City Council Meeting Minutes
March 7, 2007
City Council convened in Regular Session at 7:36 p.m. on Tuesday, March 7, 2007, in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, with the following members present: Toni Smith, Wm. Lee Smallwood, Vickie Washington, Joseph R. Musso, Vice President, and Cameron Texter, President, with President Texter presiding. Mayor John Brenner was not present. (Note: The Council meeting began at 7:36 p.m. instead of 7:00 p.m. because the 6:00 p.m. Public Works Committee meeting ran over the projected end time.)
Members of the Administration in attendance included: Jim Gross, Director of Public Works, Kim Bracey, Director of Community Development, and Mark Whitman, Police Commissioner. Also present was Assistant Solicitor Christopher Connard. Matt Jackson, Director of Economic Development, John Senft, Fire Chief, and Michael O’Rourke, Business Administrator were absent.
Members of York City Council staff in attendance included: Dianna L. Thompson, City Clerk.
A motion was made by Washington, seconded by Musso, to dispense with the reading of the Minutes of February 20, 2007, and approve them as written. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays - 0.
Public Comment (On items not listened on the printed agenda)
President Texter took a moment to read the following statement:
“First, I wish to thank the many people of York who have expressed great support to my family and me during difficult times. I have experienced many hard times through the years from the death of my next oldest brother Curtis, his wife and their unborn child, to the suicide of my mother to the fire that destroyed my home in 1996, among others. All of these tragedies have shown me the compassion of York countians. More importantly, I have learned that my family and I have made so many friends in York County since we moved here in 1989.
Second, it has become obvious to all who tune into these meetings that my wife of 21 years, E. Kyomi Texter, and I have begun divorce proceedings. I refuse to go into the many complicated reasons for such action. I will just say that the reasons are not as simple as some people who have spoken in these chambers would lead the public to believe. Additionally, I wish to keep this statement as brief as possible.
Therefore, I wish to clearly state that I apologize for any actions on my part that caused those proceedings to play out in public. Divorce can become heart wrenching enough.
York Police Commissioner Mark Whitman has provided to Council a statement on the so-called incident at my home. I wish to state that nothing happened during that so-called incident that hasn’t happened at just about any home or among any family on any given night in York or throughout York County.
The members of Council have Commissioner Whitman's statement. I also have released that statement to the local newspapers. Commissioner Whitman has attended tonight's meeting. He can answer any questions from Council or the public on his statement. Otherwise, the rest of the situation involving my wife and I remains my family's and my household's personal business.
On another matter, I also wish to apologize for the error in judgment that I showed with a recent campaign expense filing. My wife and I have fully cooperated with the York County Elections Office. I took full responsibility for my error in judgment. I have had the paperwork properly notarized and filed with the Elections Office. Again, I will take full responsibility.
I hope during Council meetings at least that we can focus on City business. Everyone has problems. Maybe I'm an optimist. However, I wish we all can throw those problems in a pot and begin working together. The realistic side of my personality tells me there's probably a fat chance of that happening. I for one will continue working on the people's business here in Council. I will handle my personal problems on my own time.
I thank everyone for their patience. I again wish to express my utmost appreciation for how thoughtful so many people have been toward my wife, my children and me. Thank you for your time, your attention, and indulgence.”
Respectfully submitted by: Cameron Texter, President of Council
Next, Ed Berry, 247 E. Maple St., York, PA, said he has noticed continuous violations of the Council rules by certain members of the public and feels Council has indulged these individuals for too long. He said it’s a problem when a speaker is gaveled out-of-order and they continue to talk. As President of Council, he stated, you have the right to take control of the meetings. He said he doesn’t come to Council meetings to make personal attacks. He said he comes to the meetings to discuss the affairs of the city.
Tom Fitzgerald, 3205 E. Market St., York, PA, questioned possible censorship of the Council meetings. Mr. Fitzgerald said he sent an email to President Texter asking about how Council meetings are conducted and President Texter responded by providing him with information and laws relating to his questions. However, he said when he asked President Texter to provide him with laws allowing suspension of live Council meeting broadcasts, he felt President Texter’s helpful tone changed. Mr. Fitzgerald read portions of the 3rd Class City Code regulating Council meetings and asked how President Texter could continue to speak during a recess without starting the broadcast up again. Mr. Fitzgerald formally objected to suspension of the broadcasted Council meetings and if the broadcast suspensions continue, he said he would take this issue to court.
