'You little mini-tyrant:' Shuey refutes Clausi's claims at testy Shamokin Area School Board meeting
COAL TOWNSHIP - It was a war of words between Northumberland County Commissioner Vinny Clausi and Shamokin Area School Board member Charles Shuey Thursday night, when accusations flew about improprieties.
During the public comment section of the school board's meeting, the dialogue became so heated, physical violence was threatened after Clausi accused Shuey of receiving a $2 an hour raise as Coal Township Recycling Center coordinator because
cardboard from the school district went to the Coal Township Recycling Center.
"You little mini-tyrant," Shuey said angrily after the accusation. "Don't you come here and accuse me of anything like that, or I'll knock you right out of that microphone!"
"Try it," Clausi answered. "Touch me."
The discussion began with Clausi, a Coal Township resident, asking the board if any resolution was passed to send the cardboard recycling to the center, located just a stone's throw away from district property.
"I'm not sure we have that information right here," board president Ron McElwee answered. McElwee had repeatedly banged the gavel when the argument escalated.
"You should know if you guys pass any motion," Clausi said. "You don't have to brush me off."
"Do you remember every motion you pass every month?" McElwee said back.
Shuey took over the discussion, saying, "I get the feeling this is going to be directed to me, so what are you driving at?"
Clausi asked the question again, and Shuey answered, "To the best of my knowledge, there has been no resolution to take the cardboard anywhere."
The county commissioner then wanted to direct a question to Shuey, but first stated he was going to send a letter to the Attorney General's Office because he felt there was a criminal act committed.
"Why am I not surprised?" Shuey then said aloud.
Several board members, including McElwee, Richard Kashnoski and Matt Losiewicz, tried to diffuse the situation.
"This sounds like you're an attorney on some kind of criminal case," Kashnoski said to Clausi. "I don't think this belongs at a school board meeting. If this is something that you want to investigate, then do that on your time."
Kashnoski directed Clausi to do what any citizen should do and file a Right-To-Know request for minutes.
"I just want to know why the district gave away the property when they could have made money by selling it themselves," Clausi asked.
"Give me an example of who would buy it," Shuey asked him. "I sell it at the recycling center, but I have to have a tractor-trailer full to do that."
After the accusation and threat, Shuey continued his heated words.
"Maybe you have no integrity, but don't you judge me by your standards," Shuey said.
McElwee tried to address Clausi, but Shuey fired back an accusation of his own.
"How about telling everyone how you hired your daughter in the county?" Shuey said.
"I didn't hire my daughter, she was a civil service hire," Clausi responded.
McElwee asked Clausi if the raise was relevant to the business of the Shamokin Area School Board, and he said no, so the president directed Clausi to take up the matter to the Coal Township Board of Commissioners.
Losiewicz asked Clausi if he had a proposal to buy cardboard from the Shamokin Area School District, or if he could recommend a company that would buy it.
"If you don't have a recommendation, then I don't see what your issue is," Losiewicz said.
Clausi asked the board if he could have a letter or if the matter could be researched about the decision to take the recycling to Coal Township. He was directed to file a Right-To-Know request, which enabled Shuey to get one more shot in.
"Here you have to follow procedure," Shuey told him. "It's not by your dictate."
Later in the public comment period, Clausi said he would file a request for the tape of the meeting. Superintendent James Zack said the district is not able to provide a copy of meeting tapes, but he can get the minutes after they are approved next month.
Following the meeting, Shuey said he felt Clausi was getting back at him for his criticism on county matters at a recent meeting, but tried to downplay his threat.
"What I said was I 'ought to' knock him from that microphone," Shuey said following the meeting.