“Ugly” Controversy Surrounds Mack’s Employment
CLEARFIELD – An “ugly” controversy occurred over the status of Code Enforcement Officer Larry Mack’s employment and still remains unresolved after last night’s special meeting of the Clearfield Borough Council, according to Councilman Tim Winters.
Winters provided GantDaily.com with an information packet prepared by him and Councilwoman Patricia Kavelak regarding Uniform Construction Code enforcement. The packet outlines their argument that Mack’s hiring wasn’t valid since he’s failed to meet Building Code Official requirements. Winters and Kavelak believe that Mack has been issuing permits without obtaining the proper BCO certification, which they say is now creating a legal liability for the borough.
Kavelak had four questions linger following the Aug. 16 regular council meeting. First, she questioned if the council passed a valid motion to reaffirm the hiring of Mack, which she discovered it was not, according to the informational packet.
Kavelak cited Rules of Order that indicated the original motion must be rescinded in order for a new motion to be valid. The Rules of Order stated that motions are out of order if they conflict with a motion that has been adopted and neither rescinded nor reconsidered and rejected after adoption. A conflicting motion, if adopted, is null and void unless adopted by the vote required to rescind or amend the motion previously adopted.
Kavelak had subsequent questions, which sought answers about why the original motion required Mack to obtain certification during his six-month probationary period; if he needs BCO certification to hold the position of code official; and why he’s be permitted to retain the position if he failed to meet the requirements of his hire.
According to Ron Engler, of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, all municipalities that opted to adopt the UCC were to have at least one person with a BCO Certification by April of 2009. Further, he said any individual who enforces UCC regulations must have a BCO certification.
Certification specifications stated that a person may not perform a plan review of construction documents, inspect construction or equipment or administer and enforce UCC code without being currently certified or registered by the Labor & Industry department in the category applicable to the work that’s to be performed.
A building code official manages, supervises and administers building code enforcement activities. The department, municipality, or a third-party agency that operates an enforcement program under the act will employ at least one certified person as a building code official, according to the certification specifications.
The building code official’s duties include management of the building code enforcement activities, supervision of the building inspections or plans examiners, issuing building permits, occupancy permits, notice of violations and orders to vacate and the initiation of prosecutions.
Engler also indicated that Brian Rearick of Middle Department Inspection Agency was on record with the Labor & Industry as the borough’s BCO. After it’d been explained to Engler that Rearick worked for the borough’s third-party inspection agency, Engler stated that Mack could not perform UCC Code Enforcement activities under Rearick’s BCO certification.
Further, Engler said that Rearick’s BCO certification was being jeopardized by Mack administering UCC activities, while Rearick was listed with the state’s Labor & Industry Department as the borough’s BCO on record.
Upon receipt of her information, Kavelak questioned Mack’s eligibility to maintain his current position. She said the position’s job advertisement clearly stated the person hired must possess a current BCO certification or obtain it by April 1, 2009.
She said this suggested that the borough administration was aware of the UCC and the Labor & Industry Department’s requirements. She said while the motion as recorded by the minutes of the special meeting held Jan. 29, 2009 is ambiguous as to the specifics of the certification to be obtained, a fact-based review shows a BCO certification was necessary. She said Mack hasn’t obtained the BCO certification and yet administered three years’ worth of invalid UCC actions and documents.
“I was elected to the office of councilman to represent and serve the best interests of the residents of Clearfield Borough, not to join the ‘Old Boys Club.’ I will not tolerate the ongoing charade that is day-to-day operations of the Borough of Clearfield,” wrote Winters in his press statement.
“A couple of my fellow councilmen should reevaluate their reasons for serving on this board, and our solicitor and borough operations manager should consider other options for their employment.”
In her prepared press statement, Kavelak wrote, “As an elected official, I am trying to be accountable to my position and the constituents I represent. Doing the right thing in this situation, as always, is simple and direct. Unfortunately, that is not always the chosen path.
“By correcting, or attempting to correct, errors of this and the previous council here tonight, I am striving to maintain the best interest of Clearfield Borough. I am confident in the information I have presented and believe eventually the truth will provide the path to a successful outcome of this unfortunate occurrence.”