Ohioville Borough Council has officially approved the draft minutes from their September 3rd public meeting, in which several members addressed recent controversies surrounding Police Chief Ronald Lutton and Mayor John Szatkiewicz. Below is an excerpt of the public minutes encompassing portions of the meeting prior to incidental committee reports, as adopted by council:
REGULAR MEETING SEPTEMBER 3, 2013
The Ohioville Borough Council met in regular session on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at the Borough Annex Building. The meeting was called to order by the President, Kenneth K. Doughty, at 7:30 P.M.
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag was led by Mr. Doughty.
F. John Szatkiewicz
Kenneth K. Doughty
Kevin E. Chaffee
Robert J. Ward, Jr.
Richard B. Decker, Jr.
Denise A. Cox
Walter Steff, Jr.
Maureen Hapach, Borough
Paul A. Steff, Borough
Councilor Boyde was absent.
On a motion by Mr. Chaffee and seconded by Miss Cox, it was moved to approve the minutes of the August 27, 2013 meeting, as posted. All answered yes to a roll-call vote – the motion was carried unanimously.
Ed Shaffer, 112 Locust Drive, Mr. Shaffer questioned the ethics of Ohioville Borough concerning the Chief of Police and the Mayor. Mr. Shaffer has concerns about the things that were done wrong that should be addressed by council and with Officer Beatty. Officer Beatty’s time had been cut and missed about two and a half months since the suspension of Chief Lutton had taken place. He feels that whoever oversees the police has done Officer Beatty wrong. Officer Beatty has saved the Borough a lot of money by doing something right. He feels the ethics of Mr. Lutton and Mr. Szatkiewicz needs addressed.
President Doughty addressed Mr. Shaffer’s comment stating that he can’t comment on anything concerning Mr. Lutton as it is a matter of litigation. Mr. Doughty did respond to the rest of Mr. Shaffer’s comment about the Mayor. The mayor is the one overseeing the police department. The mayor is not conducting himself in a manner that Mr. Doughty would consider upstanding to the Borough. The council holds themselves to a higher standard, including the mayor and Mr. Doughty personally thinks the mayor should resign, but council can’t make him resign. There’s really nothing council can do to remove the mayor from office. It will take more than a civil charge to get him out of office and will take actions higher than what council can do. Mr. Doughty could not comment on Officer Beatty as it was a personnel matter.
Police Chairman Decker addressed the mayor about his continued harassment of certain officers in this Borough, Officer Beatty, being one of them and would like to know the mayor’s reaction to this. Mayor Szatkiewicz quickly stated that he hasn’t made the schedule out for the last four months. He was reminded that he may not fill out the schedule, but he signs off on the schedule and approves it. The debate is the continued behavior towards a certain officer in this borough. The continued harassment of this officer and other officers who swap shifts with this particular officer. The mayor makes phone calls to these officers asking them why they’ve swapped off with Officer Beatty. The mayor claims he wants to know when there is a schedule change. He only calls these two officers when they swap with Officer Beatty and no other officers. Mr. Decker has talked to the officers. Mr. Decker brought up the suspension of Officer Beatty last fall. He felt that it was illegal and never should’ve happened. He was suspended because of a directive that the mayor put out and Officer Beatty didn’t sign it. The mayor stated that he had the backing of the acting chief. Officer Beatty was reinstated at the next council meeting. Mr. Decker informed the mayor that he suspended Officer Beatty for not signing a directive, but there is a separate directive on the books that another officer has not signed since October of last year, and yet no action has been taken against that officer. Mr. Decker asked how is this not harassment of Officer Beatty when evidently, the mayor is not applying the same powers out of the mayor’s handbook to the other officer because he sees the continued harassment of the other officer. The mayor asked which officer had not signed the directive and Mr. Decker informed him that it was Officer Edgell. He didn’t have the directive information in front of him, but he’s seen it and it’s still not signed as of the meeting. The mayor said he would check on it tomorrow.
Mr. Decker said that the point he was trying to make is that the mayor’s continued use of his powers as mayor for no good and that’s what the mayor continues to do. The incident at the mayor’s place and call the officer on his personal cell phone and asked him not to fill out a report. The mayor replied that it was typical. Mr. Decker informed him that it was an abuse of powers. Mr. Decker also stated that he would never ask an officer not to make a report out if he had to come to his home for an incident. You would be preventing the officer from doing his job. As a mayor, you know this better than any of us. The mayor stated that it always happens that way and why give the Borough a black eye? Mr. Doughty replied that everything that’s going on is a black eye because of the mayor. Mr. Decker stated that the comments that the mayor made to the arresting officer “You’re going to regret this.” bothers him immensely. The mayor said “No, I said, “You’re making a mistake.” “You’re going to regret this” are you’re exact words; it’s on the police report. Mr. Decker’s only interest in this are his actions as use of mayoral powers that he continues to try and influence on the police officers in the borough. The mayor stated that he was not arraigned until after 9:00 a.m. the next morning. He wanted to know what officer called the Beaver Countian at 6:36 a.m. and posted comments. Mr. Ward asked him how he called a police officer on duty on his private cell phone to come to the house and tell him not to fill out a report earlier in the evening. They try to explain to him that the officer on duty is put between a rock and a hard place, do their job or listen to their boss, but the mayor continually does it. The last time it happened, the officer was suspended, so the mayor has already sent the message to the officers.
Miss Cox stated that the positions of council members and mayor are held accountable for their actions. These positions are looked at differently by the taxpayers. Miss Cox feels that the members in attendance try to do the best that they can for the taxpayers and fiscally sound with their money. Miss Cox feels that the mayor has used his power to do harm to the Borough. Miss Cox feels that by trying to use his power to influence and do things that are wrong. It’s unacceptable at this point. She thinks there’s a black cloud over the Borough and thinks that the mayor has added to it. She doesn’t think the mayor is good for the Borough. She doesn’t think he should sit in his seat. She’s appalled that he would ask Borough employees to do things that are not right, which if they would do those things puts the entire borough at risk. They put the financial stability at risk. The mayor has done those things. We’ve been in positions in lawsuits that it probably cost taxpayers money and Miss Cox takes offense to that. Miss Cox grew up in this borough, she loves this borough and deserves the best and by the mayor’s actions, he is not the best. Miss Cox asked the mayor that if he cares about this borough, that he step down. The mayor replied that he has done a lot for the Borough for a lot of years. Miss Cox replied that the harm he has done has totally out weighed it. The mayor again stated that he has done no harm to the Borough, which he has tried to protect the Borough.
Chris Hapach, 378 Forrest Hill Road, Mr. Hapach asked council and the mayor to consider the mayor resigning from his position over the police department until the litigation matters involving the department are resolved so it won’t bring any grievances against the Borough. Mr. Hapach thought it would be appropriate as when Officer Beatty had pending charges he was suspended, the same should apply to the mayor. Mr. Doughty stated that it was the mayor’s decision. Mr. Decker also stated that it is the mayor’s decision. The mayor stated that Mayor Sainovich was faced with the same decision fifteen years ago. Mr. Decker finds it awkward that the mayor is in charge of the police department and there are three officers involved in this event at the mayor’s home and can remain in charge of the police department and their schedule and payroll and overall daily operations with this incident hanging over, whatever the outcome maybe. The mayor stated that the only thing he has been doing is signing off on the payroll. Mr. Decker reminded him that he is still in charge. The mayor stated that it was going to stay that way and see what happens.