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Pennsburg Council Approves New Solicitor
Written by Jennifer Frieze and Bradley Schlegel
2020-01-08

            Pennsburg Borough Council appointed a new solicitor during Monday night's public meeting. The council, under the new leadership of President Diane Stevens, voted to hire a different Pottstown firm to represent the borough.

            Stevens along with F. Robert Seville, Wayne Stevens and Maggie Hange approved a motion to appoint Sager & Sager Associates, of Pottstown, as the municipality's new solicitor. Daniel Sager will serve as the borough's primary counsel, according to a text message received Tuesday from Diane Stevens.

            "After more than approximately 30 years it was time for a change," she wrote. "The majority of council felt that we weren't getting responses timely which could also have been due to the prior officials on council. Communications weren't being shared."

            The firm will replace Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C., which has worked for the borough since 2012. Chuck Garner, a lawyer with the firm, has served the borough for 34 years. Garner first started attending meetings on an occasional basis in 1988. He served as Pennsburg's primary solicitor since 1994.

            "I feel privileged and honored to have served the borough for that period of time," Garner wrote in an email message received Tuesday afternoon.

            Council members Joan Wieder and Michael Mensch voted against the motion to appoint a new solicitor. Pat Suter, council's newly elected vice president, abstained from the vote.

            Diane Stevens told Suter that he needed to provide a reason for abstaining against voting on the solicitor. He stated that he did not have a reason. Bob Seville was appointed president pro tem.

            During the meeting, prior to the vote, several members and Mayor Vicki Lightcap questioned the appointment. Lightcap asked Daniel Sager about his credentials. Wieder stated that she was unaware that Garner was not going to be present at the council meeting and asked for a brief synopsis of Daniel Sager's credentials and experience representing municipalities.

            The firm – which includes Lawrence Sager and his sons, Daniel and Adam Sager – currently represents North Coventry Township. It previously served Douglass Township and Trappe Borough.

            Suter asked Daniel Sager if he would step down as the borough's solicitor if he "is detrimental to the borough."  The lawyer replied, "Yes I would."

            Mensch asked Daniel Sager if he or his law office was "involved with charges being filed against this council." The lawyer said he was unaware of any charges.

            "Can you give me a name?" Daniel Sager asked.

            "No, I can't give you a name at this meeting," Mensch said.

            "Then I can't give you an answer," the lawyer said.

            According to Diane Stevens, Adam Sager represented her in a 2014 lawsuit against the Pennsburg Fire Company. She wrote in a text message that the only fees incurred were the filing fees with the Montgomery County Courthouse.

            The same quartet that approved the new solicitor voted to appoint Diane Stevens as the new council president. Diane Stevens, Wayne Stevens, Seville and Hange also voted against a motion to appoint Suter as president.

            At the start of the meeting, Lightcap questioned Diane Stevens and her husband Wayne Stevens on the ethics of him being on council as she is being voted in as council president. Lightcap asked if the ethics committee was contacted in regards to this matter, and if Diane Stevens' legal counsel provided a signed document stating that it is not a violation of ethics for her husband to be on council and vote her in as president.

            In addition, Lightcap stated that as council president, Diane Stevens would receive an increase of $50 in salary for her newly appointed position and that it's an ethics violation because the increase would be going to her family.

            Diane Stevens stated that she doesn't have a signed document from legal counsel and that if she would be elected as council president, she will forgo the $50 increase in salary for the position.

            Council approved a crossing guard ordinance despite suggestions by Diane Stevens to table the ordinance until February in order for the newly appointed solicitor to look over the document.

            Seville and Sutter pushed to pass the ordinance, stating that the topic has been discussed for several months and that Garner had already done the work in order for council to vote on the matter. In addition, Patrick Suter stated that it would hold up enforcing the speed limit on Montgomery Ave and infringe on the safety of students.

            In other news, certificates of appreciation were given to Arlen Christman for his 40 years of serving on the Pennsburg zoning board. Resident Chris Kalb was given a certificate for donating his time and equipment to assist with the Hometown Hero Project.


 

 

 

 

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