The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 7, 2013

Embarrassment to city

Council unable to fill temporary vacancy

The Tribune-Democrat

— Shame on Johnstown City Council.

The city was declared financially distressed in 1992. Numerous factors can be cited as reasons why, after more than two decades, little has changed.

But forgive city residents if they felt particularly hopeless last week when its leaders couldn’t even agree on filling a vacancy on council through the remainder of the year.

Councilwoman Marie Mock probably said it best early last week: “In all honesty, we look bad.”

She won’t get any argument from us.

Putting such a basic task as agreeing on a temporary council member in the hands of Cambria County’s judges was not only inexcusable, but totally embarrassing.

Mock’s comment to our Dave Sutor was made as she and fellow council members Rose Howarth and Frank Janakovic admirably called for a special meeting to try and reverse a vote taken a few days earlier that ended in a tie.

“We want to try to work it out,” Mock said. “We didn’t want it to go to the court. We don’t want to burden the court system for something that is our job to do.”

Perhaps she had in mind the city’s annual trip to Ebensburg to get court approval for the “commuter tax” as part of the Act 47 distressed guidelines.      

But on Wednesday, as happened the previous week,

council split three against three, with no change in voting blocs.

While Mock, Howarth and Janakovic put aside their candidate and entered the names of everybody interviewed for the job, members William Gentile Jr., Mayor Thomas Trigona and Pete Vizza didn’t budge from their original pick.

Are there any real culprits in this debacle?

You decide.

Meanwhile, it’s too bad Cambria’s five judges are so busy handling court matters. If not, they could take over the reins of a financially troubled city and put it back on its feet.

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