Attempt to do another executive session, but don't
— The chairman of the Honesdale Borough council admitted Wednesday night they advertised the content of a meeting wrong.
And then, he attempted to call an executive session which was not specified in that same advertisement.
Council President F.J. Monaghan opened Wednesday night's special meeting by saying the borough had advertised the meeting wrong.
The meeting was targeted at interviewing potential candidates for the chief of police position.
But the legal ad placed in The Wayne Independent on Aug. 24 listed "discussing personnel matters in executive session" as the agenda item.
Monaghan said he was informed earlier in the day the ad was "not properly worded." That advice apparently came from the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs.
Because of that, the interviews with nine candidates for chief of police had to be canceled. All of those candidates had apparently been contacted earlier in the day and told there would be no interviews. The candidates had just been contacted the previous day and given times to meet with the members of the council on Wednesday.
The council did set the interviews for next Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 6 p.m. Those interviews will be behind closed doors.
After taking care of some other brief business, Monaghan then said the council was going to go into executive session for police negotiations.
However, the council was conducting the special meeting based on the legal advertisement which said the executive session was for personnel.
Additionally, no agenda was placed on the borough's website prior to the meeting even though that has become standard practice.
An agenda handed only to council members at the regular meeting listed the executive session as "police negotiations," in spite of the fact that had not been advertised.
"Was this advertised for police negotiations?" asked councilman Bob Jennings. "Is it legal?"
Jennings then pressed Monaghan about a conversation he apparently had earlier in the day concerning how to advertise for meetings.
"We're supposed to be more specific," said Monaghan.
At that point, borough secretary Judy Poltanis handed Monaghan a copy of the open meetings laws in Pennsylvania.
Under the "personnel" section of the open meetings laws, negotiations are not listed as an item.
Jennings said because the borough should spell out "specifically" the purpose for executive sessions, it was his opinion they should not continue with the closed door session.
He then made a motion to adjourn.
After a second, the meeting ended and no executive session took place.
In other business, the council:
• Approved hiring a part-time police officer. David Matthew Clark of Lake Ariel was hired per the current salary guidelines. Honesdale Borough Police officer in charge Ron Kominski made the request.
• Approved hiring Woodland Design to do engineering services for the stormwater grant. The cost is not to exceed $47,000.
Councilman Jim Brennan, chairman of the streets committee, said the borough was approved for the grant nearly two years ago. The total grant is $400,000.
The focus of the project will be to repair the retaining pond at 4th Street.
The council also agreed to hire Mike Wood to be the project manager.
"A lot of legwork has to be done," said Brennan.
Both motions were unanimous.
• Approved sending Honesdale fire police representatives to assist at the Northeast Pennsylvania Volunteer Fire Convention. It was at the request of the Browndale Fire Department.