Monroeville officials initiate investigation —into previous investigation
Monroeville Council has approved an investigation of an investigation.
Council voted unanimously Tuesday to hire CSI Western Pennsylvania to determine if a 2013 investigation that a former majority of council had initiated was flawed.
That 2013 internal investigation was conducted by Pittsburgh-based law firm Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote P.C. The firm was tasked with examining allegations that unauthorized people viewed Monroeville police information. It determined that computer-use policies were violated, while a state audit by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office determined that unauthorized individuals accessed police information.
The contract for the new investigation is capped at $10,000, according to the motion approved by council.
The 2013 internal investigation led to then-manager Lynette McKinney firing a police chief and three dispatchers. All four employees have since been returned to their positions, and McKinney, who later was fired, has filed a lawsuit seeking severance pay from the municipality.
Taxpayers were charged $193,890 over the last year as a result of the investigation by the law firm and personnel costs — such as overtime and severance pay — that accrued amid personnel moves by the former majority on council, Monroeville Mayor Greg Erosenko said Tuesday.
“Hopefully, (the current investigation) resolves some of the issues in your minds,” Erosenko told residents. “We have to clean up our reputation.”
Monroeville resident Dan Alexander argued that enough is enough, and cautioned against “throwing good money after bad money.”
“To me, it's a waste of $10,000,” Alexander said.
Some residents criticized council, saying officials were starting the current investigation by what might have been a violation of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act.
Manager Tim Little said he told CSI Western PA in March to move forward with the investigation, after two executive sessions with council regarding the matter. The issue was not discussed publicly before the investigation started. But Little said officials were not in violation, because council ratified the decision with a vote on Tuesday.
Exceptions are sometimes granted in the court system for votes taken after administrative decisions are made, however, that ultimately would be for a judge to decide, said Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association in Harrisburg. She said any decision made without discussion in a public meeting could violate the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act.
Monroeville resident Patrick Mynahan said at the April 3 citizens night that the newly elected council members who replaced the former majority have fallen short of the promises they delivered on the campaign trail.
“You pledged to change the way Monroeville does business, and you're doing the exact opposite,” Mynahan said. “You're spending money that's not yours.”
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.