McCandless votes to cut police chief’s pay; effort to fire him falls short |
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Tony LaRussa

A week after McCandless police Chief David DiSanti returned to duty after serving a nearly four-month long suspension, town council voted to cut his pay by more then 19 percent for the remainder of the year.

The measure, which reduces his pay from $119,000 to $96,000, was approved by a 5-1 vote, with council President Kim Zachary and members Bill Kirk, Steve Mertz, Carolyn Schweiger and Bill McKim voting in support.

Councilman Greg Walkauskas voted against cutting the chief’s pay. Councilwoman Joan Powers was absent from the meeting.

A second measure to fire the police chief lost after council voted 3-3.

Walkauskus said he voted against the pay cut because DiSanti already has been punished enough.

“I felt a two week suspension without pay was more than enough punishment in addition the suspension he suffered since late October for his alleged shortcomings,” said Walkauskus, who compared the chief’s corrective action plan to an annual review that many employees receive. “But two weeks without pay turned into four weeks. Reducing someone’s salary is not a corrective action plan. It’s done purely for punitive purposes.”

DiSanti was permitted to return to work Feb. 18 after agreeing to a corrective action plan developed after he was suspended from duty when a female officer accused him of engaging in inappropriate behavior toward her.

He was placed on paid administrative leave Oct. 29 while town officials continued to investigate the allegations from the female officer and two other woman who have ties to the police department but are not employees. The female police officer also accused the chief of treating her unfairly because of her gender.

On Jan. 21, DiSanti’s status was changed to suspended without pay pending development of a corrective action plan he was required to agree to and begin implementing before being allowed to return to duty.

While DiSanti was unable to overcome the vote to cut his pay, he survived an effort to oust him as chief.

“I don’t expect anybody to change their vote,” said Mertz, who introduced the measure to fire DiSanti. “But I do expect that at least making this motion allows people to see who was voting which way.”

Mertz was joined by Schweiger and Zachary in the vote to dismiss the chief.

“I have absolutely no tolerance for any kind of harassment, especially sexual harassment,” Zachary said. “Our town deserves a police department that is professional, dedicated and honest. And our police department deserves a leader who sets that example.”

Zachary said while corrective action plans can improve an employee’s behavior “I’m not sure they are much good for character.”

Several residents at Monday’s meeting spoke out in support of Disanti.

“I don’t know what hate you have in your hearts, but I do know that none of us are perfect,” said Pamala Walkauskus, the councilman’s wife. “You are taking a good person and your just destroying a good career. Why?”

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