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York County releases confidential settlement, remains mum on details
The details of a $30,000 settlement between a Harrisburg activist and York County remain unclear, even after the county released the confidential agreement in response to a Right-to-Know Law request.
The York Dispatch obtained the agreement between Harrisburg activist Gene Stilp and York County on Friday, July 27. The settlement stemmed from an incident in 2017 in which Stilp was denied a permit to burn a hybrid Confederate-Nazi flag outside the York County Judicial Center.
In a Wednesday, July 18, York County Commissioners meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved the settlement agreement that would leave Stilp, also a former congressional candidate, with $30,000 of the county's money.
However, citing a confidentiality clause in the agreement, county officials declined to comment about the details of the settlement.
Background: In a letter from county solicitor Glenn Smith to Stilp, Smith cited an ordinance requiring that "any person who desires to congregate, assemble or use county property" must make such request in a letter at least 60 days in advance of the desired time of use and include a check for $100.
Stilp sued in federal court, and said Tuesday, Feb. 27, that he and the county had come to an agreement allowing him to hold his demonstration and requiring the county to change its ordinance.
Stilp held the flag burning Wednesday, Feb. 28, but the county this week declined to discuss the status of the ordinance as it's still under review, said county spokesman Mark Walters.
Smith, the county solicitor, couldn't be reached for comment to elaborate on whether the ordinance will be changed.
Some documents released: After the July commissioners' meeting, The York Dispatch filed a Right-to-Know Law request for documents related to the settlement and any correspondence between Stilp or his representative and the county.
In the July 27 response from the solicitor's office to the Right-to-Know law request, the office declined to supply any correspondence between the two parties, citing attorney-client privilege.
However, the office provided a copy of the agreement.
The settlement states the county agrees to pay Stilp $30,000 and that neither party can speak about the agreement.
The settlement also requires that Stilp release the county and its representatives of any claims the activist made and that "no further claims can be made, no further litigation may be brought and no recovery may be had for damages, injuries, costs or expenses, whether known or unknown at the time this agreement was executed."
Legal experts say such a clause is standard in similar such agreements.
Scott Lineberry, a civil litigation attorney with Griest, Himes, Herrold, Reynosa LLP in York City, said nothing stood out about the deal after reading through the five-page agreement.
"Boilerplate is a very good description (of the agreement)," Lineberry said. "There's nothing that stood out based upon my reading."
He added that it's "fairly typical" for settlement agreements to have nondisclosure clauses.