Beverly Atwater, 345 S. Penn St., York, PA, spoke about operation Clean Sweep, whereby residents with outstanding warrants were arrested. Ms. Atwater was outraged that the police went into city schools and arrested teachers while students were in session. Additionally, she said the police had the audacity to make false statements by saying that the superintendent approved this action. She said whoever authorized this owes our 6,000 children an apology. Ms. Atwater stated that we try to instill in our children to respect adults but now our children are calling these teachers jailbirds. She said these teachers aren’t murderers or rapists and didn’t deserve to be humiliated like that.
William Bolt, 1016 S. Pine St., York, PA, and member of the Veterans Memorial Park Neighborhood Association, explained how the association has stepped up their patrols and have confronted drug dealers and prostitutes face-to-face. He said they call police and file complaints; however, the lawbreakers leave the area before police have a chance to respond. Mr. Bolt then listed a rash of thefts and vandalism that have been taking place in the neighborhood and that our children are being threatened by drug dealers to tell their parents to keep their mouths shut. Mr. Bolt stated that city’s officials have said they are working on the problem, however, they see no results. He said he feels residents in his neighborhood would get more attention if they lived downtown. We are afraid and we are tired of being patient and we need your help, he said.
Matthew Mann, 1046 Edison St., York, PA, and member of the Eastside Neighborhood Association, discussed the recent theft of his bicycle, which is his primary means of transportation. Mr. Mann explained how he purchased a new bike and locked it to a bike rack downtown. When he came back to his bike, he found that the rear tire was stomped to the point where he couldn’t ride his bike home. This kind of behavior is what discourages residents, he said.
David Clarence, York, PA, first asked to see the police logs for all police calls as suspicion has arisen about a page missing from the logs. Second, he commented on the statement made by Ms. Atwater about the kids calling teachers jailbirds. He said kids will be kids and asked why people aren’t worried about these kids being provided with a proper education instead of worrying about how to protect the lawbreakers. Mr. Clarence then discussed metal detectors and search mechanisms at the schools. Mr. Clarence feels these types of mechanisms are a violation of civil rights. Next, Mr. Clarence talked about the improper notarization of an official document at which time he also discussed notary laws. Mr. Clarence challenged the reason given by a notary about mistaken identity with regard to improperly notarizing a document and feels the notary should lose her commission.
Tim Page, 680 E. Princess St., York, PA, said he knows it’s not easy to be reprimanded by the public and that he doesn’t come to the meetings to stir up the pot, however, he said he feels that he has been disrespected on numerous occasions. Mr. Page stated that he comes to the meetings to discuss city issues and how we can improve the quality of life of our residents but feels York has a bad image. Mr. Page compared the police department operations to that of Enron because he believes facts and information have been skewed. He said the laws should apply to public officials the same way they apply to him. Mr. Page then spoke about an officer he alleged lied under oath and how selective enforcement is giving the city a bad image.
Virginia Melody, York, PA, apologized to the community about the mud slinging going on. She said there are many people going through divorce and family issues, which is none of our business. Ms. Melody said innocent family members, like children, are being hurt because of political vendettas. Personal lives are personal and should not be a part of a Council legislative session. She agreed that the meeting should have be recessed when a gentleman came to the Council meeting waiving President Texter’s divorce papers in the air. Ms. Melody said she feels many people use the cameras to push their personal agendas and that freedom of speech does not give you the right to slander another person. Municipalities won’t want to work with the City of York if they continue to see the circus that goes on, she said. Ms. Melody stated that the image problem the city is having is because of what residents are bringing to the meeting and she hopes tonight is the last night for the shenanigans and we can continue with the business of the city.
Vice President Musso explained the structure of city government because he feels many people don’t understand. He said the Mayor manages the administrative component of city government while Council manages the legislative section of city government. He explained that Council has no say over the police department or the operations of any other department, except the Office of City Clerk and City Council. However, this is a public forum and Council is the face of government and it is our responsibility to listen to the public and ask the Administration for answers. He went on to say we operate under a strong Mayor form of government and it is unfortunate that the Mayor doesn’t attend very many Council meetings. Council establishes legislation and oversees the budget process. Council has taken on more, he said, because we are the face of government. He did say that the work of the city is getting done but progress is being muddled by personal attacks. Council wants to project a professional image but it gets very frustrating dealing with the personal attacks. We need to get back to the business of the city, he said. Vice President Musso then asked Commissioner Whitman to respond to Mr. Bolt’s comments.
