Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage voted on Wednesday against the county government agreeing to settle a lawsuit with the US Dept. of Justice.
Commissioners Boots Hetherington and Gary Hess voted in favor of the settlement agreement, so it was approved by the County after all.
In 2022, the DOJ was granted permission to join the lawsuit. Now, it wants to settle with the County, but only its portion of it. The settlement that the Commissioners agreed to does not affect the original lawsuit against Halcovage and others, including County Administrator Gary Bender and Solicitor Glenn Roth.
The DOJ asked to join the Jane Doe lawsuit filed against Halcovage and several other County government officials on the basis that the Courthouse broke federal employment laws and was retaliating against the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit claims, in part, that Bender, Roth, and others at the Courthouse did nothing when told of Halcovage’s alleged wrongdoing. And not only did they do nothing, they acted out against them for filing the lawsuit, the lawsuit claims.
At Wednesday’s Commissioners meeting, the County didn’t divulge the details of the settlement agreement.
The DOJ and judge overseeing the lawsuit still need to approve it, too.
However, we can glean from what Halcovage said on Wednesday before voting against agreeing to it, what the settlement mostly involves.
The Commissioner said he was voting against the agreement because it would basically force him to admit some wrongdoing. And since the lawsuit was filed back in March 2021, Halcovage maintains he’s done nothing wrong.
On Wednesday, Halcovage spoke before his vote against the settlement agreement.
“I am voting ‘no’ but not because I disagree with everything in the agreement. To the contrary, I support all efforts to provide County employees with adequate training and to ensure that our County has effective policies in place,” Halcovage said. “My goal has always been to do what is best for the County. I am also pleased that the Dept. of Justice will be ending its involvement in the lawsuit.”
Then, Halcovage insisted he’s innocent in the matter.
“I vote ‘no’ because the agreement assumes that I may have acted unlawfully,” he added. “To the contrary, I have denied the plaintiffs’ allegations.”
Halcovage says he looks forward to telling his side of the story:
“I want my chance to tell you what really happened. Confidentiality restrictions have prevented me from being candid despite my desire to do so, and this has been frustrating for me and my family. By voting ‘yes’ I am admitting to events that never occurred. I cannot ethically do that and it wouldn’t be the truth.”Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage. Jan. 11, 2023