Friday, September 19, 2014

South Garage is scheduled to open today!

According to Eric Milliron, Mt. Lebanon Economic Development/Commercial Districts Manager, the South Parking Garage is scheduled to open this morning. YAY!

Also, Mt. Lebanon's first bike corral has been installed on Parse Way. It can accommodate 10 bikes and is sheltered. Uptown now has 'parking' for 16 cycles with more to come.

I hear that there may be free meter parking on Washington Road during Shop Small Business Saturday. I have been asking for that for years. If that is true, Eric, way to go!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Another typo? UPDATED

Weren't we told that the artificial turf would help with stormwater runoff? The grass fields are comparable to eight inches of cement, so we were told. According to today's Trib article, Mt. Lebanon's artificial turf plan hits a snag "the runoff from the turf, while higher than it would be if the fields remained grass, would go through a treatment system and would carry fewer pollutants from grass fertilizer than before." On page 169 of Gateway's response, "The project will improve the drainage issues." As a Lebo Citizens reader wrote to me privately, "Since the main selling point of the turf was that it would allow the kids to play games in the rain, knowing that the runoff needs to go through a treatment system before it enters the sewage system tells me we probably should not let our kids slosh around in it before it is 'treated'. But hey, when Cedar floods up to our neck (instead of to our waist as it would now) I guess we can be reassured that at least it went through the filter."

So which way is it, Gateway? Runoff will be less or will it be higher? Is this another typo?

Not so fast about changing to turf not subtracting from any historic value, Folks. Gateway's letter to the PHMC: 

The note to the Historical and Museum Commission said that while Mt. Lebanon's park overall contributed to the community's historic nature, the rec center, pool and concessions buildings surrounding the fields were all more modern and therefore the change to turf wouldn't subtract from any historic value.
On Page 10 of National Register of Historic Places, Main Park is considered a contributing site to the Mt. Lebanon Historic District.
The Mt. Lebanon Historic District also contains three substantial greenspaces within its boundary. The northernmost is the 76-acre Mt. Lebanon Cemetery, which was established in 1874 and includes a late nineteenth century caretaker’s house as part of its property (Photograph 34)... Main Park, a 51-acre park located off Cedar Boulevard, was already established during the period of significance though the original bath house and swimming pool that were formerly located at the center of the park are no longer extant. The park itself, which features ball fields, playgrounds, and basketball and tennis courts, is considered a contributing site, but the recreation center, tennis center, and current pool house that have been built within the park after the period of significance are considered non-contributing buildings.
I contacted The Historical Society of Mount Lebanon, who shared some wonderful articles about the history of Wildcat Field. If you are a native Pittsburgher, you will recognize the name, Bob Prince a.k.a. The Gunner, announcer of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He organized The Wildcats team. 

See if you recognize any names in the December 1946 issue of Huddle Magazine. Another fun article about The Mt. Lebanon Wildcats is here. Read about the coaching staff. I love this photo:

                                                                                  Courtesy: The Historical Society of Mount Lebanon Archives


Is this another typo, Gateway? Could it be that the National Register of Historic Places is correct after all? The ball fields are a contributing site.


Update September 18, 2014 9:17 AM John Bendel, commission liaison to the Mt. Lebanon Historic Preservation Board, as well as other commissioners and members of the Sports Advisory Board are trying to sell the naming rights for Wildcat Field. August 25, 2014 Discussion Session Agenda Anything for a buck in Mt. Lebanon.  Oops, that word makes Kristen nervous. Sorry. A dollar.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ta Da! Presenting the 2014 BrewFest Poster

Please support the 2014 BrewFest. Proceeds will help maintain the Mt. Lebanon Veterans Memorial and provide ongoing veterans programming.

After many emails, I was able to obtain a copy of the poster in a format suitable for uploading on Lebo Citizens, thanks to Kelly Fraasch.

From: Kelly Fraasch <kfraasch@mtlebanon.org>
To: egillen476 <egillen476@aol.com>
Cc: Susan Morgans <smorgans@mtlebanon.org>; Stephen Feller <sfeller@mtlebanon.org>; James Cannon
Sent: Tue, Sep 16, 2014 6:33 pm
Subject: Re: jpg or png file request


Susan,

Can you provide this to Elaine tomorrow?

