Lawsuit: Reading mayor scuttled York City job for former employee

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
York City Council President Henry Nixon tells Tonya Thompson-Morgan, not shown, she is out of line during a town hall meeting concerning Mayor Michael Helfrich's hiring of Blanda Nace as chief opportunity development officer, Monday, June 24, 2019. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

The former managing director for Reading is suing that city's mayor, alleging the man sabotaged his bid to become York City's next business administrator.

Glenn Steckman was poised to become York City's next business administrator in January, before his application was tossed and the city later appointed Thomas Ray as acting business administrator.

In a lawsuit filed in July by Sam Dion, a Philadelphia-based attorney, Steckman alleges Reading Mayor Wally Scott lied to York City officials about him being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for bid rigging, killing his chances of being hired.

More:York City Council delays vote on business administrator candidate

Dion, when reached Wednesday, said there is no physical or electronic proof that Scott tipped the Helfrich administration off, but that doesn't mean the case isn't going anywhere.

"There was just what my client was told," Dion said, adding Scott was served the details of the lawsuit on Tuesday and the alleged claims about an FBI investigation are patently untrue. "What other proof do you need?"

Steckman and two other department heads were fired in September 2018, The Reading Eagle reported. The move came after Steckman threw out bids for construction of two new fire stations.

The lawsuit claims the mayor wanted to work around bidding criteria and the decision made by the bidding committee after all bids were ranked because he wanted to go with the lowest bidder.

Steckman disagreed with the mayor and instead asserted it would end up being the most expensive bid for the job. Steckman opted to rebid the project, leading to Scott firing him, the lawsuit alleges.

Scott declined to comment on Wednesday about whether he specifically spoke about an FBI investigation with York City officials. But he did confirm he told officials the truth when they inquired about Steckman and when York City later sent an investigator to speak to him. 

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich, on the other hand, said he has never spoken with Scott and has no knowledge of any city officials' communications with the Reading mayor. He also said he has not heard of an investigator being sent to speak about Steckman.

York City Council members did, however, express disapproval of Steckman because of a possible FBI investigation, Helfrich added.

"It was a concern shared by council members," Helfrich said. "The reason I passed (Steckman) up is because I did not believe I had the votes on council.”

No City Council members responded to requests for comment made Wednesday and Thursday.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.