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Special City Council Meeting
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 – 7:50 PM
(Upon Adjournment of the Regular City Council Meeting)
Town Hall - Bethlehem PA
1. ROLL CALL
President Evans called the meeting to order. Present were Jean Belinski, Karen Dolan, Robert J. Donchez, Michael D. Recchiuti, J. William Reynolds, and Eric R. Evans, 6.
The February 21, 2012 Special City Council Meeting was an adjourned meeting from the February 16, 2012 Special City Council Meeting. President Evans reviewed the events from the February 16, 2012 Special City Council Meeting on Filling the Vacancy of Controller that led to this evening’s Special City Council Meeting of February 21, 2012. All seven Council Members were present at the February 16, 2012 Special City Council Meeting, the Meeting began with public comment, and the resumes of five candidates for the position of City Controller were read into the record. The five candidates made their presentations in alphabetical order, Council had the opportunity to question each of the candidates, and the Members of Council made Nominations. There were four nominations, including the nomination of Council Member David DiGiacinto, and following his nomination he removed himself from any debate, discussion or voting. Also nominated were William Scheirer, George Yasso, and Robert Pfenning. After nominations were closed, Members of Council had the opportunity to question Council Member DiGiacinto, and following that questioning City Council moved to discussion of the candidates. The Members of Council then moved to Election, and the Election results were as follows: Council Member DiGiacinto received two votes, Mr. Scheirer received two votes, and Mr. Yasso received two votes. The Roll Call was taken three times and each had the same results. At that point, the Members of Council set a time at which to reconvene the Special City Council Meeting that was set following the adjournment of the regular City Council Meeting on February 21, 2012 that just occurred. There was Public Comment prior to the adjournment of the February 16, 2012 Special City Council Meeting.
President Evans announced that the Special City Council Meeting this evening will begin with Public Comment that will be limited to the Resolution listed on the Agenda that is filling the Vacancy of the City Controller. Following Public Comment, City Council will move to the Election. Before a Roll Call vote is taken, the Members of Council will have discussion and follow-up questions of any of the candidates. President Evans confirmed that the election of a candidate to fill the vacancy of City Controller will take four votes to declare a winner. He explained if City Council is able to do this tonight they will then move to Agenda Item 4 that is the vote on the Resolution to fill the Vacancy of City Controller. The meeting will finish with Public Comment before adjournment.
2. PUBLIC COMMENT
Joey Piazza, 1514 Ravena Street, stated he is a resident and small business owner in the City of Bethlehem. Stating that he is at this meeting tonight to speak in support of George Yasso for Controller, Mr. Piazza said he felt an obligation after the last meeting and the implication that Mr. Yasso may not be not qualified for the position. Mr. Piazza related that he has been a client of Mr. Yasso’s for the past eight years, both professionally and personally, and Mr. Yasso has handled every aspect of his personal and professional finances including personal investment, taxes, and internal audits. Mr. Piazza added that these services include anything accounting related and money related. Mr. Piazza stated that, through this process, Mr. Yasso has demonstrated a meticulous nature and attention to detail, and a vast knowledge of accounting. Mr. Piazza expressed his opinion that the services of Mr. Yasso are the ultimate in accounting and, more importantly than that, accountability. Mr. Piazza saw absolutely no reason why people should not trust Mr. Yasso with the taxpayer money of the City of Bethlehem. Mr. Piazza continued on to say he feels that all three candidates are extremely qualified for this position, but his concern with Mr. Scheirer is he has indicated that he will not run in the next election. Mr. Piazza expressed his concern with incumbency and more importantly the consistency in starting all over again. Communicating that Mr. DiGiacinto is obviously extremely qualified, Mr. Piazza said as a voter he likes seeing Mr. DiGiacinto sitting on City Council. He thinks Council Member DiGiacinto’s work would be incomplete because he is a strong voice in financial conservatism, and added that he has done a phenomenal job. Affirming that Mr. DiGiacinto was elected as a Member of Council, Mr. Piazza said he would like to see him finish his term.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, remarked that, after listening to the comments of the Members of Council concerning the qualifications of candidates and the reasons for supporting or not supporting them, he is impressed with the lack of objectivity with some of the comments. Mr. Antalics noted that one Council Member nominated a person who has rarely if ever been seen at City Council Meetings, and this Member felt impressed by the candidate’s credentials and felt the individual could be objective and fair in dealings with the Administration. Mr. Antalics stated this Member also implied that since two of the other candidates attended many City Council Meetings and are critical of Council and the Administration this would preclude their ability to be fair and impartial. Mr. Antalics stressed that both of those candidates have shown clear objectivity during their comments and rarely ever subjectively attacked an individual. Mr. Antalics added that another Council Member gave strong support to his colleague’s nomination and this Member stated he did not have a personal relationship with the nominee. Mr. Antalics said this decision seemed to be based solely on qualifications. If the qualifications demanded by the position were reviewed by a qualified advisor and this advisor was not privy to the candidate’s names and chose the best candidate solely on his resume, Mr. Antalics thought that clearly the best candidate is not in the running. He stated this puts into question this support. Mr. Antalics pointed out that after all candidates had made their presentations, one Council Member felt obliged to bring two candidates back to the podium. He noted that the secondary questioning began with a subtle hint that these candidates, frequent attendees at Council Meetings and often being critical of Council and the Administration, might create a bias and prevent an objective relationship with the Administration. Mr. Antalics expressed that this intense questioning at times bordered on a third degree, clearly revealing the firmness and objectivity of the two and putting them in the eyes of the audience possibly as the two best for the position. Mr. Antalics commented that other candidates were not called, with all knowledge being based upon their resumes, which he asserted was a troublesome thought. Mr. Antalics pointed out that one candidate stated he would keep the Deputy Controller if he were chosen, and that sat well with a Member of Council as this Council Member faulted a candidate for claiming that he would review the Deputy Controller’s competence if chosen. Stressing that only one person can objectively reflect on the matter and that is the past Controller, Mr. Antalics wondered if she has been consulted. Mr. Antalics emphasized he does not wish to demean the Deputy Controller for he has no knowledge of his performance. Mr. Antalics thought that for a candidate to publicly state that he would make that Deputy’s review over time reflects sound judgment. Mr. Antalics commented this candidate’s statement sounded as though being a candidate of a team is more important than that of being a watchdog. Mr. Antalics wondered if the City will suffer from the lack of a qualified watchdog. Mr. Antalics thought that selecting an unknown quantity for the position could be a disservice to the community since the position of City Controller is for a two year period. He continued on to say that a candidate’s not having attended City Council and Finance Committee meetings precludes these candidates from a solid sense of how local government operates. Mr. Antalics questioned why not appoint a candidate who has both intimate knowledge of the City and the required qualifications.
