New Voting Systems Fayette County PA

Update 4/9/19 –

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, GREENE COUNTY reports new voting machines for next month election (May 2019).

WESTMORELAND COUNTY reports anticipating using new machines this November 2019.

WASHINGTON COUNTY reports they are preparing to purchase soon.

Update: 4/5/19 – in response to inquiries on why counties must purchase new voting systems

Fayette County hasn’t even begun public demonstrations

Our Fayette County election director began urging us 3 commissioners, the budget consultant and budget staff since 2016 to get prepared financially. I agreed but I am one commissioner. I urged onsite demonstrations but the other 2 commissioners said they’ve viewed systems while at conferences. Well so did I but we still should hold demonstrations for the voters and get their input as well. Many others counties have done this already. So the best that I can now do since the other 2 commissioners are not on the election board since they are on the ballot is to get demonstrations scheduled in June then selection can be made and systems purchased. We are told that systems need to be purchased by December 31, 2019 but our county solicitor says systems just need to be “selected” by December 31.

Commissioner Vicites, after a commissioners meeting, said to me that if I was on the ballot I too would not want new machines and instead would want to wait to use the new system for the Presidential Primary. Anyone who knows me knows that not to be true because first I don’t make political decisions and second it only makes sense to have the new systems initially used before the Presidential election to allow for any issues to be resolved. Again, I am one commissioner.

 

Politicking in the courthouse

Politicking in the courthouse. Westmoreland County Commissioners revised their policy. Fayette County could and should but it would be a waste of time because those who write & vote on the policy are the violators and others follow.
In late 2007 (before the commissioner election I raised the issue and it was ignored – commissioners in office at the time were me, Vicites and Zapotosky) Believe it or not there was to my knowledge no politicking in 2011 (commissioners in office were me, Zapotosky & Ambrosini) …. is it happening now? Absolutely.

WMBS radio talk show host Inaccurate and Biased

RUSS RHODES WMBS radio talk show host spoke today about the 3 sitting commissioners praising the other 2 while taking jabs at me. Rhodes inaccurately said that I do not support getting Grants for our County (Resolutions, Signatures on grants, row officers & staff can prove otherwise). Rhodes also said that I was not business friendly saying I don’t work with companies concerning regulations (what the heck is he talking about) Rhodes also said that there have been lawsuits against me but fails to mention the numerous suits /claims naming Judges, Row Officers, Commissioners and the County.

That is very convenient for Russ Rhodes to take an approach favorable to the 2 seated commissioners given that Russ’s wife is employed by the county as Lohr’s assistant… Oh sorry not assistant she and Vicites assistant both recently got a title change from assistant to Chief of Staff that came with a $2200 raise each. When Russ Rhodes talks about the commissioners and Lohr as a commissioner candidate listeners know that he certainly is biased…..let alone inaccurate.

Hoping that voters elect 3 new people to fill the 3 seats of commissioners.

Update to Airport Dirt – let’s not attack Commissioner Candidates

Yesterday 3/11/19 Mr. Cabral called me. He said he was not interested in the option of a tax write-off as written on Commissioner letterhead. He said he believed in transparency & a level playing field. He said the airport authority may be issuing a public advertisement seeking sealed proposals. He said while the cost of the dirt/slag may not be an issue there is cost to load and transfer the dirt/slag .  As I said before, I thank this company (and any other company) for thinking of Fayette County.

I learned that there was an early November meeting attended by Commissioner Vicites, Commissioner Lohr, the airport consultant, Patty Yauger representing former Cong Shuster, John Frick, representing Sen Toomey, Mr. Cabral, airport management and/or board members and others. So why 2 and not 3 commissioners? Fayette Co is represented by 3 commissioners. If they were fearful of a violation of the Sunshine Act that occurs when a majority (2) have a pre-arranged meeting (they did) for the purpose of discussing an issue that later would be voted upon. So if this will not come before the Board of Commissioners there would be no violation so what is the reason to exclude the duly elected commissioner? The Airport Authority is appointed by 3 commissioners and represents the interests of the public..it is the Public’s Tax Dollars that helps to keep that airport afloat.
I will obtain any minutes or notes taken at this “exclusive meeting” and any subsequent airport minutes. I will remind the chief county solicitor to not author a letter using commissioners letterhead without informing all 3 commissioners, after all he too is paid by county tax dollars. As for the airport authority board members, consultant, and others to exclude a duly elected commissioner from an important meeting…no I wont waste my time in talking to them about it…….

And finally to Commissioner candidate Dave Lohr and Commissioner candidate Vince Vicites seeking re-election… the voters will surely see through any attempts to blame or tarnish those candidates seeking your seat so whether it is you or your political minions no need to take your shots. It is pitiful enough that you do so to me please don’t do it to those seeking to serve as Commissioners.

