“This definitely was not about the money. It was about the principle. This is a win for the community. Now no one has to be afraid of speaking up. That was the point of this.” -Denise Carey
In 2004 Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton was faced with some tough budget choices and he decided to close the fire house in the Heights section of the city. The people in that neighborhood were understandably upset and worried about their safety but we elect people to make tough decisions for the greater good. I thought it was good call because it would cost a fortune to repair the building that has since been sold.
In 2005, Denise Carey filed a petition to allow voters to decide the fate of the firehouse through a ballot referendum. The city argued some of the 1,300 signatures were collected under false pretenses, and Carey withdrew the petition on the day a county court hearing was scheduled to resolve the dispute. The city asked that Carey pay $11,056 to cover the city’s legal fees and Judge Michael Conahan agreed. The award was overturned on appeal in January 2007. That judgement by Conahan was the heart of this case.
Someone disagreed with a decision of her local government so she took action to oppose it and they tried to ruin her financially. My friend David put it better than I could:
The Council and Leighton thwarted Carey's efforts to try and get the Fire House closing on the ballot. The action against Carey basically said to city residents, if you dare to criticize or God forbid organize in opposition to the City administration policies, and we, the rich, wealthy and powerful will squash you like a bug. Maybe put you in debt, maybe take your home and livelihood away.
TL: "Mayor Leighton may be able to take away a fire station, but don’t let him take away our constitutional rights. A verdict in Denise Carey’s favor tells citizens you are safe. You can speak out and you don’t have to fear that a politician or the government can come back and sock you with a hefty attorney bill.”
In other business Leighton wants money from the state gaming funds for more surveillance cameras in the city. Slots money=Lower property taxes, do any of these politicians remember that?
5 hours ago