Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Penn Delco Update

Get this:

Even after the Penn Delco School Board voted 4 to 3 to relieve Super Lawyer Mark Sereni from his solicitorship duties, the very next day the ousted Sereni notified the board that he still considered himself the district's solicitor.

Why? Because in his excellent legal opinion the board should have allowed the newly appointed board members to vote on his dismissal.

Nevermind, that the two new boardmembers in question had just been appointed that night, hadn't been sworn in and had no legal right to vote on anything until they were.

You would expect a man who has been a school solicitor for a combined 42 years would know the law when it comes to this sort of thing. Then again maybe his own self interest clouded his legal judgement.

A legal opinion letter from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association made clear the Penn Delco board acted completely within their rights and responsibilities when they jettisoned the controversial Sereni.

The letter was forwarded to Sereni who, I am told, has not be heard from since.

That Sereni would so badly misinterpret the school code and to his own advantage is just one more reason why the district is probably very well rid of him.

His actions here kind of remind me of this.

UPDATE: Some "anonymous" posters have been questioning the existence of such a letter sent to Mr. Sereni. So let me be clear.

While the letter was written by the PSBA's general counsel, Mike Levin, it was not written in his capacity as PSBA's general counsel but as a consultant to the district.

However, in-house PSBA lawyers also gave verbal opinions to the district supporting it's removal of Solicitor Sereni in a 4 to 3 vote as perfectly legal.

Levin is considered to be the top legal experts on school law in Pennsylvania. Are Mr. Sereni's anonymous supporters saying his legal opinion is wrong?

One anonymous poster seems to be either questioning the existence of the opinion letter or seems to believe that because it wasn't written on PSBA stationary it should be considered as non-existent. That's sounds like a weirdly legalistic point of view.

If there are any lawyers familiar with the school code who would like to weigh in on this matter, their insights would be welcome. It would be nice if they identified themselves though, so readers can evaluate what axes they may have to grind.

That invitation, of course, includes Mr. Sereni himself, should he be so disposed.

56 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that's a good one! Love the youtube link!

October 10, 2007 at 6:23 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm shocked! Gil, can you post a copy of that letter from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association? I'd love to see that!
You're the MAN!

October 10, 2007 at 6:49 PM 
Anonymous Penn-Delco Survivor said...

Unbelievable, just unbelievable! And speaking of legal issues, when will the DA release the grand jury findings on the Penn-Delco mess? Why the long wait? Is it true that the county powers-that-be want the report held up until after the Nov. elections?

October 10, 2007 at 8:45 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, let's see the PSBA letter Gil. Or haven't you seen it?

October 10, 2007 at 9:26 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark Sereni is a scumbag of the highest order. Thank you Gil for confirming what others have heard on the street. How long before Springfield and Marlple "can" him too?

October 10, 2007 at 9:28 PM 
Anonymous randal said...

Is anyone sure this guy is a Repub? He sure behaves like a Lib.

October 10, 2007 at 9:38 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Gil you are a wealth of information! You say the letter was from PSBA? Who was the author? What exactly was the question posed and what was the answer? Does the author have, or is he/she seeking to have, any relationship to Penn Delco School District?

Can't wait to hear your answers!

October 10, 2007 at 9:56 PM 
Blogger whynotus said...

Randal-

Since I guess you would call me a "lib" I can tell you he is not one. He is a child of the "great" Republican Machine, and has and continues to benefit from the Machine's largesse. Stop trying to pass him off Randal--he is one of yours.
In any event, aside from the legalese in Attorney Sereni's opinion, it is bad politics for him to continue to insist heis still the solicitor.
BTW, who has the machine tapped to take over?

October 10, 2007 at 10:01 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Gil, are you outright lying or are you just being intentionally and incredibly lazy about checking your sources? Or are you simply misinterpreting facts to serve YOUR own purposes?

October 10, 2007 at 10:09 PM 
Anonymous Jake said...

The only thing you can say is Sereni is right on this issue. 4 votes is not a majority of the board. it is not majority of who is there it is a majority of 9 or 5 votes to get him out. you people have him wrong. Spencer just needs to write something. He "loves the stuff going on in PD, he has a Jewel with these people". Sound familiar?

October 10, 2007 at 10:10 PM 
Anonymous Jake 2 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

October 10, 2007 at 10:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Randal and WhyNotUs, you're both wrong.

Anybody who knows Sereni knows that he's always acted independently of the Delco GOP machine, perhaps too independently.

Like him or not, Sereni has established his reputation in court in front of lots of juries, not through political patronage.
That's how he earns his real money, so he can tell the politicians to go to hell if he has to.

So why does Spencer keep going after Sereni? Could Spencer now be doing the dirty work of some Delco GOP politician who wants Sereni out and his political cronies in?

Lest you think me paranoid, ever wonder why Spencer vehemently defends the Delco GOP DAs Office against that race discrimination suit approved by the EEOC? Ever wonder why Spencer continually attacks highly-regarded federal judge Norma Shapiro, which advances the cause of that Chester City project supported by the Delco GOP? Ever wonder why Spencer rips apart Democratic contender David Landau, which helps the Delco GOP in the heated County Council race?

Do you really think he's the honest voice of Delco conservatism, or do you instead think he's just like a hired gun?

Say it ain't so, Spencer!

October 10, 2007 at 11:54 PM 
Anonymous randal said...

Gil is the only semi-rightie in the local media, Anon. Is even one too many for you guys? Just like FOX News. Why is the Left sooo afraid of having other perspectives expressed?

Sounds like Whynotus has bought all the engineered propaganda about the ‘big mean Repub Machine’ that the Dems have fed him. Don’t fear the Machine, W.
Truth is, Repubs have been elected to the offices they hold by We The People.

Oh, and Sereni’s grasping claims sure sound a lot like the baseless garbage Landau’s been spouting lately.

October 11, 2007 at 12:14 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Anon, er, ah, Georgie the janitor, your desperation is starting to show as your candidate slides into the toilet. Please stop your anonymous smears.

October 11, 2007 at 8:21 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, Gil, where's that letter?

October 11, 2007 at 9:16 AM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Ask Mr. Sereni. See if he denies getting such a letter.

October 11, 2007 at 11:17 AM 
Anonymous sos dd said...

Gil, Loved the youtube link!

It's nice to be able to find a little bit of humor in such a shameful display of charactor.

October 11, 2007 at 11:43 AM 
Anonymous iamretawrted said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

October 11, 2007 at 12:44 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Gil, I asked you yesterday to post a copy of that letter from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. That would really jam it down that guy's throat!

But one day later, still no letter posted. What gives, Gil? C'mon, that would be great stuff!

BTW, I still think you're the MAN!

October 11, 2007 at 1:02 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gil -

I just read your "update".

How can any of us tell you whether or not Mike Levin's legal opinion is wrong, or not based on all of the facts, or incomplete, etc., if you won't let us see it?

Why did you fail to identify your source for your claim that in-house PSBA lawyers allegedly gave verbal opinions supporting the removal as "perfectly legal"?

Why did you fail to identify these alleged in-house PSBA lawyers?

Why do you think it's fair for you to ask us to publicly identify ourselves even though you won't let us see Mike Levin's letter, won't identify your source, and won't identify these alleged in-house PSBA lawyers?

Your choice of the term "axe to grind" in reference to us posters intrigues me. Have you considered whether your source or your alleged expert has an axe to grind
or any other kind of interest or bias?

I for one wish to remain anonymous because I really don't want to become the next target. But that does not change my opinion that you are doing wrong.

October 11, 2007 at 2:25 PM 
Anonymous sos dd said...

Anonymous why do you want Gil to produce the letter? Judging by your posts and Gil's update it would appear you've already seen it.

October 11, 2007 at 4:11 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo SOS DD, Anon is not the only one who wants to see that letter.
I do too! Let's jam it down that guy's throat? What gives, Gil?

October 11, 2007 at 4:24 PM 
Anonymous Law Prof said...

Since you are soliciting opinions,
I am curious why the only source of law being bantered about concerning the legality of the school board vote seems to be the School Code. The issue of the legality of the vote extends beyond the School Code and has serious constitutional dimensions and implications. Any expert in school law would be aware of that. I would be interested to hear what Attorney Levin opined on that issue, Gil.

October 11, 2007 at 4:43 PM 
Anonymous anon and proud said...

Sorry to make you look bad Gil, but everybody knows Mark Sereni is right up there as far as school law experts too, and you are saying his opinion, whatever that was, is wrong.

Also, I don't think you are one to talk about anonymous sources. Have you ever let us know what axes your infamous anonymous sources have to grind? Never as far as I can tell. People don't give you their real names because you behave like a cannibal. At least don't be a hypocrite about it.

October 11, 2007 at 5:03 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a very big difference between a letter from PSBA and a letter from Mike Levin's firm.

Since you want to do away with anonymity, why don't you start with revealing your anonymous in-house PSBA attorneys who supposedly gave you or someone else "verbal opinions?"

October 11, 2007 at 5:11 PM 
Anonymous Not a solicitor, but close said...

Listen, Spencer continuously does this type of thing and hides behind "sources". He is no good. He is an opinion writer for a hometown paper. Sources is very easy to hide behind and the best is he gets to pick what sources he quotes and what inofrmation he puts out there. Power of the pen people. Imagine if put all the things that people have told him about everyone involved in the PD situation? He wouldn't. He only goes after the two or three people that require no work. Journalist? I think not

October 11, 2007 at 5:58 PM 
Anonymous well? said...

The names of PSBA's in-house counsel appear to be listed on PSBA's website. There aren't many of them; looks like 3? Which of those people gave you the verbal opinions you mentioned, Gil? Some of us may want to ask them about the opinions you say they gave you.

October 11, 2007 at 6:36 PM 
Blogger anonymous said...

anyone know who was chosen as Penn-Delco's interim solicitor yet?

October 11, 2007 at 8:48 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Why not just call them yourselves and ask. See if they agree with Mr. Sereni, that the board needed five votes to fire him, not a majority of a quorum.

And Law Prof, what "constitutional" issues do you see at stake in this case? I'd love to hear them.

Anon and Proud, if you are suggesting that Mark Sereni is in Mike Levin's class as an expert on school law you might want to run that by a few more lawyers and school solicitors. Ask them what they think. You know, just for your own edification.

Mr. Sereni's behavior over the last few months, is driving his stock down, not to mention his reputation among lawyers who understand their responsibilities and obligations to their clients.

October 11, 2007 at 8:53 PM 
Anonymous anon and proud said...

Gil you're the "supposed" journalist. Why throw it back on us to do you work? Which in-house lawyers (Emily Leader, Stuart Knade, and Sean Fields) from PSBA gave a verbal opinion that the 4-3 vote to fire Sereni was valid?

See, the more sense we make, the more you just keep whining that you have more "sources" who agree with your silly little "opinions", but you're too chicken to ever name ONE of them.

What, do you live in a perpetual preschool playground? "And none of my friends like him neither!!!"

October 11, 2007 at 9:05 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Being called a chicken and by someone who refuses to "name" himself is a hoot.

October 11, 2007 at 9:16 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Gil, you are right on! You only need a majority of the quorum. Also, if Mark the Sereni thinks he is still entitled to the job, why doesn't he get the 2 newbies to show up at the next public meeting to make a motion to appoint him solicitor. My math indicates he could possibly win the appointment 5-4. Or better yet, why doesn't someone close to Mark tell him to give it up as he is making the good lawyers look like %^&holes...

October 11, 2007 at 9:19 PM 
Anonymous law prof said...

Gil, are you suggesting that an attorney of the claimed quality of Mr. Levin did not address the obvious constitutional issue under the Pennsylvania Constitution relating to removing civil officers? Frankly, I find that hard to believe.

October 11, 2007 at 9:22 PM 
Anonymous anon and proud said...

Oh, come on now Gil, you're not only a chicken, but a hatchet man of the most ineffectual sort. You see, intelligent people see right through you. They know it's very easy to say "someone" told you "something" when you never have to reveal who said it.

Your "journalistic style" is juvenile, cowardly and not fooling anybody with a set of brain cells (i.e., this clearly does not include your 3 or 4 admirers). Not to mention what you are doing to your own reputation, er, such as it is. If I were you, I would worry more about how you come off than how Mark Sereni does. It will take up a lot of all this free time you seem to have.

