Actions come under scrutiny

EBENSBURG – Terms for three Cambria County Transit Authority board members expired at the end of last year, and only one has been reappointed by the county commissioners.

Some are questioning whether the commissioners’ actions are politically motivated.

Commissioners reappointed Frank Arcurio to a five-year term Thursday but replaced Ernie Esposito with county solicitor Tom Leiden. Commissioners have not taken action to reappoint or replace the third, authority board chairman and county Controller Ed Cernic Jr.

Commissioner Thomas Chernisky voted against the move, saying he preferred to wait to make changes to the board until a new transit facility in Johnstown – a $20 million project – is completed in July.

Esposito should have been allowed to remain on the board until then, Chernisky said.

President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder said the county was looking for new ideas when it replaced Esposito, who’s been on the board since 2006, but also said Esposito’s meeting attendance record is less than stellar.

“It’s less than what you’d expect,” he said, and the board needs members who are committed to making meetings.

Attendance records provided by Cernic show that between January 2013 and this April, Esposito has made only half of all committee meetings and less than half of regular meetings.

Cernic shot back that Arcurio’s attendance record is worse than Esposito’s. Arcurio has attended zero committee meetings and two-thirds of regular meetings.

Lengenfelder defended the switch and said it was about more than attendance, although it remained a sticking point since Esposito has apparently attended no meetings in 2014.

“You have people on boards for much more than making meetings … this is not an ‘attendance’ issue,” he said.

The commissioners could not provide a list of other applicants and said only that Cernic has not been reappointed because commissioners are “still in discussions.”

Cernic, who has been on the board for over a decade, said he’s unsure of his own future with the Transit Authority.

The commissioners could have waited until after the project was finished if they really wanted a change, Cernic said.

And while he doesn’t doubt Leiden’s abilities, Cernic said, “it’s definitely in the gray area” as a conflict of interest for the county solicitor to be on the board.

The county provides about a half-million dollars in annual funding to the Transit Authority.

“If you’re going to take guys like Ernie and I off, wait until August,” he said.

Esposito did not return a call for comment.