Nuangola council fight may be headed to court

TOM HUNTINGTON, Times Leader Correspondent

February 13, 2013

NUANGOLA – It appears a political fight over a vacancy on borough council is headed to Luzerne County Court.

It was stated at Tuesday night's scheduled meeting that Solicitor Jack Dean will file a petition on or about Feb. 19 to have the court of common pleas appoint someone to fill the seat of Councilwoman Elaine Donohue, whose resignation became effective on Dec. 31, 2012.

Chairman John Kochan said council was prepared to make an appointment of a successor in January but council couldn't act because there weren't enough council members in attendance to form a quorum.

The same thing happened on Tuesday; only three councilmen, (out of six) Kochan, Ron Kaiser and Joe Tucker appeared at the meeting. Regina Plodwick, Tony DeLuca and Ted Vancosky were absent. Accordingly, official business couldn't be conducted.

However, because a enough time has passed since Donahue's resignation, Dean said the court can be petitioned to make an appointment. He said he has two letters of interest in his possession and he will recommend that these persons be considered.

The two are said to be Doug Fawbush, a former councilman who lost re-election in 2011, and Joan Shirk, the wife of sewer authority chairman Ray Shirk.

Mark Gandzyk, another former councilman, also verbally expressed an interest. Dean told him to prepare a letter and deliver it to Dean's office before next week.

Kochan alleges a faction led by Plodwick has been boycotting the meetings, creating a situation that he said has led to the delay of appointments on the sewer authority, zoning board and of someone to serve as vacancy chairman. Kochan also said that because of the lack of a quorum, bills haven't been paid since December, although Dean told council to pay those that are outstanding.

But Plodwick said no boycott exists. She said she couldn't attend Tuesday's scheduled meeting because of being ill. In January, she said, her husband had surgery in Scranton on the date of the meeting.

Kochan said DeLuca told him he couldn't attend because of pressing business matters. Vancosky, who was at a sewer authority meeting on Monday, was non-committal when asked about his possible attendance at council.

As it turns out, a special meeting originally scheduled for Thursday has also been canceled, Kochan said, because of a lack of a quorum.