Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s selection of a retired Naval officer for executive director of public safety sparked complaints Tuesday from councilors who had only met the appointee that morning.
Rear Admiral Richard Landolt was appointed by a 6-0 vote, with Councilman C.J. Small abstaining, but not before a debate during the council’s pre-conference meeting.
Councilman Fred Richardson said he would support the Landolt appointment, even though he’d only met him Tuesday morning.
“I doubt I’ll do that in the future,” he said.
Richardson complained that he wasn’t given any background information on Landolt before the meeting. He also complained about a scheduled press conference, which took place between the pre-conference and council meetings.
“All of the information should come to us and what’s left should go to the media,” Richardson said. “We need to vote on it.”
Landolt previously served as director of operations and cyber at the U.S. Africa Command and as commander of the Amphibious Force for the 7th Fleet in Okinawa, Japan. He also served in the Pentagon as director of international engagement on the Navy’s staff.
“It is a rare opportunity being able to recruit someone of Rich’s caliber to city government,” Stimpson said during a press conference.
“His leadership, global perspective and commitment to local solutions make him an invaluable member of my executive staff. I am honored he has accepted a position to now serve, more directly, the citizens of Mobile.”
Landolt, who recently moved with his wife, Beth, and son, to Fairhope, has a year to relocate to the city. He will be paid $110,000 a year, which is the same as other department executive directors within the government.
“I have been coming to Mobile for more than 40 years to visit family and friends in the area and I am excited by this opportunity to serve the community as part of Mayor Stimpson’s administration,” Landolt said.
In addition to overseeing the Mobile Police and Fire-Rescue departments, he will also be in charge of the Safety and Performance Department and will put together the city’s emergency preparedness plan.
City Attorney Ricardo Woods said the Council is allowed to vote on appointments without disseminating the information first to the administration.
“Appointments are added all the time without a resume,” Woods said. “If there’s going to be a double standard we’ll follow the double standard.”
Woods added that a requirement to notify council of appointments prior to meetings is not anywhere in council rules.
“You’re talking about appointments to boards, not the same thing,” Council President Gina Gregory said.
Richardson added that the administration doesn’t need to be notified of council board appointments, but administration appointments affect the entire city, which makes them important to the council.
Stimpson said his administration heard the council and “we’ll address it differently.”
The discussion, which got progressively more heated, began when Councilor John Williams complained the council wasn’t notified before the administration entered into an agreement over violations of the Alabama Water Pollution Control Act with the Alabama Department of Environment Management (see story on Page 8).
“How did we enter into an agreement without the council knowing?” Williams asked. Woods said the city had to move quickly on a set timetable, as part of the litigation. He also said he “didn’t think anybody would disagree with paying $135,000 instead of $450,000.”
Williams said the council needs to know when a decision is imminent.
“We’ve got to get a point where we know a decision is out there,” he said. “I hope we can find a place where we are on the same page at the same time.”
Woods said in the future he would communicate through council Attorney Jim Rossler, who in turn could communicate to councilors.
In other business, the council unanimously approved a resolution to create a Citizens’ Park and Recreation Advisory Committee. The committee, sponsored by Councilman Levon Manzie, will work with the administration to address issues with parks and recreation centers in the city. The committee will be made up of seven council appointees, a member from the senior community and a young person, Manzie said.
The city also approved an intergovernmental contract between the Mobile Police Department and the Mobile Housing Board for police protection in the board’s communities. The terms of the contract stipulate the city will be reimbursed $207,500 for the officers’ time.