Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Tarentum Council organizing meeting for 2006

Tonight at 6:30 the Tarentum Borough Council met for its organizing meeting for the year. District Judge Carolyn S. Bengel administered the oath of office to each of the newly elected Council members.
Carl J. Magnetta
There were two nominees for President of Council: Carl Magnetta and WIlliam Rossey. Carl Magnetta was elected by a vote of 4-3, in which Mayor Wolfe cast the deciding vote.

There were two nominees for Vice-President of Council: Mike Gutonski and William Rossey. Mike Gutonski was elected by a vote of 5-1.

The Council needed to fill a number of positions this evening, but President Magnetta felt that the positions should be filled without following the borough's normal process of advertising the positions to determine if other qualified individuals were interested in serving. A motion was made to advertise all the positions, but it failed by a 4-3 vote. Separate motions were then made to advertise each position as it was presented on the docket, but each of those motions failed.

The Council appointed David Strellec as the Borough Solicitor, and Gibson Thomas as the Borough Engineers.

There was a unanimous vote to accept the resignation of Carl Magnetta from the Third Ward Council seat.

The motion to advertise the new vacancy on the Third Ward Council seat failed. Joe Davidek, who did not stand for popular election in the fall campaign, was appointed to fill the vacancy.

The motion to advertise the single seat on the "Vacancy Board" failed by a vote of 2-5. The Borough Council appointed Michael Davidek to the vacancy board. In the course of discussing this matter, Joe Davidek acknowledged that Michael Davidek was his brother, and then participated in voting for his appointment anyhow.

President Magnetta recognized Jeff Thomas to make a statement to dispel rumors about his health, and to assure the Council and community that his work would be handled during his convalescence.

Although there was no item on the docket for citizen comments, Council President Magnetta then recognized Peter Varos to offer a statement of advice to the Borough Council that they should work together. He then recognized his son-in-law to comment on a number of issues unrelated to the business of the meeting.

Following the meeting I had a conversation with some citizens who were concerned about Mr. Magnetta's invitation to his pastor, Father Aaron Kriss, to offer an invocation following the oaths of office for the council members. This is the first time that I have seen prayer offered during a Tarentum Borough Council meeting. Father Kriss commented on today being a day for devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, and then led the Council in prayer. Some of the citizens felt that a specific religion was being forced upon them, and were not comfortable with that part of the meeting. My own feeling was that, although I saw the First Amendment issue, governmental bodies do frequently invite clergypeople to lead in prayer. It seemed to me that as long as the members of the Council saw the pastoral ministry of the invitee as appropriate for them, any concerns of those observing the meeting should be secondary. I have no way of knowing whether the full Council was consulted before this invitation was extended.

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8 comments:

Stewart said...

An anonymous poster left this comment on another blog entry on a different topic. I am moving it here to keep the conversation clear.

At Wednesday, January 04, 2006 2:39:09 PM, Anonymous said...

I am responding to your comments to the meeting last night in Tarentum. Still can't figure out your big interest.You do not live in Tarentum. Did you get Carl Magnetta's permission for the picture. Carl did not ask Pete to speak nor Jeff nor his son in law, If you were listening They all did it on there own free will.Maybe you are complaining because you did not like what they said. And as far as Father Kriss goes, Most of council knew he was coming and did not mind.Mary should not mind she goes to that church, Ginger should not mind don't her kid's go to cathothic school? Father Kriss has been to meetings in the past, Oh that was before your interest in politics. He did nothing wrong. He did not push the Catholic faith. We all believe in one God the one Savior the one Almighty Jesus Christ. Am I not correct Pastor? What is the problem Start printing the truth.You did not say anything about the imaturity of the council woman Gingerwhen she said to adjorn the meeting when poor Jeff was talking about his cancer . Shame on her.Thats a christian.It is time to work for all people not just make yourself look good. thanks so much

Stewart said...

I'll respond item by item to the anonymous commenter.

I am responding to your comments to the meeting last night in Tarentum. Still can't figure out your big interest.You do not live in Tarentum.

I was called here to serve the Central Presbyterian Church, which has operated in Tarentum for almost 118 years, is invested in the well-being and future of the Tarentum community, conducts all of its worship services in Tarentum, has partnered with the Grandview Elementary School to support its Title I reading program, just to name a few ties to the community. Tarentum matters. It has a future. Central Presbyterian Church intends to be part of that future.

