Congressman Keller introduces bill to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines to American citizens and legal residents of the U.S.

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) today introduced the Saving Hypodermic injections and Offering vaccines to Taxpayers Swiftly (SHOTS) Act with original co-sponsors Congressman Mike Kelly (PA-16) and Congresswoman Nancy Mace (SC-01).

Starting today, all adults in the United States are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. In this eligibility, the Biden administration is welcoming illegal aliens to receive shots, per a statement released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in February, which would delay Americans and other taxpayers from accessing the vaccine.

As the crisis at the southern border continues to worsen, the SHOTS Act would instruct DHS to ensure that American citizens and lawful permanent residents are given priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine over those visiting or who have entered the United States illegally.

Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA):

“While I’m glad that more Americans are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, I am troubled that the Biden administration is giving taxpayer-funded vaccines to illegal aliens. While preventing community spread remains a priority, the current guidance for COVID-19 vaccines only serves to further incentivize individuals to break the law and enter the United States illegally, compounding the crisis at the southern border which the Biden administration has yet to address. Americans have invested trillions in COVID-19 relief, which includes funds for vaccine development, distribution, and administration. I am proud to introduce this legislation to ensure that America’s COVID-19 vaccines are going into the arms of American taxpayers first.”

Background:

Last week, Congressman Keller joined Ranking Member James Comer (KY-01), Congresswoman Yvette Herrell (NM-02), and six other Republican members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on a trip to the southern border to see first-hand the crisis currently unfolding and understand how it is impacting our nation.

Members of the National Border Patrol Council informed the delegation that an estimated 60,000 individuals have illegally entered the United States and evaded capture in the last two months.

According to DHS, in March of 2021:

  • CBP encountered over 172,000 illegal immigrants at the southwest border, the highest monthly total in 15 years and an increase of 400% compared to March 2020.
  • CBP encountered nearly 19,000 unaccompanied alien children (UACs), an increase of 486% compared to March 2020.
  • CBP encountered more than 53,000 family units at the southwest border, an increase of 1056% compared to March 2020.

Full text of this legislation is attached.

 

Right to Know Law appeals filed after WASD records denials

By: Todd Bartley

News@TalkWilliamsport.com

TalkWilliamsport.com filed Right to Know Law appeals with the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records after the Williamsport Area School District again denied and redacted records related to the 2018 “criminal sexual misconduct” incident in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina during the WAHS baseball team trip.

ALLEGED PERPETRATOR #1 was recently charged in the case by South Carolina law enforcement authorities.

In one instance, the WASD provided a “room assignment” email that had been requested three years ago. The WASD Open Records Officer Wanda Erb claimed on multiple occasions “no records exist.”

Five appeals were filed and a sixth appeal is forthcoming seeking the full release of clearly public records in possession of the Williamsport Area School District.

This is a developing story on TalkWilliamsport.com.

Commissioners issue press release in response to TalkWilliamsport.com reporting

Photo: Lycoming County Commissioners Rick Mirabito, Scott Metzger, Tony Mussare, Administrative Manager Lycoming County Commissioners, Eileen Ebner and Lycoming County Controller, Krista Rogers.

By: Todd Bartley

News@TalkWilliamsport.com

On Thursday, the Lycoming County Commissioners issued a press release titled “Transfer of Financial Functions”.

It was released in response to “Caught in the Middle” an in-depth report by TalkWilliamsport.com.

The press release from Lycoming County Commissioners Rick Mirabito, Scott Metzger and Tony Mussare reads as follows:

“We offer these thoughts in response to the Controller’s attempt to politicize our recent personnel actions. As Commissioners, we have dedicated ourselves to providing efficient and effective government functions to the taxpayers of this County. That was our sole motivation for transferring a few employees and their related functions back to the County’s fiscal department (now called the Office of Budget and Finance), where they were capably handled for years.

It is an unfortunate reality that these functions were and are not being performed timely or competently under the Controller’s supervision. In fact, repeated errors in basic things such as processing payroll and continued failures to produce reports and year-end entries on time evidenced this poor performance.

Two years ago, the Controller argued that the now transferred functions should be placed under her jurisdiction. The Commissioners agreed to do so with the expectation that the transfer would be seamless and have no effect on County government and County taxpayers. Plainly put, that expectation has not been fulfilled, despite the two years the Controller has had to absorb the functions and debug any problems.

And so it has become apparent to the Commissioners that they need to transfer, at least for now, these functions back to where they were capably handled for many years, to protect the County, its employees, and its citizens. The Controller claims that this action is illegal, but the Commissioners believe otherwise. While the courts may need to resolve that contest, what is beyond dispute is this — the transferred functions that were not competently handled by the Controller will now be done well and timely.”

This is a developing story on TalkWilliamsport.com.

Helm federal lawsuit alleges Jason Bolt was promoted to Captain having minimum standards changed

Photo: From June 29, 2020 Agent Jason Bolt (left), Mayor Derek Slaughter (middle),

Chief of Police Damon Hagan (right), former Mayor Campana (not pictured)

Todd Bartley, TalkWilliamsport.com

News@TalkWilliamsport.com

Information listed in the Federal lawsuit COMPLAINT filed today on behalf of Steve Helm of the Williamsport Bureau of Police; allege Jason Bolt was promoted to Captain of the Patrol Division having minimum standards changed for the position as noted in #45, #46  and #53 of the complaint.

1. Plaintiff Steven Helm is an adult individual who resides in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.
2. Defendant Derek Slaughter, is an adult individual, who at times relevant to this Complaint was the Mayor of the City of Williamsport.
3. Defendant Gabriel Campana, is an adult individual, who at times relevant to this Complaint was the Mayor of the city of Williamsport.
4. Defendant City of Williamsport is a Municipality located at 245 W. Fourth Street, Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, and is a Political Subdivision of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania duly organized as a Third Class City.
5. Defendant City of Williamsport is vested with the management and administration of law enforcement in the City of Williamsport by and through its agency, the Williamsport Bureau of Police, in which it is further vested with the supervision, hiring, promotion of police officers and police administration employed by the City of
Williamsport.

This is an action to redress the deprivation under color of statute, custom or usage of the rights, privileges, and immunities secured to the Plaintiff by the Constitution of the United States and 42 U.S.C. §1983.

