Frustration floods McKeesport council chambers - Allegheny
Friday, May 4, 2012
With some attendees shaking their heads and others leaving the room, an air of frustration filled McKeesport council chambers Wednesday evening as city officials continued arguments on the topics they've debated for months.
After council approved the revision of a previously tabled service agreement for solicitor J. Jason Elash in a 5-2 vote, with Councilors V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery and A.J. Tedesco dissenting, council president Darryl Segina sidestepped Robert's Rules of Order by commenting on the matter after a vote was cast.
Segina said there were private reservations about Elash's appointment as solicitor, despite a unanimous vote in January. Those reservations have increased among some council members and the public since DUI charges were filed against Elash after a single-vehicle accident on Jan. 22.
"The only thing we can do, and what we did, is negotiate the contract," Segina said. "The beginning contract only stated the retaining fee (of $1,500 per month) and $75 an hour. In the one we just passed, there was more."
Elash's service agreement outlines his scope of services as defined by McKeesport's Home Rule Charter and adds a personal conduct clause that charges him to uphold the city's reputation. It notes that his employment will be terminated if convicted of any alcohol-related offenses for incidents occurring after March 1, 2012.
Tedesco asked if the contract defines whether Elash is an employee or a professional contractor, specifically asking if his services require a W-2 or 1099 federal tax form. He noted that the question was not intended to spark further controversy, but rather to clarify a matter of record-keeping that city officials will resolve in coming days.
"Council approves the solicitor, and the mayor executes the contract on behalf of the city," Mayor Michael Cherepko said. "It's a non-bidding contract ... for professional services. Council doesn't have a say as long as it's within the budget."
Cherepko said he extended a courtesy in compromising with council in the development in Elash's contract. That statement led to bickering between Cherepko and Walker-Montgomery, when he told her the matter was "nothing to smirk about."
Walker-Montgomery said the mayor didn't know what she was laughing about, and he should not call her out on an assumption. Both parties were silenced by Segina's gavel as they told one another to watch their mouths and educate themselves. http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesp...
Elash is a deadbeat rewarded by the mayor.