The motions to remove Richard Heitzenrater from the commission and to apply for the federal COPS Hiring Program grant weren't presented until the end of new business matters Tuesday night.
The Ambridge Civil Service Commission administers tests and helps with police and fire hirings and grievances. Members receive no pay and only meet at council's request.
Heitzenrater, a 33-year police veteran, was appointed to serve a six-year term on the civil service commission by a 6-0 vote in 2012, about two years after pleading guilty to a federal charge of improper conduct against David Baker inside a holding cell.
Baker pleaded no contest to public lewdness and disorderly conduct for urinating while drunk in front of Heitzenrater's young granddaughter and another child. He later settled a federal civil rights lawsuit for $150,000 that he filed against the borough and its officials.
At the time Heitzenrater was named to the civil service board, council members said he was qualified and eligible for the role.
In November, controversy again surrounded Heitzenrater when the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant program decided not to award $200,000 to the Ambridge police department, citing Heitzenrater's seat on the civil service commission as problematic, according to news reports.
Some council members, however, defended Heitzenrater, who was running for a seat on council at the time.
McCoy and Pucci told reporters the grant program--which provides funds through the U.S. Department of Justice to help law enforcement hire qualified officers--had misinformation about Heitzenrater's sentence.
Ambridge voted Tuesday to reapply for the federal grant program, which has a June deadline.
Since his appointment to the civil service board, Heitzenrater said Wednesday that he has been involved with several hirings and promotions, including the assistant fire chief, the police chief and most recently, the police lieutenant last month.
He said he never received any warning that council was considering his removal, and called it politics as usual with the "good old boys club"
"If you're not in their club, you're on the outs," Heitzenrater said.
In November, Heitzenrater ran against two incumbents and a new-comer for a seat on council. He lost his bid, but is now running in the upcoming primary election against Mikulich for Democratic committeeman in the borough's third ward. With the election less than a week away, he believes council's vote was politically motivated.
Mikulich would not comment Tuesday on the reason for Heitzenrater's removal, calling it a personnel issue.
Mikulich said there are now two members on the civil service board, which is enough for a quorum. Should council appoint a new member, he said that person would serve out the remainder of Heitzenrater's term.
In other business, council:
- Hired three part-time police officers--Michael A. Scheers, Patrick A. Lee and Brian D. Dapra.
- Adopted an ordinance prohibiting the parking of trucks, tractors, buses, motor homes, and other vehicles except passenger cars on the highways and streets situated in the borough.
- Motioned to advertise an ordinance addressing the sale of drug paraphernalia within the borough.
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