15. In the Fall of 2018, David Young, Williamsport Police Chief at the time, announced his intention to retire.
16. In or about December 2018, Defendant Gabriel Campana, Mayor of the City of Williamsport at the time, began discussions with Miller, a former Williamsport Police Officer, regarding thoughts on the open Chief position.
17. Campana sought the advice of Doc Miller on who should be the next Chief of Police.
18. Doc Miller advised Campana that it was obvious that it should be Plaintiff Steven Helm because of his years in the department, his experience in leadership roles and the fact that he was respected in the Department.
19. Campana indicated that he would not promote Plaintiff to Chief because Plaintiff had filed lawsuits against the City.
20. Campana eventually offered the position of Chief to Doc Miller.

21. Doc Miller specifically advised Mayor Campana that he wanted to have Plaintiff Steven Helm as Assistant Chief, because he was the most qualified Police Officer in the Department.
22. Mayor Campana would not agree to allow Plaintiff Steven Helm to be promoted to Assistant Chief.
23. In or about January 2019, Damon Hagan was appointed by Mayor Campana as the Chief of Police.
24. Damon Hagan advocated his desires to have Plaintiff Steven Helm be appointed to the Assistant Chief position, as the most qualified Police Officer in the Department.
25. Mayor Campana refused to allow Plaintiff Steven Helm to be promoted to Assistant Chief.
26. In or about January 2019, Aaron LeVan was promoted by Mayor Campana to the Assistant Chief position.
27. In or about September of 2019, Aaron LeVan stepped down as Assistant Chief.

28. After LeVan stepped down, Chief Hagan again pushed for the promotion of Plaintiff Steven Helm to Assistant Chief, as the most qualified Police Officer in the Department.
29. Once again, Mayor Campana refused to promote Plaintiff Steven Helm to Assistant Chief.
30. Steven Helm to Assistant Chief, Chief Hagan advised Campana that Plaintiff Steven Helm is the most qualified person within the Department to take the job and that Helm deserved the promotion.
31. On or about September 10, 2019, Mark Sechrist was promoted to Assistant Chief. Prior to being promoted  Assistant Chief, Mark Sechrist had served the Department as a Patrolman since approximately 1991.
32. On January 6, 2020, Defendant Derek Slaughter was officially sworn in and assumed the office of Mayor of Williamsport replacing Defendant Gabriel Campana.
33. In the Fall of 2020, Chief Hagan began solicitating letters of interest and resumes to replace Mark Sechrist as Assistant Chief because Mark Sechrist was retiring.
34. In or about September 2020, Chief Hagan announced that he intended to seek approval to promote a Captain of Detectives, which would be an additional Police Administration position.
35. During multiple conversations and meetings between Plaintiff Steven Helm and Chief Damon Hagan, Hagan and Sechrist as Assistant Chief as he was the most qualified Police Officer in the Department.

36. After it was announced that the Department was taking applications for the open position of Assistant Chief and the newly created Captain of Detectives, six (6) Police Officers applied for the positions. This included Plaintiff Lieutenant Steven Helm, Lieutenant Fred Miller, Lieutenant Marlin Smith, Lieutenant Jason Bolt, Sergeant Jody
Miller and Agent Justin Snyder.
37. With the exception of Agent Justin Snyder and Lieutenant Bolt, who had recently been promoted to Lieutenant on August 17, 2020, the candidates had extensive supervisory experience.
38. In or about October 2020, Jason Bolt resigned from his position as Lieutenant and requested to return to the ranks as an Agent.
39. In or about December 2020, it became known that Lieutenant Marlin Smith would be promoted to Assistant Chief and Agent Justin Snyder would be promoted as Captain of Detectives.
40. Lieutenant Fred Miller had previously been performing supervisory duties with respect to the Detectives but was passed over for the position in favor of a less experienced candidate.
41. Prior to the official announcement of the promotions, Plaintiff Steven Helm was summoned to Chief Damon Hagan’s conference room. The purpose of the meeting was for Hagan to officially notify Plaintiff Steven Helm that despite Hagan’s belief that Helm was the most qualified candidate for the Assistant Chief position, he was being passed over for promotion yet again.
42. Approximately one week later, Plaintiff was called back again to meet with Chief, but Defendant Mayor Slaughter would not permit the promotion.
43. Shortly after Plaintiff’s meetings with Chief Hagan, Marlin Smith announced his intention not to accept the promotion to Assistant Chief and to withdraw his name from consideration.
44. After Marlin Smith’s withdrawal the remaining candidates for the Assistant Chief position included Plaintiff Lieutenant Steven Helm, Lieutenant Fred Miller, Sergeant Jody Miller and Agent Jason Bolt, who had resigned from his Lieutenant
position.

45. After Marlin Smith’s withdrawal, on Plaintiff Steven Helm, Fred Miller and Jody Miller met the minimum qualifications for the Assistant Chief position. Agent Bolt did not meet the minimum qualifications for the Assistant Chief position.

46. After Marlin Smith’s withdrawal, defendants changed the open position from Assistant Chief to Captain of the Patrol Division and altered the minimum qualifications for the new position. 

47. As indicated infra, Plaintiff Lieutenant Steven Helm had filed two (2) recent 42 U.S.C. §1983, First Amendment Freedom of Association claims against the City of Williamsport and his Supervisors.
48. On November 6, 2018, Lieutenant Fred Miller filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 Freedom of Association Claim against the City of Williamsport and its Supervisors at No. 4:18-CV-2148.
49. Lieutenant Fred Miller entered into a Settlement Agreement with Defendant City of Williamsport in relation to his Freedom of Association Claims on June 14, 2019.
50. Like Plaintiff Steve Helm, Fred Miller’s Freedom of Association Claim was premised upon First Amendment Retaliation based upon Fred Miller association with F.O.P. Lodge 29 and his pursuit of matters on behalf of the Union.
51. Both Plaintiff Steve Helm and Fred Miller believed the Union’s status and activities were vitally important to protect the interest of police officers and the general public and for that reason they pursued claims against the City to preserve the Union status and stop the City and its Supervisors from engaging in unlawful anti-union activities.
52. Sergeant Jody Miller filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 First Amendment Retaliation Claim against the City of  Williamsport and his Supervisors. His complaint was filed on March 25, 2020, at No. 4:20-CV-00485, and was dismissed by an Opinion and Order of the Court filed December 28, 2020.

53. Agent Jason Bolt was promoted to the position of Captain of the Patrol Division over three (3) far more experienced candidates, all of whom had filed recent 42 U.S.C. §1983 First Amendment Retaliation Claims against the City and their Supervisors.

