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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Editorial: As the borough turns, the people will pay the price

  • And so are the days of our lives.
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  • And so are the days of our lives.
    The famous soap opera saying certainly applies to the ongoing drama unfolding at borough hall in Honesdale.
    Unless you have been living under a Wayne County rock, you are probably aware of the ongoing issue involving the borough council and the police department.
    The council simply shunned the public and decided it was going to create the new job of police commissioner.
    They didn't advertise for that job. They didn't create a job description. They didn't bother to ask the taxpayers, who fund the position, what they think.
    They just acted.
    The arrogance seething out of the council members is thicker than a foggy day at Keen Lake.
    They apparently don't really care what the taxpayers are saying because it is going to cost the taxpayers an arm and a leg before this is all over.
    It would seem their goal is to simply take the police department to the woodshed and teach them a lesson.
    But how much more is there to this story?
    What are the real reasons behind the push to create the position of police commissioner?
    Those questions can only be answered by the people who are so head strong on this issue.
    But there are some clues.
    The biggest clue is how the council has completely detached itself from Mayor Ed Langendoerfer.
    The mayor has been outspoken in his disdain for the actions of the council. He wrote a formal letter to council president F.J. Monaghan asking for a public meeting. The mayor wanted all members of council, new commissioner Rick Southerton, solicitor Rich Henry and members of the police department present.
    But Langendoerfer was told there would not be a meeting with that makeup. He was told the council did not want such a meeting.
    We contacted councilman Bob Jennings and asked him if he knew of the formal letter or if he had been contacted about such a meeting.
    "First I've heard of it," he told us.
    That's a clue.
    Some people want to control this entire situation and not only do they not discuss it with their own mayor, they don't discuss it with at least one of their council members. It's probably more than one.
    Then there is the case of councilman Sam Mikulak.
    Mikulak was appointed to the council just before this entire controversy erupted. Part of that controversy surrounded Mikulak's brother Ted, who is a local magistrate.
    It was Magistrate Ted Mikulak who was involved in an executive session with the council that eventually led to each of them being found guilty of violation of the Sunshine Act.
    Page 2 of 2 - Sam Mikulak was involved in the hiring of the new police commissioner. He was one of the yes votes.
    Since then, he hasn't been seen at a council meeting. He also didn't bother to fill out the paperwork to run for council, which we understand was part of the reason he was appointed.
    So why did he get on council?
    Was it to help push through the hiring of Southerton?
    It sure looks like that could be the case since he hasn't bothered to attend meetings since that happened. He did pay the price of being found guilty of violating state law, but that hasn't changed how the events continue to unfold.
    This entire soap opera will almost certainly get worse as time goes forward. The riff between the council and police department may take years to repair. It will certainly take elections.
    But the police are not to blame here. They have continued to do their sworn duties through all of this; it's the council who is at fault.
    It doesn't appear to bother them they were found guilty of violating the law and then proceeded to take actions which could merit the same violations.
    And where is the solicitor in all of this?
    It's certain his bills to the borough are much higher this year, but is it worth the price?
    Is he part of the ongoing situation in which borough council members continue to push the envelope when it comes to state law?
    All of these questions, and many more, will eventually be answered. It may take time and it could take depositions, but they will be answered.
    In the meantime, however, the taxpayers can only sit on the sidelines and watch this entire drama play out to its eventual end.
    All soap operas have many tragedies. This one is no different.

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