Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Hall Dispute Authorities Asked to Leave, but They're Staying, Official Says

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Hall Dispute Authorities Asked to Leave, but They're Staying, Official Says

Article excerpt

Officials in McKeesport continue to squabble over efforts to remove two economic development organizations' offices from City Hall, but Dennis Pittman, head of the McKeesport Industrial Development Authority and the Mon-Yough Area Industrial Development Authority, says the organizations are staying put.

Mr. Pittman said the authorities' lease with the city renews itself automatically every six months unless the city gives 30 days notice of termination of the lease. He received a letter -- dated April 25 -- on May 3 from city Solicitor Jason Elash stating the authorities had to vacate their shared fourth-floor offices in City Hall by May 31, though the lease wasn't up until June 30.

Mr. Elash's letter also indicated "that the last lease we have on file at the City of McKeesport expired Dec. 31, 2003."

Mr. Pittman is a former city administrator who was fired by Mayor Mike Cherepko in January, and officials think his continued presence at City Hall as head of the authorities is disruptive to employee morale.

In a June 13 letter to the McKeesport city administrator and council, city controller Ray Malinchak argued that Mr. Elash's reference of an invalid lease "should invalidate the intent and purpose" of the letter, among other concerns. After Mr. Pittman noted the initial letter called for the authorities to vacate the offices a month before the lease ended, he said Mr. Elash then drafted another letter, backdated to May 28 but received July 3, indicating they had to be out by June 30. Mr. Pittman said that because the city failed to give the appropriate 30 days notice, the lease now rolls over for another six months and he doesn't intend to vacate City Hall.

Council President Darryl Segina said it would be "a shame" if the organizations had to relocate outside of McKeesport.

"I think his lease is good until Dec. 31, 2012," he said. "In my opinion, I looked at the lease, and they did not give him a proper time frame."

But Mr. Cherepko said the lease cited by Mr. Pittman and Mr. Malinchak was never valid because it was never approved by McKeesport council, which is required under the city's home rule charter. …

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