South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Sains takes reins in borough, Michener resigns presidency


A new council president, vice-president, and committee assignments headlined the June 16 meeting of Mount Oliver Borough council.

The meeting began with a newspaper reporter asking about former police Chief Frank Mosesso, who was charged with theft, forgery, and misapplication of entrusted property. He was arraigned last month before District Justice Richard King.

Solicitor Deron Gabriel said an executive session would be held later that night to discuss the situation.

When asked who can write department checks now in light of the alleged crime, council President Billie Michener said the treasurer writes checks after approval by council, and it has been this way for a long time.

“I told you so,” she said to council, as for years she expressed concerns about the running of the police department under the former chief.

Next, Mrs. Michener, who served as president since 2012, read a statement in which she announced her resignation as president.

“I need to stop talking so much and listen more,” she read.

She also stated she would turn the reigns over to council members “who feel they can do a better job.”

Mrs. Michener made the same claim at last month’s meeting, after which she attempted to adjourn the meeting just as it began, citing a “hostile environment” and not respecting the president. She then left that meeting, and council vice-president Darnell Sains took over.

At the June 16 meeting, Mr. Sains told Mrs. Michener that council wanted her to stay on “as our president.”

“I don’t have a group to lead,” she said.

In the election that followed, Mr. Sains became the new president by a 6-0 vote, with Mrs. Michener abstaining.

Frank Bernardini was chosen vice-president by a 4-3 vote, and Dave Lowe was unanimously voted president pro tempore.

The new committee assignments are: public safety/risk management: chair Mrs. Michener, and members Amber McGough and Barbara Keener; public works/health & sanitation/traffic: chair Mrs. Keener, and members Nick Viglione and Mr. Lowe; administration/finance/events: chair Mrs. McGough, and members Mr. Lowe and Mr. Bernardini; parks and recreation: chair Mr. Bernardini (unchanged), and members Mrs. McGough and Mr. Viglione; economic development/business association: chair Mr. Viglione (unchanged), and members Mr. Bernardini and Mrs. Michener; Republic-Allied waste/sewage/code enforcer: chair Mr. Lowe (unchanged), and members Mrs. Michener and Mrs. Keener.

In his first remarks as president, Mr. Sains said besides being accessible and pledging to work hard, he asks most for respect as he will give nothing less to the public.

“We have to run this borough with a little more compassion and accountability,” he said.

He next read a letter thanking everyone, especially the fire fighters, who gave of their time and energy regarding the devastating June 8 fire that destroyed or damaged 11 borough houses. It is still under investigation.

Monetary donations are being accepted at any PNC branch. Material donations are being collected by The Lighthouse, 810 Fisher St. (412-431-2230).

Addressing two of the fire victims in attendance, Mrs. Michener said she and Mrs. Keener will be asking for sheets and blankets and similar items for tenants who lost everything and have no insurance.

Other fire victims should contact her with their names, children’s ages and their needs.

Next, Mayor James Cassidy, swore in new part-time patrol officers Dustin Brozell and Brian Prunty; Civil Service commissioners David Beltz and Harold Keener; and parking enforcement officer Leah Miller.

In his report, project manager Ricky Hopkinson said the Keystone Collections Group collected $8,000 in delinquent real estate taxes in May, raising its total to about $40,000 since December.

In fundraising, 52 of 80 decorative banners containing photos of the clock tower were sold for $2,600 to benefit the Mount Oliver Business Owners Association and other projects.

In the mayor’s report, Mr. Cassidy said two more part-time police officers are needed for a full force.

In the police report for May, there were 642 calls for service, 44 drug-related arrests with some firearms confiscated, 47 domestics, three accident reports, eight criminal mischief reports, 26 community-oriented police details, four DUIs, and seven arrest warrants issued.

Of the 44 drug-related arrests, 15 were during traffic stops, which is why there are often multiple police cars at the stops.

Acting Chief Matthew Juzwick said two bicycle officers finished training, and the bike officers are out on Brownsville Rd.

In his report, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said 73 citations were issued this month.

Mrs. Keener thanked him for his work in emergency management for the county.

In the fire report, Mr. Cassidy said four new members were certified in emergency response, raising the number of first responders to 13.

From April 1 to May 31, the fire company responded to 114 calls, of which 32 were fire calls and 82 were emergency medical calls as responders with the city. Beginning April 14, the fire company started responding on all priority medical calls within the borough.

The fire company responds with Pittsburgh EMS to either assist them, or start initial treatment in the event one of their units is coming from a distance or is delayed in responding.

In the waste/sewage report, Mr. Lowe reported hauler Republic Services, which missed many of the boroughs streets on the last collection day, ordered 17 new trucks. Company officials said that will bring them up to speed in two months.

There was $11,648 in unpaid garbage bills the second quarter. The Keystone Collections Group will go after payment to recoup the taxpayers’ money.

He also reported there are 79 new accounts for water shutoffs for delinquent sewage accounts behind by $400 or more.

Mr. Lowe said if nonpayment is due to a medical issue, the owner should get a note from the doctor and submit it to Jordan Tax Services.

“We will work with you,” he said.

Mrs. Keener said whole streets are not paying, leading her to question if they are receiving their bills. She will talk to the postmaster about it.

During the solicitor’s report, council appointed Tina Carcia deputy tax collector.

She will be trained by tax collector Dottie Smith, who resigned effective July 31. At that time, Ms. Carcia will be appointed tax collector.

In the question-and-answer session, a resident asked if there was any penalty to Republic Services for not picking up all the garbage on collection day. The company charges residents a $10 fee for truancy.

Mr. Sains said it is not in the contract.

Mrs. Keener said because the contract was awarded through SHACOG, problems like these should be raised with them. Mr. Sains said he would do so.

The resident also asked why the curb by the house of the father of public works employee and former councilman, Corey McGough, was repaired recently but not his.

Mr. Sains said Mr. McGough’s father had complained about the curb for years so it is not favoritism.

The resident’s curb would be fixed eventually, he said.

Next, a resident asked if Mrs. Keener was qualified to serve as chair of the public works committee compared to the experienced Mr. Bernardini and Mr. Viglione.

Mrs. Keener responded while she has no construction experience, she will rely on advice and her own research on matters. Her husband also has some expertise, she said.

For any complaints about Transverse Park, which falls under public works, she will investigate issues on site and take photos as she is retired and has the time to do so.

To residents’ complaints about the job performance of a borough employee, Mr. Sains said the personnel matter would be discussed in executive session.

Next, a fire victim said with no cable or Internet, he does not have ready access to information regarding the fire. He said he heard the rumor there was an issue with the water pressure that day.

Mr. Cassidy said that was not true. He said two houses were fully engulfed before the call came in -- everyone thinks everyone else called in but none did, he said.

Council said the fire spread so quickly and intensely due to the winds, dryness, and the proximity/ages of the houses.

The next council meeting will be on July 21.


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