Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Leonhauser votes against restoring chief of police

The Republicans may have begun to see their campaign promises unravel at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors. Only about 12 percent of all registered voters in Middletown Township cast their ballots for Gallagher, Mallon and Kreiling. The entire Township will probably be paying dearly after so many voters stayed home on Election Day.

During a budget discussion, they found that their ideas for hiring more police officers without increasing the budget were like smoke in the wind. The police department’s $9.2M budget represents 66% of the overall township budget, with the next closest department coming in at $1.9M, or 14% of the budget. With the township manager proposing flat revenue and flat expenses for 2010, we have a shortfall of $3M. That is without hiring more police officers.

So, with the budget already falling short (meaning a tax increase), how can the township afford hiring more officers with no tax increase (as the Republicans promised)? Additionally, their campaign promised to “dedicate all community policing revenue earned at the Oxford Valley Mall, Sesame Place, and special events to the police budget – not to the general Township operating funds.” The Township Manager confirmed last night that this revenue is ALREADY allocated to the police budget so there is no silver bullet there either. What really surprised us is that Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Kreiling seemed shocked that their campaign promises may have had no merit (Mr. Mallon did not attend the meeting). This shock would seem to indicate they might have actually believed their campaign bluster. That’s scary!

Earlier George Leonhauser made a mockery of their campaign promise to restore the position of chief in the Police Department. In an attempt to acquiesce to what was reported to be the wishes of those who voted on November 3, Supervisor Robert McMonagle introduced a motion to abolish the resolution creating the position of public safety director and restore the position of chief.

Mr. Leonhauser should have been delighted, right? Final vote, 4-1 with Mr. Leonhauser voting against the motion.

One final observation: during the meeting, Mr. Leonhauser referenced that the newly elected Republican supervisors would be “in power” soon. Those two words (“in power”) represent most of what is wrong with politics today. Politicians are not elected “to power.” They are elected “to serve.” If more politicians remembered this key difference, more might be accomplished in government. We hope that Mr. Gallagher, Mr. Kreiling, and Mr. Mallon do not share Mr. Leonhauser’s feeling that they were elected to be “in power.” We hope they will be there “to serve” all residents of Middletown Township.

Friday, November 6, 2009

In the Arena

Middletown Township residents were either lied to or misled by at least two of the supervisor candidates elected on Tuesday. That fact alone means that it is now more important than ever to monitor the newly elected Republican majority closely as they are sworn in and take office at the January reorganization meeting.

Bookmark this site and together with your help we will keep the community informed and hold our supervisors accountable to every last word they printed or said during the campaign. If warranted, we will also illuminate their abuses over the next two years – and, if we rally enough support for the lone Democrat on the Board, Robert McMonagle, maybe there will be times where we can even stop them.

Mr. Gallagher Mr. Mallon and Mr. Kreiling said they want to hire up to 10 more police officers without raising taxes. As residents, we immediately need to start asking how they going to do that? We’ve suffered through double-digit tax increases from them before. Under Republican control, we went through tax hikes of 15.3% in 2006, 18.3% in 2007, and 11.3% in 2008. When Democrats regained the majority on the board, the 2009 tax increase was limited to 6.7%. After three years of double-digit increases, Democratic leaders got spending under control.

Now, we have returned to a Republican majority on the board. A big reason for those tax increases in 2006, 2007, and 2008 was, under a Republican majority on the board, there was no oversight of the out-of-control police department budget. In 2008, overtime for the police department shot up to $1.1 million, with the sergeants on the force leading the charge by raking in an average of $130,000 per year. One sergeant even went over $165,000! If we are to believe our opponents are correct in saying only four officers are on duty at a time (when our police force totals over 50 people), how can we, as taxpayers, justify this kind of spending. Further, with over 50 officers on the force and assuming only four are working at any given time, this would seem to indicate that no officer is working anywhere near a full-time schedule for a 6-figure pay package. How can that be right? Our community is currently outraged over teacher salaries, which average less than the police department and, using the numbers published by our opponents during the election, teachers are working many more hours. Again, how can that be correct or even possible?

A new contract for the Middletown Township Police Department will be negotiated next year. It’s time to ask ourselves why friends and family members of certain police officers worked so hard to get our new supervisors elected. If the police wives and emergency services workers who were at the polls on Election Day were truly “non-political” as we heard them claim all day, consider these questions:

1. Why did those police wives and other emergency services workers claim they were organizing “as a result of recent campaign literature,” when, as early as July 2009 and possibly earlier, they were holding meetings to discuss defeating the entire Democratic ticket?
2. Why were they pushing the entire Republican ticket? How did endorsing candidates for auditor, tax collector, and constable contribute to public safety?
3. Why were there no attempts to talk to the Democratic candidates about their public safety concerns in order to endorse those individual candidates that best reflected their point of view?

The answer to these questions is simple: follow the money. Our newly elected supervisors, along with current supervisor George Leonhauser, have promised to protect the culture of entitlement that a handful of officers in the department demand. They have promised not to safeguard the financial interests of the township and taxpayers, but instead to safeguard the financial interests of these members of the police department.

To repeat what we said during the campaign: “Ninety percent of the members of the Middletown Police Department are honest, hardworking men and women of the highest integrity; a credit to the uniform and a source of pride to our Township. We salute you. But, as in any large organization, there is always a small group that will resist any form of progress or management by disrupting operations, abusing authority, and fighting to maintain an impossible status quo. The rest of the force is embarrassed by them, and many have said so, but would never do so publicly.”

We know that addressing concerns about public safety will be a priority of our new board of supervisors. For the good of the township, we hope they will address these concerns in conjunction with doing something about the arrogance displayed by and entitlement demanded by this small group within the police department. We cannot address public safety without addressing the corruption that exists in and disruption that is caused by a small segment of our police department.

We will keep you informed and highlight important issues that impact your township in this blog. It is up to you to do something with that information and make a difference in our community.

We are proud of the work we did over the last two years to try to get Middletown Township back on a stable course – where problems and needs of residents were addressed without skyrocketing budget increases. In the end, the bluster of our critics won out. So today I will leave you with this quote from a speech President Theodore Roosevelt made on April 23, 1910;

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”