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Council discusses ousting of Mains

| Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2001

FORD CITY - The public works superintendent resigned, the entire Parks and Recreation committee resigned and deposed economic leader Don Mains Jr. said he did not resign, as the topic of quitting dominated discussion before borough council Monday.

After weeks of responding with no comment about the Mains matter and at the insistence of Mains and others last night, council finally discussed by Mains was ousted as president of the Greater Ford City Community Development Corporation.

'The corporation wanted a full-time, every-day employee,' said Lou Vergari, council president and chairman of the corporation. 'We accepted your resignation, took your hand on it.

'We took you at your word when you said Ôyou have my resignation.'

'One of the most difficult things I have had to do was accept Don Mains' resignation.'

Vergari said when Mains rejected working full-time for the corporation, opting to devote time as trip coordinator for President George W. Bush, the corporation board had no choice.

Vergari said the board did not want Mains to provide the itinerary of President Bush, but instead wanted to justify that Mains was doing Ford City business and earning his pay the week out of every two months that he was away.

'But more and more phone calls were coming in for Don,' said Vergari. 'Towards the end it became three out of five weeks he was away and the board said we need you here (daily).

'For $60,000 a year ($48,000 salary plus benefits) you can answer a phone. You want to be paid $60,000 a year and have someone else to do the work.'

With the discussions focused on two issues, a personality issue for Mains and a credibility with the public for the corporation issue, members of the public addressed council on the matter.

One citizen, Jennie Lee Morgan, defended Mains and asked how to get rid of the members of the corporation.

'It's a clique,' she said of the board.

She has a letter to U.S. Rep. John Murtha with several hundred signatures asking for fair treatment of Mains.

Vergari, at the public request, explained how the 14 members of the corporation were selected.

Vergari said a published report of a 13-0 vote against Mains was a mistake. Mains, Tim Malec, Jo Ann Scopel, Jack Dunmire and Mike Coonley each said they did not vote. The most the vote could have been was 9-0.

Another citizen, Marc Mantini, said the public has a right to know from the corporation where public money goes. He was critical of private meetings of the corporation such as the one weeks ago in which action was taken on Mains.

'There's a lot of secrecy,' said Mantini.

Borough solicitor Frank Wolfe did not want Mains' situation discussed but did make some comments.

'The corporation was created to keep politics out,' said Wolfe. 'Do you want me to say bad things about Don Mains. Believe me there are reasons but I want to talk about Ford City moving forward.

Councilman Jerry Miklos said he wanted to move forward from the discussion on Mains and suggested that some other vehicle than the corporation might better serve the community.

'I just want to be treated fairly,' said Mains who was told by Vergari that he would sit down with him today to sort things out.

'Once the money came you could see the knives come out.'

Mains said the clause in his work contract could have easily been removed but was instead used to force him out.

'If you did a good job they should be able to accommodate a schedule to keep me on board. They wanted me out.'

On another note of resignation, Tom Ondrusek of the Parks and Recreation committee turned in all the resignations of the volunteer committee members, citing lack of council to act on any of their work, research or recommendations.

'One person makes the decision,' said Ondrusek. 'They say thanks but we'll do what we want.

'We no longer wish to serve.'

Miklos defended the committee, saying council had a bad habit of not making all members of council aware of a decision and one person making a decision.

Finally, council voted to accept the resignation of acting superintendent Ron Dillard. Dillard resigned to accept a position with a private business in Ford City.

Councilman Homer Pendleton recommended that council wait to replace the position due to lessening funds in the borough's budget. Employees will carry out the duties of the superintendent for now.

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