Baden Borough is stalling the release of public records that could show whether its Council members conducted a secret telephone vote in a manner which may have been in violation of public meeting laws.

Dozens of citizens attended the January 17th meeting of Baden Borough Council where the hiring of several part-time police officers was publicly deliberated. Individuals who attended the public meeting tell the Beaver Countian that discussions between members of Council were contentious.

Those in attendance say hiring of the part-time officers was ultimately struck down after some Council members expressed concern about the propriety of the employment process. Mayor Samuel Gagliardi cast a tie-breaking “no” vote, joining with Suzie Furr, David Trzcianka, and Dawn Singleton. Ted Kotula, Judy Montell, and John Shelkons had been the minority “yes” votes in favor of approving the hires. Robert Besong was not present.

Sources say the majority expressed to the public their intention to table the hiring of part-time officers until next month’s public meeting, allowing time for a review of the employment process.

Two sources the Beaver Countian spoke with allege that within two days of the public meeting, Council members conducted a second vote privately via telephone where they approved hiring of the part-time police officers. Sources say Suzie Furr changed her prior “no” to “yes,” with Robert Besong also weighing in with a “yes.”

Those sources allege there were emails sent arranging for the telephone vote.

The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act generally mandates votes of a Borough Council occur at publicly advertised meetings and that members of the public be allowed to make comment prior to votes taking place. Public officials who knowingly violate provisions of the public meeting law face fines of up to $1,000 for a first offense.

As part of its efforts to further investigate the allegations, the Beaver Countian submitted an open records request to Baden Borough on Friday pursuant to the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law, seeking a copy of the Borough’s audio recording of its public meeting along with any emails sent from or to members of Council about the alleged telephone vote.

Elaine Klavin Rakovan, Open Records Officer for Baden, responded to the Beaver Countian’s request by invoking a 30-day extension on the production of the public records, which should normally have been released within 5 business days. The municipality claims it needs the added time to conduct a legal review to determine if a recording of a public meeting is a public record that must be released to the public, and whether emails referencing a vote by Council are public records which must also be disclosed.

Baden Borough is represented by attorney James D. Amato of Amato, Start & Associates in Sewickley.

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

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Dale HutchCallin' it like I see iteconomyresidentGoebbels15003otis64 Recent comment authors
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Ed McCartney
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Ed McCartney

This town seems to be going downhill politically. Maybe time for a leadership change.

Little Jimmy
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Little Jimmy

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Curtis Wehler
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Curtis Wehler

Most are corrupt criminals.

Oh Brother
Guest
Oh Brother

Who did they secretly hire? JW-R?!

aldo gorlami
Guest
aldo gorlami

I was wondering the EXACT same thing.

otis64
Member
otis64

At the meeting it was agreed too (read above) not to hire any of them by a 4 to 3 vote, then within hours they took a secret and illegal vote over the phone outside the public view to put those officers on 5 to 2. It’s not the officers they want to hire that is the issue, it’s about the unscrupulous and illegal way they went about it. Then there is the stonewalling on the release of PUBLIC emails that JP is requesting, they surely have something to hide.

Jay Eric
Guest
Jay Eric

Otis when did they ever address who was hired or how many applicants were involved. 9 times out of 10 there is more to some shady shit than just how it happened.

otis64
Member
otis64

It is in the minutes of the meeting.

otis64
Member
otis64

I agree with you Jay there is much more that went on behind the scenes I was told. I was also informed they read off the names of those they wanted to hire at the meeting, it should be the minutes but I can’t get a copy of them yet. I was told by a few people everything was recorded though……We will see how much of the recordings disappear …

Bin Falor
Guest
Bin Falor

No, he works for Rochester Boro now

Little Jimmy
Guest
Little Jimmy

Are you saying JW-R works for Rottenchester Boro now?! If so, what a bunch of assholes running that boro.

ricimer
Guest
ricimer

Vote one way in front of the public and another behind the publics back. Reminds me of BC commissioners.