Letter: Taylor Mill Commissioner Responds to Recent Disputes
The following is a letter written by Taylor Mill city commissioner Phil Peace, which follows a tense series of events at the city building. Police Chief Steve Knauf declined the interim city administrator gig, saying that he did not trust Peace or Commissioner Sarah Frietch. Knuaf later said that he filed a complaint at the city, citing a toxic, hostile work environment. The following letter has not been edited and first appeared at Peace's campaign Facebook page.
Dear Taylor Mill Citizens,
With all of the memorandums and negative press swirling about, I feel compelled to write an open letter to the citizens of Taylor Mill.
First and foremost, I must say that I have , in no way shape or form, created a toxic work environment for Police Chief Steve Knauf. As I told the Enquirer reporter, I have had very limited communication with Chief Knauf. I have a full time job at Ford Motor Company and during the work week, I am in Sharonville, Ohio.
As for verbal interactions, outside of any Commission meetings, (Commission meetings are documented by TBNK) , I have had only 3 verbal interactions that I can think of:
1. I was at Lucky Duck one evening after the election and Chief Knauf was there. He expressed to me his disappointment that I was elected and that I only ran to get UDF through. I disagreed and told him that the democratic process worked and the people had spoken.
2. We had an interaction at the Kentucky League of Cities event over a year ago when Chief Knauf was considering running for Jailer and I expressed my distaste for his action changing political parties for the sake of an election.
3. We had a brief, but cordial conversation, after the Commission meeting, in which I asked to increase the Chief’s salary by $20k, rather than the proposed $15K when he was appointed the Interim CAO.
As for phone calls, there are none. As for text messages, there are none. As for emails, I have never sent Chief Knauf an email except for correspondence with other Commissioners on which Chief Knauf was copied. This correspondence related to him taking over as Interim CAO and hiring, but I asked that he be removed from correspondence dealing with the hiring process as he was, at that time, going to be a candidate for the position. We didn’t need to be accused of giving anyone an unfair advantage.
The only time I have ever set foot in the Taylor Mill Police Department is the few times the City office doors were locked and I needed to pick up my City mail. Staff would let me in the Police Department so I could walk through and get the mail.
I told the reporter from the Enquirer that I would like to know what I have done to create a toxic environment for Chief Knauf so I can address those concerns and I hope he will share that information with me.
As far as a toxic relationship with CAO Jill Bailey, there is certainly history between us, but that history was resolved immediately after the election. I knew we had to work through our differences for the sake of our City. I initiated a meeting with Jill for this very reason. Jill and I met, outside of the City, and talked for three hours. We left that meeting with understanding of each other’s positions during the adversarial period and the commitment that we would work together for the betterment of our community. We’ve had an excellent relationship since, barring one incident where panic was incited amongst the Commission over the false accusation that Knuk N Futz was working on their patio without a permit. This caused some emotional outbursts amongst the Commission and I expressed disappointment to Jill that the accusation was made without first checking the facts. Though I expressed my disappointment, through a group email asking why this was reported without facts, I don’t believe this was a reason for Jill’s departure.
I do believe that there are some who just can’t accept that the Commission has new blood and we are actively working to get things done for the betterment of the Community. I do believe that Jill was often “caught in the middle” of working with the current Commission while receiving outside pressure from past Commissioners. I know ex-Commissioners attend meetings and sometimes “heckle” from the audience. I know one of their spouses contacted the City and complained of our “Business of the Week“ program. I know they tell reporters how “embarrassed” they are of the new Commission. It’s hearsay, but I’ve heard they hang out at the City offices during the work day. I do know of one person who continuously interrupted Jill as she tried to work. I even jokingly offered to let her bring her work to my house so she could get it done without interruption. I truly wish Jill well and I hope that she finds peace in her position in Fort Wright working under the direction of Mayor Hatter.
In the end, Taylor Mill citizens elected me and trusted that I was going to do my best for our City. I will keep on fixing streets. I will keep on showing support and appreciation for our businesses and court new business. (Contrary to what naysayers say, we DO have new businesses interested in Taylor Mill and they are waiting on land issues to be sorted!) I will keep on being a good steward of the taxpayer’s money. I will keep on doing whatever it takes to do “right” by you, the citizens of Taylor Mill!
I hope I can get the Commission, the staff, and all, who call Taylor Mill home, to find a way to get beyond this strife and move our City forward. If we expend our energies working FOR the city rather than AGAINST each other, our City is bound to prosper.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you!
Taylor Mill City Commissioner
Photo: Phil Peace (RCN file)