Resident questions whether East Nottingham supervisor complied with regulations
● By Steven Hoffman
An East Nottingham Township resident demanded the immediate resignation of a township supervisor during the March 23 board of supervisors meeting.
Rick Orner, a township resident who is known as a local government watchdog, accused supervisor Gary Coates of failing to file the required state ethics forms before he took the oath of office.
Coates was appointed by a Chester County Court of Common Pleas judge to fill a vacancy on the board in April of 2016 after the East Nottingham Township Board of Supervisors was deadlocked and unable to fill the vacancy. His term in office ends at the end of this year unless he seeks a new four-year term in the general election.
Orner said that he does not think that Coates filed the required state ethics forms before he took the oath of office. Additionally, Orner said, Coates failed to disclose that he holds the mortgage on property being used by township resident John Seitz on financial forms. Orner alleged that Coates has voted on issues involving the property since he joined the board.
“I truly believe that he is not sitting there legally as a supervisor,” Orner said. “At this time, I'm asking Mr. Coates to resign.”
Coates, who was seated at the table with the other supervisors, did not respond to Orner's comments.
Orner also said that Joe Raffa, a former supervisor, did not fill out the required state ethics financial forms when he served on the board.
Orner pointed out that Raffa is now involved with both a civil and criminal complaint that was brought against the East Nottingham Township Board of Supervisors based on fact-finding meetings that the supervisors participated in that were, according to the complaint, in violation of the state's Sunshine Act.
“This whole thing is about fact-finding meetings,” Orner said. He added that when Raffa was on the board, he participated in at least eight such meetings, including seven meetings that were acknowledged by the board by a vote at a subsequent meeting.
Orner also said that when Raffa was still on the East Nottingham Township Board of Supervisors, he may have violated the second class township code when he authorized a legal ad to be placed in a newspaper without board approval. Taxpayer money was spent on the advertising costs—and Orner objected to that.
“I believe the township has an obligation to do something about this,” Orner said.
Township solicitor Winifred Sebastian said the current supervisors have been advised not to discuss this legal matter.