Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cuozzo And Deakos Cost Taxpayers Thousands And Were Dead Wrong

Hazleton's constant complainants, Dee Deakos and Grace Cuozzo teamed up against their own City of Hazleton to make incredulous allegations regarding a lease arrangement including debt passed by Hazleton City Council to the Department of Community and Economic Development filed June 27, 2011. Their initial complaint was faulty and they resubmitted an amended complaint on June 30, 2011.

SOP has obtained a copy of the decision by C. Alan Walker, Secretary of Community and Economic Development in favor of the City of Hazleton in their latest unfounded attack. Categorically, the Secretary catapults their claims as inaccurate through failing to provide any concrete evidence to their assertions with phrases like - in this regard the Complainants have not provided any concrete evidence, the Complainants challenge that the nature of the project is inconsistent with the provisions of the URA law is also without merit, and the Complainants do not cite any specific provisions of the URA law.

The best one that sums up the inability of these two vexatious complainants is this description found on page 6. Finally, the Complainants allege that the borrowing should have been approved by ordinance, not by resolution, in accordance with the Third Class City Code. This allegation is without merit factually. The city did pass an ordinance for the Project, No. 2011-10 on June 7, 2011, not a resolution.

In part II of his answer titled "Challenges to the Regularity of the City's Debt Proceedings" the Secretary reminds them that his department does not deal with allegations of violations of the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law or the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act.

The pair also alleged that the borrowing was an open ended agreement with no limitations on maximum interest payments and was summarily dismissed as misplaced. In part III they had to be reminded that Tax Anticipation Notes are not "debt".

None of this information made Kent Jackson's article in the Standard Speaker regarding this matter. He reported that their complaint was dismissed because it wasn't timely filed.

Hazleton mayoral candidate Grace Cuozzo challenged the city's plan to borrow $5.6 million too late, a state lawyer said when explaining why her complaint was dismissed.

Scott Longwell, assistant counsel for the state Department of Community and Economic Development, said Cuozzo needed to challenge the tax and revenue anticipation note when the city borrowed it in January. Instead, she and Hazleton resident Dee Deakos filed the challenge this summer after the city sought to extend the repayment and long after the 15-day deadline ran out.

Cuozzo said dismissing the challenge on a technicality leaves unanswered two concerns that led her to file the challenge.

It seems odd to SOP that a letter signed by the Secretary is quoted in a newspaper article as information from the assistant counsel.  It seems even odder that given the detail with which the Secretary dismissed their complaints only timeliness made it to the people of Hazleton via publication. It is also evident that Cuozzo appears to mislead the public about the entire content of the Secretary's letter.

Kent Jackson wrote about the cost of their futile challenge to the taxpayers of the City of Hazleton.

Hazleton's acting Director of Administration Mary Ellen Lieb said the complaint delayed the borrowing and cost the city $20,000 to $25,000 in legal fees. Also, additional interest paid while extending the original loan, which expired June 30, exceeds $10,000 so far and will accrue at $270 a day until the new loan is finalized, which Lieb said might take a few more weeks.
The accrual could amount to thousands more if it will take a weeks to resolve. 

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