Fed up with state of West York, councilman resigns
- Nick Laughman's resignation was effective Wednesday.
- He was halfway through his first term in office, having been elected in 2013.
A soon-to-be former West York councilman said he's dealt with enough drama in the small borough just outside of York City.
Nick Laughman tendered his letter of resignation Wednesday, and the council, sans Laughman, is expected to approve it at its next meeting in June. The resignation is effective immediately.
The letter cites an injury he received on the job as a medic with West York Ambulance, "reckless spending," as well as other issues as reasons why he's stepping down.
"I gotta do it for my health," said Laughman. "I wish more residents would get involved in the happenings of the borough and see what's going on."
Laughman recently butted heads with Mayor Charles Wasko during talks about the borough buying a former elementary to house borough operations, which Laughman was against because of purchase, renovation and upkeep costs. The two men nearly came to blows and had to be separated by police.
Council meetings have for years been contentious gatherings where shouting matches would break out between council members, who were also known to verbally tangle with residents. A former councilman once sounded an airhorn during a meeting.
Accusations: In his letter, Laughman accused Councilman Shawn Mauck of swaying another council member to change her vote on a contract with the borough's paid firefighters.
Annette "Chickie" Christine, who owns Lattuca's Sub Bar in the borough, initially voted against the contract but, following an executive session, flipped her vote, and the contract passed 4-3. Laughman claims in the letter Mauck "threatened (Christine's) business with employee and union sanctions if she did not change her vote."
"That's incorrect. That's not what happened," said Mauck, who hasn't seen the letter. "It certainly wasn't a threat."
In 2013, the council explored disbanding the borough's police service in favor of joining a regional department. Christine was at first in favor of it, but she ended up voting against the move.
Mauck denied that he made the threat, saying it was Christine who said her business was negatively impacted in 2013. Mauck said he did state that if the fire contract went to arbitration, it could lead to negative media coverage and would cost the borough more money.
Christine did not return calls seeking comment for this report.
Mauck noted the discussion in the closed-door executive session is private and the public isn't privy to details of talks. He made an exception to clear the air, he said.
Councilman Brian Wilson also denied Mauck pushed Christine to change her vote. Laughman wasn't at the meeting but called in on a phone to take part in the proceedings, Wilson said.
"He (Mauck) only reminded her (Christine) what happened years ago," Wilson said. "I think it was taken way out of context."
Another letter: Also in his letter, Laughman notes Wasko previously sent West York Ambulance, where Laughman's wife also works as a medic, an email laying out concerns that she may not provide adequate medical care to borough employees.
Laughman's wife, Shonda Laughman, has been a vocal critic of the council at meetings and on social media. Wasko's letter states she shouldn't be allowed to respond to emergency calls in the borough. The ambulance company didn't comply with the request.
"She's very boisterous and opinionated. As a taxpayer, she has the right to ask questions," Laughman said. "It doesn't affect the care she'd provide as a medic."
Wasko did not respond to a message seeking comment for this report.
Laughman's letter also requests that the state Attorney General's Office investigate the borough police department's email servers.
"I don't even know what he's talking about," Chief Justin Seibel said. "We haven't seen the letter."
'Sour grapes': Wilson and Mauck called Laughman's accusations unfounded and merely parting pot shots.
"Sounds like sour grapes to me," Mauck said. "Mr. Laughman has been a problem for a while."
Council President Shelly Metzler declined comment since the council hasn't yet voted to accept the letter of resignation.
"I will gladly accept his resignation," Wilson said.
Laughman was in the middle of his first term in office, having been elected in 2013.