City Manager Bill Emlen was quoted as saying:
“We’d like to find somebody who’s going to be around for a while, is able to set the department forward with clear vision and will be able to implement that vision.”
City Manager Bill Emlen not only has not disclosed the list of finalists to the press, but he has not disclosed it to the city council. While this is a personnel matter, it would not be inappropriate to divulge the names of candidates particularly to the members of the council. Several sources have informed us that this is a highly unusual move by the City Manager. While some personnel matters are confidential, the names of those on a short list are not–particularly to the City Council who is ostensibly his boss.
The People’s Vanguard of Davis has learned from multiple well-placed sources that one of these seven finalists is former Davis Police Captain Nick Concolino who was dismissed from the Davis Police Department in June of 2000 by then Police Chief Jerry Gonzales and then City Manager John Meyer.
Furthermore, our sources tell us, that there is a strong behind the scenes movement lobbying for his hire as the new police chief. Former Davis City Councilmember and current Yolo County Judge Dave Rosenberg, who is a very close and personal friend of Concolino, is according to well-placed sources actively lobbying for his hire. Moreover there is strong speculation that the Davis Police Officer’s Association is also strongly moving for his hire. Finally Lt. Darren Pytel is said to be strongly in favor of such a move as well. Pytel may himself have future ambitions toward this position and may believe that such a hire would pave the way for his eventual ascension to the chief position.
The nature of personnel matters is shrouded in confidentiality agreements that prevent the release of reasons for a dismissal. As such, the public and even the City Council at the time were never informed of the reasons. We spoke with the Mayor of Davis during the time of the dismissal, Ken Wagstaff. He expressed his frustration stating, “this was the most frustrating thing about being on the council.”
Any hire of Nick Concolino would re-open old wounds. This action resulted in a huge and ugly controversy as the Davis Police Officer’s Association (DPOA) and many citizens campaigned against the dismissal of Concolino and then began an orchestrated campaign against Chief Gonzales. In response many citizens and civil rights activists came to the defense of Chief Gonzales.
Prior to this controversy, both Gonzales and Concolino were well liked by Davis citizens and both were longtime Davis residents.
Both Gonzales and Concolino were longtime police officers with the city of Davis and both had been good friends for many years. This ugly controversy split the community and eventually resulted in Chief Gonzales resigning from his position in December 2000.
Gonzales was a 20-year veteran with the Davis PD. He had advanced through the ranks from patrol officer, to sergeant, to lieutenant and finally to captain before being selected as Chief of Police in 1996.
Gonzales had been selected to replace Chief Phil Coleman who resigned following being reprimanded for sexual harassment of female police employees. Indeed, the city had settled several civil complaints brought on by Chief Coleman’s inappropriate behavior.
Concolino began his career with the UC Davis Police Department and transferred to the Davis Police Department. Every time Gonzales was promoted, Concolino was selected to succeed to Gonzales’ old position, due in large part to recommendations by Jerry Gonzales to promote his friend Nick Concolino to succeed him. When Gonzalez was promoted to Police Chief, he selected Concolino to succeed him as captain. Concolino then became one of only two captains on the force joining the senior captain Leo Sacket.
Concolino’s transfer from the UC Davis to the Davis Police Department is also shrouded in mystery. Concolino had been a seven year veteran of the UC Davis police department when some incident occurred that resulted in his dismissal.
While the events leading to Concolino’s firing from the Davis Police Deparmtent are still largely a mystery. Concolino himself as recently as this past June claims not to know the reason why he was dismissed. Davis Enterprise Columnist Bob Dunning ran a long series of defenses of Concolino that stirred up a strong public backlash against Chief Jerry Gonzalez that many believe ultimately led to the no-confidence vote that ultimately cost him his job. Dunning defended Concolino as a family man and a little league coach who was wrongly fired.
However, sources tell us that Nick Concolino’s firing was due to strong insubordination, political backstabbing, and attempts to undermine the Police Chief by rallying the support of the rank and file against him. He would often refuse to take orders from the Police Chief Gonzales and Senior Captain Leo Sacket who was the number two person in the department by seniority.
In the year leading up to Concolino’s dismissal it was becoming common knowledge that Nick Concolino was creating a division within the department by openly challenging and competing with the senior Captain Leo Sacket. Concolino was also currying favor with the DPOA who was increasingly becoming upset with Chief Gonzales who would engage the community in dialogue and when appropriate correct or discipline his officers.
Concolino was both openly and behind the scenes insubordinate to his superiors, which was causing dissention in the ranks and negatively impacting morale.
John Meyer would eventually advise Police Chief Gonzales to dismiss Concolino. Meyer would then accept a new position at UC Davis. He was thus not the City Manager during the many months of controversy that would follow the firing and was not in a position to defend or guide the police chief.
Concolino used his power and influence to undermine the police chief and try to gain reinstatement. They would eventually come to terms on a rather generous severance package that included one year of pay and benefits.
The City Council upon the resignation of Police Chief Jim Hyde and their subsequent dismissal of the Human Relations Commission, conveyed the concern about the tone of dialogue in the city and the divisiveness between various groups. If that is a true concern, bringing Nick Concolino back in the position of police chief would open many raw wounds.
There are strong concerns among civil rights and social justice groups in Davis about the signal that would be sent by the hiring of Concolino. Moreover, given the nature of the political dynamics in the department, the hiring of Concolino at the behest of powerful cliqués within the DPOA would signal to them that they would have free reign and would limit the power of Concolino to control his department in the face of many issues that confront it in the wake of last year’s controversies. This would be a strong step backwards.
Moreover, if the City Council is to approve this hiring (if it indeed occurs), it would seem entirely appropriate, indeed a requirement, that Concolino should be compelled to waive his confidentiality clause and reveal to the present city council the reasons for his dismissal. Current council members should seek to force this action if necessary.
The current city manager would be well-advised despite the strong political pressure on him to look to someone with a fresh perspective from outside the department that can heal rather than inflame the wounds in this community.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting