WEST DECATUR — Despite not being able to conduct township business due to an unadvertised special meeting, Boggs Township Supervisors gave the floor to a standing-room-only crowd on Monday evening for the purpose of public comment.
And the public had plenty to say.
In a series of several political moves that raised eyebrows of many, Supervisor Chairman Russell “Butch” Jackson and Supervisor Rickey Droll decided to clean house at last week’s Boggs Township Supervisors reorganization meeting.
The most prominent moves included last week’s termination of longtime Secretary/Treasurer Denise Dobo, and fellow Supervisor Bill Dickson and employee Glenn Shimmel as members of the township road crew. Jackson and Droll then hired themselves to the road crew and hired Kim Miller as secretary and Deb MacTavish as treasurer.
Jackson opened Monday’s meeting by stating there would be no meeting — because the meeting was not advertised in The Progress, and holding the meeting would be a violation of the Sunshine Act.
The state Sunshine Act requires agencies to deliberate and take official action on agency business in an open and public meeting. It requires that meetings have prior notice, and that the public can attend, participate, and comment before an agency takes that official action.
“It wasn’t published in the local paper, so we’re going to have a special meeting next week, Jan. 15 at 6 p.m.,” Jackson said.
Jackson then said that, while they could not have an official meeting, they would open up the floor for public comment. He also reminded the crowd that those wanting to speak will be allotted five minutes.
Boggs Township Auditor Tammy Bush asked at last week’s reorganization meeting about Jackson’s training with the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, referring to it as “boot camp” training for elected officials.
“If I’m not mistaken, they do talk about code of ethics and code of conduct,” Bush said last night. “Is that familiar?”
“I’m not sure,” Jackson responded.
“That’s one of the first things they talk about at the first meeting,” Bush said. “And I’m sure you’ve learned about the duty and loyalty to the township and not to your friends or even yourself for personal gain. However, that is exactly what you’ve done.”
Bush then read the ethics policy from the township’s own handbook.
“Boggs Township is committed to conducting its business with integrity,” Bush quoted. “The highest standards of ethical business conduct are required of township employees and performance of their responsibilities. Employees will not engage in conduct or activity that may raise question as to the township’s honesty, impartiality or reputation, or otherwise cause embarrassment to the township. Employees will avoid any action whether or not it’s specifically prohibited in the personnel policies, which might result in, or reasonably be expected, to create an appearance of using the public office or position for private gain, giving preferential treatment to any person or any entity, losing impartiality or adversely affecting the confidence of the public.”
Bush said she believes Jackson and Droll have “breached an ethical obligation to this township” by hiring themselves as township employees. Bush alleged that Jackson does not have experience as a municipal employee, nor does he have a commercial driver’s license to operate some of the township equipment.
Bush stated a CDL is required in the township’s employee handbook. She also mentioned Dickson had more than 20 years of experience as a road crew worker, as well as a CDL.
“Then Rick Droll and his friend, Supervisor Russell Jackson, hired Mr. Droll, who had been fired for suspected theft and is still involved in that court process,” Bush said. “Mr. Droll was then made roadmaster and he, too, does not have a CDL, as is required in the employee handbook.
“Mr. Droll and Mr. Jackson both fired Secretary Denise Dobo and Supervisor Bill Dickson as a result of Mr. Droll’s anger and blame towards Denise for his legal issues in regard to the theft charges. The township building has actually become a hostile environment. Mr. Droll, you made it very clear you’re angry with Denise for not following your orders, as you have put it at other meetings, and also angry with her for reporting the theft, for which you were then charged.”
Bush said when the thefts were first made public, she felt the situation created “safety issues” at the township building, so she purchased and loaned three security cameras to the township. Bush said she would like her cameras returned and she also asked Jackson and Droll what they have to say about their conduct.
“You should’ve never put (the cameras) here,” Droll responded. “I don’t need a camera put on me. That was your mistake. This ain’t your building.”
“Ok, when may I expect the cameras to be returned?” Bush responded.
“Ask my solicitor,” Droll said.
Newly appointed township Solicitor Heather Bozovich said she would have to discuss with Dickson how the cameras came about. Dickson said Bush purchased them and put them on loan to the township. When asked where they were, Dickson said they were taken down after last week’s meeting. Bozovich said she would look into the issue and get back with Bush.
Bush then again asked if Jackson and Droll had any comment on their conduct at last week’s reorganization meeting.
“I’ll have to advise with my solicitor,” Jackson responded.