Newell sets sights on police commission

PARKERSBURG – Mayor Bob Newell is asking members of the Parkersburg Police Civil Service Commission to step down or he will take legal action to have them removed.

Newell sent letters to the two current members of the commission this week, commission President Robert Campbell and member Joe Gonzales, asking them to resign.

“During the past three years, the performance of the Civil Service Commission has been grossly dysfunctional,” Newell wrote. “There have been multiple intentional and dishonest acts by members of the commission which have resulted, or will result in, the unnecessary expenditure of nearly a quarter of a million dollars in taxpayer money.

“Additionally, you put the public and other police officers in grave risk of injury or death due to your refusal to conduct tests as required by law, causing a severe shortage,” of police officers, Newell wrote to the two remaining commission members.

Newell wrote that under state code he would be “removing” the commissioners from their positions. Among the reasons he listed were: “Abuse of authority, failure to comply with West Virginia state law, failure to perform the required legal duties of a commission, the appearance of impropriety in having a business or financial relationships with parties coming before the commission, and other possible violation of the West Virginia Ethics Act.”

Newell wrote the city hired an attorney, chosen by the commissioners, “to assist the commission in the performance of their duties. However you have failed or refused to follow the advice of your own attorney and have failed to respond to your attorney in a timely manner.”

Newell wrote he would be filing a petition of removal with the Wood County Circuit Court within 10 days of the letter of notice, but requested the immediate resignation of the remaining commission members.

Gonzales said he received a copy of the letter late Wednesday, but declined to comment further.

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to anybody about it,” he said. “I think I should wait until I talk to the other commissioners.”

Campbell did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment.

A third member of the commission, Doug Kreinik, was appointed to the commission by the Chamber of Commerce two years ago. Kreinik resigned from the commission on Wednesday, but said he’d told the administration last week of his intention to resign and spoke with police Chief Joe Martin on Monday about his plan to step down.

Kreinik declined to comment on the reasons for his departure, but said he was made aware of Newell’s letter by Gonzales. Kreinik was not included in the letter mailing.