Johnstown City Council had a full agenda with seven ordinances and 17 resolutions to consider during a regular monthly meeting on Wednesday … and almost none of the work got done.
Council tabled 12 items and removed five others from table in order to withdraw them, leaving only a few routine matters, such as vacating two roads as public thoroughfares, considered. Rather, the members discussed procedures, gave reports and bickered on occasion for 2 ½ hours.
They also tabled votes for appointments to multiple boards.
“This is not a group of functional people,” said John DeBartola, a resident and frequent critic of City Council. “They're controlled by special interests. … This is a do-nothing City Council, and until we oust all of them and get rid of the special interests nothing is going to change in Johnstown.”
Some of the tabled matters included the proposed creation of a blighted property review committee, the 2019 budget, finalizing loan closing documents and accepting requests for proposal for third-party code enforcement, along with contracts for rock salt and ant-skid material.
Deputy Mayor Marie Mock said there were a “lot of omissions, administrative omissions” and placed the blame on “senior management” within City Hall without mentioning any specific individuals.
“It was a very improperly prepared meeting, unfortunately,” Mock said. “We had a lot of business to get done. We have a lot of things we have to do. I just thought it was not a very well prepared meeting.”
Councilman Jack Williams more bluntly stated: “How does it happen? Because they don't know what the hell they're doing.”
City Manager George Hayfield, who was on vacation, did not attend the meeting.
Council unanimously voted to remove from table and withdraw a resolution calling for his termination – for cause – that was introduced by Williams and Charlene Stanton. The resolution contained outdated information that listed Sept. 6 to be the effective date. They also voted to remove three resolutions from table – and withdraw them – that called for legal action against Hayfield.
Williams and Stanton have accused Hayfield of multiple violations of the Home Rule Charter, including permitting expenditure accounts to enter into deficit, improperly transferring funds, failing to conduct a required inventory of city-owned property, not properly collecting parking fines, and failing to provide supporting documentation for budgeted positions in the Department of Community and Economic Development.
In another matter, City Council removed and withdrew a resolution that would have approved a contract to demolish 17 blighted structures.