Tues. March 26, 1985 Editorial
reprinted with permission

The appearance

of a conflict

Daniel M. Daugherty, president of West View Borough Council, has a fine record of service to the borough as an elected official. He has been on council 16 years. He has served as its president for the past 10 years.

Last week, Daugherty began serving West View in an additional way, as a paid full-time administrator for the West View Water Authority and that raises some questions.

The authority supplies water to most of the North Hills, but remains based in the borough where it originated 43 years ago. In his new job, Daugherty will be second in command; his title is assistant executive director, Richard R. Powell is executive director.

Can Daugherty wear two hats and not be caught in a conflict of interest? Maybe, but at the very least, he needs to walk a fine line.

Indeed, there may not be legal conflict of interest at this point, as claimed by Daugherty and Fred E. Baxter Jr., solicitor for borough council and for the authority. But let’s speculate about the future.

Borough council has the power to appoint members to the authority’s board of directors. The five directors, who are not paid, are responsible for the overall Operation of the authority.

Even if Daugherty excuses himself from voting on future appointments or re-appointments of authority directors, he remains a target for conflict of interest charges as long as he remains on council.

Daugherty would be smart to render his council seat or at least not seek re-election this year. As long as he attempts to be both an elected and appointed official, he will leave the door open to public mistrust.

There is no doubt the borough and the authority have been closely aligned for years. In the past,former council members have been appointed to the authority’s board of directors. Borough council and the authority board have the same solicitor.

But, the current situation is too uncomfortable.

West View’s Borough Manager Harry Gruener also is a member of the authority’s board of directors. No problem there. However, as the paid borough manager, Gruener is answerable to borough council, of which Daugherty is president. At the same time, Daugherty is indirectly answerable to Gruener as a member of the authority’s board, currently its vice chairman.

No matter how dedicated each of these men is, and despite their integrity, such rotating of roles could hurt their independence. At the very least, it may damage their credibility in the eyes of the public.