54. In conversations with Chief Damon Hagan regarding the failure to promote him to the Assistant Chief or Captain of the Patrol Division position, Hagan has advised Plaintiff Steven Helm that he would have liked nothing more that because Hagen felt Helm deserved it and was the most qualified person for the positions without a doubt.
55. The Mayor of the City of Williamsport makes all final decisions as to promotions of police officers to the position of Assistant Chief and Captain.

Is this a case of retaliation and reverse racism?

The entire complaint can be read here.

This is a developing story on TalkWilliamsport.com.

OP-ED: If racism has no home here; why did Barbara Reeves sit alone at the WASD school board meeting?

Photo of WASD school board meeting at WAHS Auditorium, Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Todd Bartley, TalkWilliamsport.com

News@TalkWilliamsport.com

The following is an opinion editorial addressing the lack of action taken by WASD school board member, Jennifer Lake .

With the Derek Chauvin murder trial of George Floyd winding down; a grave injustice did not go unnoticed at the WASD school board meeting this past Tuesday night.

On background it is important to note from the “WASD Anti-Racism Board Resolution”:

“BE IT RESOLVED that the Williamsport Area School Board, unequivocally stand firm in our collective responsibility to foster an equitable and inclusive environment for every student, staff member, parent, and community member. We commit to use our role as school board directors to recognize, respond, and speak out against injustice and racial inequity in our school community.”

As the photo to this story shows, WASD school board member Barbara Reeves sat alone.

Barbara Reeves is black.

Jennifer Lake fellow WASD school board member is white; has told the general public for years has woke she is and even authored an article on “Black Lives Matter”.

From, OP-ED: Jennifer Lake Wokebegone – PART III

In fact Jennifer we are approaching the four year anniversary of an article you posted on your own website titled “I’M A WHITE WOMAN RAISING A BLACK SON. HERE’S MY PERSPECTIVE ON BLACK LIVES MATTER.” published on July 14, 2016.

Allow me to make a prediction, that post and entire website will soon be coming down and the argument will be to “protect her children and her privacy.”

The article and site are still set to private.

 

Over the past year plus Lake championed the cause of “racism has no home here”.

At the October 20, 2020 WASD school board meeting Lake and Reeves sat side by side.

Jennifer Lake, if “Black Lives Matter” and “racism has no home here” why did Barbara Reeves sit alone at the WASD school board meeting?

Only you can answer that; and you will most likely blame the administration for setting up the seats that way.

However, if your woke was not broke, when you noticed Reeves was sitting alone – is when you go to her aid, right?

Or, could it be your woke is just a big joke on this community?

Only you know the truth.

From, OP-ED: Jennifer Lake Wokebegone

Did you mean to say on your personal Jennifer Lake Facebook page on June 1 at 12:14 PM

Behavior Matching is one of the five Engagement Strategies of Trust Based Relational Intervention. It silences the amygdala (which detects threats) and creates felt-safety. When we mirror someone’s behavior, posture, thoughts, feelings, and interests, we create togetherness. We create connection.

Behavior matching is a bridge between you and me that says, “I see you. I hear you. You matter.”

 

While considering the “WASD Anti-Racism Board Resolution” last June, Reeves weighed in.

On Wed, June 12, 2020, 1:38 PM Barbara Reeves (REDACTED) wrote:

“Thank you Dr. Bowers for sharing that information. This is a rough one for me. While the statement will not be in support of Black Lives Matter, I hope we can all agree that black lives matter!!!

This is just a time that people of color need the world to acknowledge that they value their lives. This is especially true for colleagues, friends and acquaintances.

We are talking about a people who were considered as 3/5 of a person.

How long should it take to gain the respect of the other 2/5 that makes a whole.

It’s not enough to be colorblind because that means that you do not see me!”

The only question is, Jennifer Lake, what happened, where were you?

 

WASD Superintendent, Dr. Bowers has already provided the mechanism for his resignation, IN HIS OWN WORDS.

Maybe Jennifer Lake will join him after Bowers previously shared this text with your Tuesday night table mate;

Bowers supplements his response to Jane Penman:

“In my opinion our actions are more impotent (important) than our words.”

That quote came from the text message records of Dr. Timothy Bowers on Thursday, June 11, 2020, either 6:03 PM or 8:03 PM between WASD school board members Jane Penman and Lori Baer as noted in “The anatomy of the WASD Anti-Racism Board Resolution” – PART I.

Penman is not seeking reelection in the May primary election.

Since Jennifer Lake failed to sit with Barbara Reeves at the meeting this past Tuesday; again missing a moment to demonstrate her devotion to the cause – she must resign, immediately.

Jennifer Lake, based on the “WASD Anti-Racism Board Resolution” you had a strong role in authoring and  volunteered to read into the record; Barbara Reeves demands your resignation for failing her on Tuesday.

This is a developing story on TalkWilliamsport.com.

 

 

Previous article links:

The anatomy of the WASD Anti-Racism Board Resolution – Part I

The anatomy of the WASD Anti-Racism Board Resolution – Part II

The anatomy of the WASD Anti-Racism Board Resolution – Part III

The anatomy of the WASD Anti-Racism Board Resolution – Part IV

The anatomy of the WASD Anti-Racism Board Resolution – Part V

OP-ED: Jennifer Lake Wokebegone – PART V

ENDGAME

OP-ED: Jennifer Lake Wokebegone – PART IV

OP-ED: Jennifer Lake Wokebegone – PART III

OP-ED: Jennifer Lake Wokebegone – PART II

OP-ED: Jennifer Lake Wokebegone

Caught in the Middle

Photo: Lycoming Commissioners Rick Mirabito, Scott Metzger, Tony Mussare, Administrative Manager Lycoming County Commissioners, Eileen Ebner and Lycoming County Controller, Krista Rogers.

The battle lines are drawn for fiscal operations of Lycoming County.

Todd Bartley, TalkWilliamsport.com

News@TalkWilliamsport.com

Today is the day Brandy Clemens becomes the Director of Budget & Finance for Lycoming County joined by Administrative Specialist Heather Lehman, General Accountant Matthew Tierney and Financial Technician Cynthia Gira moving from the Office of the Controller.

All of the moves were enacted during the Lycoming County Commissioners meeting and Salary Board meeting on Tuesday, taking effect today.

In 2019, the Lycoming County Commissioners merged the staff from the Office of Budget & Finance with the existing staff in the Office of the Controller.

Originally four staff members were “merged”; of those four, Lehman and Gira remain employed by Lycoming County.

The feud over the fiscal operations control of Lycoming County has been brewing for nearly the same amount of time.

