Stephen Yakopec Jr. out as Lower Burrell solicitor
For the first time in 26 years, Stephen Yakopec Jr. won’t be the solicitor for Lower Burrell.
City council on Monday voted 4-1 not to renew the city’s contract with Yakopec, according to Mayor Richard Callender.
“I’ve been friends with Steve for years,” said Callender, who voted against renewing Yakopec’s contract. “It was a tough decision for me because of that.”
Callender declined to give reasons why he voted to turn away the city’s longtime solicitor. He said the matter was discussed in executive session because it is a personnel issue, which, under state law, exempts public disclosure of the details.
All Callender said was that he had the “responsibility to do what is best for the city.”
Councilman Joseph Grillo cast the only vote supporting Yakopec. Several residents spoke in support of Yakopec during council’s meeting. More posted messages of support on Yakopec’s Facebook page, where he first announced the city’s plans to fire him.
“Steve has been loyal to us, he’s knowledgeable, he’s a good family person, and he has a vested interest because he lives in the city,” Grillo said.
He cited an incident where Yakopec had conflicting municipal meetings, and he arranged his schedule to accommodate council.
Again, because the issues surrounding Yakopec’s work with the city were presented during executive session, Grillo would not cite details.
However, he said, “this council seems to think they need a firm and are looking outside the county.”
A Facebook post from John Pallone, superintendent of the New Kensington-Arnold School District, said he heard council was looking to “hire an expensive law firm from Allegheny County.”
Grillo said he wants to see his “tax dollars kept in my city. If you can’t do that, at least keep it in the county.”
Grillo also said the process to hire another solicitor should be more “transparent.” He thinks the city should advertise the solicitor position.
Calls to Yakopec weren’t returned Tuesday.
Municipalities generally renew or not renew professional contracts at the beginning of each year. Yakopec’s position as Springdale Township’s solicitor also was not renewed this year. However, he remains the solicitor for the township’s planning and zoning boards as well as solicitor for other municipalities.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, email@example.com or via Twitter .