Carmichaels council again appoints Watson to vacancy
CARMICHAELS – Carmichaels Borough Council met Tuesday to correct an invalid vote taken earlier this month in appointing Christopher Watson to a vacant seat on council. Though the procedure this time was different, based on the recommendation of the borough solicitor, the result was the same and Watson was appointed to the post.
Council had voted Jan. 16 in a 2 to 1 vote to appoint Watson to complete the unexpired term of Annette Thomas. Both Watson and Elizabeth Walker, wife of council President Charles Walker, submitted letters expressing interest in the position.
All four remaining members of council were present at the Jan. 16 meeting when a motion to appoint Watson was approved with Ralph McWilliams and Josephine Gresko voting for it and John Paletta voting against it.
Charles Walker did not vote, saying he believed as president he could only vote to break a tie. Paletta also questioned the vote, saying he believed three votes were necessary for the appointment.
Council decided the appointment would stand contingent on the vote being affirmed by the solicitor or state association of boroughs.
Council met again Jan. 18 after borough secretary Brandi Streit had contacted the borough association and was told Charles Walker should have voted on the motion and if there were a tie, Mayor Mike Dohanich should vote to break it.
It was decided then, however, to table action on the appointment until council received an opinion from its solicitor, Jeff Grimes.
Streit read a letter from Grimes at Tuesday’s special meeting in which he said he didn’t believe Watson’s appointment was valid. Charles Walker could have voted on the motion and would have had to vote to have a valid vote, he said.
The borough code states any vote must be by a majority of council present at a meeting and at the Jan. 16 meeting, with four members present, three would have had to vote “yes” on the appointment for it to be valid, Grimes said. He also said if there were a tie, Dohanich would vote to break it.
As before, McWilliams again introduced a motion to appoint Watson. He and Gresko voted in favor of the motion and Paletta and Charles Walker voted against it. Dohanich then broke the tie voting “yes” to appoint Watson to the position.
Watson, who did not attend the meeting, will serve until the end of the year.
In other business, Terri Donaldson of Cumberland Township questioned whether the borough had advertised its meetings as required by law. The borough had properly advertised Tuesday’s special meeting but not the Jan. 18 session. Charles Walker said council would check into the matter and do what is required.
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