Disclaimer: Letters to the Editor express the opinion of the writer and are not necessarily the opinion of WBIG ownership, management or staff.
Right-to-Know requests have merit. Email communications between County Council members is a serious issue. I recently requested all Luzerne County Council correspondence dating from the time they took office. Deliberating through emails violates the Sunshine Law. Several emails that I have seen indicate that decisions are being made between public meetings. According to a recent article by reporter Mike Buffer, Melissa Melewsky, the counsel for the Pennsylvania News Media Association, as well as Assistant County Solicitor David Schwager both agree that council members could be violating the Sunshine Act when they send emails to each other. “It depends on what is said,” Schwager stated, adding that he agreed that posting emails online does not allow deliberating through emails.
The majority of county council members who continuously protect and defend the hired manager’s lack of communication is an insult to all citizens.
The February 2012 Luzerne County Budget raised taxes. The “Gang of Six” who wrote a public letter to defend their tax increase did so without the knowledge of the whole council. The $1,000 bonus giveaway to part time county employees without evaluation of their work did not make any sense. These are not responsible actions.
The Home Rule Charter is ignored by most of council, and there are no consequences when the Home Rule Charter is violated.
It is time to make motions for the benefit of the citizens. Conflicts of interests must be addressed. Non-profit organizations with Luzerne County contracts should provide easy links to their IRS 990 filings on the county website for all to view. The motion to have Luzerne County employees share the burden of health care costs can show a step for serious and responsible government. The county manager must work within the budget given and be held accountable.
On Tuesday, April 2, 2013, we learned there was overspending of over more than $1 million during 2012. Why are there not penalties in place for when the manager does not remain within the budget given? How can he justify creating new positions? How do we hold the county manager accountable? What departments overspent tax dollars? Do we need to file further Right-to-Know requests? We are supposed to have accurate reports showing revenue and expenditures every two months. Each department should comply in a timely manner for the sake of the county manager’s reports.
Does the manager lack true leadership to do the job?
Mr. Lawton and his management team decided to cut the black fly suppression program. This was a very poor decision and shows a lack of concern for the public. The amount of gnats in Luzerne County will increase by a factor of about ten this summer if this suppression is eliminated. The county has about two weeks left to reconsider the decision. [Ed. Note: This decision has since been reversed.]
I’m Kathy Dobash and I’m running for Luzerne County Council.
I’ve shown my commitment to our county residents by frequently attending Luzerne County Council meetings for the past two years.
I will not vote to raise taxes.
I will insist that our government employees share the costs of their health care.
I will demand the county manager lives within the budget.
I promise to work to improve transparency in county government by ensuring that all members of council follow the Sunshine Law with deliberations at public meetings. This is the most appropriate way to move our county forward.