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Jeannette Municipal Authority chairman resigns after being fined for his part in hiring wife

| Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The chairman of the Jeannette Municipal Authority resigned after the State Ethics Commission fined him nearly $6,500 for participating in the hiring of his wife, which violates the Ethics Act against self-enrichment.

Gary Davis last week submitted his resignation to Jeannette City Council. He was required by the commission to resign from the authority, where he had been chairman since 2011.

Davis said he paid the $6,498.90 fine to the state, although he was unaware of the specific charges against him because he did not read the commission's opinion.

The fine represents the amount of pay that his wife received from the authority during the period in question. She remains a full-time employee.

The authority serves 5,000 customers in the city and parts of Penn Borough and Penn and Hempfield townships.

According to the commission, Davis participated in the hiring of his wife, Rebecca, for a maintenance job at the sewage plant in Penn, although she had no experience in the field and other candidates had experience.

Davis told fellow authority members the job “would be beneficial to him, and the authority should hire” his wife, the opinion states.

Rebecca Davis started at $11 an hour and was paid $15.65 an hour in 2012. She will earn nearly $23 an hour by 2014, the final year of the contract with Teamsters Local 30.

When a sewage plant maintenance worker resigned, Davis told authority superintendent Douglas Pike that his wife would apply for the job even though her work experience was as a “job coach” with the mentally challenged and as a janitor at Westmoreland Mall, according to the opinion.

The commission said Rebecca Davis “misrepresented” her work experience to show the authority that she had “maintenance” experience.

The Ethics Commission discovered that Gary Davis participated in executive sessions in which the hiring was discussed as well as the interview process for candidates, and his wife was one of three finalists. Gary Davis participated in the interview process because he was chairman of the authority, the commission noted.

State ethics rules require that spouses assume no role in the hiring of a relative, abstain from discussions and abstain from voting.

Pike told state investigators he would not have recommended Rebecca Davis for the job if her husband had not been part of the selection process.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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