KITTANNING – Armstrong County Controller Myra Tammy Miller has had enough of lies and private deals being made behind closed doors in the commissioners’ office.
At yesterday’s public meeting, she brought out publicly what only those in the inner circle of county politics knew anything about.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a transcript of the speech she gave at the meeting.)
“You have lied to me and misled me. We had an agreement. I dropped my budget lawsuit and stayed within the paltry budget you gave me so you would not pursue taking Retirement Administration from me. I worked hard to stay within my budget to include paying out of my pocket for my Deputy’s education and conference expenses and working long days and weekends to keep my staff from having to be paid overtime. On Tuesday, you took what I perceive to be an illegal vote to remove my Retirement administrative duties. You did not honor your word. I will not relinquish that duty; you will have to take me to court.
“I told you I would move downstairs if you would give me an adequate, secure and safe environment with which to work in. I personally called the engineers you told me you contacted and they told me the continuous office space (for security) and potential fire safety codes was not part of your agreement. Again you lied and misled me. I will not move downstairs until you provide me with a secure environment.
“You will not permit my Deputy controllers to vote in my necessary or temporary absence which is against county code. I very rarely miss a meeting but it’s the principle.
“You continue to violate county code and the Sunshine Act by not permitting me to vote on specific salaries at public Salary Board meetings. Rather, you have separate meetings where only the commissioners vote. You have become less transparent recently (August 3) by not providing detail of hires and amounts paid attached to the agenda and not discussing anything in public other than voting to accept actions on a piece of paper that nobody sees. Don’t you think the public should know you hired a new Veterans Affairs Director and what she is to be paid? “Telling the public (after I objected) that the public should do a Right-To-Know request when you should be putting the information out there, is not appropriate.
“You are creating a shadow government under the disguise of improved efficiencies in my office and other offices. In reality, you are not being transparent and accountable for your actions.
“Your current method of madness is to cripple my office by reducing my budget, my staff, and my ability to perform my duties to the taxpayers of this county. The public needs to know that you are running a dictatorship. Your philosophy is the ends justifies the means, because you think only you know what’s best for the county; to heck with the other elected officials and department heads.
“How dare you tell the public and chastise my staff member in a public meeting for my explaining to the Health Center employees what they were entitled to with regard to county retirement. I suppose if you had been administering the retirement you would have kept the employees in the dark until their last day worked. I don’t operate that way and I have a duty to our employees. They are taxpayers too. Saying I jeopardized the sale of the Health Center was a bunch of baloney.
“So I will not go quietly into the night and I will fight for what I believe in, to be checks and balances in county government. I will be pursuing remedies from the court in order to do my job. I am the watchdog of tax payer dollars.”
In checking Miller’s accusations, the commissioners indeed did not disclose the one page list of various hires and personnel changes, but rather listed them as approval of a “Personnel Transactions for August 3, 2017” with details of the vote and keeping the transactions from public view.
A county employee speaking on condition of anonymity said there have been discussions that the commissioners intend to place a referendum on the ballot to dissolve the County Controller office. Miller’s duties on the Retirement Board have been moved to Executive Director of Administration Dan Lucovich, who has publicly referred to himself as the “fourth unelected commissioner”.
“The other three take their cue from Lucovich. He will be running everything pretty soon,” the employee said.
Lucovich was at the center of protecting County 9-1-1- Director Ron Baustert during the sexual harassment scandal that cost the county millions of dollars to litigate and pay back wages after the firing of whistle blower Marci Creel. Baustert was never fired although he permitted sexual actions in the workplace, the lawsuit alleged.
According to documents of meetings, Lucovich was in charge of the implementation of the sale of the Health Center and part of the negotiations.
Without her knowledge, Lucovich’s office ordered thousands of dollars of new furniture for Miller’s new office. When she refused, stating she didn’t need new furniture, the requisition was changed to place it in the Planning office rather than use the current furnishings.
Following the meeting, Miller came back to her office to find her door sign was moved to the basement office, causing confusion among people attempting to find her office.
Miller maintains she will not move until the area is secure and fire safe.
This is the first time it represents elected officials being moved out of prime space and non-elected para-governmental agencies replacing them.