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Bethlehem Council MInutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL REORGANIZATIONAL
Monday, January 6, 2014 – 7:00 PM
10 East Church Street - Town Hall
1. ROLL CALL OF HOLD-OVER MEMBERS OF COUNCIL
The Clerk called the Roll of the Hold-Over Members of Council. Present as Hold-Over Members were: Michael D. Recchiuti, and J. William Reynolds, 2.
2. PRESENTATION OF CERTIFICATES OF ELECTION
The Clerk affirmed that the Certificates of Election for the newly elected Members of Council had been presented.
3. SWEARING-IN CEREMONIES
Members of Council – Bryan G. Callahan, Karen Dolan, Eric R. Evans, and Adam R. Waldron
Magisterial District Judge Wayne Maura, of Lehigh County, administered the individual Oaths of Office to Bryan G. Callahan, Karen Dolan, Eric R. Evans, and Adam Waldron, duly elected Members of Council.
4. ROLL CALL OF NEWLY CONSTITUTED COUNCIL.
The Clerk called the Roll of the Newly Constituted Council. Present were: Bryan G. Callahan, Karen D. Dolan, Eric R. Evans, Michael D. Recchiuti, J. William Reynolds, and Adam R. Waldron, 6. The seat of Robert J. Donchez was vacant as a result of his election as Mayor effective January 6, 2014.
5. NOMINATIONS AND ELECTION - PRESIDENT OF COUNCIL.
Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, conducted the Nominations and Election for the President of Council, to serve for the years 2014 and 2015, pursuant to the Rules of Council that were revised and adopted December 21, 2011. Attorney Spadoni noted that, according to the Rules of Council, no second is required.
NOMINATIONS - PRESIDENT OF COUNCIL – 2014-2015
Ms. Dolan nominated J. William Reynolds.
Attorney Spadoni asked the Clerk to Call the Roll.
ELECTION - PRESIDENT OF COUNCIL – 2014-2015
Voting for Mr. Reynolds: Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Waldron, 6.
The Election of Mr. Reynolds as President of Council for the years 2014 and 2015 was adopted by a vote of six in favor.
6. NOMINATIONS AND ELECTION - VICE PRESIDENT OF COUNCIL – 2014-2015.
Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, conducted the Nominations and Election for the Vice President of Council, to serve for the years 2014 and 2015, pursuant to the Rules of Council that were revised and adopted December 21, 2011. Attorney Spadoni restated that no second is required.
NOMINATIONS - VICE PRESIDENT OF COUNCIL – 2014-2015
Mr. Evans nominated Karen Dolan.
Attorney Spadoni asked the Clerk to Call the Roll.
Voting for Ms. Dolan: Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Waldron, 6.
The Election of Ms. Dolan as Vice President of Council for the years 2014 and 2015 was adopted by a vote of six in favor.
President Reynolds thanked his colleagues for their support and congratulated Ms. Dolan on being elected Vice President. President Reynolds stated it is an honor to be shown this faith from Council colleagues. Acknowledging that Council does have a lot of work to do, President Reynolds said Council can move forward together. President Reynolds added that Councilman Evans has served as President of Council for the past two years and has led Council through some difficult times, and thanked Mr. Evans for his service. He added that it is an honor to serve with Mr. Evans as well. President Reynolds welcomed to City Council his new colleagues, Mr. Waldron and Mr. Callahan, and stated they both possess skills that will enhance City Council.
President Reynolds commented that Council will miss Councilwoman Belinski. Although they did not always see eye to eye on every issue, President Reynolds stressed that Mrs. Belinski always stood up for what she believed in and that it was not about politics. President Reynolds recalled sitting in the audience as a citizen when Mrs. Belinski made several passionate speeches when the Casino votes were under consideration years ago. He remembered walking out of the meeting thinking that Mrs. Belinski believes in what she says. President Reynolds thanked Mrs. Belinski for her service, congratulated her on a long career in public service, and wished her good luck in retirement. President Reynolds congratulated Mr. DiGiacinto on his election as Controller, noting he is not at this Meeting. President Reynolds congratulated Mr. Donchez on his election as Mayor, and added that when he first ran for City Council he remembers having conversations with Mr. Donchez about running for office and what it meant. President Reynolds added that 2013 was a trying year for many relationships on City Council. President Reynolds commented that it was a contentious, close election that came down to a hundred or so votes, but they have met together several times and there are many things they agree on. Acknowledging there will be disagreements from time to time, President Reynolds said one thing we can always agree on is that when we have disagreements they are policy based and not personal. President Reynolds congratulated Mayor Donchez on his victory and wished him luck in the next four years.
President Reynolds stated he also wanted to say something about the service of Mayor John Callahan over the past 10 years. President Reynolds noted that Mayor Callahan was on City Council 6 years before becoming Mayor, and was Mayor for 10 years. President Reynolds pointed out that as Mayor it is impossible to be universally liked and popular, but with Mayor Callahan the City has made a lot of progress in the past 10 years. President Reynolds pointed out that Mayor Callahan took over during a tough time in the history of the City, there has been economic development, long term financial planning, and as well there has been the success of the City. Mayor Callahan was able to announce the CRIZ designation that the City received last week that was one more thing from the hard work of his Administration. President Reynolds stated that people are living in a better City because Mayor Callahan was the Mayor of Bethlehem, and those who have watched this from a close eye have seen him as an asset. President Reynolds observed we are hoping that the City will continue to move forward with this new Council and Mayor Donchez.
