The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 24, 2014

Board upheld in seat scrap

EBENSBURG — A former member of the Johnstown Housing Authority has lost an initial bid to reverse an August decision keeping him from the board.

In a single-page ruling with no explanation, Cambria County Senior Judge F. Joseph Leahey dismissed the complaint brought by Brian Vuletich against the city and the authority.

The ruling following a hearing on Friday at the Cambria County Courthouse was made without prejudice, meaning Vuletich can refile using a different approach.

Unless there is further action by Vuletich, the decision means that chiropractor Joseph Taranto will retain the authority seat to which he was named in August.

Taranto said Monday he is pleased and hopes to do more to improve communications between the authority and the city during his five-year term.

“I was hoping for that,” he said when informed of the judge’s ruling.

Vuletich said he will confer with his attorney before deciding his next step.

Vuletich was named to the authority in August 2008. City council failed to name him to a second term last year.

He served as chairman during the final year of his term and The Tribune-Democrat reported at the time that tensions grew between Vuletich and some council members regarding how the authority should operate.

“I took my duties on that authority very seriously,” he said Monday.

Vuletich’s attorney, Gary Vitko, said he will discuss the options with Vuletich.

He stressed that Leahey ruled that the complaint was not filed correctly but did not address its merits.

Solicitor Timothy Leventry updated members at the authority meeting Monday.

Challenging the appointment to any government board requires a process known by the Latin term “quo warranto,” which means “by what authority,” Leventry explained.

“In order to file a writ quo warranto, you have to have approval of the state attorney general and the district attorney,” Leventry said. “He would have to obtain the approval or show a specific (conflict of) interest. He could not just file on his own.

“I do believe this case is over now.”

The Vuletich case marks the second time in recent years that the court was pulled into a disagreement over an authority appointment. In June 2012, a panel of three judges ruled that Michael Vuckovich should be seated nearly a year after his August 2011 appointment.

At issue was concern by authority members that required steps involved in collection of applications and review of candidates had been ignored.

The judges determined that the oversights were minor.

Tribune-Democrat reporter Randy Griffith contributed to this report.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

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