Lena criticized for ‘unprofessional’ conduct in office

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

The Town of Dover’s two supervisors this week called out the leader of the community for perceived unprofessional and unethical actions while conducting municipal business relating to repair of a truck.

At a Town Board meeting Oct 9, Supervisors Mike Shenkenberg and Sam Stratton censured Chairman Mario Lena for a six-point list of items they claim went against protocol in Dover.

The censure, approved on a 2-1 vote (with Lena voting against it) essentially served as a public scolding from the two supervisors, both of whom have served on the board for several years. Lena was voted into office as chairman this spring.

Stratton said the censure was triggered in mid-September after Lena failed to follow a town policy that was adopted Sept. 11.

In the censure, Shenkenberg and Stratton allege Lena’s misconduct, following the Sept. 11 policy changes, included giving false financial information in an attempted delay of a truck repair.

The supervisors also stated they believed Lena was acting in an unprofessional manner while working with a vendor involved in repairing the vehicle.

Other violations, according to Shenkenberg and Stratton, within the past month included Lena’s driving a municipal-owned vehicle – a John Deere tractor – without prior authorization.

“Most of the things in this censure have been discussed with the chairman,” Stratton said. “When these things weren’t being followed, we had to make it a part of the policy (adopted Sept. 11).”

Lena conceded he could have done a better job of involving his elected colleagues in the discussions in question with the vendor.

But Lena also continued to defend some of his actions at this week’s meeting, stating he remained concerned after the Sept. 11 policy changes. Lena said other town officials have not done an adequate job of maintaining municipal-owned vehicles.

“My reason for running for the Town Board was not being satisfied with a truck not being greased,” Lena said. “I’ve greased trucks for 50 years. There was no grease. That truck belongs to the people of the Town of Dover.”

Lena also pointed fingers at his predecessor, former town Chairman Tom Lembcke, who was in the audience. Lena argued Lembcke did not do an adequate job of caring for the truck in question while leading the township.

“You’ve done nothing for the people, Tom,” Lena said, sharply, to Lembcke. In turn, Lembcke denied Lena’s comments and called him “a thief” at one point during the public comment portion of the agenda.

Although there was verbal sparring and tension throughout the discussion of the censure, the conversation ended on an upbeat, jovial note.

Stratton, who handled most of the discussion concerning the censure, said the actions he and Shenkenberg were taking against Lena were not personal. The goal, they said, was to ensure protocol was being followed.

“I do want to work with you, and I do want you to succeed,” Stratton said to Lena.

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