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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA EX REL. PATRICK SORTINO AND ANTHONY P. RENALDI v. RALPH SINGLEY AND PHILIP B. MITMAN (10/05/78)

decided: October 5, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA EX REL. PATRICK SORTINO AND ANTHONY P. RENALDI
v.
RALPH SINGLEY AND PHILIP B. MITMAN, APPELLANTS



No. 460 January Term, 1976, Appeal from Judgment of Ouster of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Civil Division, at No. 11 January Term, 1976.

COUNSEL

Hogan & Scott, James C. Hogan, Easton, for appellants.

Brose, Poswistilo, LaBarr & Kreglow, Frank S. Poswistilo, Easton, for appellees.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 481 Pa. Page 369]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellants, Ralph Singley and Philip Mitman, challenge the judgment of ouster removing them from the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Easton. Finding no merit in their claims, we affirm.*fn1

On December 31, 1975, the outgoing Mayor of Easton appointed appellees, Frank Sortino and Anthony Renaldi, to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Easton to serve fixed, staggered terms of office.*fn2 Appellee Renaldi succeeded appellant Singley, whose term of office had expired but who continued in office pending appointment of his successor.*fn3 Appellee Sortino succeeded a member whose term also had expired but already had left office. On January 9, 1976, four days after taking office, the new Mayor of Easton by written declaration "voided" the appointment of appellees, and appointed appellants in their stead. An action of quo warrantor was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County on appellees' behalf. Judge Williams declared null and void the appointment of appellants, ordered

[ 481 Pa. Page 370]

    their removal "from any further participation in or claim to membership in the Redevelopment Authority," and declared appellees lawful members of the Authority. This appeal followed.

Two issues arise out of this controversy. First, appellants challenge the validity of the outgoing mayor's appointments, on the theory that, by delaying the appointment of new members to the Authority, he forfeited his statutory power to appoint. Second, appellants argue that the new mayor could properly remove and replace appellees, either at will or for the "just cause" they believe is presented in this case.

The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Easton is an agent of the Commonwealth subject to the Urban Redevelopment Law. Urban Redevelopment Law, Act of May 24, 1945, P.L. 991, § 9, 35 P.S. § 1709 (1977); Herriman v. Carducci, 475 Pa. 359, 380 A.2d 761 (1977); cf. Deer Creek Drainage Basin Authority v. County Board of Elections, 475 Pa. 491, 381 A.2d 103 (1977) (joint municipal authorities agents of the Commonwealth). Under the Law, "five citizens" are to comprise the redevelopment authority. Urban Redevelopment Law, § 5, 35 P.S. § 1705. Appointments to the authority are to be made "by the Mayor alone." Herriman v. Carducci, 475 Pa. at 361, 380 A.2d at 763 (interpreting § 5 of the Law, 35 P.S. § 1705). Section 6 of the Law, 35 P.S. § 1706, provides:

"The members who are first appointed shall serve for terms of one, two, three, four and five years, respectively, from the date of their appointment as shall be specified at the time of their appointment. Thereafter, the term of office shall be five years. A member shall hold office until his successor has been appointed. ...


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