James “Cully” Cullinan, Oglesby’s Commissioner of Health and Safety, has issued a press release shedding more light on his Thursday firing of Police Chief Jim Knoblauch, and he says Mayor Dom Rivara, whom Cullinan calls a “dictator,” had a lot to do with it.
Cullinan says that on Wednesday, the mayor told Cullinan he was going to place an item on Monday’s City Council agenda to strip Cullinan of his power to appoint the Chief of Police. The commissioner says he responded with his statutory right to appoint a new police chief, ahead of Monday’s anticipated move by the mayor. Cullinan says he took the step because he felt fresh leadership had more potential to solve what he calls interdepartmental issues than the removal of his powers would have had.
Earlier today, the mayor called Cullinan’s firing of Knoblauch a "black eye" on Oglesby. Cullinan responded by saying what he calls Rivara’s desire to be a dictator and not a mayor is the actual black eye on the city. And the commissioner says he doesn’t look fondly on anyone conspiring with the mayor, either. Mayor Rivara declined to comment on this latest salvo.
For the record, Cullinan responded to a WLPO question about succession in the department by saying he appointed Padilla to the top job because the assistant chief wasn’t interested in the position.
UPDATE 5:15pm Thursday:
Late Thursday afternoon, Cullinan sent an email to WLPO.
Cullinan repeats what he posted on his Facebook. He states that at no point Thursday was former Chief Knoblauch “fired”. Instead, there existed a vacancy in the position of Chief as Chief Knoblauch's term of office expired with the departure of the previous Oglesby City Council.
Cullinan goes on saying Mayor Rivara attempted to appoint Chief Knoblauch and others at the first meeting of the Council. Cullinan then cites an ordinance that he says allows only himself – as Commissioner of Public Health and Safety – to make the appointment.