Search for new council member to start over

LOCK HAVEN – City Council still is a member short. Council planned to appoint a new member Monday to replace Lynda Carey, who recently moved to Dunnstown, but a city resident has stalled the process by threatening to sue.

Now interested candidates will need to re-apply and be re-interviewed, according to council. The deadline to re-apply is April 3 and the new interviews will be held April 7. The public may attend.

Carey resigned from council Feb. 3. On March 4, Council interviewed four people for the vacant seat. Council – as has been its practice – shut the doors on the interviews so the public could not attend and each candidate was seen individually.

The Express inquired into that practice. The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act states the specific reasons municipal governments may hold closed-door sessions, including personnel matters, under which Mayor Richard P. Vilello Jr. said the interviews would fall.

Lewis Steinberg, the city’s solicitor, said he had advised council to handle the interviews in this fashion. However, after reading a dissenting legal opinion from Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel with the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, Steinberg said he agrees with Melewsky and the interviews should have been open.

Lock Haven resident and businessman Stephen P. Poorman took exception to the closed-door interviews and sent the city what he referred to as a “courtesy notice of intent to file writ of mandamus” over the issue.

His notice is addressed to City Manager Richard W. Marcinkevage and states:

“It is inconceivable that Lock Haven City Council would discuss or appoint a replacement councilperson for Lynda Carey in an executive session without any input from the general public. It is this kind of belligerent attitude that causes voters to mistrust elected officials.”