Monday, June 19, 2006

Tarentum skatepark contracts awarded; Borough Council restores Magnetta to presidency

The Tarentum Borough Council awarded contracts for the construction and equipment for Tarentum's public skatepark tonight. Councilwoman Ginger Sopcak reported for the Allegheny Valley North Council of Governments on the lowest responsible bidders for the projects to be accomplished with Community Development Block Grant money. The contract for the fence and pad for the skatepark was awarded to Santamaria Landscaping and Fence of Apollo at a cost of $76,453.45. The contract for the skatepark equipment was awarded to True Ride Inc. of Duluth, MN at an approximate cost of $61,000. The elimination of one of the desired pieces of equipment brings the skatepark in within the amount the Borough has budgeted for this project.

The Borough Council also awarded the contract for the generator for the pump house to Schultheis/T.S.B. Inc. for the Kohler generator at a cost of $52,200.

In a surprise series of votes near the beginning of the meeting the Borough council voted to restore Councilman Carl Magnetta to the position of President of the Council, to elect Councilman Tim Rapp as Vice President of Council, and to hire William Rossey as Borough Manager effective September 25, 2006 with a starting salary of $54,500. Council President Magnetta announced that the events of the recent months were "over his head" and that he would make new committee appointments in the next week.

The citizen comments at the beginning of the meeting included: concerns about First and Fourth Amendment rights; a statement from the Recreation Board that had not been given access to the Council Agenda since its election; a commendation to the Council for the openness of the process at the committee meetings the previous week; and a request to reconsider approving the retirement of Borough Manager Jeff Thomas. As I watched the Council give the citizens full opportunity to air their concerns I was impressed that then Council President Mary Newcomer had reached a level of comfort with her office such that she was able to handle some very hard questions and deep concerns with firmness and grace. But I did not know that a round of musical chairs was in the offing.

From the committee meeting last week I had been anticipating a difficult discussion of a motion to change the line 451.530 in the borough budget and take funding away from the Recreation Board. During the time for citizen comments, the chairman of the Recreation Board, Harmon Boston had explained that the Council had formed the Board by an ordinance in 1968, following Article XXVII in the Pennsylvania Borough Code, and that the Board wanted to keep its funding.

Solicitor Strellec opined that there was no ordinance to create the Recreation Board, having researched the matter as far back as 1985. Representatives of the Recreation Board had copies of the 1968 ordinance available. The motion to change the budget failed by a vote of 2-5.

In other business, the Council passed the Family Medical Leave Act policy, voted to advertize an ordinance granting Salsgiver Communications a non-exclusive franchise agreement, approved a Mutual Aid agreement with Allegheny Ludlum, hired a full-time police officer, accepted an addendum to the Agreement with Frazer to provide police services, approved 2 handicap parking spaces on Allegheny Street near First AVe., and awarded a street paving contract to Ron Gillette at a cost of $160,469.30.

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11 comments:

Stewart said...

Two anonymous comments were posted this morning in the General Forum for Comments, and I am moving them to this entry where they have specific relevance.

At Tuesday, June 20, 2006 8:47:48 AM, Anonymous said...

Two months ago Bill Rossey voted to oust Carl Magnetta as council president. But as you can see Mr. Magnetta bought back his title in the sum of $54,500.00 plus benefits. Thanks Carl thats thinking about the tax payers of Tarentum Borough.

At Tuesday, June 20, 2006 8:50:51 AM, Anonymous said...

Stewart.

Can you possibly help me understand how Carl Magnetta,Joe Davidek,and Tim Rapp can sleep at night. By buying Bill Rossey's vote at Monday's meeting proves that it's not about the people of Tarentum Borough.

Stewart said...

Anonymous, I obviously cannot see into another person's conscience. The order in which the motions were made does suggest that there was some kind of political agreement made.

But I am also not in a position to know whether there is some reason why Councilman Rossey would be unqualified for the position.

While the Council has been debating whether Tarentum needs a borough manager, my impression has been that there is a need for someone to do that job, even given the small size of the borough.

If in fact Mr. Rossey is qualified and the borough needs a manager, then the decisions made should serve the taxpayers well.

Anonymous said...

