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Allegheny County Council won’t censure Councilor Tom Duerr

Jared Murphy
90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Council dropped a motion to censure one of its own members. The move followed a contentious county council meeting Tuesday night.

Council president Pat Catena sponsored the motion to censure council member Tom Duerr.

Duerr used an expletive to refer to fellow council member John Palmiere after a March 22 meeting. Duerr was surprised that Palmiere and others voted to reject appointments to the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority board and the Jail Oversight Board. None of the eight members who voted against the appointments brought their concerns to earlier committee meetings.

In the censure, Catena said the outburst was “detrimental to County Council.”

If passed, Duerr would have been required to apologize to Palmiere on the record no later than the council’s next meeting, and “refrain from any such public behavior at all times in the future.”

Duerr issued a public apology and said he apologized to Palmiere over email as well.

“While I was, and continue to be, extremely upset about the conduct surrounding many of my colleagues’ votes at that meeting, I clearly should have been more selective with my words during our interaction, and for that I am sorry,” Duerr said in a statement.

At Tuesday’s meeting, he said he stood by the frustrations he expressed to Palmiere.

“I will not for one second apologize for holding any member of this council accountable to acting in a transparent and an aboveboard manner,” he said. “This censure is a joke. If [council member DeWitt Walton] got censured every time he said a swear word behind closed doors, all we would do is censure council members.”

Duerr asked council to be more transparent about their decisions in the future. He also agreed to sit down with Palmiere and Catena to discuss the situation further.

Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at