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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Civil service to meet Friday

  • It's probably the biggest meeting the group has ever had.
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     It's probably the biggest meeting the group has ever had.
    The Honesdale Civil Service Commission has scheduled its next meeting for this Friday morning. The meeting will take place at 10 a.m. in the council chambers at borough hall.
    The meeting is open to the public.
    The focus of the meeting is scheduled to be an interview with Rick Southerton, the former FBI agent who was recommended by the borough council to be the next police chief.
    Under normal circumstances, the meeting would generally be an interview followed by a recommendation to hire Southerton.
    However, that may not be the case this time around.
    The selection process which led to Southerton has been under scrutiny, including questionable executive sessions, one involving a local magistrate.
    After Southerton was selected, commission member Bill McAllister questioned the entire process, saying there has been a lot of secrecy involved.
    The commission then asked the borough council for $1,000 to get legal advice. That money was granted by the council and McAllister said the group wanted to find out the exact "role" of the commission.
    What happens if the commission doesn't recommend Southerton remains to be seen.
    Also at issue is the language in the current contract between the police union and the borough. That contract is being negotiated, however, the current contract remains in place until the end of the year.
    The contract calls for the position of police chief in the Honesdale Borough Police Department.
    But Southerton is not Act 102 certified and many are questioning whether he could be called a police chief or just a police commissioner who would not have the powers of the rest of the force. That could have a major impact on the current contract.
    Page 2 of 2 - The borough council has not been clear on exactly what it seeks in the next chief. Members of the Honesdale Police Officers Association have said they wanted someone hired from within the department.
    They have also said FOP lawyers are very aware of the situation and are considering the next action to take, depending on the outcome of Friday's meeting as well as subsequent action by the council.
    Union members have also said the recent events could have an impact on the current contract negotiations, which have gone into arbitration as per state law.

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