7. PUBLIC COMMENT
Administrative Order – Mark A. DiLuzio – Chief of Police
John Morganelli, 835 Barnsdale Road, noted he is a lifelong resident of the City of Bethlehem, and is at the Meeting tonight to address the matter of the new Police Chief for the City. Mr. Morganelli said he has had the pleasure and honor of serving Northampton County as District Attorney for 21 years, and during that time he has worked very closely with numerous police officers throughout Northampton County. Mr. Morganelli stated he has had the pleasure of working with Mark DiLuzio who has been nominated for the position of Police Chief by Mayor Donchez. Mr. Morganelli stated that Mr. DiLuzio has been a lead investigator in numerous homicide cases on which he worked together with him. Mr. DiLuzio has solved many cases as an investigator and has testified for him personally. Mr. Morganelli related that he has tried 22 murder cases himself to verdict in Northampton County and Mr. DiLuzio was involved in many of those cases. Mr. Morganelli affirmed he can say that he has never met an individual who is more prepared, better prepared to testify, who has a case file that is more organized and detailed, and when he is asked to do something in terms of getting more information he gets it done immediately. Mr. Morganelli stressed that Mr. DiLuzio has been a real asset to the Department as a Lieutenant and an Investigator. Mr. Morganelli added that he also had the pleasure to work with Mr. DiLuzio on the drug task force which is under Mr. Morganelli’s supervision. It is a county-wide drug task force, and Mr. DiLuzio supervised numerous people involved in county-wide drug operations for many years. Once again, Mr. Morganelli stressed that Mr. DiLuzio is a leader, he understood his directions, and he was well respected. Mr. Morganelli, expressing his understanding of the role of Council, affirmed that he sat where Council Solicitor Spadoni sits for six years as a Solicitor to City Council and has the utmost regard for this body’s role in the advice and consent of the appointments of the Mayor. As the chief law enforcement officer for Northampton County, Mr. Morganelli stated he can speak on behalf of law enforcement. Mr. Morganelli noted his understanding that his counterpart in Lehigh County, Jim Martin, has offered support for the appointment of Mr. DiLuzio, as well as judges and many people in the law enforcement community. Mr. Morganelli asked Council to support Mr. DiLuzio for the position of Police Chief. Mr. Morganelli continued on to say he has had the pleasure to work with many chiefs in the Police Department and he believes that Mr. DiLuzio will be with them in terms of the ability to run the Department. Mr. Morganelli confirmed he has no issues or reservations with Mr. DiLuzio and if he did he would not be at this meeting and he would also not have highly supported Mayor Donchez’s recommendation tonight. Mr. Morganelli remarked that a Mayor who comes into office has a philosophy, not just about economic development, but also about public safety and this is one of Mayor Donchez’s main issues. In order to implement that philosophy he needs to have a Police Chief who agrees with that philosophy and who is supportive of that philosophy. Mr. Morganelli noted that Mr. DiLuzio and Mayor Donchez have sat together and discussed what it means to police Bethlehem, and what it means to be a safe city. Mr. DiLuzio is a police officer and a street cop, and he understands the need to have to have boots on the ground, and good investigators to solve crime that is the vision Mayor Donchez wants to implement in the Department. Mr. Morganelli stated that Mayor Donchez needs a chief who can implement that with him. Emphasizing that there is no offense to others who have put forth their applications, Mr. Morganelli added that he and Police Chief Craig Finnerty, and Deputy Chief Todd Repsher have worked well together, and all are able people. While commenting that the captains in the Department are excellent, Mr. Morganelli denoted that the Mayor has chosen Mark DiLuzio because they have a common philosophy of how the Bethlehem Police Department can be a better department and how his goals can be implemented. Mr. Morganelli asked Council to put aside some of the concerns that have been raised which are legitimate concerns that some have expressed and that he has read about in the newspaper. However, Mr. Morganelli pointed out when you get down to it Mr. DiLuzio is qualified to lead the Department. Mr. Morganelli said he has never seen someone who had 20 some letters of recommendation from judges, from two District Attorneys, and from Police. Observing that one of the Councilmen mentioned that he had received three phone calls from police officers who did not support Mr. DiLuzio, Mr. Morganelli highlighted the fact that there are 146 police officers and there were three phone calls. Mr. Morganelli added there are many police officers here who would stand up and speak on his behalf. Stating one needs to look at the whole package, Mr. Morganelli stressed he has no reservations that this individual, Mr. DiLuzio, can lead the Police Department, will make Bethlehem proud under his leadership, and he also has been tutelaged under some of the finest Police Commissioners. Mr. Morganelli reiterated that his own personal experience with Mr. DiLuzio is that he is an excellent cop and that in his 22 years as a District Attorney has never heard of Mr. DiLuzio being reprimanded for any issues. There is nothing in his record that he is aware of that would prevent Members of Council from supporting him. Asking Council to defer to the law enforcement community, Mr. Morganelli commented if this was an education matter he would defer to Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan or Mr. Reynolds who are experts in education. If this was a matter involving civil law that Mr. Recchiuti does, he would refer to his expertise. All have an expertise in certain areas which he would defer to. Mr. Morganelli asked Council to defer to the common knowledge of the law enforcement community.
Walt Diefenderfer, 711 Leibert Street, stated he has been a lifelong resident of the City of Bethlehem. Mr. Diefenderfer said he spent 35 years as a police officer in the City and has had the pleasure of being Mark DiLuzio’s supervisor for many of those years, and worked with him in Patrol, Special Operations, and the Detective Bureau. Mr. Diefenderfer reported that Mr. DiLuzio is a leader. Mr. Diefenderfer related that he does not know anything about being a Council person and observed Council may not know anything about being a police officer. Stressing it is not an easy profession, Mr. Diefenderfer emphasized that Mr. DiLuzio is well qualified to be Police Chief, and asked that Council please give him consideration.
Greg Solderitch, 2363 Huntington Street, stated he is a lifelong resident of the City of Bethlehem. Mr. Solderitch advised he was a Police Officer for 25 years up to the rank of Captain, and had worked side by side with Mark DiLuzio on Vice, Special Operations and on Patrol. Mr. Solderitch said he has also had the pleasure of being his supervisor when he was Captain. Mr. Solderitch remarked that Mr. DiLuzio is more than qualified to lead the Department. Mr. Solderitch explained that Mr. DiLuzio is intelligent, he will sit back, look at a problem, and then solve it, and he will not give up until he does so. Mr. Solderitch thought Mr. DiLuzio would be a great person to head up the Police Department and would appreciate if Council would consider his nomination tonight.
John Yerk, 2451 Linden Street, stated that he came to Bethlehem in 1950 and he was a Police Officer with the City of Bethlehem for 40 years, he was a Captain for 19 years and then became Chief. Mr. Yerk reported that what Mr. Morganelli said about Mark DiLuzio was the absolute truth. Mr. Yerk said he does not know what the argument is about with this Council naming Mr. DiLuzio as Police Chief. Mr. Yerk noted that he knows what a good cop is and Mr. DiLuzio is it. Adding that for 40 years he never saw a Council challenge a Mayor’s selection of Chief of Police, Mr. Yerk commented that this Council will make a mistake if they challenge Mr. DiLuzio because he is well qualified.
8. OLD BUSINESS
A. President of Council
1. Administrative Order – William P. Leeson, Esq. – City Solicitor
Mayor Donchez appointed William P. Leeson, Esq., as City Solicitor, effective as of January 6, 2014. Ms. Dolan and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution No. 2014-1 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Waldron, and Mr. Reynolds, 6. The Resolution passed.
2. Administrative Order – Matthew J. Kloiber, Esq. – Assistant City Solicitor
Mayor Donchez appointed Matthew J. Kloiber, Esq., as Assistant City Solicitor, effective as of January 6, 2014. Ms. Dolan and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2014-2 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Waldron, and Mr. Reynolds, 6. The Resolution passed.
3. Administrative Order – Matthew J. Deschler, Esq. – Assistant City Solicitor
Mayor Donchez appointed Matthew J. Deschler, Esq. as Assistant City Solicitor (Part Time), effective as of January 6, 2014. Ms. Dolan and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2014-3 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Waldron, and Mr. Reynolds, 6. The Resolution passed.
4. Administrative Order – David L. Brong – Business Administrator
Mayor Donchez appointed David L. Brong as Business Administrator, effective as of January 6, 2014. Ms. Dolan and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution No. 2014-4 to confirm the appointment.
Mr. Recchiuti noted that Mayor Donchez is asking pursuant to the Third Class City Code to approve Mr. Brong as the Business Administrator. Stating that he very much supports Mr. Brong for this position, and that Council has gotten to know Mr. Brong as Director of Water and Sewer, Mr. Recchiuti noted the Members of Council have all had conversations with Mr. Brong during Budget meetings and he would be a fantastic Business Administrator. Mr. Recchiuti said he has one concern because of Codified Ordinance Section 105.03 that deals with vacancies in the Office of the Mayor. Mr. Recchiuti highlighted the fact that if there is a vacancy in the Mayor’s Office the Ordinance states that the Business Administrator becomes Mayor until Council or a court appoints a Mayor. Mr. Recchiuti commented that if Mr. Brong lives outside the City he cannot qualify as Mayor. Mr. Recchiuti said he also has the concern regarding Mr. Brong serving as Acting Mayor when Mayor Donchez would go on vacation every year. Mr. Recchiuti observed that a Department Head would have to be appointed as Mayor and traditionally it has been the Business Administrator. Mr. Recchiuti believed that the Acting Mayor still has to qualify as Mayor and that qualification is to be at least 21 years old and live in the City of Bethlehem. Mr. Recchiuti did not know if there was a chance to address this with the Law Bureau, and added that none of the Department Heads live in the City of Bethlehem.
