The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Northumberland County

February 26, 2013

Sunbury City Council skirts request to oppose federal laws

SUNBURY — Members of City Council passed a resolution Monday to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. They also agreed to uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

But they skirted questions about whether they would comply with two federal laws that permit the detention of citizens without trial and increase domestic intelligence gathering by law enforcement agencies.

Council members resolved to uphold the constitutions at the urging of a city constable who is asking the council to pass an ordinance opposing the National Defense Authorization Act and the Patriot Act.  

The National Defense Authorization Act outlines the Pentagon’s budget for the year, but also allows the indefinite detention without trial of American citizens. President Obama has said he will not use that power. The Patriot Act, adopted after the Sept. 11 attacks, reduces restrictions on law enforcement’s ability to gather intelligence within the U.S.

Ed Quiggle Jr., 9th Ward constable, listened as Mayor David Persing, Councilmen Jim Eister, Kevin Troup, via phone, and Joe Bartello voted yes on the resolution to uphold the constitutions.

“I thank you for taking the first step,” Quiggle said. “But you didn’t go far enough.”

Quiggle asked council to pass an ordinance that would require noncooperation with enforcement of the NDAA and the Patriot Act.

Members of PANDA, or People Against the NDAA, were also in attendance to hear council’s decision.

One by one, PANDA members shook their heads and asked Persing if he was in support of the group.

“You can take whatever we did here tonight any way you want,” Persing told the few in attendance. “We believe in the Constitution.”

Quiggle asked Persing whether he or the Sunbury Police Department would work with the federal government in helping detain a person.

“We would speak to the police chief at that time,” Persing said.

Also during the meeting, Persing fielded questions about the former Celotex site, owned by Moran Industries of Watsontown.

The North Front Street site had been the center of controversy since Clean Harbors Environmental Services, of Nowell, Mass., which consolidates and solidifies liquid wastes from the Marcellus Shale industry — tried to locate a facility there.

During the meeting, Persing read a letter stating Clean Harbors has withdrawn its application to the state Department of Environmental Protection to operate at the site.

“I told you all that if you want to know the truth to come to council meetings,” Persing said after reading the letter. “They are not coming here, and there is nothing illegal going on that site.”

Several residents still wanted answers about action at the Moran site.

“There is nothing going on there that shouldn’t be,” Persing told residents. “Anything is going on is already permitted, and we monitor it.”

In an unrelated matter, Darwin Klock, of Sunbury, presented a check for $1,000 to the city for the Sunbury Celebration fireworks.

Klock said the money was earned during an all night softball tournament over the summer to help pay for the fireworks.

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