Quincy Quincy Quincy

QUINCY TOWNSHIP – You’ll need a scorecard to keep track of all the changes in supervisors in Quincy Township, Franklin County and many are questioning the legality of recent moves to replace the two of three supervisors who resigned just a month apart.

Back in May Township Supervisor Kerry Bumbaugh was arrested on 17 charges,13 felony charges and 4 misdemeanor charges involving theft and fraud of township resources in the course of his duties as township supervisor and Road Master, stemming from an Attorney General grand jury investigation. Bumbaugh is also under investigation by the FBI. He was arrested May 26th and was released on 25K dollars bail.

Because these alleged crimes happened in the course of his official duties, many question his ability to continue on as supervisor and maintain trust and credibility, causing community members and political leaders in his own party to ask him to step down. Bumbaugh is maintaining his innocence and refuses to step down which has caused disruption in the township office and his own state representative, Paul Schemel, to take the extraordinary step, of starting impeachment proceedings against him in the state legislature.

Robert Gunder, a supportive ally of Bumbaugh’s, abruptly resigned June 22nd without explanation. Ed Wilson, who believes Bumbaugh should have resigned after his indictment, resigned in protest a month later, July 22nd. He did so with the idea that the township would be better off having the courts step in to fill supervisor positions as per township code, when there are two of three vacant seats on the supervisors board, thus avoiding even the appearance of impropriety of a supervisor under indictment for abuse of his position, having a hand in appointing new supervisor positions.

Surprisingly, the township council, Linus Fenicle, advised the township that, without a quorum of supervisors (2 out of 3), the Vacancy Board could be called to fill one of the seats August 5th, saying that the supervisors had failed to appoint a replacement for Gunder, despite the fact that no quorum had ever existed for the Supervisors to be able to meet to even “fail to come to an agreement”. There is also a question as to whether the proper amount of days had even elapsed to make such a determination since the Township Code defines a “resignation” differently from a “vacancy” – a point the legal council used to justify his advice to council.

After dismissing questions about the legality of the move from community members, the Vacancy Board of two, Jim Bakner and Kerry Bumbaugh, nominated and voted  Tab Justice, husband of Quincy Township secretary Laura Justice, into the open supervisor position, August 5th, and he was immediately was sworn in. They immediately voted to accept Ed Wilson’s resignation, creating another vacancy on the board.

Then in a special meeting announced on the township website and their Facebook page August 11th for August 13th, Friday, the two supervisors, Kerry and Bakner, appointed a third supervisor, Bumbaugh ally Lee Daywalt to replace the seat Ed Wilson left. Once again community members challenged the legality of both the supervisor replacements at this meeting but were told by attorney Fenicle that “in his opinion” it is legal.

Some community members are expressing concerns that if these actions by the supervisors are deemed illegal at some point in the future, all actions taken by the board in the interim could cause major problems for the township. A petition has been started to take these concerns to state representatives.

An executive session at this meeting also resulted in the previous supervisor, recently resigned, Bob Gunder,  being hired on as a contractor by the township to work on grants and permits for $25 dollars an hour. Also secretary Cathy Kozain was given a raise and job promotion at this same meeting.

The next regular meeting of the township supervisors for later in August has been cancelled. Their next regularly scheduled meeting is not until September 7th.

On Friday, August 13, NEWS TALK 1037FM talked about the 8:30am meeting during a visit with Attorney Clint Barkdoll at 7:11am and then with State Representative Rob Kauffman at 8:11am.

This is the link from the Quincy Township Supervisors meeting that was held 13 August at 8:30. https://www.facebook.com/terri.hurst.7/videos/208955857750422

No agenda was posted, that we could find, it was only advertised on the township website.

Jansen said, “They said at the last meeting, ‘oh we’re going to appoint another supervisor at an upcoming meeting,’ but I don’t see an agenda here. On their website they do say updated August 11, they did post this saying that they’re going to have this meeting at 8:30 a.m. I don’t know how commonly they have meetings at 8:30 a.m. I can’t find any agenda where this is posted that they’re going to appoint a new supervisor.”

Ryan asked, “I don’t think they have to put that up just yet, right?

Barkdoll confirmed, “That new law that they can only pass items if they were posted 24 hours in advance on an agenda does not go into effect until about two more weeks, so they’re still in this old system where in theory a public body can get away with that. There’s still all these other questions, let alone this public notice issue which may be another issue, is any of this legitimate? Did they have the requisite quorum a few weeks ago when they filled the second seat let alone now proceeding today to maybe fill a third seat.”

