Mount Oliver civil rights lawsuit over council seat settled

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A civil rights lawsuit over a Mount Oliver council seat was settled for $50,000 by a vote of that body last night.

Betty "Billie" Michener, now the council president, filed the lawsuit in June 2011, after her seat was declared to be abandoned by a vote of her colleagues. They said she had stopped attending regular council meetings, while she countered that her colleagues had harassed her to the point of illness.

Her attorney, Lawrence Fisher, had argued in a complaint in U.S. District Court that the vote to oust her was illegal because state statute allows for removal of elected officials for "infamous crime" only.

The vote to pay the settlement was 3-0, borough staff confirmed. Ms. Michener abstaining and three members were absent.

"Prior to initiating this federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Mrs. Michener, she was a disenfranchised Mount Oliver councilwoman; now, she is borough council president and her civil rights have been vindicated by a $50,000 settlement," wrote Mr. Fisher in a statement today.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord


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