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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Back room deals getting old, time is now to change

  • This may not come as shocking news to many, but there are some real problems happening with the Honesdale Borough Council.
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  • This may not come as shocking news to many, but there are some real problems happening with the Honesdale Borough Council.
    Most of those problems surround how the council has handled the selection process for the chief of police.
    On Tuesday, all seven members of the council were found guilty of violating the state's Sunshine Law — and that centered around the police chief selection.
    About an hour after the judge announced her decision to find the members of the council guilty, the borough's own civil service commission voted not to administer a test to the council's selection for police chief.
    The reason given, in a prepared statement, was that Rick Southerton, the choice for chief, was not qualified in Pennsylvania to be a police officer. Southerton has said he is not Act 120 certified, which is required in the state.
    But that doesn't mean he can't work for the borough, as the commission pointed out. He could serve in an administrative capacity, but would not have access to many things involving the police department.
    That would include everything from records to the power of arrest.
    If that is what the majority of the council is seeking, they may once again be in big trouble.
    The biggest reason is how they advertised for the position. That advertisement was for a chief of police. Under the current bargaining agreement with the borough and police union, that position is someone who is a certified police officer.
    So the ramification of the contract is a huge obstacle for the council to manage.
    Logically, it would seem the council, if it indeed wants an administrator, would have to re-advertise for the position and make it specific. That would mean another interviewing process and more.
    Page 2 of 3 - But there is an even bigger problem with that scenario.
    The Honesdale Police Department is operating short handed and has been for quite some time. With just five full-time officers (which includes Kominski), it makes things very difficult for the department. Scheduling must be a nightmare and they have a heavy reliance on part-time officers.
    There is nothing wrong with part-time officers. Yet it would be much more prudent to have a fully staffed force. Like any other group, it helps with continuity and just basic things like communication and scheduling. That's not even mentioning public safety, which is the entire point of the department.
    With the tight budget of the borough, it doesn't seem to make any sense they would want to hire an administrator instead of an officer. In places the size of Honesdale, the chief of police does patrols like everyone else. That person also works crime scenes, does outreach, handles public relations and more.
    But the decision is up to the council.
    Unless, of course, the people see things differently and begin putting pressure on the council to do something different.
    That doesn't mean the council will do something different. They've been known to dig in their heels and not listen to the public.
    However, public pressure does have benefits and now is the time for people to stand up and share their feelings.
    The side you are on doesn't matter, the fact that you would share an opinion and voice it directly to members of the council is what matters.
    This entire situation has turned into a big mess and there is simply no reason it should happen this way.
    Much of this goes back to personal agendas and back room politics. It's the very violations of the Sunshine Law that never are known. Secret meetings, email chains, they all exist.
    Page 3 of 3 - If you think the matter of the police chief wasn't discussed privately by several members of the council before a decision was ever made, we have some prime beachfront property in Arizona at a very reasonable price.
    This proves the entire problem when it comes to how politics works in this neck of the woods. Certain people don't like certain other people and then you have a mess.
    It's always amazing how some of these elected officials point finger at everyone but themselves. It's always the fault of the news media or the public, rarely that of those who were elected to serve.
    The council could still come out of this saving some face. They need to review the entire process and then publicly discuss what should happen. They should certainly take opinions from the public.
    Then, they might be able to make an informed decision based on public opinion and not those inside a smoke-filled room.
    This stuff is getting old and it's time those on the council did the right thing, no matter how bad the crow tastes.

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