Exeter Borough Council discusses ongoing legal issues at meeting

By B. Garret Rogan

For Sunday Dispatch

EXETER — Residents were given updates on the problems facing the borough’s police and volunteer fire departments during Tuesday night’s regular council meeting.

Joseph Rudolf, an attorney representing Exeter in arbitration as the borough attempts to terminate officer Leonard Galli, addressed the public regarding the arbitration process.

According to Rudolf, the arbitrator will have 40 days to reach a decision once a briefing schedule has been set. Both sides will have the option to appeal the matter to the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas.

Galli was found to be using his borough computer to view pornographic images, arrange sexual encounters and conduct personal business while on duty. Galli has appealed the decision to terminate him and borough officials are debating whether or not the legal costs of arbitration are worth his removal.

Council members Denise Adams, Joe Pizano and John Morgan have consistently voted against paying legal fees associated with the arbitration although they are routinely outvoted by Larry Dellegrotto, Joseph Esposito, Thomas Shannon and Richard Turner.

Borough resident Joanne Shiner pointed out that Galli, in his professional capacity as a police officer, has been the subject of seven lawsuits prior to the incident which prompted the borough to seek his termination.

Others pointed out that the borough wasted money paying Galli’s salary while he was conducting personal affairs instead of fulfilling his duties as a police officer.

Exact figures for the costs of those lawsuits and the current arbitration were not mentioned during the meeting and were not available immediately following the meeting.

Esposito asked if the graphic content of e-mails sent by Galli will be made public.

While Rudolph did not confirm whether or not the e-mails will be made public, he pointed out that documents associated with the case are available to citizens who wish to view them.

Donald Skursky, chief of the Exeter Volunteer Fire Department, also addressed the council.

Skursky originally served as chief from 1993 through 2000 before returning in June following the announcement of an investigation into the department over allegations of theft.

He vouched for the department’s line officers and shot down rumors that the department would be incorporated into those of Wyoming or Hughestown.

Skursky announced that the department is $20,000 in debt. He asked that the borough end its practice of contributing $10,400 to the fire department to cover utilities in favor of directly paying the department’s utilities. He also requested that the borough, which currently pays to have the fire engines insured, also pay insurance costs for the fire truck designated for brush fires.

Skursky closed his address by stating his belief that having an effective volunteer fire department is an essential matter of public safety.

He pointed to the trend of closed and consolidated fire fighting units in neighboring communities and expressed his hope that the public will continue to support the volunteer force in Exeter.

The next regular Exeter Borough Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10 at the municipal building on Wyoming Avenue.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.

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