Rice Township Legal Fees Skyrocket

Rice  Township  has  spent  a  total  of  $43,799.72  for  legal  fees  in  2013,  according

 to  monthly  public  meeting  agenda  and  minute  reports.  Rice  Solicitor

 William  Higgs  has  been  paid

 a  total  of  $25,190l.24.  He  has  received  $4,083.24  for  his  monthly  retainer  and  an  additional  $2,110.69  for

 invoices  for  various  services  including  drafting  ordinances  to

 decertify  the  Rice  Township  Volunteer  Fire  Department  and  Vacate

 Heslop  Road.   In  addition  Attorney  Donald  Brobst

 was  hired  in  February  2013  to  work  on  the  Marcia  Thomas  vs.  Rice

 Township  lawsuit  to  provide  services  in  addition  to  those  from  the

 law  firm  hired  by  the  township’s  liability  insurance  carrier  for  a  total  of

 $18,609.48.  

Excessive Legal Fees

Mark  Manosky  addressed  the  board  at  the  October  8,  2013  public  meeting,

 “I  was  just  looking  over  the

 expenses  and  I  just  want  some  clarification.  One  fifth  of  all  your  October  township  expenses  are  legal.

 That’s  almost  astounding.  You  have  from  September  and

 October  legal  fees  from  Rosenn  Jenkins  and  Greenwald  exceeding  $8,000.  And  you  also  have  Mr.

 Higgs,  now  this  is  a  nice  gig.  I  wouldn’t  mind  having  this  gig  at  all

 for  two  months  of  service  about  $

9000.  I’ve  looked  at  other  township  expenses  for  legal  they  are  nowhere  close  to  this.  You  can  get  a  D-9  for  $

2000  an  hour  to  work  on  the  road,”  summed  up  Manosky.

Threatening Public

Mary  Ann  Whitonis  offered  public  comment  on  another  issue.  She  asked  Attorney  Higgs,  “Do  you  condone  their

 use  of  threatening  to  remove  people  from  meetings  on  a  regular  basis?”

Higgs  said,  “The  test  is  disruption  of

 a  meeting.  I’m  not  going  to  sit  here  and  rule  on  everything  that  is  said.  I  have  shared  with  them  the  case  law  on  this  and  nobody  has  been  removed.

 “

Thomas  and  Whitonis  said  they  wanted

 to  see  the  case  law.  Whitonis  continued,  ”What  about  June  25,  2013

 when  60  some  residents  were  removed  from  the  public  meeting?

Higgs  said,  “Disruptions  at  the  meetings  are  reason  for  removal.”

Whitonis  continued,  “Those  who  were  sitting  here  quietly  should  not

 have  had  their  constitutional  rights  taken  away  from  them.  That’s  illegal.”

 

“They  were  standing  up  pointing  and

 yelling  at  the  board.  That  to  me  is  disruption  of  a  meeting.  The  meeting  was

 totally  out  of  control,”  Higgs  defended.

Whitonis  returned,  “  The  policewere  instructed  to  remove  the  peopleand  they  immediately  began  usheringpeople  out  the  door.”

Armstrong Mum

Whitonis  then  turned  to  DonArmstrong,  who  is  running  forsupervisor  in  November.  “How  doyou  feel  about  the  fire  service?”

Venesky  declared,  “This  is  not  apolitical  forum.  Policy  is  not  Mr. Armstrong’s.  The  board  sets  policy. You  have  to  go  outside  of  thismeeting  and  ask  him.”

Whitonis  concluded,  “The  publicshould  have  the  vote  about  the  fireservice.  It  should  be  a  public  vote.”

Routine Business

In  other  business  the  boardawarded  a  bid  for  an  “as  is”  retired2006  Jeep  Liberty  Police  Vehicle  and

See Legal Fees page 4