UPDATE: Gilberton, Schuylkill County -- The controversy continues in Schuylkill County. The Gilberton Borough Police Chief's suspension continues following another Borough Council meeting Thursday night. At a public meeting Council voted in favor of suspending Chief Mark Kessler pending termination, which means he has 10 days to file an appeal or he's out. Chief Kessler says "no surprise. We knew it was coming."
Thursday evening a 6 to 1 vote by the Gilberton Borough Council suspended Chief Kessler pending termination. This comes after an extension of a previous suspension resulting from the controversial YouTube videos posted of him. Kessler and his attorney now have 10 days to appeal the decision, which they say they plan on doing. Atty. Joseph Nahas says "it's kind of like Kangaroo court. The same people are mooing for termination, are the same people who will determine whether or not to terminate." During Thursday evening meeting Attorney Nahas accused Council of wrong doing and even went as far as saying he wants one of them fired. Attorney Nahas says "we have witnesses that some of you have met that say Councilman Boxer had actually gone to their residence talking about employment issues and being his employee, he should not be discussing personal private issues as an employee."
Gilberton's mayor and council members refused comment. Bruce Gold, of Bucks County, is a Kessler supporter. He says "I think when the next election comes they will be voted out." The message of Kessler supporters could be heard loud and clear. "We're all going to stick by him," says Gold. Dave Chapman, of Montgomery County, adds "we're here to give him our support and represent the community."
While the fate of his position as chief is on the line, Kessler is not letting get in the way of his future as a candidate for Schuylkill County Sheriff. Chief Kessler says "If people vote me in they do. If people don't, they don't." Kessler says he will file for an appeal quickly. From there a public hearing will take place.
Gilberton, Schuylkill County -- "One would have to think that council will terminate him this evening." Attorney Joseph Nahas made a bleak prediction Thursday morning about the fate of embattled Gilberton Police Chief Mark Kessler. Both men appeared at a closed-door disciplinary hearing inside the Gilberton Borough Building. The hearing was scheduled hours before council was expected to announce Kessler's long-term job future with the borough. Council, which suspended the chief August 30th, outlined the allegations against Kessler. "They stated that my client had misused borough property," said Atty. Nahas.
Gilberton council claims Kessler fired borough-owned weapons in pro-gun video rants that he posted on line in recent months. Council also claims Kessler was insubordinate by making reference in those videos to two council members including its vice president Eric Boxer. Kessler believes he did no wrong. "I feel in my heart I'm doing the right thing. Yeah, I made some videos with some choice language but that's my right. It's my freedom."
Several gun-toting supporters gathered outside the meeting place to back the chief. They are members of the Constitution Security Force which is a private militia that Kessler heads. Dave Zimmerman of Bucks County said, "Mark has really put himself out there and regardless if people like it or not, you know, he exercised his rights." A man who would only identify himself as Jack from Montgomery County explained why he showed up to support Kessler, "Somebody has got to do it. Simple as that. Our rights are in jeopardy and he stood up." Another supporter who wanted to be identified as "Big Red" from Bucks County said of Kessler, "He's just a good man. You know, I stand behind patriots and good men that protect our constitution."
Not everyone supports Kessler. Political activist Gene Stilp also appeared outside the meeting place insisting that Kessler must go. "I think he's going to be fired today (Thursday) and that's a good thing for Pennsylvania. It's a good thing for gun owners. It's a good thing for gun owners because this guy doesn't represent gun owners like myself, okay. This is not a rational man."
When asked if he would do it all again, Kessler responded with one word, "Absolutely."