Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hazleton's Landlord Inspection Ordinance

Councilman Jack Mundie has voted more than once against an ordinance requiring inspection of rental properties.  His latest "NO" vote came on February 6, 2013.

In today's Standard Speaker article written by Sam Galski he questions the mangerial ability of Chief Frank DeAndrea to oversee the work of the Code Department of the City of Hazleton.  Someone should be questioning Mr. Mundie's "NO" vote in light of the following serious matters involving the health and saftety of the citizens of Hazleton.

In 2011 a sleeping toddler was injured when a plaster ceiling fell on him in an apartment building that was evenutally condemned.   The details contained in this article written by Standard Speaker reporter Kent Jackson.

A plaster ceiling collapsed on a 2-year-old Hazleton boy while he slept Friday morning in an apartment building that authorities later condemned.

Medics placed Zaire Johnson in a neck collar before taking him to Hazleton General Hospital, the boy's father said.

Daniel Johnson, his father, said he came home from cashing a paycheck before 10 a.m. and saw part of the ceiling on Zaire, who slept in a small bed in their first-floor apartment at 417 W. Broad St.
"I started freaking," he said.

The boy's mother woke and telephoned for help.

Hazleton Deputy Fire Chief Brian Mandak said the boy appeared to be bruised, but more startled than hurt.

A plaster ceiling, a drop ceiling and its grid fell in most of the boy's bedroom, and some of the pieces fell on him.

Mandak said the building had other problems: there were no smoke detectors or heat. Tenants used an oven to keep warm, Mandak said.

In January, 2012 Amanda Christman wrote this article about an apartment building that was condemned by City Health Inspector Mark Thompson for numerous violations.

Hazleton officials condemned an apartment building this afternoon after finding health and code violations inside.

A man and a woman occupied the building at 528-530 W. Seventh St., and were told they could no longer live there.

City Health Inspector Mark Thompson said the building has no electricity or heat. Because there was no heat, water pipes inside burst. The occupants ran extension cords through the walls to a neighboring dwelling to run two space heaters, Thompson said.

The owner of this building located on East Broad Street in Hazleton ran out of time to make repairs on his condemned, burned out building according to this article written by Amanda Christman.


A Hazleton bar with apartments was condemened on Sunday March 24, 2013 by City Code Enforcement Officer Rich Wech along with Deputy Fire Chief Brian Mandak.  Amanda Christman of the Standard Speaker covered this story which further illustrates the need for inspections.

The problems inside the building at Third and Alter streets were discovered after Hazleton firefighters received a call from one of the tenants Saturday night asking what the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are.

Based on that call, Deputy Fire Chief Brian Mandak said firefighters went to the home around 9:55 p.m. for the possibility of a carbon monoxide problem and found a malfunctioning coal furnace and an odor of sulfur at the front door. Mandak said with the front door wide open, ventilating some of the CO outside, firefighters found 26 parts per million of CO.

They also found 48 ppm at the top of the basement steps and over 110 ppm in the basement, where 25 ppm is what OSHA states is the "time weighed average" for an eight hour day, Mandak said.

In addition to the malfunctioning boiler, he said, the basement was cluttered with ashes and combustible items posing a fire and health hazard.

Back in 2009 Mundie tried to stake the claim that he is a "watchdog" on Hazleton City Council claiming he's always voted what is best for the residents of the city. 

 "I've always been a watch dog," Mundie said. "I have agreed with the mayor on issues and I have disagreed with the mayor on issues. But I've always voted the way I thought was best for Hazleton."

The voters should question whether Jack Mundie lives up to that claim.  Who is watching Jack Mundie?  After all he is the government he claims to be watching.   It like the fox watching the hen house.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Jack Mundie Ignores The Public During Council Meetings

This picture was taken at the last Hazleton City Council meeting.  Hazleton City Council meetings are the opportunity for council to conduct its business and listen to complaints from the public.  Evidently Jack Mundie doesn't feel either is important enough nor part of his duty as a councilman.

This incident isn't the first time that Mr. Mundie ignored matters at hand during a City Council meeting.  Reporter Sam Galski filed this report February 25, 2012. 

More recently, Ammon sat in the audience at a city council meeting and was observed by some exchanging text messages with Mundie as the councilman, from council's table at the front of the room, inquired about Shoepe's standing on the authority board.

Take a look at this slide. 

From 2004-2008 expenses exceeded revenue by almost $1 million dollars.  Mr. Mundie is the only current council member who held office during that period.  If he paid attention he could have prevented this problem, or at least corrected it. Instead he sat idly by until while the debt mushroomed to the point it was necessary for the City to borrow $5.6 million dollars to correct the deficit spending as reported May 25, 2011 in the Hazleton Standard Speaker. 

Some have to wonder did Mr. Mundie bury his head in the sand while taxpayers suffered from the additonal financial burden.  Obviously Mr. Mundie has no solutions.