If Jeff Thomas was qualified anyone would be qualified. The borough has a women working in the office right now that does all the work required of a borough manager and makes 25,000 a year less. Does that make any sense.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I give up. What's the punch line?


Elphie

Stewart said...

Anonymous, if the job descriptions are in fact identical with such a gross disparity in compensation, that would be unjust.

But there also are often situations in which support staff are perceived to be doing the work of their supervisors.

I am not in a position to make a judgment about what is happening in the borough office.

Anonymous said...

Stewart,

I would like to address this to your anonymous commenter(s), (but I think it's the same person),...

Two months ago 4 of the council members decided between them that they would oust Carl as president. These 4 called an executive session for 'personal' reasons, not informing even the Mayor as to what was to be discussed in that session. The public was not informed that they were able to attend the meeting after session was called. Like the sneaky cowards they are, they removed Carl without the public being aware of this move. This was a clear violation of the Sunshine Law. The newly elected president, Mary Newcomer, who was not exactly sure how to conduct a meeting or even Boro business was ask ed at the following council meeting to remedy this situation by re-doing the vote in public. Request denied. Minutes were changed to reflect a 'mistake' made in using the word 'personal' instead of 'personnel'. She remained as president much to the embarrassment of the council and he Boro residents. Committees were once again reconstructed and the 4 council members started to become out of control. Their next move was to try and lay off the Boro manager who had already submitted his retirement for Sept. 12. (Time to wake up the solicitor). After realizing their mistake one of the 4 cowered and suggested that Jeff remain until he retire. Bill Rossey I believe made that suggestion. Hmmmm... did we see a chip in the wall? Then we had 3 of these members acting out of control. The Boro manager was being micro-managed, investigations of Boro employees were conducted in an effort to monitor their every move, past and present, ridiculous demands were being made on employees and other counc il members, and threats were being made to certain council members for their votes...out of control. A little murmur was going through the Boro. People didn't like what they were seeing and hearing. Residents started to ask questions that some council members could not answer.

At the next agenda meeting it was suggested by three that there was really no need for a Boro manager and that one woman in the office was qualified to run the Boro having each department answer to her for day to day duties. Wonder which of the three promised her that position? There was some discussion as to whether or not they should just change the job title to Boro Secretary. Again, another ripple effect throughout the Boro. Who were they trying to kid? Nobody managing the daily operations of the Boro. Oh yes, I forgot, they(the three) were going to do it.

Here's the kill. Monday's council meeting was like watching a bad car accident. You couldn't take your eyes off of it no matter how hard you tried. Bill Rossey makes a motion to replace Mary as president and reinstate Carl.. By a majority vote, Carl is reinstated, Mary is removed, Gutonski falls, Tim Rapp is the new vice president, a motion is made by Carl to hire Bill Rossey as Boro manager effective Sept. 25. Budda bing! They all fall down.

If Gutonski, Newcomer and Sopcak would have ever gained control over this town as they had no doubt intended through their little meetings and phone calls and plots and schemes, this Boro would have been bankrupt and on it's knees in a short time.

I will give Rossey a shot at this. Home own boy makes good, let's hope. I can justify the $54,000 a year to manage the Boro providing it is done openly, above board and in the best interest of the residents of the Boro.

So I ask you now to either explain or try to justify the how 4 people came to decide Carl was to be removed as president without some behind the scenes communication? If 4 of them were privy to the agenda of the executive session and three weren't, as well as the Mayor, somebody or sombodies had to have communicated in order for this to have happened. Explain the 'personal' meeting to me so I get it straight. And I ask you how do those three sleep at night knowing what they tried to do to the residents of this Boro?

Maybe now we can get back to moving forward again.

I haven't decided yet as to what song applies here. It's a close race between 'Dirty Laundry' or "Tell Me Lies". You decide.


Elphie

Anonymous said...

Stewart,

Adding a thought to my previous post. I looked at what just happened within the Boro and our council and a sad feeling came over me. I wondered to myself why wasn't all of this negative energy directed toward more positive issues and concerns. Imagine the positive things that could have been accomplished if the council had been working together rather than against each other. Tarentum is a great little town with so much potential to regenerate and grow. Now it seems as though we have taken huge steps backwards. Each council member is responsible for some great accomplishment in the Boro. Too bad it always comes down to a 'my, me, mine' situation instead of an 'us' accomplishment.
I am ever hopeful for good things to happen in the future.

