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UNION TOWNSHIP Chief returns to duty



Published: Thu, June 21, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Supervisors reinstated the police chief after learning they could not legally demote him to patrolman.

By MARY GRZEBIENIAK

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- After months of controversy, Joe Lombardo was reinstated Wednesday as Union Township police chief.

The action comes after supervisors learned they could not legally demote Lombardo to patrolman.

In January, Supervisors Ralph Nuzzo and Kevin Guinaugh voted to change Lombardo's status from chief to acting chief.

Then, earlier this month, they voted to hire a Pittsburgh labor attorney to determine whether they could demote him to patrolman.

Lombardo, who has served as police chief for three years and as a township policeman for a total of eight years, did not attend Wednesday's meeting.

The third supervisor, Steve Galizia, who had opposed Lombardo's demotion, made yesterday's motion to reinstate Lombardo to his former position.

Nuzzo and Guinaugh made the reinstatement unanimous as they had said they would when they found they could not legally demote Lombardo.

Apology: Nuzzo said, "All I wanted was a clarification from the attorney in Pittsburgh on whether we could do it [demote Lombardo]." Nuzzo, who is chairman of the board of supervisors, had earlier apologized for the inconvenience he and Guinaugh had caused the township.

Guinaugh did not comment yesterday.

The vote brings to a close months of wrangling over the post. While Nuzzo and Guinaugh have given reasons for their attempt to demote, Galizia had earlier charged they were retaliating for Lombardo's insistence on a pension during January's police contract negotiations.

That contract went to mediation before it was finally resolved. Under the new contract, Lombardo receives an amount equal to 3 percent of his salary in a retirement fund each year.

Nuzzo and Guinaugh's actions angered some township residents, some of whom posted yard signs in support of Lombardo and attended meetings to object.




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