Sheila McLaughlin reports:
An outgoing West Chester trustee’s parting shot this week was aimed at the township’s fiscal officer.
Trustee Catherine Stoker called Tuesday for investigations by the county prosecutor and state ethics commission after accusing Fiscal Officer Bruce Jones of illegally revealing information from a legal opinion.
It’s the latest development in an ongoing feud between Jones and Stoker, who had supported one of his challengers, Christy Miller, in the 2011 election.
The move comes two years after Stoker and Trustee Lee Wong voted to keep Jones, who was elected in November 2011, from attending executive sessions.
It was Stoker’s final act as a trustee and at her final meeting. The 20-year veteran trustee was edged out of her seat in the November election.
Jones’ recent trouble stems from a Nov. 3 email distributed to The Enquirer and others accusing Stoker and Wong of snubbing him by barring him from the closed-door sessions. He alluded to a legal opinion from the township’s law director that they said allowed them to do that.
Jones also complained that the township racked up 50 hours of legal work on the opinion, costing taxpayers $13,527. He cited specific details of services from township invoices, such as “research fiscal officer duties,” and “review initial draft of opinion letter.”
“The details are not public record. They came from an invoice from Frost Brown Todd to the township. The details are attorney client-privilege,” Stoker told The Enquirer Wednesday.
“My belief is that Bruce Jones knew that revealing attorney-client privileged information, specifically invoices coming from legal services were privileged. It’s illegal to reveal any of those.”
By state law, a fiscal officer is required to keep records of all a township’s accounts and transactions. The officer also has to record and keep minutes of trustee meetings, issue checks, prepare payrolls and prepare tax forms.