• Mount Pocono Boro*

Muncipal Authority Plans to Ask Borough Council to Oust Montanez from Seat

MPMA Board Meeting via Zoom. Clockwise from upper left, MPMA Executive Director Jonathan Klotz, Boro editor Tom Ford, MPMA Chair Michael Oser, MPMA Solicitor Scott Lipson, Esq., MPMA accountant Dean Cable, MPMA board member Michael Christopher Penn, MPMA board member Ron Emilie, and MPMA board member Matt Hensel.

MOUNT POCONO (Aug 13, 2020) – Towards the end of tonight's regular meeting of the Mount Pocono Municipal Authority, conducted virtually, Board Member Ron Emilie asked if there were any members of the public on the meeting and, specifically, if there were any members of the board on the meeting other than the ones shown on screen. On being told no, he asked for an executive session saying, “I think you know where I am going.” Board Chair Michael Oser said, “Yes I do,” and called for an executive session.

On the screen at the meeting were board members Oser, Emilie, Matt Hensel, and Mount Pocono mayor Michael Christopher Penn. The only board member not in attendance was borough council member Aida Montanez. Montanez had missed several recent authority meetings, and had reportedly asked for a leave of absence to take care of family responsibilities in connection with a grandchild recently born with health issues.

When they returned from executive session, the chair did not announce the purpose of the session. When questioned, he said it was to discuss a “personnel matter” and then asked for a motion to adjourn. On a follow up question, he conceded that the “personnel” discussed was not an employee of the Authority. Asked to rule on the legitimacy of going into executive session to discuss an issue not related to an employee of the Authority, the board’s solicitor demurred, saying only that the matter would be subsequently discussed at an open meeting.

After some discussion, Hensel interjected that, as he said he had related during the executive session, he was uncomfortable with having an executive session only because they were concerned about hurt feelings. Oser then made a statement that the executive session was to discuss a board member who had missed a number of meetings and a request that borough council remove that member.

Under applicable state law and the Municipal Authority charter, the Authority is an independent agency, created by the borough, which retained the authority to appoint and remove members of the authority board. During the discussion, Emilie, who also serves on council with Montanez, angrily said “the whole issue is so minimal”, saying it was “a goddamned molehill.” Earlier this year, in April, Emilie was appointed by the borough’s vacancy board to fill Donna Casole’s seat on council -- on Montanez’s motion. His appointment was approved by a single vote.

Penn interjected himself into the discussion over the lawfulness of the executive session. His involvement was ironic since, at the July Mount Pocono Borough Council work session, he accused the Regional Police Commission of having conducted an illegal executive session which he and fellow Mount Pocono police commissioner reportedly walked out of. At that same work session, he urged council to consider withdrawing from the regional police. The next Borough Council meeting is Monday, August 17, at 7pm in the Borough Building. The meeting will also reportedly be broadcast on Zoom. Channel 570 will be livestreaming it on Facebook as well, since the in-person meeting can only accommodate 10-14 members of the public, depending on how many members of council show up. Watch The Boro's video of the discussion below.

{Editor's note: this article has been updated to correct the name of the council member who's seat Emilie filled. He was appointed to fill Donna Casole's seat, not Matt Hensel's, as initially reported.}

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