Fayette Co aiport “gets dirt” Exclaims Dave Lohr commissioner seeking re-election

You asked for this information so here it is.

I’ve received inquiries asking what Commissioner Dave Lohr is talking about when he says “he got dirt” for an airport project. Well, I didn’t know what all of you were talking about so after digging for this information I finally today received a November 2018 letter that our chief county solicitor Jack Purcell wrote. As you can see I was not copied on the letter. Regardless, knowing the politics of Fayette County, see the letter.  So, the company needs to unload dirt/slag and wishes to give the dirt/slag to the county/airport but before doing so seeks to know if it can be a tax deduction.

I thank the company for thinking of Fayette Co to unload the dirt/slag. If the company can benefit from this via a legal tax deduction, then okay. If our county airport needs the dirt/slag okay; perhaps ask the Airport and/or former commissioner Al Ambrosini the reported consultant to some airport project If we all can benefit..Great. We all win. But seriously, lets put this all in prospective as to why Lohr is claiming this as a candidate and commissioner gain. And… I won’t even go into why Purcell, Rhodes, Lohr or anyone else failed to be transparent and discuss this county issue openly.

Read letter . Airport dirt

Election Time brings out Political Minions

Sitting Fayette County Commissioners Vince Vicites and Dave Lohr believe they are exempt from questions from citizens. For his part, Commissioner Lohr apologized to the citizen. However, in a retaliatory action, a political minion was called upon to sign his name to a derogatory letter to the editor with disparaging remarks against the citizen and they even included me. Go figure. Though I did not have anything to do with the matter politicians use their minions to attack me and I am not even running for re-election. They certainly must be concerned with their own re-elections.

Rather than me explain what occurred read Melany Chrash’s letter to editor. She is a resident of Fayette County, a voter, a taxpayer, an elected GOP state committee person (she holds the female seat while Lohr holds the male seat). Her comment/questions concerned the state mandate for new voting systems.

In response a political minion, Gene Hajek of McClellandtown, was called upon to sign his name to a letter in response. This political minion has served on Fayette County’s Tax Assessment Appeals Board since 2016. To date he received $3,800 tax dollars for his service. He has worked on Vince Vicites’ campaign in the past and no doubt will do so this election. I choose not to reprint Hajek’s letter because it is rude and filled with false statements.

People of Fayette County need to wake up …By Melany Chrash 2/19/19
I had the opportunity to attend the Fayette County Commissioners agenda meeting last Tuesday. This does not happen often with my work schedule as these meetings are always scheduled for 10 am during the week. I find it interesting that one commissioner has a difficult time with punctuality; in fact, he was almost 15 minutes late! I have heard this is a common occurrence for Commissioner Vince Vicites.

Our county commissioners have a significant amount of federal, state and county tax dollars to spend on projects and services. At this meeting, they authorized proposals for the Fayette County Redevelopment Authority, a Fayette County Athletic Complex Project, the Adult Probation Office, Behavioral Health Administration, Children and Youth Services, Election Bureau, a number of new hires, Planning, Zoning & Community Development, Public Works and Recycling/Storm Water Management. They announced board appointments will be made to the Zoning Hearing Board, Assessment Appeals Board and a census committee. These boards, authorities and committees exert a significant amount of control and regulations relating to our quality of life. It is sad to say that I was the only citizen in the room.

For my part I had a specific concern: What were the commissioners doing about the mandate from the Governor’s office regarding the purchase of new voting machines? There was much explanation on the part of the commissioners. The only commissioner who appeared to know the specifics of the mandate was Angela Zimmerlink. The other commissioners openly argued with her on the facts, which I later verified with the election office and that Zimmerlink was indeed correct, despite Vicites noting he “had the memory of an elephant” even though his memory of the facts were incorrect.

Vicites does not want to purchase new machines until he knows how much the governor will reimburse the counties for the machines. This does not make sense to me because “reimbursement” occurs after a purchase and this mandate requires the purchase. I prefer my commissioners to make decisions based on accurate facts and not the inaccurate. They could have easily verified this information by asking the election office which is right next door. In fact, they just had to open the door and get clarification, but would not do it despite Zimmerlink requesting this.

I noted that other counties had indeed already purchased voting machines because it has been strongly recommended that these new machines be implemented by November 2019 to help assure the public of the integrity of the vote and work out any bugs in the new system before a 2020 presidential election. It has been noted by state leaders that to delay would be a grave mistake and irresponsible. Commissioner Dave Lohr noted that he thought it would be better to work out the bugs and try out the new machines for the 2020 election because there would be less candidates. Lohr and Vicites are concerned that there are too many candidates on the ballot in this “off year” election (2019) and that would compromise the vote.

