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Spencer v. City of Reading Charter Bd.

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

August 8, 2014

The Honorable Vaughn D. Spencer, Mayor of the City of Reading
v.
City of Reading Charter Board, Appellant

Argued May 13, 2014.

Page 835

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 836

Appealed from No. 12-24745. Common Pleas Court of the County of Berks. Rowley, J.

Eric B. Smith, Norristown, for appellant.

Kevin J. McKeon, Harrisburg, for appellant.

Robert L. Byer, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

BEFORE: HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge, HONORABLE ANNE E. COVEY, Judge.

OPINION

Page 837

MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge

The City of Reading Charter Board (Charter Board) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County (trial court) that reversed the Charter Board's adjudication charging The Honorable Vaughn D. Spencer, Mayor of the City of Reading, with violations of the City of Reading's Charter.[1] The trial court held, without taking additional evidence, that the Charter Board capriciously disregarded evidence and made findings of fact not supported by substantial evidence. Mayor Spencer has filed a motion to quash asserting the Charter Board lacks standing to appeal. We deny the motion to quash and affirm the trial court.

Background

Mayor Spencer was elected to office in November 2011. During his campaign, Spencer announced a " Policy Action Plan" to restructure the Mayor's office. To achieve that goal, Mayor-elect Spencer sought to have several new staff appointed to the Mayor's office who would be ready to assume their duties on January 2, 2012, when his term began. The prospective employees were Eron Lloyd, Lawrence Murin, Marisol Torres, Michael Dee, and Mark Drabinsky (Employees). In December 2011, Spencer sought the advice of the City's Managing Director, Carl Geffken, and others to determine whether the Employees could be hired and in place on January 2, 2012, without violating the Charter, the Administrative Code, or any other applicable law. At a meeting on December 28, 2011, Geffken advised Mayor-elect Spencer that Lloyd, Murin, Drabinsky and Dee[2] could be hired on a part-time basis without reopening the previous year's budget or amending the City's annual

Page 838

Position Ordinance. Geffken further advised Spencer that there was precedent for this procedure. Several part-time positions in the police department had not been listed in the Position Ordinance but were nevertheless filled.

Following the meeting, Geffken made offers of part-time employment to Lloyd, Murin, Dee and Drabinsky. On January 3, 2012, Geffken sent a letter to each employee confirming the offer and acceptance of employment and indicating that the position was part-time and without benefits. During their tenure, Lloyd, Murin, Drabinsky and Dee worked more hours than the definition ...


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