Bellevue meeting erupts over lack of nepotism

Government officials usually are criticized for giving jobs to their relatives, but it was the lack of nepotism involved in summer hiring that resulted in an explosion at Bellevue' s pre-council meeting on Tuesday.

Before storming out of the meeting in a rage because his son was not selected to be a public works laborer this summer, Mayor George Doscher disparaged members of council, told one to shut up, and refused to cede the floor and stop yelling when council president Linda Woshner called him out of order.

His feelings were echoed more quietly by council member Frank Camello, who said that council members had disrespected him by not even interviewing his son, who also had applied for a summer DPW job.

The incident occurred during discussion of the second round of DPW summer job candidates. DPW supervisor Tony Barbarino said that 10-12 people had submitted applications, which were reviewed by himself and director of administrative services Doug Sample. The two eliminated some applicants at that point, and conducted job interviews for the remaining candidates, according to Sample.

Last month, council's public works committee concurred with the recommendations made by Barbarino and Sample, and council voted to hire five people for the summer jobs. Neither Doscher's son nor Camello's was among the original five chosen.

Sample said that one person declined the job, and another had to be eliminated when it was discovered that he did not have a driver's license as required by the borough's personnel code. The administrators then returned to council's public works committee and asked that three more individuals be offered jobs.

Apparently Doscher's son was recommended for hiring as part of this second round, but the committee did not follow that recommendation.

"It's either a personal issue or a political issue," charged Doscher, who said that his son had worked for the DPW last summer and had a letter of recommendation from the DPW employee people considered the "hardest to work for."

"This is about as chicken s**t as it gets," he said, adding that his son was "heads above...you people."

When DPW committee member Jim Viscusi raised his hand to be recognized by the president, Doscher told him to "shut up." He specifically targeted Viscusi and committee chair Jane Braunlich, saying, "Jim, I'm not interested in what you have to say, and Jane, what little respect I had for you, I've lost."

Doscher continued to rant, not allowing anyone else to speak, and yelled over Woshner's attempts to bring the meeting to order, maintaining that she could bang the gavel as hard as she wanted and it would not stop him. The mayor finally left the meeting.

He left behind his wife, Barb Doscher, however, who, in addition to yelling out during the council meeting, waited until the visitors' comments period at the end of the meeting to say that someone named Braunlich or Woshner would have gotten the job.

Braunlich responded that she would not permit any of her children to apply for a borough job while she was on council. She later said that her daughter had a part-time job at the library when Braunlich was first appointed to council, and that her daughter immediately resigned the position.

Camello also yelled out during the meeting, stating that his son also had been overlooked when it came to hiring. "Show me some respect and give him an interview," Camello said.

The committee was criticized for the "process" used in the hirings by DPW committee member Mark Helbling and council member Kathy Coder.

Coder said that, in the past, committees simply had followed the recommendations of the department heads and had not become involved in the selection process. Council's job should be to legislate, not micro-manage, she said.

Council member Sue Viscusi said that council was indeed responsible for hiring decisions, and that Coder was talking about "rubber stamping everything.".

She urged council, however, to agree on a process and stick to it in the future.

"For the love of God, let's quit arguing over the same thing over and over and over again," she said,

Helbling said that he disagreed with the process of choosing candidates that had taken place at the committee meeting because "there was no logic" in declining to hire a former summer employee who had performed well and not following the recommendation of the administrators. He said he felt as if his presence at the meeting was unnecessary.

Braunlich said that Helbling had attended the meeting without reviewing the materials and applications provided.

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