Point Boro Council Expected to Appoint Former Attorney Tonight
Jerry Dasti, who was borough attorney for many years, is likely to be appointed tonight by GOP majority despite not submitting lowest bid
The Republican majority on Point Borough Council is expected to vote tonight to give former Borough Attorney Jerry Dasti his old job back.
The item is on the agenda (see attached PDF), along with other key appointments, such as borough auditor, bond counsel, public defender, conflict attorney and conflict public defender.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Borough Hall.
At the Jan. 2 reorganization meeting, the narrow GOP majority, consisting of Robert Sabosik, Antoniette DePaola, Mitch Remig and John Wisniewski, voted down Democratic Mayor William Schroeder's nominations for those positions.
Residents have already begun questioning the appointment of Dasti since he did not submit the lowest quote for the attorney position and GOP council members have long said they want the town to save money wherever possible.
Dasti submitted a request for proposal (or RFP) of a maximum of $93,500 for 2012 "or about $7,500 per month," according to copies of documents submitted by his firm in early December to Borough Hall (see attached PDF).
Scott Kenneally, the current attorney from the law firm of Starkey, Kelly, Kenneally, Cunningham and Turnbach, gave the borough a quote of a maxium of $75,000 for this year.
All four Republican council members were called by Patch on Tuesday, and messages were left, but only Wisniewski could be reached.
He said the Republican council members had negotiated with Dasti.
"His bid is a lot lower now, but I don't know what it is," he said, explaining that he did not have the records in front of him while he was at work.
"He's not as low as Starkey, but Starkey didn't come to most of the meetings," he said.
Instead, Kenneally, of the Starkey firm, was usually at the meetings, which the Republican council members feel is not ideal, Wisniewski said.
"Kenneally specializes in tax appeals, not representing municipal governing bodies," Wisniewski said. "The borough needs a true municipal attorney."
According to Democratic Councilman Chris Goss, who compiled a summary of bids from the voluminous bid documents that four law firms submitted to the town, the bid from Dasti was in the middle range, between the lowest RFP submitted by Starkey and Brian W. McAlindin of the firm of Bathgate, Wegener and Wolf (see attached PDFs). McAlindin's quote was a maximum of $125,000 for the year.
McAlindin is a former Repubilcan councilman, former borough bond counsel and longtime, active member of the borough Republican Club.
Goss, using borough records, also compiled the following comparison between Dasti's annual billing in the past and Kenneally's bill for the past year:
"Annual Payment To Our Prior Attorney:
2010 Jan-Oct: $162,287.57
Our Current Attorney:
2011 Jan-July: $44,223.60"
Goss has been using his personal Facebook account to urge borough residents to attend the meeting and ask council to keep the current law firm and auditor, Thomas Fallon, which, he says, helped guide the Borough out of a financial mess.
Democratic Councilman Chris Leitner said that protocol calls for the mayor to make the professional appointments "with the advice and consent of council," which means that council should consent to the mayor's appointments, unless there is a significant problem with a nominee.
Given that Starkey's firm came in the lowest, was selected by Schroeder, and has done a good job during the past year, the borough should reappoint that firm, Leitner said.
"I'm hopeful council will make sure the price we pay is the same or lower as what we pay now," Leitner said, referring to the Republican council members. "Dasti and his colleagues are well-respected, but so are Starkey and his colleagues."