The Beaver Countian notified District Attorney David Lozier and the Board of Commissioners during a public work session yesterday that its was prepared to file criminal complaints against them if they meet privately to deliberate the District Attorney’s Office’s budget in any manner that violates the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act.

District Attorney Lozier addressed the Board yesterday requesting they meet with him in private to discuss his budget — he is seeking an increase in personnel and a significant increase in funding for his office next year as specified in a budget proposal he submitted to Commissioners for consideration.

The discussion started with the Commissioners trying to agree on how they will structure meetings to craft next year’s county-wide budget.

Republican Commissioner Sandie Egley said she wants open public meetings with the county’s department heads and elected row officials to discuss the budget proposals they submitted on an office-by-office basis. Republican Commissioner Dan Camp told his fellow Commissioners that he wants “informational meetings” to discuss individual office budget proposals on an “as-needed” basis — and wants those meetings to be conducted privately — with any final votes being made in a public meeting.

Democratic Commissioner Amadio also said he wanted the meetings to be conducted outside of the public’s view, “I don’t think they need to be in public.”

“Once the budget is put together then there should be public discussions, but while we’re working with our department heads I think those should be done the way they have always been done,” said Amadio. “Because the last time it was just, I don’t know what the outcome was; it wasn’t good, I can tell you that.”

The new Republican-majority Board of Commissioners conducted an open budget process last year, after learning a final budget passed the year before by the prior Democratic-majority Board of Commissioners — led by Tony Amadio — contained a projected budget deficit of about $17 million.

Commissioners Dan Camp and Tony Amadio released a statement last week condemning the public disclosure of a preliminary $9 million projected budget shortfall for next year based on the initial budget proposals submitted by department heads and row officials — both have vowed that next year’s budget will not include a tax increase. In response, Commissioner Egley gave an interview to the Beaver Countian promising the public she would continue to make sure information about the county’s finances would be released on an ongoing basis.

“If you’re looking at taking money out of our budgets it’s nice to have that discussion with you all and [Financial Administrator Ricardo Luckow] about why and you can defend or you can explain your reasoning, so we’re not finding out at the end of October that you’ve eliminated,” said District Attorney David Lozier during yesterday’s meeting.

Commissioner Egley told Lozier that she agrees the Board needs to meet with department heads and row officials to discuss their budget proposals, but that the Board can not agree on how to do so.

“I’m not in sync with the other two, I’m trying to find a happy medium here and not compromise my beliefs in how I think that this should go,” said Egley.

The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act requires the county to both deliberate and take official actions on county business in an open and public meeting. The law mandates that the public be given prior notice of the meetings, be allowed to attend and record the meetings, and be allowed to make public comment. The law provides certain exceptions, such as the discussion of confidential information which can occur during closed-door “executive sessions.”

“Let me make a formal request,” said District Attorney Lozier. “Could I have a meeting with the Commissioners and [Financial Administrator Ricardo Luckow] and maybe the Controller, to talk about my budget needs and why it changed from last year, and get your impression and get Ricardo’s recommendations […] Because I need more personnel.”

Commissioners Dan Camp and Tony Amadio both told District Attorney Lozier that they were “ok with that.”

The three County Commissioners, Controller David Rossi, and District Attorney Lozier would comprise the voting members of the County Salary Board responsible for creating positions and setting salaries for personnel in the District Attorney’s Office.

The Beaver Countian then asked permission from the Board to be heard on the matter.

“The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act mandates not only meetings in which official actions are taken be public, but also that deliberations and discussions for the purposes of making a future decision be public,” said the Beaver Countian’s John Paul during the meeting. “What I am hearing is the District Attorney specifically say he wants to discuss and deliberate with a quorum of the Board. My position will be this. If a quorum of the Board of Commissioners meets to discuss and deliberate agency business, in a manner that is not exempt from the Sunshine Act, or in a manner that is contrary to case law, I will instruct my attorneys to file a private criminal complaint against any official in that meeting and I will prosecute that complaint vigorously.”

Chief Solicitor Garen Fedeles responded that the County Law Department would research provisions of the Sunshine Act.

“Our office will look into what [John Paul] has said and will follow up with the Board and let the Board know where the law stands on that and what your options are and what your options are not,” said Fedeles.