Mayor Donchez reported that Attorney William Leeson, City Solicitor, is a resident of the City of Bethlehem and could be selected as Acting Mayor. Mayor Donchez continued on to say that he did ask Attorney Leeson to research the law and to make comments.
Mr. Recchiuti communicated he does not know if the City Solicitor counts as a Department Head under his research. There is a separate procedure to set forth the Department Heads from the City Solicitor in the Third Class City Code and in the City’s Ordinances so he is not sure if that qualifies. Mr. Recchiuti noted that is one of his concerns that he was going to address.
Attorney Leeson commented that he first wanted to thank Council for the vote of support this evening. Attorney Leeson noted he was asked to take a quick look on the service of the Business Administrator who is not a City resident as an Acting Mayor. Turning to the Optional Charter Law Section 414, Attorney Leeson advised it says that the Mayor shall designate any department head to act as Mayor whenever the Mayor shall be prevented by absence from the City, disability, or other cause from the ability to serve. Attorney Leeson pointed out that going to organic law the answer says any department head can serve. With reference to Mr. Recchiuti’s citation of Codified Ordinance Section 105.03, Attorney Leeson noted the way that Ordinance is written it is mandatory. It says that the Business Administrator shall serve as the Acting Mayor. Attorney Leeson noted that with a Business Administrator it is necessarily implied that you know that Business Administrator might not be a City resident but the Ordinance is mandatory as it says he shall serve. Observing the question is how does one reconcile these provisions, Attorney Leeson pointed out there is the Mayor and the Business Administrator who is a non-resident, and then the question of whether the Business Administrator can serve as Mayor. Attorney Leeson said the answer is that there are two different capacities here with serving in that position. Attorney Leeson pointed out there is an elected Mayor who must be a City resident and he is elected to serve out a term. There is a position called Acting Mayor and an Acting Mayor is someone who can be appointed in the situation of an emergency or a vacancy where someone is needed to serve. He commented there is this provision through the Optional Charter Law and the City’s Codified Ordinance but there is a stopgap provision. When there is an Acting Mayor who is the Business Administrator he serves for a very limited period of time and residency is not critical. In fact, he noted that Codified Section 105 necessarily implies there might be a non-resident Business Administrator serving but he still shall serve. Attorney Leeson stated the point is that the Acting Mayor’s qualifications are treated different from the Mayor’s qualifications. The stopgap is that there is an Acting Mayor who can serve, who is familiar with the policies and procedures of the City as well as the goals and policies of the Mayor, and who is in the best position to maintain continuity while the Mayor is out of office. Attorney Leeson commented that with the protection there is with respect to the issue of non-residency, the protection and the way that issue is covered is through the very limited period of time that the Acting Mayor can serve. Under the Optional Charter Law the Acting Mayor can serve up to 60 days and after 60 days a Member of Council must be appointed and that necessarily means the residency issue is covered. Attorney Leeson noted that in the meantime the stopgap has been covered under the Optional Charter Law and the same thing under a vacancy. A vacancy has to be filled within 30 days when there is no Mayor and the Mayor is not coming back. Attorney Leeson pointed out in a 30 day situation where the Acting Mayor serves in the stopgap capacity there is continuity in office, and a 30 day provision where Council can then step in and take over and fulfill that concern for non-residency. Attorney Leeson did not think there is any question as to the qualification, the ability, and the legality of a Business Administrator to serve notwithstanding the fact that he is a non-resident. Attorney Leeson added that he can prepare his opinion in a written form.
Mr. Recchiuti asked Attorney Leeson to prepare a memorandum with that legal opinion.
Attorney Leeson stated he would be happy to do so and has no question about his opinion on the issue.
President Reynolds thought it is the will of Council to have something put in writing. President Reynolds communicated that Attorney Leeson is suggesting that if Mayor Donchez was out of the City for a weekend or a week on vacation that he would not have a problem with Mr. Brong as Business Administrator who is not a City resident serving as Acting Mayor.
Attorney Leeson remarked the question is if it is legal and it is his opinion that it would be legal.
President Reynolds said he joins Mr. Recchiuti in that he has nothing but the utmost respect for Mr. Brong and thinks he would make a great Business Administrator. President Reynolds stated this is a legitimate question for Council as far as having an Acting Mayor if Mayor Donchez goes away for a few days to have someone make the decision for the City of Bethlehem who is not a resident of the City of Bethlehem. The other concern he has is why this was an issue that took so long for Council to be aware of from the side of the Administration as far as the Business Administrator’s residency and being Acting Mayor is concerned.
Mayor Donchez related it was brought to his attention in the past few weeks after the nomination of Mr. Brong that this was a question that certain Members of Council were discussing. He discussed this with Attorney Leeson and after his appointment today they thought it would be appropriate to get it to Council. The revision to the Administrative Order is to be more specific than a regular Administrative Order.
President Reynolds wondered if something were to occur what is the plan as far as an Acting Mayor is concerned.
Mayor Donchez reported it would be Mr. Brong and that Attorney Leeson has given his legal opinion.
Ms. Dolan thought the number one thing Council needs to take into consideration is who will be the Business Administrator and is he qualified. The answer is yes in her opinion and the other overriding concern is would he represent the City as a citizen despite the fact that he would have to only throw a baseball to get to the City from his home. Ms. Dolan believed that once the legal decisions have been put into writing Council should agree that David Brong would represent the City of Bethlehem in a capacity of Acting Mayor as fully as any citizen of Bethlehem because Council has seen the job he has done for the City for the past 7 or more years that has been a 24/7 job. A commitment to the City such as that cannot be determined based on how far someone is inside or outside the City line. Ms. Dolan, while affirming she would like to see the opinion in writing, said she does not doubt for a moment that Mr. Brong would serve with faith, heart and mentality that would be received from a certified citizen of the City of Bethlehem.
President Reynolds stated that he will send a memo to have something in writing as far as what the situation is if this should occur.
President Reynolds affirmed he echoes what Ms. Dolan stated about the fact that these questions had nothing to do with Mr. Brong’s capabilities. He has done an excellent job running a Department that needed a lot of work when he took over. President Reynolds added that Mr. Brong was always willing to sit down with any Member of Council and go through his budget line by line. President Reynolds stated that Mr. Brong will serve the City well.
5. Administrative Order – Alicia Miller Karner –
Director of Community and Economic
Mayor Donchez appointed Alicia Miller Karner as Director of Community and Economic Development, effective as of January 6, 2014. Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution No. 2014-5 to confirm the appointment.
6. Administrative Order – Ralph E. Carp – Director of Parks and Public Property
Mayor Donchez reappointed Ralph E. Carp as Director of the
Parks and Public Property, effective as of January 6, 2014.