George Yasso, 1413 W. Market Street, stated that he wanted to take the time to explain why he is qualified for the position of Controller. Mr. Yasso related that he started his career several years ago with AXA Equitable that is a global investment insurance company. It was a very valuable experience and, because of the company’s size, even though his office was in Bethlehem, it was considered a part of the Philadelphia branch. He received extensive training in all aspects of investment and insurance and gained a wealth of knowledge during that time. After serving as an advisor for the company for a few years, he was recruited by Jim Serratelli to partner with him in his newly formed business, Robertson Serratelli Financial Group. This group serves as the financial arm for Robertson Insurance Group that is a local property and casualty firm with 17,000 plus policy holders throughout the Lehigh Valley. These policy holders include individuals and business owners. Mr. Yasso advised that the company serves as a financial resource for all of the policy holders, and added that his time at Robertson over the past three or four years has been enjoyable. Mr. Yasso explained that to be able to move from working for a large company to moving to a local company that serves only the individuals and business owners in the Lehigh Valley makes him able to serve as a resource to the current clients. Mr. Yasso stated that he spent his day this morning with a couple in their early sixties beginning retirement and the process consisted of their giving to him every bit of personal data that they have, including tax returns, bank accounts, checking, savings, qualified retirement accounts, IRA’s, investment accounts, brokerage accounts, real estate assets, insurance coverage, expenses and liabilities. Mr. Yasso added that when he meets with them next week he will be able to give them a detailed, comprehensive analysis of their financial situation which would include a net worth summary, cash flow analysis, tax analysis, asset allocation analysis, and an investment performance analysis. Basically this would be a snapshot of their situation now to be able to tell them where they currently are, give any recommendations, and let them know if there are any shortfalls in their future retirement. Mr. Yasso affirmed he believes this will give further information into what he does, and that his knowledge of finance is not only strong but it is well rounded. Observing that one concern is a learning curve, Mr. Yasso highlighted the fact that his office is in West Bethlehem at 9th Avenue and Broad Street, he has a full time assistant, he can be committed to be the Controller on a daily basis, and take as much time as he needs to make sure he will fulfill the role of Controller.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, advised he has a prepared statement that would be longer than 5 minutes and ends up with a proposal for modifications to the budget in such a way that it would make life easier for the Administration, Controller, and Council. Mr. Scheirer said if he does not get through it he hopes that someone on Council will ask him to explain it. Mr. Scheirer mentioned that at the last Meeting a valid question was raised in that could someone like himself who has frequently publicly expressed views be impartial as a Controller. Mr. Scheirer felt that he would be completely impartial as Controller, and noted that his professional career has been exclusively on facts and analysis. Mr. Scheirer communicated at anyone on the Bethlehem Area School District Task Force and Community Service, which he moderated for 10 meetings, had no idea what his views were on the subject because his job was to assist the group to reach a conclusion on a very contentious issue and not to insert his own views. Mr. Scheirer continued on to say anyone who had read his op-ed piece in the Morning Call on the Pension Bond had no idea his views on this subject as a number of people said at the time because his objective in writing the piece was only to share the analysis. Mr. Scheirer stated that the job of the Controller is to see that the budget, which expresses policy views of the Administration and Council, is adhered to. They are the ones to make policy, not the Controller. To avoid any appearance to the contrary he would resign from the Board of Trustees of the Library, especially since the Controller audits the books of the Library. He would also resign as president of the Bethlehem Citizens Association but perhaps continue as a quiet member. He would resign from the Board of the South Bethlehem Historical Society but continue as a member. He would continue his associate membership in the Bethlehem Historic District Association, and also his memberships in the Sun Inn Preservation Association and Torch Club. Mr. Scheirer noted this does not mean that he would not make recommendations about the budgetary process in general. In particular, he believed that the Ordinance is too restrictive. He noted the Ordinance stated that the City Controller should review all warrants for the expenditure of sitting monies and if satisfied that such expenditures are within the budget allotment pertaining thereto shall sign the warrant before it is presented to the City Treasurer for payment. Mr. Scheirer pointed out that the Ordinance does not say what the Controller should do if the expenditure is not within the budget allotment. He thought there is a clear implication that the Controller should refuse to sign the warrant and should tell the Administration to seek a budget transfer. Mr. Scheirer remarked this is restrictive and theoretically it means that if the budget allotment were $100 and the Administration would submit a warrant for $100.01 the Controller is required by law to tell the Administration to seek a budget transfer of one cent that is ridiculous. Mr. Scheirer said he is mentioning this because any budget is not perfect. It is a forecast and as such needs to be revised as the year progresses. Commenting this is the rational for budget transfers, Mr. Scheirer noted the transfer could be cumbersome for all involved especially when it involves small amounts of dollars. He observed that the Controller is then faced with a dilemma of approving a small expenditure beyond the budget allotment and violating the law, or requiring that City Council approve a small transfer. He remarked this would make life more complicated for everyone. Stating that since his 5 minutes is almost up he will not explain his solution to this, Mr. Scheirer said there is a way out of this and he asks Council, the Administration, and the Controller to get together to see what can be done about this.
Robert Pfenning, 2830 Linden Street, clarified that he has a firm idea of the role of the Controller. He affirmed that in City Government there are three elected branches, the citizens elect a strong Mayor, a Council who is there to oversee the purse strings, and a Controller who by law is part of the internal control system. Mr. Pfenning observed that if there is going to be a well balanced government to protect the citizens, there are three independent branches. Observing that to the extent the branches become un-independent and the citizens of Bethlehem begin to suffer potentially, Mr. Pfenning stressed it is important that the Controller be independent. Mr. Pfenning added that Mr. Scheirer read the Ordinance and technically under the Ordinance with a one penny overage it is not approved. Mr. Pfenning noted it is his understanding that the Controller does not have a lot of wiggle room, and is there to oversee things and to perhaps catch things. He exemplified it is not the Controller’s function to say that if someone made a proposal for the Greenway and the Controller did not like it then the Controller would deny it. Mr. Pfenning communicated if that would be done then that person should not be in the job. Mr. Pfenning stated the function of the Controller by law is to review the warrants, to make sure everything is in order, and approve it. Noting that City Council passed some Resolutions tonight giving the Controller and the Mayor certain rights to sign things, Mr. Pfenning doubted that the Controller would refuse to sign something just based on his or her personal opinion about the subject matter. Mr. Pfenning remarked that if he were Controller his primary function would be to serve as the chief internal control function. Once that job is done and assuming there is something of value to add to the financial situation he would do that, but his primary job as Controller would be a fairly technical one. Mr. Pfenning said he does not know how much of a team player the Controller has to be because the more of being a team player the less independent the Controller is, and the government structure can collapse. Mr. Pfenning did not see the Controller as having an overriding voice in evaluating certain things unless it is within the individual’s expertise. Mr. Pfenning explained that, to him, it is who has the audit experience, who has the ability to follow the law to the letter, and not make judgments. Mr. Pfenning, commenting do not say it is only a penny and does not matter, acknowledged if City Council chooses to loosen the Ordinance that would be different and needs to be followed, but Council has to change their Ordinance do to this.
