The big surprise at Monday night’s Macungie Borough Council meeting was that council member Linn Walker did not resign.
Less surprising were more angry exchanges between some people in the audience and Mayor Rick Hoffman about his operation of the Macungie police department.
Walker, who was not at the meeting, had announced to local media that he would resign Monday, after being charged for allegedly urinating on a neighbor’s porch in the borough Friday afternoon. He was cited by Macungie police for open lewdness, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.
Walker could not be reached for an explanation after the meeting. A woman who answered his phone shortly before 11 p.m. said he was not at home.
The issue of whether Walker is resigning was raised at the meeting, not by anyone on council, but by Macungie business owner Tim Romig.
After reading news articles that Walker said he was resigning Monday, Romig expected to see an item about accepting Walker’s resignation on council’s agenda, but it wasn’t there. “It appeared to me that unless somebody asked the question, council wasn’t going to address it,” said Romig after the meeting.
When Romig asked council if Walker was going to resign, council president Jean Nagle replied: “I don’t know.” She said she had spoken to him, “but I don’t know what the answer is.” She said he has not turned in a resignation. “It’s his personal issue,” she told Nagle. “It has nothing to do with council at this point. It will become an issue for us if he does resign. Then we will need to appoint someone. Other than that, the subject is not for council.”
Added solicitor Patrick Armstrong: “My understanding is he has not contacted this council with a final decision with respect to a resignation. There has been no written, formal resignation to my knowledge.”
Borough manager Chris Boehm told Romig she also does not have anything in writing from Walker.
None of the four council members at Monday’s meeting raised any ethical issues about their colleague’s alleged behavior or outlined the steps council will have to take to appoint a replacement to complete Walker’s term if or when he does resign.
Walker, a Republican, was elected to a two-year term on council in November and took office in January.
During a break in the meeting, Armstrong said: “I don’t think there’s anything requiring Mr. Walker to resign. I don’t know his intentions.” Armstrong later added he has not yet done the research about whether Walker ultimately could be forced to resign by council if he should be found guilty but does not resign.
On Friday, neighbors complained to police that the 67-year-old councilman has been coming out of his home and urinating on their properties in front of them and their children. While police were talking to neighbors, they observed Walker doing just that.
Nagle also said she also does not know Walker’s intentions, adding: “I think he’s thinking about it.”
“It’s up to him,” said Mayor Rick Hoffman, who said he also spoke to Walker since his arrest. ”He’ll do what he thinks he needs to do.”
The police department argument between the mayor and some in the audience got so intense that Nagle banged her gavel and called a 10-minute recess.
Romig accused Hoffman of “flipping the bird at me” when he drove by Romig’s business Monday. Hoffman denied that, saying he waved.
“What kind of man are you?” asked Romig. “What kind of man bothers people for hours?” responded Hoffman.
Romig repeatedly asked Hoffman if he “respects the business owners and residents of this community.” Hoffman did not immediately reply, but when the break was called, he said: “I respect anybody that deserves to be respected.”
Resident Dorothy Kociuba told Hoffman: “From the time you took office you have worked against the police department. I don’t know if this is an ego trip with you or not. It’s like ‘I have the power and I will have my way.’ I’m asking you tonight to start working in the interests of borough residents and doing what’s best for the borough.”
“What have I done to the police department?” replied Hoffman. “Who have I harassed? What have I done that was so blatantly wrong to the police department?”
During an exchange with resident John Long that turned into a shouting match, Hoffman declared: “I’m the mayor. I’m in charge of the police department. End of story.”
Asked Long: “How long you in for yet? How long do we have to put with you? When does your reign of terror end?”
Resident Dennis Fritz told council when his nephew was pulled over by borough police a few weeks ago, the first thing the police officer asked was: “How many drinks were you drinking?” He said his nephew was coming from work and didn’t have any drinks in him, but claimed the officer called him a liar. He said other residents have told him that is the first thing police are asking when they pull people over. “That’s harassment and it’s got to stop.” Fritz also said people living in Macungie are intimidated.
Soon after the recess, Nagle tried to prevent council member Debra Cope from having a statement Cope had read at the July 16 meeting added to the minutes of that meeting.