Monday, July 14, 2014

Election error raises recurring question

June 27. 2013 11:02PM
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THE NEWS THAT the election blunder in the Hazleton Area School District has been, more or less, resolved quickly is promising.

And Luzerne County Election Bureau Director Marissa Crispell-Barber’s willingness to accept responsibility is refreshing in a region where the blame game is practically a political reflex.

But fixing both the problem and the responsibility for it feels unsatisfying, perhaps because of the timing. On the same day we learned two Luzerne County judges ordered a special election in the parts of Schuylkill and Carbon Counties that are within Hazleton Area School District boundaries, we also learned Crispell-Barber’s predecessor, Leonard Piazza, filed a lawsuit alleging he was fired for political reasons.

The suit isn’t a surprise; the accusation that Piazza was dismissed because of his efforts to audit campaign finance reports of county Controller Walter Griffith has been around almost from the day Piazza was terminated.

But the timing resurrects a still-unanswered question: Why was Piazza, who had ushered the county into the 21st century electronically while building a record of competence and public access, dismissed?

Crispell-Barber may have proven herself capable, but the gaffe in the Hazleton Area School District — she failed to notify the other two counties when candidate Steve Hahn withdrew his name from the ballot — raises concerns she is not capable enough.

At the very least, her acceptance of blame — coupled with Piazza’s lawsuit — refresh the need for a better accounting of what prompted Piazza’s forced departure.

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