Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tom Gabos- Is There A Conflict Of Interest or An Ethical Concern

Standard Speaker Photo ERic Conover 12/19/2008

Hazleton City Councilman Thomas Gabos wears so many hats it is hard to distinguish which role is the predominant one. There is a saying that you can only answer to one master. From the look of events it seems that Mr. Gabos uses the hats for one master, himself.

Mr. Gabos announced the Funfest opening of his arcade business on July 22, 2009.

The arcade will be full of old-school video games and pinball machines that Tom Gabos, a Hazleton city councilman and president of the Hazleton Historical Society, has been collecting for the last 20 years.

Gabos said he and his partner, Gale Zelenack, have been working on the space formerly held by Service Electric Cablevision and more recently by a dance studio.

"We tore out six layers of flooring, to expose the wooden floor, which we refinished," Gabos said. "We replaced all of the electrical (system), and the bathrooms have all new pipes."

Gabos said he selected the site for the arcade carefully.

"My belief is that this is the better side of Broad Street, because it has a lot of businesses on it, and the college (Lackawanna) at the end," Gabos said.

Gabos said he doesn't have any idea about operating hours just yet.

Back in March, 2009 Gabos reported prostitutes in downtown Hazleton.

Councilman Thomas Gabos last week said he received complaints from downtown business owners at two locations concerning female prostitutes working in the neighborhoods.

Gabos declined to identify the business owners who lodged the complaints. One owns a business on Wyoming Street and the other on Broad Street, he said.

In a separate incident, Gabos said he and other members of the Greater Hazleton Historical Society board of directors were recently meeting in the museum at 55 N. Wyoming St. The group walked outside to inspect an area at the rear of the building and discovered a man and woman engaged in a sexual act in the shadows.

Barely three months later he decides to locate one of his businesses there. There is a story about crying wolf but that is for another day.

Gabos was hired as a substitute maintenance person on April 23, 2009.

Back in December, 2008 he was named President of the Castle Auditorium Community Arts Center and featured in a picture published in the Hazleton Standard Speaker.

The board has also received a nonprofit (sic 5)401(c)(3) designation and has a new president, Tom Gabos. Understanding organizations that must mean that HASB Directors Elaine Curry and Steve Hahn voted to elect Tom Gabos as President.

In May, 2009 he attends a conference with Hazleton Area School Board Members Elaine Curry and Steve Hahn as a speaker. The conference was co-sponsored by PennDOT, Preservation Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Federal Highway Administration and other state and regional partners.

Friday, May 22nd, 2009
Advocating for Your Neighborhood Schools: Preservation Strategies
Historic schools in neighborhoods are the heart of many communities. Yet, Pennsylvania continues to lose these schools at an alarming rate replaced by larger consolidated schools located far from the places where people live. Using the successfully rehabilitated Hazleton “Castle on the Hill” as a case study, this session will provide strategies for working with schools boards and parents to retain and rehabilitate these important schools.

Mindy Crawford, Preservation Pennsylvania (Moderator)
Vern McKissick and Gina Douty, McKissick Associates
Tom Gabos, Elaine Curry and Steve Hahn, Community Advocates

Gabos is known for his efforts to restore the former Hazleton Area High School also known as the "Castle." He sits on the Castle Auditorium Board of Directors where Hazleton Area School Board Members Elaine Curry, Steve Hahn, and Carmella Yenkevich are members as well.

Councilman Gabos is featured in this WBRE16 video about the Castle Auditorium project. In the video it mentions that the Hazleton Area School District spent $30 million to renovate the school known as the Hazleton Elementary Middle School. Any claim that Tom Gabos made to "save the Castle" seems suspect since the Hazleton Area School District taxpayers and Pennsylvania taxpayers seem to be the ones who "saved" it.

Recent action by the majority of the Hazleton Area School Board lead to the hiring of Hazleton City Councilman/Electrician/Arcade Owner Thomas Gabos as a maintenance person at the Hazleton Elementary/Middle School.

The rumor surrounding this hire is that Mr. Gabos demanded he displace a long time maintenance person when he received this position since the Hazleton Elementary/Middle School is the former Castle. There may be a greivance filed over the action with the school board.

Is it possible for three school board directors to separate their close association with Tom Gabos in this hiring matter? Did Tom Gabos use his position on City Council to persuade those involved in his hiring?

Now he is known as Hazleton City Councilman/Electrician/Arcade Owner/Hazleton Area School District Employee/Tom Gabos.

Tonight Mr. Gabos is going to do something unique as a councilman. He is actually going to introduce his first piece of legisaltion in the almost four years on Hazleton City Council. According to Mia Light, government correspondent, of the Standard Speaker Gabos will introduce an ordinance before Council that authorizes the use of state constables to augment law enforcement in the city.

Gabos said he sees no reason for the proposal to fail.

"I feel confident (the ordinance) will pass. Why would anyone object to it?" Gabos said.
You can read about the duties of constables in Pennsylvania in the content of Mia's article.

Now let's answer Mr. Gabos's question. One should never ask a question you don't know the answer to.

First, only four(4) constabiles in our area are certified(asThomas Roccograndi, a certified Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) constable training instructor at Lackawanna College Police Academy states in the article)and bonded. Where the figure of 15 came from is anyone's guess. That statistic means the other constables would not qualify to carry out their duties in a way that protects the City of Hazleton from liability.

Following election, the constable is required to attend and pass an 80-hour training academy to receive certification through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency under Act 44, and to successfully complete 40 hours of yearly updates on law and firearms training to maintain their certification.

Next, is Mr. Gabo's position that these constables are sitting around with nothing to do and waiting for Hazleton to hire them? The constables in the Hazleton area are performing duties at the present time so there is a question whether they would have extra time to assist the City.

There is the issue of pay. Look at what charges the Berks County court system incurred with the use of constables. At least two of them were reprimanded for double billing.

Three constables in Berks County made more than $250,000 last year, placing them among the highest-paid elected officials in the nation.

Three other constables in Berks made $120,000 or more last year. And 11 state constables in Berks made more than the $75,000 paid to district court judges, their bosses.

Here is what one constable said about using constables to make arrests.

Highly paid constables make most of their money by serving parking-ticket warrants, the constables and Xavios said.

Jack Esher, a constable in Delaware County and president of the State Constables Association, a professional organization, don’t make dig money on lots of arrests.

Arrests take too much time for what they pay. In an arrest, a constable must take the suspect to district court and have him arraigned, fingerprinted and taken before a judge.

"If you’re arresting people, you can’t be doing something else at the same time," he said.

As far as this idea being a good financial move for Hazleton obviously Gabos didn't do his homework.

If the person is not home, he said, he will leave a paper on the suspect’s door informing him that a warrant has been issued and what to do.

That’s good news financially for the county: It will make more money than if a ticket had been paid on time.

And it’s good news for the constable: The county will pay him a fee, even if his delivery of the warrant results in no collection.

Xavios said district courts are a cash cow for the county, bringing in $3.7 million last year alone, after costs and fees are paid.

This idea sounds more like a fleece of the citizens of Hazleton than a help.

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