By Rebecca Zemencik, Managing Editor • firstname.lastname@example.org
VALLEY VIEW – Three of the Hegins Township Supervisors shocked Cathy Moyer, secretary/treasurer, by voting her out of her position during the reorganizational meeting held Tuesday, Jan. 2. Former County Commissioner Gary Hornberger, Hegins, was voted in as her replacement.
Moyer, who has been employed with the township since 2012 and previously from 2001 to 2006, was in disbelief and demanded to be given a reason why Supervisors Bruce Klouser, Gary Harner and Doug Lucas voted her out of her job.
“What did I do,” asked Moyer. “I have tried to work with all of you and I feel I have a right to know your reason for this action.”
Supervisor Chairman Harner said he didn’t need to give a reason. Supervisors Brad Carl and Mike Begis also questioned what the reason was for the action.
“I didn’t know there was an issue with Cathy and I certainly didn’t know her job was up for grabs,” said Begis. “If there was a job opening do we have other candidates to choose from besides your friend,” asked Begis.
Harner said it was advertised in the newspaper about the reorganization meeting.
The ad which ran in The Citizen-Standard Newspaper on December 28, stated the following: The Hegins Township Board of Supervisors’ Re-organization Meeting will be held on January 2, 2018 at 7:00 PM in the Hegins Area Ambulance Association Building, Gap Street, Valley View, PA.
Moyer said Hornberger’s resume arrived at the township office about a week prior to the advertisement published in the newspaper.
Carl was concerned because Cathy went through a lot of training and does a lot of stuff for the township that he feels Hornberger may have no clue how to do. Carl also demanded a reason as to why this was happening.
Again Harner said I don’t have to give a reason.
“It’s a personnel issue and we don’t discuss that publicly,” said Harner.
Carl made a motion to enter into an executive session to discuss it, however, Harner refused stating that since the lawyer wasn’t present he was not entering an executive session.
“You three have no experience whatsoever when it comes to local government and you make all these rash decisions,” said Begis.
At that point, since Begis and Carl weren’t given any reason for Moyer’s dismissal and Harner refused an executive session, Begis stood up, pushed his chair in and said, “See ya tomorrow night, I’m done with this bullshit tonight.” He wished Cathy good luck and left the building.
Since no one was giving any reasons or explanations for the Moyer dismissal, The Citizen-Standard contacted the legal department of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association to inquire if Begis and Carl should have been aware this was going to come up prior to the meeting and if they should have had an opportunity to review Hornberger’s resume.
Attorney Melissa Melewsky offered the following statement: “Three supervisors constitute a quorum, and if the three held discussions about township business outside a public meeting or properly called executive session, it’s a Sunshine Act issue and there could be liability, criminal and civil. The Sunshine Act allows agencies to talk about specific personnel issues during an executive session, but all members of the board must be given at least 24 hours advance notice of the executive session, and the employee being discussed has the right to request that the discussion happen during a public meeting. Moreover, if there was a personnel executive session, the agency has to publicly announce the details either before the session took place or at the public meeting immediately after the session took place. No one should have been blindsided in this situation because the law sets out a very clear set of rules that govern elected officials’ conduct for deliberation of agency business and decision making.
There’s no way to know for sure if the three supervisors held private deliberations, but the decision to fire/hire bring their conduct into question. They need to address the situation publicly and explain when this issue was discussed, who was involved, and explain why the public, the employee and the other members of council were not involved.”
The next evening, January 3, the regular monthly meeting of the board of supervisors was held and again, Moyer asked for a reason while Hegins Township Solicitor Donald Karpovich was present.
“As your attorney, I’m advising you to not comment on this matter publicly unless you want to risk a law suit,” said Karpovich, to the board of supervisors. “No reason needs to be given.”
“She simply wasn’t reappointed, and no reason needs to be given,” said Karpovich. “It’s called politics and it happens all over the state.”
Prior to the Moyer debacle, at the reorganization meeting, Gary Harner was named chairman of the board of supervisors while vice-chairman position was changed from Carl to Bruce Klouser.
“Gary do you realize what you are doing,” asked Begis, referring to the appointment of Klouser as vice-chairman. “You realize if you miss a meeting, he has to run it, please don’t ever miss a meeting.”
Other appointments remained the same as the previous year.