SCRANTON -- One of Lackawanna County's new commissioners is refusing to take part in any votes and he's threatening to sue the county, and he got the most votes in last November's election.
The new commissioners held their first meeting Wednesday morning.
Commissioner Jerry Notarianni called the meeting at the commissioners' office on Adams Avenue illegal. He claims it was illegal because he was not invited to take part in the hiring of county solicitors and other staffers.
Notarianni even referred to himself as the minority commissioner, even though he was elected in November as a Democrat and in the majority.
Two months ago, Pat O'Malley and Jerry Notarianni were a team celebrating an election night victory in Scranton, two Democrats and the two top vote getters in the Lackawanna County commissioners' race.
At their first official county commissioner's meeting, the two sat three feet apart, and barely spoke.
On every vote, O'Malley and Republican Laureen Cummings voted yes and Notarianni sat in silence. Then he explained why.
"I believe that this is an illegal meeting. We don't have a solicitor, not a duly appointed one," Commissioner Notarianni said.
Not duly appointed, Notarianni claims, because the solicitors for the county were appointed without his input.
Since it was the Commissioners O'Malley and Cummings who made the appointments, Notarianni now calls himself the minority commissioner and has demanded he be allowed to appoint his own minority solicitor.
But Commissioner O'Malley used paperwork to show that in the last ten years, all executive hirings had the signatures of only two commissioners on the appointment papers.
Notarianni threatened to go to court over the whole matter
O'Malley claimed the reason Notarianni wants to be a minority solicitor is so Notarianni's relative attorney Paul Walker can get the job.
"I'm sure how he could appoint his cousin as solicitor, first and foremost," Commissioner O'Malley said. "I would rather that he voted today,. You hear what our legal counsel said, that this was no problem, that this was a legal meeting. So I would hope that in future meetings he would be involved."
But Notarianni said he's firm in his belief that the process of hiring the solicitors and other staffers was not done properly, and his lawyer said he will sue unless the hiring process goes back to square one.