October 11, 2007 at 9:32 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Keep swinging guys. I love the breeze.

October 11, 2007 at 10:04 PM 
Anonymous penn delco pair said...

I am very surprised that the Penn Delco School Board would hire an attorney from whom they sought a legal opinion as to the appropriateness of the way they fired their last solicitor, and that the attorney would issue such an opinion, only to then seek and take the position himself.

Sadly, it would seem the Penn Delco school board is hell bent on continually establishing its ineptitude.

October 11, 2007 at 10:40 PM 
Anonymous dude whats up said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

October 11, 2007 at 10:49 PM 
Anonymous law prof said...

I read with consternation what penn delco pair has reported concerning the apparent self-interest of the new attorney for the school district.

Gil, are you going to seek an ethics opinion from your legal expert sources as to whether it is a conflict of interest for an attorney to give an opinion declaring the office of school district solicitor vacant, and then to proceed to fill that very vacancy that he helped to create?

October 11, 2007 at 11:04 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No kidding. "Then again maybe his own self interest clouded his legal judgement." Huh. interesting quote. Of course in the context of the blog it refers to Sereni, but interesting nonetheless.

October 11, 2007 at 11:07 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

You're the law prof, you tell me.

If you believe it is a conflict, one that violates the rules of professional conduct how about filing a complaint with the disciplinary board.

Or isn't your "consternation" substantial enough to do that?

I've got to admit, you make me smile.

October 11, 2007 at 11:17 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Penn Delco Pair's characterization of the Levin hire, of course, reveals more about the "Pair" than Levin.

My guess is that Levin didn't seek out the position but was asked to apply and will only serve on an interim basis.

I admit I am just guessing here. But it's an educated guess if you know what I mean.

October 11, 2007 at 11:34 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I see. So if someone ASKS a lawyer to engage in (at least) a perceived conflict of interest, that's OK, as long as the benefit the lawyer gets is just TEMPORARY.

Thanks for explaining that, Gil. Who needs LawProf anyway!

Seriously, Gil, you're digging yourself deeper and deeper into that hole ....

October 12, 2007 at 12:42 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Law Prof and the other Idiots on this thread:

Levin gave a CORRECT interpretation of the law as it relates to removing a person from a position that is served at the pleasure of the Board. Sereni was not a civil officer (whatever that means), nor was he protected from removal. He was removed by a mojority of the Board sitting, and Boards can take action as long as they have a quorum. An action like this has NO constitutional implications. Besides, if Sereni is going to continue to make a mockery of himself, why doesn't he get to the 2 newbies on the Board and seek their support? Maybe he can get his $$ back. Maybe he can file a frivilous lawsuit. You go Mark!

I hope for the sake of the taxpayers in Springfield and Marple that they also look at Sereni and decide if he is really the best person to work at the pleasure of those boards.

October 12, 2007 at 6:41 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion, how can Sereni serve any other clients when he and the rest of his office are posting on Spencerblog. Mockery, nah, he's beyond that!

October 12, 2007 at 1:51 PM 
Anonymous King of Multitasking said...

busy guy, how does he manage all these posts on various boards and STILL finds the time to attend school board meetings from which he was fired from.

October 12, 2007 at 2:35 PM 
Blogger Pro Christ Pro Gun said...

One of the hardest things for a scummy lawyer to do is to make appointments with clients that don't want you around any more. However, most of those lawyers work in the firm of Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe.

October 12, 2007 at 3:53 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, levin's associate, since you got the law wrong, in fact missed the argument altogether, no wonder you're anonymous!

October 12, 2007 at 4:28 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gil, you are a man of incredibly fragile ego. Someone's supporters get under your skin a little (you may as well have said "sticks and stones may break my bones...") and you go after him the next day in a print column? What was this, piece number 33 on Mark Sereni?

What a child. When is your editor going to wake up and fire YOUR worthless butt? Everyone I know - (all anonymous sources of course which I will never disclose to you!) agree you have it coming...

October 12, 2007 at 4:31 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry about getting fired Gil, just write a letter saying you refuse to be fired and keep showing up to work. Nah, nevermind that just screams "I'm pathetic".

