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Middletown council member Diana McGlone, citing targeting and harassment, resigns

By Dan Miller


Posted 3/9/18

Diana McGlone is resigning from Middletown Borough Council.

In a resignation letter emailed to council and borough officials on Thursday night, March 8, McGlone said that “the continual …

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Middletown council member Diana McGlone, citing targeting and harassment, resigns

Diana McGlone
Diana McGlone

Diana McGlone is resigning from Middletown Borough Council.

In a resignation letter emailed to council and borough officials on Thursday night, March 8, McGlone said that “the continual targeting and harassment of borough officials and associates is taking its toll on my family, their safety and overall health.”

McGlone in a telephone interview told the Press & Journal that she holds “council leadership” responsible, as well as Mayor James H. Curry III, with whom McGlone has publicly clashed at times during her tenure in office since being elected in November 2015.

Council plans to accept McGlone’s resignation during a special meeting that council has called for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, to address a time-sensitive unrelated financial matter having to do with the borough’s pension system.

Council also plans to solicit applications from borough residents to replace McGlone.

Once an official has tendered a resignation, council has 30 days to fill the seat by resolution. McGlone’s seat is on the ballot again in November 2019.

“It’s just better for everybody that she is no longer on council,” Suglia said. “She actually did the borough a favor by resigning, and I’d actually like to thank her for that.”

Council President Damon Suglia told the Press & Journal he wishes McGlone “luck in her future business endeavors with Middletown.”

However, at the same time he sees McGlone’s resignation as opening up the opportunity for council to bring in a new person interested “in moving our borough forward and working as a team, which is something that was lacked by Mrs. McGlone.”

Curry did not respond to a request for comment.

Zoning questions

McGlone’s tenure on council has been marked with controversy off and on, especially regarding the Hometown Heroes military banners program that she proposed.

More recently, McGlone has come under fire for allegedly violating borough zoning regarding the number of unrelated people allowed to live in rental properties in the borough of which McGlone is a part owner.

In February, fellow council member Jenny Miller filed a complaint with the borough on behalf of a resident alleging that McGlone is in violation of the ordinance.

The borough is continuing to investigate the complaint, which McGlone contends is “discriminatory” against Penn State Harrisburg students.

On Feb. 18 Suglia sent out an email announcing he was “removing” McGlone from any further matters involving “zoning, codes, or overlay issues or laws pertaining to the borough.”

Suglia in the email said that the complaint filed against McGlone had prompted concerns that she could use her position on borough council to get zoning changes passed that would benefit her as a landlord.

On Feb. 20 McGlone called for changing the zoning ordinance to increase how many unrelated persons are allowed to reside in a single dwelling unit in the borough.

McGlone denied having a conflict of interest, telling the Press & Journal afterward, “Isn’t that my job and duty as an elected official, to put forth policies that benefit the entire community?”

Confidential information?

McGlone in her March 8 resignation letter referred to council intending to file an “injunction” against her “to silence me.”

Suglia told the Press & Journal that council was “contemplating” filing an injunction to block McGlone from being involved in any “confidential discussions going further” within council.

Suglia said that McGlone has posted on social media “confidential information” from council closed-door executive sessions that was not intended to be made public, such as information regarding plans by Suez to impose a 11.5 percent surcharge on water and sewer bills in Middletown.

As an example, Suglia provided the Press & Journal with a post from McGlone’s Facebook page on March 7 saying that “water/sewer rates/fees are scheduled to be increasing 12 percent in April by Suez.”

Suglia said that the post prompted council’s public announcement Thursday, March 8, that Suez was planning to impose an 11.5 percent surcharge on water and sewer rates “in the very near future.”

McGlone strongly disagreed with Suglia’s assertion that the release of information on the surcharge was improper.

“My duty as an elected official is to inform the public of an actual increase they are going to see in their utility cost so that it is not just sprung upon them,” McGlone told the Press & Journal. “The borough has been talking about this for months and the public has been completely in the dark.”

“I was not disclosing any confidential information at all. Suez planning to increase the fees is not confidential,” she continued. “The public had a right to know that these fees were going up in two weeks.”

A Suez spokeswoman told the Press & Journal that the 11.5 percent surcharge could go into effect with the March 26 billing cycle, unless a “negotiated settlement” can be reached between the borough and Middletown Water Joint Venture LLC, the entity created when council in September 2014 agreed to lease the borough’s water and sewer systems to Suez for 50 years.

