Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What's this I hear about PTA? UPDATED

Someone asked me if I heard about the shake up on the PTA. Something about the president and the treasurer quitting at the same time.

What's the scoop?

Update May 25, 2017 8:06 AM Here is the scoop. Council PTA President Jodi Kubit and Council PTA Treasurer Jennie Bhojwani have resigned.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Not what I asked for. UPDATED 2X

On May 15, 2017, I filed a Right To Know seeking "All records, including but not limited to emails, texts, and interoffice memos related to modifying the job posting dates for Middle School Social Studies Teacher - 8th Grade US History - Contract 2016-2017 JobID:471. Dates modified include: Date Posted & Closing Date."

Here is what I got.

Response Letter They located a copy of the job posting as it currently exists. No kidding!

The records sent (redacted, yet free of charge. How about that, Keith McGill and Bonnie Cross?!!)

The cover letter from MTLSD  - check out all the people who were cc'ed!

And finally, my response to the MTLSD ORO. I enclosed the original and modified job postings.

Timmy is not giving up the information!

Update May 22, 2017 6:12 PM If you read the fine print at the bottom of the redacted emails, it appears that M Mikesell applied for the position. According to the staff directory, Matthew Mikesell teaches Grade Six Social Studies at Mellon. http://www.mtlsd.org/page.cfm?p=632 Elaine Cappucci's son won out over an internal hire, a social studies teacher from Mellon.

Update May 23, 2017 5:46 PM I wrote back to Jeanine Szalinski, Timmy's administrative assistant/Open Records Officer asking for clarification concerning my RTK.  Well, that's all she wrote. That is all I am getting, even though it is not what I requested. So here are my options. Accept it at face value or appeal it to the PA Office of Open Records. Been there, done that. Still waiting for the PA Supreme Court to hear my case on the last appeal. I lost too much money on that deal, thinking that we have the right to know where lethal weapons are being fired in Mt. Lebanon. Ha! OR one of the million attorneys in Mt. Lebanon that isn't on Team Timmy can get a subpoena, or help me FOR FREE. I can file an appeal with the PA OOR, but their decision means nothing to Mt. Lebanon.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Our Director of Finance works for free!

Not only does Susan Morgans work for free, it has been pointed out to me that Andrew McCreery also works for free. Andrew McCreery Statement of Financial Interests

One would think that the Director of Finance would be a little more mindful filling out financial disclosure statements. Our municipal employees sure go above and beyond working for us. They donate their services - just like the hunters and property owners donate their properties!

Key words: "Exceptions...if commissioners approved an increase unanimously"

The sky's the limit, thanks to uninformed Mt. Lebanon voters. 3,865 voters voted yes to give commissioners the power to raise taxes at any amount, if there is a unanimous vote. Voters thought they were voting to limit property tax increases.
 
The Post-Gazette reported  
In the race for the two-year seat, Mr. Riemer secured the Democratic nomination, and Ms. Cappucci will be the Republican nominee.
Way to go, Republicans. Elaine Cappucci is a Democrat and running for the seat that she resigned from or as an anonymous comment from May 17 succinctly stated, "Mt. Lebanon Republicans voted for Cappucci to appear on the November ballot for the two year term ... which is the very same seat that she gave up so that her son could get his (in through the back door, ill-deserved) job." You couldn't even support DePlato, a Republican!

Janice Crompton also reported,
Ms. Birks was the subject of recent controversy over accusations of a conflict of interest involving her role as executive director of Outreach Teen & Family Services.
No worries! Republicans voted to keep Mary Birks on the ballot, as well as the rest of the Timmy Ticket. As a Republican, I hang my head in shame.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Aaugh!!! UPDATED

I can't get on any sites for election results. I received a text that Bob Lee lost, but I haven't been able to confirm that.


I understand that Mary Birks is completely out. Mike Riemer finished first. So far, that's all I know.

Sorry that this post is in piecemeal.

Try this site for County results:
http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/PA/Allegheny/68994/Web02/#/


It looks like Cappucci won the 2 year term on the R ballot, and Riemer won the 2 year term on the D ballot.