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, mentioned he heard a comment about one of the candidates indicating they did not plan on running for election. Mr. Grubb did not think this should enter in the decision of who becomes Controller. Mr. Grubb thought it has more to do with qualifications, experience, and the person’s ability to act in an independent nature. Mr. Grubb said whether a person would run for the office or not makes the decision become political, and then the decision is not being made in the best interest of the residents of Bethlehem. Mr. Grubb noted he thinks it will be incumbent for whoever is selected to also get someone who can get up to speed quickly. Pointing out that someone will be doing this job for 22 months, Mr. Grubb thought that, while every candidate who has been nominated will have a learning curve, the ability to get up to speed quickly will be key. He commented that the understanding of City Government and the issues that the City is dealing with should play into the formula for selecting the Controller. Mr. Grubb added that the Controller definitely needs to be independent and that independence will be key to the proper financial operation of the City.
President Evans stated that City Council will move to Agenda Item 3 that is the Election. President Evans noted, before that is done, he will open the matter for discussion, for any new questions the Members of Council have for the candidates, questions from their presentations, or follow-up questions from those mailed to the candidates.
Mr. Recchiuti asked if City Council votes and is still deadlocked can the Members ask questions later. Attorney Spadoni stated the Members will be able to do that. President Evans noted that after the vote if there is no decision made he would open it up for discussion again, and hopefully bring this to a resolution tonight that is the goal.
President Evans asked if Members of Council have questions of candidates. He added that the candidates should come to the podium, and if other Members of Council have questions of the same candidate they can ask the questions while the candidate is at the podium.
Ms. Dolan noted that, since Mr. Scheirer moved to Bethlehem, he has found one social group that City Council is aware of which is a group of men and women who are interested in the City, in School District, and County issues. Ms. Dolan commented that generally they come to present their ideas, suggestions, sometimes be critical, and occasionally praise Council. Ms. Dolan said her question is what Mr. Scheirer thought he can expect in terms of pressures from some of those people, and what kinds of pressure Mr. Scheirer thought he might face to live up to the reputation that his group of friends has to be critical and try to look at things from a different perspective.
Mr. Scheirer replied he would be surprised if he got any. Commenting that the group can be called the Perkins group, Mr. Scheirer said the group will be moving to the South Side shortly, and everyone in this room is invited to come. Mr. Scheirer explained the group was originally started to talk about City Council issues but they also talk about State issues, book reviews, movie reviews, concert reviews, reports on various retail stores, and anything that people get together to talk about. Mr. Scheirer added because there are some Republicans in the group they never talk national politics. Mr. Scheirer expected that everyone in the group would be disappointed if he were not completely impartial. While acknowledging he cannot speak for the group, Mr. Scheirer stated if there were any pressure, that he would not expect, it would be resisted. Mr. Scheirer pointed out that the job of the Controller does not involve policy views, and it involves following the law.
Ms. Dolan questioned whether, while sitting around talking about things that are going on in the City that the Controller is privy to but perhaps no one else is, would Mr. Scheirer get some feedback from the Perkins group to see what they think about things. Ms. Dolan asked if the group would become an influence, and what kind of influence.
Mr. Scheirer noted that he would continue to attend the meetings of the Blockwatch at Church of the Manger which is run by Gus Loupos, and perhaps some other groups in the City just to see what people are thinking. He would be a listener and he would be careful not to say any privileged or confidential information. He would listen to what people have to say but be respectful of the information that is in the office.
Ms. Dolan related one of the things she sees is that with Mr. Scheirer they disagree on the subject of State Grant monies, especially in regards to non-profits. There have been times when Mr. Scheirer has gotten to the podium and expressed resistance to the idea of Grant funding sometimes going directly from the State to a non-profit or corporate entity in the City, or as a pass through from the City. Expressing her understanding that personal policy cannot be brought in, Ms. Dolan said if it is more than personal policy and if it is a strong ethical belief in what is wrong and what is right would that not give Mr. Scheirer the right to hold something up and to refuse to sign a check if he thought that it is illegal, whether or not it is stated in the Ordinances.
Mr. Scheirer replied it would not be right to hold it up, and added he is not sure what Ms. Dolan is referring to. Mr. Scheirer noted if a Grant goes to a non-profit, that is the business between the Grantee and the non-profit. Mr. Scheirer said the one thing he would like to do about non-profits is that he would like to ask the Administration for a list of the mercantile tax that is received from various groups just to make sure everyone is paying their fair share. Mr. Scheirer observed here is another case where the law could be revised because the law on mercantile tax does not give any exemptions to a small non-profit. Highlighting the fact that the mercantile tax is 1 ½ mils, Mr. Scheirer observed if someone makes $1,000 in commercial activity that is $15 dollars. He questioned should they have to bother filing the paperwork to pay mercantile tax. Mr. Scheirer thought an exemption for the smaller non-profits should be looked into, and adapt the City’s Ordinance to the Form 990 categories to the extent possible.
Ms. Dolan related that some people get into the position of Controller and use that office as a way of harassing or demeaning City Government, often rehashing old events and uncovering things that happened in the past. Ms. Dolan, stating she knows Mr. Scheirer is comfortable with a microphone and has no aversion to speaking out, asked him what is the role of the Controller in reference to the press in terms of the order of events. She asked if Mr. Scheirer found something that he questioned when does the Controller reach the point that the Controller contacts the press.
Mr. Scheirer responded he could envision the Controller being listed on the City Council Agenda, either before or after the Mayor. Mr. Scheirer said that would be the time for making public statements and reporting on any progress made. Mr. Scheirer thought that would be a good thing and the press could pick up on it. If he had nothing to say at that particular meeting he would not comment. As for questions from the press, Mr. Scheirer stated it would depend on the questions. Mr. Scheirer said he can see answering some questions and not answering others.
