The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 22, 2013

County commissioner defends Sunbury mayor and businessman

By Francis Scarcella

— SUNBURY - Northumberland County Commissioner Vinny Clausi made a surprise appearance at Monday’s City Council meeting and loudly defended Mayor David Persing and Moran Industries against critics who claim Moran should owe the city $2.6 million for fines, permits and penalties.

“You people need to stop badgering the mayor and let these guys do their job,” Clausi said to applause from audience members.

“I was there when Moran began to look in Sunbury, and I watched everything they did and they complied with everything the county asked for,” Clausi said. “The mayor and council are trying to bring industry to Sunbury and some of you people want to see this place a ghost town. Let these people do their jobs.”

Clausi spoke after Drake Saxton, of Muncy, told council members and Persing that they had failed to have Moran file the proper paperwork at the former Celotex site and could face penalties and or jail time.

Persing also issued a statement to audience members, but directed it to Councilman Joe Bartello.

“As you know we continue to receive questions and comments about code issues that include activities at the former Celotex site,” Persing read. “I will be referring all questions to you as they are raised at public meetings.”

Bartello, who heads the code department, and Councilmen Jim Eister and Kevin Troup then had a heated exchange during which Bartello tried to make a motion to hire a part-time employee in the code office.

Bartello continued to say council has hindered his ability to do his job and enforce code ordinances, especially at the Moran site.

Saxton agreed with Bartello, then Eister and Troup had words with Saxton.

“You guys keep saying we stopped Joe (Bartello) from doing his job,” Eister said to Saxton. “Tell me when and where?”

Saxton referred to the 2012 hiring of an employee who was to split his time between parks and recreation and the code department.

 Bartello, at the time, opposed the hire. Saxton also mentioned Monday’s meeting during which Bartello did not receive a second in his bid to hire another part-time employee for the code office.

Saxton told Persing he was disappointed because he did not receive the answers he sought two weeks ago when he questioned why the city has not received any money from Moran for fines.

Eister and Troup told Saxton to sit down and said he had nothing to support his claims.

Persing jumped in and told Saxton the reason he didn’t have answers was because he canceled a scheduled meeting after Bartello took the city and Persing to court to stop what Bartello said was going to be an “illegal meeting” last Wednesday.

“Now you will be able to go to Bartello and get these answers,” Persing said. “It is his department and since he didn’t want to meet to discuss this he now has a whole folder of information that he can look into.”

Bartello said he will conduct his own investigation at the Moran site.

Council hopeful and city resident Dale Henry addressed Saxton during the commotion and questioned the Muncy man’s motives.

“My name is Dale Henry and I am a resident and a taxpayer,” he said. “You don’t own any property in Sunbury and you don’t pay taxes here but yet you come here and say all these things that aren’t true.”

Saxton said he owns property outside of the city and he grew up in Sunbury and has an interest in the city’s well-being.

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