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  • Saucon Voice

Did Lower Saucon Council Violate PA Sunshine Act?

Lower Saucon Township Council met this past Wednesday, February 21, 2024, but among the routine business items to be discussed, it was revealed that numerous potential violations of the PA Sunshine Act may have been committed.

 

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One of the first items on the agenda was discussion of the executive session that took place immediately prior to the general business meeting. President Priscilla deLeon announced that Council did meet in executive session to discuss a conflict-of-interest waiver regarding Township solicitor Stephen Goudsouzian.

 

Regarding the solicitor, Council President Priscilla deLeon stated, “I’d like to make a motion to resolve any issue with regard to any potential conflict of interest.” It would appear this motion was necessary given that Mr. Goudsouzian has had a working relationship with the Borough of Hellertown and given the fact that his wife also served as a board member of the Hellertown Area Library. Banonis continued, “under the rules of professional conduct that apply to all attorneys, specifically rule 1.7, I believe that Mr. Goudsouzian cannot represent this Township as well as Hellertown Borough.”

 

Councilmember Jason Banonis stated, “the public should know that there were multiple violations of the [PA] Sunshine Act that took place in executive session,” pointing to the fact that what was discussed in executive session, providing a waiver from Council for Mr. Goudsouzian, did not fall under litigation discussion or personnel matters.

 

It should be noted that without Councilmember Banonis disclosing what had happened in the secret executive session, the public would have no knowledge regarding the apparent conflicts of interest that exist or the nature in which these conflicts were to be handled.

 

During the vote to grant this waiver, Councilmember Tom Carocci demanded answers from Mr. Goudsouzian about who signs his checks for his work related to the Borough of Hellertown, to which Mr. Goudsouzian responded, “I’m not answering.”

 

In related news, during Hellertown Borough Council’s meeting from Tuesday, February 20, 2024, New Business item # 9.4 was approved, which was a motion to accept the resignation of ZHB solicitor, Steve Goudsouzian. Interestingly, no mention was made during the Lower Saucon Township Council meeting of Mr. Goudsouzian’s resignation from the Hellertown Borough Zoning Board, nor was any explanation given as to why a waiver was still required if Mr. Goudsouzian has resigned his position with the Borough of Hellertown.

 

The next motion, made by Councilmember Victoria Opthof-Cordaro, was to authorize the solicitor to pursue potential settlement with the Hellertown Area Library, with the end goal of ending all litigation. Councilmember Banonis responded, stating, “yet another violation of the Sunshine Act. They now want to recategorize their illegal payment of $98,000 made to the Hellertown Area Library as a gift. Before it was for past due payments, but now it’s a gift.”

 

Councilmember Tom Carocci minced no words, “this is not a settlement offer, this is a cover-up offer. This is a cover-up, so they don’t have to turn those emails over, so they don’t have to explain their funding, and so they don’t have to get into why they were selling books tax-free to friends of the library.” [See our article on potential tax fraud by the Hellertown Area Library.]


In a final attempt to find a competent and unconflicted Township solicitor, Councilmember Jason Banonis motioned to authorize preparation of a request for proposal for a Township Solicitor. Banonis stated during the vote, “any vote against this is just another cover up, so I’m voting yes.” The motion would fail along party lines.

 

The next regularly scheduled Council meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, starting at 6:30PM.


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