Friday, April 24, 2009

Earth Day in Middletown

I will be at Middletown Township’s Earth Day Celebration tomorrow and hope to greet some of the 1,800 or more people who will be attending the annual tribute to efforts to heal our planet. It is being held in Core Creek Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be followed by a tree planting at Middletown Community Park.

Visitors will be able to learn how to make their homes more energy efficient, visit information tables on environmental issues from recycling to pollution, and from storm water management to sustainable gardening. There will be a host of other information tables, games for children and entertainment.

This is just one of a myriad of great activities sponsored by our Department of Parks and Recreation – and part of what makes Middletown Township such a great place to live, raise a family and retire.

To learn more about our activities, you can sign up for an e-mail newsletter on the Middletown Township Web site or download a complete summer calendar.

So if you visit the Earth Day celebration, please stop by the Democratic Party of Middletown Township table and say hi to supervisor candidates Julie Sauerbry-Smith, Harry Arnold and me. We will be giving out seed packets – Forget Me Nots, of course – and raffling off three large trees.

Monday, April 20, 2009

League of Women Voters Questionnaire

Candidates for office received this questionnaire which will be published in the newspaper to give voters a snapshot of their background's and qualifications for office. Below is an advance of the answers I provided.
My hope is that this blog forum will provide helpful answers to questions and spark constructive debate on issues related to the
Middletown Supervisors' race.

EDUCATION: Pierce College, Philadelphia –A.S., Business Administration
OCCUPATION: Telecommunications
QUALIFICATIONS FOR OFFICE: President/Treasurer for Non-Profit children’s charity. Served on Middletown Telecommunications Advisory Board and Zoning Hearing Board. Lifetime resident and homeowner with a solid foundation in community service and activism.

What do you consider to be the most important issues facing your community, and how would you address them?
Misguided partisan politics and frivolous lawsuits have disrupted operations in the township. I will work to end the politics of fear & smear and return government to the people. I will represent all residents by listening to, learning from and serving them. I will address quality of life issues; improve recycling and solid waste services, while working to keep taxes at a minimum. I pledge to vote only in the best interests of the taxpayers.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Responses to League of Women Voters of Bucks County

I received a Voter Guide Questionnaire from the League of Women Voters of Bucks County a few days ago, and I spent time completing this last night. The most difficult part of completing this form was limiting my complete response to 125 words or less! If the residents of Middletown Township chose to elect me to represent their interests, they most certainly need to know more than 125 words about me, my education, background, qualifications, and views about our Township. Included below is a slightly longer version of the answers I submitted to the League of Women Voters today:

1. Education:
Graduate of Neshaminy High School (1992) and High Point University (1996) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and a Bachelor of Science degree Computer Information Systems.

2. Occupation:
President of marketing services firm in Langhorne.

3. Qualifications for Office:
Lifelong resident of Middletown Township, homeowner, and president of a Langhorne company. Running a small business has provided me with extensive experience in planning, budgeting, managing people, and solving complex problems. On a daily basis, I interface with a wide variety of audiences, including clients, vendors, board members, employees, volunteers, local officials, and partners, and am very adept and adjusting to the different needs and styles of all of these groups to work effectively with them and accomplish goals.

I have also applied many of these same skills to an industry association, where I have been an active board member for five years and was named “Planner of the Year” in 2006.

4. Most Important Issues Facing Community and How I Would Address Them:
Middletown Township is a great community and I believe the most important issues are “quality of life” issues:

a. Solving traffic issues through responsible land development and re-engineering of difficult traffic patterns.
b. Responsibly protecting our environment, primarily by protecting our limited remaining open space.
c. Attracting new businesses to fill empty buildings with incentives appropriate for our community.
d. Ensuring adequate park and recreation facilities for families, children, and young adults through effective dialog with residents and careful planning with all appropriate members of the community and our local government.

Most importantly, we must accomplish all Township goals, manage all Township activities, and develop our Township within the
current financial means of our residents.

If these are the same issues that are important to you and your family, and you have ideas to solve them, I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Defining the Issues

I just finished answering a questionnaire for the League of Women Voters of Bucks County. In response to their question, “What do you consider the most important issues facing your community and how would you address them? (In 75 words or less)” I answered, “Traffic congestion is one of the major problems in Middletown. We must continue our aggressive approach to protect remaining undeveloped parcels of land to reduce the potential for additional development, which contributes to traffic congestion. We must also work with other municipalities and our traffic engineer to create ways to move traffic more efficiently and eliminate bottlenecks – which has proved successful in several areas we tackled during my time in office.”

The 75-word restriction was … well, restricting. I have learned during my last almost 18 months on the Board of Supervisors, that there is a whole host of problems that must be addressed, Prioritizing them is a difficult task itself.

This is not to say Middletown Township isn’t a premier municipality worthy of respect and admiration. It is. In my estimation, it is one of the top communities in the country. A great place to live, raise a family and retire in.

