CHARLEROI SIGN

Observer-Reporter

Observer-Reporter

A sign is shown before entering the Borough of Charleroi.

CHARLEROI – Charleroi council unanimously approved a personnel matter Wednesday, though the exact details of the motion have not been made public.

“It was an executive session matter on a personnel employment matter in which both parties are working on an agreement,” explained council President Paul Pivovarnik after the meeting. “When the agreement is finalized by both parties, then the public will be made aware of what the decision was. We voted on our end; it’s up to their end to do it next.”

Council adjourned to a brief executive session Wednesday to discuss the matter.

Solicitor Sean Logue said the motion on which council voted was to approve an action item discussed at executive session regarding a confidential employment matter.

After the vote was taken, Councilman Jerry Jericho asked if the action being voted upon should be revealed.

“Doesn’t the public have a right to know what we voted on?” Jericho asked.

But Pivovarnik and Logue said it does not have to be made known to the public until it’s finalized.

When questioned if it violated the Sunshine Law, Logue said it did not.

“This is slightly different,” he said. “It’s an agreement on a confidential employment matter. After everything is done, it will be open to the public. There was no violation of the Sunshine Law.”

“Once the terms are agreed to by both parties it will be made public,” Pivovarnik said. “We have accepted what was discussed in the confidential agreement.”

However, Melissa Melewski, legal counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, disagrees that the motion taken Wednesday complies with the Sunshine Law.

“There’s no way that complies with the Sunshine Act’s public comment policy,” she said. “The Sunshine Act requires agencies to allow a meaningful opportunity for public comment before all decisions are made, before all votes are taken. The public can’t possibly exercise that right if they don’t have any idea what’s being voted on. I’m not suggesting they have to divulge every single detail of what was discussed in executive session. That would defeat the purpose of the executive session. But they have to give the public enough information to know what they’re voting on and to give comments before they do it. “

When contacted Thursday, Logue said there is no comment to be made from the borough at this time and when it reaches a resolution, the public will be able to address it at a public meeting. He said since Melewski does not know what was voted on, her opinion on the matter “doesn’t mean anything.”

“We were dealing with a confidential matter and the public will be made aware of everything after the matter is dealt with,” Logue said Thursday. “I am not allowed to comment openly, and nobody is, as to what is going on at this point in time. If some kind of situation comes forward, of course the public will be made aware. Nothing can happen right now. There is absolutely no comment as to the confidential employment matter.”

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