It sounds like Schuylkill County Commissioner Boots Hetherington can’t get one of the Courthouse Tax Office employees he suspended a year ago out of his head.
Last week, while arguing why it was a good idea for the Commissioners to flush away more than $90,000 leasing 3 Subaru Imprezas for the upcoming property tax reassessment, Boots used the opportunity to clumsily dunk on the former Chief Tax Assessor.
Boots appeared to be very critical of that former Assessor, Angela Toomey. He said that Toomey “never followed through” on a previously hatched plan to lease or purchase similar vehicles for that department.
“This project was started under the previous director and it was never followed through,” Boots said slyly in comments before he voted to approve the leases.
But he didn’t leave it at just one dig at Toomey. Boots couldn’t leave it there. He turned to County Administrator Gary Bender for a little help in backing him up that Toomey never got the deal done.
“Mr. Bender, several years this has been going on, right,” Boots asked.
Bender smartly did not reply to the prompt from the Commissioners Chairman.
At this point, Boots had already started and stopped several sentences as it appeared he just wanted to make sure he worked in these digs at Toomey.
Trying to recover, Boots only managed to indicate that it “hadn’t been done properly before” and that’s part of the reason the deal may appear to be done in haste but really wasn’t.
Boots Knocks Former Tax Assessor Over Flawed Subaru Deal
The reason Bender probably didn’t say anything in response to Boots is the exact same reason Boots shouldn’t have said anything at all.
Boots, Bender, and several other Courthouse officials currently have a legal conflict with Toomey, who is presumed to be one of the 4 Jane Doe plaintiffs suing Commissioner George Halcovage for inappropriate workplace conduct and others in County government for their alleged complicit behavior allowing it to persist.
Those 4 women, all Courthouse employees, filed a federal civil lawsuit against these officials in 2021. They further allege they’re being subjected to retaliation after they decided to file the lawsuit.
Since filing that lawsuit, the Commissioners have acted in ways that some believe are retaliatory, especially against Toomey and another Tax Claims employee, while the government insists the moves they made were totally unrelated.
In the time since March 2021, Toomey and her colleague, Denise Gerchak, have been suspended from their jobs at the Courthouse. They’re still suspended as of today.
Further, the County alleges they were co-conspirators in a scheme to use LexisNexis to search for private data on some individuals. The Commissioners, led by Boots, have said the ladies’ so-called unauthorized searches may have put thousands of peoples’ personal data at risk.
Although the County points to an investigation report that led it to this conclusion, the Courthouse has outright refused to release that report to the public.
And in addition to the suspension, the County has tried to fire these two women twice, both unsuccessfully.