Outgoing City Councilor John Waldron has ended his term with a verbal attack on the Unalaska Department of Public Safety.
At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Waldron called Deputy Police Chief Jennifer Shockley a “convicted liar.”
“Jennifer is not who she claims to be. She is a convicted liar," Waldron said. "You can go to the Alaska CourtView [website] and see she was convicted of making false statements. In law enforcement, that’s a big deal.”
Waldron’s accusation comes amid a City Hall controversy that started when Shockley created an anonymous online survey earlier this year — asking Unalaskans to rate their satisfaction with each city councilor.
Since June, councilors have expressed frustration with the survey and tasked former city manager Dave Martinson with investigating whether, as a city official, Shockley was allowed to create it.
Waldron went on to criticize the entire Public Safety Department. The former police officer questioned their integrity and urged them to subpoena records regarding Shockley’s survey.
“The police department isn’t always what is says it is," Waldron said. "They can make accusations. They can force things. That’s what occurred with me, so I’ll talk from my personal experience.”
Shockley wasn’t in council chambers when Waldron spoke, but says she’s concerned about the attack on her credibility.
“But I do hope that the 27 years that I’ve spent in this community and the 17 plus years that I’ve spent with the Department of Public Safety don’t give the community much cause for concern,” Shockley said.
Court records show Shockley pleaded no contest to a non-criminal charge of making false statements in 1996.
Waldron says he learned about Shockley’s conviction decades later during a hearing in October 2016. But Shockley cannot discuss that testimony, which she gave before the Alaska Police Standards Council, because it is related to personnel actions.
“People can talk about their own personnel issues," she said. "But as an administrator for our department, there is very little related to personnel issues that I am free to discuss without some very specific waivers.”
Shockley says concerned Unalaskans can schedule a meeting with her and Public Safety Director Mike Holman to discuss the issue further.
Meanwhile, the three outgoing city councilors didn’t let their failed reelection bids stop them from taking action on divisive issues at their last meeting.
Rachelle Hatfield called for the city to start negotiating a preferential use agreement with Matson shipping company, despite public pressure to open a wider bidding process for the city dock.
“I would like to issue a directive to the interim [city] manager and new city manager regarding the issuance of the PUA,” Hatfield said.
Only Councilor Roger Rowland spoke against moving forward on the contentious issue before new elected councilors could be sworn in. His opposition was met with applause from community members.
“I don’t think the outgoing council should force their decisions on the incoming personnel, thanks,” Rowland said.
The directive was approved 4-1, with Rowland as the sole dissenter.
Afterwards, Unalaskans voiced their frustration with the council during public comments. Here’s Dee Montier-Burke.
“I’m pretty ashamed of the way you are handling yourselves tonight. I think the community spoke fairly clearly [about] who they want making their decisions for them, and three of you were voted off the island, so to speak.”
Recently elected Councilor Dennis Robinson also weighed in.
“It’s disconcerting to see the outgoing council push some things that deeply divided the community, Robinson said. "I guess we’ve got our work cut out to hopefully straighten stuff out.”
At the end of the session, Rowland apologized to the public, over an objection from Mayor Frank Kelty.
“I’m sorry, as a council member, for some of what the council has done tonight," Rowland said. "I promise to work with the incoming council members and will try to do better in the future.”
“Well, I don’t think there’s anything to be sorry about, Roger,” Kelty said.
“My comment wasn’t directed to you, Frank," Rowland said. "It was directed to the community.”
Unalaska’s new city councilors were sworn in after the meeting. Shari Coleman, James Fitch, and Dennis Robinson will begin their terms October 16.