Ryan wondered, “Where are the lawmakers? Where is the process with State Representative Schemel and Kauffman and the legislature in Harrisburg? What about that right now? Have you heard any more movement on that?”

Barkdoll said, “Nothing. Or from the party. You would think this is a situation that they would be coming out very publicly calling on a resignation, setting forth a timeline on getting this impeachment process ramped up, but it has been radio silence. I think it has actually emboldened some of these players in Quincy. I mean they feel it has been somewhat of a tacit approval of the way they’re operating. I do feel like if our local legislators came out more strongly, calling for a resignation, calling for more action in Harrisburg on the impeachment I think they really could create some pressure but for whatever reason, they don’t seem to be interested in coming out with those sort of statements.”

Ryan said, “Look what happened with Andrew Cuomo. When the pressure came to bear, it certainly worked out in the state’s favor in New York.”

State Representative Rob Kauffman joined in on the dialogue during his visit in the 8am hour saying, “It is terribly concerning. Before we left session for the summer we passed in the House Judiciary Committee an impeachment resolution authorizing the investigation of him for impeachment. That sits on the House calendar. The Judiciary Committee cannot further act on impeachment. The full House has to be the one that acts on impeachment. And I as judiciary chair or the committee as a whole cannot do anything for impeachment until the full House gives that authorization. Just to make that clear.”

Ryan said, “You can’t do anything about it, but you know people that can do something about it. Have you made that move?”

Kauffman said, “The Republican leader has to put it on the calendar. My expectation would be when we return to session that would be on the calendar immediately for consideration.”

Jansen asked, “Could the Attorney General if he wanted to do something about this?”

Kauffman said, “I believe the Attorney General, even the District Attorney, could find some kind of legal avenue. We’re not talking about the impeachment process, but talking about what he is doing currently because if he is not violating Second Class Township code or another statute, it appears to be coming very close. The way they are behind the scenes, quickly throwing meetings together, I’m just not sure how this meets legal muster in the second class township code.”

Ryan said, “I don’t understand how the solicitor that is hired by the township is making the decisions. Why isn’t there an independent solicitor there that is being engaged? If I’m Bumbaugh, I would want somebody independent here. Look, I don’t know enough about the law and I’m just a guy who’s talking on a radio station, but it would seem like even that solicitor should say you know what? You should have an independent person here because you, the Quincy Township, hired me as your solicitor. I’m making decisions based on what I know and I’m in direct benefit of the decisions of Quincy Township.”

Kauffman said, “The solicitor is supposed to be acting in the best interests of the township and its residents. In one respect the solicitor works for the supervisors because they are supposed to be acting in the best interest of the township and its residents. My assumption would always be unless there’s some reason to believe otherwise that the solicitor is working in the best interest of the township and its residents. That’s why you hire a solicitor. It’s not really to protect any individual. It’s to protect the township and make sure that things are running as they should legally.”

Ryan pointed out, “But you just identified the conflict. The township supervisors hired the solicitor and the solicitor is supposed to be working for the best of the township. But yet the township supervisor is under FBI investigation. So why wouldn’t you have an independent there?”

Linus Finicle has been the solicitor in Quincy Township for a while and he is a solicitor for other municipalities as well.

Ryan said, “I’m just saying there should be a trigger going here if you’re being paid, if you were hired by the township supervisor and the supervisor of the township is under FBI investigation, would’t it be in the best interest of everybody if we had an independent set of eyes on this.”

Jansen said, “Wouldn’t he want to say I consulted this legal expert and bring that in as well? He was a very angry man at that last meeting and he would not answer questions very forthrightly. Didn’t really want to answer those questions. We asked if he would put this decision in writing, he says he will not. He said they didn’t need a quorum for the Vacancy Board and they didn’t need a quorum to declare that the supervisors didn’t pick someone to fill that seat. It made no legal sense. Why wouldn’t this gentleman get another legal opinion?”

Kauffman said, “The status in which the township is in and all of the issues they are running into, if I was that solicitor, I’d want a second set of eyes.”

The meeting was set for 8:30 this morning and the reason is apparently because they had to work around the solicitor’s schedule.

A lot of residents in Quincy are pointing out having a meeting that early conflicts with work schedules and makes them unable to attend.

One would think the solicitor for a governmental agency would work on the municipality’s schedule.

Kauffman pointed out, “The township would appoint an assistant solicitor. If you have your solicitor and they can’t make it, there would be an alternative. Or they could appoint a firm and have an assistant solicitor from another firm. So really that is an odd excuse.”