Facing up to the fact that there are problems that need to be addressed only means that one is willing to put the effort into defining what flaws exist and determining ways to correct them to pass on an even greater community than one inherited.

One of the biggest problems we addressed in the past year and a half was what was described by one investigator from Harrisburg as a dysfunctional administration in the police department. We have a number of outstanding police officers, some of whom would admit off the record many of the problems that existed in the administration. These problems affected morale as well as the overall safety of our residents.

As a result, the Democratic majority on the Board voted to create the position of Public Safety Director to replace the position of Chief when Chief McKenna retired at the end of January of this year. Pat McGinty has been in the position of Acting Public Safety Director for only a few months now and already some of the problems have been addressed and corrected. I am confident this move is leading to a much more efficient and effective police force. I am also confident that those within the department who are truly dedicated to protecting the residents of Middletown Township are quietly cheering.

The Director of Public Safety oversees the fire and emergency services as well as the police department. There are four fire companies that provide service to Middletown Township organized under an entity called the Skyline Fire District. We know that there are a number of issues that Acting PSD McGinty and the Supervisors will have to address in the coming months regarding how the taxes allocated for fire services are utilized and options that are available that could ultimately lead to reductions in the cost of homeowners insurance.

We will be addressing these and other issues in the weeks and months ahead, but we are most interested in what you, as a resident of Middletown Township, think are the most important issues that need to be addressed. You are welcome to submit a comment to this blog. And, Julie, Harry and I will be out knocking on doors throughout the campaign, so please don’t hesitate to let is know what you think.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Destructive Pursuit of Power and Control

I have been asked by several people why Supervisor Kathy Heuer decided not to run for the Board this time. Her reasons highlight why good people who would like nothing better than to server their community shy away from running for public office. What the Republican Party did to her is nothing short of despicable. What follows is her explanation of why she didn’t run – in her own words:

I was appointed to the Middletown Board of Supervisors in April, 2008. Since that time, I have learned a great deal about local government and the operation of the township. I am proud of the work I am doing and the decisions I have made on behalf of all of the residents of Middletown. Public service at this level has been, for the most part, very rewarding.

Unfortunately, not all of it has been rewarding. There are individuals at work in Middletown Township with no real interest in serving the public. Their sole intent seems to be the disruption and destruction of township government in order to gain more power. After weathering three frivolous (and ultimately, failed) lawsuits launched by the Middletown Republican Party and its attorney, Michael Fitzpatrick, I had looked forward to continuing in the job of Township Supervisor; after all, the "evil-doers" had been exposed, albeit, at a cost to the people of nearly $100,000.

I have spent a lifetime of public service in my career as a teacher modeling how children should be empathic towards others.  To witness adults with the attitude of "the end justifies the means" and never mind the whole truth is both a foreign and distasteful concept to me. Their exploitation of a number of emotionally charged issues over the past several months was the final disgrace that sealed my decision not to seek reelection. Those events made it clear that these people will go to any lengths to further their pursuit of power and control. I would never, in my worst nightmare, have imagined so complete an absence of honesty, integrity, or even common decency. I have chosen not to engage them in a campaign for public office, because that is an arena in which they have already revealed their agenda of gaining power at all costs.

Despite all of them, I will continue, for the next nine months, to serve the people of Middletown to the best of my ability. I am confident that, come November, the people will see a clear choice between moving Middletown forward to the benefit of all residents, or being mired in the negative attack politics that seems so typical of the Republican political machine in Middletown Township.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Open Space Opportunity

A committee of Environmental Advisory Board members, a member of the Parks & Recreation Department and a Planning Commission member recently advised the Board of Supervisors that $1,016,324 has been allocated to Middletown Township from the 2008 Bucks County Open Space Bond Initiative for the acquisition of open space.

As they advised,
while there is a significant amount of open space currently preserved [in Middletown Township], protecting the remaining parcels of land will help to reduce the potential for additional development that would contribute to the traffic congestion, threaten the suburban esthetics of the community and place additional stress ont he Township's budget and human resources.
The group suggests the Township should work toward "creating a comprehensive 'system'  of parklands which is evenly distributed throughout the Township..."

Criteria suggested in choosing the parcels to consider for acquisition include land that:
  1. Links to or is contiguious with exisiting open space or parkalnd
  2. Is environmentally fragile, including wetlands and steep slopes
  3. Has potential for public recreation
  4. Acts as a buffer between conflicting uses
  5. Is along a stream or creek
  6. In its undeveloped state maintains the character and beauty of the Township
  7. Left undeveloped will control traffic congestion and environmental stresses
  8. Is 5 acres or more
  9. Is currently or potentially farmland
They identified 6 parcels that are available and meet this criteria. The final plan must be submitted by December 31, 2014, which in the scheme of things isn't really that far off.

There is a lot to consider, not the least of which is the requirement that the municipality match 25% of the grant. This could mean that the Township will have to put up more than $250,000, but that seems like a pretty good bargain to protect more than $1 million worth of open space. What do you think? I am sure the supervisors are very interested in how our residents view this issue.