Ms. Dolan and Mr. Reynolds sponsored Resolution No. 2014-6
to confirm the reappointment.
Voting AYE: Mr. Callahan, Ms. Dolan, Mr. Evans, Mr. Recchiuti, Mr. Waldron, and Mr. Reynolds, 6. The Resolution passed.
7. Administrative Order – Michael Alkhal – Director of Public Works and City Engineer
Mayor Donchez reappointed Michael Alkhal as Director of Public Works and City Engineer, effective as of January 6, 2014. Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution No. 2014-7 to confirm the reappointment.
8. Administrative Order – Darlene Heller – Director of Planning and Zoning
Mayor Donchez reappointed Darlene Heller as Director of Planning and Zoning, effective as of January 6, 2014. Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution No. 2014-8 to confirm the reappointment.
9. Administrative Order – Edward J. Boscola, P.E. – Director of Water and Sewer Resources
Mayor Donchez appointed Edward J. Boscola, P.E. as Director of Water and Sewer Resources, effective as of January 6, 2014. Mr. Recchiuti and Ms. Dolan sponsored Resolution No. 2014-9 to confirm the appointment.
10. Administrative Order – Mark A. DiLuzio – Chief of Police
Mayor Donchez appointed Mark A. DiLuzio as Chief of Police, effective as of January 6, 2014. Ms. Dolan and Mr. Evans sponsored Resolution No. 2014-10 to confirm the appointment.
Mr. Recchiuti commented that as was alluded to earlier there have been many concerns about this appointment. Members of Council have received thoughts on both sides of things. There has been much discussion among individual Members of Council, and with the Administration on this appointment. Mr. Recchiuti said he has a few questions that he would like answered. Mr. Recchiuti thought it has been privately shared with Council regarding the Deputy Chief of Police and asked Mayor Donchez if he is prepared to publicly announce who the Deputy Chief will be.
Mayor Donchez noted that he has had the privilege of knowing Mr. DiLuzio for about 18 years so he is a friend. Mayor Donchez stated his belief that Mr. DiLuzio is an outstanding Police Officer and has received over the course of his tenure many commendations, he is respected by his colleagues, he is respected by the law enforcement community, he is respected by the legal community and the judicial community. Mayor Donchez believed that Mr. DiLuzio will provide the leadership and vision and share the philosophy he has to lead the Police Department. Mayor Donchez, denoting that Mr. DiLuzio has great communication skills especially within the Department in communicating with the Police Officers, emphasized that he is the person Bethlehem needs at this time to continue to keep the City safe. Mayor Donchez confirmed that, as Members of Council have been provided with, Mr. DiLuzio has received recommendations from two District Attorneys, Judges, Law Officers, and a U. S. Attorney. Mayor Donchez, affirming he strongly supports Mr. DiLuzio, said he would not put someone up to be the Chief of Police if he did not feel that he had the respect of the Officers and did not share his vision of public safety. Mayor Donchez stressed that public safety has been his forte. Mayor Donchez pointed out that his father was a detective and he feels strongly about the issue of public safety. Mayor Donchez, noting that Mr. DiLuzio has met with Members of Council individually on at least two occasions, stated when one looks at his record and his credentials he is a strong candidate to be the next Chief of Police for Bethlehem. Mayor Donchez confirmed he would like to appoint Mr. DiLuzio the Chief of Police and Todd Repsher the Deputy Chief of Police.
Mr. Recchiuti said he sees this as some reassurance, and that for some Members of Council who had questions about Mr. DiLuzio, Mr. Repsher is a well respected member of the Police force and Members have received comments about him. Mr. Recchiuti added there was not one negative comment about Mr. DiLuzio as a person made to him. Mr. Recchiuti noted some of the concerns heard included fear of the unknown that he has addressed with Mr. DiLuzio who indicated at one point that he thought the force was young and some members do not know him well. Mr. Recchiuti added that the people of Bethlehem take this seriously, as Bethlehem is the safest large City in Pennsylvania, people take comfort in that and do not take that for granted. Mr. Recchiuti pointed out he feels safe all of the time on Main Street in Bethlehem. He thanked Mayor Donchez for his remarks because it does soothe some of his concerns.
Mr. Waldron mentioned one of Council’s overwhelming issues that has kept popping up was the jump from Lieutenant to Chief of Police. It does not seem like there were many circumstances where this happened before. Typically, a Chief is pulled from the Deputy rank or from a Captain’s rank. Mr. Waldron noted that was one concern that was addressed with Lieutenant DiLuzio, and there is nothing that can be done about that other than just trying to be reassured that this is a good move and has the support of the Administration. Mr. Waldron remarked he has also only heard good things about Mr. DiLuzio, and that he personally did not get any negative letters or phone calls against Lieutenant DiLuzio. Mr. Waldron communicated that, as District Attorney Morganelli said, we do not know what it takes to run a Police Department, we are not experts, so at some point we have to defer slightly, but Council is here as the checks and balances form of government. Mr. Waldron pointed out that he was impressed with Lieutenant DiLuzio, he answered all of his questions, he handled a very difficult process professionally, and he has universal support within the law enforcement community.
Mr. Callahan commented this is something he wrestled with for about two weeks. He met with Mayor Donchez, District Attorney Morganelli, and talked to Mr. DiLuzio several times. Noting it has never been about a personal thing, Mr. Callahan related he told Mr. DiLuzio and Mayor Donchez that it was more of a concern that for the first time in 40 years there will be a situation where a new Mayor was coming in and replacing a Chief of Police. Mr. Callahan said he knows this has been done in the 1970’s under unusual circumstances, and the precedent that was set over the years is that Republican Mayors have come in and taken over for Democratic Mayors, and Democratic Mayors have taken over for Republican Mayors, and within the Democratic party the Mayor has always kept the Fire and Police Chiefs. Mr. Callahan thought the reason for this is just public safety because it has a higher standard when it comes to appointments. He did not think these should be politicized appointments. He observed if there is an opening due to retirement the Mayor has the right to pick his entire cabinet, especially since the Fire Chief has retired. Mr. Callahan added he will support the Mayor’s nominee for Fire Chief, whoever that might be. Explaining that the position of Police Chief is something he is trying to protect years down the road, Mr. Callahan noted that hypothetically if Mr. DiLuzio would become Police Chief and in four years someone runs against Mayor Donchez and wins that new Mayor from this point on and Mayors in the future may look at this and say this was done before and they will clean house and bring in their own people. Mr. Callahan noted that Dave Sanders of Lump’s Deli invited him to have coffee with some police officers and retirees. In the beginning, he was a little naïve about the structure of the Police force, Lieutenant to Captain and then to Deputy, but he was at a meeting and one of the things mentioned was that when someone takes the Captain’s test they go into a black hole that they never come out of. Mr. Callahan explained to Mr. DiLuzio that it was nothing personal, it was just something that he just thinks is important and that this is an important position and should be gradually earned. Those nominated for Fire Chief or Police Chief are usually in their 21st or 22nd year of employment, have worked for several Mayors, and have had several promotions so it is something that is an earned position. Mr. Callahan noted he has read many great letters about Mr. DiLuzio, he has met him and is impressed by him, and stated he will do a great job if he is fortunate enough to get the votes tonight. Mr. Callahan communicated that he kept going back to protecting future positions of Fire and Police Chiefs from being political appointments. Mr. Callahan thought if the Police Chief is doing a good job, the morale is good, and the crime rate is down, allowing this to happen will set a precedent. That is where he was up to about a few days ago. Mr. Callahan pointed out that after the Morning Call article came out he heard people making references to the past Mayors but the only faction Council should be worrying about now is the City of Bethlehem faction. Stating that Bethlehem is on the verge of great things, Mr. Callahan stressed that with everything that has happened in the past 10 years there is great momentum. Mr. Callahan noted he spoke to Mayor Donchez and remarked they may disagree on an issue but the next day they will move on. Mr. Callahan thought that on a day to day basis for the citizens the most important positions in the City are the Fire and Police Chiefs. Communicating that he walked into this Meeting and decided to stop the politics, Mr. Callahan said he thinks Mr. DiLuzio is highly recommended. For the greater good of the City now, although he still has reservations about a new Mayor releasing a Fire or Police Chief, Mr. Callahan stated at this point in time Council should confirm the appointment of Mr. DiLuzio, and because of that he will be voting yes. Mr. Callahan hoped that Mr. DiLuzio gets the votes tonight and said he is looking forward to working with Mr. DiLuzio and Mayor Donchez in the future.