The feud boiled over on Tuesday between the Lycoming County Commissioners and Lycoming County Controller, all four of whom are duly elected officials with powers and responsibilities memorialized in the Lycoming County Code.

BACKGROUND

According to the THE COUNTY CODE ACT OF August 9, 1955 P.L. 323, No. 130 state law, ARTICLE V, COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND CHIEF CLERKS
(a) Commissioners, Section 501. Election; Vacancies.–(a) Three county commissioners shall be elected in each county in the year one thousand nine hundred and fifty-five, and every fourth year thereafter. In the election of commissioners, each qualified elector shall vote for no more than two persons. The three persons having the highest number of votes shall be elected.

Section 502. Organization.–The commissioners shall meet on the first Monday of January, in the year one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six, and on the first Monday of January every fourth year thereafter, in the office provided for them at the county seat for the purpose of organization. If the first Monday is a legal holiday, the meeting shall be held the first day following. (502 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

Section 503. Meetings, Regular and Special; Conduct of Meetings; Notices. — (a) The commissioners shall adopt rules for the conduct and order of business and establish regular times and places of meeting. A copy of the rules shall be posted at all times in a conspicuous place in the county court house for the benefit of the public.

Section 509. Ordinances and Resolutions.–(a) The commissioners may adopt resolutions and ordinances prescribing the manner in which powers of the county shall be carried out and generally regulating the affairs of the county. The commissioners may formulate and adopt ordinances, resolutions, and rules and regulations, pertaining to the use of any property owned or used by the county and the conduct of persons in, on or about such county property, in order to preserve such property and to promote and preserve the public health, safety and welfare.

The THE COUNTY CODE ACT OF August 9, 1955 P.L. 323, No. 130 state law articulates the role of the CONTROLLER in ARTICLE VI:

Section 601. Election and Term; Seal.–(a) At the municipal election immediately preceding the expiration of the term of the controller in office on January 1, 1956, and quadrennially thereafter, the qualified electors of each county of the third, fourth and fifth classes, and of every other county where the office of controller has been or may hereafter be established, including counties in which the office was established by general law, or otherwise, while such counties were in a higher classification, shall elect one citizen of the county, who shall serve as controller for the term of four years from the first Monday of January following the controller’s election, or until a successor shall be qualified.

(a.1) In counties of the second class A, a controller shall be elected at the municipal election immediately preceding the expiration of the term of the controller in office on the effective date of this subsection and quadrennially thereafter.

(b) Each county controller shall be provided with an official seal of the office by the county commissioners of the
county, which shall be used for the attestation of all official papers. (601 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

Section 602. Eligibility.–(a) No person holding office under the United States shall be eligible to the office of
county controller during continuance in such office, nor until one year thereafter.

(b) The county commissioners, county treasurer, prothonotary, register of wills, clerk of the courts, recorder
of deeds, sheriff and district attorney, and their chief clerks or deputies, shall be ineligible, during their continuance in such office and for two years thereafter, to the office of county controller.

(c) The controller shall always be eligible to reelection or appointment.

(602 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

Section 603. Deputy Controller and Clerks.

–(a) The controller in counties of the second class A, third, fourth and fifth classes shall appoint a deputy controller and clerks, and in counties of the sixth, seventh and eighth classes may appoint a deputy controller and clerks, and each controller may authorize one or more of the clerks employed in the controller’s office to administer to all persons oaths and affirmations, pertaining to the business of the office, with the same force and effect as if administered by the controller or deputy controller.

(b) The controller may appoint a second deputy controller, who shall possess and discharge all the rights, powers and duties of the principal deputy controller during the principal deputy controller’s and the controller’s temporary absence. (603 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

Section 604. Solicitor to the Controller.–(604 repealed Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

Section 605. Establishment of Office of Controller in Counties of the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Classes.

–(a) The office of controller may be established in any county of the sixth, seventh or eighth class by the affirmative vote of a majority of the electors of the county voting on the question submitted, as herein provided, at the general election in which the auditors are in the third year of their term.

(b) The question shall be submitted to the electors of the county whenever county electors file a petition containing
signatures equal to at least five per centum of the highest vote cast for any office in the county at the last preceding general election. The petition shall be filed with the county commissioners at least sixty days before the day of the general election at which the question is to be submitted. If the petition is sufficiently signed the county  commissioners shall cause the question to be submitted in the manner provided by the Pennsylvania Election Code.

(c) If the majority of electors voting on the question shall vote in favor of establishing the office of county controller, the office shall thereby be established, and, at the next municipal election, and quadrennially thereafter, the electors of the county shall choose a citizen of the county for the office of controller in place of the county auditors. (605 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154) 

Section 606. Appointment by Governor; Duties of Auditors; Abolition of Office of Auditor.

–(a) Whenever the office of controller is established in any county, under the provisions of section 605 of this act, or by a change in class of such county not otherwise provided for by law, the Governor shall appoint a suitable person to act as controller of said county until a successor in office is duly elected and installed.

(b) Upon the appointment of a controller, as provided in this section, the county auditors then in office shall proceed to audit all accounts as required by law, and shall file a report of such audit with the controller so appointed, not later than three months after the controller assumes office, whereupon the office of county auditor shall be abolished and cease to exist in said county. (606 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

Section 607. Expenses.–The county controller and the county controller’s deputy, clerks, and auditors shall be allowed their expenses necessarily incurred and actually paid in the discharge of their official duties, or in the performance of any service or duty imposed upon them. (607 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.931, No.154)

LYCOMING COUNTY COMMISSIONERS MEETING TUESDAY, APRIL 13, 2021

A spirited back and forth took place during the Lycoming County Commissioners meeting this past Tuesday where Krista Rogers took exception to the actions being taken by the Commissioners.

She offered a press release to the local media after the meeting;

Lycoming County Controller calls for Commissioners to follow law

Shadow government?

Williamsport, PA— 4/13/2021 — Today at the Commissioners public meeting, during the Salary Board portion of the meeting, the Lycoming County Commissioners made a motion to move staff from the Controller’s Office to the office of Budget and Finance. The Commissioners are attempting to remove the checks and balances from the Controller’s office and move them to their own finance office which will eliminate the independent oversight of the County Controller – the taxpayer’s Financial Watchdog – over county spending. This is being done through an illegal salary board action. Per section 1620 of the County Code, State law that governs Counties, (Salaries and Compensations) “The exercise of such responsibilities by the county commissioners shall in no way affect the hiring, discharging and supervising rights and obligations with respect to such employees as may be vested in…. county officers.”. Section 1622 of the same Code (Salary Boards Created), “…the board, subject to limitations imposed by law, shall fix the compensation of all appointed county officers, and the number and compensation, of all….persons whose compensations is paid out of the county treasury…., numbers or compensation…., the board shall meet and consider and shall fix and determine the same.” The salary board has no legal authority to transfer positions out of an office into another office. The Commissioners have no legal authority to strip a duly elected official of staff required to complete the tasks that, by law are the duties of the office to which they were elected.

