23 Aug Solicitor: Hinton’s Sweetheart Deal Violates Ethics Law
Pat Hinton’s lease of a Nay Aug Park building to open a coffee shop violates the city’s ethics code, according to City Council solicitor Amil Minora.
Minora’s conclusion is the result of an inquiry by Councilman Bill Gaughan. At question is whether the Scranton Municipal Recreation Authority’s decision to grant the generous lease – first two years free, $250 per year afterward – was lawful given Hinton’s role as the city’s licensing, inspection, and codes manager. While Minora found that the recreation authority had properly advertised for proposals to convert an old rest room into a concession, Hinton’s employment may have prohibited him from being awarded the prize.
In a letter to Councilman Gaughan, Minora wrote, “Section 6-16(a)(b) [of the city ethics code] prohibits engaging in financial or other personal interests or private employment which is incompatible with the discharge of ones duties. Section 6-18 prohibits an employee from using any public property for personal benefit or profit in accordance with policies promulgated by the mayor.”
Minora went on to note that the Scranton Department of Licensing, Inspections, and Permits (LIPS) – of which Hinton is the director – would be responsible for issuing permits for renovations and a inspections on work completed. In effect, Hinton’s employees would be evaluating whether their bosses business complied with building codes.
Gaughan requested, through a letter signed by Lori Reed, City Clerk, that Hinton respond to questions he has relating to the award of the contract. It is unclear whether Hinton has provided answers to the Councilman’s questions.