North Huntingdon commissioner perplexed at official concern over absence
During the last several North Huntingdon commissioners meetings, Commissioner David Herold has asked administrators about the whereabouts of Commissioner Thomas Krause, who missed meetings in July and August.
Last week, the board took formal action to try to find out. In a 4-1 vote — with Zachary Haigis opposed to the measure and Richard Grey absent — commissioners directed township manager John Shepherd to ask Krause about his status as commissioner.
But when informed of the vote the next day, Krause said via phone he was perplexed by his colleagues' public concern.
“If any board member were truly concerned about why I missed some meetings, all they had to do was pick up the telephone and give me a call,” he said. “Isn't that what a friend or a colleague would do? Why throw it to the board and involve the administration?”
Commissioners Tony Martino, Donald Austin and Brian West supported Herold's suggestion to direct Shepherd to inquire via email about the reasons Krause has missed meetings.
Martino said he heard rumors that Krause had accepted a job in another state. Herold said he wanted to know if Krause still lives in the area and if he intends to remain a commissioner.
“I've had a lot of his (Krause's) constituents call me saying they can't get hold of him, can't get in touch with him,” Herold said.
Shepherd responded by saying, “As far as I know, he's a board member.”
Krause last week declined to address the rumor of an out-of-state job or explain his absence from recent meetings. He said Herold's concern is politically motivated and that he would address the situation next month.
“First of all, they have no right to know any of my private business,” he said. “I assure you I will be in attendance at the September meeting, and I'll clear up all the speculation that has been floating around.”
Herold and Krause occassionally are at odds in township discussions. In June, the pair got into a shouting match over the firing of township police officer Bill Sombo.
Krause said the reason for Herold's interest in his personal business is obvious.
“But it should be pretty clear to everybody that Dave Herold has some sort of agenda,” Krause said. “He's not asking these questions because he's my pal. It's because he has some political objective.”
Solicitor Bruce Dice said that without being directed by a majority vote of the board, an inquiry into Krause's personal circumstances would not be made because “I don't think John (Shepherd) and I have any business asking.”
“As far as I'm concerned ... Mr. Krause is a sitting board member here,” Dice said. “We're only making an initial inquiry by virtue of the meetings that have been missed and a resident making a statement. He's free to answer that question, or not answer it.”
Carol Cutler of Brownstown Road, a 6th Ward resident who is represented by Krause, said she wants to know why her commissioner has been absent.
“I think it's high time we find out what's going on,” said Cutler, who was one of only two residents attending last week's meeting.
Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2360, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.