UNION TOWNSHIP Trustees to hire firm for issues with chief

Residents plan to circulate a petition to change Joe Lombardo's status from acting police chief to police chief.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- In what Union Township Supervisor Steve Galizia called "a very high-emotional meeting," township officials agreed Monday to hire a Pittsburgh firm to handle legal matters concerning acting township Police Chief Joe Lombardo.
"They are trying to find a reason to terminate Joe's contract," Galizia said of Supervisors Ralph Nuzzo and Kevin Guinaugh. "They want him out."
Thorp Reed & amp; Armstrong, a firm previously used by the township, was hired by a 2-1 vote. Galizia dissented, saying, "I don't need an attorney at $300 an hour to tell me I have a contract to uphold."
"We're in the process of possibly reducing the chief's rank," Guinaugh said. "We don't know what we will do until we talk to the labor lawyer."
Status change: In January, supervisors changed Lombardo's status from chief to acting chief. Galizia was the lone dissenting voice then, too, and Guinaugh and Nuzzo offered no reason for the change.
The change in rank occurred after contract negotiations were delayed because Lombardo insisted on a pension plan rather than a retirement fund.
A month later, two Union Township police officers volunteered to contribute $500 each for three years to Lombardo's retirement.
Opting not to participate in the township's hospitalization plan, the officers were entitled to $1,000 cash each year during the three-year contract.
Instead, the officers chose to accept half the amount per year and offer the rest toward the acting chief's retirement fund.Petition: According to Galizia, there is a petition circulating to reinstate Lombardo as police chief. Lombardo would not comment.
Guinaugh refused to comment Monday on the specifics of the legal action.

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