Ms. Dolan communicated that people know Mr. Scheirer mostly as a regular attendee at Council Meetings, sometimes critical but always pleasant. Ms. Dolan asked Mr. Scheirer whether during his time in Town Hall speaking during public comment when people mostly see him is that the most significant and satisfying aspect of his civic life, or what else defines him as an engaged citizen of Bethlehem.
Mr. Scheirer responded that no doubt it is the primary activity but there are others as well that he has mentioned. Mr. Scheirer continued on to say it includes the South Bethlehem Historical Society, he is an associate member in the Bethlehem Historic District Association, he is sometimes a docent at the Sun Inn Preservation Association, and is a member of the Torch Club. Mr. Scheirer mentioned that he also likes to read, but added that City Council is important to him.
Ms. Dolan, saying this is a personal question that no one should be compelled to answer, commented she wanted to hear what Mr. Scheirer has to say. Ms. Dolan stated the 2011 Council election had high civic engagement, and the election however was not all good. There was damage done to individuals in the name of politics and campaigning. There were angry people on both sides. She observed it is known that Mr. Scheirer supported three candidates who did not win, he supported one who won, and he did not support two candidates who won and who are seated on Council. Affirming that all fully support Mr. Scheirer’s right to support whomever one may choose, Ms. Dolan said that is not the issue. Ms. Dolan asked if Mr. Scheirer aggressively campaigned against any seated Council members. She noted it is okay to advocate for someone but people are not supposed to advocate against someone. Ms. Dolan asked if Mr. Scheirer subverted the election process by engaging in that behavior in the last election, and added again that he does not have to answer this question.
Mr. Scheirer said he is glad to have the opportunity to answer the question. Mr. Scheirer confirmed he did have four yard signs in the front of his home for the three Republicans and for Bob Donchez. Mr. Scheirer explained it has been a policy of his that anyone who asked him to put a yard sign up he would put the yard sign out front. Mr. Scheirer affirmed he also had at least four more yard signs for other offices so his front yard does look a little congested at election time. Mr. Scheirer noted after the election is over all the signs disappear. Mr. Scheirer stated he has never said no to anyone who asked him to put a yard sign in his front yard. As for anything else, Mr. Scheirer said he went to the election, he voted, and he left. The only person he spoke to was Mr. Fenstermaker, who decides whether someone is a registered voter or not. Mr. Scheirer remarked he is glad Ms. Dolan asked that question so he is able to say absolutely not.
Ms. Dolan apologized for asking the question but said she will tie it in with her bigger comments without putting anyone else on the spot.
Mr. Reynolds thanked Mr. Scheirer for the responses to the questions as well as the letter he sent, commented they contained good information, and added that Mr. Scheirer is certainly well qualified. Mr. Reynolds noted that today the Members of Council received a communication from Gene Auman, Deputy Controller, having to do with the Communication for the RACP Grant for Lehigh Valley Hospital that was on this evening’s City Council Agenda. Mr. Reynolds related one of the things Mr. Auman stated at the bottom of his memo to City Council was that City Council does not normally see the sub-agreements on these contracts but a clause could be added that a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) will be negotiated, and included in the deal with the RACP. Mr. Reynolds, observing that Mr. Scheirer has spoken highly of PILOTS in the past, as have Members of Council, said he would like Mr. Scheirer to comment on this matter.
Mr. Scheirer responded he is not sure as the Controller if he should comment, because that would be a policy question. However, acknowledging he is not the Controller yet, Mr. Scheirer commented he feels that the non-profits need to pay more of their share to the expenses of the City.
Mr. Reynolds, while commenting that many have spoken highly of the PILOT process, pointed out Mr. Scheirer does have strong opinions on many things and has stated there should not be policy views in the Controller’s office. Mr. Reynolds continued on to say while he respects Mr. Auman who is not here tonight and the idea, commented Members of Council were a little taken aback by the fact that Mr. Auman would suggest such a strong policy position in a memo as the Deputy Controller. As far as the idea of separating the policy views from the Controller’s office, Mr. Reynolds observed this is clearly a policy view. Mr. Reynolds believed that Ms. Dolan previously was referring to the fact that, in the past when the RACP Grants had come for both the Steel Stacks and Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Mr. Scheirer had given his opinion that City Council either should not support them or should be concerned about some of the things in the grants, and added this again is a policy view. Mr. Reynolds thought there are a lot of positive things that come from PILOT programs. Mr. Reynolds noted it is heard on one side that the Controller’s office is policy neutral. Mr. Reynolds continued on to say, for Mr. Auman as well as Mr. Scheirer agreeing with the idea, when one looks at Lehigh Valley Hospital and the amount of jobs they have created, the fact that someone might want to hold up a Grant like that because of a policy disagreement and if they do not agree to a PILOT program then the Grant will not be passed, he finds this to be troubling.
Mr. Scheirer commented that when talking about sources of revenue this goes beyond the job of the Controller. Acknowledging that the Controller may have personal views, Mr. Scheirer said they are kept in hibernation. Mr. Scheirer observed that if he becomes Controller this is something he and Mr. Auman will need to talk about.
Mr. Reynolds recalled Mr. Scheirer had responded to Ms. Dolan that the decision needs to be between the grantee and the grantor as far as the granting of the State money. Mr. Reynolds commented that, as far as ArtsQuest and Ben Franklin, they have been huge job creators, and Mr. Scheirer has expressed personal reservations about those things. Mr. Reynolds affirmed that these RACP’s do come across the desk of the Controller, so part of the reason these questions about policy views are being asked is the idea that an RACP grant might be turned down in view of the fact that ArtsQuest/SteelStacks and PBS got almost $13 million. Mr. Reynolds highlighted the fact that they were able to leverage that grant with another $39 million. He added that Ben Franklin got almost $6 million and was able to leverage that with another $10 million. Mr. Reynolds expressed his concern with not only with some of the past questions, but Mr. Scheirer’s thought that the Café/Restaurant at SteelStacks would compete with private cafés and restaurants. Mr. Reynolds said he finds these policy views concerning, even though Mr. Scheirer stated that he would put them aside. Mr. Reynolds added it may be tough to separate people’s personal opinions from what they have to carry out. As far as the RACP contracts, Mr. Reynolds said it leads him to believe that if Mr. Scheirer had been the Controller at the time and had shared his opinion that could have potentially left the City of Bethlehem without one of the best things that happened in a long time.
