Decorum not main problem in
By John Cofchin | Posted: Friday, April 17, 2015 2:00 am
Reading the Herald-Standard's April 8 front-page story was an
epiphany for me. Right there, on the front page was the root
cause of Fayette County malaise.
Drum roll please. Our local newspaper has determined that
some of our citizens, myself included, lack “decorum.'' Some of
our citizens have the temerity to question elected officials, on
matters related to Fayette County’s largest public works project,
scope of this work, costs and long term debt associated, etc.
The Herald-Standard has concluded that our behavior
constitutes bad manners that have no place in our otherwise
pristine political environment.
What our local newspaper is really trying to say is that its
current favorite son, Al Ambrosini has been taken to task for his
ill-conceived and poorly implemented solution to the jail
problem. In truth, the commissioner has earned all of the
criticism he has received. The gentleman’s problem began
when he confused his election with his coronation and
immediately decreed that we must build a new prison.
Voters who believe that common sense and a thoughtful
approach to problem solving are essential skills for our political
leaders should consider the slow-motion train wreck provided
by Ambrosini and his small hand-full of supporters.
The Taj Mahal Express, a euphemism for a grandiose solution
to a shortage of prisoner beds and aged facilities, departed the
flood plains of Iowa Street. This proposed interim site, with an
initial estimated cost of $100,000 rose more quickly than
Redstone Creek at flood stage. As costs quickly escalated, the
no-bid, no-thought, temporary but potentially very expensive
women’s jail proposal was abandoned.
The train zigzagged across Fayette County, with no welcoming
committee at any of the jail’s proposed locations. Maybe a
phone call or visit to the township supervisors would have
A desperate, high-speed run to the fairgrounds was met with
another group of responsible citizens, unimpressed with the
commissioner’s decree that the jail will be built there.
Finally, mercifully, this debacle ground to a halt on pyrite
paradise, the high-cost, low-value, no-bid land provided by our
local redevelopment land speculators. Note to taxpayers: no bid
costs you money. Bidding saves you money.
The rest is judicial history as the Honorable Judge Ober
wagged his finger at the zoning board and just said no to the
engineer of this runaway train.
A more thoughtful, objective, news organization might conclude
that atta boys and accolades might not be the appropriate
response to this dismal performance.
A final note from this serial decorum offender to others who
have engaged in similar practices. You have done the heavy
lifting for the local press. You have asked the questions,
documented the answers and shed a lot of light onto the way
Fayette County is accustomed to doing business.
I encourage all of my fellow objectors, naysayers,
obstructionists, anarchists or just plain, as defined by the H-S;
angry and ignorant citizens to watch Mr. Ambrosini, after
wasting years of valuable time and millions of dollars, publically
state that he “would be open to review all options.''
Ah, sweet victory were it not such an obvious approach to
John Cofchin is a resident of Uniontown.
Decorum problems blamed on Ambrosini
By Joe Shiffbauer | Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015 2:00 am
I must question where decorum begins and ends. Lies,
deceit, and the propagation of such, by our Democrat county
commissioners are subjects that must be considered when
decorum is discussed in Fayette County. The entire
boondoggle know as the new prison effort, aka, The Fayette
County Hall of Justice and Rehabilitation Center, has been
tainted with those nocuous qualities from the very early
The sewage costs incorrectly being included in the total
costs given by the architect, the stated number of storys of
the new prison - one, when there is actually two, the never
reported additional planned juvenile facility incorporated into
the new prison, the imaginary threat of the DOC shutting
down the existing prison, the intentional lack of maintenance
at the existing prison, the Sunshine Act violations, relying on
unstable financing sources such as Act 13 gas drilling tax
fees which peak at nine years and taper off to zero at 15
years, and the Lady Luck Casino revenues which have been
up and down since its opening.
When looking at the zeal of serving years old bench warrants
that have been ignored until this convenient time period, one
must question whether the inmate numbers at the prison
were intentionally stacked to help justify the new prison effort.
The list of those negative qualities continues with
Commissioner Al Ambrosini calling obvious Sunshine Act
violations, “a stretch,” allegations by Ambrosini of lawsuits by
“another commissioner, stating “unfortunately this was not
the only lawsuit caused by this commissioner,” conveniently
forgetting about other lawsuits incurred by the county during
his watch, using the media to make unfounded statements
such as, “the commissioner lines up people to come in to
attack (him),'' referring to the public as a “circus” because he
doesn't like their comments. Ambrosini laughing at people
making public comments during public comment periods,
meeting being rescheduled early in the morning using the
excuse that it was for an “emergency vote” on prison
expenditures, while, in fact, it was routine business, and not
advertising meetings. Ambrosini, during his recent
campaigning made unprofessional statements such as, “let’s
face it, we all know who the problem is,” and “if we had
three professional commissioners that would never happen.”
Ambrosini ignores the fact that he held the gavel until
recently, and that the Republican commissioner, Angela
Zimmerlink, called on the public for civility towards Ambrosini
during the January commissioner’s non-meeting.
By the way, I contend that meeting was not properly
advertised to intentionally cause it to be cancelled and was a
stall tactic by Ambrosini to delay the continuation of plans of
the proposed downtown Uniontown Fayette County prison
Commissioner Ambrosini has stated that most of the time it
(lack of public decorum) was personal attacks. It became
personal after Ambrosini caused it to be personal due to his
At the same Jan, 25, non-meeting, which seems to be the
basis for the recent discussion on decorum, I lashed out
verbally at Commissioner Ambrosini.
I have this question to ask of all the readers of this letter –
who will blame me for the anger I felt that caused my loud,
though non-threatening comments during that non-meeting?
Who will blame any citizen of this county for their frustration
and subsequent anger at a process whereby the above
mentioned lies, deceit, and the propagation of such, have
become the modus operandi?
Joe Schiffbauer is a resident of Uniontown.
It's the train wreck movie they're watching?
Decorum of da crowd ain't da serious problem ...
Below are two well-written letters to the editor this week, from two of the most outspoken citizens of Fayette County.
Their below responses to the local paper, heraldstandard.com, resulted after several attempts were published by the paper to brand the crowd of citizens problematic. Problematic for daring to
rant on Al Ambrosini's poorly thought-out jail plan and the paper's conscious decision to ignore facts, such as there was never any bidding for purchase of land and Sunshine Act breaches by
During the time that the buffoonery of a land search for land for a new county jail was occurring was probably the most difficult for those opposed to Ambrosini's half-baked and barely
thought out construction plan. We were out-right lied to so many times during those months while we being told to hold all questions until after the entire plan was fully baked.
During that time, Ambrosini voted to advertise for the commissioner work group meetings and never did. He agreed by vote to advertise for land, then within a week placed a public notice of
24 hours that he was meeting to buy a pyrite cesspool for $1.25 million from a largely-funded public development group joined at the hip with a county department that never made good on
still unresolved flooding issues from past land sales.
Not a single person involved in the public sale of land for profit or non-profit use ever demand legal DEP permits for changes in stream flow to catch run off water flow in another industrial
park a few hundred feet away from where the new jail was to be built. Yet the people of Fayette County were supposed to just stand by and let a few people tell us to trust their poor
The thinking public didn't buy it then and won't ever, no matter who sits on the board of county commissioners.