Turmoil in Honesdale over top cop; Council names police commissioner
October 16, 2013 —
At an emotionally charged October 14 meeting, the Honesdale Borough Council appointed Rick Southerton to a conditional one-year term as commissioner of police/police chief. Passage of the resolution by a partial council (Scott J. Smith and Sam B. Mikulak were absent) was greeted with angry dissent by the public contingent present to support Sergeant Ron Kominski’s candidacy for that office. Kominski, who has been performing the duties of the chief since Joseph LoBasso resigned that position on July 31, had previously filled in for LoBasso whenever he was unavailable.
Earlier in the meeting, Tiffany Kominski, accompanied by a dozen vocal supporters, spoke during the public comment segment. Alluding to the lawsuit brought by Kominski against the council for improper procedure with regard to a personnel action involving him, her pointed question to the council was, “Who will pay the court costs associated with the lawsuit?” Council President F. J. Monaghan deferred to borough solicitor Richard Henry, who stated that taxpayers would ultimately be responsible for those expenses. The lawsuit resulted in a decision that the council had followed improper procedure, and participating council members were ordered to pay a $100 fine each.
Mayor Ed Langendoerfer, who is official liaison between the council and the police department, appeared to be at odds with the council over passage of the resolution to appoint Southerton as police commissioner. Citing the fact that the council had recruited candidates for police chief, not commissioner of police, he asked whether recruiting for commissioner might have produced a different pool of candidates. Langendoerfer then publicly thanked Kominski for his exemplary service as acting chief, a sentiment echoed immediately by Monaghan, who added that “he has always been a fine police officer.”