City Council forms committee to find third-party reviewer for deputy city manager dismissal

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The City of Kodiak will hire an independent contractor to conduct a third-party review of the dismissal of former deputy city manager Matt Van Daele.

Since the decision to let him go earlier in the month, the city manager has not shared why he let Van Daele go despite requests from members of the public. City staff maintains it cannot publicly share its reasons for personnel decisions.

Kodiak City mayor Pat Branson chose councilmembers Laura Arboleda and Charlie Davidson to help her select the third party to carry out the review.

At the Kodiak City Council regular meeting last night, Branson said she originally called for outside involvement and believes the review will give the public the answers it wants.

“Where this goes and how it’s conducted will be decided by the committee with reports not only to the council, but to the community as well as far as we can give information regarding personnel matters.”

The city has come under fire in the weeks since staff’s decision to let Van Daele go. Some city council members, like John Whiddon, bristled at attacks on the council’s integrity.

“And I think that’s the thing that’s really troubling to me to see this council be accused of corruption, dishonesty, unfair dealing, sweeping things under the deck. I’ll tell you, I reject that. I thoroughly reject that. I’ve been on this council for nine years, and I can tell you that there’s not a member of this council – can’t speak for Mr. McKenna because it’s his first meeting, but I’m assuming it’s the same – there’s not a council member here that does anything for personal gain.”

Councilman Daniel Mckenna-Foster said it’s important to consider concerns about transparency and questions of whether the city has withheld information it owes to the public.

“We can say that none of that exists, but if there’s the perception that it does, that I think is something that’s very important to look at.”

It’s so far unclear when the selection of a third party will happen and how long the review will take.

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