Total votes (adding both R & D)

Cappucci 2194
Riemer 2642
Diamond 2270
Strotmeyer 2423
Caste 2038
Remely 1588

DePlato was only on the R ballot with 328 votes.

On the Dem ballot for 4 years: 
Riemer 
Diamond
Strotmeyer
Cappucci

On the Rep ballot for 4 years:
Caste
Cappucci
Remely
Riemer

Here are the updated unofficial results. The County has to certify the absentee ballots in the next week or so.







I do know that Mt. Lebanon voted yes for the commissioners to raise taxes. Shaking my head.

Update May 17, 2017 5:04 PM The Pennsylvania Ethics Commission received additional information concerning my complaint against Elaine Cappucci this morning at 10:41.

We don't pay her enough; she's homeless! UPDATED 2X

I would bring this to the attention of our manager, but he has said that he is not responsible for gathering the correct information, only getting the form. Through a Right To Know, close to eighty statement of financial interests forms were filed in the municipality. Of all the SFIs submitted, only one came back incomplete. You guessed it. Susan Morgans.

The poor girl is homeless. Susan has given herself an interest free loan from Susan F. Morgans Card Services. She collects no income. Wow, Susan, I owe you a huge apology. All along, you have been donating your services getting information out to the people. Just like me!

The form is considered deficient by the PA State Ethics Commission. Perhaps someone else can contact them, since I have been busy with Mary Birks and Elaine Cappucci, and soon, another individual.

Update May 17, 2017 4:37 PM Email sent to Manager Keith McGill.

Update May 18, 2017 8:26 AM My guess is that Susan Morgans is in Wine Country again. I heard back from Keith McGill. 

So pathetic

Remember how the MLRC (Tommy Dunn) gave Jim Cannon and me a hard time in 2011 about posting our signs on the "Republican" board at Foster School? And how Tommy gave me a hard time about putting up one of my recycled signs when I ran in protest for the last election for the Ward 3 Commission seat?

This is the Republican board at Foster School today, May 16, 2017. So pathetic.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Here is what you will see on Tuesday's ballot for school board

There are four open positions for a four year term and one open position for a two year term. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you will see Mike Riemer, Stephen Strotmeyer, Aviva Diamond, and the Timmy ticket on the ballot. They all cross filed. Justin DePlato is only on the Republican ballot. Democrats will have to write in his name, if they wish to vote for him.

For the two year term, pick only one of those candidates. You will, most likely, be voting for one candidate twice for the Primary.

I hear the weather is going to be nice on Tuesday. Get out there and vote. Choose wisely. Please.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

ADMINISTRATION CAUGHT IN COVER-UP UPDATED

The 2016 job posting for Elaine Cappucci's son has been altered since Cappucci announced her candidacy for school board.

Original posting and altered posting

Who has the authority to do this? Who do you think?

Update May 13, 2017 10:03 PM Now that I am back in town, I am sharing the copy of the online job posting which was sent to the PA Ethics Commission. I downloaded it on April 21, 2017 at 1:42 PM. The Administration changed it after they found out about the ethics complaints. I learned long ago to make pdf's of the MTLSD website because things mysteriously change. I will be sending in the new evidence to the PA Ethics Commission.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fiery Resignation Tonight

Paradise’s  Bad Attitude
May 9, 2017

Paradise has a bad attitude toward the environment says the resigning Chairman of the Mt Lebanon Environmental Sustainability Board.   

Andrew Baram, an executive at a major bank, is resigning in disgust from the Board  tonight (May 9) at a Mt Lebanon Commission meeting at the Mt Lebanon Municipal Building during the public forum at 8 PM.  

Baram has chaired the ESB for several years, and for those years his advice and that of the Board itself has been “ignored and blatantly misrepresented.”

Baram accuses one of the Mt Lebanon Commissioners of using “alternative facts.”  But he charges the Commission and the town manager with manipulating a student and “junior” commission’s attitude questionnaire, she crafted for the local high school, to fit their own agenda.

Baram contrasts Mt Lebanon’s poor record on the environment with Cranberry Township’s focus on sustainability.


