CANTON BOROUGH – Canton Borough Council members and employees continued to discuss grievances brought against Canton Police Chief Doug Seeley during the council’s meeting last week.
Borough Solicitor David Brann led the meeting as council President David Groover was absent along with council members Kurt Bastion and Brandon Wilcox.
Brann addressed two motions made by councilman Chris Schrader during Canton Borough’s September meeting, stating that Schrader’s call to remove Seeley from his role as police chief should have been preceded by the opportunity for Seeley to have a formal hearing.
Brann also stated that in regards to a motion Schrader made last month to abolish the position of Canton Borough administrator, the move would be a policy issue not a personnel issue, so it would need to be changed through policy.
The solicitor shared multiple complaints that had been filed by Canton resident Shawn Miller after last month’s meeting, when Miller accused Seeley of mishandling an incident involving his daughter drinking alcohol while underage as well as numerous incidents from previous years.
Miller’s wife Tina also voiced concern with the town’s policing, saying that she does not trust her kids to play in town, that local police have “failed” her and that moving to Canton was the “biggest mistake of (her) life.”
Seeley responded, telling the Millers that their daughter had in fact been charged with underage drinking and that police don’t get involved with custody agreements, which included some of the situations the Millers spoke about.
Brann stated that he was hesitant to allow conversation regarding complaints from the Millers about two incidents in 2018 and one from the 1990s as to not turn the meeting into a “court of inquisition” by entertaining incidents that have occurred in the past.
“Again Shawn, I agree with you, I agree it’s completely ridiculous, it doesn’t matter to me whether it was 50 years ago or yesterday, wrong is wrong and it should be dealt with. However, as you can see this table is quite small right now and you can guess that nothing is going to get done,” Schrader responded.
Councilman George Jennings questioned Schrader about a Facebook post Schrader allegedly made three weeks prior accusing Canton Borough Administrator Amy Seeley and Brann of calling a special meeting without consent from council.
The meeting was scheduled to be held regarding a letter of resignation submitted by Schrader to Groover and was later made void when Schrader presented Groover with a revocation letter.
Jennings asked Schrader what proof he had that the administrator or the solicitor called the meeting and noted that he himself had prompted the meeting to be held.
Canton Borough Codes Enforcement Officer John Raub also confronted Schrader with a statement during the code enforcement portion of the meeting.
In his statement, Raub stated that “the residents of the borough need to understand just how precarious of a position Schrader has put the taxpayers in” and added that potential lawsuits brought on by “ongoing witch hunts” could cost taxpayers money and cause the borough to lose insurance.
Raub stated that he has been approached by real estate companies who have shown interest in purchasing multiple properties, including apartment buildings, in the borough, but that he has been unable to meet with them due to time constraints because of recent allegations made by Schrader.
“Mrs. Seeley and myself see this as an opportunity to potentially build relationships that greatly improve community. However, due to the necessity of the employees having to waste time formulating defense against the unsubstantiated attacks and harassment of Chis Schrader we haven’t had time to arrange these meetings,” Raub stated. “How can we get anything done when we have to stand here and put up with that nonsense?”
Raub also addressed one of the reasons Schrader named when he made the motion to remove Seeley from his role as police chief – reports from Groover that Seeley asked him and another Canton Borough employee to improperly destroy drugs and drug paraphernalia that were police evidence.
The codes enforcement officer asked Schrader what he thinks happens to evidence and if he had proof of the incident before calling for charges against Seeley.
“Chris, do you think there’s some great big evidence warehouse where the evidence fairy magically keeps evidence for all of eternity?” he questioned.
Raub also accused Schrader of lying about contacting government services organizations and “threaten(ing) Brann and attorney Zachary Gates for allowing Gates to represent the Seeleys during Canton Borough Council meetings.
“To threaten these fine men simply because you don’t like the answer you were given by one and the mere presence in the room by the other shows what a petulant-child-throws-a-temper-tantrum-every-time-he-doesn’t-get-his-way you are,” Raub stated.
Raub added that he does not believe Schrader has the “integrity or competency” to lead the borough and asked meeting attendees why they have not contacted the state in efforts to have Schrader removed from his seat on council.