Mr. Scheirer thought that a few things he has stated may have been misconstrued. For example, regarding Ben Franklin Technology Center, Mr. Scheirer said his concern was land use planning, not the financial aspects of it. He was concerned about South Mountain and in particular the top of the Mountain, and he opposed the variance for that reason. Mr. Scheirer thought they could equally well do the expansion on the site further down the hill. Mr. Scheirer said he cannot recall opposing a State Grant going to someone and does not see why he would. On the subject of a café at SteelStacks, Mr. Scheirer said that is a question about the mercantile tax and whether the City is getting all that it should. Mr. Scheirer thought that this is a concern of the Controller not only on the expenditure side but the revenue side. Affirming it is not the job of the Controller to interfere in policy decisions, for example, new sources of revenue, Mr. Scheirer confirmed that is a policy issue and for Council and the Administration to decide. Mr. Scheirer said he does not understand the questions about these Grants because he does not recall opposing any Grant on financial grounds. He reiterated that the Ben Franklin issue was a land use planning issue, and the remarks about the cafe that he raised when Jeff Parks was at the meeting was about the mercantile tax.
Mr. Reynolds pointed out that, as far as opposing the variances concerned, Ben Franklin got almost $6 million and that was a project that came before the City. Mr. Reynolds explained one of the things he finds potentially troubling is the fact that Mr. Scheirer essentially has stated that he needs to balance different ideas in his mind as far as maximizing things like mercantile tax. Mr. Reynolds communicated that this can be a conflict as far as carrying out the job of the Controller versus these personal beliefs. Mr. Reynolds confirmed his understanding that Mr. Scheirer stated if he is picked as the Controller he will put this aside. Mr. Reynolds, noting he has seen Mr. Scheirer express strong opinions at City Council Meetings over the years, remarked that for Mr. Scheirer to say he can separate his personal views from the policy views in the Controller’s office is hard for him to understand. Mr. Reynolds added that Mr. Scheirer had stated he agreed with Mr. Auman’s memo.
Mr. Scheirer advised that as a citizen he agreed with Mr. Auman but not as Controller, and as he said Mr. Auman and he would have to talk about that matter. As for the Musikfest café, Mr. Scheirer stated that the job of the Controller is to follow the law, and the law includes a mercantile tax. He continued on to say it is the job of the Controller as he sees it to make sure that the necessary mercantile tax is collected. Stressing that Ben Franklin is a very worthy institution and he is glad to see them expanding, Mr. Scheirer expressed he was just hoping they would not to have to go to the top of the mountain.
Mr. Reynolds, highlighting the fact that the Controller has to sign off on many contracts, said in his opinion he sees a difference between Mr. Scheirer’s personal views and some of his statements as far as how he would carry out the duties of the Controller. Mr. Reynolds stated his concern is that some of these personal policy decisions could potentially cost the City. Affirming it is not the Controller’s job to make policy, Mr. Reynolds stated over the last several years he has heard some things that would contradict that. Mr. Reynolds noted that Mr. Scheirer made a comment about something being a cent over and pointed out something like that would take time as far as Council and Committee Meetings, feedback from the Controller, Administration, and the Public. Mr. Reynolds asked Mr. Scheirer if he were the Controller and the issue came up next week that something was one cent over would he not sign it because it was one cent over.
Mr. Scheirer, replying no, said the present process is that small deviations are overlooked which is a pragmatic thing to do and would be a short run solution. Mr. Scheirer stated it is not the best solution in his opinion. Mr. Scheirer observed in getting into the process of saying that a little bit is okay then the question becomes how much is okay. Mr. Scheirer commented that is where there can be disagreements among Council, the Administration, and the Controller. Communicating that this led to some of the acrimony that has occurred from time to time, Mr. Scheirer remarked this is not a good thing and in the longer term it is even a poorer solution. He continued on to say if the Administration states they need an extra 50% for a small account and the Controller says okay that is a short term solution. Relating for the interim he would continue that policy, Mr. Scheirer pointed out it turns into a situation of the Administration and the Controller modifying the Ordinance, and leaving City Council out of it. Mr. Scheirer stated to him that is not the best solution. He believed that all should consider legislation retroactive to January 1st. It would allow automatic transfers up to a cumulative and legislative percentage that would depend on the nature of the expenditure and/or fund and the size of the account. He exemplified that as an example of the size of the account the leeway on the entire General Fund would be less in percentage terms than the leeway on a Department total, because of the greater dollar amount in the entire General Fund. The allowed percentages would be in the amended budget and would be approved by Council in consultation with the Administration. Mr. Scheirer thought this would give the Administration, Council, and the Controller more flexibility and everyone would be within the law.
Mr. Reynolds, noting that Mr. Scheirer had referenced a small deviation before, said obviously there is a clear line that people draw between being financially accountable and coming to the Finance Committee. Expressing that Mr. Scheirer is proposing a big change that would have to be looked at seriously, Mr. Reynolds asked what is the limit that Mr. Scheirer would believe in as far as a small deviation before it becomes something else. Mr. Reynolds added that the transfer was discussed in January and Mr. Scheirer had mentioned this was something he would not have signed.
Mr. Scheirer replied that is correct because it was a very large deviation. Mr. Scheirer said his recommendation is that there needs to be some attention paid to the emergency powers within Council. He said there is something in Robert’s Rules about emergency meetings and there could be something there that could be adapted into the Council’s rules. He thought it might even be possible give the President of Council the power to authorize in exceptional circumstances or maybe the President and the Chair of the Finance Committee. Mr. Scheirer stated that, in the case of the payroll coming out of the escrow, the checks may have been delayed a few days and the employees would not have liked it. He commented it would have been unfair to the employees but would have been a better solution.
Mr. Reynolds inquired what Mr. Scheirer thinks a small deviation would be under the current Ordinance.
Mr. Scheirer responded he thinks it should vary by size of the account, and the smaller the account the greater the percentage that could be allowed. He exemplified that if an account has $100 then a 100% deviation may be allowed.
Mr. Reynolds asked Mr. Scheirer whether he would look at it this way in the role of Controller before new legislation that he is talking about were passed.
Mr. Scheirer replied no and said he would continue the present practice but he would like to see the Ordinance revised.
Mr. Reynolds asked Mr. Scheirer to explain the present practice as far as the Controller’s office.