 Statement of Resignation
Mt Lebanon Environmental Sustainability Board
Andrew Baram, Chairman

Before the Mt Lebanon Commission
May 9th, 2017


I’d like to start by thanking you. Thank you for teaching me many valuable lessons over the last several years, and more importantly, giving me a gift few have given me, the gift of time.

I have learned that it was not a good use of time to contribute to the town’s comprehensive plan, as I have not once heard anyone reference it, especially the part regarding the environment.

I have learned that unplanned expenditures that are associated with pet projects don’t always have to follow guidelines for being a formal agenda item, for example, the forgotten fence for the turf field.

I have learned that you can nominate anyone to a task force, including a neighbor, who has no interest in having an open dialogue. You can also give said neighbor a captive audience of the Commission without telling others on the task force and allowing one point of view to win the day.

I have learned that a Commissioner can send something out to all of his constituents that is biased and even contains information that is false. For example: the rate of recycling has increased every year. But in this day of alternative facts, why should I be surprised?

I have learned that just about every time the Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB) has suggested something, it is almost always met with a “why we should not do that” instead of truly considering the possibility of the suggestion.

We were ignored and blatantly misrepresented regarding the turffield. Our suggestions concerning pesticide notification and reclamation of bricks in the streets were instantly challenged. Even something as simple and symbolic as not using disposable water bottles goes unheeded.

Thankfully, we have not weighed in on the deer, not that it would have mattered. A simple suggestion of trying to save our local businesses’ money by pooling their resources and getting better waste removal contracts, in addition to trying to reduce their waste, was never of real interest.

Speaking of waste reduction, considering Pay As You Throw (PAYT) was an exercise in futility from the beginning. I should have known that when the first task force convened and one of the few documents that was shared with us was the ill-fated high school PAYT questionnaire. This survey was crafted by a former junior commissioner. But she was forced by the former town manager and others to change it to make it completely biasedagainst PAYT and brought the junior commissioner to tears on several occasions.

This commission’s reactions always seem to be about finding ways any new scenario could be bad. The latest nail in the coffin was regarding how homes of lesser value could be negatively impacted. No one stopped to question the analysis, as I am still not convinced it is very clear. But even if it isfinancially sound, did anyone even think to suggest that we could do something to offset those who might lose? Of course not.

I am South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM) board member. SHIM serves the needy and the disadvantaged. Would I endorse a program that was structured to negatively impact those in need? Of course not. Did anyone ask how the other thousands of towns with PAYT programs handle this situation? Of course not. Has anyone besides Kelly actually taken me up on my offer to speak with another town who has adopted a successful PAYT program to understand it more? Of course not.

It was always about “I received so many phone calls from residents who did not like this.” Do you think there is a reason that residents in PAYT towns, who were polled by an independent company, actually really like PAYT? Could our residents with negative comments just simply be misinformed or afraid of progressive change, just as so many of our current leaders seem to be?

I hope that as you move forward you truly consider why you have an Environmental Sustainability Board. You have great men and women who care about this town and the environment, but feel like they have no real voice. Other than using the Board discussions about storm water to count towards your Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) requirements, our efforts have been largely ineffectual.

I know you feel our views are extreme (yes, I watched the video of your discussion of the Sustainability Board on April 24), but anyone I know in this town who truly cares about the environment would vehemently disagree with your reactions and words that night. They would never mistake our town for Cranberry, who was recently on the front page of the Post-Gazette, not for its approach to four-legged creatures, but for its leadership in sustainability. They also would not mistake our town for one that wants to “raise the bar for environmental sustainability,” something I should have realized long ago doesn’t matter or guide the actions of this Commission in any meaningful way.

I want to thank the ESB’s current Commission liaison, Steve McLean, for at least listening. And I would be incredibly remiss if I did not thank, Kelly Fraasch, who has always been a great advocate for the environment, has never been afraid to stand against the majority, and has shown the type of leadership this town needs to move forward.

So, I will end where I started. Thank you for giving me the gift of time. As a smart municipal employee recently told me, “government moves slowly and maybe I would be better off taking my talents and energy elsewhere.”

I will heed that advice, so please formally accept my resignation as chair and member of the Environmental Sustainability Board, as I plan to take my “extreme” views elsewhere.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bill Matthews | MTLSD 2017-2018 Budget

Many of you may have seen Bill Matthews' letter to the school board.


