WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The Luzerne County Convention Center Authority Wednesday called for the resignation of one its members over unspecified “inappropriate conduct,” setting the stage for a fight with him.
George Horwatt said he expected the authority to take some sort of action against him for his criticism of how it oversees the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
He was dealing with a cleanup at his Dallas home after Tuesday’s damaging storms and did not attend the regularly scheduled meeting at the arena.
“I am not going to resign,” he said when reached by phone.
“The only way they can get rid of you is through the (state) attorney general or through the district attorney. It has to be some kind of illegal felonious action. They’re ganging up on me,” Horwatt said.
He vowed to fight and continue to look out for the good of the community.
“I don’t want to see another LCTA arise,” he said of the state grand jury presentment that resulted in charges against two Luzerne County Transportation Authority officials for allegedly inflating ridership numbers to ensure against a drop in public funding.
Horwatt, 60, said he suspected the action by the authority was “the culmination of things,” including emails that he said authority members perceived as racist. He also said he told authority chair Donna Cupinski that she was incompetent.
“I don’t like the way she’s operating this place,” he said.
Cupinski declined to discuss specifics.
“The authority has no ability to appoint or dismiss any board members, so were taking the first step,” she said.
If he refuses, the authority will take the next step, she added.
Like all 11 authority members, Horwatt was appointed to serve. He is halfway through a five-year appointment.
He said if the authority discussed calling for his resignation during the nearly hour-long executive session it could potentially be a violation of the state Sunshine Act.
Cupinski said personnel issues were discussed during the closed-door session.
Melissa Melewsky, attorney for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, said there was no violation if the authority was discussing one of its own in the executive session. Appointees are covered under personnel, she said.
Melewsky, however, pointed out a policy enacted by the authority to strike from the record public comments deemed personal attacks or name calling raised First Amendment and Sunshine Act issues. “Anytime you try to regulate or limit public speech, it necessarily has First Amendment implications,” she said.
No one from the public attended Thursday’s meeting.
The authority also approved two contracts with Hudak Waterproofing Inc. of Taylor to repair the concrete and metal wall panels at the nearly 15-year-old facility.
Sam Scarantino, a principal with Quad3 architects and engineers in Wilkes-Barre, said Hudak submitted the only bids. The firm met with the contractor to go over the scope of the project and acknowledged its bids, $250,625 for the concrete panels and $220,999 for the metal panels, were accurate, he said.