Lewd text to officials stirs unease in Elizabeth Township
By Eric Slagle
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, 4:46 a.m.
Elizabeth Township commissioners say they will contact outside investigating agencies about a lewd text message commission president Gene Francesconi allegedly sent to a township employee.
The message in question, which was forwarded to media outlets Tuesday by an anonymous tipster, contains a photo of six nude black women as well as racist remarks.
Francesconi said he couldn't respond to the allegation that he sent the text, saying it was a “personnel issue.”
“I can't comment on any sort of personnel issue,” said Francesconi, who would not confirm or deny his involvement with the matter. “I don't know what to tell you.”
According to the anonymous source, Francesconi reportedly sent a message from his cell phone to several people, including township public works manager Steve Raczkowski, who declined to comment.
The text message was discussed at a regular commissioners meeting Tuesday night.
Commissioner Donald Similo proposed a motion that the board forward the offending message to proper investigating agencies to determine “whether legal or ethical violations have occurred.” In particular, Similo said the state Ethics Commission and Attorney General's office and the Allegheny County District Attorney's office should be notified.
The board approved the measure unanimously.
Township solicitor Patricia McGrail confirmed that the offending text had been brought to the attention of the township manager after the employee who received it filed a complaint.
McGrail said the text originally was sent in March, and she assumed the matter was resolved between the two parties because there had been no further complaints.
McGrail said the allegation is considered a personnel issue because of the employee's involvement. She also said the text was a private communication between the two individuals and had no connection to official township business.
Action to forward the matter to outside agencies came after two township residents complained during a public comment portion of the meeting.
“The township residents are owed an explanation of what happened,” said Emil Burak, who noted that members of Congress have resigned from their positions for similar reasons.
Resident Lori Wilson said the issue “needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed now.”
Township manager Aaron Sukenik said the township has personnel policies that are relevant to the accusation, and the township is taking the accusations seriously.
Elizabeth Township police Chief Robert McNeilly said no one has filed a police report about the incident.
“If the victim comes forward and files a complaint, we will investigate,” McNeilly said. “But nobody's filed a complaint.”
Francesconi was elected to the board of commissioners last November and was named board president in January. He is a 1983 graduate of Elizabeth Forward High School, an Air Force veteran and a former township police officer.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ben Avon Episcopal priest sentenced in child pornography case
- West Mifflin business joins forces with East Allegheny students
- White Oak residents can sign up for county’s new special needs registry
- Prescription Drug Take Back Day to be observed locally
- North Versailles magisterial judge ‘retires’ but remains on bench
- West Jefferson board approves bids for multiple projects
- Elizabeth council seeks $500,000 state gaming grant to aid flood recovery
- 2 South Allegheny students earn accolades for environmental awareness artwork
- Markosek supports McCord for governor
- White Oak Republican Peoples removed from primary ballot
- Juvenile found dead in Munhall home