York City Council will hold an executive session with the city’s solicitor during the next few weeks to determine whether to push forward with an informational hearing about the issues between the city and the local police union that almost resulted in the firing of two officers.
Council president Carol Hill-Evans said Wednesday night that she expects the session to be held within the next couple of weeks, at which point the members will decide what direction to take.
At the end of last month, city officials publicly acknowledged their intentions to fire officers Michael Davis and Jeremy Mayer, both local police union officials, for what the city characterized as their poor handling of another officer’s accusations of a criminal enterprise within the police department.
The city and the police union reached a settlement that ultimately allowed both officers to stay on the force, but many questions about the allegations made against the department, its investigation of itself, why the city sought action against the two officers and the settlement the city and union came to have been unanswered, council members said Wednesday.
Scranton could have a difficult time shedding its distressed city status because of the pay raises and other perks in the revised police contract, a city councilman warned.
The city has until 2020 to successfully exit the state’s Act 47 financially distressed municipalities program. The new seven-year police contract approved by a split city council Thursday and signed by Mayor Bill Courtright Friday will hinder the city because the contract locks in pay raises and benefits beyond 2020, said Councilman Bill Gaughan.
He questioned whether the contract extension would “tie the city’s hands” by eliminating the possibility of negotiating in 2017 savings in a new police contract, while at the same time locking in raises and benefits a year beyond the Act 47 deadline of 2020.
Mr. Courtright disagreed that the contract extension will make it more difficult for the city to successfully exit Act 47.
Wednesday was a typical day for York City Firefighter Clifton Frederick IV: He helped install smoke detectors in a house, responded to a medical call and continued to familiarize himself with where equipment is stored at the Vigilant Fire Station.
Then he was laid off.
But he remains hopeful that he will return to the City of York Department of Fire/Rescue Services.
“Eventually, I’ll be back,” the 31-year-old said during the last few hours of his shift on New Year’s Eve.
LAFLIN, PA — The meeting of Laflin Borough Council devolved into chaos Monday night as four council members voted to immediately disband the police department and hire a consultant to liquidate the department’s property.
After hearing impassioned public comment against relying solely on state police to enforce the law in Laflin, a council majority voted to do just that, with Councilman Glen Gubitose the lone opposing vote.
The majority defended the move by saying the borough infrastructure is crumbling and in desperate need of repair after years of neglect. But that didn’t satisfy dozens of residents who showed up to voice their opposition to the move. As council members finished the vote, the room erupted in jeers and boos loud enough to drown out council members for the rest of the meeting.
Residents ordered to quiet down challenged council members to call the police.
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
York’s budget woes have set off a scramble to find ways to save positions in the departments that could face the deepest losses — police and fire — and triggered a whirlwind of questions about what would happen to the city if a balanced budget can come only at the cost of cutting public safety personnel.
Mayor Kim Bracey‘s budget, which she introduced Tuesday, would cut 46 positions in the police department and eight fire-fighting jobs, and would cut the city’s work force from 412 employees in 2014 to 315 next year, documents show. Bracey said she was faced with few options and asked community partners, legislators and the county for outside help.
As of Friday, “no one has knocked on the door,” she said.
She has called for union concessions. Bracey said she will meet with fire union President Fred Desantis on Monday, and the city already is in negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police. Police union president Mike Davis said he is “committed” to reaching an agreement before the end of the year.
Location of Norristown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURTHOUSE — A Montgomery County judge sentenced a retired Norristown police officer to 17 to 50 years behind bars Friday for selling methamphetamine and prescription pills and using his old police badge and license plate as clout to do it.
In July, a jury found Jack Pennington, 68, of Upper Merion, guilty of 16 out of 21 drug-related felonies stemming from a wiretap investigation spearheaded by Montgomery County Detectives and their Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET).
In June 2012, undercover operatives arrested Pennington at the Plymouth Meeting Mall as he was about to meet his supplier.
“His criminal conduct has had a significant negative impact on the community, and this type of criminal activity merits a significant sentence,” said Common Pleas Judge William R. Carpenter. “A lesser sentence would depreciate the seriousness of this kind of crime.”
A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The city had budgeted savings of nearly $900,000 this year by purging its health insurance rolls of ineligible employees, dependents and police retirees.
It also budgeted a contingency fund of $980,000, if the purges didn’t go as planned.
Managing Director Carole B. Snyder said the city has seen little savings so far because the police retiree purge got bogged down in arbitration and in complex evaluations that may not be complete by year’s end.
A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A change in state law has opened the door to eliminating a requirement that Pittsburgh police officers live in the city they are sworn to protect.
That door should be slammed shut.
Last year, a state law that said Pittsburgh police officers “shall” reside within the city was softened to say that officers “may” do so. That language would be completely meaningless — of course officers may live in the city — but for the City Code, which includes a residency provision that applies to all city employees.
The change in state law provided an opening for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 to challenge the requirement, and during a recent arbitration hearing, dozens of current and former officers testified in support of abolishing the residency rule.
In a move to save more than $1.3 million, the city so far this year has thrown 98 people off its self-funded health insurance policy, and plans to remove another 77 if arbitrators allow.
Carole B. Snyder, city managing director, said the total of 175 people includes 89 dependents of current city employees, nine nonpolice retirees, and 77 police retirees and/or their spouses, all of whom the city says are not eligible for city-paid insurance.
The Fraternal Order of Police has objected, and the city has agreed to wait on the police retiree purge until an arbitration panel rules. A hearing is slated for March.
View of Pottsville, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Following a one-hour, closed-door meeting Thursday night, members of Pottsville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 44 and the city council have come up with a few concepts that might save jobs, according to FOP President Brian Kotzmoyer.
“It was a very positive meeting,” Kotzmoyer said.
“Both sides realized we’re doing our best to try to avoid layoffs. The officers put forth some ideas about cost-savings initiatives and some things they can do to generate more revenue on our end,” said Councilman Mark Atkinson, who chairs the council’s public safety committee.
When asked for his thoughts after the meeting, Councilman Michael P. Halcovage, who chairs the finance committee, said: “We’re just throwing around ideas. I can’t give you any specifics.”
A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
City police, especially those hired this year and in the future, will take major pay and benefit cuts now and when they retire, according to a five-year contract handed down Friday by a panel of arbitrators.
The panel froze officers’ salaries and step increases for three years and cut starting salaries, vacation time and sick leave in the new contract, which is retroactive to January 2012.
In setting the terms, the panel followed the city’s Act 47 financial recovery plan to cut millions of dollars a year from police costs.
For employees hired before the old contract expired at the end of 2011, the panel kept that contract’s pension benefits – up to 70 percent of working salaries, the ability to buy years of service to raise that pension, and city-paid retiree health insurance.