Providing Lancaster City & County with an Alternative Source for Local News and Commentary  _________________________________________________________
 June 16, 2007      Publisher: LLC       Combined Circulation 80,000 monthly         Volume 1, Number 37

Judge Farina should appoint a special prosecutor and impanel a new
grand jury to investigate District Attorney Totaro for misconduct and the
Convention Center Authority for questionable payments.

Grand Jury was to investigate a job application
NewsLanc questions whether 50 persons ever read the January 2007 Grand Jury Report concerning the County Commissioners. Instead, the public's information came from days of repeated newspaper headlines in the monopoly Lancaster press vilifying the commissioners for pleading guilty to a minor violation which the actual report suggests they never committed.

(The Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. is a 50% partner in the Convention Center / Hotel project about which the County Commissioners have raised valid objections.)

Grand Jury found nothing wrong, so DA
turned to Conestoga View

District Attorney Donald Totaro says the Grand Jury investigation of the County Commissioners was to inquire into violations of the state's criminal laws regarding a job application. The Grand Jury soon established that there were no violations.

Thwarted, Totaro then obtained permission to investigate the sale of Conestoga View Nursing Home, in part to determine whether one or more of the commissioners had personally benefited. The jury again cleared the commissioners of any wrongdoings.

The county commissioners told the Grand Jury that they delayed publicly discussing the possible sale of the Conestoga View Nursing Home to minimize anxiety on the part of nursing home staff and patients.

The commissioners explained they sold to the operator because of its satisfactory performance over a decade, willingness to provide guarantees of future patient care levels, and payment of a price established by appraisals.

Grand Jury found no fault with
sale of Conestoga View

The District Attorney had sought the Grand Jury investigations to investigate alleged major felonies. Now after a year, he faced the humiliation of having his Grand Jury exonerate the commissioners of all accusations. The DA's reputation was about to be besmirched and his likelihood of becoming a judge compromised.

Totaro drew up the testimony and called the commissioners back repeatedly over the year, challenging their memories about details of long ago discussions. The commissioners believed they were faced with an indictment for perjury due to some unwitting contradiction that might force them from office and certainly would make it impossible to run for reelection.

Jury ready to exonerate; DA bluffed and
negotiated a plea bargain!

There was no way for the commissioners to know that the grand jury was ready to exonerate them on all accounts. So they reluctantly accepted a plea bargain to a minor violation which they believed they had not committed.

In fact, the Grand Jury faulted the obscurity of the Sunshine Law, not the commissioners. The commissioners were acting on the advice of the county solicitor and the solicitor was probably correct in his interpretation of the vague law. And to have violated the law, the commissioners would have had to do so intentionally, which was an absurdity since counsel was present.

Newspapers portrayed dubious minor
violation as crime of the century

For three days the newspapers ran banner headlines across their front pages. The monopoly newspapers played up the minor violations which carry a $100 fine as though the commissioners committed the crime of the century. This is how a petty violation was used to drive one out of office, prevent another from running for reelection, and to put in doubt the reelection likelihood of a third.

Totaro goes on to run for judge. The monopoly Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. and its partners get to build its convention center project.

Is Totaro guilty of an extreme example of prosecutorial abuse? Was he accommodating Convention Center project supporters? It's time for a real investigation. And this time let's borrow a prosecutor from Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.

90 days until county appointees
become majority on the
Convention Center Board.

Daniel Logan Revisited visitors may recall articles in December 2006 questioning whether the more than $700,000 paid to the consultant, Daniel Logan, president of the one-person Growth Business Development and working out of his home, was justifiable. opined " …there appeared to be very little substantive work product to show for the huge amount of money."

At the June 7 Convention Center Authority meeting, Brian Sparacino of Interstate Hotels & Resorts, the manager for both the hotel and con-vention center, stunned board members by telling them point blank that Interstate would not work with or even communicate with Logan. He said they consider Logan a competitor. Were there other reasons for the LCCCA paying almost $1,000,000?

Convention Center Authority to dump Stevens & Lee?

With Art Morris replacing Ted Darcus as chairman, the Convention Center Authority is "currently seeking proposals from law firms to serve as Solicitor," according to a June 14 announcement.

Morris had publicly objected to the current solicitor's failure to provide detailed invoices for the approximately $7 million of purported services they supplied to the Authority. The three county appointed board members had objected and asked the District Attorney to investigate. He didn't.

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