Did you get Carl Magnetta's permission for the picture.

No. Mr. Magnetta is a public figure and was officiating at a public meeting. In my opinion, no permission was needed.

Carl did not ask Pete to speak nor Jeff nor his son in law, If you were listening They all did it on there own free will.Maybe you are complaining because you did not like what they said.

Mr. Magnetta was the presiding officer of that meeting of the Council, and he did recognize those individuals to speak when there was no announced item on the agenda for citizen comments. The statement from Jeff Thomas struck me as an important piece of information to be shared with the Council for two reasons: (1) Jeff Thomas sits with the council with the privilege of addressing meetings of the council, and (2) what he said related specifically to the work of a key borough employee (himself) and the operations of the borough.

No one else in the meeting was told that there would be an opportunity to speak to the meeting and voice citizen comments. It certainly did not appear on the agenda.

And as far as Father Kriss goes, Most of council knew he was coming and did not mind.Mary should not mind she goes to that church, Ginger should not mind don't her kid's go to cathothic school? Father Kriss has been to meetings in the past, Oh that was before your interest in politics. He did nothing wrong. He did not push the Catholic faith. We all believe in one God the one Savior the one Almighty Jesus Christ. Am I not correct Pastor? What is the problem

I am not aware that I said anything critical or unkind about what Father Kriss said. I was reporting on a disagreement I had with some others who had attended the meeting to observe it, who perceived his role and comments differently than I did.

When you say that "We all believe" something, you may be speaking from a more personal knowledge of the faith of each and every council member. I know for a fact that there are some Tarentum residents who do not hold the Christian faith, and I appreciate the position Father Kriss was in when he spoke to such a potentially diverse gathering. I did not say that he did or said anything wrong. That part of the meeting and the conversation afterwards was a learning experience for me in which I heard from other people how they perceived the invitation of a clergyperson to speak and pray at a governmental meeting.

Start printing the truth.

I was not aware I had stopped printing the truth.

You did not say anything about the imaturity of the council woman Gingerwhen she said to adjorn the meeting when poor Jeff was talking about his cancer . Shame on her.Thats a christian.It is time to work for all people not just make yourself look good.

Robert's Rules of Order does not treat a motion to adjourn as a mark of immaturity. I am sure Councilwoman Sopcak had a reason for what she did. You are entitled to hold your own opinion.

thanks so much

You are very welcome.

Anonymous said...

I attended the meeting Monday evening. My issues with this council are the following:

They do not play well together. They do not have any respect for each other and we as citizens suffer in all aspects because of this behavior. The rolling of the eyes or heavy sighing while other members are speaking is disgusting and childish. And embarassing.

The meeting Monday evening was yet again nothing short of a free-for-all. I think in the future we should all bring boxing gloves and a bell to signify when each round is over.

At Monday's meeting, Mr. Magnetta did acknowledge Pete varos, his son-in-law and Jeff Thomas to address the residents and council. I felt the comments made by Pete and his son-in-law(sorry about name)about the behavior of this council were comments and suggestions that should be taken very seriously. As far as Jeff goes, we wish him nothing but the best and hope for a speedy recovery and that he returns to us soon.

I do not recall at any time Pastor Pollock questioning the council members on how they felt about Father kriss speaking at the meeting. I do know that there were several people who mentioned this to Pastor Pollock and also to Tim Rapp after the meeting. Not everyone believes the same thing. We do not all worship at the same church, and some don't worship at all. If the council wanted a blessing then the blessing should have been performed to those who wanted so and done privately. According to our First Ammendment rights, I feel mine were violated. No one asked us as residents how we felt about this, nor did they care how we felt about it.

As for councilwoman Sopcak, her behavior was questionable. As I saw it, any discrepencies or issues she may have hade could have been dealt with on a more appropriate level at another time.

As far as Pastor Pollock's role in this borough, he ministers at Central Presbyterian Church as has done so for 3 years. His role in this town is very important to all of his members and the borough. He reports the news as he reads it and blogs on the things in this town that our local rag sheet feels unimportant. Didn't see them at the meeting. Yes, he plays a vital role in Tarentum and should be recognized as a good thing instead of a negative one. It must be rough when someone actually does print the truth. And as I recall, Pastor Pollock was not the only person at that meeting with a camera. Cameras are definetly allowed at public meetings. Any reason why this is such a big issue? I am begining to feel that with the issue of cameras being present at a meeting a question of whether or not there is something to hide comes to mind. So, Pastor Pollock, like Father Kriss, are a good thing in our community. Or would the reaction have been different if it had been Father Kriss taking the pictures for his newsletter?

