Tuesday, March 29, 2011

North Hills Exposure Policy On Comments.

North Hills Exposure was created to establish an online community in which events and issues in Ross Township and surrounding areas could be communicated to all who wished to read.  We want to encourage candid discussion in order to rally support when needed, compliment and applaud when warranted, and criticize and condemn when deserved.  Generally, we welcome all opinions, topics, and thoughts to be expressed.
However, we will not welcome comments that are not related to the topic of the post or contain offensive or discriminatory material.  Any comment that is not related to Ross Township or the North Hills, contains discriminatory or other offensive material and does not contribute or is not related to the discussion will be removed.
We want to keep things respectful so that all will feel welcome to express their opinions and share their ideas. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Congratulations to the 5 new Ross Township Police Officers!

North Hills Exposure would like to congratulate the 5 new Ross Township Police Officers that will be sworn in this evening at the Commissioner's Legislative meeting which beins at 7:30 p.m.!

Congratulations to :  David Horak
                               Matthew Immekus
                               Jason Moss
                               Jordan Seese
                               Mark Sullivan

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Commissioner Stanko and the Ethics Act?

On Monday's agenda for the Ross Township committee and voting meeting is a curious item -- "Proposals for Printing Services for Municipal Building."  Does this remind anyone of the news that broke in December about Commissioner Grace Stanko's ethical quagmire concerning the business the Township has done with North Hills Printing, a business owned by Dennis Stanko, Commissioner Stanko's husband.  This has all been discussed before and was brought to light in a Tribune Review article in December 2010 by Adam Brandolph. You can read the article HERE.

Since 2008, Ross Township has paid nearly $10,000 to North Hills Printing for "paper products and printing services".  This activity begs the question of whether or not Commissioner Stanko has violated the Ethics Act.  The Ethics Act prohibits elected officials from engaging in a conflict of interest, which is defined as using the authority of her office for the private financial gain of herself or a member of her immediate family (including husband).  The Ethics Act also prohibits the spouse of a public official from entering into a contract over $500 unless the contract is awarded in an open and public process. 

Although it is not clear whether Commissioner Stanko used the influence of her office to direct printing business to North Hills Printing (although I think we can all agree that this reeks of self-dealing and backroom politics), it is abundantly clear that these contracts were not awarded in an open and public process.  At no point in these three years did the Township ever go out for bid for printing services.  Nor were any of the expenditures discussed at a public meeting, advertised in the newspaper, or otherwise disclosed to the public. 

Despite Solicitor Brimmeier's suggestion to the contrary, the issue of whether Commissioner Stanko violated the Ethics Act does not hinge upon whether the contracts were publically bid.   Multiple anonymous Township sources have informed this blog that Solicitor Brimmeier is trying to deflect blame and confuse the issue for the public because she advised Commissioner Stanko that her husband's business could handle all of the Township's printing business without consequence so long as Commissioner Stanko abstained at the public meeting when it came time to vote to pay any bills from North Hills Printing. 

Yet even when it came to an abstention, Commissioner Stanko violated the Ethics Act!  The Ethics Act requires that an elected official that is abstaining due to a conflict in interest must , at the time of the abstention, announce and disclose publicly the nature of the conflict of interest and must also submit the same in a memorandum to the Township.  Commissioner Stanko never did .  She would only state that she abstained.  More faulty legal advice?  Only Commissioner Stanko and her husband can answer that question!

Come to think of it, Commissioner Mazur also abstains at the public meetings when it comes time to vote on the payment of the Township's bills.  Hmmm.....A topic for another day?

Stanko claims her intent was not malicious and that she didn't even know about the law.  Other Commissioners cite the Township Manager for not knowing the law.  Doesn't it seem like a bunch of toddlers that were caught with their hand in the cookie jar?

If Commissioner Stanko is investigated by the State Ethics Commission, Commissioner Stanko's husband could be made to repay all of of his ill-gotten gains and she could face felony charges.  The Ethics Act is no joke and ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Let's set aside the apparent violations of the Ethics Act and the additional violations of Section 1811 of the First Class Township Code (prohibiting contract with spouse of elected officals if they exceed $300)  Let's focus instead on the morality of these contracts between North Hills Printing and Ross Township.  They reek of impropriety and creates a strong inference of back room politics where one hand greases the other.  A "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" type of politicking.  The kind of wheeling and dealing that makes us question all politicians and whether they really are being upfront with us and putting us first rather than there own personal agenda's. 

Despite all of this controversy, Commissioner Stanko has refused to resign her office.  In fact, she has thumbed her nose at all of us by seeking a third term as Commissioner of the 5th Ward in this years elections.  I think the fact that she has two challengers on the Republican side of the ballot, including the Treasurer of the Ross Township Republican Committee speaks volumes about the publics response to her seeming unethical conduct.

What do you think about Commissioner Stanko's conduct?  Let your voice be heard and comment on this story!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

If you are looking for a dinner idea on Saturday night, why not head to this Spaghetti Dinner!

