Tempers flare again at Mount Oliver boro council meeting
December 28, 2010
Shouting, accusations, and a call for impeachment fueled the fireworks at the Dec. 20 meeting of Mt. Oliver council.
For most of the meeting, six borough police officers were in attendance in the front row.
The first speaker during the public comment period asked about the tax and sewage delinquencies in the borough.
Council President James Cassidy said the engineer is working on the sewage accounts and once those figures are available, the borough will go after the guilty parties. Other delinquents will also be pursued once information is received.
The resident also asked about the cracks in the curbs and sidewalks near roughly eight homes on Church Ave. The issue is an on-going one raised months ago by the resident's father.
Solicitor James Perich said a construction company he contacted may have done the work, and is searching its records. But, he cautioned, everything takes time.
"Things don't always happen in an expedient manner when dealing with contractors and others," said Mr. Cassidy.
The resident also said trespassers run through and damage his Church Ave. property, leading him to want to build a fence next spring. He said he noticed fences higher than the maximum six-foot residential height, and with barbed wire and electrified.
Mr. Cassidy said there is no ordinance prohibiting barbed wire and electrified fences in the borough, but council could change it to prohibit those fences.
The next resident asked about assessments, to which she was told to call the county.
"The borough has no control over the assessments," said Mr. Cassidy.
Next, Wayne Lieb, who is involved in a long-running feud with his Margaret St. neighbor — Councilman Dennis Obeldobel — called for Mr. Obeldobel's impeachment as he accused Mr. Obeldobel of harassing and threatening himself and his family.
He asked that the yellow lines painted in front of their houses this summer, at Mr. Obeldobel's request, be reviewed by council. Mr. Lieb said he received a ticket for parking in the yellow lines in front of his driveway.
He also complained about Mr. Obeldobel's video cameras which are directed at his house, accusing Mr. Obeldobel of abusing his power as a councilman.
Councilwoman Billie Michener said council members have ethics to follow, and the borough should look into the charges.
Mr. Cassidy said council would review the yellow lines, although the police said they were legal. But threats between neighbors should go to the magistrate, he said.
The borough took Mr. Obeldobel to court in 2009, said Mr. Cassidy, to remove poles and chains on his sidewalk which kept motorists from turning around. The court agreed, and Mr. Obeldobel removed them and planted trees.
Mr. Obeldobel said District Judge Charles McLaughlin has ruled in his favor in the past, and the video cameras are legal. The cameras were purchased, he said, with his own money and professionally installed.
He said Mr. Lieb's son kicked his flower pots into the street, and spray painted a car in a manner that the mist blew into Mr. Obeldobel's yard.
When asking council to paint the yellow lines over a year ago, Mr. Obeldobel said neighbors park multiple cars on the street, impeding Margaret St. motorists.
In the engineer's report, a $44,156 bill from Folino Construction for the Williams St. reconstruction project will be sent to the South Hills Area Council of Governments (SHACOG) for payment.
The first letter dealt with hiring practices. The proposed change is for police officer candidates to undergo three interviews: with the mayor, the chief, and the public safety committee.
The interview with council would be eliminated.
Regardless, council will still render the final decision on hiring after the public safety committee makes its recommendation.
"We are trying to shorten the process from four months," said Mr. Malloy.
The vote was 5-0 to adopt the change.
The other letter is about two ranking police officers riding in one vehicle. Mrs. Michener has argued publicly for more than a year that manpower is better utilized on the street.
However, Mr. Malloy said he and the mayor want that repealed as it is causing problems and conflict.
Mr. Cassidy said sometimes the need arises and they have "to do things in an expedient manner."
"We can't afford it," said Mrs. Michener.
The vote was 4-1 for the repeal, with Mrs. Michener dissenting.
In other public safety news, from now on on-going investigations will be omitted from the police report. Mr. Cassidy said it is for the safety of the officers and the integrity of the investigations.
The department's day-to-day operations will also be omitted as criminals can use that information to plan and act accordingly.
The issue of a reduced police report arose in response to an incident which Mr. Malloy, the chief, and an officer said put the officer in danger. It began with a resident asking Mrs. Michener if there was activity at an address across from his house. The resident said they had witnessed many people entering and exiting the building.
Mrs. Michener said when she asked Mr. Malloy at a public meeting if there was something taking place at the site, he responded he cannot comment on an on-going investigation. So she did not pursue the issue, she said.
But Mr. Malloy said at last week's meeting that mentioning activity in the block put the officers at risk.
"You almost got that man killed," he said, pointing to an officer in attendance.
"You don't care about my safety?" shouted the officer at Mrs. Michener before storming out of the room.
Mr. Cassidy said if a council member has questions, he or she can speak to the chief in executive session, or stop by the station.
In the public safety report, Mr. Malloy said 1,136 complaints were answered last month. The police force assisted other departments 28 times. Of the borough's 30 nuisance properties, four are Section 8.
There were nine drug arrests.
All the equipment and surveillance cameras are up and running.
At the report's conclusion, Mrs. Michener raised the matter of the chief's new four-year contract which was passed at the Sept. 20 monthly meeting, which she did not attend. The contract contains three percent raises in each year from 2011 to 2014. His pay was frozen the past three years.
In the public works report, Mr. Obeldobel said the traffic light at Hays and Ormsby avenues is malfunctioning and will be checked.