Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hazleton City Councilwoman Fighting For Political Life

In a letter to the editor today appearing in the Standard Speaker Hazleton City Councilwoman, Jean Mope, appears to be struggling in her attempt to explain her way out of a mess she solely created.

When Civil Service Rules were presented to Hazleton City Council for adoption Ms. Mope had some questions. According to sources Ms. Mope first approached the City Solicitor, Chris Slusser, with a set of questions. Taking his answers with an incredulous stance she unilaterally proceeded to contact the labor attorney designated during the Barletta administration to handle Civil Service Commission matters concerning the police.

Ms. Mope failed to have the knowledge that the Civil Service Rules were not a Hazleton City Council matter. Due to her lack of knowledge, not only in this matter but most city matters, she proceeded to demand answers from the labor attorney relative to Civil Service procedures and rules.

Here is the list of questions she posed to the labor attorney.

From: Jean Mope (redacted email address for privacy reasons)
Sent: June 08, 2012 4:10 PM
To: David E.
Subject: Hazleton City Civil Service
Dear Mr. Mitchell,
Let me introduce myself, I am Jean Mope, Hazleton City
Council Woman.
I have just received your rewritten Hazleton City Police
Civil Service Regulations. I have a few questions and they are as
Page 2- Definitions, (g), Hazleton is Optional Plan B, not
Home Rule Charter. I was under the impression when Optional Plan B fails to
address a situation we then follow Third Class City Code. Please explain your
definition as to why you state "conflict with Home Rule Charter that the Charter
shall control."
Page 3- (n), your contention is the mayor appoints to the
CSC, what are you basing this determination on?
Page 4-(t) it appears your rules may conflict
Page 5-(y) based on this definition Hazleton City Council
Does hire new employees. Am I correct?
It goes on to say specific comments concerning Veterans, does
this apply only to (New) Veteran Hires?
Page 6-Article 2-201- Since this Board's power is vested by
Third Class City Code, and we are under Home Rule Optional Plan B, the Mayor
merely makes a recommendation to council, not an appointment, for this board.
Please see P.S. law. Or provide me with the documentation showing
Page 7-208- Does not Council have to approve any changes? I
cite the fact we have just gotten your rewritten regulations, as a Resolution to
be placed on our upcoming agendas? Doesn't make any sense to me, either the
board approves their own rules with the solicitor reviewing them or council
does, which one?
Page8-302- Cost incorrect
Council should also be given a copy of applicants immediately
following testing.
Page8- I would like to see these notices also posted in City
Hall per Hazleton City Code.
Section 505- Written Examination- I would like it noted here
that a CSC board member not act as proctor.
Page8- Article 3- 301- The cost for processing (testing) is
incorrect, please see Resolution 2010-63
Section 507- Why place a limit on candidates, as long the
have passed to this point.
Section 511- Legality of toss of a coin?
Section 603- In violation of state law I believe. Third Class
City Code 4406?
Section 606- Again I question using the Police Chief to make
, in essence the final decision. (Considering the chief of police is to come
from within the ranks and we fail to do this.)
Article VII- Does this not violate Section 2001 of the Third
Class City Code?
Section 701- Why are certain positions taken out of Civil
Service procedures? See Section 2002 of Third Class City
Section 702 should include all positions within the police
force, what laws are you using to take out specific
Section 708- You are reviewing scores here yet in new hires
you are tossing a coin? I have problems with something like this, from a legal
stand point.
Section 710- What section of state law grants the police
chief the right to select an employee rather than the CSC board?
Section 713- Council should be included in receiving lists
promotional eligibility.
Section805- The city solicitor acts as legal representative
for the CSC, which would place him in a conflict. The problem here is our CSC is
budgeted no funds. The fees for testing covers that and the board is not paid. I
am sure the city solicitor bills under the city as a whole for any action he
does for the CSC. So who represents the board and where do funds for the legal
representation come from? Are these board members covered by E&O insurance?
Who pays for this and where is it budgeted?
Section 810- This should be more definitive of who hears
grievances? The CSC has done its job, the city council is the ones who should
have hear these complaints, not CSC.
Section 10.4- Is the press allowed to record, both visual and
Article XI-For the record Hazleton is governed under THIRD
One last question, last year Mayor Yannuzzi made some
promotions, but the problem is some of these positions do not exist. So maybe
you can tell me the status of these promotions?
Jean Mope

It is unbelievable, no make that preposterous, that Ms. Mope makes the assertion in her editorial that "Most of my questions could have been answered by one or two words, but it appears someone wanted the cost for the answers to be expensive." Ms. Mope challenges the attorney to prove what he is saying is correct with questions like "what are you basing this determination on?,   "it appears your rules may conflict here.", "I have problems with something like this, from a legal stand point." "Or provide me with the documentation showing otherwise."  She goes in Section 805 and asks for a detailed explanation.  The person who wanted the cost to be expensive was Ms. Mope herself.   Instead of asking the City Solicitor her questions who told her he would answer her question for free she went outside to seek her answers.  She didn't like the answers to the questions she originally asked the City Solicitor so she created a whole new set of questions for the labor attorney. 

According to the City Government in Pennsylvania Handbook it is clear that under Third Class City government majority rules.  Earlier this year Ms. Mope had a problem with the majority of Hazleton City Council adopting new rules. 

The Third Class City Code, Optional Third Class City Charter Law and the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law do not set forth rules of conduct or procedure for municipal meetings. Each city is free to establish its own order of business and rules for conduct and procedures.
Most cities have procedures for their meetings set by ordinance, resolution or perhaps tradition. Rules of procedure are always within the control of the majority and may be changed at any time by majority vote.

In her editorial Ms. Mope states "I did the only smart thing I could do. I wrote the law firm that composed the policy and asked my questions."  She forgot one thing.  She needed the approval of the majority of Hazleton City Council in order to unilaterally create a bill for which no line item was approved in the budget.  Without it her move wasn't smart at all. 

Ms. Mope goes on to state " per Third Class City Code."  If she knows the code so well she should know that the majority must approve first.  But Ms. Mope appears to be a renegade who only wants the majority to abide by the rules.

Ms. Mope should have owned up to her mistake instead of trying to blame everyone else but herself.  She wants to blame the City Administrator and the City Solicitor but they didn't decide to write the labor attorney. The bill attributed to her was around $1800.00.  Yet the title says $11,000.  Evidently math isn't her strong point either.

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