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GIRARD Council appoints last person to panel

Published: Tue, September 25, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.

A councilwoman questioned the lack of diversity on the financial oversight commission.



GIRARD -- Councilman Joseph Lambert has been named the final member of the seven-member financial oversight commission appointed to dig the city out of red ink.

Council president Leo Grimes made the announcement before Monday night's council meeting and on the eve of the commission's first meeting, which was to be today in city hall.

Need: When state auditor Jim Petro placed the city under fiscal emergency Aug. 8, it triggered the creation of the fiscal planning and supervision commission.

As council president, Grimes was entitled to serve on the commission or select a member.

Grimes, who will not serve on council next year because he lost a re-election bid in the May primary, said he would select a council member. Lambert, an at-large lawmaker, is ending his fourth year on council and is employed at Liberty Health Care Center.

Liberty Health Care's parent company is Windsor House Inc., where Grimes is employed and where another commission member, John J. Masternick, is corporate attorney.

The connection between Lambert and Masternick, who is also Grimes' brother-in-law, raised concerns by Councilwoman Kathleen O'Connell Sauline, D-2nd.

Diversity: Sauline said she had hoped the commission would be more diverse and representative of the community, noting there are no female members.

Other members are Mayor James Melfi; Carl C. Culp, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Farmers National Bank; Robert L. Delisio, president and chief operating officer of Landmark Group; Paul Steiner, representing the state treasurer; and Joe Gray, a budget and management analyst with the state's Office of Budget and Management.

Councilman Renny Paolone, D-1st, questioned during Monday's meeting the proposed purchase of new computer software and upgrade of hardware by municipal Judge Michael Bernard.

The administration and Paolone, chairman of council's finance committee, have been critical of the judge for what they believe was his overspending to construct a justice center.

The center's cost, they maintain, is one reason the city has financial problems.

Funding: In a Sept. 19 letter to council, Judge Bernard said the computer upgrade will be paid with court funds and he doesn't expect city funds will be necessary.

The judge pointed out the court's computers were installed in September 1996. In asking Melfi if the expense could be postponed, Paolone noted the police department lacks computer technology.

"The court has yet to get it," Melfi said of the judge. But the mayor noted council has control over the city budget.



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