Belle Vernon councilman still on job
After being absent for the past two monthly meetings and offering his resignation, Belle Vernon Councilman Joe Minniti chaired the panel's Monday meeting.
Although he apparently has decided to stick around, there is no recording of the special meeting in which council acted on Minniti's decision not to resign.
In the June 24 edition of The Valley Independent, borough council advertised its intention to hold a special business meeting the following night, “to resolve personnel issues.” The advertisement appears to have met the slimmest margin of notice as defined in the Pennsylvania Sunshine Law.
Under Section 709 of the Sunshine Law, “An agency shall give public notice of each special meeting or each rescheduled regular or special meeting at least 24 hours in advance of the time of the convening of the meeting specified in the notice.”
The first official act of council Monday was to approve minutes of meetings held since the last regular monthly meeting. Council approved minutes of the June 9 meeting, but took no action on the June 25 special session. No mention was made during the Monday business meeting of the June 25 session.
Asked after Monday's meeting why minutes from the session had not been approved, council indicated that meeting was an executive session – in contrast to its advertised purpose. Official action cannot be taken during an executive session.
Prior to the May meeting, Minniti submitted a letter of resignation.
In the letter, Minniti said, “As council is aware, over the past year my career path has changed as well as my health issues. Since these changes have consumed all my time and energy, I feel I can no longer commit my time that the residents deserve.”
Council declined to act on the letter at that session or the June 9 meeting.
Asked Monday about Minniti's status, council members said his resignation letter had been rescinded.
Asked when that occurred, they indicated it occurred during the June 25 special session.
Councilman Jesse Cramer said it occurred before the executive session. Solicitor Mark Galper then noted there should have been minutes from the open portion of that session. Asked for a copy of those minutes, Galper said they would be made available to The Valley Independent “next month.”
Prior to the May meeting, Minniti told The Valley Independent he decided to resign after learning the newspaper had requested records indicating he voted to pay bills for purchases the borough made from his business.
The information was requested after viewing a copy of the bills council approved for payment at its April 14 meeting. The bills included $229.19 to Minniti Motor Sports in Rostraver Township.
Those requested records indicated $800 in payments to Minniti Motor Sports over an eight-month period.
The purchases were made by the borough street department for parts needed for borough vehicles.
In a 3-0 vote in April, Minniti voted to pay the bills – including the one for his business. In May, council claimed Minniti never cast a vote on those bills.
Galper said council members should publicly abstain from voting in cases of potential conflicts of interest and publicly state potential conflicts.
Borough minutes indicate that voice votes – not roll call votes – were taken so it was difficult to tell how many council members voted.
Last month, Galper advised council to take roll call votes on motions involving the expenditure of money.
That did not occur until late in the session Monday when Cramer presented the board with forms he designed to record each member's tally on votes involving expenditures. Council re-voted on annual dues to the Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority.
During the vote, borough administrator Ruth Dodds asked Mayor Gerald Jackson for his vote. Jackson reminded her that the mayor does not vote, except to break ties.
Each motion to pay the bills at the end of the meeting was done by roll call.
But Councilwoman Carolyn Cherocci, who made each motion, did not vote on any of the bills. When Minniti abstained on one set of bills involving payment to his business, that left just two of the four council members recording yes votes.
Council agreed to ask members of the Bicentennial Committee to attend the August council meeting to discuss outstanding bills from the August 2013 event.
Under the plan, the committee would meet with council at 6:30 p.m., a half hour before the public session.
Cherocci said the borough wants to close the books on the bicentennial event.
The committee comprises Jackson, Minniti, Councilman Lewis Stiltner, former council member Mary Beth Secleter, who resigned last month, and community representatives Debbie Walters, Kimberly Ringstad Gray and Sherry Shondelmyer.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 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.
- Youngwood man’s crash knocks out power in Monessen
- Trial to begin Monday in Rostraver home invasion
- Man with Donora roots promoted to Air Force colonel
- California, Pa. native John Messana hit high notes in opera, culinary roles
- Ringgold students earn Westinghouse science honor
- Many in Mon Valley made news as area prepared for past holidays
- Donora man shot Sunday in Monessen
- ‘Suspicious’ blaze in N. Belle Vernon puts cops on alert
- River traffic resumes on Mon
- Donora woman wins state nursing award
- Young anglers reel ’em in at Monongahela fishing derby