Sulc under microscope for cellphone, computer usage

North Strabane parks and recreation director may not have violated outdated policy

February 19, 2014
North Strabane Township parks and recreation director Greg Sulc addresses township supervisors during a meeting Tuesday night. - Mike Jones / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

North Strabane Township’s outdated policy regarding its employees’ cellphone usage makes it highly unlikely township parks and recreation director Greg Sulc violated any terms of his employment with personal use of the phone.

According to phone records obtained Wednesday by the Observer-Reporter, Sulc used his township cellphone to make hundreds of calls and send hundreds of text messages in each of the past three billing cycles.

The township’s cellular telephone policy, written in August 2000, has few stipulations on the use of the phones, although it does not allow calls for adult entertainment, sports betting, merchandise purchases or “supernatural-type entertainment.” The policy said nothing about data usage, text messages, email or personal use for the phone.

Sulc’s cellphone usage topped 1,208 minutes in December and 840 text messages in January, but he did not incur any additional charges above the $53.41 monthly flat rate plan provided by Verizon Wireless.

Sulc’s cellphone was off on Wednesday and he did not respond to a voicemail message seeking comment.

Township Manager Frank Siffrinn said the municipality has 10 cellphones for workers and spends about $600 per month on the plans. He acknowledged the outdated language in the policy might need updated to reflect the advent of smartphones.

“Over all of these years, we’ve never had a problem with abuse of cellphones,” Siffrinn said. “It’s never been an issue.”

Questions were raised about Sulc’s cellphone usage when his phone number was included on the invitation of a campaign event for his girlfriend, Sonia Stopperich, who is a township supervisor running for state House.

However, Sulc, who is Stopperich’s assistant campaign treasurer, also sent an email announcing her candidacy from his township email on his work computer. Township supervisors met in executive session after their Tuesday night meeting to discuss the matter and whether he violated their computer-use policy. It was not known what, if any, action the supervisors might take against him at their voting meeting next week.

Supervisor Brian Spicer also questioned the amount of gasoline Sulc’s department used in January. He considered the 100 gallons used last month to fill Sulc’s township-owned 2007 Ford Explorer to be excessive and estimated it equaled 75 miles per day.

“It seems like it’d be a slow period and 100 gallons of gasoline seems like a lot,” Spicer said.

“My job doesn’t stop because it’s the winter,” Sulc said while addressing the supervisors during the meeting.

Siffrinn said Wednesday morning that the township will investigate the issue. He said Sulc used 72.7 gallons the previous January and that his consumption fluctuated from a high of 144.2 gallons in May to a low of 71.9 gallons in December.

“During this time of year, it does seem excessive,” Siffrinn said. “But I don’t know how you prove that.”

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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