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Shohola Township sued for infraction of Sunshine Law; township attorney acknowledges error


August 14, 2012

It’s never dull if you regularly attend the monthly meeting of the Shohola Township Supervisors. This time, the township is being sued by resident Carrie Thomas, who is a stickler for correct procedures and who challenges the supervisors regularly. This time, she caught the council red-handed for an infraction of the Sunshine Law.

“Contrary to my regular practice, I wish to comment on pending litigation,” said township attorney Jason Ohliger. “The township is being sued for something that I should have known but didn’t. I advised the council to go into executive session in their discussion of a replacement of former supervisor Nelia Wall. I should not have advised this. I did this unintentionally and not maliciously. Such an executive session is not allowed by a second-class township. I should have known this.”

The purpose of the improper executive session was to give the two remaining supervisors—George Fluhr and Greg Hoeper—a chance to discuss the candidacy of Keith Raser, who was later selected to fill the position.

Despite this infraction, Ohliger said that the appointment of Raser was valid and that his votes in council also are valid. He said that fixing this infraction would be done at his expense and not the township’s.

Thomas said that she was not against Mr. Raser and, in fact, praised him as a candidate.

“The supervisors should know all the provisions of the Sunshine Law,” she said.

It was not clear whether the plaintiff would accept Ohliger’s apology and withdraw the lawsuit. She was not available for questioning after the meeting, but left the hall immediately.

In other council matters, the supervisors approved the adoption of a new nuisance ordinance. The ordinance lists those events or persons that constitute a public nuisance, such as junkyards, dangerous construction, certain types of burning, high levels of noise and public hazards. The law prescribes penalties for violations. “The township police shall enforce the ordinance’s provisions,” Fluhr said.

The ordinance passed unanimously.

Fluhr urged residents to review the new version of the township’s website at www.shoholatwp.org.