By this move the Commissioners are risking their ability to pay bills and payroll, and file a financial report. They are eliminating the Controller’s office as the lawful check and balance of county expenditures. They are doing this while Lycoming County has $19 million of COVID relief expenditures awaiting review and final verification, for State and Federal grant purposes. Where is the transparency? You cannot put the fox and hens all under the same umbrella. The office of the Controller was created to be the checks and balances for the Commissioners. Taking the accounts payable, payroll, and accounting out of the Controller’s office puts all control and power under the Commissioners.

The controller stated “These actions are illegally eliminating a critically important separation of powers that the Pennsylvania legislature wrote into the law outlining the authority and responsibilities of Pennsylvania County Controllers. This separation of powers was put in place to protect the taxpayers of this county. I cannot stand by and allow the Commissioners attempt to put a shadow government in place in Lycoming County while they publicly attempt to eliminate the proper checks and balances”.

Krista Rogers, Controller, 570-327-2300 or krogers@lyco.org

Rogers stated her case citing several sections of the THE COUNTY CODE ACT OF August 9, 1955 P.L. 323, No. 130 state law, in the meeting and attached to the press release.

 

Conversely, the Lycoming County Commissioners cited the THE COUNTY CODE ACT OF August 9, 1955 P.L. 323, No. 130 state law, in the meeting and during an exclusive interview with TalkWilliamsport.com.

Commissioners Metzger, Mirabito and Mussare agree “this is not a power grab.”

They added, “we are ultimately responsible for the fiscal operation of the county.”

“There are systemic issues that cannot continue and we believe this temporary move will allow these employees to be better trained.”

When asked about the threshold to “return to normal”; Commissioners Metzger, Mirabito and Mussare had no definitive date or thresholds to meet.

They have had issues with the Office of Controller for some time and Commissioner Mirabito provided an email from Rogers dated March 17, 2020 with a subject line of 1095.

A Form 1095-C, according to the IRS website “is filed and furnished to any employee of an Applicable Large Employers (ALE) member who is a full-time employee for one or more months of the calendar. ALE members must report that information for all twelve months of the calendar year for each employee.”

Mirabito made hand written notes;

1). 1095’s were due March 2

2). Krista refusing to do it.

Rogers noted in the email, “this information is no tracked in our financial system AND that Lori Weston is the only employee with prior experience doing these, we are herby passing this to HR/Lori Weston (under Commissioners) to complete for 2019. Lori has everything related to this process.”

Commissioners Metzger, Mirabito and Mussare made the personnel moves based on Sections 1701 and 1702.

Section 1701. Functions of County Commissioners.–The county commissioners shall be the responsible managers and administrators of the fiscal affairs of their respective counties in accordance with the provisions of this act and other applicable law.

Section 1702. Functions of the Controller.–(a) (1) Subject to the power and duty of the county commissioners to manage and administer the fiscal affairs of the county, the controller shall supervise the fiscal affairs of the county including the related accounts and official acts of all officers or other persons who shall collect, receive, hold or disburse, or be charged with the management or custody of, the public assets of the county. The discretionary powers of the controller shall be applicable to matters or official acts involving the accounts and transactions of officers or other persons of the county including those indicated in section 1705. The discretionary policies of the controller shall not be applicable to the establishment and adoption of the fiscal policies of the county commissioners.

Rogers responded via email to TalkWilliamsport.com;

“This is the section I referenced Section 1705.
Financial Records.–The controller shall maintain a full and regular set of financial records, including the general ledger, in electronic form or otherwise, which support financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles of all the fiscal operations of the county, embracing as many accounts, under appropriate titles, as may be necessary to meet Federal and State reporting requirements and to show distinctly and separately all the property of the county, its revenue and expenditures, and all debts and accounts due by the county officers or others, and the amount raised from each source of revenue, and the expenditures in detail, and classified by reference to the objects thereof.
The controller shall select and administer the form and manner of maintaining the official financial records in connection with the fiscal affairs of the county. Where the controller prescribes a change in the form and manner of maintaining the official financial records, any costs necessary for implementation shall be subject to the approval of the county commissioners. In counties without a controller, the requirements of this section shall be fulfilled by the office of the county commissioners. (1705 amended Oct. 24, 2018, P.L.)”

“Also, as a follow up, the Commissioners mischaracterized the payroll mistake. While there was an error during the payroll process; we did correct it, and pay the employee properly. The check the employee received was correct. I then took them, to cash the check (at the county’s bank) and to deposit the funds at their bank, since they don’t drive. The correction we made was to the direct deposit, which is how payroll is normally done, and we had to issue her a paper check. I had notified the Commissioners of the error so that they had all information, they did not uncover, or discover this information in any way.

My office is not the problem. I cannot be stripped of my powers and be expected to fix problems. The Commissioners keep bringing up two years, during that time Fiscal Services was in chaos, without leadership, and the Commissioners did not give them direction. Rather than taking the time to understand and give their own employees direction and bring that chaos under control, two years ago, they are trying to rebuild their power base while jeopardizing the county’s financial well-being, i.e. the annual financial report, accounts payable, and payroll.

Also, in 2020, my office put out a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report during COVID, while being blocked in communication, training, and information gathering by the Commissioners Fiscal Services Director, who has since retired.

We, my office and employees, can and will work with the Budget and Finance office to do our job under the law.”

It appears this struggle is headed for litigation at taxpayers expense over duly elected officials unable to come to a consensus on the fiscal operations of Lycoming County and the employees are caught in the middle.

This is a developing story on TalkWilliamsport.com

Lycoming County Commissioners taking unilateral action this morning

According to the posted agenda for the Lycoming County Commissioners meeting this morning it appears they plan on taking unilateral action this morning to change a department name and make several personnel changes.

Included on the agenda is a non-budgeted $20,000 item in the 2021 budget.

According to information from the second COVID-19 stimulus bill, Lycoming County could receive up to $19 million in additional funding.

This is a developing story on TalkWilliamsport.com.

OP-ED: Selected vs Elected in the WASD

Todd Bartley, TalkWilliamsport.com

News@TalkWilliamsport.com

The following is an opinion editorial addressing concerns of WASD taxpayers regarding the filling of school board seat vacancies with recent resignations.