Much appreciated,
Kelly


On Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 5:31 PM, egillen476@aol.com <egillen476@aol.com> wrote:
Thank you for the update, Kelly. I still have not received or heard anything from Susan Morgans. Is a Right To Know required for my request? Please let me know as soon as you can. Since BrewFest is this Saturday, I was hoping to post it on the blog ASAP.

Elaine


-----Original Message-----
From: Kelly Fraasch <kfraasch@mtlebanon.org>
To: egillen476 <egillen476@aol.com>
Cc: smorgans <smorgans@mtlebanon.org>; sfeller <sfeller@mtlebanon.org>; James Cannon

Sent: Mon, Sep 15, 2014 7:49 pm
Subject: Re: jpg or png file request


Elaine,
They may have been waiting for me and I was in class from 9-4:30.  I am sorry for the delay.
If I can figure it out tonight I would be happy to send but I am a little weak with my tech brain.
Thanks for your patience.
Kelly

On Monday, September 15, 2014, egillen476@aol.com <egillen476@aol.com> wrote:

> Hi Kelly,
> I received an out of office reply from Steve Feller. Nothing from Susan.
> Elaine
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kelly Fraasch <kfraasch@mtlebanon.org>
> To: egillen476 <egillen476@aol.com>
> Cc: smorgans <smorgans@mtlebanon.org>; sfeller <sfeller@mtlebanon.org>; James Cannon
> Sent: Mon, Sep 15, 2014 6:02 pm
> Subject: Re: jpg or png file request
>
> Hi all.
> I was in class all day.
> please let me know if this got addressed.
>
> Many thanks.
> kelly
>
> On Monday, September 15, 2014, egillen476@aol.com <egillen476@aol.com> wrote:
>> Good morning Susan
>> I understand the PIO created the attached poster. I would like to put it on my blog, but need it in a different format. Would you please send it to me as a jpg or in png format?
>> Thanks for your help.
>> Elaine Gillen

Commissioners and School Board Members: PLEASE Unvote

Dear Mt. Lebanon Commissioners and School Board members,

Please "unvote" the ill-fated Wildcat Field artificial turf project. Today, I received the following press release, CONSUMER GROUP WARNS SCHOOLS AND TOWNS OF NEW QUESTIONS SURROUNDING ARTIFICIAL TURF SAFETY University of Washington assistant soccer coach, Amy Griffin reported that 13 Washington soccer players on her recruiting list have been diagnosed with rare cancers and 11 of those are goal keepers. That is horrible news!

The Artificial Turf Project, or as you like to call it, "Field Enhancement Project" has been a problem since Day 1. Lack of transparency concerning funds, the secret Turf Project Task Force meetings, intimidation tactics used at the Not For The General Public public meeting, the official statements from the Parks Advisory Board and the Environmental Sustainability Board who are in opposition to the project, an "unbiased" presentation at Mellon Middle School with Dr. McNitt - who has his private consulting business and partnership with FieldTurf, the deficiencies identified by the PA Department of Environmental Protection and Allegheny County Conservation District, the fabrication that personal donations are at risk while knowing that contracts clearly state that the donations are nonrefundable and will be used for future field improvements, the Commission President's "misrepresentation" of the ESB's position, the Commission's tunnel vision in regard to the health, safety, and environmental issues as presented by residents, and the use of municipal staff for raising non-municipal funds.

PLEASE take the time to read the 09.15.14 Press Release linked in the first paragraph. PLEASE consider the new questions surrounding the safety of artificial turf. PLEASE unvote the Wildcat and Middle Artificial Turf Project.

Elaine Gillen

Monday, September 15, 2014

Field Sports are Getting Ugly Here in Lebo

I have received some letters concerning Mt. Lebanon Soccer (MLSA) and Mt. Lebanon Lacrosse. It appears that both are full of problems related to exclusivity, favoritism, and secrecy.

