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LCTA Board At Odds With Executive Director

March 29, 2019

It looks like Luzerne County Transportation Authority Executive Director Norm Gavlick’s job could be in jeopardy, as he prepares to meet with the authority’s board of directors next month.

On Thursday, Gavlick said some board members are playing politics, while board member Patrick Conway said Gavlick is not qualified for the job he holds.

Tensions between Gavlick and board members surfaced at January’s board meeting. The board approved Conway’s motion to advertise the executive director’s position, with the understanding that Gavlick would be allowed to apply.

Gavlick, who was appointed executive director in December 2015 after serving in an interim capacity since September 2014, does not have an employment contract. He works at the pleasure of the LCTA board.

The job has not been advertised as of this week, but on Tuesday the board approved member Sean Robbins’ motion to meet with Gavlick in executive session.

That will likely happen prior to the board’s next scheduled meeting on April 23, Conway said.

Board Chairman Charles Sciandra declined to comment on Gavlick’s job performance, since it is a personnel issue.

Gavlick and Conway each had much to say.

“The board did vote to conduct a search for a new executive director,” Gavlick said. “There was no explanation afforded to me.”

Gavlick said some board members appear to be unhappy about his perceived influence with county council members, who appoint the members of the authority board.

“They blamed me for influencing council,” Gavlick said. “I wish I had that kind of influence. That’s council’s decision.”

A few board members did not like it when he “pushed back” on contracts the board awarded to what he described as friends and allies of board members, Gavlick said.

He also said the board rejected his request to sign an employment contract, which he said he wanted for “protection from politics.”

Gavlick pointed to accomplishments during his tenure, such as instituting night bus service and advancing plans to relocate the authority’s headquarters from Kingston to the former Murray Complex in Wilkes-Barre.

“There’s tons of good stuff going on,” he said. “For some reason, none of that matters.”

Conway said he wants the authority to employ the most qualified executive director it can find, whether that is Gavlick or someone else.

He did not mince words in his assessment of Gavlick.

“I made it perfectly clear the other day,” Conway said. “He’s not qualified. He doesn’t tell the board anything that is going on.”

Gavlick’s background in human resources, including his work as the authority’s human resources director in 2014, does not qualify him to run a large public transportation agency, Conway said.

The authority’s planned move to the Murray Complex was not Gavlick’s idea and Gavlick should not receive credit for it, he said.

Conway said he suggested the board advertise the executive director’s position to see if qualified candidates are available and interested.

Gavlick is welcome to apply to keep his position, according to Conway.

When asked if he would like to see someone else serve as executive director, Conway replied: “If there is somebody out there better, with transportation experience, sure.”

Contact the writer:

emark@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2117

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