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Public shows support for former Tyrone borough manager after dismissal

Fired Tyrone Borough Manager Nathan George received support from the public both prior to and after his official dismissal at a special council meeting Friday night.
About two dozen people attended the meeting, some offering public comment prior to George’s actual dismissal, others approached George after the meeting, along with some who spoke during the meeting.
George claims he was actually terminated in executive session on June 8. An action he believes is a violation of the sunshine laws. George also is contending the borough is in violation of its home charter.
Friday night, the council’s motion was “that the employment of Nathan George as Borough Manager be terminated with cause effective immediately.”
George contended in a statement made during public comment that he felt the borough was in violation of Tyrone’s home rule charter, section 802. The section reads: “The council may remove the borough manager at any time, with cause.”
George has indicated he does not think there was cause for his dismissal and instead said his firing was retaliatory in nature, based on his, “working relationship with executive secretary, Kim Murray.”
George noted under his duties as borough manager, the secretary’s position fell under his “direct, exclusive supervision and control.”
Under Tyrone’s charter, section 41.8-804-1, “powers and duties of borough manager” states: “He shall supervise and be responsible for the activities of all municipal departments.”
It further states, under 41.8-804-6, “He shall hire, suspend or discharge all (other) employees under his supervision and he shall report at the next meeting of the council any action taken by authority of this subsection.”
George indicated the issue which led to council’s action were related to his supervisory capacity.
George was asked if he thought he had been given information from the mayor or council which he thought was contrary to the section of the charter regarding his ability to, “hire, suspend or discharge.”
After reiterating the question, his answer was, “yes,” in regards to the mayor.
George indicated this morning he was unable to offer any further detailed statement at this time on the advice of counsel.
He answered, “No comment,” when asked if he intended to file suit against the borough.
Also this morning, Murray was asked if she would comment about George’s specific reference to her. She said she would need to check with borough solicitor Larry Clapper first.
Under Tyrone’s charter, George also had the power to recommend for appointment, promotion or discharge all police officers of the borough. George also held the right to suspend, for cause, any police officer. He also was able to recommend appointments for the chief of police position, with council maintaining actual authority to appoint the chief.
In addition to George’s allegations, he also asked a series of questions about borough actions at Friday’s meeting.
One member of the public, Ellen Wallace asked whether or not she could withhold her comments until hearing the borough’s side.
George’s questions went unanswered since solicitor Clapper advised council not to discuss the issue publicly. As for Wallace, it was explained to her the council set aside public comment for agenda items for prior to the actual discussion or action on agenda items. It was further noted, the placement of public comment, was under the current sunshine laws.
Citizen Dan Meckes also gave a prepared statement during public comment.
“I think the impending actions you are about to take are disgraceful,” said Meckes. “Further…I think this entire matter of an unchecked, out-of-control public official, single-handedly determining the destiny of this town is a matter for investigation by the state legislature.”
Others also spoke during public comment and gave their thoughts about George’s efforts and his current situation.
When asked if he thought George’s concern about sunshine law and home rule charter violations were valid, Clapper reply with just one word.
He said, “No.”
He also indicated he wasn’t concerned about George’s accusations.
Mayor Patricia Stoner was asked for her thoughts about the decision to terminate George. She declined to comment.
Councilman Bill Fink, the lone council person to vote “no” to the borough manager’s termination, said during the meeting his only concern was whether or not George would have the opportunity to speak before council, but that concern was taken care of when George made his statement during public comment.
“I had been elected, but not sworn in when he was hired,” said Fink. “I didn’t have the opportunity to sit in on the interview. I didn’t think I could judge someone I didn’t know. All I know of him is through the council meetings.
“When he first came here, he did meet with each borough council member one on one,” said Fink. “He impressed me. He indicated he was very interested in serving the public and working in the borough. He gave the impression, the public deserved his attention and he gave it.”
Fink explained he had wrestle with the decision on his vote.
“If you abstain, it almost could be considered agreeing with it,” said Fink. “I didn’t think I could jeopardize a person or their livelihood based on ‘he said, she said.’”
Fink added, “The borough manager showed one thing tonight, he’s got grit.”
Several people approached George after the meeting and spoke with him.
Many of those indicated they thought he had done a good job and wished him well.
Council person Virgie Werner voted a “regretful” yes in favor of George’s dismissal. She was the only council member to approach George after the meeting to offer her thoughts.
“I want to thank the public for their support,” said George. “We were pleasantly surprised, my wife and I.”