Mr. Scheirer noted he heard that at one time there was a 5% rule but he does not know if that still exists. Mr. Scheirer stated that would be a starting point and it would have to be on a case by case basis. He thought it would be better to have the flexibility built into the budget.
Ms. Dolan stated that she would like to ask a few questions of Mr. Yasso. Ms. Dolan mentioned that some people thought it was unfair that she had asked a tough question of two of the candidates and had not asked it of the others. Ms. Dolan mentioned that as Council Members they have passed laws and have seen them disregarded by the Administration and it has been frustrating at times. Members of the public were critical of Council at the time. Ms. Dolan asked if Mr. Yasso were the Controller what action would he have taken. Ms. Dolan gave the example that the Administration needs to make ends meet and to make payroll, it is the end of a fiscal year, and they are counting on certain taxes being paid but those have not been paid, and there is no money authorized and none left over for payroll. Ms. Dolan affirmed that Council has said this cannot be done without their permission and in some cases the Administration has broken pre-authorization rules and Council found out later. Ms. Dolan asked if Mr. Yasso were aware something like this was going on what action would he take, and what would he have done that would have been different than what Council did.
Mr. Yasso responded that full disclosure is certainly the best policy. In a situation where the act has already occurred, and the money was moved, Mr. Yasso agreed that Council should have been consulted and approved it previously. Mr. Yasso acknowledged that once it has already been done Council is put in a precarious situation because they are not looking to arrest anyone in the Administration. Mr. Yasso thought the best way to address the matter is to learn from it. Mr. Yasso communicated that had it been thought about more it could have been anticipated more. Mr. Yasso observed that because it was at the beginning of the new year there will be taxes owed to the City that have not been collected yet. Mr. Yasso continued on to say if the Administration had been approached by the Controller previously in anticipation of that, asked if the money is there, and whether there is the need to move funds around, then the Controller may have been able to relay that to Council so that the situation would have not occurred the way it did. This way, he pointed out the Controller and City Council would not have been put in that precarious situation. Mr. Yasso thought that other than anticipating it and trying to fully disclose anything that is known, then if someone does not know of anything they certainly cannot disclose it.
Ms. Dolan asked how confident Mr. Yasso feels now after everything he has learned and if he thinks he is the best person for this job. Ms. Dolan asked if Mr. Yasso can answer this and characterize his confidence and why he feels the way he does.
Mr. Yasso replied this has been a very interesting process for him. Mr. Yasso commented that, as he stated before, he had no direct involvement in politics at any level. Mr. Yasso remarked it has been a political baptism by fire for him these last two meetings. Mr. Yasso said the reason he is confident is that he is confident in his knowledge, integrity, and ability to remain independent. Mr. Yasso acknowledged that one of the big issues is whether someone can be independent. Noting things have been said about his social ties, Mr. Yasso affirmed he does not apologize for any social ties he has. Mr. Yasso highlighted the fact that he has lived in Bethlehem since he was six years old, other than the four years he was in college. His father’s side has a big family, many of whom still live here. Mr. Yasso pointed out he is socially active in Bethlehem through business, athletics, coaching, and different charities he is involved in. Mr. Yasso stated this is something he is proud of and he feels it makes him a good selection for the position of Controller. Mr. Yasso remarked that he could provide some stability and continuity to the Controller’s office.
Mr. Reynolds asked how City Council can be sure that Mr. Yasso is not taking policy views or personal views into the Controller’s office. Mr. Reynolds noted the Controller’s office is not one of policy setting; it is one of following the Third Class City Code. Mr. Reynolds asked Mr. Yasso to explain how he will set aside his individual policy views as far as carrying out the role of the Controller.
Mr. Yasso observed that, as involved as Mr. Scheirer is,
of course he will have views. Mr. Yasso stated that, as he
is not a regular attendee but follows City issues through
other venues, it is easier to say one person would be more
impartial than the other. Mr. Yasso said the only way that
Council will know that he is impartial is to take his word
for it, and there is no reason for Council not to believe
that. Mr. Yasso added he has never done anything in the past
to compromise his integrity. Mr. Yasso said the same can be
said for Mr. Scheirer, that people can only take him at his
President Evans asked whether, with questions completed, there are any comments that Council would like to make.
Ms. Dolan stated why she will not be voting for Mr. DiGiacinto. Ms. Dolan did not think there was any doubt that, in terms of experience and time with Council, Mr. DiGiacinto has the experience and expertise and could hit the ground running. Ms. Dolan said Council Members are sometimes put into the position of sitting in for the electorate. If an elected official resigns, City Council has to fill in that position as if they represent the electorate. Ms. Dolan remarked that if Council puts Mr. DiGiacinto into the position of Controller they take two hits to the electoral process. Ms. Dolan believed that should only be done if there is no other choice. Ms. Dolan went back to the reason why she asked Mr. Scheirer about his political support in 2011. To do so, Ms. Dolan said she has to go back to a comment that Mr. Antalics made several years ago. He spoke of Council as the Elected Council and of the seven or so regular attendees as the shadow council. Ms. Dolan added that Council Members know what the shadow council thinks of the elected Council because they tell them. Ms. Dolan remarked that Council Members are constantly reminded not just by the shadow council but by the media that all politicians are alike, they are not capable of thinking for themselves, but they can think in factions and team up and think in small groups. The other option is that Council can be beholden to a leader. Ms. Dolan thought it might be interesting to share a bit of insight into what she thinks that Members think of the shadow council and how that is impacting tonight’s deliberation. Ms. Dolan thought it is common for elected Officials to be painted with a big broad brush and to see them as all alike. She continued on to say maybe they are in factions, or maybe beholden to a leader, and some might even imagine them at Perkins after a meeting discussing Council and all agreeing that they could do a better job. Ms. Dolan noted that the 2011 election changed things because the shadow council took sides and the way it was perceived by many on the elected Council was that there was a split and that has become a litmus test on both sides. She communicated they were always convinced that the other person needed to apologize to them, they did not have to take any responsibility, and that they needed to be apologized to. Ms. Dolan, stating she does not see it that way, thought there were people on Council who were not faithful to one another, and this has created pain that is spilling out. Ms. Dolan related that if she talked to one side all they could talk about was the bad stuff the other side did and visa versa. Ms. Dolan remarked that the fallout is being seen now. Expressing her thoughts that there is a greater distrust on this side for any member of the shadow council, Ms. Dolan said to be more pointed Mr. Scheirer is not to be trusted, he is one of the shadow politicians. Ms. Dolan commented that, in questioning tonight, Mr. Scheirer was not only held responsible for comments he made as a citizen but he was held responsible for comments made by the Deputy Controller. Ms. Dolan observed there is no right answer. Ms. Dolan communicated that Members of Council do not like when it is assumed that it is all a done deal, that Council is figuring out everything in advance, and what the citizens will see is an act or a performance. Ms. Dolan noted it is unfair for the Council Members who attempt to be independent, and it is unfair to Mr. Scheirer because basically it is being said to him it is known what he has said in the past as a citizen so it is known what he will do as a Controller. Ms. Dolan wondered whether Mr. Scheirer can be the Controller and put aside his personal beliefs, can everyone on Council be Council Members and put aside their personal grievances, and can they vote for the best candidate for Controller. Ms. Dolan, stating she cannot speak for everyone, said she does not want to be subjected to further litmus tests and does not want to be told by anyone in the audience that there are three people she can vote for and if she votes for anyone else she is corrupt. She continued on to say she does not want to be told by anyone on Council that if she does not vote for a certain person she is not their friend anymore and she is not loyal. Ms. Dolan added that Mr. Yasso is a great person and she hopes that he thinks about running for City Council. Ms. Dolan, explaining she has had three conversations with him, and acknowledging all the great work he did, thought he is just not as prepared as is Mr. Scheirer, in her opinion, there is a better candidate, and stated that is her job.
