The firing June 28 of Police Chief Nick Silva has unleashed a wave of unhappy reaction from Pawhuska’s citizenry and that reaction has caused turnover at city hall.
Interim City Manager Larry Eulert and Assistant City Manager Rex Wikel, who fired Silva, have resigned. Mayor Roger Taylor confirmed that the two had resigned, but did not comment on the circumstances.
Taylor said the Pawhuska City Council is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall to talk in executive session about addressing the city manger position. The city has already hired a permanent city manager, Dave Neely, but he is not scheduled to take the job until Aug. 1. With Eulert and Wikel gone, there is temporarily no city manager, interim or otherwise.
Taylor also said he hopes the police chief job can be addressed prior to the Wednesday council meeting and outside of it, but he clarified there are considerations to be addressed before that can happen.
Taylor said he thinks the council is moving in a constructive way to respond to the situation before it.
Elsewhere in Pawhuska, however, a group of citizens has begun to circulate a recall petition to recall four of the five members of the city council. Former city councilor Steve Holcombe said Tuesday morning that the petition began to circulate Monday night. He said a group of citizens met at his law office and formed what is essentially a Pawhuska recall committee.
While the circulation of the petition has been sparked by the firing of Silva, the firing was really just “the final straw” for people who see city government operating kind of like a “circus,” Holcombe said. He explained that he does not consider himself the leader of the recall committee. The group has not named a leader, he said.
Holcombe said Ward 2 Councilor Jourdan Foran, who recently defeated him at the polls, is legally exempt from the recall effort. He also clarified that Foran won the Ward 2 election fair and square.