South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

 
 

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Boro council meeting cut short after repeated outbursts by member

 


A raucous August 18 Mount Oliver council meeting marked by shouting and procedural challenges ended abruptly with President Darnell Sains calling for adjournment before the agenda was completed.

Council member Amber McGough was absent.

The meeting began with council member Billie Michener correcting the minutes from last month.

At that meeting, Mr. Sains said Kate Dillon, editor of the borough’s monthly newsletter, breached her contract due to non-response. However, said Mrs. Michener, Ms. Dillon did not have a contract with the borough.

Next, borough secretary Kathy Connolly read project manager Ricky Hopkinson’s report because he was on vacation.

The Keystone Collections Group collected $11,344 delinquent real estate taxes in July.

The first quarterly meeting of the Mount Oliver Business Owners Association will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on Sept. 4 in the fire hall.

The company, Up To, specializes in marketing for small businesses, will be at 101 Brownsville Rd. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 25-29. To make an appointment, visit: http://whatareyouupto.org/#appointment.

The next meeting of the Hilltop Economic Development Corp. (HEDC) will be at 5 p.m. on Sept. 9 at LifeSpan, 320 Brownsville Rd. There was no August meeting.

The borough’s block group will conduct a clean-up at 1730 Arlington Ave. at 10 a.m. on Sept. 13. Contact Mr. Hopkinson in the borough offices to volunteer.

In the engineer’s report, a motion was introduced to award a contract to demolish what remains of the six houses on Ormsby Ave. which burned down two months ago. A large pile of rubble remains, creating a hazardous situation.

The borough’s share of the $46,400 cost, under the motion, would not exceed $17,960.

Mrs. Michener said she was wary of awarding the contract as the property does not belong to the borough, and liability becomes a big issue for taxpayers. She asked to table the motion until more information becomes available.

She said the homeowners are responsible for their properties, and therefore she wanted a letter from the homeowners releasing the borough from liability. There are drainage and other engineering issues of concern upon removal of the rubble.

Mr. Sains said most of the cost will be funded from the insured properties. One or two of the properties did not have insurance, and the potentially hazardous situation did not allow time to wait to extract money from those homeowners, or to acquire a grant.

“We need to get that cleaned up,” he said, to which Mrs. Michener responded, where is the money coming from?

In the vote to award the demolition contract to the lowest responsible bidder, Mrs. Michener, Dave Lowe, and Barbara Keener voted no, creating a 3-3 tie.

Mayor James Cassidy cast the deciding vote in favor, citing “in the interest of public safety.”

In the mayor’s report, Mr. Cassidy swore in: tax collector Tina Carcia; part-time police officer Christine Mayernik; and police Sergeant Kevin Lockhart upon his promotion from corporal.

In the police report for July, there were 553 calls, 27 domestics, six accidents, eight criminal mischief reports, four fights, five DUIs, three burglaries, and 33 drug arrests. Five arrest warrants were served.

Of the 33 drug-related arrests, many were during traffic stops, which is why there are often multiple police cars at stops.

Anyone who spots suspicious drug activity, or sees people snooping around in neighbors’ yards, should call 911. They may remain anonymous.

Reporting will also let the police department know in which areas they may need more coverage.

Acting Chief Matthew Juzwick reported 163 tickets were issued last month for expired parking at meters as opposed to 47 tickets last July.

“There will be a balance eventually when people realize they have to feed the meters,” he said.

In the fire report, and to a resident’s query, Mr. Cassidy reported that 10 years ago a Mount Oliver fire fighter was convicted of arson and expelled from the fire department. Last weekend, the convicted arsonist was seen at a borough fire with another fire fighter helping to fight the fire.

The executive board of the fire department is conducting an investigation of the matter.

“They need to find out what happened,” Mr. Cassidy said.

Mr. Sains said he would like a full report as soon as possible.

Public safety chair Mrs. Keener said she wants to attend the meeting of the executive board of the fire department.

In other public safety business, she said in the Allegheny League of Municipalities’ newsletter, there was an article concerning a Brentwood ordinance against bullying.

She said a local autistic boy is being bullied, and she wants to look into such an ordinance for the borough. Mr. Juzwick said it could be harassment, and therefore a criminal offense.

Mr. Sains said he would like to have an ordinance looked into. He also said there are reports of door-to-door solicitors in the borough.

Mr. Lowe said solicitors must have a badge and a document issued by the police department. It will contain a permit number, and be signed and dated by the police chief.

If a solicitor does not have the badge and permit, residents should call 911.

In the health/sanitation report, Mr. Lowe reported 104 water shutoffs were scheduled for this month for delinquent sewage accounts. Fifty-nine of the delinquents reconciled their accounts, or signed on for a payment plan.

The 45 remaining delinquents have until Sept. 8 to pay or sign on for a payment plan to avoid shutoffs.

Mr. Lowe also reported Republic Services, which has skipped picking up garbage from some streets over the past few months, ordered 17 new trucks. Company officials said that will bring them up to speed on collections.

He said he would like garbage placed outside for pick-up by 6 p.m. Sunday so it will be picked up whenever the trucks come on Monday.

Next, solicitor Deron Gabriel reported the 90-day probation period for new public works employee and former councilman, Corey McGough, was up on Aug. 8, at which time he became a full-fledged employee.

Mrs. Michener said according to the borough manual, the supervisor, after 90 days, submits a report to council which members then review to discern if the person performed adequately.

“I’m not doing this to be mean,” she said of holding discussion at a public meeting in line with state law.

Mr. Sains said he would go by the solicitor’s decision that it is a personnel issue. He said he also talked to two others who said a vote does not have to be taken.

Mrs. Keener said she believes a vote should be taken at a public meeting as the process should be followed. She said she does not agree with the procedure in this matter.

Next, Mrs. Michener handed out an invoice to council for $170.95 for a laminating machine purchased, without approval by council, by Mr. Sains shortly after he became president. Mr. Sains said he authorized the secretary to purchase it so parking permits would be laminated.

Mrs. Michener said the borough never had such a machine before, and it is not in the budget. She called it “unethical” for a council member to spend money without approval.

“This is not an approved expense. You can’t buy anything you want,” Mrs. Michener said.

She said she was recommending that Mr. Sains reimburse the borough for the cost.

Mr. Sains said he bought it because things need to be laminated. He said it has been used, as attested to by Mrs. Connolly, and will be used in the future.

As Mrs. Michener continued with her remarks despite his attempts to move to the next agenda item, Mr. Sains asked the acting chief to escort her out of the room.

Before he could do so, Mr. Sains adjourned the meeting.

The next council meeting will be on Sept. 15.

 

Reader Comments

(1)

bororesident writes:

Our Borough Council is trying to fight to stay in control of the whole area. We need our council to represent us as a unified unit and not finger pointing each other. Bitterness serves no one. The borough needed a laminating machine for parking permits, period. Good move on buying one. Great job by our new President. Keep up the good work and keep trying to save this borough. It is no longer Mt. Mitchner and you have our support now more than ever. Please remove the burned down houses.

 
 
 
 
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