Published Date Written by Dan Miller
Greg Wilsbach, the supervisor of Middletown Borough’s electric department, made public his resignation during a statement before Middletown Borough Council on Monday, July 7 in which he accused council President Christopher McNamara of authoritzing the payment of a neighbor’s tree pruning with borough funds.
Wilsbach alleged that a year ago McNamara authorized the borough pay $850 worth of work done by a private contractor involving the pruning of trees at a neighbor’s house on Pine Street. Wilsbach said that McNamara, who lives across the street, authorized payment for the work, performed on
July 2, 2013, because “he was tired of the leaves blowing on his property” from the neighbor’s yard.
The Press And Journal has obtained a copy of an invoice for the work.
“I questioned it,” Wilsbach told council regarding the tree work. “From a year until now I have been harassed because I questioned it.”
After the meeting, McNamara refused to comment on the allegation made by Wilsbach.
“I don’t have any issues with Mr. Wilsbach from an employment standpoint,” McNamara said.
Wilsbach said he reported his concerns regarding the billing to Borough Manager Tim Konek and to Wilsbach’s supervisor, Public Works Director Ken Klinepeter. “It was like no one knew what was going on, and from then on I was harassed, and then I was told to shut the [expletive] up and I’ll keep my job,’’ Wilsbach said. “This is how it works in this borough, and I am done with the stuff.”
“In the last two years, I’ve never witnessed in my life such a dysfunctional, unethical – I could keep going on with the list – council,’’ Wilsbach told council Monday during his public statement about his resignation. “It just makes me sick.”
“I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life and it’s sickening to see what’s going on here,” Wilsbach continued. “How one or two people can run this … I can speak freely now, which is great. I had to keep my mouth shut because I signed confidentiality papers. The book is just starting to get written. I have a lot of information to put out, a lot of stuff that is going on.”
Wilsbach asked Mayor James H. Curry III to investigate Wilsbach’s charges. Wilsbach presented Curry a packet of information at the meeting, explaining afterward that Curry supervises the police department. Wilsbach added that he didn’t trust council to investigate because a majority seemed to be allied with McNamara on borough matters.
McNamara and the rest of council responded to Wilsbach’s statement with stony silence during the meeting, then recessed for nearly two hours behind closed doors for an executive session that had been listed on the meeting agenda. McNamara said the executive session was to discuss personnel matters. Upon re-convening the meeting, council voted to accept Wilsbach’s resignation by a vote of 9-0.
The Press And Journal has obtained a copy of Wilsbach’s resignation letter, dated June 18. Acting on a tip, the Press and Journal, sought confirmation several times about Wilsbach’s employment status – including a Right-to-Know request the newspaper made to Chris Courogen, the borough’s director of communications, a few hours before Monday’s meeting – but Courogen replied after each inquiry that he had not been aware that Wilsbach had submitted a resignation letter.
Councilor John Brubaker, who chairs council’s public works committee, said he did not know of Wilsbach resigning until Wilsbach made his public statement during council’s Monday night meeting. Brubaker said he did not know whether council will replace Wilsbach, or what the borough’s plan is going forward regarding the now-vacant electric department supervisor position.
Wilsbach’s salary is $78,852.80, tied with Klinepeter’s as the highest salary of any non-union employee in the borough, Courogen said. Wilsbach has worked for the borough for 26 years, the last seven spent as the electric department supervisor.
Regarding the future of Wilsbach’s position, Courogen said, “I do not know what direction council will go, but I can tell you that we do already have processes and backups in place to ensure that there will be no problems with our electric service in the borough.”
The text of Wilsbach’s resignation reads as follows:
“I am submitting my notice that effective July 10th 2014 I will be resigning as Electric Supervisor for the Borough of Middletown. I am very proud of my department’s many accomplishments over the last 26 years of employment, including my last seven as Supervisor of Electric. However, unfortunately with the current permitted harassment and reckless decisions by Council President McNamara, Vice President [Robert] Louer, and Councilors Brubaker and [Suzanne] Sullivan, I can no longer effectively provide a safe reliable electric service that our residents deserve.
“The last two years under their leadership, I have endured a work environment so hostile and unethical that it has finally taken its toll on my health. I will sadly miss working with my colleagues and serving our great residents, and wish them all well. Please freeze my retirement benefits until which time I am qualified to utilize them.”