Filmmaker, auditor address City Council

 In separate presentations, both voice enthusiasm for Coatesville

Updated at 4:30 p.m. with the fire chief’s news release on the FEMA grant

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

Ozzie Feliciano told City Council that

Ozzie Feliciano told City Council that he chose Coatesville to film the pilot and first episode of a mini-series he created because he loves the city.

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, the agenda included the promise of improved financial accounting – and cinematic recognition.

First, the five council members present – Jarrell Brazzle and Jeff LoPrinzi were absent – heard a presentation from Oswaldo “Ozzie” Feliciano, the creator and producer of a Coatesville-based mini-series called “Peace-by-Piece.” Feliciano said he was seeking the group’s blessing for the project, which he received.

Feliciano said the fictional story involves Coatesville Police Detective AnnMarie Kersey – a direct descendant of a Coatesville founder – who investigates the double homicide of the city’s state representative, Willie Williams, and his wife, Patricia. As Kersey investigates the crime, she unearths a dispute between the victims and one of the city’s most prominent churches, which appears to be operating a criminal enterprise. The film’s star? “The police department,” he said.

Asked whether the city would benefit monetarily, Feliciano said he is hoping the project will be picked up by Netflix or Amazon, both of which have expressed interest. He said his small production company would not profit without a distributor. “I guarantee you that we’ll definitely make a contribution to Coatesville and its Parks Department” if a deal materializes, he said.

Feliciano said he wanted Council’s support to ensure that he would have access for filming. He said he has lived in the area for 12 years and loves the city because it reminds him of himself: sometimes misconstrued. Feliciano, a former Philadelphia police officer who was charged with theft and terminated in 1994, said he was reinstated amid litigation, but a Philadelphia Police Department spokeswoman said she had no record of the reinstatement.

Initially, some of the cast expressed reluctance about the project’s venue after reading about Coatesville, Feliciano said. “I made it clear. If it’s not filmed in Coatesville, it’s not filmed at all,” he said. He said he expected to begin filming this summer, an extension of several months over his January prediction that cameras would begin rolling in March. He said the cast includes Joey D’Onofrio, who starred as young Tommy in “Goodfellas,” Lou Martini Jr., who played Anthony Infante in “The Sopranos;” Anthony Mangano, whose credits include TV’s “Person of Interest;” and John Canada Terrell, who had a starring role in Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It.”

City Council also received an enthusiastic report from Pam Baker on the 2012 audit. “There has been a tremendous effort to get you moving in the right direction,” she said, praising the staff’s willingness to improve procedures.

In response to questions from City Council President David Collins, Baker gave the Finance Department an “A” for effort, and a “B-“ for its current status. “It’s not a clean audit,” she said. However, she explained that bank accounts were still being reconciled and the groundwork was being laid to produce better results next year.

Council accepted a $40,660 2012 FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant. It will require a 5 percent match from the city for training programs that will be split between volunteer and paid firefighters, said Acting Fire Chief Jim Lentz. He said the city’s cost likely would not exceed $1,000.

In a news release on Wednesday, Lentz said he wanted to extend thanks to the elected federal officials for their continued support  in maintaining this program. “The collaboration amid the multiple agencies that make up the Coatesville Fire Department has been extraordinary to say the least. I would like to thank all of the career and volunteer personnel that supported this endeavor,”  Lentz wrote. “Your actions will clearly support our goal in keeping all of our first responders and our residents safe.”

Police Chief Jack Laufer got a go-ahead from City Council to move forward with a 2013 COPS grant that would pay 75 percent of a new officer’s salary for three years. Laufer said the new hire would not occur until 2014.

City Manager Kirby A. Hudson received approval to select an auctioneer for two city-owned properties that aren’t being used: a West Brandywine Township tract that contains about 63 usable acres and a 20-acre parcel in Valley Township.

Following a discussion on the need to raise fees for street closures prompted by events such as block parties, City Council once again heard concerns about the lack of parking in Cambria Terrace, where the roads are not wide enough to handle on-street parking without creating a hazard for emergency vehicles.

Hudson said efforts to remedy the situation have been hampered by poor communication with Habitat for Humanity, which is building the development. Hudson said the roads have not yet been turned over the city. No-parking signs were erected after Lentz deemed the parking a fire-safety hazard; however, Lentz said he had yet to receive written confirmation from Chip Huston, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, that the signs were in place. Laufer said written warning notices were given to residents illegally parked last week, and he suggested enforcing the ban.

But Hudson said residents had complained because Huston had not explained the city’s reason for the parking ban. “The city is being thrown under the bus,” Hudson said, prompting agreement that more communication with the homeowners was needed.

At Lentz’s suggestion, Council agreed to approve parking on a section of Oak Street that backs up to Cambria Terrace and had previously prohibited parking.

In closing remarks, Councilwoman C. Arvilla Hunt offered “a shout-out to Chief Laufer and the Police Department” for their tireless efforts to find Tiffany McDaniels, a 14-year-old girl who was missing for 11 days before Coatesville police picked her up in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Collins singled out the Finance Department for praise, citing “a combined letter grade” of B+. “The City of Coatesville is moving forward,” he said.

After the meeting, Laufer and Hudson declined to comment on the recent departure of Coatesville Police Officer Amy W. Nicholl beyond acknowledging her resignation, which was effective April 25. Hudson also said a lawsuit filed by Nicholl had been settled. Laufer said Nicholl’s position will not be immediately filled; instead, the hours she worked will be absorbed by the part-time officers expected to be hired next month.

In the suit, Nicholl described a sexist work environment, alleging salacious behavior by more than half a dozen male colleagues. The suit also said that Nicholl’s cellphone was seized illegally after she acknowledged having a consensual sexual relationship with former Lt. Chris McEvoy, and that incriminating data was erased.

County prosecutors said the Attorney General’s Office began investigating the allegations in March 2012, but Dennis Fisher, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said Wednesday that office policy prevented him from confirming or denying the existence of an investigation.

On April 23, a federal judge dismissed defendants Julius Canale, a former Coatesville police chief; retired officers Rita Shesko, Gerald Pawling, and Martin Quinn; and former labor counsel, Christopher Gerber, from the suit. The next day, the suit was dismissed after “the issues between the parties” were settled, court records said.



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