|Holy Ghost, West Easton landmark|
When the new Council came aboard in January, they were not only beset by missing records, but missing computers as well. They were also plagued by false rumors that the Borough would discard its one and only public works employee, Dane Thatcher, in favor of one of their pals. They also had to contend with a final parting shot from Kelly Gross, in the form of publicly funded newsletter.
Under circumstances like these, where none of them really knew what was going on, you could expect high legal bills. Since the date of his appointment in January, Easton Attorney Steve Goudsouzian has been paid $18,443.87. Of that sum, $1,203.37 is for legal work involved in defending West Easton from the legal slings and arrows of Tricia Mezzacappa.
Her honeymoon with the new Borough Council was brief one, and a hearing is scheduled in June for her latest nonsense. She will lose, but so will the Borough because it will cost at least another $1,000 in attorney fees. .
There are several other loose ends from the Kelly Gross days. Goudsouzian told Council that the goodbye letter from Kelly Gross "was of a personal nature." Yet taxpayers paid about $520 for it. She also managed last year to slip herself a check for $450 as "Acting" Emergency Management Coordinator, even though she has none of the training and was never appointed to that position by anyone.
On February 8, Goudsouzian was instructed to get the money back.
It is known that outside auditors had concerns about Kelly Gross' use of petty cash. That audit should be public soon. There is no suggestion of anything beyond sloppy bookkeeping and a lack of internal controls.
Finally, there's a strange insurance policy that Matt Dees tells me was approved by a prior Council in 2002. West Easton Borough Council members are only paid $900 per year. By law, they could be paid as much as $1,875. Mayor Gerry Gross is paid only $1,200, but could be paid as much as $2,500. Some Council members likely felt they were entitled to this benefit in view of their low salary..
In response to a Right-to-Know, West Easton has only been able to reconstruct records since 2012. Since that time, it has gone through four different insurance companies. It covered only some Council members, mostly because borough officials forgot to add and remove Council members as they changed.
In February, Council decided to stop paying on that policy, and it is currently in limbo.
Dees has done a commendable job of helping to create a West Easton Borough webpage, complete with minutes of meetings and a calendar of events.
One of these will be the replacement of Council member Louis Niko, who has resigned. Council is expected to vote on a new Council member tonight.
Removing Kelly Gross has done nothing to end the shouting matches during meetings. Dan DePaul regularly interrupts and yells at other Council members, particularly Robert Lewis. Two Council members, Henry and Tom Nodoline, are suing each other. And historically, Wast Easton has always been a fractious board. The only real difference between now and then is that now, it gets almost no coverage in the local newspapers.
That's why I hope Matt Dees continues to video and blog about the government.