Executives disagree on personnel matter

LEWISTOWN – Discussion around a personnel matter led to a lengthy executive session during the Monday evening meeting of Lewistown Borough Council.

Councilmember Larry Searer stood up at the beginning of the meeting to speak about a letter he received regarding an email that he sent to other council members.

Discussion centered around whether the contents of the letter were for executive session, as several on council believed it was a personnel matter, rather than an inquiry from a private citizen. Council voted to go into an executive session to discuss the matter further.

After the conclusion of Monday night’s meeting, The Sentinel contacted Searer by phone for additional comment. Searer said the situation involved a disagreement between himself and Borough Manager John White over what was a private matter, but the two men came to a mutual agreement at the end of the executive session.

“As far as I’m concerned, that part of it is settled. What really concerns me is that, once again, we see members of this council taking what was a private matter and calling it a ‘personnel issue’ so it doesn’t have to be discussed in public,” Searer said. “This was not a ‘personnel issue,’ because it had nothing to do with the borough – it was a private matter.”

Searer also said he feels it is important for borough residents to know what happened.

“I was denied the right to speak publicly, even though I excused myself as a council member so I could speak as a local resident,” he said.

In a separate phone interview Monday night, Councilman Matt Moore – who served as acting council president for the meeting – maintained that the issues Searer wanted to discuss publicly were those reserved for an executive session.

“He wanted to bring up matters involving a borough employee, and that makes it a personnel matter – our solicitor made it very clear,” Moore said.

“We’re not really sure what Larry was trying to accomplish this evening, but we’re not trying to hide anything,” he said. “John White is an excellent borough manager, we have a good council, and we’re working together for the good of the borough.”