Kennedy Township in Allegheny County has decided to rescind its appointment of Matthew Staniszewski as township manager.
The board of commissioners had hired Staniszewski, a Washington councilman, on Aug. 15. However, between then and his anticipated Sept. 3 starting date, Staniszewski was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The board retracted his employment offer Thursday.
“I don’t think the citizens feel confident that there’s proper oversight from the commissioners on these new hires,” said Val Finnell, chairman of the Kennedy Township Republican Committee, who attended Thursday’s meeting in Kennedy.
Kennedy’s treasurer Mel Weinstein, who is serving as interim manager, could not be reached for comment Friday.
On Sept. 3, Washington police charged Staniszewski, 42, of 23 Buttonwood Ave., with DUI and restrictions on alcoholic beverages following his arrest Aug. 26. According to the criminal complaint, Staniszewski was unconscious behind the wheel on East Wheeling Street about 1:13 p.m. His car was blocking traffic, and there were bottles of liquor on the floor, police said.
“Matt greatly respects the people of Kennedy Township and he understands their decision,” Sean Logue, Staniszewski’s attorney, said Friday morning. “Matt is getting the help that he needs and looks forward to working with the court system in Washington County to take responsibility for his actions.”
This was Staniszewski’s fourth DUI arrest since 2004. Two of those arrests happened during his first term on City Council, including an incident in 2007 when, with a blood-alcohol content of 0.29%, he crashed a vehicle in North Strabane Township. He was also cited for public drunkenness in February 2018, after becoming aggressive with a restaurant employee in North Strabane Township.
Finnell said residents were concerned about Staniszewski’s DUI record, especially after his recent arrest. He said residents are thankful for their local newspaper, Gazette 2.0, for covering the township meetings and reporting on Staniszewski’s recent arrest.
“If not for our local paper up here reporting on this, I question whether they would have even rescinded his offer,” Finnell said. “Residents probably would not have even known about his record.”
Gazette 2.0 reporter Jamie Wiggan was also at Thursday’s meeting. He’s been covering the township since March, when two of the five commissioners resigned during a meeting. Wiggan said four of the five-member board have resigned since last November, and the previous part-time manager, Gerald Orsini, also resigned within the past two months.
The township’s solicitor Joseph Kulik said the commissioners had been searching for a full-time manager for about six months and that he was not involved in the vetting process for the hiring of Staniszewski.
While Kennedy Township was rescinding Staniszewski’s employment, Washington residents in attendance at City Council’s meeting Thursday were calling for his resignation from council. Staniszewski, who has another two years left in his term, was not present.
“I was a Matt Staniszewski supporter, but we have tolerated this long enough,” said resident Barry Andrews. “Not once, Matt, have you made an open apology to the people of this city – the people who elected you. It’s time you put that giant ego aside.”