A Lebo Citizens reader sent this comment to me earlier.
I also know that the fields are not packed with kids. I have been going to them and there is plenty of space for more...teams. I have some pictures.

I also know that coaches are hand picked ... you can be a coach one year and then totally dismissed the following year. This is very upsetting to some folks who have devoted themselves to coaching and then are put out in the cold...

I know that new positions open up... they aren’t shared publicly, and they are filled by the board’s friends or colleagues...

September 13, 2014 10:50 am. Kids' soccer game. Little kids. Parents on bleachers. Grass still wet from rain. You can see the droplets on my car window. So much for the "we need turf because rain ruins playing time" myth.



The following letter showed up today in The Almanac. Let kids play soccer I am told this is quite common.
Published Sep 15, 2014 at 10:35 am (Updated Sep 15, 2014 at 10:35 am)
Note to self: the old adage “Get on the ball.! Be on the ball!” heard playing soccer as youth, still holds true. 
As summer came to a close, the smell of fall ripening filled the air; I discussed the seasonal activities with my 9-year-old son. As was standard, he made the decision to play soccer. Last year, his mother was an assistant coach, the year before, I was. After the discussion, I went online and pursued fulfilling the registration application. At this point, it was two days prior to the deadline for registration. Once I made my way onto the Mt. Lebanon Soccer Association (MLSA) website and continued on to their registration site, I was prompted to provide login information and password. I came to a standstill. I did not have an account on the registration site, so how was I able to provide this? I wasn’t. So, I attempted to set up an account. That went fine. Now to enter the player, my son onto my account. Failed! It stated that he was already assigned to an account and could not be assigned to more than one. Again it requested the login and password for the account. And still, I did not know of any. 
So, I then began a long line of attempts to gain knowledge of that information and have my son registered. To make a long story shorter, I never received the login info. His mother attempted, but at that point, it was a day after registration had closed. MLSA stated in an email, “Sorry registration is closed. Should have contacted me last night. Better luck next time.” 
I continued on requesting to MLSA that the president of MLSA be given this to consider. I asked that due to my documented attempts to register my son prior to the deadline, that an exception be made and that my son be considered registered. I received no correspondence back in writing ever. I did receive a phone call that lasted more than 30 minutes late one evening while my family was on vacation, and I was told several reasons why they (MLSA) do not make exceptions and are not going to start. I was explained to that the maximum capacity had been reached. I was informed that field space was limited. None of the reasons took into account that I attempted to register my son prior to the deadline, nor did they justify my son not having the ability to play on the field this season. Also, they offered no waiting list of any type, no option. He’s not playing here in Lebo. 
I took it further and spoke with PA West (local oversight committee, soccer specific) and to US Youth Soccer (national), also spoke with Mt. Lebanon Recreation Department. Some have a view that there should be a place for a 9-year-old to play on a soccer team. I have contacted other local clubs and they had room and would take him despite their registration being closed. However, MLSA will not be governed by their peers or by their big brothers. No exceptions. I have heard recently about how allowing another player on the field would in turn limit another’s time. I know. My son is limited completely. He can’t even step on the field. He’s 9, and he wants to play. 
Limiting a child’s ability to play at 9 years of age. Why? Let them all play. 
Justin Beinhauer
Mt. Lebanon
This letter was circulated earlier this summer:

From: Lebo Boys Lax <lebolaxboys@gmail.com>
Subject: Mt Lebanon Lacrosse Association Elections - Important
Date: July 23, 2014 at 1:11:57 PM EDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Did you know that the Mt Lebanon Lacrosse Board is having elections this summer to fill 4 board seats.

Probably not which begs the questions why not and why the lack of transparency from YOUR lacrosse association? Why doesn't the board want the Association members to know about these elections again? 
Could it be that while the entire girls program accounts for just over 20% of the program they control over 50% of the board seats and dominate the agenda and discussions?
Could it be they do not want you to know that while Youth Boys Lacrosse brings in over 50% of the income there is only 1 board seat for youth boys?

