Controversial Pa. chief talking settlement
The controversy began with Mark Kessler when he posted two videos to YouTube that showed him fire automatic weapons and use profanity
By John E. Usalis
MAHANOY PLANE, Pa. — A settlement is in the making that could put to an end the legal battle between Gilberton Borough and its suspended police Chief Mark Kessler.
Gilberton Borough Council held its regular meeting Thursday and voted to continue negotiations between the borough's special counsel from the law firm of Elliott Greenleaf & Dean and Kessler's attorney, Joseph P. Nahas.
The meeting opened as usual with a review of normal business and announcement of committee assignments by council President Daniel Malloy, who then called to enter the new business portion of the meeting.
"We need a motion to authorize our counsel to continue negotiations with Mr. Kessler," Malloy said. The motion was made by William Hannon and seconded by Susan Schmerfeld.
The vote was 4-1-1, with Malloy, Hannon, Schmerfeld and Lloyd George voting in favor, Michael VanAllen voting against and Eric Boxer abstaining.
There was no discussion before the vote. Special counsel attorney Joseph J. Joyce and Larry Moran were included in an executive session before the open meeting. They did not comment during the meeting. Kessler and Nahas did not attend.
The controversy began with Kessler in mid-July when he posted two homemade videos to the Internet site "YouTube" that showed him fire automatic weapons and using profanity in his comments opposing a United Nations treaty on arms regulation and the support of the treaty by the Obama administration.
On July 31, borough council suspended Kessler for 30 days without pay due to his use of borough weapons without permission in the videos. Kessler has repeatedly said that he donated the weapons to the borough and had the right to use them without permission from any borough officials. When the 30 days was up, borough council extended the suspension indefinitely.
Thursday's meeting lasted nine minutes since there was very little official business on the agenda. After the meeting, Mayor Mary Lou Hannon said she was expecting a decision based on the negotiations, but there should be an end soon.
"We are still negotiating," Hannon said. "We're at the end of the line. The end is in sight. It's just ironing out some of the details. I thought we were going to have something tonight."
Hannon said that Kessler has not been involved in any direct negotiations.
"Council or myself have never sat down directly with Mark," she said. "It's been the attorneys talking and contacting myself and council members."
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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