Elphie

Anonymous said...

Oh my god! Who wrote this tribute to Carl Magnetta? This has to be a family member because everyone else in this town knows he's has been a crook since the county housing incident. Any decent business owner, taxpayer, and long time resident knows Carl for who he is. The entire town knows that Mr. Magnetta has a need for power and control, the only way he could get it back was buying Bill Rossey's vote. Now it's time for the old meetings again when someone says something Carl doesn't want to hear he'll shut you up ( Unless your a family member ). Instead of three people running the borough, now we are back to one. KISS THE GODFATHERS RING!!!!

God help Tarentum Borough

Stewart said...

Anonymous, the previous comments were written by Elphie, which is a pseudonym for someone other than myself. Her use of a pseudonym at least makes it possible to recognize when the same person claims to be speaking.

It is not clear to me that "everyone else in town knows [Carl Magnetta] is a crook." If you have specific facts about the county housing incident, could you state them? There are two sides to every story, and perhaps Mr. Magnetta or someone in his family could respond to specific allegations, if you have them to share.

The "Godfather" comment was inappropriate.

sonnysarver said...

Cry babies cry babies. No one had to buy anyones vote in this town. Bill just came to his sences and seen that three sneaks ( and that is being nice ) can not run this town by themselves. Hum-----Lets take away the right for the town manager to sign checks in borough and put all of us on them. That is just one game they were playing. Mary, our so called Pres., could not even run a meeting with out looking to left or right for help just like a puppet on a string. That is why she was in there so they could push her around. It was a joke. And I am glad It is over. Carl can can get the job done in this town and their all jealous of that. They can not run there own finances. Carl can. Carl did a great job at the county and if you followed the entire story you would have also said he was cleared but no that wouldn't be your style. How sad your life is that you must bring up something that happened so many, many years ago. Maybe we should talk about your problems in the courts? Let dig up all the past about the rest of the council. Oh there is some juicy stuff right now. No better idea take of the boxing gloves and let's start putting the good that is starting to happen in Tarentum.

Sonny

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,,

I take offense to the Godfather thing. Being Italian by ehtnic origin I get quite tired of the boring slur you and so many others feel the need to use toward us. Moving on..

I am not a family member nor am I related to the Magnettas. I have however taken the time to get to know their family and I have to tell you, that dark cloud that seems to hang over Carl is there only by inuendo, bad information and a horrible halo effect projected by others who feel the need to take the spotlight off of their own shortcomings and misbehavior by slandering others. There was a time when Ginger Sopcak couldn't say enough nice and positive things about Carl. She was soooooo pleased when he rejoined the council as President way back when. Carl saw a problem, called her on it and from then on she has had nothing but ill feelings and bad intentions toward him. How dare he question her and her actions! That cannot happen. She apparently feels she needs not answer to anyone. Mary as President was a shameful embarassement to this Boro. Shame on her for allowing herself to fall prey to at least two of them who's soul quest in life at one time was to keep her from being elected to office and then trying their darndest to make her miserable enough to step down. Enough said there. Gutonski...I'm still counting his faces. When Rossey was elected to council I had had a few conversations wih him prior to some meetings. He seemed like an okay guy. New at the job, but willing to work to make change. It was mentioned to me by another council member, who's judgement I trusted, that he was nothing more than a 'spineless weasel'. I think he knew exactly what he was doing and was able to play those other three like finely tuned fiddle. Now I ask you, who better to manage this Boro? He just showed you his best quality. He won't take the low road. Don't get me wrong, Rossey is definetly a politician but he really is a good guy with good intentions.

So, Carl is a 'crook'. I will ask you the same as Stewart. Please verify and back up this accusation. If you had done your homework you would have learned the entire truth of that situation. It's all public info. You just have to do the looking. But, it does seem you are content with half of the facts and a one-sided story. Maybe you should re-read sonny's post and take that advice of delving into the past and present of some others. It might give you cause to think rather than spew.

One more thing, please do not include me when you refer to or speak for 'everyone else' in the Boro. Pretty darn sure I can speak for myself.


Hey Sonny....

Great post. You sure did your homework.

Elphie