Letter: Mayor Calls Out Council for Alleged Scheme to Silence Him

Mayor Andy Szekely said council violated the Sunshine Law by deciding to draft a letter of reprimand to silence him from speaking out against public knowledge regarding the performing arts center.

This letter was provided to Montgomeryville-Lansdale Patch by Lansdale Mayor Andy Szekely. It is printed here in its entirety.

Dear Lansdale Residents:

I am deeply disturbed by recent allegations and actions taken against me by council, namely Matt West, Paul Clemente, Dan Dunigan and borough manager Timothea Kirchner.

On Monday, April 18, the borough’s solicitor, Mark Hosterman, and Kirchner came into the mayor’s office to present me with a letter of reprimand for sharing with the public information discussed in one of council’s recent executive session, the validity of which is, at best, questionable under the Sunshine Law.

This executive session was called under the auspices of potential litigation—an improper basis for an executive session under the Sunshine Law, which resulted in precluding the public from access to information that should have been discussed in a public meeting of council.

The reason for this reprimand is because I was quoted in the Lansdale Patch Newspaper regarding the Lansdale Center for the Performing Arts’ coding issues. There is nothing confidential or proprietary about coding issues.

The signatories of this bizarre letter stated that my punishment is to be barred from any discussion, executive session or Advisory Task Force regarding the Center for the Performing Arts.

Simply put, this reprimand is improper. There is no provision in the Borough Code that authorizes council to reprimand a mayor. Moreover, a mayor is entitled to attend any and all meetings of council, regardless of whether they are regularly scheduled or special meetings.

The fact that only three council members authorized this reprimand violates the Sunshine Law, as there was no quorum of Council to decide this action. Also, that Kirchner and Hosterman presented this reprimand to me and asked me to sign it without representation is unethical.

And when I asked what would happen if I didn’t sign the reprimand, Hosterman replied that there would be “consequences."

Sounds like a threat to me.

The reason for this attempted silencing is clear: I have been critical of the Lansdale Center for the Performing Arts, recommending that the borough divest itself from the center and pass it into private hands.

Despite my recommendation, it is my belief, however, that Mr. West would like to continue spending money on the Lansdale Center—about $2 more million more—as was revealed in The Reporter on February 22.

My position is that the borough should not be involved in running a performing arts facility, particularly one fraught with such insurmountable obstacles as the Lansdale Center, as abundantly demonstrated by the last administration.

Interestingly, the above-named council members who signed my reprimand made the last administration’s failure with the Lansdale Center a fundamental component of their campaigns.

Given my obvious and vocal criticisms and concern with the borough spending more money on the Lansdale Center, as well as my successes in bringing new businesses into the borough, I believe West is threatened by me.

And therefore, he has attempted, albeit by wholly inappropriate and legally improper means, to silence me.

I write to state that such attempts are futile, I will not be silenced on issues that can profoundly affect the financial well-being of the borough, and its residents, for years to come. 

The people of Lansdale deserve better than such childish, political chicanery and attempts by their own Council members to deprive them of access to information for which they are entitled.

Karin April 22, 2011 at 12:07 AM
Well stated, Mayor.
Mike April 22, 2011 at 11:19 AM
Good job Mr. Mayor! Unfortunately, there are people like the ones you refer to in all levels of government, but people like you keep them in line by being honest with the public.
Conerned Citizen April 23, 2011 at 03:47 AM
Being honest with the public is an alien concept to Mr. West and his ilk. He lied his way into office and will continue to ramrod his personnal agenda down the citizens of Lansdale's throats. Congrats Mr. West. You are showing the people of Lansdale exactly what you think of them. A total lack of respect.
Mark April 27, 2011 at 03:15 AM
sounds like council members need the same anti bullying Alweus Training(spelling) we give to our children IN GRADE school. i commend our mayor and stand by his integrity and sincere caring for our community.
John Waldenberger November 28, 2012 at 03:39 PM
I disagree with your position that the borough should not have a hand in the Performing Arts center, however I applaud you in standing up to this childish behavior. Shame in them


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