As a result of Mayor Yannuzzi's $5.6 million dollard borrowing plan it was unnecessary for the City to take out a tax anticipation note in 2013 saving the City about $30,000 in interest and borrowing costs as outlined by Acting City Administrator Steve Hahn in this Standard Speaker article.  It should be noted that Councilman Jack Mundie voted "NO" on the financing deal. 

Some taxpayers are left asking this question of Mr. Mundie-


Orie Melvin Resigning From the Supreme Court

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin convicted of public corruption submitted her letter of resignation from the court to Governor Tom Corbett according to this article on

Orie Melvin is due to be sentenced May 7 and in a letter to Gov. Corbett said "it is with deep regret and a broken heart" that she tendered her resignation, effective May 1. "It has been my honor and privilege to serve the people of this Commonwealth for the past 28 years, and I am deeply saddened that I am not able to fulfill my commission."

Gov. Corbett can appoint an interim justice to fill her spot on the seven-member court, with the approval of two-thirds of the state Senate. The appointee would serve through January 2016. The court is currently split 3-3 between Republicans and Democrats and Orie Melvin is a Republican.

The justice still plans to appeal her conviction.

It should be noted that members of the House of both parties were calling for efforts to start impeachment proceedings against her.  Instead she opted to perform her last action of public service and submit her resignation.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Barletta Raises Illegal Immigration Questions at Homeland Security Hearing

Jack Mundie's Attempt To Financially Cripple Hazleton

As last night's Hazleton City Council meeting Sam Galski reports that Councilman Jack Mundie proposed extending the rebate period for Hazleton property owners to pay their tax bill to the City. Despite his twelve year tenure as a councilman Mr. Mundie tried to replace the taxing ordinance with a resolution, something not allowed under the law.  His obvious pandering to the property owners of Hazleton met with credible resistance.  His fellow council members exposed his "playing up to the public" for political gain.

Most property owners have their tax money placed in escrow waiting to be dispersed to the proper taxing bodies. His suggestion would only injure the City of Hazleton who saved taxpayers by not seeking a tax anticipation note for 2012 or 2013.  The City also saved taxpayers money on mailing costs by incorporating the city tax bill with Luzerne County.  Mr. Mundie's proposal would negate those savings thereby necessitating another tax increase on the people.

Mr. Mundie's political vendetta against Mayor Joseph Yannuzzi and other City Council members is reaching new lows. Mr. Mundie voted "NO" on paying Hazleton's debt at the beginning of the year. He voted "NO" on the property tax increase necessary to replace lost revenue from the mine reclammation project. He voted "NO" on collecting the correct earned income taxes from out of town employees working in the City that would fund the City's pension obligations. He told residents to fight parking tickets at the Magistrate level to deprive Hazleton of its income.

Mr. Mundie opined that Hazleton should hire someone to negotiate union contracts for the City.

"I just want to know, shouldn't we have somebody with experience negotiate with the unions," Mundie asked. "If they thought they did a good job negotiating, health insurance (contributions are) $20 per month and we're getting a 24-percent (overall cost) increase."

From the Minutes of 1-25-2012

Resolution 2012-19 Authorizing the City of Hazleton to Utilize the Services of Special Legal Labor Counsel on an As-Needed Basis Presented by Perry. Seconded by Cabell.

On the Question:

Mundie asked Lieb if she knows what the hourly rate is for this service. Lieb said all the rates are listed in the letter from Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn, which was given to Council. Lieb said a partner of the firm charges $250.00 per hour, with a 10% courtesy discount, and half of the travel time involved. Lieb commented that this firm is located in Kingston. Mayor Yannuzzi said we are able to go to Attorney Goldberg with questions, personnel issues, to negotiate contracts, etc., because this is his specialty. Lieb said he is a labor attorney.

Roll Call: Bast-yes; Cabell-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-no; Perry-yes

His policitally motivated attacks and votes are part of Mr. Mundie's orchestrated campaign to financially cripple the City of Hazleton just as he did to the Hazleton City Authority in the 90's.

Despite proclammations that he would put together a budget for the City he contributed nothing in the process.  He told City Council to pass the budget so he could make amendments.  That never happened.

During the budget debate of 2009 then Mayor Barletta had this to say about Mr. Mundie's "NO" votes. 

Speaking in the general direction of council, Barletta said, "Anybody can vote 'no.' That's easy. Why vote 'no' if you have no better ideas. Everyone who voted 'no' is being very irresponsible. I hope you're satisfied. Good job."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Councilman Mundie Proves He Isn't Doing His Job

Photo Standard Speaker
According to the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plan Law and the Third Class City Code the Council of a Third Class City is charged with legislative powers.

§ 3006. Legislative power vested in council.
The legislative power of the municipality as provided by laws applicable to that class of municipality shall be exercised by the municipal council, except as may otherwise be provided for under this subpart.

In today's Standard Speaker article by Sam Galski Councilman Jack Mundie is questioning "why the city hasn't moved forward with plans for levying the $50 storm water fee....Mundie said the city should at least take steps to develop an ordinance that establishes the fee and gives the city the authority to levy and collect the funds." 

