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County Settles Flora Lawsuit For $250K

August 29, 2018

PITTSTON — Luzerne County Council on Tuesday approved a $250,000 settlement of a wrongful termination suit brought by former county chief public defender Al Flora. Flora filed suit against the county and former county Manager Robert Lawton days after he was ousted from his position in April 2013. He claimed he was removed in retaliation for well-publicized appeals to county leaders that the public defender’s office needed more funding to function. The county will pay about $16,000 of the settlement, with the remainder covered by the county’s insurance company, chief solicitor Romilda Crocamo said. Pursuing the suit through further court action would have been costly and “very time-intensive,” Crocamo told council members. Council approved the settlement 8-3, with council members Harry Haas, Linda McClosky Houck and Stephen A. Urban opposed. Urban noted he did not vote for Flora to be appointed chief public defender in 2010, when Urban was a commissioner under the county’s former form of government, since he felt Flora was not the most qualified candidate. Also on Tuesday, council first amended, then approved, county Manager David Pedri’s proposed capital plan for 2019. Pedri had proposed setting aside $400,000 to rehabilitate parking lots at county-owned facilities. Council Chairman Tim McGinley had proposed an amendment to reduce that amount to $300,000. Council on Tuesday further reduced the amount to $200,000, following a spirited debate. Pedri said that cutting the outlay in half would force the county to focus only on areas most in need of urgent repair. County engineer Lawrence Plesh said it would make more sense to perform as many needed repairs as possible in one project. The county would “get more bang for our buck” that way, he said. A council majority rejected that argument and supported council Vice Chairman Eugene Kelleher’s motion to set the amount at $200,000. The capital plan also includes $650,000 for phase two of a renovation project at the county courthouse, a dedicated $150,000 allocation for restoration of the parking lot at the county human services building, and $150,000 to cover emergency repairs to county-owned buildings. That leaves $864,246 in the capital fund. Council also appointed Neal DeAngelo to an open seat on the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority board, following several previous deadlocked votes trying to fill the seat. Contact the writer: emark@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2117

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