Parkland Press

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

New commissioners oppose Pinsley for membership on green council

Thursday, February 20, 2020 by SUSAN RUMBLE Special to The Press in Local News

Although former commissioner Mark Pinsley provided the impetus for the South Whitehall Green Advisory Council, two new board members voted against his appointment to the group.

At the Feb. 5 commissioners’ meeting, board President Christina “Tori” Morgan and Matt Mobilio voted in favor of Pinsley joining the advisory council, while Diane Kelly and Michael Wolk voted no.

About a year ago, Pinsley introduced the idea of cutting back on single use plastics in the township.

The suggestion received a favorable response from the board, and Morgan and Pinsley volunteered to work on what would become known as the Green Advisory Council.

In December 2019, commissioners approved establishment of the council and an accompanying mission statement.

The purpose of the council is to advise commissioners on the responsible use and conservation of the township’s resources and to provide a sustainable community for generations to come.

The council is directed to work with township officials to identify and support initiatives to educate residents and businesses on the benefits of environmentally responsible choices.

Elected Lehigh County controller in November, Pinsley resigned from the board of commissioners near the end of a lengthy meeting after voting in favor of conditional use approval of the Ridge Farm development.

At that time, on Nov. 20, 2019, Pinsley recommended Joe Setton as his replacement on the board.

The nomination was approved but evoked an outcry from the public.

Kelly explained her negative vote on Pinsley reflects “community backlash” from the November 2019 meeting.

She said people were very unhappy at the process of Pinsley’s resignation from the board of commissioners.

“Let’s have a fresh slate of people serving,” Kelly said.

Wolk expressed his thoughts on the matter.

“Lehigh Valley controller is an extremely important job,” Wolk said. “Mark is new and has a learning curve.

“He should focus on being controller.”

In a prepared statement, resident Patrick Foose said a controller is supposed to be nonpartisan.

“This could be a conflict of interest,” Foose said.

Mobilio commented on the topic.

“We wouldn’t have the GAC without Mark,” Mobilio said. “We’re lucky to have him and should be glad for his service to the township.

“He shouldn’t be ostracized because he ran for public office.”

Mobilio denounced the idea that a person who has a full-time job cannot serve on a volunteer board.

Morgan emphasized the GAC is strictly an advisory panel directed to come up with new, creative initiatives.

As the motion for Pinsley’s appointment was 2-2, commissioners will vote on him when a full board is present.

Eight other nominees were readily approved for the council.

These individuals are: Morgan, Tricia Bernecker, Keisha Champagnie, Judith Cooper, Gregory Duncan, Marie North, Frank Petrocelli and Jessie Snyder.