Lyles would be removed as chief of police.

“I don’t know anything other than what I saw in the paper,” Titsworth said. “I don’t have any idea what the issues were. I’m not privy to any information on it at all.”

Ward 3 Councilor Robert Karr also said he didn’t know that Lyles would be dismissed.

“I read about it in the newspaper,” Karr said.

He also said he doesn’t know why Lyles was dismissed.

“That’s Pete’s decision,” Karr said. “Maybe he’ll let us know. Right now, I can’t say, because I don’t know.”

Ward Six City Councilor and Vice Mayor Sam Mason said he learned of Lyles’ release Monday afternoon.

“First of all, somebody called me and asked me if I had seen the on-line version of the News-Capital,” Mason said. He said he had no idea what had transpired until he received the phone call and read the on-line account.

“The city manager has the authority to release or appoint the police chief and fire chief and other employees,” Mason noted.

“I’ve been disappointed I had to read it in the newspaper and hear it from a resident before I heard it from the city manager,” Mason said.

The vice-mayor said he doesn’t expect to hear about every matter regarding the city, but it would have been nice, as a courtesy, to have been told a department head was being “released.”

“Later , I called Mayor Harrison and asked if he had heard about it and was surprised to learn he was privy to the information and the rest of us weren’t,” Mason said.

Mason noted that McAlester has a city council-city manager form of government.

Mason said he finally received an email from Stasiak Tuesday stating Lyles had been released “for the good of the service” and an interim police chief would be named soon.

When the News-Capital had earlier asked Mayor Steve Harrison if he had known Lyles would be ousted as police chief, Harrison had replied “I can’t comment on a personnel matter.”

The News-Capital replied that Harrison wasn’t asked for a comment, but rather had been asked when he had learned  Lyles would be ousted. Harrison again said he couldn’t comment.

When asked if he knew why Lyles had been ousted, Harrison said “I actually have not heard why.”

“Pete’s in charge of personnel; it’s his decision,” Harrison said.

“I stay out of personnel. That’s not my area.”

Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith also said he learned about Lyles’ ouster Monday afternoon.

“Somebody called me and told me you had it up on your Website,” Smith said when speaking to the News-Capital Tuesday.

Asked if he knew of any reason for Lyles’ dismissal, Smith said “I haven’t got a clue. I haven’t got any information at all.

“It’s one of those personnel things,” he said. “I don’t know about it.”

Meanwhile, Garvin referred to Lyles’ years of service with the  police department.

“He’s been a good asset to the community and his fellow officers,” Garvin said.

Garvin is aware that under the McAlester City Charter, the city manager has the authority to hire and fire nearly all city employees without conferring with, or seeking approval from, the city council.

Exceptions are the city attorney and the city clerk, who are hired by the city council. The city manager is also hired by the city council.

“I’m really shocked about what happened, but the city manager has authority under the City Charter to do what he chooses to do without consulting the council,” Garvin said.

Still, Garvin said “It concerns me that a key figurehead like Chief Lyles is dismissed — and I wonder what department head will be next.”

Regardless of Stasiak’s reason and the authority granted to him by the  McAlester City Charter to hire and fire the police chief and other city employees without conferring with the council, Garvin said he would liked to have known what was happening.

“The city council is elected by the constituents of the ward,” Garvin said. “When an individual asks us why this has happened, we can’t give them an answer because the city manger has not informed us.

“The people elect us,” Garvin said. “We should be able to tell the people what’s going on.”

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • 4 20 HolyWeekSun 1.jpg Edwards: Spread the Good News on Easter — and every day

    It starts with us.
    McAlester Attorney Tony Edwards, of Lakewood Christian Church, delivered that message to well over 100 men and boys who attended the last of the Men’s Holy Week Breakfasts served Saturday morning at the First Baptist Church in McAlester.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Rogers, Webber, ready for hearing on Webber's candidacy for District 1

    Former District 1 Pittsburg County Commissioner Bill Webber says he plans to be at the Pittsburg County Courthouse this week for a hearing to decide if he can run again for his former post.

    April 19, 2014

  • Council to consider city water plant's future: Karr to take Ward 4 seat

    City councilors are set to again consider letting a privately-owned company take over the operations of the McAlester Water Treatment Plant.
    It’s among the items on the agenda when the city council meets in regular session at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at City Hall.

    April 19, 2014

  • Powers: Good Friday, then and now

    Chris Powers, of First United Methodist Church, spoke Friday about the meaning of Good Friday —what it meant to the people of Jesus’ day, and what it means to believers today.

    April 19, 2014

  • mc-safety2.jpg OHP slates free motorcycle safety course

    The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will be back in McAlester to give a free motorcycle safety course on April 26.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • equality-mcdaniel.jpg Couple seeks to help homosexual community in McAlester

    A McAlester woman says she and her spouse are working to bring equality to McAlester.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Look what's going on downtown McAlester tonight

    Tonight, area residents are invited to join other community members in front of the old Hunts building at the northwest corner of Choctaw Avenue and Second Street in downtown McAlester to listen and to play music in an open street jam, karaoke, cruise-in and to enjoy one of McAlester's two downtown districts. Set-up starts at 6 p.m., jam will be underway by 7 p.m. and at approximately 8 p.m. karaoke all the while cars cruise in. Everyone should feel free to bring lawn chairs and grills, instruments and music equipment, or classic, modified, modern -- all -- show cars. There are no contests or prizes planned, just community fellowship. 

    April 18, 2014

  • Police Badge MCC.jpg Detective's Dispatch: Buckle up

    It only takes a few seconds to put your seat belt on. These few seconds could change the rest of your life!

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • KTC Proclamation McAlester KTC students compete in state FCCLA contest

    Kiamichi Technology Center, McAlester Campus, recently participated in the 2014 Oklahoma State Students Taking Action with Recognition Events for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18-BREAKFAST1.jpg Lackey: Challenge of today's church is to empower Christ

    Christians everywhere make up the Body of Christ.
    Tom Lackey, of the First Presbyterian Church, delivered that message to the fourth gathering of those participating in the Men’s Holy Week Breakfasts.
    Lackey spoke to a group estimated at more than 100 men and boys at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in McAlester on Thursday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.