Hubbard’s top cop should reveal the details of illness
Because the medical records of public employees are exempt from the state law designed to make government as transparent as possible to the people who pay the tab, we will never know the extent of Hubbard Police Chief Martin Kanetsky’s illness — unless he comes clean, as a sign of respect for the city’s residents.
Kanetsky went on paid sick leave Feb. 3 and will be away from his job as the top cop until June 15, the date of his retirement. In other words, he is being paid for not working, and the taxpayers don’t know why.
Records pertaining to Kanetsky’s employment reveal little about the battles he has had not only with the current mayor, Richard Keenan, but former Mayor Arthur U. Magee. On Jan. 6, Keenan placed the police chief on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into various charges.
The so-called explanation for the action was contained in one-page letter that alleges insubordination, misuse of city facilities and/or property of the city of Hubbard and jeopardizing the health of the entire police department and facilities.
The mayor refused to provided any details that would give taxpayers a sense of what the chief did or did not do.
Former Mayor Magee placed Kanetsky, a civil service employee, on paid administrative leave from August 2005 through September 2006. Then, Magee barred him from the office, but residents never received an explanation.
Indeed, the police chief claimed he was not given a reason for his 13-month vacation during which he received his full salary and benefits.
Now, he is again away from his job, and there may be only a handful of people who know why: Kanetsky, his lawyer, Keenan and the city’s law director, Jeff Adler.
The law director prepared a three-page “Settlement Agreement And Complete Release” that laid out the medical leave and retirement provisions, but the document does not go into any details about the chief’s health. It was signed Feb. 5 by Keenan, Kanetsky and Adler.
While we understand the need for privacy when it comes to a public employee’s medical history and records, we are disturbed that the taxpayers don’t know why their police chief would be placed on paid leave. Is Kanetsky’s illness so serious that he cannot work, or is it just being used as an excuse to get him out of the way? Has he provided the city with all the necessary documentation from his doctor and his pharmacist to prove the legitimacy of his claim? And, was his illness a pre-existing condition when he was made chief, or did it occur while he was on the job?
We would like to think that Law Director Adler, who is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Girard Municipal Court judge, will be able to answer those and other questions if Kanetsky’s employment ever becomes a legal issue.
‘No comment’ insufficient
This isn’t about airing a public employee’s laundry that law says should be kept under wraps, but when the individual is being well paid for not working, residents have a right to more than a “no comment” response from the mayor.
We previously criticized Mayor Keenan for ducking our reporter’s legitimate questions, and now we find ourselves wondering if he is in over his head.
When asked about the agreement with Chief Kanetsky, the mayor said the document “did not come out of my office” and that he had “nothing to say at this time.”
Is he or isn’t he the city of Hubbard’s chief executive and, as such, the hiring authority?