Bridy, Clausi want Shoch to resign as Point Twp. solicitor
SUNBURY - Two weeks after removing Rick Shoch as chairman of the Northumberland County Board of Commissioners, Vinny Clausi and Stephen Bridy are seeking to have Shoch resign his position as Point Township solicitor because they believe it constitutes a conflict of interest.
Shoch said no conflict exists with him holding both posts because he has agreed to abstain from voting on any issues specifically pertaining to Point Township. The commissioner said the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission and County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania have already ruled that no conflict exists with him serving in both posts.
Despite knowing that Shoch was cleared of any conflict by the ethics commission and commissioners association, Bridy said Tuesday he plans to send a letter to the Pennsylvania Bar Association to determine if a conflict exists.
"He's double-dipping," commented Clausi. "It may not be illegal for him to hold both positions, but it's morally wrong. You can't serve two masters. He should serve as commissioner or solicitor. It's not in the best interests of the taxpayers or commissioner's office for him to serve in both positions."
Bridy agreed with Clausi.
Shoch said he welcomed having a letter sent to the bar association because he "stands up for what's right."
Shoch, who has a law practice in the Sunbury area, has served as solicitor for Point Township and its municipal authority since 2004. He also serves as solicitor for Mahoning Township Municipal Authority in Montour County and Liverpool Municipal Authority in Perry County.
'More bread, circuses'
The commissioner, who said solicitor Frank Garrigan informed him and the other commissioners after the meeting that no conflict exists, stated, "They are basically grasping at straws. This is more bread and circuses as I predicted. People should expect more of this sort of nonsense from both of them (Bridy and Clausi). I researched this issue during my campaign for commissioner and after I was elected, and I found out that there is no conflict as long as I abstain on any votes specifically dealing with Point Township."
Shoch pointed out that Clausi, who is the owner of a construction company and restaurant in Coal Township, also must abstain on votes if they have anything to do with businesses or individuals he deals with.
Removed as chair
On May 8, in what was believed to be an unprecedented move in Northumberland County government, Shoch was removed as chairman of the board and replaced by former vice chairman Clausi, who conducted his first meeting as chairman Tuesday.
The historic motion to oust the chairman, who now serves as secretary of the board, was made by Bridy and seconded by Clausi after both commissioners chastised Shoch for "going behind their backs" and writing a letter to the editor to local newspapers that criticized their actions and tactics.
In other business
Chief Clerk Gary Steffen reported the county received a reimbursement of $41,724.83 from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) for costs incurred from transporting and housing county prisoners when Tropical Storm Lee hit the area in September 2011.
The commissioners adopted a new use of facilities application for the conference room at the administration center and increased the non-refundable fee from $150 to $200. The fee may only be waived with prior approval from the commissioners.