Schuylkill County Commissioners split Wednesday on a vote to fire a Drug & Alcohol Administrator. But then, oddly and against his own comment rule, Commissioner Boots Hetherington did what might be considered a victory lap afterward.
Hetherington and Commissioner George Halcovage were united in voting to can Melissa Kalyan from her handsomely-paid gig as Drug & Alcohol Administrator for the County. Commissioner Gary Hess opposed the firing but later told the RepublicanHerald that he believed something should have done to the employee short of firing but didn’t specify why it was an issue.
The job in question paid more than $63,000 a year.
Schuylkill County Fires Drug & Alcohol Administrator
No reason was given for Kalyan’s termination. And for some reason, against protocol, the Commissioners voted on the firing separate of an appointment of someone else to another job. Typically, all personnel actions at Commissioners meetings are handled all at once with a single vote.
After Hetherington and Halcovage registered their clinching votes, Hetherington decided to comment on the action.
Outside of a retiring long-time employee of the County, comments on new hires and fires simply don’t happen. Plus, commenting on personnel actions at Commissioners meetings is a big no-no according to Hetherington’s own rules on public comments in meetings. He’s made that abundantly clear, especially lately as the County deals with what could be considered the Mother of All HR Problems.
But, unprovoked, Boots decided to weigh in on Kalyan’s dismissal.
He said his action was a “vote of confidence” in County Administrator Gary Bender, HR Director Heidi Zula, Solicitor Glenn Roth, and Human Services Director Elaine Gilbert.
“These folks come to work every day and do their very best to make this county run smoothly,” Boots said. “I commend and appreciate their dedication and their efforts.”
It seems like an odd thing to say after firing someone. Not everyone gets fired in a public setting. And no one certainly has their bosses making public statements about their firing after they’ve voted to fire them.
These comments, especially without giving the public any context, sounded strangely celebratory, definitely unseemly, and really ironic.
Mum on EEOC Ruling
Right now, Schuylkill County is in hot water with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, which has determined that it violated the Civil Rights Act in its treatment of women in the workplace at the Courthouse.
The County had 10 days to agree to conciliation with the affected employee(s) but hasn’t said a word publicly about that. There was no public statement issued on the matter at Wednesday’s meeting.
After all, the EEOC controversy is a personnel matter and everyone knows, we don’t discuss personnel matters during Schuylkill County Commissioners meetings unless they do. And if they do, only they can say something about them.
Halcovage, Bender, and Roth are each named as defendants in a federal civil lawsuit against the County filed by 4 Jane Doe plaintiffs who allege these officials are guilty of or complicit in a pattern of sexual harassment at the Courthouse.