I know this isn't Ross Township related, but it is North Hills stuff.  It also involves a volunteer, a volunteer firefighter, and I have a soft spot in my heart for volunteers!

There is a volunteer firefighter from Shaler that is in need of a kidney transplant.  His daughter is currently undergoing testing as she may be the best match, but the family is trying to raise money to off set the expenses that are piling up.

This is a man who has unselfishly served his community for the past 30 years.  It would be nice to help give something back.

Kuhns on McKnight Road (ok, so there is the Ross Twp connection) has donated 215 pounds of Spaghetti.

The spaghetti dinner and ticket auction is set for 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Shaler Villa Volunteer Fire Company, 960 Saxonburg Blvd. Cost is $8 for adults and $4 for children. Dinners also will be available for takeout.

Read more: Shaler Firefighter In Need of Kidney Transplant

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Who is your Commissioner? Check out the Ross Township Ward Map.

Since the Township is broken up into 9 Wards, it can sometimes be difficult to sort out which Commissioner represents certain areas of the Township.  I thought it would be beneficial to clarify the location of all 9 Wards in Ross Township, especially after I came across a decent map of the Wards (Thanks to the Ross Township Web Site).

Ross Township Ward Map

If you follow the link above, it will open up a map that outlines each of the Wards in the Township. You can look for your street name and find your Ward. 

The following is a list of the Commissioners and the Wards they represent:

1st Ward  - Dan Demarco
2nd Ward - Chris Eyster
3rd Ward  - Dan Kinross
4th Ward  - Lana Mazur
5th Ward  - Grace Stanko
6th Ward  - David Mikec
7th Ward  - Gerry O'Brien
8th Ward  - Pete Ferraro
9th Ward  - Grant Montgomery

Hopefully, this will make it easier to figure out who is your Ross Township Commissioner.

Also, keep in mind that Wards 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 are up for re-election this year with the primary on May 17th!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Questions for the Candidates

We are finalizing a list of questions to ask the candidates for the upcoming Ross Township Commissioners and North Hills School Board Elections.  We plan to feature their answers to the questions in an upcoming spotlight here on North Hills Exposure.

If you have an idea or a question you would like to be included, please email it to rossrenegade@gmail.com or perryrochester15229@gmail.com.  Also, we are still searching for a few email addresses to contact the candidates.  If you think you know a candidates email address, please pass it on to us!

Make sure you follow this blog or keep an eye out for the upcoming Candidate Spotlight!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Candidate list for upcoming election of Ross Township Commissioners and North Hills School Board!

After an extended period of searching online and coming up empty, it became apparent that the media has not yet reported on the candidates for Ross Township Commissioner or the North Hills School Board.  Let us correct that oversight and provide you with a list of candidates for the May election:

Ross Township Commissioners Race:

Ward 1
Ann Harold - R
Daniel Demarco - D - Incumbent

Ward 3
Dan Kinross - D - Incumbent
John Sponcer - D

Ward 5
Grace Stanko - R - Incumbent
Margaret Ann Duffy - R
Nino Vaccaro - R
William McKellar - D

Ward 7
Paul Trilley - D
Gerry O'Brien - D - Incumbent
Dan McCarty - D

Ward 9
Grant Montgomery - R - Incumbent

North Hills School Board:

Arlene Bender - D - Incumbent
Louis Krummert III - D - Endorsed by the Ross Township Democrat Committee
Joseph Muha - R
Jeff Meyer - R - Incumbent
Robert Barto - D - Incumbent
Ed Wielgus - R - Incumbent
Lou Nudi - R - Incumbent
Mark Priore ?
Tom Baker -R

North Hills Exposure is planning to bring you more information on these candidates.  We plan to "spotlight" each candidate for School Board and each race for Commissioner.  This should provide you with the some of the information necessary to make an informed decision in the primary election scheduled for May 17, 2011.  If you have contact information on any of the candidates of if you are one of candidates listed, please drop us an email at PerryRochester15229 at gmail dot com or RossRenegade at gmail dot com and provide us an email address so that we can connect with the candidates!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Branching out for just a moment to babble about Pennsylvania!

This isn't related to Ross Township or even the North Hills, but it is related to the bigger picture in Pennsylvania as a whole.

I've been following along with Channel 4's series this week on State Lawmakers wasting taxpayers money.  We have the $1000 chairs, the extra fancy and expensive certificate covers, the $$$ for bottled water and now THIS.

$750 a month on office cleaning?  Nearly twice the amount that is spent in other offices for cleaning (and lets not even get into the fact that PA has 722 offices for the legistlature) and this guy states that he is too busy focusing on the budget deficit and high unemployment to answer any more questions on the "connections" of his cleaner?

Read through the article and see if you are as disgusted at the sense of entitlement as I am.

A brief overview of Ross Township or a quick local government lesson....