Mrs. Belinski mentioned that she has been around Council since 1993, has paid close attention to what has been going on, and she knows and is convinced for whom she will vote, and who is the best candidate.
President Evans stated that the Roll Call will be taken. President Evans reminded City Council that it will take 4 votes to declare a winner tonight, in order to move on to the Resolution.
Vote on Nominees-First Ballot
Voting for Mr. DiGiacinto: Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez, 2.
Voting for Mr. Scheirer: Ms. Dolan and Mr. Evans, 2.
Voting for Mr. Yasso: Mr. Recchiuti and Mr. Reynolds, 2.
President Evans affirmed that the vote again is 2, 2, 2 and City Council is where they started last time. Communicating this is a difficult situation and it looks like it will be difficult to get the 4 votes, President Evans asked each Council Member to review the candidates and consider other alternatives that would allow the Members to reach a resolution this evening. President Evans, pointing out that the other option is that the selection would go to the Courts, said the Members need to consider the fact that this is a possible solution. However, President Evans stated that the Members of Council should do what they can to take care of the matter, and expressed the understanding that this is a unique situation.
President Evans stated that the Roll Call will be taken again.
Vote on Nominees-Second Ballot
Voting for Mr. DiGiacinto: Mrs. Belinski and Mr. Donchez, 2.
Voting for Mr. Scheirer: Ms. Dolan and Mr. Evans, 2.
Voting for Mr. Yasso: Mr. Recchiuti and Mr. Reynolds, 2.
President Evans confirmed that the vote is again 2, 2, and 2 so there is no action taken. He then asked for comments from Council.
Mr. Donchez asked Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, to take Council through the process if the selection of the Controller should go to the Courts.
Attorney Spadoni related it is his understanding that by statute Northampton County is the home Court. Mr. Donchez asked if Judge McFadden would make the decision or would she assign it to a senior judge. Attorney Spadoni stated his experience would be that he would be presumptuous to conclude what the Court would do. Attorney Spadoni explained it would be submitted to the Court of Common Pleas, he would be sure that the Court would review it, whether the President Judge or a panel of Judges, and the process would be set pursuant to the Third Class City Code. Mr. Donchez asked if the President Judge would look at all of the candidates who submitted resumes or letters of intent in considering the selection of an individual for Controller. Attorney Spadoni thought that if 10 elected voters would submit that, it should be part of the submission as what was considered by City Council. Attorney Spadoni added he does not think the Court would be bound by that, although certainly there may be a predisposition in that regard, but the Court has very exclusive and expansive authority.
Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that a certain number of candidates submitted resumes in the beginning, and one withdrew but was then nominated by Council. Ms. Dolan questioned whether the original nominees go to the Court or do those original nominees and whoever was nominated by Council go to the Court. Attorney Spadoni suggested that Council, if the petition would be filed, should submit all of the names and then indicate who was nominated. Attorney Spadoni stated he thought the Court should have that information available, but what they do with it is their prerogative as a Judge.
Mr. Recchiuti asked if it is the opinion of Attorney Spadoni that possibly one of the six candidates who applied would not be chosen, and a seventh candidate who did not apply might be chosen. Attorney Spadoni related that is a possibility, but it seemed to him if that information were given to the Court that these people were interested and there were nominations, that there would be a weighted consideration of those people. However, Attorney Spadoni pointed out the Court is charged with acting appropriately under the facts and circumstances as they perceive them. Attorney Spadoni reiterated that he would not speak in any way for the Court of Northampton County as to their process or their decision.
Ms. Dolan asked if the Court follows the same timeline as does the City. Attorney Spadoni replied there is no timeline set forth in the Third Class City Code for the Court to act. Attorney Spadoni suggested that, in practicing law with a number of the Judges for a number of years, this type of decision would be almost very quick, given the severity of the issue.
Mr. Donchez noted Attorney Spadoni said that the Court could possibly select someone who would not even be part of the candidates who sent a resume or letter of intent. Attorney Spadoni replied yes, affirming that is correct. Attorney Spadoni commented, however, he would think that would not occur but that is not a certainty.
Ms. Dolan, relating Attorney Spadoni had stated that the Court would act pursuant to Third Class City Code, asked would that mean they would be obliged to look at the same things that City Council was obliged to look at, including a person who lives in the City and is a competent accountant. Attorney Spadoni responded the Court would be required to appoint someone who would have the qualifications set forth in the Third Class City Code, but as to who is the best qualified person meeting those qualifications would be another issue. Attorney Spadoni continued on to affirm the individual would need to be 21 years of age, a resident of the City of Bethlehem for one year prior to their appointment, and be required to reside in the City of Bethlehem during their tenure.
Ms. Dolan, observing that Attorney Spadoni used the term the best, queried is that the standard the Court would use. Attorney Spadoni thought that would be the goal.
