Duquesne City Council has appointed a new solicitor --- the city's fourth this year --- and says it will pursue an state ethics complaint against the city's treasurer.
At its Oct. 9 meeting, council appointed Myron Sainovich to replace John Rushford as the city's solicitor. Rushford was hired in April.
In addition, council voted to file a complaint with the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission against city Treasurer David Bires for what Mayor Nickole Nesby said is a conflict of interest. Bires chairs the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Duquesne, which is currently being sued by the city.
“Council and I believe that his actions need to be investigated," Nesby said. "As chairman of the redevelopment authority, we believe there is a conflict of interest and he should resign from one of the positions.”
Bires is one of the last remaining city officials who had worked with former Mayor Phil Krivacek.
Earlier this year, the city sued the RACD and the non-profit Duquesne Business Advisory Corp. The city is demanding the return of nearly $1.4 million from a $1.5 million revolving loan fund that was transferred to the advisory corporation.
A judge has not yet reached a decision on the city's request.
“With everything in litigation, there’s not much I can say, but I couldn’t care less about the (complaint),” Bires said after the council meeting. “It doesn’t affect me one way or the other. There is much more to come regarding this situation. People don’t know the half of it.”
As for the new solicitor, Nesby said the city wanted someone more familiar with the state's Act 47 process for financially distressed communities.
Sainovich has more than 30 years of experience as a municipal and school district solicitor, and currently serves as city solicitor for Aliquippa, Beaver County, which like Duquesne is a distressed community under Act 47.
Both Aliquippa and Duquesne have similar problems, Sainovich said, and he has confidence his experience will allow him to help Duquesne tremendously.
In Aliquippa, he said, “we’ve been able to make great strides --- working on the blight and getting properties in the county’s repository back on the tax rolls --- and I hope to do the same here in Duquesne.”
Sainovich said among the first issues he wants to tackle as Duquesne’s solicitor is getting a handle on the money that was transferred from the revolving loan fund.
He said he also will be working with Nesby and council to find out what can be done to bring more money into the city from outside sources.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Sainovich said. “It’s going to take a while for me to be here and determine how I can best help the city. I’m not just here to give legal services, but also to provide ideas about how those in Duquesne can help themselves.”
In addition to a new solicitor, Duquesne will also have a new state-appointed Act 47 Coordinator coming onboard soon: George Dougherty, who fills the same role in Braddock.
“The prior administration had been in power for two decades,” Nesby said of the turnover in city personnel. “With a change in new administration, most of those employees left with the administration. We had five employees retire, two terminated, three left prior to the change of administration, and we are on our fourth solicitor.”
Nesby said her goal is to create the best possible workplace and workforce environment.
“I want to re-create the community and government that I know and love,” she said. “A government that is accountable, transparent and responsive to the people that they serve.”
Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer who covers news from Duquesne and White Oak, as well as other topics, for Tube City Almanac. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published October 20, 2018.