Chaos continues in Monroeville Council meeting
Audience members were glued to their seats Tuesday night for more than three hours, as the political chaos in Monroeville intensified with accusations of ethics violations and a racist joke, as well as a mayoral veto.
It was the second council meeting in less than a week where a heated debate was focused on former Manager Jeff Silka's resignation and the subsequent demotion of police Chief Doug Cole.
Retired Monroeville police Officer Lou Smith announced that he filed a criminal complaint with the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office against the four Monroeville Council members who reportedly pressured Silka to either remove Cole as police chief or be removed himself. He said their actions violated Pennsylvania criminal code 4702, which addresses unlawful threats of a public servant to influence them.
Smith said he also filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission.
“Let's take our town back,” Smith said.
He passed out pre-written letters of resignation to each of the four council members who reportedly pressured Silka to resign.
“There's your letter,” he said. “Put your signature on it.”
When residents sought a more detailed explanation as to why a majority of council wanted Cole removed, Councilman Clarence Ramsey said Cole told him a racist joke about black women. Cole denied ever telling the joke, saying “I've never said that, I've never been in a position to say that.”
Monroeville Councilman Jim Johns asked interim manager Lynette McKinney — who was an administrative assistant prior to her promotion last week — how many employee evaluations she had conducted in her career prior to demoting Cole to sergeant. McKinney said, “Many.”
Mayor Greg Erosenko then interjected, “I'd like to see that in writing tomorrow morning.”
Erosenko then announced that he will veto the $86,800 salary approved by a majority of council for McKinney while she is interim manager. He said the municipality already has spent a combined $154,000 on severance packages for two managers who both resigned since January 2012, amidst alleged pressure from the same four council members.
Councilwoman Diane Allison maintained that the majority's reasons for wanting Cole removed were just, but that a condition in Silka's resignation has prohibited them from revealing all of the details.
“As soon as we're able to get this out legally, we will,” she said. “It will hopefully be very soon.”
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or firstname.lastname@example.org.