Luzerne County Council Chairman Rick Morelli had planned to name a mix of council members as chairs of new committees to be more inclusive but decided to leave the decision up to committee members.
That approach led to a different outcome when four committees met for the first time last week because council members Kathy Dobash and Edward Brominski will each chair two committees.
Dobash was selected chair of the economic development/real estate and human services/legislative committees. Brominski automatically heads the authorities/boards/commissions committee as council vice chairman and also was selected chair of the budget/finance committee.
Council members Harry Haas and Linda McClosky Houck had expressed interest in chairing a committee. They nominated each other, but there was no second from Brominski, Dobash or the fifth committee member, Eileen Sorokas.
• County Manager Robert Lawton publicly apologized to Brominski during the budget/finance committee meeting for recently stating Brominski had been misinformed about a council member having access to the new financial software system.
Lawton said former council Chair Tim McGinley had limited access to view the budget.
“I did you a wrong, and I want to say I’m sorry and apologize,” Lawton told Brominski.
Brominski, who has been highly critical of Lawton, said he accepted the apology but did not believe a public apology was necessary.
The administration is developing a plan to allow all council members to access the software to monitor finances.
• County Controller Michelle Bednar said she will present her audit plans for this year at council’s March 18 meeting.
• County Council will hold its first “committee of the whole” meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the council meeting room at the courthouse in Wilkes-Barre, followed by a work session.
Committee topics include the zoning of backyard chickens. Council will discuss which committee should pursue Pringle resident Christine Dixon’s recent request to change zoning regulations that prohibit her from keeping three chickens in an enclosed backyard area. The borough is among municipalities that rely on the county for zoning. Dixon said the keeping of chickens has become more popular and is endorsed in some countries.
• A discussion about information sought from the county Transportation Authority also is on the agenda. A proposal to exercise council’s investigatory powers to examine the authority did not obtain the required seven votes, but some council members say they still want to request data about the county’s monetary contribution to the bus and van service provider.
• Council members also will hash out how they communicate with Lawton in light of his recent decision to block emails from all council members except the chair. Lawton said he cut off emails because he doesn’t want anyone to accuse him of providing preferential treatment to certain council members and prefers council members provide feedback and questions during the public meetings he attends at least four nights per month.