Farneth quits Mt. O. boro council citing hostile environment
Mount Oliver has lost another council member.
Late last week on Thursday night, George Farneth II tendered his resignation from the Mount Oliver Borough Council in an email to council president Billie Michener.
“My only regret is that I will not be able to complete the term that the voters in Mt. Oliver elected me to fill,” Mr. Farneth wrote.
In outlining his reasons for resigning he continued in his email to Mrs. Michener, “that major factors in my decision include the extremely hostile work environment that you have created and perpetuated; your repeated violation of the Sunshine Act and the civil rights of residents, taxpayers and council members; the decimation of the police department that you have intentionally orchestrated.
“The failure of you and Mr. Sains to in any way address the police grievances and safety issues in the Borough Building that Mr. Cassidy, Mr. Malloy, Mr. Plietz and I were diligently working on up until you removed me as Chair of Public Safety in favor of Mr. Sains.
“Your failure to recognize and address the financial issues that the borough has been facing and will continue to face; and the unprecedented number of lawsuits that have been filed against the borough during your reign as president due in large part to your mismanagement.”
He concluded, “I only hope that the voters will hold you accountable when you come up for re-election. In the meantime, hopefully God will protect Mt. Oliver.”
Mr. Farneth was appointed to council in 2010 to fill Sara Kudasick’s unexpired term after she resigned. He was elected in 2011 to serve the remainder of a two-year term.
The Mt. Oliver resident first applied to fill a vacant seat in 2007 when then councilman Don Cornelius resigned. The council chose to seat Mrs. Michener instead of Mr. Farneth who was a registered Republican at the time.
He applied for council again in the same year when the borough voted to vacate the seat of Kelly Prilla. Ms. Prilla had been appointed in December 2006 to fill the seat that was left open when Peter Talak resigned his seat for personal reasons. The council then moved to vacate her seat when she stopped attending council and caucus meetings shortly after taking office.
The borough council chose instead to add Dennis Obeldobel for Ms. Prilla’s seat. Mr. Obeldobel was on the November ballot twice and eventually won both two year and four year terms. He eventually resigned the two year term in favor of the longer term, which Mr. Farneth applied to fill, but the council chose to seat Pat Malloy to fill the position.
Mr. Farneth, an attorney, was appointed vice-president of Mt. Oliver Borough Council in July 2011. The mid-year move was made necessary when then Mayor Jeff Repasky resigned and President of Council James Cassidy was appointed mayor.
Mr. Malloy was voted by council to serve as president and Mr. Farneth, vice-president.
Mr. Farneth brought up his concerns about the municipal building in the spring of 2011 when he had contractors, architects and engineers evaluate the building for needed repairs and code violations.
Among his concerns at the time were the need for fire escapes and a potential carbon dioxide issue due to police vehicles in the basement of the building. Additionally, he said bricks in the façade of the building are ready to collapse and could injure someone if they fell toward the sidewalk or fall through the roof if they fell toward the building.
Once he was replaced by Mr. Sains on the committee, he said his concerns over the condition of the building were ignored other than parking police cars outside.
“If there’s a fire in the front of the building, those women working in the back of the building could be trapped,” he said. “There’s no fire escape and the steps leading to the basement are steep.”
He also has had his differences with Mrs. Michener, disagreeing frequently with her on policy and procedures. At one meeting, Mrs. Michener had the chief of police escort Mr. Farneth out of Council Chambers for disagreeing with her about the status of the chief’s employment contract.
Mr. Farneth is also concerned about Mrs. Michener’s managing of the borough’s finances. In particular, he said the current budget could be lacking in providing money for litigation.
He said, although the recent $50,000 settlement with Mrs. Michener was covered by insurance, there was a $5,000 deductible and future cases will be subject to a $20,000 deductible.