WILKES-BARRE — On the eve of the sentencing of the city’s former towing contractor on a theft charge, council Thursday night asked the mayor to terminate the contract he suspended more than a year ago.
By a 5-0 vote city council passed a resolution made by councilman Tony George, who had called for terminating the contract of Leo A. Glodzik III several times before the charges were filed on May 31, 2013.
“I’d like to make a motion that we terminate his the contract within the next two weeks, have the mayor terminate his contract within the next two weeks and in the meantime use Mr. Barrett’s last towing ordinance that he created for our towing contract,” George said.
Only the first half of his motion came up for the vote. Council earlier rescinded the predatory towing ordinance put together by chairman Bill Barrett that was never enforced.
“It would be hard to take that language and put it into a contract,” Barrett said.
Glodzik, 43, of Wilkes-Barre, is scheduled to be sentenced on a charge of theft related to an FBI sting operation. He was charged with taking $2,100 in cash from a vehicle he towed from what he was told was a drug arrest. He gave an undercover state police officer $1,100 and kept the rest for himself. The jury at his May trial acquitted him of theft from a motor vehicle.
Mayor Tom Leighton suspended Glodzik’s contract the day he was charged and hired Falzone Towing on a monthly basis. Falzone agreed to pay the city $4,170 a month for the exclusive contract. Over a 12-month period the fee equalled the $50,050 LAG paid for its exclusive contract.
An arbitrator ruled in favor of the mayor in January and said Leighton could terminate the contract if there was a disposition “other than an innocent verdict.”
While George gathered support for his motion, he stood alone in opposition to the city spending $722,300 for repairs on the long vacant First National Bank Building on Public Square. Council authorized the city to enter a contract with C&D Waterproofing for masonry and roof repair.
Bob Kadluboski asked why the city was spending so much money on the building without assurance that it would recoup the funds if a private developer bought the property.
“If somebody’s that interested in it let them put the money into it,” he said.
City Administrator Marie McCormick explained that the grant money will pay for the repairs. The funds were specifically awarded for that project and could not be used for something else, she said.
In response to a question from Ryan Verdekal, McCormick provided an update on the security improvements planned for the Sherman Hills apartment complex that was purchased for $15.8 million in April by a New Jersey-based real estate development company.
The apartment complex has been the site of drug arrests, violent crimes and shootings and was in jeopardy of losing its nearly $2 million in rental subsidies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development unless its former owner, Sherman Hills Realty LLC of Brooklyn, New York made security and safety improvements. The company sold the complex to Sherman Hills Holdings LLC, a corporation set up by Treetop Development of Teaneck, New Jersey.
McCormick said the city met with a representative of the new owner a few weeks ago and was informed it was moving ahead with the improvements. “He said right now he didn’t believe the investment in 24-7 security would happen,” she said.
A guard station and two access points with gates are still in the works, McCormick said. But the overall security plan is different from what the previous owner proposed, she said.
Barrett asked that a meeting be scheduled with the new owner to discuss the planned security improvements.