Ms. Dolan commented that she wanted to address the idea that any of this was personal. She thought it is being heard tonight that there are some legitimate concerns. Ms. Dolan highlighted the fact that this is what Council does, Council deliberates, needs to think about things, and listen to different sides. Ms. Dolan remarked she does not think this is a clear example of a new precedent. Ms. Dolan related that, when Mayor Callahan was looking to appoint Craig Finnerty as Chief of Police, she and Mr. Donchez both tried to convince Council that the right way to go was to appoint Mr. Finnerty as Acting Chief because in only three months there would be a new Mayor. Highlighting the fact that Police Chief Finnerty was the Chief for three months, Ms. Dolan commented that perhaps if he were Acting Chief this would not be of such concern. Ms. Dolan did not think it will happen very often that there would be someone who would be Chief for three months and another Mayor would come in and make a decision. Ms. Dolan pointed out that Mayor Donchez let Council know that the appointment of Chief Finnerty was not going to influence his opinion and his decision, and it was time for him to choose who he thought would be best for the City of Bethlehem. Ms. Dolan remarked that keeping Todd Repsher as Deputy Chief of Police was key for her and for many reasons. This is not only because of his qualities, but he does seem to have support of some who may or may not be part of a different camp. Ms. Dolan said she wanted to address an issue that has ultimately resulted in disrespect to the Police force that there was a barrage of calls or emails or comments against Lieutenant DiLuzio. Ms. Dolan stated she received many emails from Police Officers starting with saying that because of these rumors City Council is hearing negative things about Lieutenant DiLuzio, but she said Council did not. Ms. Dolan stressed not only was that a rumor, it was not even true. Council was not getting a barrage of emails and there was not a negative feeling toward Lieutenant DiLuzio among Council Members. Ms. Dolan pointed out that Council had legitimate questions and generally speaking knew they were looking at a very intelligent man who was much respected in the Police Department. There was not any discussion among any Members of Council that this person was not a good person or that somehow Police Officers were coming out and saying negative things about him. Ms. Dolan did not know where that rumor came from but believed that Police Officers are owed an apology from wherever it started. Ms. Dolan said she wanted to present one reason why she will be voting for Lieutenant DiLuzio and that is when they sat down and talked, she asked about discipline and he talked about the importance of consistency. He used a word that is dear to her when it comes to discipline. He said he wants to institute a matrix based system of discipline to take discipline out of the amorphous hands of someone’s opinion, or whether it would be popular or not. Instead he wanted to establish something that is fair, is out front, and something that every Police Officer can understand ahead of time so that if a certain thing happens, there is a result and if it happens a second time there is a result. Ms. Dolan said she was happy to hear him come forward with the idea without her even having to suggest it, and said it is a very good idea. It was one of many things in their meeting of two and a half hours that turned her into a solid yes for this appointment. Ms. Dolan added it is helpful that Council deliberates and is what Council is supposed to do. Ms. Dolan stated that she will be supporting Lieutenant DiLuzio as Chief of Police for all of the reasons that were stated.
Mr. Evans affirmed he believes Mr. DiLuzio is an excellent candidate as the next Police Chief and he is happy to support him. Mr. Evans explained when looking at his resume one can see 1980 and that is a long time to be in law enforcement. Mr. Evans saw Mr. DiLuzio as having a lot of experience from Bethlehem in 1989 through a series of patrols and investigations, special ops, and throughout the different divisions in the Department. He continued on to say that Mr. DiLuzio is able to lead people, and with his experience combined with the training he has a wealth of knowledge that he can bring to the Police Department including his awards and commendations. Mr. Evans affirmed that Council looked at a series of impressive resumes with all of the nominees, and pointed out the letters of reference for Mr. DiLuzio were from judges and district attorneys. He said this gave Council supreme confidence that Mr. DiLuzio will do a great job. Mr. Evans hoped that the pledge of stability is fulfilled. Highlighting the fact that there have been four Police Chiefs in four years who have all done a good job, Mr. Evans said unfortunately their tenure has been short. Mr. Evans, acknowledging that cannot be controlled, said Council cannot make Mr. DiLuzio sign a contract to make him stay but expressed the hope that he will stay. Mr. Evans added that Mr. DiLuzio has given a pledge to stay at least through the term of Mayor Donchez that is important for the Department. Mr. Evans stated he thinks Mr. DiLuzio is an excellent candidate and he will support his nomination tonight.
President Reynolds commented that Mayor Donchez had referred to his philosophy of the Police Department before but he is asking him to address it again.
Mayor Donchez noted that since his tenure on City Council 17 years ago he has seen 7 Police Chiefs for an average of two and a half years. Mayor Donchez observed that is because of the pension system that has now been changed so hopefully as Mr. DiLuzio has indicated there should be stability for at least four years. Mayor Donchez thought that a DiLuzio/Repsher team would be a good team to move the City forward. Regarding his philosophy on policing, Mayor Donchez said he is a strong advocate of community policing and a strong advocate of trying to have better communications within the Department, but also of trying to have more Police on the street during peak crime hours. Mayor Donchez said he would also like to see possibly the reinstitution of a beat officer in the downtown areas. He has spoken to many business leaders over the last three or four months and they would really like to see that initiative take place. Mayor Donchez stressed the City needs hands on police, community policing, and police officers in the neighborhoods. Mayor Donchez stated he is still a strong supporter of the Special Forces the City has had, and there is definitely a place for them. Mayor Donchez commented there is a place also for social media that is important because the world is changing. Mayor Donchez thought that Mr. DiLuzio shares the same philosophy with having more Police on the street especially in high crime areas, community policing, going into neighborhoods, and possibly the institution of a beat officer in downtown areas. Noting the manpower was at 160 at one time but is now down, Mayor Donchez thought the City needs to look at the manpower to see how it can be used most effectively to make sure that Bethlehem continues to be one of the safest communities in Pennsylvania, and keep Bethlehem as the jewel of the Lehigh Valley.
President Reynolds mentioned he has had conversations with Mr. DiLuzio about the idea of not only improving communication within the Department, or from the department superiors to the Police Officers, but also between the department and the community.
