Colleagues question attendance by fellow Mercer County Commissio - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Colleagues question attendance by fellow Mercer County Commissioner

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Commissioner Brian Beader's empty chair isn't sitting well with some people in Mercer County.

A little more than a year ago, Beader took a construction management job near Pittsburgh. About three months ago, they sent him to work in Orlando. Since then, Beader has been flying back and forth. All the while collecting his Florida paycheck and being paid as a Mercer County commissioner. Beader's salary and benefits cost taxpayers more than $88,000 a year.

"He should either come back to work or resign, yes, I think so. At this point, it has gone on long enough," said John Lechner, Chair of the Mercer County Commissioners.

Lechner and Commissioner Matt McConnell, both Republicans, said they have been filling in for the third term Democrat Beader at different board meetings and work sessions. They don't think the taxpayer's are getting their money's worth from him.

"He's missing day to day interaction with staff, employees, citizens of mercer county. He's missing the background information, " said McConnell.

But Beader said his colleagues have it all wrong. It's the information age and he says technology keeps him plugged in to what's happening back home.

"I am on email daily keeping up to speed with what's going on in the county, and I'm flying back for commissioner meetings. There were a couple I had to phone in," said Beader.

When questioned, Beader was unable to report how many hours a week he works for the county.

Fellow Democrat and Mercer County resident Ron Greenawalt, feels taxpayers are not being represented.

"That's like gravy, money in the bank and still be able to work another job, out of state, come on," said Greenawalt.

There is absolutely nothing illegal with what Beader is doing. Pennsylvania's county code does not spell out a minimum number of hours a commissioner needs to work, or meetings the elected official has to attend.

"Ethically, I think its very wrong to do what he's doing but I think he is within the parameters of the law," said Lechner.

A frustrated McConnell has talked to a local state representative about changing the law. But as it stands now, "The way it is set up, you can't even have a recall election in Pennsylvania," said McConnell.

Beader said he hasn't ruled out resigning if he can't make it back for most of the commission's formal meetings, but he wants people to look at what he has accomplished.

"I've always looked at it, look at the outcomes, and look what we have been able to produce to help the taxpayers," said Beader.

In the meantime, the issue has many in the county talking.

Beader said the Florida job fell into his lap at an age when he could still take it. He said he does not plan to run again for commissioner, but he still has close to another year and a half left in his term.

 

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