In my opinion, the number of candidates is not the issue, it is the number of people using the machines, having mishaps with the mechanics and creating long lines and ultimately disenfranchising voters. Smaller number of voters show up for the midterm elections. And yes, I understand that these two commissioners are on the ballot this time around. I think their primary concern is that they do not want to be the “guinea pigs” for the new machines. If the election board chooses wisely, will that even be a valid concern? Erie County just last week had the certified vendors demonstrate the choices for new voting machines and thousands of citizens showed up for the demonstrations. Why are we so far behind? I raised this concern because I do not want Fayette County to be the Broward County of Pennsylvania. When I continued to raise the issue of statistics, I was summarily shutdown by Lohr noting, “this is just a waste of time.” He assured me this was not a personal insult, but I do believe my question to be valid and timely and not a waste of time. How much longer are we going to wait?

When Zimmerlink attempted to come to my defense, Vicites, inaccurately noted that Zimmerlink waited to the last minute to purchase our current machines back in 2006. Vicites refused to be corrected on the matter and the meeting was adjourned. All this was very disturbing. WE THE PEOPLE need to be heard. Attend the meetings! They work for us! Meetings are the 3rd Thursday of the month, 10 a.m. (or when they show up) in the 911 building.

First Amendment under attack – Facebook Fayette Co

I am concerned, and you should be too, about yesterday Fayette County Commissioner “take over” of a Facebook page because they believe the content was “disturbing” and should be “monitored” and “sanctioned”.

This is what occurred. The commissioners were informed by its PR entity (Redstone Foundation/Fayette Chamber of Commerce) that they saw a Facebook page they say had disturbing content. They said an investigation showed that the page was “self generated” by posters signing into a “location” . It was suggested that the commissioners take over the page and that the “commissioners office” approve or disapprove content and posts.

Commissioner Lohr agreed and said to take it over and make it positive. He said he was told about the page by the county’s IT dept (Ford Business Machines). Commissioner Vicites apparently agreed because it takes 2 “votes”

In a 4 hour time frame the page was taken over and will be “sanctioned” and monitored”. In this short period of time I was able to view Facebook. I saw nothing “disturbing”. I saw free speech. What is disturbing is the attack of the First Amendment by 2 Fayette County Commissioners in the name of “positive PR”.

Dereliction of duty ? I think not.

FayetteSearchLight  blogger believes there is a dereliction of duty on the part of the Fayette County Election Board/Voter Commission because of its failure to investigate allegations of election fraud & violations of the PA Election Code as set forth in his Complaint.

As readers know, Fayette County PA is a 4th class county with elected county governance being 3 county commissioners. Said 3 commissioners also serve as the 3 members on the Election Board/Voter Registration Commission. All official actions must be voted on at a public meeting and must be by majority vote.

I urge you to read the FayetteSearchlight Blog post.

The frustration of blog writer Rob Frasconi is understandable but to write that the “election board remains in dereliction of its duty under law” while accurate is misleading because I, as a single member of the Election Board/Voter Registration Commission, cannot hold a meeting or begin an investigation. Neither Commissioner Vince Vicites nor Commissioner Dave Lohr will provide a 2nd to my calling for a hearing.

I am not in dereliction of my duties. I have done everything I can do as a single elected official.

……………………  Decide for yourself :

Oct 4 2012 – Zimmerlink letter to fellow Election Board members providing dates to hear the Complaint of August 24, 2012 (note several verbal conversations took place between August 24 and October 4th)

June 4 2013– Frasconi letter withdrawing Complaint

Sept 10 2018– Frasconi Complaint filed with Election Bureau

Sept 18 2018– Heid letter to Zimmerlink (Heid and everyone knows I, as chair, have no more authority than the other 2 members and could not unilaterally decide whether or not to hear the matter) (the letter should have never been sent)

Sept 24 2018– Zimmerlink letter to District Attorney & Attorney General

Oct 1 2018 – Frasconi email to Election Board

Oct 3 2018– Zimmerlink email to Frasconi

Oct 10 2018 Zimmerlink email to Frasconi

Oct 11 2018– Zimmerlink email to Election Board

Oct 31 2018   Zimmerlink letter to PA Attorney General

Nov 8 2018     PA Attorney General letter to Zimmerlink

I have no power to open a sealed presentment. I have no power to unilaterally hold a public hearing or unilaterally investigate allegations. I am not in dereliction of my duties and responsibilities.

The blogger could file court papers requesting to unseal presentments.  The blogger could file actions against any elected official for failing to perform his/her duties. The blogger could file a criminal complaint as stated in the Nov 8th letter.  Commissioner Lohr or Commissioner Vicites could agree with me and hold a hearing but that won’t happen obviously.