WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Amidst a call for the resignation of its solicitor, name-calling and squabbling, the board appointed to oversee the Mohegan Sun Arena paid bills and bought equipment for the facility.
The contentious meeting Wednesday afternoon ended with the Luzerne County Convention Center authority agreeing, among other things, to lease land to the neighboring Ken Pollock Nissan dealership on Mundy Street, withholding payment of $13,267 to Dunmore Roofing until all repairs are completed and buying new refrigeration monitors for its freezers and ice rink from Johnson Controls at a cost of $10,200.
The identity of a potential buyer for the arena was not disclosed by Ed Warkevicz. At a previous meeting Warkevicz said he would file a Right to Know request for financial details from the last five years.
Two requests, however, were submitted by Ed Chesnovitch for the most recent profit-and-loss statement for a third party, David McDonnell, of 449 Milwaukee Ave., Old Forge.
The lease was discussed in an executive session and later detailed in the public meeting. The contract has yet to be drawn up, but it would be $18,000 for five years and $20,000 for an additional three years. In return Pollock would improve another portion of arena land for employees to park.
Board members Alex Milanes and George Horwatt opposed the deal and were not in step with the rest of the 11-member board on other votes.
Horwatt was unpersuaded with an explanation by attorney Murray Ufberg that Ufberg avoided a conflict of interest when representing the authority and Quad 3 engineering, a client of the law firm Rosenn Jenkins & Greenwald where he is a partner.
Horwatt said he retained former Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick to look into what Horwatt said was a problem with the law firm earning money from the authority and Quad 3 which was doing business for the arena.
“Secondly, you also possess knowledge and the manner of thinking of both parties involved and I think that this violates any canon of ethics. I don’t think it’s right,” Horwatt said.
He called for Ufberg’s resignation, but did not put it before the board for a vote.
Ufberg said he later spoke to Skumanick who agreed that he acted properly and ethically when dealing with Quad 3 and the arena.
Milanes noted the county Home Rule charter prevents its solicitor from doing what Ufberg does in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
“I think in the spirit of Home Rule,” Milanes said. But Ufberg interrupted him saying,”It’s irrelevant.” Ufberg added that the board has had to deal with conflict that’s distracting it from its work.
“That’s terribly unfortunate. The last thing I want to do is be the source of any conflict here because I think we have much more important work than to do ‘gotchas,’ if you will,” Ufberg said.