Clairton ballot appeal headed to higher court
A court fight over Clairton's mayoral race isn't over yet.
On Wednesday, Mayor Richard Lattanzi's attorney Glenn Smith filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court Western District in Pittsburgh in a final bid to erase Councilman Richard Ford III's name from the May 21 Democratic primary ballot for Lattanzi's job.
“I'm looking for someone to say, ‘We need justice here, this isn't right,'” Lattanzi said. He again insisted that Ford “was trying to hide his debt from the taxpayers.”
Smith contended before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James and Commonwealth Court that Ford owes money to the city of Clairton, Clairton City School District, Clairton Reinvestment Corp. and the Internal Revenue Service.
The debts are in excess of $6,500, Smith said in papers filed with courts in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. The IRS lien alone is for $7,423.50.
James told Ford to amend his statement of financial interest. He did so, listing all those creditors but listing the federal tax lien and the obligation to CRC as “under protest,” adding that the statute of limitations had expired on the CRC claim.
Smith argued before James and later wrote in his filing to Commonwealth Court that no such protest existed. James ruled in Ford's favor and Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer affirmed that ruling.
Ford's attorney, Burrell A. Brown, said he would file a reply only if the high court agrees to review it.
“I see nothing of constitutional significance with regard to this case that would encourage the court to take another look at this matter,” Brown said. “I would be surprised if the Supreme Court agrees to even entertain the appeal filed. It seems to me that Mr. Lattanzi would rather fight Mr. Ford in the courts as opposed to the ballot box.”
Lattanzi said his decision was not affected by the Monday Clairton Democratic Committee vote endorsing Ford for mayor over Lattanzi, the city committee chairman, as well as Councilman Terry Lee Julian and former council candidate Kenneth Barna.
“I don't know how the people on my committee could endorse something like that,” Lattanzi said, referring to Ford's reputed obligations.
“Given that Mr. Lattanzi was unable as chairman of the Democratic committee to get the endorsement of his own city committee, I can understand his fear of facing Mr. Ford at the ballot box,” Brown said.
The committee also disregarded Lattanzi by endorsing Julian for another council term in Ward 3 and Ford for re-election to council in Ward 2.
Lattanzi's focus was on Ford, but Julian's candidacy for mayor and council had been challenged for similar reasons by legal secretary Lee Lasich, who is running against Julian in the Ward 3 primary.
Lasich claimed Julian owes $34,000 in back taxes to the city and school district. James ruled in Julian's favor because Lasich did not file her challenge in a timely manner.
Julian said he may take legal action, because documents attached to Lasich's petition gave incorrect information about what he still owes from a venture that went out of business in 1996. He also questioned how Lasich obtained those documents.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or email@example.com.
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.
- Vigil at site of homicide remembers slain McKeesport plumber
- McKeesport heritage center event recognizes famous black Mon Valley musicians
- White Oak seeks funds to stabilize road
- Munhall resident pleads guilty but mentally ill for killing his mother
- Steel Valley to post teacher, administrator salaries online
- McKeesport Area students share views during Black History Month panel talk
- Public comment policy varies in Mon Valley school districts
- Duquesne Elementary School students join the ranks of junior constables