During last week’s Fairhope City Council meeting, Mayor Karin Wilson announced she would be withdrawing the hire of new police sergeant/public safety director Tony Goubil.
There had been pushback against Goubil’s hiring since Wilson announced it at a February city council meeting, including feedback from the council saying they had not been consulted on the hire and an email published by The Courier from Fairhope Police Chief Joseph Petties to Wilson that said “My Department has been in an uproar ever since Monday, February 26, the night you announced the hiring of Tony Goubil” and that he had also not been consulted about the hire.
Wilson cited positive meetings with some council members and Petties as a way of moving forward with the position.
“I believe there is a need for a public safety director, and Tony Goubil is a great choice for this position,” Wilson said. “But, I do understand other people would like to have input and I want to hear them out and come to a mutually agreed upon decision. I am withdrawing Mr. Goubil’s name until a new organizational chart can be developed and approved with council.”
Councilman Jay Robinson said he and Councilman Jimmy Conyers had met with Wilson about the hire, and said he felt it was safe to say that both mayor and council members agreed public safety is a concern for the city.
“I think it’s appropriate that we stay or pause any new public safety position until a time the council and mayor have had time to collaborate on what everyone’s primary concerns are,” Robinson said. “It’s also imperative we discuss those concerns with our chief of police and make sure we are giving him all the resources he needs to do his job to the best of his ability. I think the way we’re handling this right now is the best way to move the city forward.”
Councilman Robert Brown raised further questions about whom Wilson consulted before making the hire.
“What concerns me is the manner in which it was done,” Brown said. “Nobody was consulted as far as I know about the proposed hiring of a public safety director hire. Who did you consult before announcing the hire?”
Wilson said she planned to talk about the hiring process in general and discuss how it needed to be more open to the public.
“I think I’m very proud of the hires I’ve made so far,” Wilson said. “I stand by my hires, and I want to move forward in a positive way.”
Brown replied that Wilson still hadn’t answered his question about whom she had discussed the hires with, and she replied the city’s personnel attorney Paul Myrick and attorney Matt McDonald, who also does work for the city.
“And they told you to announce at the council meeting a position that wasn’t there to be filled?” Brown questioned.
“I didn’t want to be put in a position to try to give examples of why I did it,” Wilson said, adding that Brown and Council President Jack Burrell had made several cuts to the budget. “It’s all about communication. It’s on both sides. I’m happy that most seem to want to move forward in a positive way.”
Burrell said he was glad Wilson came to the conclusion to withdraw Goubil’s hire.
“I also had concerns over whether or not the hiring procedures of the city were being followed,” Burrell said. “The council also wanted to make sure it was in the budget.”
Burrell said he also wanted to see the council take on a review of job descriptions within the city to make sure job duties for employees were matching what the descriptions said they were doing.
“I think it’s something the council needs to take on,” Burrell said. “I do question whether you had the authority to create a hybrid position. I’m not aware that position exists within the city of Fairhope and the council would need to approve and fund such a position before it was filled.”