The subject of open budget meetings was a matter of contention back in July of 2016 as well, when Sheriff Tony Guy attempted to have private meetings with the Board of Commissioners to discuss his budget proposal. Then, as now, the Beaver Countian informed county officials that it would pursue private criminal complaints if any violations of the Sunshine Act occurred during the meeting. Then-Chief County Solicitor Adrea Cantelme determined such a private meeting would be illegal and a well-attended public meeting was ultimately held to discuss the Sheriff’s Office budget.

Beaver County Democratic Register of Wills Tracey Patton also spoke up during yesterday’s work session, telling Commissioners she believes the public should be allowed to attend the meetings, “If anybody wants to attend that meeting they should be more than welcome to from my understanding.”

“I don’t understand where this is going,” said Commissioner Amadio. “You’re allowed to meet with your department heads, you’re allowed to meet with elected officials, my God you’d stymie government.”

District Attorney Lozier again told the Board he wanted to meet with them privately, saying that having the public present would not be helpful.

“We need to have a forum where we can talk with the three of you and Ricardo and talk about our needs and the County’s needs and it should start now,” said Lozier. “And public meetings are useless when it comes to detailed briefings with department heads. Having 50 people in a room doesn’t help; when decisions are made absolutely. The Sunshine Law does not require your meetings with department heads for information purposes to be made public.”

While so-called “informational meetings” are not required to be open to the public, such meetings are defined under the Sunshine Act as “conferences,” and are generally viewed as applying to gatherings such as training or educational sessions.

Pennsylvania courts have ruled that discussions of agency business, for the purpose of ultimately making a decision at some time regarding that business, constitute “deliberations” as defined by the Sunshine Act. Public officials found to be in violation of the Act face fines of up to $1,000 for the first offense and could also be held personally liable for attorney fees and costs of litigation.

Register of Wills Patton later repeated her belief during yesterday’s work session that the meetings should be open to the public, and suggested they be structured during dates that are already scheduled on the calendar so the County would not incur an added expense of advertising additional dates.

“There’s an open door policy I thought here, and if you’re having a meeting […] and if the Board is there it should be considered public,” said Patton. “But I could be wrong, I mean, I am not an attorney nor do I want to be.”

Commissioner Sandie Egley agreed with her.

“If we have meetings with your department and deliberate back and forth, that violates the Sunshine Act,” said Egley.

District Attorney David Lozier quickly shot back, “I think you should ask your attorneys that question, you are not an attorney.”

The Board of Commissioners decided to wait to hear a response from the Law Department before making a decision on how future budget meetings would be conducted.

This is not the first time District Attorney David Lozier has ignited controversy involving the public’s right of access.

In May of this year, the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas issued a rarely-seen joint order of court by Judges Dale Fouse and Harry Knafelc directing District Attorney David Lozier to release a copy of a dash cam video depicting a controversial deployment of a Beaver Police K-9.

The ruling came as a result of legal action taken by several residents of Beaver Borough after Lozier denied an open records request made by the Beaver Countian for the footage, erroneously claiming it fell under an “investigative file” exception of the Pennsylvania Right To Know Law. District Attorney Lozier had made accusations in open court that the Beaver Countian was engaged in a conspiracy to undermine the criminal justice system of Beaver County in fighting for the release of the public records.

66 COMMENTS

  1. F’n Amadio doesn’t want the public to know what is going on until it is too late to do anything about it.

    He thinks he is just supposed to collect a fat paycheck and not deal with anything unpleasant.

    WE DO NOT WANT TO SPEND ANY MORE MONEY ON OUR USELESS COUNTY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

     
  2. I have an idea. Let’s make every resident of Beaver County a commissioner rather than entrusting those that YOU voted for to deliberate those decisions. Now that would really get the job done! From what I’ve seen, most people making comments at public meetings don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground and just want to hear themselves talk.
    What a fiasco this county is!

     
    • “What the hell?”.

      I think your response shows monumental ignorance.

      The Sunshine Laws are in effect here. Your personal opinion about them is of no relevance to anyone but you.

