Many of Mayor Byron W. Brown’s department heads are poised to stay on for another four years.
The mayor reappointed Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda, Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak, Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield Jr. and four other top staffers. The Common Council is expected to confirm their reappointments to four-year terms.
Lawmakers sounded ready to confirm them Monday during a pre-meeting caucus. But Council President Richard A. Fontana, of the Lovejoy District, objected during the regular Council session later in the day.
“There should be a process where they come in and answer questions from Council members,” he said, adding that he plans to vote to confirm all. “They do an excellent job.”
The appointments were sent to the Council’s Legislation Committee, which will meet at 2 p.m. next Tuesday.
The Council is also expected to confirm the reappointments of Timothy A. Ball, corporation counsel; James W. Comerford Jr., commissioner of permits and inspections services; Donna J. Estrich, commissioner of administration, finance, policy and urban affairs; and Kevin J. Helfer, commissioner of parking.
It appears for now that key posts, at least those requiring Council confirmation, will remain the same for Brown’s third term, which begins Jan. 1.
The City Charter requires some appointments to be confirmed by the Council; while others, such as the mayoral appointments of two deputy mayors and the executive director of the Office of Strategic Planning, do not require confirmation.
Council members typically call on department heads regarding issues in the districts, from car break-ins to sidewalks that need to be repaired.
The confirmation process would be a time when Council members could air their grievances about department heads. Monday, Council members did not appear inclined to do that.
“Personally, I don’t have any concerns regarding the appointments,” Niagara Council Member David A. Rivera said during the caucus meeting.
“There’s no clunkers here,” said Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk, who is not shy about criticizing the Brown administration.
The Charter calls on the Council to reconfirm selected appointed department heads when a mayor begins a new term.
In other business, the Council approved a two-month extension of the city’s ambulance contract with Rural/Metro Medical Services while bids for a longer-term contract are sought.
The city issued a request for proposals Thursday. Bids are due Jan. 17, which should give the city enough time to have a new contract in place when the current agreement expires Feb. 28, Ball said.