SCRANTON -- Democratic Commissioner Jerry Notarianni says he's being pushed out of county government and he's suing. His attorney filed a lawsuit Wednesday morning in Lackawanna County Court.
Notarianni was the top vote getter in November's election, but says he's become the minority commissioner as fellow Democratic Commissioner Pat O'Malley has teamed up with Republican Laureen Cummings.
Notarianni said last week he would be filing a lawsuit, and on Wednesday, he did.
Notarianni is suing the other two commissioners, the county's chief of staff, the solicitor for the commissioners, former county commissioner Ed Staback, and others.
The first few weeks of the new Lackawanna County Board of Commissioners started with tension in the office and now it's heading to court.
According to the lawsuit, Notarianni was kept out of making important decisions like choosing a chief of staff and choosing a solicitor.
“We have the Sunshine Law and that's exactly what it was designed to avoid, is people working backroom politics,” said Paul Walker, Notarianni’s attorney.
Notarianni says Cummings and O'Malley signed off on a chief of staff they liked and O'Malley and former commissioner Ed Staback picked John Brazil as solicitor. Walker describes both as "back door deals" that should have required public hearings and input from all current commissioners.
"Their excuse is, well, this is what we've done for 40 years and Mr. O'Malley went back through all the administrations when they did their reorganizations and how they did things. It doesn't make it right that it was done wrong,” said Walker.
He wants the court to remove Brazil as solicitor, and remove Andy Wallace as the county's chief of staff, claiming commissioners O'Malley and Cummings violated the Sunshine Act and the Home Rule Charter by agreeing privately to appoint Wallace, and not in an open meeting.
Notarianni didn't want to be interviewed for this story and a county spokesperson said no one named in the lawsuit, including Commissioners Cummings and O'Malley could comment.
Notarianni wants the solicitor and chief of staff removed.
A hearing on the matter is scheduled in county court for February 24. The County has 20 days to respond to the suit. Before the hearing, there will be commissioner meetings.
“Mr. Notarianni doesn't want county government to come to a halt. He will give the appropriate protest at these meetings, but he's not going to sit on his hands. He's going to govern. The people chose him to govern, he's going to govern,” said Walker.