Could it be that the board does not want anyone to ask why the Youth boys play on a postage stamp sized field if they generate over $50,000 per season. Where does the money go? Maybe it goes to support the girls program, the same girls program that excludes players yet does not have enough players to financially support themselves nor fill the teams they have?

Where is the yearly budget that by the IRS 501c non profit laws must be made public to all association members. Maybe they don't want to explain the six figure bank balance they keep on hand while making the players buy uniforms and play on sub-par fields.

Maybe they do not want you to see how the board has failed to address the field shortage issue for years which only gets worse for the boys with each passing year. Perhaps they don't want anyone to know that they have failed to participate, pay dues or cooperate with the Mt Lebanon Field Alliance for years which is why the association has no voice on field decisions. 
Maybe the board wants to continue acting with impunity against coaches and players without the benefit of public notice while failing to address the future needs of the association and its members. Where are the monthly minutes that by the IRS 501c non profit laws must be made public to all association members? 
Perhaps they don't want you to know that a majority, not all but most of the coaches teaching your kids have no training or certification as coaches. A clear violation on WPYLA and US Lacrosse Rules. Maybe they don't want it known that there is no process or procedure for vetting, training or managing coaches. 
Maybe they don't want you to know that many of the board members are commissioners directly responsible for themselves as coaches. Literally protecting themselves from scrutiny, complaints and oversight as coaches and board member's, not only dysfunctional but highly unethical. 
Could it be as simple as this board wants to continue operating with your money without oversight, spending Youth Boys lacrosse money to prop up a failing and dwindling youth girls program...the same girls program that has more board seats but far less players than the boys.

Perhaps its just that the board wants to hide the rampant incompetence that has defined the board youth commissioners the last few years while continuing to define the Mt Lebanon Lacrosse Association.

Its time to speak up and make your voice heard, ask some questions and demand answers. This is your lacrosse association, for your lacrosse players, paid for by you. Elect a board that puts your kids interests ahead of their own self interest for a change.
There are many reasons that the board elections are secret and the minutes and budgets are kept hidden from Association members......... 
Make a difference in the future of this association. Our boys deserve much better than what they have gotten from this board and its members. Be an agent for change and protect the future of the your Boys Lacrosse Program. Call for open elections and open meetings! Maybe a stand alone boys lacrosse association.
Pass it on....

Sent on behalf of the Lebolax Youth Boys Supporters

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Steve Gurtner, President drsteve@gurtnerdental.com
Brian Prettyman, Treasurer brian.prettyman@pnc.com
Lori Shure, Secretary lori.shure@pnc.com 412-XXX-XXXX
Jim Cappucci, Communications Commissioner jacappucci3@gmail.com
Tim White, H. S. Boys Commissioner white89tim@gmail.com
Jim Rebisa, H.S. Boys Commissioner jrebisa@verizon.net 412-XXX-XXXX
Collette Gibbons, H. S. Girls Commissioner mtl.girlslax@gmail.com
Brian Kattan, Commissioner at large briankattan@hotmail.com 724-XXX-XXXX
Jeffrey Iovino, Boys Youth Commissioner iovinochef@msn.com
Suzanne Sieber, Girls Middle School Commisioner suzanne.sieber@verizon.net 412-XXX-XXXX
Kate Murdoch, Girls Youth Commisioner (1st-4th Grade) kathryn.s.murdoch@gmail.com

Is it time for this bumper sticker?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Finally! A Turf Project Update from Mt. Lebanon

During Citizen Comments at the September 9, 2014 Commission meeting, I expressed my frustrations over the lack of transparency with the Turf Project Field Enhancement Project. I have had to ask repeatedly for non-municipal funds updates, file Right To Knows, and hear too many times, that the municipality is hoping to receive the NPDES permit soon. I ended up filing a RTK with a government agency outside of Mt. Lebanon, in order to get answers. I learned that a letter was sent to Recreation Director, David Donnellan highlighting six deficiencies with Mt. Lebanon's NPDES permit application. At the commission meeting, Manager Steve Feller agreed to publishing that letter along with Mt. Lebanon's response to the Allegheny County Conservation District on Mt. Lebanon's website, along with a hard copy for my records. Here is Gateway's response.* Copies were also sent to Representative Dan Miller and Senator Matt Smith. Thank you, Steve.