Members of the Board:

First, thank you to the Board Members who pressed the Administration to hold the line on property taxes this year.  I have a pretty good idea of who you is, and who you isn’t.

Secondly, this is really not such a monumental feat, nor deserving of all the accolades that no doubt will be passed around to Dr. Steinhauer and his team.  We have been over taxed for years and when you combine this with all the funds being generated from bond refinancing and other sources, the District remains in a very strong financial position.  With the cash-on-hand, there is really no need to pad the surplus.

Please see the General Fund Budget summary attached.  Since Dr. Steinhauer took the reins, the District has landed under the Expenditure Budget (excluding Transfers to Debt Service and the Capital Fund) by more than $7 million.  The Revenue Budget has been essentially on the money.  

Please note, the reason Debt Service and Capital Fund transfers are excluded from my analysis is that the Capital Fund transfers are made from available General Fund surplus and very often are not reflected in the approved budget number.  Consequently, transfers may appear as a budget impairment, which could ultimately be misinterpreted as a “miss”.

Lastly, it sure would be nice going into finalizing the budget to know how the Administration forecasts the current year spend.  We used to routinely see forecasts similar to the attached. Just because the Audit & Finance Committee was disbanded, there is no reason another outlet for the information could not be employed (like the website). 

Fiscal transparency has been a general disappointment under the Steinhauer Administration.

Best regards,

Bill

cc: Mt. Lebanon Community

Friday, May 5, 2017

Complaints filed with PA Ethics Commission against Birks and Cappucci UPDATED AGAIN

Press Release

On April 26, 2017, formal complaints were filed with the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission against Mt. Lebanon School Board President, Mary D. Birks and former Mt. Lebanon School Board President/current Mt. Lebanon School Board Director candidate, Elaine Cappucci.

Cappucci, Birks, School Board Director Dan Remely, and newcomer Katie Caste are running on the same slate in the May Primary.

Documentation submitted to the PA Ethics Commission include:





Update May 5, 2017 10:47 AM As I explained to the reporter, the copy of the complaints was not notarized. I scanned the complaints before they were notarized, got them notarized, and then mailed them. Here are copies of the receipts. Track the number 7016 0910 0002 2878 8566 at usps.com for proof of delivery. Notary receipt is also available.
Proof of delivery click here

Notary and postage receipts

Also, I did not file the RTK as stated in the article. It was sent to me by a Lebo Citizens reader.

Update May 6, 2017 7:31 AM A RTK was filed (not by me) for the Statements of Financial Interests for those required to file by May 1 in the School District. It can be found here. Check out page seven. It is the SFI of Elaine Cappucci's neighbor on Roycroft. She was PTA President, and is now Dean of Students. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Not to take away from the school board race...

I will be moving this post below the ethics complaints post later on, but I wanted to share this article with Lebo Citizens readers. Borough electric systems have better rates, are more reliable  
Each Borough Council shops for the best electricity and the cheapest rates for the entire town. This is a buying pool run by borough council. A non-profit pool is just like a farming co-op. And it works all over the Commonwealth.
Borough electric systems have better rates, much better reliability, are managed by local elected officials, are responsive to local concerns, employ local employees, buy local services, do not send tax money to Harrisburg, and operate far superior and much more reliable electric systems than our for-profit competitors. Any legislative action to change this century old system is unneeded.
Since 2011, I have brought up this idea multiple times at municipal meetings, but was always told that it couldn't be done. I even had the name of an energy supplier who could make it happen.

This idea is the reverse of PAYT. We get the best rates and the best service possible for garbage collection when going through SHACOG. If it works for garbage collection, why not electric rates? Yes, I said that PAYT = higher rates and not-the-best service.

Perhaps our commission candidates can consider this option, if elected.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

PTA questionnaire

PTA questionnaire of school board candidates is available:
http://www.mtlsd.org/page.cfm?p=563 

The FIOS guy is coming Friday morning since I don't have TV, internet, or phone. This is impossible to do on my iPhone.

I will add more when I am back in business. Sigh.