More than two years after the creation of Haverford Township’s LGBT-inclusive human-relations ordinance, members of a panel that enforces the ordinance haven’t received state training.
Louis M. DeVecchis 3d, an openly gay township resident, said the panel’s seven members should be trained by the state Human Relations Commission as soon as possible.
“It’s important for the members to be properly trained,” DeVecchis said. “People who file antibias complaints in Haverford must have confidence that their complaints will be investigated properly.”
Haverford solicitor James J. Byrne Jr. said he’s met with the panel and explained their duties under the law.
“I’ve met with the [panel] on one occasion, to discuss the workings of the [panel],” Byrne told PGN. “I guess you could call that a training. And we have not had anything else on the agenda since then.”
Shannon Powers, a spokesperson for the state Human Relations Commission, encouraged Haverford to take advantage of the state training.
“We’re talking about serious legal issues, and people’s lives, people who have been really harmed in horrific ways,” Powers said. “We can offer comprehensive training, presented by a person who has extensive expertise in resolving human-relations complaints.”
Haverford’s ordinance that established the panel was enacted in February 2011. The ordinance bans discrimination in employment, housing, commercial property and public accommodations in the township and allows for penalties of up to $5,000 per discriminatory act.
Court dismisses challenge to Conshy law
A three-judge panel of Commonwealth Court has dismissed James D. Schneller’s legal challenge of Conshohocken’s LGBT-inclusive antibias ordinance.
Schneller filed the challenge in November 2012, claiming the borough discriminated against him as a Christian when it enacted the ordinance in April 2011.
He also claimed retaliation against him for expressing his Christian views at borough-council meetings.
But in a nine-page ruling issued Aug. 21, the court dismissed Schneller’s claims as meritless.
The judges who issued the ruling are Patricia A. McCullough, Dan Pellegrini and Robert Simpson.
Schneller couldn’t be reached for comment.
Borough solicitor Michael J. Savona expressed satisfaction with the court’s ruling.
“We’re pleased with the court’s decision,” Savona told PGN. “Borough council is now in a better position to pursue its claims for reimbursement of attorney fees and costs against Mr. Schneller.”
He said the borough is seeking at least $18,000 in legal fees and costs from Schneller, who has embroiled the council in litigation over the ordinance for two years.
“The amount claimed by the borough may have increased due to the litigation that has ensued since we filed the claim last September,” Savona added.
He said the reimbursement case will be assigned to an arbitration board.
The ordinance challenged by Schneller grants civil-rights protections to LGBTs and other groups in the areas of housing, employment, public education and public accommodations.
— Timothy Cwiek