In certain circles the adage of being on a need-to-know basis can serve an organization well; however when the taxpayers are footing the $100 million price tag the best practice is full transparency.

Full transparency is something the Williamsport Area School District is already paying a heavy financial price for through their current solicitor Fred Holland and his firm Murphy, Butterfield & Holland as well as the law firm of Kegel, Kelin, Litts, and Lord, hired as special counsel when a Right to Know law request was made directly to Dr. Timothy Bowers, WASD Superintendent last year.

Why hire a special counsel?

 

These are just some of the issues the new board members will need to address in the early days of their tenure.

Now, let us explore how a pair of WASD school board seats are being prepared to be filled and contrast that with what the process should look like.

The WASD accepted applications until April 8, 2021 at noon based on the following information posted on the WASD website.

Appointment of a new school director is anticipated to occur on April 13. The appointee shall serve until Nov. 30, 2021. He/she may run for election in the 2021 municipal election.

Qualifications:

  • He/she shall be at least 18 years of age.
  • He/she shall be a resident of the Williamsport Area School District for at least one year prior to the date of appointment.
  • He/she shall not be a holder of any office or position of profit under any government in the Williamsport Area School District, nor shall he/she be a member of council in any municipality in the school district.
  • He/she shall not have been removed from any office of trust under federal, state or local laws for any malfeasance in such office.
  • He/she shall not be employed by the school district.
  • He/she may only be involved in business transactions with the school district as permitted by the school code.

Let us explore the qualifications:

How does the WASD verify the age of a resident?

One of the seats being filled was vacated by a non-WASD resident who by all accounts lived outside the district the past two years. You as a taxpayer were on a need-to-know basis, and obviously you didn’t need to know. So why is this even a qualification?

  • He/she shall be a resident of the Williamsport Area School District for at least one year prior to the date of appointment.

This next qualification is quite interesting, who knew you can have a “position of profit under any government”?

As a taxpayer, does it make you wonder how someone is profiting off you?

Again, you are on a need-to-know basis, and obviously you don’t need to know.

  • He/she shall not be a holder of any office or position of profit under any government in the Williamsport Area School District, nor shall he/she be a member of council in any municipality in the school district.

This next qualification could cause quite the conversation. As an example, a WASD employee works for many years and then retires living of the pension they have accumulated over the years.

By realizing the pension; could that constitute employment with the district from a relational standpoint?

What if in the course of their employment prior to retirement they obtained knowledge of current events impacting the district, could that cause additional issues going forward?

As a school board member the lack of potential conflicts of interest is paramount.

  • He/she shall not be employed by the school district.
  • He/she may only be involved in business transactions with the school district as permitted by the school code.

This is the single most perplexing submission from the WASD; “He/she may run for election in the 2021 municipal election.”

Why would anyone on the May primary ballot submit an application to be appointed to the WASD school board?

By doing so, you are telling the taxpayers and voting public, your vote has no meaning. Instead, you are saying to your future peers, pick me first!!!!

It’s absurd!

The two board members running for re-election (Barbara Reeves and Adam Welteroth); should abstain from voting during this process at a minimum and the entire process at a maximum as to avoid the appearance of any conflicts of interest.

This is exactly why the state law and guidance from PSBA gives the power to appoint to the local President Judge; in this case it would fall to Lycoming County President Judge Nancy Butts to fill both open seats.

At this point, only one seat is actually open since the resignation of Marc Schefsky has not been voted on by the WASD school board.

Schefsky remains under investigation by the office of Lycoming County District Attorney Ryan Gardner.

As the WASD school board seats are filled either by the process outlined on the district website or by Lycoming County President Judge Nancy Butts; the fact remains the new board members will have significant issues to deal with on a going forward basis.

Not limited to but including:

  • Fallout from the Derek Chauvin murder trial of George Floyd since WASD school board member Jennifer Lake decided to issue an Anti-Racism proclamation.

Jennifer Lake who when previously contacted hid behind Carol Fausnaught, “Additionally, the board is aware Mrs. Lake received a phone call from you on Friday, July 3, 2020 requesting the above information. Please be advised that we request that you cease all phone calls and email correspondence to Mrs. Lake.”

Again, you are on a need-to-know basis, and obviously you don’t need to know.

That response sounds eerily similar to current WASD solicitor and Union County Magistrate Judge Jeff Rowe when asked about his lack of response;

Author: “I have called and emailed your office as you asked me to; and no one has responded.”

Rowe responded;

“If you are not getting a response; that is our response.”

 

  • Fallout from the systemic failure regarding the 2018 “criminal sexual misconduct” incident that occurred on the WAHS baseball team trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

BREAKING NEWS: WAHS student criminally charged by South Carolina authorities in 2018 baseball team incident

AG interviews of Dr. Bowers, Pardoe and Erb confirmed in WASD Legal Services Invoices

How did Pardoe, McCann and Miller all forget the 2018 Myrtle Beach room assignments email?

How did Wanda Erb miss this email on the WASD.org server?

 

  • Fallout from the employment agreement extension of WASD Superintendent, Dr. Timothy Bowers and WASD Fred Holland and Jeff Rowe.

WASD solicitor Fred Holland wants $20,000 retainer and a raise for ’21-’22

 

  • Fallout from the lack of transparency in Right to Know law responses.

“Tens of thousands of dollars spent on Right-to-Know responses” – is forthcoming.

 

TalkWilliamspot.com made a timely informal request followed by a formal Right to Know law request for the applicants names and their application materials this past Friday.

That request has gone unanswered at this writing.

It appears as far as the WASD is concerned; as a taxpayer you are on a need-to-know basis, and obviously you don’t need to know.

Dr. Bowers has already provided the mechanism for his own resignation, IN HIS OWN WORDS and guidance for this particular situation.

As described in, OP-ED: Long past time for Dr. Bowers to resign as WASD Superintendent”

Bowers supplements his response to Jane Penman:

“In my opinion our actions are more impotent (important) than our words.”

For the vacant WASD school board seat applicants who remain nameless at this point; still want to volunteer?

 

This is a developing story on TalkWilliamsport.com

The Millionaire Way – we’re not concerned with anything even the Attorney General

Photo: Ryan Gardner, Lycoming County District Attorney (left),
Timothy Bowers, WASD Superintendent (middle left), WASD solicitor Fred Holland (middle right)
and Josh Shapiro, PA Attorney General (right).
The following is the result of a nearly 33-months long investigation
into the Williamsport Area High School Baseball Team trip
to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in the spring of 2018.