Commissioner Whitman thanked Council for the opportunity to address these issues. He explained that he is the person responsible for the Police Department and they are aware of the concerns brought up this evening. Commissioner Whitman responded to Mr. Bolt that the Police are dealing with the Memorial Park neighborhood and in the last year they have made several drug and prostitution arrests though he’s sure its not enough to make everyone happy. He did say he has turned over several email complaints to Investigative Services Commander Ron Camacho. Commissioner Whitman went on to explain that Nuisance Abatement Officer Bill Wentz continues to address violations to the Nuisance Abatement ordinance and has cited several property owners. He said Officer Wentz has been getting cooperation from property owners and some properties have been shut down to allow violations to get resolved. He stated that we hope to create a better relationship with the community so you won’t have to approach Council about your concerns.
Commissioner Whitman then addressed comments made during recent Council meetings about allegations of a page missing from the police logs. Commissioner Whitman submitted the following letter to address this concern:
“I write regarding the above caption reference, specifically to express my concern over the amount of attention the York City Police Department’s Daily report has received through both media venues (printed and airwave).
First, let me point out that the Daily Log is prepared for information only as a snapshot or quick reference of the previous 24-hours police events. It is important to understand that it is prepared in the following fashion:
1. The daily log is prepared from arrest reports and police criminal reports.
2. The daily log is not, nor has it ever been intended to be a complete capture of daily police events.
3. The type of event concerning domestics, fights, neighbor disputes, juvenile, police miscellaneous, etc will not be recorded on the log unless an arrest report or crime report has been generated.
4. The entire days events are captured through the County Communication Center via Computer Aided Dispatch, of which, as you know this information is not public information in it’s entirety.
As previously indicated the daily log is generated by reports that have been delivered to the desk personnel. It is further important to note that not all reports are delivered to the desk personnel in a timely fashion for a myriad of reasons.
The City of York Police Department’s Records Unit civilian personnel pales in numbers to other agencies our size and we remain operating under a redundant system of police reports generated by officers and then re-entered into the existing records management system by our clerical staff.
Suffice it to say that we neither have the time nor staff to prepare a more detailed report on a daily basis and at this juncture, there is no immediate plan to alter the current system until a more complete records management system accompanies the County CAD system. The police administration will then examine alternatives to the daily report at that time.
In regards to number of calls handled by the police department annually, the misinformation quoted by a member of the audience requires a response.
On page 140 of the Early Intervention Program (EIP) paragraph one indicates the number of calls for service as (21,031) these are report-generated complaints. Paragraph two indicates the additional 37,203 types of complaints that were recorded on a Radio Activity Card (prior to CAD) and these are the proactive police response calls for service. The records review was in 2004 that totaled in excess of 58,000 different pieces of police activity that required police attention.
The misinformation that was conveyed at a recent Council meeting is a distortion of fact, misrepresentation of reality and one can only hope that it was done so in error and not intentionally.
The York City Police Department has been open with you as the liaison to the council and the council members, the media and other who have requested information. Please keep in mind that not every piece of information or record is open to the public/or the council.
I am confident this letter provides sufficient information that will close this matter.”
Respectfully submitted by: Mark L. Whitman, Police Commissioner
Next, Commissioner Whitman discussed what happened during Operation Clean Sweep at the area schools (Devers Elementary School, Hannah Penn Middle School & Wm. Penn Sr. High School). He said the intent was not to negatively impact the children and he doesn’t believe the kids even knew about the arrests. Commissioner Whitman explained the sweep and said the teachers came to the School Resource Office and were given a field receipt outlining their citations and then they went back to class. The citations included offenses from outstanding warrants, to parking tickets and traffic violations. He said teachers were not hauled off in handcuffs as rumored. He stated that there were three phases these citations went through before some of them turned into arrest warrants. Many of these people were notified of their outstanding citations yet they did nothing to adjudicate the situation and some of the individuals had to go before a district magistrate to resolve the matter. He did say that not all involved in the sweep were school district personnel.
Councilwoman Washington asked where Commissioner Whitman got the list of school employees with outstanding fines. Commissioner Whitman said he couldn’t respond at this time. However, he did say it’s not uncommon for them to do sweeps. Sweeps are a good thing especially in the school district because I’m sure residents wouldn’t want to see murderers or pedophiles working with our children, he said.
Councilwoman Smith said she feels the police have a right to do sweeps but feels the sweep at the school could have been handled better. A loss of respect may have taken place, she said. However, if you break laws and try to get away with it, you will get caught. She urged residents to be responsible. Councilwoman Smith stated that our children see so many bad things happening and she would hate to see them lose respect for these teachers. The arrests broke my heart, she said.
