More Civil Service Controversy in Baldwin Borough

James Behers resigns from his post on Tuesday night after he was illegally appointed in April.

It turns out that James Behers should never have been appointed to Baldwin Borough's Civil Service Commission—a quasi-judicial board that oversees the Baldwin Borough Police Department—.

The Baldwin Council accepted Behers' resignation from that commission on Tuesday night by a 4-3 vote, the same narrow margin tallied when Behers was appointed in the first place.

Behers, a state constable who lives on Green Glen Drive, is ineligible for a spot on the Civil Service Commission, Councilman Bob Collet pointed out before motioning to accept Behers' resignation, because Section 1173 of the Pennsylvania Borough Code says so.

That section reads, "No commissioner shall at the same time hold an elective or appointed office under the United States Government, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, except that one member of the commission may be a member of the council of the borough and one may be a member of the teaching profession."

Collet acknowledged that each member of the Baldwin Council, including himself, overlooked Section 1173 when Behers was appointed in the first place, illegally.

But before Collet's motion to accept Behers' resignation could be put to a vote, fellow Councilman Michael Stelmasczyk—who joined Councilmen John Ferris, John Conley and President David M. Depretis in appointing Behers in April—motioned to amend Collet's motion. (Councilmen Ed Moeller, Larry Brown and Collet voted against Behers in April.)

Stelmasczyk's Tuesday amendment specified that Behers' resignation only be accepted so long as it included a stipulation that the newly created vacancy be advertised for potential new applicants. Stelmasczyk said that that is the borough's common practice.

Moeller, Brown and Collet voted against that amended motion, but Ferris, Conley, Depretis and Stelmasczyk voted for it.

In April, the Moeller-Brown-Collet trio voted for longtime former borough employee Ann Scott to serve on the Civil Service Commission instead of Behers. Scott, an Elaine Drive resident, was an incumbent at the time.

Moeller said on Tuesday that there is no need to spend more borough money on another advertisement for the Civil Service vacancy when a worthy, eligible candidate—presumably, Scott—is still available.

Collet agreed, saying, "This is a special circumstance. At that time, when that mistake (Behers' appointment) was made, there was only one valid candidate for the position.

"Just as we did when council made a mistake and promoted (police) sergeants incorrectly, we went back in time to the point where we were correct. Then, we moved on from there."

Collet serves on the three-member Civil Service Commission with former Baldwin Councilman George Raynovich. They are unpaid positions.

In April, Raynovich also wanted to see Scott instead of Behers.

Said Raynovich at the time, "It is clear to me that the reason Ms. Scott did not get re-elected to the commission is because she was appointed by the previous council, which you people (Stelmasczyk, Ferris and Depretis) defeated in an election.

"We will lose the benefit of someone who knows the work and is clearly capable of doing it. I'm sorry to see this happen."

Added Scott in April, "This whole thing was political. It wasn't for the best interest of the community. It was to be a politician. It's not like I get paid for the job. I do this on my own time."

Said Collet on Tuesday in response to the position being advertised again, "I just have one comment—unbelievable."

Stelmasczyk resented that mark, saying, "I would say the same thing. I am very disappointed (with) this attempt of replacing a previous person who had submitted an application into a job without the rest of council knowing this."

A motion to appoint Scott back to the Civil Service Commission was never officially made by a council member on Tuesday. Given the passage of the motion amended by Stelmasczyk, Scott would have to reapply for a spot should she want to return to the commission.

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