Suglia stood by his previous statement that McGlone’s Facebook post had forced council to make public information about the 11.5 percent surcharge.

He defended council not releasing information on the increase earlier, saying that council has been working to “hopefully lessen” or prevent the increase from occurring at all.

“Why get the town in an uproar if we as council can negotiate (with Suez) in good faith to now allow this to happen? If it’s not a sure thing, why get everybody all upset and all pissed off?” Suglia said. “It is not her position to be giving out confidential information to the public.”

He added that McGlone had not even attended the two most recent closed-door sessions where council had discussed the proposed Suez surcharge.

Suglia said that the possibility for council and Suez to reach an agreement to lessen or avert the impact of the surcharge still exists, but that it has been put in “serious jeopardy” by McGlone’s actions.

Inaction by council?

McGlone in her resignation letter said that council “drama” had “destroyed” the banners program as well as her Making Middletown Beautiful Program.

She pointed to council inaction on other proposals she has brought forward, including the rental inspection program and the re-investment loan program that would provide loans to borough property owners to fix up their properties and bring them up to code.

“All of the ideas and proposals I advocated and spearheaded were put forth to move this town forward and become successful and have an economic impact in our region and all of it has been thwarted due to pettiness, jealousy, hate and power hungry individuals,” McGlone said in her letter.

“Many homes are for sale and our property values have plummeted. High taxes, council drama, blight, high utility costs are all having an impact and stunting the town’s growth and council is ill-equipped to deal with issues facing our community, as they continue to divert their attention towards items of no significance (sic) importance.”

The two appeared destined for being on a collision course shortly after Suglia became council president in April 2017 to replace Ben Kapenstein.

Banner battle

In one of his first actions Suglia moved to assert council oversight and control of the military banners program, which up until then McGlone had largely been directing on her own.

The program championed by McGlone was popular with residents beyond anyone’s expectation. But the borough and council not seeming to speak with one voice about the program led to some confusion.

Debate over the banners became rancorous, with Curry posting a video on his personal Facebook page criticizing McGlone’s handling of the program.

McGlone charged Suglia and Council Vice President Dawn Knull with being “anti-veteran,” charges that the two elected officials strongly denied.

At about this time a borough resident started an online petition seeking McGlone’s removal from office.

Suglia told the Press & Journal that the borough and council will follow through with plans announced in September 2017 to hang the military banners in spring 2018. The banners will be taken down in the fall.

As far as the borough’s involvement in the banners program going forward, “that will have to be discussed at a later time,” Suglia said.

The fate of the residential loan program will depend on what “the majority of council wants to do,” he added.

A nonprofit organization, the Foundation for Enhancing Communities, offered to administer the program for the borough for $9,000 a year during council’s Feb. 20 meeting.

However, concerns remain regarding the ability of borough staff at its current manpower levels to carry out the program, Suglia said.

He said that the rental inspection program “I think will be put on the back burner for now” as “we don’t have the staffing.”

McGlone was noncommital regarding her future plans and the extent to which she may remain involved in the borough.

Along with Jenny Miller, McGlone was one of two councilors who attended the March 5 inaugural meeting of the new Middletown Business Association.

“I will continue to support initiatives that I perceive to be positive for the community but as to overall involvement that is really up in the air,” McGlone said, adding that “it is no secret” that she has been considering moving out of Middletown for “other personal reasons.”

Second stint

This ends McGlone’s second stint on Middletown borough council. The first one ended in January 2012, and that too ended in controversy.

McGlone resigned from council after being charged with unlawful use of a computer by the Dauphin County District Attorney’s office, a felony.

Prosecutors alleged that McGlone accessed the email account of then-Council President Mary Hiester and deleted five messages.

McGlone at the time said the charges were unfounded. Then-county First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo told the Press & Journal that McGlone’s resignation was a requirement in order for her to be accepted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which led to McGlone not having a conviction on her record.

“Because the offense occurred in connection with her public office we insisted that she resign her office,” Chardo said at the time.

When McGlone announced her intent to run for council in 2015, then-county District Attorney Ed Marsico said that there was no prohibition in place that would prevent McGlone from being elected to and serving on council.