Mead board alludes to inappropriate event
It all depends on what the definition of ‘it’ is.
Accusations were plentiful, but details were not during Monday’s meeting of the Mead Township Supervisors.
At times, the spirited discussion turned briefly to the township’s sexual harassment policy, inappropriate text messages, whether or not a supervisor had resigned, and a proposal to fire the township secretaries.
No formal actions were taken with regard to any of those subjects.
“I can’t believe this is being swept under the rug,” Dana Hennessy said.
When Supervisor Chairman Al Fox opened the public comment period, he said, “If someone has something to say I want them to have something to back it up with.”
Hennessy asked if “anything is being done about… the insubordination and strained relationships we’re having here.”
“We’ve had some talks about it,” Fox said. “I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of it. I was hoping (Supervisor Mike) Curtis would be here.” Curtis did not attend Monday’s meeting.
“I know nothing,” Supervisor Dave Wholeben said. “I haven’t spoken with Mike since the last meeting.”
The supervisors did not clarify what the issue was.
“What we do in personnel we do not do in public. However, the results would be,” Fox said. “We don’t discuss personnel matters. It isn’t necessarily public record.”
Personnel matters are among the items that may be discussed in sessions closed to the public – executive sessions – according to the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, but any actions taken based on closed-session discussions must be taken in public.
Township Secretary Debbie Cowan weighed in on the issue. “When it’s a personnel matter, it is to be discussed in executive session,” she said. “We have a disciplinary policy. If you have a problem with personnel you discuss the issue with them, not at a public meeting. Those are the rules.”
She said an executive session was called during a previous meeting. “There were four of us who went into executive session. I felt that Supervisor Fox had taken care of everything and everything was settled… until the last meeting when everything got blown out of proportion.”
“I think it became public when Mr. Curtis sent copies of the text messages around town,” Hennessy said. “They’re out in public.”
“There were 29 texts that I sent,” Township Secretary Tracey Morrison said. “Did you get 29? I wanted to speak on my behalf.”
Morrison said she still had all of the messages she received from Curtis, but that she did not intend to make them public.
“Until I have a subpoena from a court of law, you will not see them,” she said. “That is my personal stuff.”
“If someone is going to sit up in that chair and run the township, we shouldn’t have nothing inappropriate,” Hennessy said. “It’s happening at the township building. If we have a problem with a supervisor being inappropriate with a secretary, obviously we have to do something.”
Hennessy said that, after a previous meeting, there had been “inappropriate behavior on behalf of a supervisor.” The alleged action reportedly involved Supervisor Mike Curtis, who was not at Monday’s meeting.
Fox and Wholeben denied direct knowledge of the inappropriate behavior, but Fox said he had heard about the alleged incident and agreed that, if it took place as reported, it was inappropriate.
“It had that appearance to me, from what I heard,” he said. But, “everything is total hearsay.”
Fox said even if the actions of an elected supervisor warranted removal from the position, that action is not up to the other supervisors.
“I can’t fire him,” Fox said using Wholeben as an example. “I could talk to Dave and say, I think you’re being inappropriate… what are you going to do about it?”
“If something inappropriate’s been said, something needs to be done about it, but this is neither the time nor the place because he’s not here to defend himself,” Terry Hawk said.