Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Politics of Disruption

As we were leaving the township meeting Tuesday evening, a resident walking out with us said, “How do you guys manage to get anything done with that guy on the Board?” He was referring to Supervisor George Leonhauser, who takes every opportunity to disrupt or poison discussions of issues that are often vital to the efficient and cost-effective operation of government.

This gentleman, whom I had never met before, even went on to note that Leonhauser seems to “object to anything that may be good for the township.”

He doesn’t know the half of it. Leonhauser is a former Middletown Township police officer who retired on a disability and is being paid nearly $80,000 a year tax free. He’s a guy who sees nothing wrong with the fact that more than $1 million in overtime was paid to Middletown cops last year while all other departments combined only racked up $85,000 in OT. He’s a guy who has no problem with a police officer making over $160,000 a year and is always eager to thwart our efforts to bring the department under control.

When we were interviewing candidates for the new position of Public Safety Director – a move Leonhauser vehemently opposed – he did all in his power to sabotage the process, sending out e-mails to potential candidates to discourage them from coming here or to their superiors letting them know they had applied. His dissemination of confidential material has become so disruptive that it has become virtually impossible to hold executive sessions on personnel or contract matters.

It was Leonhauser who politicized the tragic death of Det. Chris Jones. Fortunately those who initially supported his efforts to demonize some elected and appointed public officials who haven’t bent to his will recognized how poorly this reflected on the memory of Det. Jones and the honor he deserves. Residents familiar with the controversy were almost uniformly appalled over his antics.

In the words of one of my colleagues, one can only conclude that Leonhauser’s sole motive “is to tear down the Board of Supervisors in some ill-contrived effort to elect more people like him.” Residents should be careful to identify those candidates with whom Leonhauser has aligned himself to protect their tax dollars and the integrity of their local government.

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