*Large document

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Final Change Orders for Swimming Pool

At the September 9, 2014 Commission meeting, I asked Manager Steve Feller for a list of the change orders related to the Swim Center Renovation. Steve was kind enough to send them to me yesterday.


Including the pending change orders, the total amount is around $200,000. Originally estimated to cost $3.3 million, the total cost of the pool upgrade rounded out to be a cool $4.4 million.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

School Board Members CAN disagree!

During the school board meeting on Monday night, there was a heated discussion concerning allowing Mt. Lebanon High School students whose family has moved out of the district to continue to attend on a tuition basis. Currently, there is a policy which allows high school seniors to continue to attend until graduation. This was brought up during policy committee meeting. The discussion was initiated by our super Super who had a request from a junior who wished to complete her Mt. Lebanon High School education, even though the family moved out of the district.  Timmy wanted to have the ability to make the decision on a case by case basis.

Dan Remely, Ed Kubit, and Larry Lebowitz brought up some excellent points as to why this is not a good idea. Elaine Cappucci wants to change the policy and if it doesn't work, change it back. I believe the final outcome of the discussion was to have strict guidelines and it would be up to Timmy's discretion.

This policy change will appear on next week's agenda. To hear the discussion via the Lebo Citizens podcast, the time stamp is 31:30.

On a side note, the CDC says that kids are getting way too much salt in their diets. The culprit? Pizza.
Those pizza lunches might not be such a good idea, Tim. It was already a bad idea for kids who must follow a gluten-free diet. But for a school district who has no problem exposing kids to toxic turf, I guess this is nothing in the scheme of things.

Monday, September 8, 2014

PIO forgot this reputable source

Our Public Information Officer seems to have forgotten to mention another reputable source. No, not Lebo Citizens. I said a R E P U T A B L E source. Commissioner Kelly Fraasch, the only working commissioner updated her blog over the weekend with the following posts,  PAYT Presentation
and Update for Unassigned Funds.

There will be a presentation given to the commissioners tomorrow evening during the Commission Discussion Session on Pay As You Throw. Residents will be able to ask questions or comment during the commission meeting which follows at 8:00 PM.

Additionally, these items were removed from the Unassigned Funds Wish List:

  • Iroquois fill and grass-Provides removing mulch from old play area and leveling the surface with topsoil and planting grass. $3,500
  • Pathway around pool-Pathway outside of the swim center that acts as a connector from the Vee Lynn Drive to the recreation center. $41,170
  • Sidewalks at tennis center-Pave remaining asphalt paths with concrete. $100,000
  • Golf Course Pavillion-Place a pavilion near the first tee for outings and special events. $60,000
  • Replace Rockwood park rubber sidewalks $1,500
  • Replace Martha’s playground rubber surface $15,000
  • Public Works Facility Improvements- Add vehicle maintenance bays, addition to existing building and site improvements. $1,252,600
Commissioners Linfante, Brumfield, Bendel, and Silverman, instead, have assigned over $800,000 to fund a project that doesn't sit well with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Change Orders and Contract for Chief Negotiator

Monday's School Board Meeting Agenda has a special item on the September Agenda:

Contract for Chief Negotiator – The Board will consider the appointment of special counsel for contract negotiations. 
Is this for the Teachers' Contract?

The annual contract for FindWealth software is up for renewal. Are we still in the Quiet Phase? Or have we bailed from fundraising efforts? Did we see anything in the budget in regard to fundraising?
Renewal of Wealth Engine Agreement –This is a renewal of an annual contract with Wealth Engine for Mt. Lebanon School District to use FindWealth software for donor qualification purposes. The cost will be $3,300 for the year. The Superintendent recommends approval of this agreement.
Also on the Agenda is the list of change orders for September:

The list of change orders for September totals $81,911 for the following contractors:  
a. GC-105-244 to Nello for $74,210 for wall patching and fireworking, door revisions and concrete work,

b. EL-66-245 to Farfield for $4,501 for concrete pad removal and light replacement, and

c. ME-27-246 to McKamish for $3,200 for ductwork.