      Let’s review –

      The previous budget was done behind closed doors and once re-examined in a more responsible manner it was learned that the budget included a HIDDEN deficit of +$17m. So, some of the same knuckleheads doing it last year are saying that it should again be done behind closed doors, which is AGAINST THE LAW, and you are calling the general public the fiasco here.

      If you don’t like the Sunshine Laws, you are free to start a campaign to eliminate them.

      You are monumental fool.

       
  3. Ask yourself this do you think the District Attorney would want a private meeting if he was asking for a decrease in his budget?

     
    • What’s he trying to hide? Is he trying to hire Christiana’s mom again or one of his friends? There’s no money for that. He hasn’t been locking up the druggies and dealers any more than before (like he promised). They all get probation. Give him nothing. I hope a lawyer brand new to the county with no political ties runs next time. They’d be a shoe-in.

       
  4. District Attorney David Lozier quickly shot back, “I think you should ask your attorneys that question, you are not an attorney.”

    it would have been petty AF but if she shot back, well you sure as hell aren’t acting like one, she’d have my vote for the rest of my life

     
  5. The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act was enacted to shine light into the dark corners where deals are made. The fact that you don’t like the law is irrelevent. Get your proposal together, present it at the public meeting and move on.

     
  6. District Attorney David Lozier… To those who were opposed to him in the election, based upon his lack of experience, lack of education and lack of brain power — the public has learned a lesson. Time after time, he stonewalls, obfuscates, blocks, reinterprets, plays favorites, showboats, engages in pea and shell games with the public. We should have listened to his detractors.

    And the Beaver Countian is “forced” into the role of a watchdog agency, because there is no one else who can or will do it, and because it is the right thing to do. Kudos to you, John Paul, and thank you.

    And Sleeper opines, “…my God you’d stymie government.” No, Sleeper, you and Conehead stymie government by trying to color outside the lines, and the teacher has to keep correcting you and showing you where the lines are.

    Please, Stonewall, Conehead, Sleeper…just resign and save us this grief and game playing. How many times do we have to go through a budget crisis and raised taxes? Of course, you won’t, but it feels good to ask it.

    Court battles would be enlightening, as the Sunshine Law and current practices would be reviewed in detail for Stonewall’s enlightenment. But at what cost? The farce about the dashcam video showed what a waste of time trying to enlighten Stonewall is. As with a whining kid, you just have to be told what to do.

    Can it get any worse?

     
    • Yes, it can get worse. Raven, I fear that we are being lulled into believing Lozier, Guy and others are simply greedy, stupid, or otherwise obtuse. How can it get worse? If there is a darker intention behind their actions. Follow the money. Lozier got the police license passed through 2 of the 3 Board. Guy thinks he’s a still a cop. Christiana got them both elected. Why? It certainly wasn’t for any altruistic reasons, Christiana isn’t wired that way. Who pulls Christiana’s strings?

      Follow the money. How can it get worse? How about a private police force funded by public money?

       
      • That’s right! Follow the money. And who has all the money in the county?
        Why, the unholy trinity, that’s who!
        Betters-David’s-Unis’

         
      • Icanread, agreed 100%. What scares me is the extent of the darker intention. It could be anything from using these county ‘detectives’ as private security to using them to strong-arm rivals, or worse. Maybe there are some overzealous cops in the area that would make some fine additions to the county’s police force.

        And it’s now legal. Great job Dan Camp. Too fucking lazy or stupid to read and understand a resolution and the impact it might have on us.

         
  7. The arrogance and underhandedness is appalling . Lozier doesn’t want the public to know that he’s trying to build a secret police force now that he got 2/3 of the Board (guess which two) to pass a resolution giving the county the same powers as police forces. He’s on a power-grab mission and he doesn’t want you to know. He is no friend to the people.

     
  8. Lozier is such a douche bag…. and Amadio is clueless….
    Hopefully these meetings will stay public as they should be!

     

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  9. Look at what a fiasco the past commissioners made of the sale of Friendship Ridge behind closed doors with them agreeing without even reading and understanding the terms of the sales agreement! Crooks prefer closed door meetings!