This story is graphic and contains details related to multiple indecent sexual assaults.

The author and editor of this story have made the editorial decision to not publish the names of the individuals under the age of 18 at the time of the incident who have been clearly identified as committing these acts in this case they were recently formally charged with a crime in South Carolina.

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball

IF NOTHING HAPPENED IN MYRTLE BEACH

WHY WON’T THE WASD TELL US THE STORY?

PART XXXI –

“The Millionaire Way – we’re not concerned with anything even the Attorney General”

By Todd Bartley, TalkWilliamsport.com

News@TalkWilliamsport.com

As part of its ongoing investigation into the “criminal sexual misconduct” incident which occurred during the Williamsport Area High School baseball team trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in the spring of 2018; Right to Know Law requests continue to be made of the WASD by this author.

In recent weeks, ALLEGED PERPETRATOR #1 was charged by South Carolina law enforcement authorities and remains a captain on the Williamsport Area High School baseball team.

Since the first Right to Know Law request was filed in 2018 by this author; the WASD has engaged in very consistent behavior to conceal the existence of “public records”.

Contained within the most recent WASD Right to Know Law responses is the thought process of WASD Solicitor Fred Holland and the WASD administration.

It appears to be disbelief in the validity of the May 5, 2020 press release issued by Lycoming County District Attorney Ryan Gardner, as noted in PART XV:

“Prior to taking office in January, it was difficult to ignore the many questions surrounding the alleged sexual misconduct by a member of the WASD baseball team during an organized team tournament held in South Carolina. The sexual misconduct was reportedly captured on video. It was further suggested that more than one video existed that potentially depicted additional sexual misconduct committed upon one or more other unnamed victims/teammates.

Within the first two weeks after taking office, the newly appointed Chief County Detective, Michael Simpler, and I traveled to the home of the alleged minor victim to meet with the Mother and discuss the incident that occurred in South Carolina. The victim’s Mother did provide details consistent with previously published articles regarding the subject matter including, but not limited to, information verified by the video possessed by the District Attorney’s Office.”

The next day on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at 3:08:03 PM, WASD Solicitor Fred Holland emailed Timothy Bowers, WASD Superintendent, Susie Bigger; WASD Assistant Superintendent and Wanda Erb, WASD Business Administrator and Open Records Officer regarding “Myrtle Beach.”

From: Fred Holland
To: Timothy Bowers
Cc: Susie Bigger; Wanda Erb
Subject: Myrtle Beach
Date: Wednesday, May 6, 2020 3:08:03 PM

“Hi Tim and Susie,

I spoke with Ryan Gardner today, and he did in fact issue the press release that Bartley quoted.

I have also read it carefully, and am still not troubled by what is in the press release.

The matter is being referred so that no one will be able to question the impartiality of the person doing the investigation from this point forward.

An example of why this is wise is the fact that Willy Weber is employed in the DA’s office, and has been made one of the objects of criticism, especially in recent reports. The AG has no relationship with Willy, whereas Ryan does.

I also note that the release says that Ryan’s investigation of possible other victims or incidents did not yield anything.

I’ll be happy to chat with your further about this if you think it is necessary. However, I see no reason for any of us to respond.

Be well and stay safe!

Fred

Fred A. Holland
Murphy, Butterfield, & Holland, P.C.”

_____________________________________

From the article, “The Beginning of the End is forthcoming” 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Would Fred Holland characterize “an incident involving indecent and inappropriate behavior on the part of a baseball player during the team’s spring trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina”; as such, if he had actually seen the video of the incident in question?

_____________________________________

When WASD Solicitor Fred Holland says, “I spoke with Ryan Gardner today, and he did in fact issue the press release that Bartley quoted.”

Was there a question of the validity of the Gardner press release?

_____________________________________

When WASD Solicitor Fred Holland says,

I have also read it carefully, and am still not troubled by what is in the press release.”

Is Holland saying he is still not troubled by what is in the press release;” where Gardner states

“Despite the logistical inability to interview the juvenile due to COVID-19, this office in the interim has confirmed the following:

1. A video depicting criminal sexual misconduct does exist. Pursuant to information received, this video originated in South Carolina with subsequent possession, dissemination and viewing of same potentially occurring in the state of Pennsylvania.”

_____________________________________

When WASD Solicitor Fred Holland says,

“The matter is being referred so that no one will be able to question the impartiality of the person doing the investigation from this point forward.”

So is Holland saying the questioning of the impartiality of the person doing the investigation, is justified?

_____________________________________

Holland goes onto say,

“An example of why this is wise is the fact that Willy Weber is employed in the DA’s office, and has been made one of the objects of criticism, especially in recent reports.”

The AG has no relationship with Willy, whereas Ryan does.

Is this not the same Willie Weber, Holland referred to when justifying the validity of the “investigation” conducted by the WASD that he (Holland) approved?

WASD Solicitor Fred Holland comes to the conclusion, Ryan (Gardner) has a relationship with the AG, how he arrived at this conclusion is a mystery.

How Holland knows “The AG has no relationship with Willy” is also a mystery.

_____________________________________

When WASD Solicitor Fred Holland says,

“I also note that the release says that Ryan’s investigation of possible other victims or incidents did not yield anything.”

Was Holland surprised by this finding?

If so, why?

_____________________________________

When Holland states,

“I’ll be happy to chat with your further about this if you think it is necessary. However, I see no reason for any of us to respond.”

Was he just following the Millionaire Way addressed by attorney and Union County Magistrate Judge Jeff Rowe from “Dark Shadows engulf WASD regarding transparency…again.”

“If you are not getting a response; that is our response.”

 

According to Fred Holland and several WASD administrators; it is obvious they subscribe to,

“The Millionaire Way – we’re not concerned with anything even the Attorney General.”

 

The one year anniversary of Josh Shapiro, PA Attorney General receiving the case referral from Lycoming County District Attorney Ryan Gardner is less than one month away.

This is a developing story on TalkWilliamsport.com.

 

LINKS TO THE SERIES PUBLISHED BY Talk Williamsport

The Beginning of the End is forthcoming

– A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XXX

Dark Shadows engulf WASD regarding transparency…again

– A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XXIX

AG interviews of Dr. Bowers, Pardoe and Erb confirmed in WASD Legal Services Invoices

– A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XXVIII

How did Pardoe, McCann and Miller all forget the 2018 Myrtle Beach room assignments email?

