Thursday, February 4, 2021

Deputy supervisor resigns following public squabble

A heated exchange at the Jan. 26 meeting of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees has apparently prompted the resignation of Deputy Supervisor Kenneth Bednark.

During a study session of the board members just prior to their regular meeting, Trustee Peggy Morgan criticized the failure of Police Chief Eric Luke to return a phone call from Bednark. The call was, according to Morgan, an effort to discuss Luke's upcoming contract renewal. She asked why there was this “lack of communication.”

Luke, in attendance at the Zoom meeting, responded that the “phone call” was a voice message he had received late in the afternoon the day before and that scheduled meetings on Tuesday, along with some unexpected personnel issues, kept him from returning the voice mail from Bednark.

He said the voice mail message informed him that Supervisor Tim Bowman had instructed Bednark to call and tell him that discussion of his soon-to-expire employment contract would be removed from the meeting agenda.

“I saw no immediacy in the message,” Luke said.

Trustee Matt Oddy asked Bowman, “Did you have your deputy tell the chief the item was to be removed?” Bowman responded casually that he had no recognition of doing so and moved on to the next item for discussion.

During discussion at the following regular meeting of the board, Bednark took the opportunity to chastise his boss. He said that in the two months he had been the deputy supervisor he had repeatedly had to compel Bowman to respond to his emails. He reminded Bowman that he had been a full-time deputy until “this board cut your legs off.”  

“We did discuss this. I'm covering your back. If you're not happy with my service, just let me know,” he said.

Bowman too, noted that he had only been in office for two months and was attempting to acclimate himself to municipal government but obviously took offense at Bednark's comments and tone.

“I'm a full-grown man. I can do it on my own. I am perfectly capable of doing this on my own, Kenny,” he said. “I want to get along and do my job and do my best for the community.”

Bednark responded that he had a 45-minute conversation with Bowman on Friday and that there were items in Luke's contract that Bowman needed to be aware of.

“I am quite confident we discussed this,” he said. “The onus is on you sir, not only on me.”

That exchange, and a subsequent discussion between Bowman and Bednark, apparently prompted Bednark to submit a letter of resignation, effective Feb. 10.