I'm going to try to provide a brief overview of Ross Township.  The Township was founded in 1809 after James Ross, who was a prominent Pittsburgh attorney at the time.  For a thorough history of Ross Township, please check out the History section of the Ross Township web site for a very detailed article
The Administration of the Township is comprised of 9 Commissioners, each one serving a 4 year term.  Each Commissioner represents a Ward, or section, of Ross Township.  There are 9 Wards in the Township.  West View Borough is not included in this as they are a separate entity in their own. 

Here is the list of current Commissioners:

CommissionerWardTerm Expires
Daniel P. Kinross, President3rd Ward2012
Grant Montgomery, Vice President9th Ward2012
Daniel L. DeMarco1st Ward2012
Chris Rand Eyster2nd Ward2014
Lana Mazur4th Ward2014
Grace Stanko5th Ward2012
David J. Mikec6th Ward2014
Gerald R O'Brien7th Ward2012
Peter A. Ferraro8th Ward2014

Reporting to the Commissioners is the Township Manager, which is currently Mr. Wayne Jones.  The Township Manager then oversees the Chief of Police, the Recreation Director, the Director of Finance, the Fire Marshall, the Building Inspector, and the Supervisor of Public Works.  In addition, the Solicitor and the Township Engineer answer to the Township Manager. 
The Commissioners oversee several committees and boards as well.  The Civil Service Commission, Zoning Hearing Board, Planning Commission, EMS Board, Fire Appeals, Vacancy Board, Girty’s Run Joint Sewer Authority, Lowrie’s Run Joint Owned Sewer, Newcom (which no longer exists as it has been replaced by County 911 Operations) and the Library Board fall under the supervisors.  The Treasurer and Elected Constables also answer to the Board of Commissioners.
Supposedly the Township Residents are at the top of the Organizational Chart.  The chart is pretty old and could probably use a good updating, considering that Newcom hasn’t existed for several years.
The Board of Commissioners meets twice a month on Monday evenings.  At 6:30 they have their committee meetings, which are supposed to last an hour.  The voting meetings are supposed to start at 7:30 and these are open to the public.  Residents are able to attend and voice their opinion, complaints, or concerns to the board as well as question any actions the board has taken.  The agenda for each meeting is published ahead of time and the minutes detailing the happenings of each meeting are published on the Township web site.
If you would care to read through the Township Ordinances that are supposed to govern Ross Township, you can follow this link:  Ross Township Ordinances.  I warn you, it is a lot of confusing legalese and very VERY long winded.  There is a search function if you are looking for something specific.  Otherwise, make sure your eyes are well rested and your head is clear.
You can also read through the 2011 budget at this link: 2011 Budget

Credit and thanks to the Ross Township Web Site for providing a lot of the information and all of the links!
Hopefully, this will have clarified the intricacies that are Ross Township for some.  For others, perhaps you learned something like I did.  I never knew that it was unlawful to keep a Hyena in the Township of Ross……

Funding for Community Day, 4th of July Parade, and the Fishing Tournament.

At the Commissioner's meeting on Monday night, they voted to remove Township funding of the 4th of July Parade, the Fishing Tournament, and Community Day.  Link to the article 

It is refreshing to see the Commissioners being responsible with the Tax Payer's money.  Last year, they were able to secure funding for the fishing tournament and the Parade from soliticing sponsors.  I am glad to see that they are going to pursue that option again and not just throwing money in.

I imagine (although please correct me if I am wrong) that the businesses along Perry Highway benefit from the Parade.  I'm sure that the convenience store sees an uptick in sales of drinks and food, the Dairy Queen probably benefits from increased foot traffic, maybe even Perrytowne Draft House has a pick up of sales that day from those of us passing by that are in need of somewhere comfortable to sit while they eat some good food.  So it would be nice to see these businesses step up and contribute something.

In addition, what about all the Politicians that participate in the parade.  Could they donate something in appreciation of the exposure that they get?

Just an a thought/observation on my part.....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Introduction to North Hills Exposure....

The General Store used to be the center of a community where local residents would gather to swap stories, pass on news, and discuss politics. With the advancement of technology in the modern world, the General Store has fallen by the wayside. News and stories were eventually passed on by the radio, then the television, and now the internet. The social gatherings at the local store have been replaced by social media and now Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging are the tools used to swap stories, pass on news, and discuss politics.

Enter North Hills Exposure…….

What started out as the Ross Township Good Government Committee a year ago is expanding in the hopes of bringing the discussion and focus back to the community level. We hope to be a place where those who reside or have business dealings in Ross Township will gather in order to swap stories, pass on news, and discuss politics.

Through the use of Twitter, Facebook, and this Blog, the goal is to keep our elected and appointed leaders honorable and trustworthy. Through candid discussion we intend to rally support when needed, compliment and applaud when warranted, as well as criticize and condemn when deserved. We will share stories that appear in the news, talk about politics and their impact on our community, as well give you a heads up on things that are happening in our area.

So if you are a resident of Ross Township, or someone with a vested interest in the area, we encourage you to follow this Blog as well as our Twitter and Facebook pages. Through the use of technology perhaps we can capture that old time feeling of the General Store as we swap stories, pass on news, and discuss politics!