News

Official: West York mayor resignation raised in letter

Written by Gordon Rago and Teresa Boeckel/York Daily Record | Oct 12, 2016 6:36 AM
west_york_wasko.jpg

John Terlazzo, 61, of York, center, waits for his turn to speak during a West York council meeting last week. Borough Mayor Charles Wasko sent a letter this week to council members detailing four requests and said he would resign. (Photo: Paul Chaplin, For the York Daily Record)

(West York) -- In his first response to a controversy that has gained international attention, embattled West York Mayor Charles Wasko put forth a proposal Tuesday that could potentially lead to his resignation.

In a roughly two-page letter sent to council members, Wasko detailed four requests, indicating he would turn in his resignation if they accepted one of them, council president Shawn Mauck confirmed.

One of the items on the mayor's list was for the council to "entertain" the idea of hiring a sergeant in the police department, according to Mauck. The council was already considering doing that after a recent retirement, he said.

"That was one concrete thing (Wasko) mentioned that we could hang our hat on," Mauck said.

The other requests would require the council to take legislative action and for members to take a vote, he said. Mauck declined to detail what the other three requests are.

The council plans to continue to review the mayor's letter this week.

In response to the mayor, Mauck wrote that the council is entertaining the sergeant request, and so would accept his resignation. The next step would be for council members to vote to accept the resignation on Monday night during a meeting. Mauck said that it would be effective on Oct. 21.

Attempts to reach Wasko Tuesday night were unsuccessful.

The mayor has come under fire in recent weeks for some posts on his public Facebook page, which have been described as offensive and racist. News of the posts made international headlines.

After he was publicly criticized, Wasko wrote on his Facebook page that he will not be "politically correct, I will say what is on my mind and what I believe in ..."  Wasko also told WHTM-Channel 27 that, "The racist stuff, yeah I'll admit I did that, and I don't care what people label me as."

The council voted to censure the mayor last week during a meeting that drew a standing-room only crowd at borough hall. The week before, a forum was held by members of the council to have a discussion about race and local politics.

The issue has since reached the state level. State Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, sent a letter to state Sen. Joe Scarnati, president pro tempore of the state Senate, to appoint a committee to investigate the potential removal of Wasko.

Second suspension

Elsewhere in the letter, Wasko called for the suspension of the acting West York police chief Matt Millsaps.

This would be the second time in as many weeks Wasko has called for Millsaps to be suspended. On Sept. 30, Wasko showed up at borough hall, screaming for the acting chief to be suspended. That never happened.

Under state law, mayors have the power to suspend police officers "for cause and without pay," according to a Pennsylvania statute. Council members have the ability to vote on that decision during a following council meeting, either moving to suspend, reduce in rank or reinstate the officer.

Millsaps said he was one of the recipients of Wasko's letter Tuesday.

In it, Wasko referenced suspending him in relation to violating a department uniform code, Millsaps said. The letter mentioned a recent fire that destroyed West York Sporting Goods and Millsaps not wearing a bullet proof vest.

The acting chief disputed that claim Tuesday night, saying he had worn one.

"This is a distraction from the work we're really trying to do in the borough," he said.

Millsaps said he forwarded the letter to a police union representative.

Mauck said Millsaps was still acting police chief as of Tuesday night. He was first named to that position in the beginning of September after the council placed Chief Justin Seibel on paid administrative leave.

Borough officials have declined to detail the reason behind the Seibel decision, calling it a personnel matter.

Meanwhile, the letter sent Tuesday was the first time Mauck had heard from the mayor in weeks. Mauck had sent him notice of the council's decision to censure him, but didn't get a response.

While imploring legislators to work to find a way to remove Wasko from office, Mauck said he and the council are continuing to review the mayor's letter.

"If he loved West York one single bit, he would not be doing what he is doing and he'd simply resign," Mauck said. "This guy is doing harm to our community."

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

Published in News

Tagged under , , , , ,

back to top

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »