The November public business meeting of the Mt. Oliver Borough Council included a presentation on recycling, the resignation of one borough employee, the hiring of another, and a profanity-laced outburst by a former mayor directed at a current council member.

Council President Amber McGough and Mayor JoAnna Taylor participated in the meeting by telephone. Council members Tina Reft, Brandon Taylor, Nick Viglione, Paul Doyle, and Lisa Pietrusza attended in person. Aaron Graham was absent. Ms. Reft presided.

Sarah Alessio Shea from the Pennsylvania Resource Council (PRC), an environmental nonprofit organization, said the group was very involved in litter prevention, but starting in the 70s, began focusing on waste minimization, recycling, and composting.

“While we are contracted by not only the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to collect household hazardous waste, which is like your paints, your stains, chemical products, those types of things so that residents have an opportunity, a place to bring them relatively affordably. We also work with both of those entities as well as some surrounding counties as well as e-waste recycling. So, things that people cannot throw in their trash, as you’re well aware, television sets, computer monitors, those types of things,” Ms. Shea said.

PRC is also working in a variety of ways with municipalities to collect and recycle glass. They have helped set up permanent glass recycling bins and traveling bins where residents can drop off their glass to be recycled.

Ms. Shea said if the borough council is interested in a particular kind of recycling, such as glass or e-waste, she would be willing to work with them to set up the program.

If a municipality wants to set up a permanent glass recycling bin, there is a one-time cost for the setup and then charges for the hauling. The setup cost for the one-week traveling glass recycling bin would be approximately $750.

In regular business, the council approved a parcel consolidation for 643 and 645 Margaret Street. The consolidation was necessary for the owner of the properties to build a shed on the property.

After some discussion, a second parcel consolidation, of 306 Hays, 308 Hays, and 307 School, was necessary to facilitate a property swap between the property owner, Councilman Taylor, and the owners of ECHT Coffee House. The property acquired by ECHT will continue to be used as a parking lot.

Solicitor Emily Mueller said if the consolidation meets all of the requirements, the applicant for the consolidation is essentially entitled to be granted. If the application wasn’t acted on by the borough council, it would be deemed approved.

The motion for the consolidation passed.

The council also accepted the resignation of Kathy Connolly as Borough Secretary effective the end of November.

Council members also approved the hiring of Lynette Mankey as the new Borough Secretary. Ms. Mankey has more than a decade of experience working in local government administration. She has previously worked in Bridgeville and Scott Township.

In other borough business, a proposed resolution governing public comment and decorum was brought up for a vote. The resolution would: require speakers to identify themselves; allot them three minutes to speak, more at the discretion of the President of Council; and prohibit remarks that are loud and boisterous, threatening, abusive, personally directed, impertinent, slanderous, profane, inflammatory, or irrelevant, repetitive and overly lengthy violate the decorum of a Borough business meeting, hinder the orderly and effective disposition of borough business and can discourage participation and comment by both the public and council.

The resolution was defeated by a vote of four to two with council members Taylor and Pietrusza in favor and Doyle, Viglione, Reft, and McGough against.

In an unfortunate turn of events, former mayor Frank Bernardini went into an expletive-laced tirade in the Questions and Answers portion of the meeting. Without providing details, he accused Mx. Pietrusza of making derogatory comments about the borough police and being dissatisfied with the borough.

After repeated hammering of the gavel by Ms. Reft, Mr. Bernardini exited the Council Chambers.

Mayor Taylor, responding to his comments said, “What is one of the highest things in our nation is our electoral process and when someone is elected to a position, that means something. And there can be a lot of things that people disagree with. And there are things that need to be discussed at times and there are problems, various ones at different times that I was working through, but we need to remember that, and we need to remember when we talk about things we can put up with or not or how we deal with them, that when someone is elected to a position that that stands. There’s not much, if anything at all that changes that. And so, I just hope I encourage people, that when they have issues, that we can work through them in different ways and recognize that, that once someone’s elected officials, they are in that position until the end of the term, so the next election.”

The next Borough Council public meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 19.

Tom Smith is the former Managing Editor of the South Pittsburgh Reporter from 2000 until 2023. Following in his mother's footsteps, he delivered news that changed our world.