New Castle News

Closer Look

January 14, 2014

Our Opinion: Dispute over council seat paints troubling picture

NEW CASTLE — A dispute over filling a vacancy on New Castle City Council has us puzzled.

It also has us wondering about the quality of leadership in city government.

Last week, the four current council members deadlocked on efforts to fill the body’s fifth seat. The vacancy for a two-year term exists because Councilman Anthony Adamo won the election for four-year and two-year terms, and he had to choose one.

In recent years, vacancies on council have been handled by inviting members of the public to apply for the position. Then the existing council members — who are tasked with filling the vacancy — make a decision.

But for some reason, two council members, William Panella and Richard Beshero, objected to doing this. Instead, they insisted on bringing Edward Yerage back to council.

Yerage finished his single term on council last year after opting not to seek re-election.

Two new council members, Tim Fulkerson and Adamo, indicated a willingness to seek applications, but they too made proposals for individuals that went nowhere.

If council cannot fill the vacancy within a 30-day time frame, state law allows citizens to petition Lawrence County President Judge Dominick Motto to make the decision.

When this possibility was raised at last week’s council meeting, Panella — who is an attorney — expressed confidence that Motto would select a qualified person. But we presume Motto’s method would involve seeking applications from interested individuals, rather than pulling names out of a hat.

Yet that’s precisely the process Panella said he didn’t want to pursue from council’s perspective. So Panella was saying he has confidence in Motto, but not in himself and his fellow councilmen.

Meanwhile, after all this played out last week, Yerage contacted the New Castle News yesterday to say he is not interested in the council position. According to Yerage, he is willing to return to council only if no other qualified candidate can be found.

So now Panella tells The News he is prepared to look at applicants and believes council can make a choice. If so, that should end this particular disagreement.

But last week’s squabbling over the vacancy and how to fill it paints a disturbing picture of council. Representative government survives on give and take, as well as the ability to negotiate resolutions to disagreements. If council members are intent on digging in their heels on an issue — without even bothering to consider other possibilities — that’s a disturbing development.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Closer Look
  • well.jpg Lawyers to address fracking

    Lawyers will address public concerns about oil and gas regulations and other topics at a program next month. Oday Salim and Megan Lovett of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services in Pittsburgh and attorney Michael Oliverio of Lynch Weis in Cranberry Township are to present the program.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yauger.jpg Yauger enters guilty plea in federal court

    The former executive director of the local intermediate unit has entered a guilty plea in federal court.

     

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lottery.jpg Lottery officials: Seniors should get smaller payout

    State lottery officials say less means more for seniors. The lottery took in $3.8 billion in sales last year and will give more than $1 billion of it — or 28.5 percent — to programs for senior citizens.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • phone.jpg Attorney general warns of phone scams

    Assorted scams in the commonwealth have prompted a warning from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said several scams have been reported to the Bureau of Consumer Protection in recent weeks.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • disability.jpg Disabilities group unveils new icon

    Disability Options Network is joining forces with the Accessible Icon Project. Officials of the community organization, located at 1929 E. Washington St., said its new icon will replace the current international symbol for accessibility.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • well.jpg Auditor: State doesn’t have enough inspectors to monitor wells

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • vote.jpg Independent hopefuls may widen gubernatorial field

    Just when Pennsylvania voters were getting used to the idea of a gubernatorial election showdown between Republican incumbent Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, other hopefuls may soon be joining the fray.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • manna.jpg John K. Manna: Measuring the money

    Should we even bother to have an election in November? By some accounts, maybe the results of some contests are already in.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • shooting.jpg Man injured in city shooting

    A man was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital Thursday morning following a shooting on West Lincoln Avenue.

     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • police.jpg Police: Man pulls gun on construction workers

    Construction workers in Neshannock Township flagged down police Thursday claiming a business owner had pulled a gun on them.

     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Section Teases
Must Read
Continuous Super Bowl Coverage