Police department is focus of new borough council
HONESDALE, PA — It’s not often that an organization fails to approve minutes of its own previous meetings, but that’s what happened at the January 13 monthly meeting of the Honesdale Borough Council. In front of a room packed to capacity with media representatives, supporters of police sergeant Ron Kominski and curious citizenry, newly-elected Councilperson Tiffany Kominski voiced objection to the minutes of the January 3 emergency meeting.
It wasn’t the wording of the minutes that prompted Kominski’s objection; it was the designation of the January 3 meeting as an “emergency” meeting. Per borough bylaws, an emergency meeting may be called on short notice and without the usual advance publicity. This one was called with only 30 minutes notice, making it impossible for media and public to attend. Council President James Brennan defended his decision to call the meeting, saying that he had been notified by police Commissioner Rick Southerton that the current critical shortage of working police officers represented a danger to everyone in the borough. The express purpose of that meeting was to approve hiring of three part-time officers to supplement the quota of full-time officers, some of whom are currently out on leave. Mayor Ed Langendoerfer, police liaison, refuted Brennan’s explanation, claiming that the council had been aware of the officer shortage in late December and that the council’s outgoing president, F.J. Monaghan, had tabled the issue at the council’s December 30 meeting.
Acceding to requests from Langendoerfer and Public Works Director Rich Doney, who spoke on behalf of all public works employees, as well as fire, police and ambulance personnel, the council reinstated an overnight parking ban during the months of December, January and February. Overnight street parking will be prohibited during the hours 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.; violators will face a $25 fine. Newly elected Councilperson Bill Canfield asked that a local newspaper publish a prominent notice to borough residents clarifying the ban’s conditions. Doney stated that reverting to the longstanding ban ordinance should incur no additional cost to the borough, noting that all appropriate signage is still in place.
The council went on to approve purchase of two traffic signal light generators at a cost of $450 apiece, to ensure that signal lights remain functional during power failures. It also approved a 2014 Tax Anticipation Notice resolution that will permit a $200,000 bridge loan from The Dime Bank at an interest rate of 1.59% for payment of borough expenditures until tax revenues are received. And it took the next step in the process to change the one-way traffic pattern on Church and Main streets back to a two-way traffic pattern. That step is to notify Ed Coar, director of the Wayne County Planning Department, that the borough wishes to change the existing traffic pattern.
It was clear that Langendoerfer and newly elected councilpersons Carolyn J. Lorent, Kominski and Canfield are dedicated to addressing what they consider to be deficiencies in Honesdale Police Department management. In the hope of jump-starting the long ongoing police negotiation process, Canfield proposed a meeting of all interested parties. Later, explosive anger erupted from Sergeant Ron Kominski’s supporters, who brought to public attention the fact that Kominski, cleared by his doctors to return from workmen’s compensation medical leave to light duty work on January 2, was informed by Southerton that there is no light duty work for police officers. Kominski has been out of work since January 2. Canfield proposed that Kominski man the desk in the police department’s Main Street office until he is cleared to return to full duty. Councilperson Scott J. Smith concurred that a desk job would meet the borough’s definition of “light duty” work.