Rice Township has spent a total of $43,799.72 for legal fees in 2013, according
to monthly public meeting agenda and minute reports. Rice Solicitor
William Higgs has been paid
a total of $25,190l.24. He has received $4,083.24 for his monthly retainer and an additional $2,110.69 for
invoices for various services including drafting ordinances to
decertify the Rice Township Volunteer Fire Department and Vacate
Heslop Road. In addition Attorney Donald Brobst
was hired in February 2013 to work on the Marcia Thomas vs. Rice
Township lawsuit to provide services in addition to those from the
law firm hired by the township’s liability insurance carrier for a total of
Excessive Legal Fees
Mark Manosky addressed the board at the October 8, 2013 public meeting,
“I was just looking over the
expenses and I just want some clarification. One fifth of all your October township expenses are legal.
That’s almost astounding. You have from September and
October legal fees from Rosenn Jenkins and Greenwald exceeding $8,000. And you also have Mr.
Higgs, now this is a nice gig. I wouldn’t mind having this gig at all
for two months of service about $
9000. I’ve looked at other township expenses for legal they are nowhere close to this. You can get a D-9 for $
2000 an hour to work on the road,” summed up Manosky.
Mary Ann Whitonis offered public comment on another issue. She asked Attorney Higgs, “Do you condone their
use of threatening to remove people from meetings on a regular basis?”
Higgs said, “The test is disruption of
a meeting. I’m not going to sit here and rule on everything that is said. I have shared with them the case law on this and nobody has been removed.
Thomas and Whitonis said they wanted
to see the case law. Whitonis continued, ”What about June 25, 2013
when 60 some residents were removed from the public meeting?
Higgs said, “Disruptions at the meetings are reason for removal.”
Whitonis continued, “Those who were sitting here quietly should not
have had their constitutional rights taken away from them. That’s illegal.”
“They were standing up pointing and
yelling at the board. That to me is disruption of a meeting. The meeting was
totally out of control,” Higgs defended.
Whitonis returned, “ The policewere instructed to remove the peopleand they immediately began usheringpeople out the door.”
Whitonis then turned to DonArmstrong, who is running forsupervisor in November. “How doyou feel about the fire service?”
Venesky declared, “This is not apolitical forum. Policy is not Mr. Armstrong’s. The board sets policy. You have to go outside of thismeeting and ask him.”
Whitonis concluded, “The publicshould have the vote about the fireservice. It should be a public vote.”
In other business the boardawarded a bid for an “as is” retired2006 Jeep Liberty Police Vehicle and
See Legal Fees page 4