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City Controller Decision Will Go to Court

City Council tries again, but fails to agree on a new controller; will petition Northampton County Court to make the choice.

 

Bethlehem City Council remained deadlocked in its efforts to select a new controller Monday night, ultimately voting to ask Northampton County Court to step in and do the job it could not.

Council Solicitor Christopher Spadoni said he will prepare a petition to the court that will reflect everything council has done to try to make its own selection, though that may have little bearing on the court’s process or decision.

“It would be presumptuous for anyone to say what course they will take,” Spadoni said. However, he added that the court clerk has told him that a panel of judges may be selected to conduct the process.

Council voted 5-1 in favor of petitioning the court to pick a replacement for Meg Holland, . Whoever the court selects will remain in office until Holland’s term would have expired at the end of 2013.

As a controller candidate, Councilman David DiGiacinto did not vote and Councilman J. William Reynolds voted against the resolution, saying it was unacceptable that council could not reach its own decision.

Three times, Council President Eric Evans asked his colleagues to cast a new vote for controller, hoping for some change in the outcome.

But all three times, the vote cast came out exactly the same, with two votes each for DiGiacinto, retired economist William Scheirer and financial planner George Yasso. Councilman Robert Donchez and Councilwoman Jean Belinski voted for DiGiacinto; Evans and Councilwoman Karen Dolan voted for Scheirer; and Reynolds and Councilman Michael Recchiutti voted for Yasso.

None of the council members have changed their votes since the .

“It’s unfortunate that this council was unable to meet its responsibility,” said Mayor John Callahan, who watched the meeting unfold. Using the court to select a controller under the Third Class City Code should only be done “as a last resort,” Callahan said.

“There is a lack of leadership on council,” he said.

The mayor said he did not favor any particular candidate being considered.

Dolan said she had talked to some council members who as recently as a day ago appeared willing to switch votes, but changed their minds in the hours leading up to Monday’s meeting.

She said she hoped to avoid sending the selection to the courts. “They’re not going to have the knowledge that we do,” she said. “I’m disappointed.”

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