President Reynolds noted there is an issue coming up by which Council has been charged with the scheduling of a hearing for the possible termination of an Officer. President Reynolds asked if the Administration will join City Council in moving forward in helping to set up the hearing and whether it is something on which Council can count the Administration’s support.
Mayor Donchez reported the answer is yes and he would ask Mr. Spirk to give more specifics if there is more information in regards to the memo that was received. If there is additional information he would definitely get that to City Council in a short period of time.
President Reynolds appreciated Mayor Donchez going on the record regarding this matter and noted he wanted to make sure going forward. President Reynolds expressed he is happy to hear that Council has the Administration’s support as well.
President Reynolds stated he will be supporting Lieutenant DiLuzio’s appointment today. Referring to previous comments that Council Members are not law enforcement officials, President Reynolds pointed out that as with a lawyer, if there is an issue they do not understand they research it, as would be done in any profession. President Reynolds added that Council does not know everything about the Water and Sewer Department or Fire Department but the job of Council as entrusted by the electorate is to advise and consent with checks and balances. President Reynolds related one of the things he has heard over the past few years is that Council should approve all of a Mayor’s appointments without asking questions. He stressed that City Council would not be doing their job if they did not raise questions, and it is the job of Council by the Third Class City Code to advise and consent. President Reynolds appreciated Mayor Donchez bringing forward nominees who are going to gain the unanimous support of City Council but added it is Council’s job to research issues. President Reynolds pointed out if there is an issue Council does not know about, one thing to which he can give credit is that Council Members all work tirelessly reaching out and finding out about all sides of an issue. President Reynolds noted it rubbed him the wrong way that Council somehow could not come to a decision that was maybe a bit different than what many people were suggesting. President Reynolds added that this decision was made easier for him not just because of Mayor Donchez’s feelings on where the Police Department needs to go and the things that need to be improved but the feelings on discipline within the Department. President Reynolds added that Lieutenant DiLuzio deserves credit for sitting down with every Member of Council and also for calling and emailing Council and answering their questions. He added that Lieutenant DiLuzio was open about the fact that he does not have all of the answers and that he is always listening and always learning from all of the Officers, and that he reports to the Mayor but he has a duty to the job. Part of that duty is to take into account what people in the community are saying. One of the things President Reynolds liked was that Mr. DiLuzio admitted things were not perfect and there were things he thought needed change. That was something he took to heart and helped to earn his support. President Reynolds added that having Mr. Repsher as the Deputy Police Chief is a good move that earned his support, and said it is a good thing to have him join Mr. DiLuzio. President Reynolds observed this process as it has unfolded has shown the ability to compromise and to find middle ground between Council and the Administration. He gave credit to the Administration for reacting to some of Council’s concerns and meeting Council half way on some of these things.
Mr. Recchiuti said he seconds much of what President Reynolds stated because he came to the Meeting tonight not sure of how he was going to vote. Mr. Recchiuti explained that sometimes you listen to your colleagues on Council and you get an idea of how they are thinking and they give you some thoughts that you did not think about before. Mr. Recchiuti noted he did have some concerns but listening to his colleagues and Mayor Donchez with his assurances on the Deputy Chief and on the issue of termination has secured his vote for Mr. DiLuzio tonight. Mr. Recchiuti thanked Mr. DiLuzio because he did ask some unfair questions when he met with him and he answered every question he was asked. Mr. Recchiuti added that all asked Mr. DiLuzio questions beyond the scope of what a normal appointee by the Mayor would get. Mr. Recchiuti stressed it goes to the fact that Council does not take safety in the City for granted, it is something we all work for, and we all want. He thanked Lieutenant DiLuzio for his patience in answering all of the questions. Mr. Recchiuti stated that he will be supporting Lieutenant DiLuzio tonight.
President Reynolds agreed that Lieutenant DiLuzio has gone through a fair bit of questioning but it is because the Police Chief is one of the most important if not the most important day to day job in the City. He added there were concerns and questions but moving forward he has the support of Council.
Mayor Donchez thanked President Reynolds and Council for their support and comments this evening. Mayor Donchez said there is no doubt in his mind that Lieutenant DiLuzio will be an outstanding Police Chief. Mayor Donchez remarked it is very important for the Administration to reach out to Council and work with them on issues. Acknowledging that sometimes when there is disagreement people arrive at a compromise, Mayor Donchez stressed that communication between the Administration and City Council will be one of the keystones and hallmarks of his Administration and this is the first step.
President Reynolds reminded Lieutenant DiLuzio that one of the best things he has going for him is support of people within the Department and outside. President Reynolds noted that many enter the job as a popular person, but tough decisions need to be made, and stated if there are things needed to make the City safer that Mr. DiLuzio please come to City Council. Adding it cannot always be guaranteed that Council will say yes, President Reynolds said please come to Council because there is nothing they take more seriously than public safety in the City of Bethlehem.
Mayor Donchez asked the new appointees to stand so they can be recognized.
11. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
12. NEW ORDINANCES
14. NEW BUSINESS
Filling Council Seat Vacated By Robert J. Donchez – Elected Mayor Effective January 6, 2014 – Two Year Term Remaining – 2014-2015
President Reynolds ask the Clerk to read the dates of the Meetings for filling the Vacant Council Seat, as follows:
? Monday, January 27, 2014 – 7:00 PM – Town Hall
Committee of the Whole Meeting
City Council Members will interview candidates for the City Council Vacancy
? Thursday, January 30, 2014 – 7:00 PM – Town
Special City Council Meeting
City Council Members will elect an individual for the City Council Vacancy
? Monday, February 3, 2014 – 7:00 PM – Town Hall
Special City Council Meeting will be scheduled on this date only if an individual has not been elected at the January 30, 2014 Special City Council Meeting for the City Council Vacancy
? Tuesday, February 4, 2014 – 7:00 PM – Town
City Council Meeting
The elected City Council Member will be sworn into office prior to the Meeting
President Reynolds stated that he wanted to present some additional thoughts on the procedure. Affirming there are 16 candidates, President Reynolds believed the easiest way to handle the process is for each candidate to make a 5 minute presentation instead of a 3 minute presentation. He highlighted the fact that candidates do not have to speak the full 5 minutes unless they want to, but everyone will be given an opportunity to make a 5 minute presentation. After each candidate makes their presentation, President Reynolds thought that Council should be able to ask questions of all of the candidates. Noting there have been discussions about letting candidates make their presentations and having them come back when Council asks questions, President Reynolds thought it would be easier if it is done all at one time. President Reynolds related that with 16 candidates it will be a process by which if Council listens to one person and then asks them to stand up three hours later, Council may either forget a question or just not give them a fair chance as far as some things they want to talk about. President Reynolds continued on to say that since the first meeting will be January 27 he thought that on January 30 when the candidates come back, at the beginning of the meeting Council could allow any of the candidates an additional 3 minutes perhaps to make any additional comments. President Reynolds confirmed this is something they do not need to do, but going through this process it is known that with something this important, it is a good idea to give candidates additional time to speak and then for Council to ask questions. President Reynolds stated these are some of the thoughts he had about the meetings, but he wants to check with his colleagues on Council if they have any additional comments.
Mr. Waldron inquired in what order the candidates would come up to speak and whether Council would allow a second courtesy of the floor at the end of the meeting.