     
  10. Keep’em honest Sandie, public open meetings on matters pertaining to how the county intends to spend the money that comes from county citizens is not only covered by law, it is the right thing to do for the residents of the county. Some politicians seem to think it is their money to spend as they see fit and I am proud of you, as many are that you see things as they should be and doing business as usual is just plain wrong. That is exactly why you inherited the mess that exists today with county finances. Good for you Sandie and stand strong on your principals and your personal value system.

     
      • I don’t disagree Klaw and so noted that. I admire the fact that Sandie is standing up to the attempts to derail her commitment of open govt and her personal values. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the work that JP is doing here and his vocal stance supporting that and pointing out the consequences to those who are obviously on a mission to turn back the clock to behaviors that created this financial mess in the first place. Kudo’s to JP duly noted.

         
  11. Garen Fedeles is the Chief Solicitor. He should know the Sunshine Act up, down, sideways and in reverse. It doesn’t really matter anyway cause they will just all meet at Roberts Roadside without Egley. It is my opinion that Lozier, Javens, Camp and Amadio are preparing to fuck us in the ass in private and then tell us after the fact in public. They should all resign and then go stick their heads where the sun don’t shine.

     
    • Just like a few years ago. The old regime used to meet every Sunday at PaPa Dukes in Center twp to have a round table discussion with a few unscrupulous members of society. Minus Dennis Nichols of course.
      You would be surprised who was actually making county decisions for you. Unelected uneducated asshats!
      Amadio wants to go back those glory days of just doing what he wants ant the hell with the taxpayers!

       
  12. Once again, Mr. Fedeles has come to the table unprepared. In his position, he should know the Sunshine law at least as well as JP. And Mr. Amadio wants to keep things the way they were. What a joke. Of course he does. He’s more the fool every time he opens his mouth.

     
  13. Seems pretty simple to me. A, all requests for increases should have written justifications for AFFECTED PERSONNEL (COMMISSIONERS AND FINANCE PEEPS) to digest. If there are questions about a SPECIFIC department request, ONE (NOT MORE) of the commissioners can meet with the department to gain better insight into the justification and take that information back to the public commissioners meeting for further “deliberation” and DECISION-MAKING. I think this is much ado about nothing. More senseless BS. And JP, you may think you can silence people who disagree with you but that tactic is not going to work long-term.

     
    • You must be a government employee. You think that because you didn’t ask for an increase that you are due at least as much as you got last year? You don’t think you should have to justify every dollar of our hard-earned taxes that you take every year? Seriously, your suggestion sucks.

       
    • JP investigates and reports to the public. Talking out of the wrong end, Quality Queen. He tries to silence no one. You just sound dumb. Thank you JP and Sandie.

       
      • Sorry “wind” but it’s a fact that JP has an agenda…almost always. I have complimented him when I think he is being objective but frankly, he publishes too much BS about his favorite targets and incites people unnecessarily. Read the laws before you comment any further about this situation. We have repeatedly seen very questionable decisions and management of almost everything that goes on in that courthouse for years and it is no better now. I wish Sandie well only because I have walked a mile in her shoes as professional woman and know exactly what she faces but the fact of the matter is that she is still gaining experience and sometimes cannot deduce the facts to a cohesive decision.

         
  14. Here’s the best part, compliments of Mr. Amadio:
    “I don’t think they need to be in public.”
    ….I think those should be done the way they have always been done,”
    Yea, that’s worked out real well!

     
    • That he even uttered those words is shocking, not surprising though. Is he really that dumb to believe we don’t know about his dirty dealings and lies?

       
  15. The private meetings certainly will not be discussing the budget, but more about adding personnel to the payroll. The courthouse “family” have loads of relatives that just graduated and have the exact qualifications needed. Someone should inform Loser that we pay his salary. Amadio’s remarks are absolutely appalling.

     
  16. First off the county seat should have been moved to west Aliquippa. Or, Lou pappan shouldn’t have been given a sweetheart of a deal and the jail should have remained where it was. The additional cost on transportation alone I would bet is well over that $17 million mark to date. How about if you handle other people’s money like it’s free to you, you just are disqualified for elected office?

     
  17. I just read the timesonline article, “Commissioners’ kerfuffles continue as Beaver County officials clash over budget, past practices”, plus the 22 comments negative to Egley and JP. Talk about two sides to the same story.