How did Wanda Erb miss this email on the WASD.org server? – PART II

– A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XXVII

How did Wanda Erb miss this email on the WASD.org server?

– A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XXVI

WAHS Principal Pardoe immediately responded to Ricky Stryker threat raised by Coach Ryan Miller

Marc Schefsky, WASD School Board member announces intention to resign

WASD School Board candidate petitions obtained, connections run deep

WASD School Board to discuss vacant board seat tonight

Lycoming County District Attorney office confirms receipt of Marc Schefsky non-WASD residency complaint

WASD school board removes 2023 Disney band trip from agenda

Residents circulate petition for immediate removal of Marc Schefsky from WASD school board

Nancy Somers resigns from WASD school board

BREAKING NEWS: Resignations to be announced at the WASD School Board meeting tonight

WASD solicitor Fred Holland wants $20,000 retainer and a raise for ’21-’22

UPDATE: WASD acknowledges existence of “room assignments” email, contradicts prior Wanda Erb affidavit

UPDATE: WASD has 48-hour deadline to respond to Right to Know Law requests

WASD School Board major changes are forthcoming

OP-ED: Another Embarrassing Display of Willful Ignorance by the WASD school board

OP-ED: Long past time for Dr. Bowers to resign as WASD Superintendent

BREAKING NEWS: Is the WASD finally acknowledging Myrtle Beach victims with new policy?

Marc Schefsky WASD school board resignation could be the least of his issues

BREAKING NEWS: Marc Schefsky resigning from school board after WASD residency questioned

Residency of WASD School Board member in question

BREAKING NEWS: WAHS student criminally charged by South Carolina authorities in 2018 baseball team incident

UPDATE: Major development in the 2018 WAHS baseball team “criminal sexual misconduct” case

WASD lack of response clock posted

WASD fails to acknowledge “victims” in Myrtle Beach incident; uses death of George Floyd as distraction

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XXV

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XXIV

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XXIII

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XXII

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XXI

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XX

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XIX

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XVIII

BREAKING NEWS: PA AG Press Office confirms receipt of Criminal Sexual Misconduct referral from DA Gardner

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XVII

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XVI

EXCLUSIVE: AG Shapiro press office on referral: “If and when we receive it, it will be promptly reviewed”

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XVII

BREAKING NEWS: PA AG Press Office confirms receipt of Criminal Sexual Misconduct referral from DA Gardner

UPDATE: Charges filed in Greater Latrobe Junior High hazing case cited in “A Baseball Story”

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XVI

EXCLUSIVE: AG Shapiro press office on referral: “If and when we receive it, it will be promptly reviewed”

BREAKING NEWS: District Attorney Gardner refers Myrtle Beach case to PA Attorney General – PART XV

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XIV

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XIII

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XII

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART XI

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART X

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART IX

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART VIII

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART VII

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART VI

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART V

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART IV

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART III

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART II

A Baseball Story In The Birthplace Of Little League Baseball – PART I

Fans often ask me, what if?

Millionaire Baseball Mayhem in Myrtle Beach

 

AG Shapiro Shuts Down Think Finance, Wins Debt Relief For PA Consumers

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that the Office of Attorney General has reached separate agreements with Kenneth Rees, the former CEO of Think Finance, and the debt collector, National Credit Adjusters (“NCA”). The settlements effectively end the $133 million allegedly illegal online payday lending scheme that targeted as many as 80,000 Pennsylvania consumers.

“Think Finance exploited thousands of Pennsylvanians and used their vulnerability to turn a profit,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Today’s agreement is another step towards ensuring that anyone involved in the Think Finance scheme can never again take advantage of Pennsylvanians through illegal payday lending.”

As a result of prior settlements with Think Finance, Inc. and Chicago-based private equity firm Victory Park Capital Advisors, LLC, and various affiliated entities, all remaining balances on the illegal loans have been voided and, for any borrowers who repaid more than the loan principal and the lawful interest rate of 6 percent, they will share proportionately in a multi-million-dollar fund created by the settlement negotiated in Think Finance’s bankruptcy.  Eligible consumers have been receiving those checks in the mail.

In late 2014, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General sued Think Finance, Inc., its former CEO, and NCA among others. The suit alleged that between 2011-2014, three websites operated by Think Finance—Plain Green Loans, Great Plains Lending and Mobiloans—signed borrowers up for loans and lines of credit while charging effective interest rates as high as 448 percent. Payday loans, which typically charge interest rates higher than 200 or 300 percent, are illegal in Pennsylvania.

The settlement agreements announced today are regarding Rees, former President and Chief Executive Officer of Think Finance, Inc., and NCA, a national debt collector headquartered in Kansas. Attorney General Shapiro’s original investigation alleged that Rees participated in, directed and controlled the business activities related to a $133 million allegedly illegal online payday lending scheme that targeted as many as 80,000 Pennsylvania consumers.  The NCA Settlement related to its collection of those debts arising from the illegal loans.

NCA allegedly collected more than $4 million on more than 6,000 consumer loan accounts of Pennsylvania consumers.

The settlement requires NCA to comply with relevant consumer protection laws and further provide the following:

 

•   NCA will ensure that all debts it acquires, and which it attempts to collect, comply with applicable laws and regulations;

•   NCA will cancel all balances on, and will take no further action to collect debts allegedly owed by Pennsylvania consumers on Think Finance debts;

•   NCA will notify each Pennsylvania consumer debtor alleged to have owed monies under a Pennsylvania account that the balances have been cancelled;

•   NCA will refrain from engaging in collections on any debts involving loans made over the internet by non-bank lenders that violate Pennsylvania laws, including its usury laws, and;

•   NCA will not sell, re-sell or assign Debt related to Pennsylvania accounts, including those subject to a previously-negotiated nationwide class action settlement agreement and Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan.

Similarly, the Rees Settlement requires him to comply with relevant consumer protection laws and further agrees Rees for 9 years will not provide capital to a third-party to originate consumer loans to Pennsylvania residents, be employed by a third party, or provide services to a third party, if the third-party (a) makes or offers a consumer credit product to Pennsylvania consumers, or (b) brokers, markets, purchases a participation interest in, collects or services a consumer credit product made or offered to Pennsylvania consumers unless Rees believes that such consumer credit product or service complies with Pennsylvania law, including its usury laws. Rees has also paid the Commonwealth $3 million.

The settlement with NCA has been approved and the settlement with Rees is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of a predatory loan or related debt collection practices can submit a complaint at attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint/ or contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 1-800-441-2555 or emailing scams@attorneygeneral.gov.