Bendel seeks reelection

John Bendel will be making an announcement that he is seeking reelection in the Ward 1 Commission race.

John's claim to fame includes the turf project, no bricks on Rae Avenue, and voting to spend all of the rec bond on the swimming pool.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Staying informed about the turf project UPDATED

Talk about staying informed, you won't read anything about this from the Public Information Office. Since I was getting nowhere at the last commission meeting, I filed a Right To Know with a different government agency concerning the status of the artificial turf project at Middle and Wildcat Fields.

A letter was sent to David Donnellan on August 27, 2014 with a list of significant deficiencies concerning the Wildcat Turf Project application plan submission.

I do not understand the stormwater technicalities mentioned, but I do understand that the turf project may require more permits to be filed.

I am especially interested in the additional information requested in number 6. In my August 21, 2014 blog post Bendel on historic preservation, and my June 26, 2014 blog post Dear Mt. Lebanon Historic Preservation Board, I had divulged that these fields are specifically mentioned in Mt. Lebanon Historic Preservation Board's National Register of Historic Places application. According to the letter sent to David Donnellan, a Cultural Resource Notice must be sent to the PA Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). Mt. Lebanon resident and member of the Mt. Lebanon Historic Preservation Board, Bill Callahan, represents the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Bureau for Historic Preservation in the westernmost 26 counties of the Commonwealth. I don't understand how this was overlooked by the Mt. Lebanon Historic Preservation Board. As commission liaison to the Mt. Lebanon Historic Preservation Board, John Bendel, shame on you.

I am encouraged that there are still government agencies outside of Mt. Lebanon protecting our historical and environmental resources.

Update September 4, 2014 11:44 AM
This is an important notice from LeboALERT. 
The Mt. Lebanon Sports Advisory Board meeting scheduled for September 4, 2014 is canceled. For the complete meeting schedule please view our website.
Big surprise. If there is no turf project, there is nothing else to talk about.

Update September 6, 2014 4:20 PM Funny how Andrew McNitt never talked about this when he was pushing artificial turf for Mt. Lebanon's historic fields.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Is it time to consider redistricting?

In today's Post Gazette article Allegheny County school districts resize, close schools as population shifts, there is a comparison of Allegheny County K-12 schools enrollment, 2004 vs. 2013. Scroll down to the Mt. Lebanon Schools, and then scroll across to see the population shifts. Just an observation, and I may be completely wrong, but it appears that the elementary schools with increased enrollment are in areas with more apartment buildings.

Even districts with stable or growing enrollments aren’t exempt from enrollment pressures.
North Allegheny — which had similar enrollments in fall 2004 and fall 2013 — considered but decided against closing Peebles Elementary.
North Allegheny, did, however, redistrict 151 elementary and middle school students to better balance enrollment.
North Allegheny superintendent Raymond Gualtieri said redistricting takes place about every seven years to adjust to changing enrollment patterns.
“We have [housing] developments that had a lot of kids at every bus stop 15 years ago and now there are not as many kids at the bus stops. All of those families had kids go through the system. They haven’t sold their house yet,” he said.
“In other areas, we have new developments going in and there are three tricycles in every driveway.”
The county’s fastest growing district, South Fayette, grew 45 percent since 2004. It still has a lot of undeveloped land, and growth is expected to continue, said Brian Tony, director of finance.
South Fayette didn’t have a neighborhood school tradition. Its four buildings — elementary, intermediate, middle and high schools — are on one campus that used to be farmland.
South Fayette is looking at renovating its high school, built in 2002, because it may not be large enough by 2016.
Superintendent Billie Rondinelli said, “I believe that parents are coming here because they want the quality of education we are providing for the students.”
South Fayette’s new intermediate building opened last fall. Both of the other growing districts also have added buildings, Avonworth’s new Primary Center opened last week, and Pine-Richland added Eden Hall Upper Elementary School in 2008.