October 12, 2007 at 4:36 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Daily Times - do you realize how bad Gil makes you look? Do you realize people think you deserve to be sued for what he writes? He's the reason you get called "Daily Slime."

Dump him.

October 12, 2007 at 8:56 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a PERSONAL challenge for anyone on this blog regarding the question of conflict of interest of Michael Levin serving as solicitor for Penn Delco. I challenge anyone to even attempt to get the State Ethics Commission involved in investigating Levin, OR to see if you can obtain the (authentic) Statements of Financial Interest for Michael I. Levin, either as sole proprietor of the Levin Legal Group or as General Counsel to the PSBA. Good luck, bloggers, you will need it!

As a lawyer and member of the bar, attorney Levin SHOULD be subject to the State Ethics Commission as as a solicitor to school boards and/or political subdivisions. As General Counsel to PSBA or even legislative, non-profit lobbying groups, one would think Levin should also be obligated to file statements of financial interest.

Interestingly, on December 19, 1979, the PA State Ethics Commission filed an opinion in response to Michael Levin's argument that school board solititors to political subdivisions should NOT be considered as either public employees or public officials, and hence not subject to public financial disclosures. Blog readers can see this source of information by clicking on the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission website and looking at Advisory Opinion #79-076. It begs the question of why Levin would argue that school board solicitors to political subdivisions should be exempt and not subject to financial disclosure requirements pursuant to the Act and jurisdiction of the PA State Ethics Commision. Here is the SOURCE.
http://www.ethicsrulings.state.pa.us/Index.asp?documentID=36917&FolderID=1&SearchHandle=5&DocViewType=ShowImage&LeftPaneType=Hidden&dbid=0&page=1

October 13, 2007 at 11:27 AM 
Anonymous Wallflower said...

Under Anonymous, I previously posted a challenge to bloggers questioning the potential conflict of interest with Michael Levin serving as the new solicitor to Penn Delco School Board.

Bloggers, you may also want to check out CV 98-2768; United States District Court for Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Opinion and Order by Lowell A. Reed, Jr., S.J, dated October 13, 1999. Attorney Michael Levin’s role as counsel for the PSBA Insurance Trust and as named counsel for the defendant district (Marple Newtown School District) was questioned by Middle Eastern District Judge Lowell A. Reed in the matter of Sciotto v Marple Newtown School District.

In denying attorney Levin’s amicus curiae motion submitted on behalf of the PSBA Insurance Trust, Judge Reed opined:

“If that were not enough, counsel for the petitioner [PSBA Insurance Trust] has already entered an appearance on behalf of Marple Newtown, see Appearance of Michael I. Levin for Defendant Marple Newtown School District....Fourth, the petitioner cannot be said to be impartial in the matter before the Court. Petitioner [PSBA Insurance Trust], as an association of school district insurers, has a specific pecuniary interest in the defendant’s perspective in this particular case......”

See the SOURCE: http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/documents/opinions/99D0839P.pdf

Wallflower

October 13, 2007 at 11:59 AM 
Anonymous John Doe 6 said...

Being called a chicken and by someone who refuses to "name" himself is a hoot.

LMAO! Like being called an idiot by a moron!


Hey, I wonder if Sereni is going to come here and sue us all for libel?! “Message board posters John Doe 1 & 2 called me names and hurt my feelings…” (snicker)
How anyone could defend an arrogant jerk like that is beyond me.
That’s right, I just called Mark Sereni an arrogant jerk. So sue me. I defy any Delco jury to find that libelous. (Well, except for his whacky apologists on this board. But how many of them could get themselves loaded on our jury, really?) I could bring the minutes from the PD Board meetings as my defense evidence!

October 15, 2007 at 10:50 AM 
Blogger Pro Christ Pro Gun said...

Hi John Doe:

Sereni is going to sue us all. LOL!

October 15, 2007 at 11:54 AM 
Anonymous randal said...

“They made my son look at me funny with what they said and it hurt my standing in my household!”

LOL!

October 15, 2007 at 12:25 PM 
Anonymous Daughter of John Doe 6 said...

Dear Dad aka John Doe 6,

You should spend more time worrying about and trying to help me, and less time taking your frustrations out on others.

Love,
Your daughter

October 15, 2007 at 7:19 PM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home