The City of Oglesby moves forward today with a reinstated police chief and a reorganized city council.
On Monday night, City Attorney Jim Andreoni advised that Commissioner James “Cully” Cullinan had acted against state statutes in abruptly removing Jim Knoblauch as Oglesby Chief of Police on Thursday and naming his replacement – all without the approval of the council, as required. And after emerging from executive session Monday night, commissioners voted to reorganize, moving the Police Department under Carrie Lijewski and putting Cullinan in charge of Public Property – essentially parks and recreation.
A surprising few members of the public came forward with comments, but emotions ran high among council members during the meeting. Cullinan repeatedly said he’d met many times with Mayor Dom Rivara to talk through problems in the police department and with Chief Knoblauch. To say Rivara disputed that claim is an understatement.
Lijewski tried to de-escalate things. She asked Cullinan to talk plainly about why he removed Knoblauch.
Commissioner Jason Curran pointed out that he voted to put Cullinan in charge of the police department because of Cullinan’s law-enforcement career, but Curran’s view then changed.
Later, after officially taking responsibility of the department, Lijewski said her first order of business will be to try to have candid discussions with various officers and to try to re-establish a functioning department.
Immediately after the meeting, Cullinan initially didn’t feel like talking.
WLPO’s Tom Henson asked Cullinan about a certain non-Oglesby attorney’s presence at the meeting, her public comment, and Cullinan’s apparent legal arguments during the meeting.
Almost overshadowed Monday night was the approval of Curran’s plan to double the water fees in Oglesby in 2020, and then increase them another 5 percent next year. Curran stressed to WLPO that residents in other cities in the area pay three times what the people of Oglesby now pay.