Commissioner Whitman stated he is open to suggestions on how to handle these types of sweeps in the future. He did want to reiterate that no teachers were dragged down to the School Resource Office and none were handcuffed and hauled off to jail. He said he feels the police handled this sweep as gently as they could because of the children. There were some school employees that had to be taken to the district magistrate because of the type of warrant, however, none were handcuffed. Vice President Musso suggested giving the school a heads up about sweeps in the future.
President Texter said that they Commissioner has committed to meet with the public to discuss this further so he would like to give the Commissioner an opportunity to do that in his own forum.
Councilman Smallwood said whether the kids saw the arrests take place at the school or not, a psychological affect exists because they were able to read about it in the paper. We have to protect the minds of our children, he said.
There being no more general comment, President Texter called for a recess at 8:58 p.m. to allow for a bathroom and water break.
President Texter reconvened the meeting at 9:08 p.m.
Public Works Committee, Councilwoman Vickie Washington, Chair: Councilwoman Washington reported that the P.W. committee met this evening at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to discuss snow removal policies and procedures. She said Public Works Director Jim Gross was onboard and explained what snow removal procedures took place during the February 14th snow and ice storm. She stated that no legislation or further action is being proposed at this time.
President Texter asked Director Bracey if she could provide Council with the number of citations given for snow removal as a result of the last snowstorm. Director Bracey said the Mayor felt it in the best interest of all involved that we not move forward with the citations because of the severity of the storm.
Business Administration Committee, Councilman Wm. Lee Smallwood, Chair: Councilman Smallwood announced that the B.A committee met on Tuesday, February 27, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to hear from representatives from Prime Buchholz (city’s consultants) information on the city’s current pension outline. He said this meeting served as an information session and no action was necessary.
Business Administration Committee, Councilman Wm. Lee Smallwood, Chair: Councilman Smallwood then announced that a B.A. committee meeting has been scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 in Council Chambers to discuss the feasibility of forming a permanent PEG oversight committee to oversee White Rose Community Access Television.
Final Passage of Bill No. 4, Ordinance No. 6, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 Budget for the Bureau of Housing Services which includes CDBG and HOME program funds to reflect the changes resulting from actual funding levels rolled over from 2006, which was introduced by Musso at the February 20 meeting of Council and read in brief, came up for final passage. On motion of Musso, seconded by Smallwood, Bill No. 4 came up for discussion.
Director Bracey explained that this amendment would correct the budget to reflect actual spending levels from the various CDBG and HOME program funds. She said this was spending that took place after the budget was completed. As they made projections to be included in the 2007 budget, this action would correct the projections that were off. She said there is no decrease in funding and they worked very hard with the Finance Department to adjust these levels accordingly. Director Bracey said a meeting is scheduled with the Finance Department on Friday to discuss any remaining funds and she would relay this information to Vice President Musso (liaison to the Community Development Department).
Councilman Smallwood said he had asked for a report on whether there would be any programmatic changes resulting from these rollovers. Director Bracey responded that no programs or activities would change as a result of these adjustments.
Vice President Musso asked several line item questions, in particular he asked about funding associated with redoing the Planning and Zoning Code, which were answered by Director Bracey.
Councilwoman Washington asked if the Temple Guards would be able to use money that was left over from last year’s budget. Director Bracey said that account is actually closed because there were some ineligible expenditures made, which will now result in unallocated funds. Councilwoman Washington asked if a public hearing would be held to discuss how to use all of the unallocated funds. Director Bracey said there would be hearings and she will provide Councilwoman Washington with those dates.
There being no further discussion, Bill No. 4, Ordinance No. 6, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Final Passage of Bill No. 5, Ordinance No. 7, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 Budget for the Police Department to appropriate revenue and expenditures in the amount of $246,661.00 for the purchase of in-car cameras as part of a Law Enforcement Technology grant received in 2004, which was introduced by Texter at the February 20 meeting of Council and read in brief, came up for final passage. On motion of Texter, seconded by Washington, Bill No. 5, Ordinance No. 7 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Introduction of Bill No. 6, Session 2007, A Bill vacating a portion of Moul St. in the 1 Ward, Map 3, Block 7, of the City of York, running between Sampson Ave. and East Boundary Ave. being approximately 170 feet in length and 9 feet in width, was introduced by Musso, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Texter, Bill No. 6 was deferred until a future meeting of Council. President Texter announced that in accordance with §2916 of the 3rd Class City Code, street vacations must sit for at least 28 days after introduction. Therefore, this Bill would be considered for final passage on or about April 3rd. A 2/3 vote of Council is needed for this Bill to pass.