Mt. Lebanon did move up from #6 to #3 in total enrollment, even though Lebo's total enrollment has declined since 2004.  Yet, the board and the commission spend more and more money to attract young families. MTL's reputation for excellent schools just doesn't trump lower taxes or new housing stock on larger lots. Note: Artificial turf doesn't appear to be a draw for young families. Neither does a multi-million dollar high school renovation.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

staying informed

In the September 2014 issue of mtl Magazine, our Public Information Office has printed a very helpful guide to staying informed in Mt. Lebanon. In another article from the same issue of mtl Magazine, there is a link to Whirl Magazine for those interested broader coverage of Pittsburgh. It is available by subscriptions or on newstands.

staying informed written by Susan Fleming Morgans

We know you care about what happens in Mt. Lebanon, but we also know you’re busy—it’s hard to find time to attend a Commission meeting after a long day at work, when you’re catching dinner on the run, taking kids to sports event, helping with homework and supervising baths.

And if you don’t have kids at home, you may be at a time in life where you’re enjoying the chance to travel, do volunteer work, take long walks with your dog or try to get a handle on news that happens in the wide world beyond Mt. Lebanon.

Including busy residents in conversations about local government decisions is one of the Mt. Lebanon Commission’s and staff’s major goals. We want the “silent majority”—not just those who have an up close and personal stake in an issue—to know what is taking place before the Commission makes decisions and spends tax dollars, because decisions often set precedents and have wide-reaching implications.

So how can you keep informed and, when you wish, express your opinion? Here are some tips:

Read Mt. Lebanon Magazine in print or online.

Read other reputable local news media, including the Post-Gazette, the Tribune Review and The Almanac.

Use Mt. Lebanon’s social media. Become an mtl Facebook fan; check out the municipal homepage regularly and familiarize yourself with its search features; subscribe to LeboALERT (click on the button on the home page) for updates about meetings, events, safety alerts, traffic and road conditions and other important things.

Check out the Commission agendas for the discussion and regular meetings that take place the second Tuesday and fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 and 8 P.M. respectively. These agendas are posted the preceding Friday.

If you have questions or need clarification on issues under consideration, call or email any department head or Municipal Manager Steve Feller. (All are listed at www.mtlebanon.org; click on “Departments.” If you don’t know whom to call, Public Information Officer Susan Morgans, 412-343-3780, smorgans@mtlebanon.org, can direct you to the right person. You also may call or email your ward Commissioner or all the Commissioners.

Be sensitive about when you call them, but do not worry about “bothering” them; that goes with being an elected official.

If you have formed an opinion, use the E-comment feature of our Granicus videotaping system to share it with the Commission. Our video system not only broadcasts commission meetings in the days following the meeting but also permits you to comment on agenda items right up until the afternoon of the meeting.
e-comments

This E-comment feature has been underutilized so far, but it is a simple way to let the Commission know how you feel about an issue prior to a discussion session or a vote.

You may comment on an agenda item as soon as the agenda is posted. If you sign up under the “public meetings” category of LeboALERT, you will receive a text or email when a public meeting agenda is posted.

Talk with your neighbors. If you find you have a shared concern about a community or neighborhood issue and everyone can’t attend the Commission meeting, appoint a delegate or delegation who can attend and share the message you’ve all agreed upon. If several people are able to attend, ask each one to address a different aspect of the issue so they’re not repeating each other. If no one can attend the meeting, contact your ward
Commissioner or all the Commissioners.

Depending on your issue, attend an advisory board meeting (such as planning, parks or historic preservation) or review their agendas and minutes. Agendas and minutes are online as are videos of board meetings.

Most of these volunteer boards, which advise the Commission, meet monthly. All accept public comments that eventually may be included in a recommendation to the Commission.



Watch videos of the Commission’s discussion sessions. The discussion sessions, which begin at 6:30 p.m. before the regular 8 p.m. meetings, is where Commissioners talk about issues that may come up for vote. These meeting videos are online, permanently archived by topic. You’ll find out about evolving issues in time to share your opinion with the Commission, in person, by phone, letter or email or via E-comment.

