10 days after Elmira’s former police chief Anthony Alvernaz was pushed out of his job, the city still isn’t saying why he was let go. At a City Council meeting Tuesday night, a resolution was introduced to officially appoint Kristen Thorne as the new Interim Chief of the Elmira Police Department. However, 1st District council member Nick Grasso voted to table the resolution until the next city council meeting. Grasso says he is still waiting for an explanation about what happened to former police chief Alvernaz.
“Still to this moment, at this point in time, I do not have any official information about what happened, as to why the past Chief was no longer employed by the city.” said Grasso. “I think last night, seeing the most amount of people I’ve ever seen in my 3 year tenure on council, council chambers filled with people wanting to know. As an elected official I don’t know, and that’s grossly unacceptable.”
Two other council members, Mark Franchi and Tory Kitching voted with Grasso. Councilmembers Joseph Duffy and Nanette Moss voted against tabling the resolution. They were joined by Mayor Dan Mandell, resulting in a 3-3 tie. That means the resolution is currently on hold.
18 News reporter Nick Dubina asked Mayor Mandell why he voted against tabling the resolution. “Because it needs to be forwarded. The decision has been made to move on from Chief Alvernaz and appoint Interim Chief Kristen Thorne.” said Mandell. “This did nothing but hurt the Interim Chief regarding his pay. It was going to increase his pay to a Chief’s pay. So now that’s been put on hold until this resolution comes back up, more than likely at the next council meeting.”
Dubina also spoke with Elmira City Manager Michael Collins. “I’m unsure why he tabled it. I know that he had indicated that he had wanted to know more information.” said Collins. “He certainly was aware of this last Thursday at a council workshop, he never brought that up, never asked a question pertaining to that. So I have no idea why he wanted to table that.”
Dubina spoke to Councilmember Grasso again by phone late Wednesday. Grasso says he did try to get more information about what happened to former Chief Alvernaz, and refuses to quote “rubber stamp” a resolution which he has no information about. He also stressed his decision to table the resolution was strictly about transparency regarding the former chief’s exit, and not about the Interim Chief’s pay. Grasso adds he has no objections to Kristen Thorne officially becoming the new Interim Chief.
Mayor Mandell and City Manager Collins told us they still have no comment as to why Mr. Alvernaz is no longer the police chief. The next City Council meeting is scheduled for January 30th.