Bottom line; these people need to learn to get along. They were elected by us to represent us and so far all I see is constant fighting and bickering. We, the residents suffer for this. If they cannot get along, maybe it's time for some of them to step down and give us a chance at clear thinking, fair, and unbiased decissions that are for our benefit.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the complaint about Carl's picture though he is missing his keys.

Stewart said...

I need to respond to a few things in the comments: the abuse of anonymity, the criticism of the Valley News Dispatch, and premature conclusions on a pending criminal matter.

Anonymity. I allow people to post anonymously on this blog. I understand that people can have good reasons to conceal their identities when they enter an online discussion. I do notice when people use that anonymity to take cheap shots at me or others. Snide insinuations from people who won't stand behind their statements are not serious contributions to a conversation. If anonymity is abused I reserve the right to delete entire comments at a time from my blog.

Criticism of the Valley News Dispatch. As you know I am a newcomer in town, and don't have the history of reading the VND for decades, as some of you have. I will admit that there are times when I have been disappointed by the VND, but on the whole I have been quite pleased by the quality of writing in the paper.

My most serious criticism of the VND is that its circulation department does not treat the paper as a news product. During the week the delivery people are not required to make their deliveries until sometime late in the afternoon. In order for me to make any reasonable use of the news in the paper, I need it at the beginning of the morning. I don't see the paper Monday to Friday until I leave home, come into Tarentum, and either buy a paper from a box or read the copy delivered at Central Perk. I am disappointed in the delivery standards of the VND, not in the actual performance by any of the specific people who have delivered my paper.

Our area has a dwindling population. The VND must cover stories over a larger region in order to survive, and cannot be omnipresent throughout the region. I, on the other hand, blog as a byproduct of simply having my eyes and ears open when I go to the places and events that interest me.

When I have attended events at which VND reporters and/or photographers have been present, I have been in awe of the skill and professionalism with which they do their work. Those reporters do things in developing their stories that would never occur to someone like me who lacks journalistic training.

Some of you have noticed the section in the sidebar of my blog listing articles I have "furled." Furl is a social bookmarking service that helps me save articles I have found that look like articles I might want to read or use again later. Sometimes they relate to issues on which I might want to blog at some point in the future when I feel I have something meaningful to say. I furl a lot of articles from the VND because of the quality of the paper's coverage of local news.

Thumbs up on VND reporting. Thumbs down on residential delivery in the late afternoon when the reporters are already thinking about making their deadlines for the next day's paper.

Premature conclusions on a pending criminal matter. One of the pitfalls of having good solid reporting available to us is the risk that we might draw inappropriate conclusions from the information that a reporter has distilled and passed along. Popular opinion certainly exists, but our legal system reaches conclusions about guilt and innocence through a careful process in which evidence is presented, challenged, and evaluated.

People who have not sat through the whole process, heard and seen all the evidence, or observed for themselves the demeanor of each of the witnesses should not second-guess the conclusions the judge or jury might reach.

Right now the criminal proceeding involving Mr. Magnetta is at an early stage. No trial has occurred; no evidence of guilt or innocence has been presented to a trier of fact. Mr. Magnetta is presumed innocent. People should not be jumping to conclusions about what actually happened.

Jay Leno may have fun making jokes about various trials while they are in progress, but he is at least out in public where he can be called to account if he does something wrong. Please don't abuse your anonymity in comments here to say things about pending legal matters that you would not say if your identity were public.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stewart said...

An anonymous comment dated Monday, January 09, 2006 5:54:08 PM was deleted for being completely off-topic, in addition to making false statements and inappropriate insinuations.

Tarentum girl said...

Amen to the first anonymous poster from Jan. 5.

For several years I have been shaking my head over the Tarentum Council members.

They're clearly divided into two infantile factions, which does this community a disservice.

The worst part is, both factions fully believe that just because the other side is acting like a bunch of obnoxious toddlers throwing a tantrum, that they look upstanding and mature by comparison. WRONG.

It's appalling. They should all be embarassed.