A third lawsuit has been filed against the city of Monessen and Mayor Matt Shorraw, alleging a January meeting violated the state’s Sunshine Act.
Attorney James T. Davis filed the suit on behalf of the Mon Valley Independent, a newspaper in the city, and resident Tina O’Dell.
The suit, filed in Westmoreland County Court, contended Shorraw altered the agenda for the Jan. 6 meeting, but did not provide the changed agenda so that the public knew what business would occur.
“By doing so, defendant Monessen and defendant Shorraw prevented members of the public from knowing what actions would be taken; why said actions were being taken; and having the opportunity to comment before these actions were taken,” Davis wrote.
That Jan. 6 meeting was the first that Shorraw had attended since May 2018, five months into his term.
The suit alleged that the agenda distributed to the public before the meeting was not the agenda that Shorraw followed.
His agenda provided for several motions – terminations of the city’s solicitor and administrator, hiring for those positions, restricting access to city security cameras, rescinding an appointment to the sewage authority and advertising for that position. All of the motions passed.
Because none of those were listed on the agenda, the public did not have an opportunity to comment on those motions, which is required under the Sunshine Law.
Davis alleged the city and Shorraw “willfully, wantonly and intentionally concealed the official actions they intended to take at the meeting from the public, and refused to allow public comment before taking said official actions.”
The suit noted several members of the public raised objections to how the motions were raised, their absence from the original agenda, as well as to the lack of public comment that was allowed.
Davis asked a judge to void all of the motions that passed at the Jan. 6 meeting, and to prevent city officials from denying public comment on agenda items in advance of official business.
In addition, the suit asks a judge to bar city officials from distributing an agenda that doesn’t accurately reflect business that will be conducted, and to require city officials to attend a class on the requirements of the Sunshine Act.
This is the third suit that has been filed against Shorraw over the Jan. 6 meeting. City resident Ron Mozer and former Monessen mayor Lou Mavrakis filed similar suits last month in Westmoreland County Court.