Resolution No. 30, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing an agreement with PennDot to improve the railway crossing at N. George St. just north of North St. with assistance from York Railway Company and PennDot, was introduced by Washington, read at length, and on motion of Washington, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 30 came up for discussion.
Director Gross explained that this is approximately a $120,000 project with the Federal Highway Administration providing 50% of the funding. He said he would apply for liquid fuels funding and a county match to fund the remainder of this project. Director Gross stated that improvements would include a pedestrian safety crossing and a barrier to keep vehicles from going around railroad crossings when they are down.
There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 30 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 31, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer for the Health Department within the state health grant in the amount of $2,700.00 for the purchase of new computers, was introduced by Musso, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 31 came up for discussion. Vice President Musso asked Director Bracey to provide him with more information on these computer purchases because it seems too early in the year to transfer money for this type of purchase. Director Bracey said she would find out more information and would relay her findings to Vice President Musso. There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 31 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 32, Session 2007, A Resolution reappointing Joseph R. Musso as a member of the Vacant Property Review Committee to serve in said capacity until the first Monday of March 2010, was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Washington, Resolution No. 32 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0. Vice President Musso explained the role of the Vacant Property Review Committee (Article 1728 of the Codified Ordinances) and said he is happy to serve.
Resolution No. 33, Session 2007, A Resolution reappointing Tom Anthony as a member of the Construction Board of Adjustment and Appeals to serve in said capacity until March 1, 2010, was introduced by Smallwood, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 33 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Resolution No. 34, Session 2007, A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing a Certificate of Appropriateness for work to be covered in the applications submitted by Blanda Nace, YCEDC, for work to be done at 322-338 N. Court St., 315 N. George St. and 10-14 Washington St., Tamara Lemmon for work to be done at 314 W. Princess St., Randy Poe, Housing Alliance of York, for work to be done at 59 S. Pine St., and Jane Conover, YWCA of York, for work to be done in the 100 & 200 blocks of S. Pine St., and 423 W. Market St., was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Washington, Resolution No. 34 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.
Requests for Future Meetings
Business Administration Committee, Wm. Lee Smallwood, Chair: BA Committee meeting scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 in Council Chambers to discuss creation and feasibility of forming a permanent PEG oversight committee associated with White Rose Community Access Television.
Fire Committee, Councilwoman Toni Smith, Chair: Resolution No. 21 (click on Resolution No. 21 to view), a Resolution amending licensing and inspection fees associated with day care facilities as established in Article 1761 of the Codified Ordinances remains in committee.
Councilman Smallwood announced the Business Exchange Breakfast sponsored by the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African-American Affairs. He said the breakfast will be held on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at Crispus Attucks Center, 605 S. Duke St., York. The luncheon will serve as a forum to create relationships with business leaders and government officials with influence in the African-American community. For more information or to register, call (717) 772-5085.
Councilwoman Smith discussed an email she received that the contract Dave Carver has with the York City Redevelopment Authority as independent contractor will terminate on Friday, March 9th.
One of Mr. Carver’s contributions to the city was that he served as Northwest Triangle Project Director. Councilwoman Smith spoke kinds words about Mr. Carver.
Councilman Smallwood also spoke kind words about Mr. Carver and outlined some of the many contributions he has made to the City of York over the years.
President Texter made a motion to have the City Clerk prepare a letter of appreciation to Mr. Carver on behalf of Council. The motion was seconded by Washington and passed unanimously. Councilwoman Washington requested that all Council members sign the letter.
Vice President Musso read the following press releases from Mayor John Brenner:
· A press conference to announce the demolition of 18 blighted and vacant properties along the 200 blocks of East Princess Street and East Prospect Street that will take place on Friday, March 9 at 11 a.m. at 220 E. Prospect Street. The demolition will make way for the construction of Renaissance Park in the Olde Towne East neighborhood of York.
· The City of York will host a satellite site for an Electronics Recycling Event on Saturday, April 14th. York County Solid Waste Authority sponsors this event. The City will collect acceptable items from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the City’s Memorial Park parking lot, outside the yard waste facility.
· Curbside yard waste collections resume Monday, March 5th.
· Street sweeping resumes Thursday, March 15th and the Ticket and Tow initiative continues.
Administration Comment: None
Next Meeting: The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA.
Adjournment: There being no further business, the March 6, 2007 meeting of Council adjourned at 9:45 p.m.