Luzerne County Councilman Rick Morelli has publicly released the names of citizens interested in serving on the committee that will select the next Luzerne County manager.
Council Chairwoman Linda McClosky Houck had said the names would be released at next week’s public interviewing session of all applicants, but Morelli said there’s no reason they should be withheld until then.
“It’s my right as an office holder to make sure the public is informed,” Morelli said. “There’s nothing to hide here.”
The applicants, according to Morelli: Carmen Ambrosino, Gene A. Camoni, Robert E. Fisher, James J. Haggerty, Melia Molinaro, Gerard O’Donnell, Hilary Palencar, Christopher B. Slusser and Brad G. Trutt.
Citizen Michael Giamber also submitted an application after the Nov. 13 deadline, which means it will be up to the council members to determine if they want to consider him.
The manager position will be vacant Jan. 1 because Robert Lawton submitted his resignation last week.
Some background on the applicants, according to information submitted to the county:
• Ambrosino, Hughestown, worked as CEO of the nonprofit Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc., an organization he helped start, for 40 years before retiring in January 2014. He now works as a speaker, consultant, author and trainer in the addiction field. He has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in health administration.
• Camoni, Swoyersville, has worked as an assistant professor at Wilkes University and was superintendent at the Old Forge School District from 2000 to 2007. He has a doctorate in education.
• Fisher, Salem Township, has worked in health care management consulting, including assignments handling financial oversight, throughout the country. He has a master’s degree in business administration.
• Haggerty has been mayor of Kingston since 1998 and served on the commission that drafted the county’s home rule charter. He also is an attorney and has been in private practice since 1995.
• Molinaro, Butler Township, has worked as a constituent outreach specialist at the Hazleton office of state Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Butler Township), since 2010 and previously worked as an event coordinator at Capriotti’s outside Hazleton. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
• O’Donnell, Kingston Township, has more than 30 years of retail and wholesale experience in automotive and construction equipment industries, including a position as president/chief operating officer at Motor World Automotive Group, Inc. in Wilkes-Barre from 1996 to 2012 and as vice president/general manager at Boch Retail Enterprises in Boston from 1992 to 1996. He has a bachelor’s degree in history.
• Palencar, Larksville, has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in English. She has been disabled for 21 years and cites a 35-year record of volunteerism with the county’s elderly and mentally-challenged women.
• Slusser, Sugarloaf Township, is an attorney and has his own private law practice. He also serves as solicitor for the Hazleton Area School District and several municipalities and previously worked as several law firms in the Hazleton area and for the Public Protection Division of the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.
• Trutt, White Haven, served as district manager at AIG in West Chester from 2001 to 2010 and previously worked as an assistant vice president for Associates/CitiBank in Dallas, Texas, and as regional director at Minneapolis, Texas-based ITT, supervising multiple branch locations throughout Pennsylvania. He has degrees in biology and biochemistry.
• Giamber, Fairmount Township, has a bachelor’s degree in business management and worked 23 years with the U.S. Navy managing operations at several naval facilities in Washington, D.C. He also taught contract management classes and worked seven years as deputy chief of facilities and operations at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
The council must rely on an outside committee of at least three citizens to seek, screen and conduct initial interviews of county manager applicants. The committee then recommends three finalists to the council for its consideration.
Home rule charter drafters removed the council from the initial process, believing it would make the selection more impartial and less vulnerable to political intervention. The council’s only involvement at the start is choosing the committee members.
The council members will publicly interview committee applicants starting at 5 p.m. Dec. 9 in the council meeting room at the courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.
The council may select the committee members at the Dec. 15 voting meeting, McClosky Houck said.
Morelli said the names of the nine committee members were supplied to council members in executive session last week, though they were asked to keep the names confidential for now.
Morelli said he can’t be accused of jeopardizing the current employment of applicants by releasing their names because they are seeking unpaid seats on a county committee — not county jobs. The applicants also should have no problem with release of their names because they are seeking the opportunity to play a major role in the selection of the county government’s top manager, he said.
The council also keeps a running public list of applicants interested in serving on county boards, authorities and commissions, he noted.