Access McCandless has obtained e-mail correspondence sent to Town Council from a local resident who witnessed the recent kerfuffle that took place at Hosack Elementary School on November 7, 2017 between McCandless Town Councilman Steve Mertz and three school-aged children. The incident was recently published in a Tribune-Review article titled, “Dad accuses McCandless Councilman of profane tirade against his kids,” where Mertz reportedly admitted directing “profanity-laced” insults at three school-age children, according to Trib reporter Tony LaRussa.
The e-mail, addressed to Council President Gerard Aufman, set into motion an investigation by Allegheny County Police detectives who were informed of the incident by McCandless Police Chief David DiSanti. County Detectives began the investigation on Novmber 18, 2017, as a direct result of the e-mail.
Email sent to Council President Gerard Aufman (*at the request of the complainant , the name has been redacted by Access McCandless):
In the e-mail, the complainant mentions that Mr. Mertz “verbally abused a 14-year-old child at the entrance to the polling place.” The complainant goes on to state that “I saw Mr. Mertz pointing and yelling from my viewpoint right in the hallway. I opened the door to go out and heard Mertz calling this kid a f**** a**hole.”
Access McCandless sent an e-mail to Councilman Mertz on Tuesday, December 19 requesting a statement regarding this matter. We asked him to provide an account of the incident and included several questions to which he responded. His responses can be found here*
(*Please note that although Mr. Mertz has mentioned the three minor children by name on social media and in his response here, Access McCandless has redacted the names.)
Access McCandless spoke with Don Mueller, the father of the three children in question to discuss the incident. “My children challenged Mr. Mertz on his views,” he said, “they are not shrinking violets. They are aware of current events.” Mueller went on to assert that Mertz also disparaged the McCandless Police Department and members of St. Alexis Church. “He told my children that the McCandless Police Department pulls over “whomever they want for whatever they want,” characterizing them as “bullies,” and “Anyone I’ve ever known who goes to St. Alexis Church is a nutjob.” Mr. Mertz responds to those allegations here
Mertz has been actively discussing the incident on social media in recent days, where he claimed that “their parents are teaching them to be like that” and that the “parents would have probably been chanting right alongside them,” referring to the alleged comments that the children made regarding Muslims, while others in the community who support Mr. Mertz referred to the family as “weirdos” and one claiming that it was a “planned” event.
Regarding the article in the Tribune-Review, Mertz claims that the reporter was not accurate. “That sentence is very misleading. I did not admit to a profanity laced tirade against school children.”
He also contends that “unsupervised teenagers” were “promoting hate against gays and Muslims at a polling station” and that two of the children were “illegally standing inside only 3 feet away from the polling doors.” Mertz also criticizes the Mueller’s homeschooling their children. “Still not sure how I feel about 6 siblings, 2 parents and an occasional inlaw living in a 3 bedroom house, especially when they don’t ever get away from each other at school.”
McCandless Town Council meetings will reconvene on January 22, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. There is no indication of whether Council will address the situation at the meeting.