President Evans commented at this point it is clear that the Members of Council are not going to reach the Resolution tonight that is Item 4 on the Agenda. President Evans asked for a consensus of Council if it is the will of Council to meet again and attempt to reach a resolution, or is it the will of Council to move the matter to the Court. President Evans said, prior to that, he would ask Attorney Spadoni if there should be another attempt made or send the matter to the Court in order to fill the vacancy of Controller. Attorney Spadoni related that it is his practice and pleasure to not weigh in on the will of Council. Attorney Spadoni said it would seem to him that an apropos comment given by the President of Council and the former President of Council is that Council should do everything within its power to appoint a City Controller prior to going to Court. Attorney Spadoni, reading the statute on the vacancy in the office of the Controller from the Third Class Code, advised it states that if by reason of a tie vote or otherwise such vacancy shall not have been filled by the Members of City Council within the time as limited herein, the Court of Common Pleas, upon the petition of 10 or more qualified electors, shall fill such vacancy by the appointment of a qualified person for the portion of the unexpired term as herein provided. Attorney Spadoni advised he reads the provision as that there is no limit on who can be appointed, other than they need to fit the statute, they need to be over 21, a competent account, and reside in the City of Bethlehem.
Mr. Donchez, communicating that troubles him, suggested perhaps City Council could meet Monday prior to or after the Human Resources and Environment Committee meeting. Mr. Donchez, restating it is the responsibility of Council to select the City Controller, observed if the matter goes to the Court a person could be selected who did not apply, although the odds may be very small.
President Evans noted that, in reviewing available meeting dates, the Members of Council have all indicated they are available to meet on Monday, February 27. Chairman Recchiuti confirmed that the Human Resources and Environment Committee meeting that evening begins at 6:00 PM. President Evans stated that, upon motion, the Members of Council could set the date of Monday, February 27, 2012 upon adjournment of the Human Resources and Environment Committee meeting to continue this Special City Council Meeting.
Ms. Dolan communicated it might be helpful, if the Members could not vote for their first choice, to inquire what would be their second choice. She noted that Attorney Spadoni could inform the Members whether casual polling can be done. Ms. Dolan exemplified she knows if no one else has Mr. Scheirer as their second choice she would have to change her vote, although she did not think this will happen but was hoping it does. Ms. Dolan asked Attorney Spadoni for feedback.
Attorney Spadoni affirmed that City Council needs to follow the Sunshine Law. Ms. Dolan, while stating that is true, queried whether polling is different than voting. Attorney Spadoni asked that the Clerk, he, or anyone else not be involved in that. Attorney Spadoni continued on to say City Council is entitled to have discussions among themselves but not in groups of 4 or greater.
Ms. Dolan, asking if it would be okay under the Sunshine Law to send some casual emails letting each other know the answer to the question, exemplified she would send an email to each Council Member singly asking who the second choice would be and then she would know and could announce it.
Attorney Spadoni affirmed he would find that to be objectionable if all agree to do that because it would be action by Council outside of a public meeting. Observing that Members can certainly exchange emails between each other, Attorney Spadoni confirmed he would strongly recommend there be no indication that as a group they agree to do that because it would constitute official action outside of a meeting.
Motion to Adjourn and Reconvene Meeting on February 27, 2012
Ms. Dolan moved to adjourn and meet again on February 27, 2012 at the conclusion of the Human Resources and Environment Committee meeting that will begin at 6:00 PM to further discuss the election of the Controller. Mr. Donchez seconded the motion. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, and Mr. Evans, 6. The motion passed.
Mr. Evans thanked the candidates again as the matter moves through the process. President Evans expressed his thanks for all the work of the candidates and their dedication to the position and the process.
5. PUBLIC COMMENT
Dana Grubb, 2420 Henderson Place, remarking he admires Council for their convictions, questioned if this is not resolved by March 1, 2012 and it needs to go to the Courts does it go to the County Court based on a Council request or based on a request from the residents of Bethlehem.
Attorney Spadoni responded that it is 10 qualified electors by petition. Attorney Spadoni advised it would be his suggestion that if a decision is not reached by Monday evening he would ask Council for authority and authorization to file a petition and to obtain the requisite signatures for filing.
Al Bernotas, 1004 Johnston Drive, stating this has been a very tense meeting, said he wanted to mention there are a group of people who go to Perkins restaurant and Mrs. Belinski is one of them along with Mr. Scheirer and Mr. Pfenning. Mr. Bernotas wanted to assure everyone that Mrs. Belinski does not talk to either one of them when they are there. Mr. Bernotas added he would like to point out there are seven Members of Council that means each person represents 14% of something and he thought an egg timer is needed for Council when they speak. He observed this is done in Congress and maybe it should be done here because everyone can make their point in about two minutes. Mr. Bernotas stated he would also appreciate being able to speak back and forth to Council, as had been done before, and wondered if this is the way it will always be.
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, communicated some of the citizens like to express their opinions because it reflects their view of Members of Council based upon how elected officials conduct the citizens’ business. Mr. Antalics wondered how many credits he would get for psychology and sociology because there is more information in those areas than what is required for the position of City Controller.
Bill Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, commented on the Rules of Council pertaining to the change from the term Courtesy of the Floor to Public Comment, and the change was to insert the words to the Chair during Public Comment so that comments go through the Chair. He said it is the prerogative of the Chair whether or not to deflect these comments or questions to members of the Administration. Mr. Scheirer noted that the idea of the process for election of President and Vice President of Council had been discussed to extend it to electing an interim Council Member, interim Controller, interim Treasurer, and interim Mayor. He thought it would be a worthwhile change for the future.
Craig Weidman, 460 Carlton Avenue, commented if the matter
goes to the Courts it would not be the end of the world but
he hoped that does not happen. He remarked it says a lot for
the City if it can solve its challenges. Mr. Weidman related
that five votes have been taken and no movement has been made
so clearly each Member of Council has strong views, either
in favor of a particular candidate or very strongly opposed
to the other two. Mr. Weidman communicated that for Council,
shadow council, and others all must think of what is best
for the City. Stating it is best to resolve filling the position
of Controller here and not have it to go to the Courts, Mr.
Weidman thought when it ends up in the Courts it means something
completely broke down and expressed hopefully that will not
happen. He continued on to say when there is an impasse the
only way to break through is to have someone else solve it
either by arbitration, the legal process, or the parties begin
to concede something. A good mediator helps people begin to
give concessions that are reasonable. Mr. Weidman humbly urged
the Members to find a way they can concede. He said for the
three candidates one of the options would be for one of them
to say it is best for the City that they step back. Mr. Weidman
noted he saw his father do this one time when he was the heir
apparent in a denominational process to an office, the conference
was quite divided, and he was one of three candidates. Mr.
Weidman communicated that most people do not like the word
submission but pointed out it means the person does it and
it is not forced upon them.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 p.m. and continued until the Special City Council Meeting on February 27, 2012.