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Accusations arise in aftermath of Pitcairn Council race

| Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Nearly a month after Democratic Pitcairn Councilman Rollo Vecchio narrowly defeated Republican challenger Jim Rullo for a seat on council, one borough official said the victory was tainted.

Pitcairn Councilman Doug Crothers last week accused Vecchio of deceiving senior citizen voters with an informational voting card that he distributed prior to the election.

Vecchio was campaigning on his own this year, though he included his name with three other Democratic candidates who ran against him, with their own campaign signs and literature.

Candidates John Prucnal, Dona Galia and Lorraine Myers this year campaigned alongside Republican candidate Rullo.

“A lot of the old people in town, they go in and hit the ‘D' button, and that's it,” Crothers said. “They don't look at the names.”

Prucnal said that while he is ready to move away from the politics and on to borough business, the move by Vecchio was questionable, at best.

“Personally, I don't think it was the most ethical thing to do,” Prucnal said.

But regardless of the campaign signs, it was Vecchio's duty as Pitcairn Democratic chairman to distribute a list of all the Democratic candidates running, Monroeville Democratic Chairman Jan Rawson said.

“What Rollo did as chairman (of the Pitcairn Democratic Committee), I can't see that he did anything wrong, other than doing his job,” Rawson said.

“That's our job and that's our duty, and that's why we work the polls.”

Allegheny County Elections Division director Mark Wolosik agreed that Vecchio had the right to include his name along with the other Democrats who were running.

Vecchio said that Crothers “sounds like a sore loser.”

Crother's wife, Virginia, voiced her qualms with Vecchio's campaigning at a public council meeting after the elections, according to officials who were in attendance at the meeting.

“They're good friends with Jim Rullo, and I understand that,” Vecchio said.

“Crothers did everything to try to knock me out of the box.”

Jim Rullo, who has been a member of the Pitcairn Zoning Board for more than 40 years, said Monday that he put the election behind him.

“I lost. I don't care,” Rullo said. “I don't want involved in this whole thing.”

Pitcairn Mayor Betsy Stevick declined to comment.

It's not the only time in recent years that Vecchio has drawn criticism from fellow council members who say he tries to micromanage the borough, Prucnal said.

About 10 years ago, Vecchio received a letter at his house from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue regarding a tax exemption for the borough's electric company — a letter that should have been delivered to the borough manager, Prucnal said.

“It's just what (Vecchio) does, and everyone just kind of lets it go,” Prucnal said.

Vecchio said he worked for the state Department of Revenue at the time and asked a department official to mail him a letter confirming the tax exemption.

“I was trying to get more information to protect myself and the borough of Pitcairn,” Vecchio said.

Then, Crothers said, about five years ago, Vecchio called an outside engineering firm — without the consent of council — to complain about an invoice for an annual bridge inspection.

The annual inspection was part of a previously agreed-upon arrangement between the engineering firm and the borough.

But when Vecchio called to complain, the service ended, Crothers said.

Vecchio, 75, said he did not call the engineering firm and that he has no idea why the annual inspections stopped.

“We used to get routine bridge inspections, and all of a sudden, it stopped,” Vecchio said.

“They're grasping at straws. At my age, I'm not trying to do anything wrong.”

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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