If you really care about an issue, share your opinion at a Commission meeting. (Don’t assume that just because a lot of people are talking about an issue someone who agrees with you will show up!) Public comment is always at the start of the regular meeting, and you are free to leave as soon as you have spoken. If you want to speak, sign the sheet at the back of the room and remember that comments are limited to five minutes per speaker. And comments are preferable to questions, although depending on the time available, Commissioners may be able answer a question.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

BTW, we want artificial turf for the Rock Pile

The commissioners filled a vacancy on the Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB) on Monday evening. Not sure of the circumstances for this new appointment, I asked during Citizens Comments for more details. Apparently, the school board directors no longer want to be a part of the ESB.

The following is a letter to Kristen Linfante and Steve Feller, from school board president, Elaine Cappucci:

On Jun 11, 2014, at 4:34 PM, Elaine Cappucci <ECappucci@mtlsd.net> wrote:
Kristen and Steve,

As you know, there is currently one open position on the Environmental Sustainability Board, and the School Board is slated to select a candidate.

In past years, there have been two open seats at a time, and the municipality has advertised the openings and accepted resumes and applications which were then sent on to us after the commission chose a candidate.  Unlike the commission, the School Board does not operate any other volunteer boards like the ESB.  We do not have any applications for the currently open seat.

When the ESB was formed, its purpose was to gain local government approval of the Mt. Lebanon Climate Action Plan, which was prepared by a group of resident volunteers interested in reducing energy use in Mt. Lebanon.  Both the commission and the School Board approved the plan and formation of the ESB.  The goal of the Action Plan was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy consumption, a goal the School District continuously works on.  Since that time the ESB has expanded their role, but the majority of their work has been on issues pertaining to the municipality, not the School District.  Our role in the ESB is limited to projects within our buildings, while the commission’s responsibilities are more far-reaching. 

We would like to ask the commission to appoint a new ESB member to the open position this year and for the next two open School Board positions since you have the pool of candidates for volunteer board positions.  At the end of that process, the ESB would be a board of the commission.

Respectfully,
Elaine
So the school board wants to back out of the ESB. This move falls in line with the school board's desire to tear down Building C, built in 1972 and supports their future capital project of artificially turfing the Rock Pile.

The commission president blindly honored Elaine Cappucci's request and never realized that it was a violation of the Municipality of Mt. Lebanon Administrative Code

140.2 Membership and Term. The Environmental Sustainability Board shall consist of seven (7) members each appointed for a three (3) year term. The initial terms of board members shall be one (1), two (2) and three (3) years. No more than three (3) members’ terms shall expire in any one year. Three (3) board members shall be appointed by the municipality, three (3) shall be appointed by the Mt. Lebanon School District and one (1) shall be selected by the six (6) seated members.
I asked if the ordinance needed to be amended, and the solicitor's response was, "Yes."

Additionally, I asked for the list of unassigned funds discussed at the Commission Discussion Session. Kristen was referring to items by letter, instead of explaining what each line item was for the public's benefit. That list has been posted on the municipal website. I could not find it on the website, so Steve Feller sent this to me this morning.

The link is: http://mtlebanon.org/DocumentCenter/View/10437
It was posted the next morning under finance dept.with a paragraph stating: 
Finance Department 
Documents
  • The Commission had a public hearing on June 23, 2014 to consider projects for the unassigned fund balance and received comments at that hearing. Since then there have been a few additions. Here are the most recent items that are being considered, all of them under the general categories that previously were discussed. 2014 Capital worksheet
Thanks.
Steve 
Kristen would not approve items O and P, feeling that there was a statement being made. She went on to say that it had something to do with those opposed to artificial turf. Unfortunately, there is no statement being made. I can vouch for the need in Rockwood Park. The black rubber sidewalks are a perfect palette for sidewalk chalk drawings during cool weather like we had yesterday, but the children cannot walk on the black rubber in hot weather, let alone sit on the walk while creating their masterpieces. Unfortunately $1,500 is money not well spent, in Kristen's mind.