State Supreme Court denies Fayette jail referendum
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has turned down a Fayette County man's request that a referendum question about a proposed $32 million jail be placed on the primary ballot.
The court on Tuesday issued a one-sentence order denying the request filed on behalf of the Prison Referendum Group.
John Allen Cofchin of North Union, a member of the group who filed the petition, said he is disappointed in the denial. He declined additional comment because he had not yet received notification or a copy of the order.
In the application for extraordinary relief, Cofchin asked the court to “exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction and order that the prison referendum initiative be placed on (May 20) primary ballots to quickly and efficiently correct violations of petitioner's rights.”
On Oct. 22, the county elections board, consisting of the three county commissioners, voted 2-0 to reject a 3,500-signature petition seeking to give voters the say in the construction of the jail via the ballot question.
Citing the advice of board solicitor Sheryl Heid, commissioners Al Ambrosini and Vincent Zapotosky rejected the referendum petition, saying there is no state law or constitutional authority to authorize it. Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink did not vote, saying the board did not have the authority to hold the meeting.
Ambrosini and Zapotosky have supported the new jail; Zimmerlink has not.
A separate petition filed in county court seeking to force the referendum is pending before President Judge John F. Wagner Jr., according to online court documents. Wagner postponed a hearing on the petition until after the election board acted. Neither side as of Tuesday afternoon had filed a formal request to reschedule oral argument in the case.
In a related matter, the election board has not responded to a written request from Michael Cavanagh of Uniontown to convene an emergency hearing to investigate the board's alleged “illegal action” when it voted Oct. 22 to reject the referendum, according to Larry Blosser, election bureau director.
Cavanagh wants a new election board appointed to replace the three commissioners because of a conflict of interest, according to his April 22 letter to the board and Wagner. The newly appointed board would take testimony and determine whether the current board violated the election code and its own resolutions regarding referendum requests, according to the letter.
In addition, Cavanagh wants all of the county's judges to recuse themselves from the matter, citing conflicts of interest.
Blosser said he forwarded Cavanagh's requests to the commissioners but had not received a reply.
Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or email@example.com.
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.
- Connellsville Zombie Prom organizers plan ‘a night to dismember’
- Fayette woman charged with threatening to torch home
- Fairchance man’s rape trial opens with testimony by alleged victims
- Fayette County auto dealer under fire for loans
- McCarthy: Highlands Hospital Auxiliary to host book sale
- Connellsville seeks ideas for using CDBG funds
- Buckwheat, pancake supper fundraiser tradition for Ohiopyle firefighters
- Fayette man to ask U.S. high court to block retrial in 1987 homicide case
- Judge halts Mt. Pleasant veterinarian’s effort to start clinic
- Connellsville Coker museum to open this month
- Ghost, legends to haunt halls of Connellsville library