Essentially Mr. Mundie is asking why he isn't doing his job as councilman.  He IS the legislator.  It is his duty and responsiblity by law to formulate and present legislation before the rest of City Council for consideration and vote.  For that duty he is paid $180.00 per city council meeting which last about 2 hours and equates to $90.00 per hour.

The worst part is the fact he is a veteran legislator.  He should be guiding his fellow councilman as a leader rather than acting like a freshman.  Instead of working with other members of council to solve the problems of Hazleton he is constantly making negative appraisals that serve no legislative purpose. 

When citizens were issued parking tickets Councilman Mundie told the public to fight them.  He wasn't concerned about the revenue to the City.  He wanted to pander to the public because he knew he would be up for re-election.

Now despite people facing the burden of the increase in property taxes he wants to slam them with another $50.00 bill.  The fee could be collected later in the year so people have time to financially recover from paying their taxes.

Of course this is the same councilman who voted against paying the debt of the city even though the debt, by law, MUST be paid before any other bills.   His vote earned him the nickname "Debtbeat Jack".

Ordinance 2012-41 An Ordinance of the City of Hazleton Fixing the Tax Rate of Real Estate Located in the City of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, for All City Purposes for the Fiscal Year 2013, Beginning January 1, 2013 and Ending December 31, 2013 (3rd Reading)
Presented by Perry. Seconded by Bast.
Roll Call (as amended): Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-no; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

Ordinance 2012-42 An Ordinance Providing for the Appropriation of Specific Amounts Estimated as Required for the Various Departments of the Government of the City of Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania for and during the Fiscal Year, Dating from January 1, 2013 and Ending December 31, 2013 (BUDGET) Roll Call (as amended): Bast-yes; Mope-no; Mundie-no; Schadder-yes; Perry-yes

He voted against the storm water maintenance fee but now asks when are the people going to pay it.  He is proving he has been a councilman for too long.  Time for a fresh start from fresh faces. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Jack Mundie Wrong For Hazleton City Council

Jack Mundie, Hazleton City Councilman, is going to seek another term to represent the citizens of Hazleton. In an effort to inform the electorate this column will expose his true character, or lack thereof, in the performance of his duties.

Mr. Mundie enjoyed an obscure tenure on Hazleton City Council.  He aligned himself with former mayor and now Congressman Lou Barletta, former City Councilwoman Evelyn Graham, and former councilman and present Mayor Joseph Yannuzzi for years. He remained silent until 2009 when Hazleton City Council stripped him of his fully paid healthcare benefit for attending just 21 meetings a year.

His healthcare insurance tab, paid by Hazleton taxpayers despite owning and operating his own business in Hazle Township, amounted to a total of $40,992.00.

Ordinance 97-9 granted newly elected council members for the year 1998 the right to paid healthcare and life insurance benefits.

The Ordinance states "NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED, by the City of Hazleton, by and through Hazleton City Council that newly elected members of Council of the City of Hazleton for the year 1998 will be provided health and life insurance benefits from the City of Hazleton, comparable to those benefits given to employees of the City of Hazleton."

It makes no mention of members elected in any other year. It appears Mr. Mundie had no legal authorization to have the City of Hazleton pay for his healthcare. Despite owning his own business for years, Mr. Mundie forced Hazletonians to pay for his healthcare by voting for the expenditure with each budget authorization.

The State Ethics Law is quite clear.

"Conflict" or "conflict of interest." Use by a public official or public employee of the authority of his office or employment or any confidential information received through his holding public office or employment for the private pecuniary benefit of himself, a member of his immediate family or a business with which he or a member of his immediate family is associated. The term does not include an action having a de minimis economic impact or which affects to the same degree a class consisting of the general public or a subclass consisting of an industry, occupation or other group which includes the public official or public employee, a member of his immediate family or a business with which he or a member of his immediate family is associated.

§ 1103. Restricted activities (a) Conflict of interest.--No public official or public employee shall engage in conduct that constitutes a conflict of interest

(j) Voting conflict.--Where voting conflicts are not otherwise addressed by the Constitution of Pennsylvania or by any law, rule, regulation, order or ordinance, the following procedure shall be employed. Any public official or public employee who in the discharge of his official duties would be required to vote on a matter that would result in a conflict of interest shall abstain from voting and, prior to the vote being taken, publicly announce and disclose the nature of his interest as a public record in a written memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting at which the vote is taken, provided that whenever a governing body would be unable to take any action on a matter before it because the number of members of the body required to abstain from voting under the provisions of this section makes the majority or other legally required vote of approval unattainable, then such members shall be permitted to vote if disclosures are made as otherwise provided herein. In the case of a three-member governing body of a political subdivision, where one member has abstained from voting as a result of a conflict of interest and the remaining two members of the governing body have cast opposing votes, the member who has abstained shall be permitted to vote to break the tie vote if disclosure is made as otherwise provided herein. Mr. Mundie has to explain to the Hazleton voters why he collected benefits without the legal authorization to do so.

This isn't the only instance where Mr. Mundie may have run afoul of the Ethics laws.