Grant application, Facebook page causing rift in Wyoming

By Marcella Kester - For Times Leader

WYOMING — Newly-elected Mayor Joe Dominick first year in office has gotten off to a rocky start.

Dominick is at odds with the borough council and manager over a Local Share Account application and Facebook posts.

Council members took issue at Monday night’s meeting with the way Dominick applied for the LSA grant.

The mayor filed out the application to receive funds for improvements at John Jude Bolin Memorial Park before he became mayor. He said he asked friends who were familiar with both the construction business and the application process help him apply for the grant.

He said he even paid the $100 application fee after council refused.

Borough Manager Tamra Smith said the way Dominick went about applying for the grant was not the normal process.

Normally, if the borough doesn’t have time to bid out the work for the application it would then be forwarded to the borough engineer, so that outside contractors don’t become involved and have the ability to release information about the proposed project, Smith said.

Smith said she was also concerned that Dominick used contractors who were donated to his campaign.

She added that much of the work Dominick proposed in the application could be done by the borough itself, rather than hiring contractors.

“The thing is our Department of Public Works, our residents can pitch in to do the work,” Smith said of the park’s repairs.

Dominick said that council was well aware that bids would have publicly gone out if the application was approved.

“Knowing very well it was going out for public bid I used people I know,” he said about getting help with the application. “I wasn’t mayor yet, I used the contacts I had.”

Council was also upset with Dominick over a Facebook page after he made a public post stating that he wanted to “open all borough positions” to reapplication. The post pertains to all non-elected borough employees, he said, explaining that he wanted to start on a clean slate and ensure that the borough is working at optimal levels.

“The last meeting being the new mayor, I asked council to keep every position open,” Dominick said. “I was elected by an overwhelming majority, I knocked out a three-term mayor. I therefore felt that I was speaking for the people of Wyoming, and I asked council prior to reorganization to please open all these positions up.”

He said that didn’t necessarily mean that he would fire whoever was in the current position, but that he wanted to make sure the borough had the best possible candidate for each job.

Council refused Dominick’s plea, he said, causing him to make the post on social media.

Smith, who has been the borough manager for the past seven years, said she felt attacked by the post and his dismissal of residents who are attacking council member and borough employees through the page.

“I’m an employee, and more or less he was coming out and saying he would just fire me if they found another applicant and it just doesn’t work that way,” she said, noting that many full-time employees are also union members. “I just want it to stop.”

Dominick is also upset that he has yet to obtain a formal borough e-mail address or phone line, and has not been able to receive any contact information for council members.

“I’ve asked for (an e-mail address) when I became mayor-elect. I specifically asked for a borough email, I asked through (Smith) and she has not gotten me one,” he said. “I asked for a borough phone, I was told its too expensive to have my own line.”

While Smith said she hopes a peaceful and positive resolution can be reached, she said borough officials feel that the mayor has separated himself from the group.

“He says he can’t trust anybody, but he doesn’t even know anybody,” Smith said. “He has never come to council and said ‘Hi, I want to work with you. This is my intention, this is what I want to do.”

Dominick said Tuesday that he attended the first council meeting after he was elected and offered to work with council, telling them he hoped to be involved in the budget process.

By Marcella Kester

For Times Leader

Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.

Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.