President Reynolds stated the easiest and fairest thing to do is to allow courtesy of the floor after the candidates speak. With 16 candidates, Council should let them make their presentations, and afterwards citizens would have an opportunity to make comments at the end of the first meeting. He added that at the beginning of the second meeting on January 30 if someone wished to make comments after everything has been presented in public people will have the opportunity to state their case. President Reynolds continued on to say at the second meeting the public can make comments and the candidates can also come back to the podium if they wish to speak, Council can ask any questions of the candidates, and at that point Council can start the deliberations and nominations. President Reynolds noted that as far as the order of candidates he would suggest they be recognized in alphabetical order but he is open to input from Council.
Mr. Recchiuti commented that he thinks this sounds like a fair process, and that perhaps during the second meeting the candidates could speak again but in reverse alphabetical order to be fair.
President Reynolds reported that sounds like a good idea.
Mr. Evans observed that whatever is decided tonight the letter to the candidates should go out tomorrow if possible about the process. Expressing he is sure there is anxiety among the applicants, Mr. Evans restated that once the process is set up the letter should go out soon. Mr. Evans asked whether at the end of the 5 minute presentation for each candidate would Council then ask them questions.
President Reynolds thought that would be easiest because everyone could come up and speak for 5 minutes and then Council could come back with questions but said he is open to another process. President Reynolds observed it would be easier for Council to get a sense of who the candidates are if they can hear them and then ask questions after that.
Mr. Evans agreed and commented he likes the idea and added that Council needs to let the candidates know there are 16 all together and it could be a lengthy process, especially at the Monday, January 27 meeting. Council also needs to mention to the candidates that they will be in alphabetical order so they know when they will be speaking. Mr. Evans asked if there would be just one courtesy of the floor each night.
President Reynolds commented it would not be fair to the candidates to allow courtesy of the floor before any of them speak about anything. Council should allow all of them to make their case and then anyone who wishes to speak could do so after the candidates speak. At the second meeting on Thursday, January 30 before the candidates make a second speech if there is anyone who wishes to speak they could be allowed to speak at the beginning of the meeting.
Ms. Dolan thought the ideas all sound good, but in doing a mathematical calculation she pointed out it could be a 6 hour meeting starting at 7:00 p.m. and going in alphabetical order. She communicated that anywhere past the third hour could be problematic, and could be very unfair to the people who are recognized later. Beyond that, she wondered how Council will be able to pay attention the later it becomes in the meeting. Ms. Dolan pointed out that for 16 candidates with 5 minutes of a presentation each, and the six Members of Council each asks 3 minutes of questions it would be a long night so she thought it should be reevaluated.
President Reynolds, affirming 16 people applied to be the 7th person on this Council, and Council wants people to apply, acknowledged it will probably be difficult and it will be a long night or a long couple of nights. The alternative is allowing people only a few minutes to speak or allowing Council to only ask a few questions. President Reynolds did not think there is an easy way to do this.
Ms. Dolan commented that maybe there could be presentations at the Committee of the Whole Meeting on the first night of Monday, January 27 and then questions at the Special City Council Meeting on the second night of Thursday, January 30. She noted Council would be able to listen to everyone and since it was already discussed in email that Council does not want to do nominations to narrow it down then the first night the candidates can speak, Council can listen, and the second night Council can ask questions. Observing that Council might not have questions for everyone, Ms. Dolan said doing this the second night in reverse alphabetical order is a good idea. She stated that Council needs to find a practical solution to the numbers and the hours, and it is not fair to those candidates to make some have to wait until the wee hours to make their presentations.
President Reynolds commented he does not have a problem with that. He questioned, if Council is only going to let the candidates speak and ask no questions on the first night, would 5 minutes be long enough.
Ms. Dolan remarked it is difficult for most people to speak for a full 5 minutes that can seem like a long time.
President Reynolds noted that having the 5 minutes can allow a candidate to flesh out some of their ideas about some of the important issues. Stressing this is a public process for which people put their names in, President Reynolds emphasized that Council needs to give everyone the opportunity to make all of the arguments possible. He added that 5 minutes is a number he is more comfortable with than 3 minutes.
Mr. Waldron commented that although Ms. Dolan stated it is difficult for people to talk for 5 minutes Council is not making them and they can talk for 1 minute or none at all. They can apply with just their resume, and they do not have to show up to be considered, since by submitting their resume they have applied. He noted Council may not even see 16 people in the process or have 16 people who want to speak for 5 minutes each. Mr. Waldron noted that 16 people at 5 minutes is 80 minutes and would be the longest case scenario for that situation. Mr. Waldron did not think it would go that long and Council may not have questions for every person who comes. Mr. Waldron was of the opinion that Council should do it all in one sitting as far as the speaking and the questions as well.
Mr. Recchiuti thought that Mr. Waldron makes a good point but Ms. Dolan also makes a good point. Mentioning that Tuesday, January 28 is available, Mr. Recchiuti noted that if the meeting gets to a point where it gets too long, Council could adjourn and continue the next night and that is permissible if announced at the meeting.
President Reynolds denoted it sounds like there are three options. One is the option he originally brought out as far as candidates speaking the first night on Monday, January 27 with questions from Council, and then go to Thursday, January 30 and allow people to make an additional statement and Council can ask additional questions. A second option is what Ms. Dolan suggested in that there would only be presentations from candidates on Monday, and then Council would ask questions on Thursday. Mr. Recchiuti has offered a third option as far as if Monday’s meeting gets too late Council can return on Tuesday.
Mr. Recchiuti pointed out that if Council thought that they
see more ahead or are only half way through Council could
go to Tuesday, or could easily divide it and say 8 people
on Monday and 8 people on Tuesday.
Ms. Dolan stated that she would prefer to have the candidates make presentations on Monday, January 27 and then Council ask questions on Thursday, January 30. She thought that is more of a deliberate and thoughtful way to do this. If she did not have support for that then she would agree with the idea from Mr. Recchiuti of letting people know that Council is dividing it up with 8 candidates one night and 8 the other night. Ms. Dolan pointed out what also happens in the question process, as could occur with the 12th candidate, for example, is that Council will ask less questions because they are tired. Ms. Dolan added that in the beginning everyone is enthusiastic and asking a lot of questions but after a while there will be fewer questions, full attention cannot be given when someone is tired, and candidates will not be able to give answers that are representative of them. Ms. Dolan stressed she would not want to see this happen to any of the candidates. Ms. Dolan restated that she prefers a listening session, taking notes, preparing thoughtful questions, having a few days to formulate what Council wants to ask, and have the candidates come back on Thursday for questions.
Mr. Evans expressed that he favors Ms. Dolan’s suggested format. He noted that the dates available would fit with what Council is looking to do. He added that public comment is an unknown. Mr. Evans observed that on Monday, January 27 at 7:00 p.m. candidates could just do the presentations, and then Thursday, January 30 Council could reverse the order of the candidates and ask questions that night. Mr. Evans stated he would also like to take notes and think about what he wants to ask. Hopefully, he noted that Council could reach a decision on Thursday but if not could still have the Monday, February 3 date to make a decision if needed.
President Reynolds stated he wanted to be clear that the idea would be what Councilwoman Dolan brought forward and that Mr. Evans tends to agree with. President Reynolds summarized that on Monday, January 27 candidates would speak for 5 minutes, and Council would allow for public comment. On Thursday, January 30 Council would come back, and would ask questions of the candidates in reverse alphabetical order. On Thursday there could be public comment at the beginning of the meeting, Council would ask any questions they have, and then can potentially start the nominating process.
