Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sharron Nelson's Selection Lauded but Timing Questioned

At Tuesday morning's County Commissioners' work session, former County Commissioner Sharron Nelson was unanimously appointed to the board of the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority. Nelson will fill the seat vacated by Thomas LeCrone.

Nelson was lauded by board members as well as the three members of the public who expressed their views.

Chair Dennis Stuckey opined: "When we get someone of the caliber of Sharron Nelson who is willing to serve, who has been there, who was a commissioner, who took an interest in the Convention Center, who knows the issue, I think it is prudent that we act quickly to get that quality of person there."

During the public comment period, Robert Edwin Field said he is "also an admirer of former commissioner Sharron Nelson" and that "Sharron Nelson is a wonderful selection."

Field expressed concerns, "Given the fact that members of the existing board have called for an investigation [of past dealings] ... given the fact that officers of the authority will be selected at their Thursday meeting and given that Dr. Nelson would be coming in at the last minute without having an opportunity to be abreast of the important things that have transpired ... this could lead to a choice of chair that could be detrimental to the County and the Board of Commissioners." (Field is president of NewsLanc.com.)

Also speaking from the audience, Bruce Clark indicated he agreed with much that Field said but was concerned that "deliberately delaying, you are taking away [the possibility] of Sharron Nelson being elected as chair."

Visitor Bill Bonnano added: "I am all for [Nelson] .... She has been going to convention center meetings. She is as smart as a whip, and honest and she is fair. You don't have a lot of time. The last time they chose someone they had a lot of time..."

Following the public comments, Commissioner Scott Martin added: "Just for the record, it is important to note that when we received the letter I believe dated January 13 that Dennis [Stuckey] specifically called Mr. LeCrone to understand his wishes on how he wants us to proceed and we have only acted in that manner as to what he thought his intentions were."

In his comments, Field also stated: "Because most of the [future] decisions have been contracted out ... what is really very important at this point is not just looking forward but looking back. I cannot go further into that since this is a public session, but I do urge that you do not make an appointment in such haste that can change the choice of who would be the Chair of the Convention Center."

When interviewed after the meeting, Field elaborated, "Given the three newly-appointed board members, my concern is that Ted Darcus might be returned to his position as Chair. His re-appointment would likely stifle any attempt for a meaningful investigation of questionable past payments of millions of dollars and bizarre contractual arrangements with Penn Square Partners that also are likely to cost the Authority millions."