January 4th, 2006

Scranton Times-Tribune, Jan 4, 2005: Throop council dumps manager

THROOP — A unified majority of five moved through Tuesday night’s reorganization agenda at a quick clip, unanimously approving all but one motion. But a lack of internal opposition has not, so far, put a stop to political problems in the borough.

Nearly four months after he was hired, Borough Manager Robert Hegedus lost his job when Borough Council voted 5-0 to eliminate his position and rehire Elaine Morrell at a salary of $40,000

Within two hours of the meeting’s conclusion, Mrs. Morrell told Borough Council she would not be taking the job.

Absent at the meeting, she said when reached by phone late Tuesday that she planned to stay on as borough manager in Olyphant

Mrs. Morrell would not explain why she was declining the job, offer. She also would not say when she made the decision.

Her husband, David Morrell, was appointed as zoning and codes enforcement officer, and Mrs. Morrell said he would not be accepting his position either.

“Evidently, she was in a funny spot. I guess she changed her mind,” Council President Thomas Lukasewicz said Tuesday night, shortly after Mrs. Morrell notified him of her decision. “It’s her right to do whatever she wants. I’m sure we can deal with it.”

Although her refusal to accept the job put him “in an awkward predicament,” Mr. Lukasewicz said he was optimistic about turning around what he and other majority council members have said was a mountain of incompetent record-keeping.

In June, Mrs. Morrell won a $40,000 settlement after filing a federal lawsuit against the borough and former majority council members Daryl Menichetti, George Marushock, Cindy Johnson and Susan Shortz. Her position was eliminated in July 2004 by the former majority

The former majority lost their stronghold in November, when Ms. Shortz resigned her position. Councilman-elect John Musewicz was appointed to the vacancy, joining a new majority comprised of Mr. Lukasewicz, James Barnick and Joe Barone

Tony Chrzan became the fifth member of that majority when he was appointed to Ms. Shortz’s seat after Mr. Musewicz assumed the position on council won from Ms. Menechetti in November

The position of borough manager, which took the place of the chief clerk/treasurer “was only created to take away the voice” of the minority, Mr. Lukasewicz said, adding that Mrs. Morrell’s firing led to what they claim is a financial mess

Six ordinances went unsigned, council vice president James Barnick said, minutes were not recorded and financial data was not entered properly

Mr. Lukasewicz assured that council harbored no hard feelings against Mr. Hegedus, but did say he was “too inexperienced,” and Mr. Barnick said he was “brought in here blindfolded” to the way things are supposed to be done

Mr. Lukasewicz called it righting a wrong; Mr. Hegedus called it devastating

“I just wish that the elected officials would realize that they are playing with persons’ lives,” Mr. Hegedus said Tuesday morning when a copy of the agenda confirmed his suspicions that his employment would be terminated. “I accepted the job to be a public servant, not a political crony.”

Mr. Lukasewicz said that, despite Mrs. Morrell’s decision to stay in Olyphant, he had no intention of reinstating Mr. Hegedus

Contact the writer:

Comings, goings and lawsuits

  1. 1992-2004: Elaine Morrell works as borough administrator and secretary.
  2. July 2004: Council voted 4-3 to eliminate Mrs. Morrell’s position, which prompted her to file suit in U.S. District Court against the borough and the four council members who voted to fire her. She said council took the action in retaliation for her deposition in another federal suit. Eleven months later, the suit was settled for $40,000.
  3. January 2005: Former treasurer Lenore Dolan and landfill inspectors Stanley Gongliewski and Ronald Bukowski are awarded a $325,000 settlement, concluding a federal lawsuit alleging wrongful termination.
  4. February 2005: Former borough secretary Christina Sullivan filed suit in federal court against borough council alleging wrongful termination for political reasons.
  5. September 2005: Robert Hegedus, who was hired as treasurer earlier this year, was promoted to borough manager.
  6. Nov. 15, 2005: A power shift on council led to the hiring of Mrs. Morrell and Ms. Dolan to go through financial records, at a rate of $25 per hour. Also at the meeting, solicitor John Brazil resigned and former solicitor Louis Cimini was hired.
  7. Dec. 22, 2005: Christina Sullivan was rehired as a borough secretary, council voted to terminate two landfill inspector positions and fired Civic Center Director Brian Carr. Neither council president Thomas Lukawicz nor vice president James Barnick would say why.

:::sigh::: I thought things were back to being boring.

I was wrong. They’re back to being normal.


  1. comment by Laughing on Friday, Apr 14th, 2006 9:37 am

    Good for that idiot, he was a media limelight wanna be and screwed up the Borough.

    Not like it is any better now.

  2. comment by Robert Hegedus on Friday, Feb 23rd, 2007 8:48 am

    Care to share your name?
    As for the screwing up of the Borough that was compliments of the dysfunctional, political self-interested motivated Council. They were there four years and accomplished …uh,nothing!
    I was terminated because I was not a puppet of the then majority faction, “the infidel”.
    The evidence is there now. Where have you gone Jed (Council absentee), Cindy (removed legally), Sue (resigned) and Daryl (well ask Bobby Hot Dog).

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