Luzerne County Council on Tuesday will vote on a proposed settlement of a suit brought by former county chief public defender Al Flora, who claimed he was wrongfully terminated five years ago.
Flora filed suit against the county and former county Manager Robert Lawton days after he was ousted from his position in April 2013. He claims he was removed in retaliation for well-publicized appeals to county leaders that the public defender’s office needed more funding to function.
In the suit, Flora claimed First Amendment retaliation, violation of Equal Protection rights and wrongful termination. Flora alleges the county violated his free speech rights and denied him protection as a whistleblower.
The amount of the proposed settlement will not be announced until after council votes whether to approve it.
County chief solicitor Romilda Crocamo instituted that policy on the grounds that a proposed settlement is still in negotiation until council approves it. Councilman Stephen A. Urban has criticized the policy, saying members of the public have the right to know the amount of proposed settlements at the time of public comment, prior to a council vote.
Also on Tuesday, council will vote whether to approve county Manager David Pedri’s proposed $1.3 million capital plan for 2019. The plan will take effect automatically on Sept. 1 if council takes no action.
The plan includes $650,000 for phase two of a renovation project at the county courthouse. It also calls for $400,000 to rehabilitate parking lots at county-owned facilities, a separate $150,000 allocation for restoration of the parking lot at the county human services building, and $100,000 to cover emergency repairs to county buildings.
That would leave $664,246 in the capital fund.
Council may reject or amend part or all of the proposed plan.
Council Chairman Tim McGinley has submitted a proposed amended plan that would reduce the amount earmarked for parking lot improvements to $300,000, and increase the amount dedicated to emergency building repairs to $150,000.
Tuesday’s council meeting will be held at the Pittston Memorial Library, 47 Broad St., Pittston.
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