    It was upsetting to see JP referred to as a “blogger”. Holy Journalism Batman, it’s 2017! He’s NOT putting recipes out here, he’s a digital online REPORTER informing the public about crooked county government. The Times made a point of stating JP lives in Mercer County, an underlying snide innuendo that Beaver County reporting MUST be from a Beaver County resident.

    Plus, NO mention of JP’s informing Looser of a Lawsuit if the Sunshine Act is violated; only “The commissioners also have differing opinions about whether these discussions need to be publicly bandied about, as was the case last year…”.

    As usual, the Times doesn’t tell the whole story in an unbiased way. Well, at least JP got some press and may gain more readers.

     
    • Even Woodward and Bernstein had to run things through Ben Bradlee. A journalist has editors and colleagues to keep him honest. A blogger does not.

       
      • Watergate was in 1972. You’re comparing apples to oranges. They’re still fruit, but different.

        See https://www.blinkjarmedia.com/blog/is-a-blogger-a-journalist

        MAJOR newspapers are converting to online, and YES, they still have editors to oversee their staff. However, there ARE independent online outlets that rely on independent investigative journalists. It is MY OPINION the difference between an online investigative journalist and a blogger is to determine if the content is NEWSWORTHY and to VERIFY the FACTS through follow-up and research.

        JP’s readers will keep him honest. A blogger he is NOT.

         
      • Yes and no. Do you really think once the lid was significantly blown off of Watergate and it was coming to light that Bob and Carl were onto something huge that Bradlee did anything other than just run with whatever Woodward and Bernstein had on any given day? They were running the show on that story after a certain point…. not their editor.

        As far as this medium, JP has something more important than an editor…he has his professional reputation and credibility to guide his decision making on what to print and what not to print. To date, he hasn’t been sued for libel and I’m sure if what he was reporting wasn’t factually accurate there would be a list of pending lawsuits.

         
  18. The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing…
    Edmund Burke

    Respect to you John Paul…

     
  19. Sandie Egley…respect to you as well for sticking to your principles and beliefs…alot of Beaver Countians have your six…believe that…

     
  20. Start working NOW to elect Gerald Benyo as Beaver Counties next district attorney.The BIG guy has a true sense of justice. Justice for the victimized the unpopular the man really does believe everyone is entitled to Justice. He really does believe in justice for all. The man has iron in his soul and is a straight shooter. Beaver County would be fortunate indeed to have Gerald Benyo as there DISTRICT ATTORNEY…

     
  21. The BCTimes article should be posted here for a side-by-side comparison for the people who do not pay for the news in their locked, pay-only vaults. I won’t post it for copyright reasons, but it makes Egley’s comment about the Times’ “slanted news and reporting” all too real.

    Is it really worth it, Tom Davidson? Who will sign your checks, once the paper finally goes bottom up and is absorbed by another like a hungry amoeba eating other bugs?

     
  22. As a side note – I won’t be voting for ANYONE who uses a Obama quote for a campaign slogan. We have enough BS in beaver county politics. Remember people, it was definitely the democrats over the last 60 years that got us here. Period.

     

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  23. County government has never been so poor. Lord they can’t even pay the bills. How could they ever do something great?

     
  24. This article has been updated to note that the three County Commissioners, Controller David Rossi, and District Attorney Lozier, would comprise the voting members of the County Salary Board responsible for creating positions and setting salaries for personnel in the District Attorney’s Office.

     
  25. Let the record reflect that the district attorney wants to violate the law. MOST importantly though, by asking to do so in during a public meeting and going so far as to articulate his rationalization for doing so he has shown (in my opinion) the necessary INTENT to violate the law. Surely in law school he learned “actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea” meaning “the act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty.”

    I would like to sincerely thank the DA for opening his mouth and making it so much easier now to prosecute this crime if he meets with a quorum of the salary board. As an added benefit to Beaver Countians, attorneys who are found guilty of a crime of moral turpetude (and I’d like to think that failure to be transparent as an elected official would fit this definition) are usually not permitted to practice law. Since the DA needs to have a law license, his resignation would most likely be forthcoming.

    I sure hope he has that meeting that he asked for!!

     
  26. looks like lozier is following Trumps republican police state agenda i bet hes already planning the concentration camps

     

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