Shady Scenes in Clifton Heights?

I am quite curious about this so called “Clifton Heights Economic Corp” after reading the below Daily Times piece.

Questions surround grant in Clifton Heights
By: Dawn Mitchell, Times Correspondent

CLIFTON HEIGHTS – Residents and some council members questioned the transfer of $825,000 in grant money to the Clifton Heights Economic Corp., a nonprofit entity that council has no control over, at a recent council meeting. “I don’t know how we authorized this corporation when we never got papers on this corporation,” said Councilman Mario Alpini. A listing for the corporation at nonprofit compendium could not be found.

Council President Anthony Casadei, answering a question from the audience, revealed state Rep. Nicholas Micozzie, R-163, of Upper Darby, “took care of allowing money to go to the corporation,” but said he did not know who established the corporation or who is in it.

According to a document disclosed at the meeting – which one council member insisted each member of council had received during a caucus meeting the previous Thursday – former council president James Salmon is listed as president of the nonprofit.

Salmon was running for another term on council last year, but was forced to step down for violating the federal Hatch Act because of his employment with the Department of Defense. Under the act, federal employees cannot hold elected office.

Other nonprofit board members include: Clifton Heights Business Association President Rich Angelucci, owner of Full Cycle Ink Jet; Vice President Joe Lombardo, owner of M.F. Williams Funeral Home; and Financial Secretary Russ Jirik, owner of Family Matters Adult Day Care, according to that document.

Also on the Clifton Heights Economic Corp. board is retired Clifton Heights police chief Ronald Berry, whose wife, Betsy, is a Clifton Heights council member. He is currently deputy director of the county Juvenile Detention Center in Lima.

Angelucci and Jirik each made contributions totaling $300 to Micozzie in 2005 and 2006, while Lombardo has contributed at least $850 to Micozzie and $2,500 to the Delaware County Republican Finance Committee between 2002 and 2006, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. “Ron and Betsy Berry” have also contributed at least $795 to Micozzie since 2000, according to state records.

In late June, council voted 5-3 to return $300,000 and $525,000 in grants issued last spring by the Pennsylvania Department of Economic Development. Alpini and fellow council members Robert Penjuke and Harris Resnick opposed the motion. But minutes at the meeting show council instead voted to redirect the funds to the private entity, which was formed June 16. Some council members now allege minutes were interpreted wrong, altered or even deleted.

The grants were to facilitate the purchase of the adjacent Mac and Sam property and to redevelop borough hall. They were not set to expire until 2010 and 2011, respectively.
According to Casadei, criteria specified in the grants were problematic and would have cost taxpayers $7 million to $8 million.

Penjuke disagreed in a phone interview Thursday, saying the plan was to purchase property in stages, as money became available. He had anticipated having a community center.
“We were originally told it wouldn’t cost the borough anything for the revitalization project,” said Penjuke. “Micozzie didn’t think we had a good enough plan … that we were not moving fast enough.”

“Personally, I’m not ready to give up $825,000,” said Alpini, who opposed returning the funds since it was first discussed in May. “It’s too much money and too hard to get to walk away that quickly.” Penjuke also questioned the Clifton Heights Economic Corp.’s handling the borough’s money.

“We have no control over the corporation,” he said. “As council, we’re going to still be held accountable because we started the ball rolling. I just want to improve things in Clifton Heights and build it back up to a cute little town.”

Staff Writer Alex Rose contributed to this report.

┬ęDelcoTimes 2008

So who runs it? Who are the officers? Why the secrecy? And why would our local committee people (including my own) authorize the transferring of funds (grants) to them? I do not know Dawn Mitchell but I do know Alex Rose. I am certain that more of this will unfold before November, when me (as in a resident of Clifton Heights)will get to vote.