Mr. Evans stated that it is dependent on the hour, and Council may be able to start deliberations that evening.
Mr. Waldron said he wanted to give the counter argument to what Mr. Evans stated. Mr. Waldron noted it makes sense to think about what questions Council wants to ask and he understood the purpose of Thursday’s meeting was to be for follow-up questions. His opinion was that perhaps on Monday night a Member could ask a question that is fresh in their mind because they are listening to someone present, they could write a note down and in a few minutes ask a follow-up question. Mr. Waldron pointed out that in two days that question may slip out of a Council Member’s mind and if they do not have an open free dialogue with a candidate he does not know if that is the best way to get their point across to understand what they want. Mr. Waldron said he still would favor the original idea of the presentations and questions on Monday and then the opportunity to reflect on that, to think about it more and then on Thursday ask any follow-up questions Council might have.
President Reynolds denoted that Mr. Waldron is still favoring the Monday and Thursday schedule.
President Reynolds remarked if it is the belief of Ms. Dolan and Mr. Evans that they would rather ask questions on Thursday instead of Monday, some Members could ask questions on Monday and some could ask on Thursday that could be an option as well.
Ms. Dolan stated that because there are 16 applicants Council is no longer dealing with what is ideal in terms of questions and answers and listening, and it is a logistical problem. She observed that Council might be thinking of this idealistically but is not going to have that because there are 16 applicants and they all need a fair shake. Council might want that and she wants that too, having something fresh in your mind, but she will take notes, Council Members have the candidates’ information and their phone numbers and can call them. She remarked it is disrespectful to pick the ability to stay awake and sit in comfortable chairs as that is not fair to the candidates. Ms. Dolan stressed that Council needs to try to get the best out of this for the Members, to get the information they need and for candidates to be respected and given a fair shake in the process. She asserted it is unfair to have some people speak at 7:00 p.m. and others at 11:00 p.m. or midnight, or some the next day after they have been there the night before.
Mr. Callahan pointed out that he would prefer the Monday/Thursday format. Commenting that he does not mind sitting for the time period, Mr. Callahan communicated that Council needs to be fair to the candidates. He suggested that perhaps time could blocked out for each individual candidate, but to have all 16 sit for the duration of the meeting is not fair to them. Mr. Callahan noted that maybe 8 or 9 candidates could be at the meeting until 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. and then have another 5 or 6 for later.
President Reynolds asked if Mr. Evans and Ms. Dolan are against the process with asking questions the first night.
Mr. Evans stated that from past experience with questions and answers, a half hour could be spent with one candidate so it could get to midnight and is what Council needs to avoid. He noted it would not be necessary to block out time, if everyone is given 5 minutes and goes in alphabetical order, since they will know they will not be up until maybe an hour. If the candidates are given the information that Council will recognize them in alphabetical order and everyone gets 5 minutes, it could be 1 ½ hours and possibly another hour of public comment so the meeting would continue until 10:00 or 10:30 pm. Mr. Evans commented that is fair and the candidates might be interested in who their competition might be and it would not be a disservice to have them sit and watch.
President Reynolds stated that what Council will do is that on Monday, January 27, every candidate will be allowed to speak for 5 minutes, and Council will allow public comment at the end of that meeting. On Thursday, January 30 Council will have the public comment at the beginning of the meeting. Under public comment, if a candidate wants to add anything at that point they could speak. President Reynolds confirmed that would be an opportunity for a candidate to add anything, and after that Council will ask questions and then go into deliberations.
15. PUBLIC COMMENT (for public comment on any subject – 5 minute time limit)
Administrative Order – Mark A. DiLuzio – Chief of Police; Commending Jean Belinski – Outgoing Council Member
Tom Carroll, 248 East Union Boulevard, noted he is a criminal defense attorney and a former prosecutor from both Montgomery and Northampton Counties. The vast majority in his 25 years of practice in the legal profession has been as a criminal lawyer. He has as a result prosecuted thousands of cases and he has defended thousands of individuals across 17 counties in Pennsylvania. When he was first hired as a prosecutor in Northampton County he had his first encounter with the Bethlehem Police Department. Mr. Carroll stated that the Bethlehem Police Department is a very respected and excellent Police Department. Mr. Carroll further stated that he encountered the nominee for Chief of Police, Mark DiLuzio, very early on in one of his cases and he was impressed by how organized he was and how respectful he was to everyone. Mr. Carroll stressed that, having worked for Northampton County District Attorney Morganelli for 2 ½ years, he would not come to a public forum and put forward his good name to support a person if it was not absolutely true. Mr. Carroll communicated he can say that Bethlehem is the safest City in Pennsylvania because of the Bethlehem Police Department. Mr. Carroll commented he is glad that Council went through all of the issues because that is their role as Council, and this is important. Emphasizing there is now even more assurance that Mr. DiLuzio is the right person for the job, Mr. Carroll said he wants to congratulate Mayor Donchez on the occasion of his swearing in today and starting off his new term, and further congratulated the new Council Members on their elections. Mr. Carroll advised that Jean Belinski who served 16 years on Council is his Aunt, and he has watched her sit here for 16 years. Mr. Carroll pointed out he can say that she was not involved in the politics since that was not her concern. Her concern was the issues and the people. Mr. Carroll highlighted the fact that Mrs. Belinski served the citizens honorably, he is proud that she is his Aunt, and he thanked her for her 16 years of service as a Member of Council.
Commending Jean Belinski – Outgoing Council Member
John Morganelli, 835 Barnsdale Road, advised that he sat where Solicitor Spadoni sits for 6 years as Council Solicitor from 1986-1992. When he became District Attorney he often saw Mrs. Belinski in the audience as a citizen. Mr. Morganelli recalled that she was famous for slamming papers down as she spoke and one of the issues that was big in Bethlehem at that time was the incinerator and whether Bethlehem should have a trash incinerator. Mr. Morganelli noted it was very fashionable at that time to go in that direction, there was much debate about it, and Mrs. Belinski was an ardent opponent of the incinerator. Mr. Morganelli recalled that, in the end Council, voted 4-3 not to go in that direction. Mr. Morganelli advised that he offered a legal memo largely from information supplied by Mrs. Belinski to him from information across the country that trashed the trash incinerator. He remarked that, as a result, Council voted 4-3 and the City was saved from an incinerator. Mr. Morganelli pointed out that in the long term cities that did go with an incinerator like Harrisburg and others got hit with huge debt. Mr. Morganelli stated it was the right move by City Council, and again Mrs. Belinski saved the City a lot of money. Mr. Morganelli thanked Mrs. Belinski for all of her service not only as Councilwoman but as a citizen who had impact from that side as well.
Mr. Callahan added that he wants to thank Mrs. Belinski and Mr. DiGiacinto for their service. Mr. Callahan stated that Mrs. Belinski was on the Bethlehem Area School District Board, and the one thing people always knew about her was that she supported public education and what was right for the children and the teachers of the Bethlehem Area School District. Mr. Callahan noted that Mrs. Belinski then became a Member of City Council and did a great job. Mr. Callahan again thanked her and Mr. DiGiacinto who he said will make a great Controller.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 p.m.