Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gee, a tax increase for Middletown. What a surprise.

I hope that Middletown residents now realize what their reward is for voting Tom Gallagher, Drew Kreiling and Pat Mallon into office last year. It is no secret that the cops wanted them in and now we know why. According to the Courier Times, "Middletown faces a nearly $2 million deficit in 2011," finance manager Dennis Pemko said. The police department is forecast to cost 12 percent more next year. The annual minimum contribution to the police pension fund could rise to $1.5 million in 2011 from $764,000 in 2010."

At a recent meeting, when asked why this contribution was so high, Pemko said because of the number of officers who have retired on disability pensions. Gallgher, Kreiling and Mallon rushed to approve every one in their first few months in office.

For the last few months, these three along with the cop-in-residence on the Board, George Leonhauser, have been rewarding all their friends with, in some cases, unnecessary contracts, already costing the taxpayers of Middletown thousands of dollars. And now the bill comes in from the police. The cost for the owner of an "average assessed home" next year could be shelling out a whopping $116 more for their tax bill.

Maybe it is time to start laying off some of the cops. As often as one can see them hiding out behind the Department of Public Works building, it should be obvious that a reduction in force is possible without jeopardizing public safety -- that was just a ruse by Gallagher, Kreiling and Mallon to scare voters. Now you can see what the tab is going to be.

Click here to read the full story. If it makes you angry, show up at the next meeting on Monday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m. and let them know about it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The 14 Characteristics of Fascism

Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt recently wrote an article about fascism ("Fascism Anyone?," Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism.

The 14 characteristics are:

Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

Fraudulent Elections
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Cisco Kid and Pancho

At the May 17 meeting, an item on the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors consent agenda provided for the purchase of a tractor with mowers for $96,841. Supervisor Robert McMonagle asked that item be removed. When it came up for discussion, Mr. McMonagle suggested that the equipment should be put out for bid. He felt that in these economic times, the Township should not rely on the state bid list. If the equipment were put out to bid, he said, the Township could perhaps save $10,000 or more.

Mr. McMonagle’s motion carried. The approved bid on this past Monday’s agenda was $86,969. Since both Supervisors Chairman Tom Gallagher and Supervisor George Leonhauser had voted against the motion to bid the tractor, Mr. McMonagle decided to reinforce the notion that bidding an item would always save money by reminding them of the discussion in May.

Rather than acknowledging the validity of the cost-saving measure, Mr. Gallagher turned the fiery red we have all come to love and went into defense mode. I think it was only (only?) a $5,000 savings, he said. After being corrected by Acting Township Manager Debbie Lamanna that it was indeed almost a $10,000 savings, he then went on to say he only wanted to get it approved so it would be ready for grass cutting season, forgetting that the representative of the company that was going to supply the tractor said it probably wouldn’t be delivered until after the summer anyway.

How much overtime did we have to pay because we didn’t have that equipment, Mr. Gallagher huffed. When someone said none, he followed up with How was I to know that we would have a summer so hot that the grass wouldn’t grow much. Are you kidding me?

But wait, as the TV commercials often say, there’s more. Now it is time for the ethics-challenged Mr. Leonhauser to jump in and say, with that evil chuckle of his, well after all it was (former) Township Manager Ray Stepnoski who put the item on the agenda.

Perhaps someone should explain to Mr. Leonhauser – very slowly now – that items on the agenda must either be approved or denied by the Board. It is the responsibility of each and every member of the Board to review agenda items before the meetings and then decide if they have merit or should be questioned.

These two are a better comedy act than the Cisco Kid and his jovial sidekick Pancho. (Google the TV series if you are too young to remember.)

After note: In case anyone hasn’t noticed, there are icons at the end of the blogs now that allow one to e-mail the blog to a friend or post it to a Facebook page. Feel free to do either.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Thugs are in Charge … and Now They Have Their Chief

The mob took over the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors meeting Monday night and proved once and for all that they now rule in Middletown.

I’m not talking about the full-moon crowd that Supervisors Chairman Tom Gallagher whipped into a fury last year and now forms the base of his support. These are the people who have been attending meetings since the beginning of this year, cheering, shouting people down and generally disrupting the meetings. Unfortunately, they have turned Middletown Township into the laughing stock of Bucks County municipalities.

What we saw Monday night was much more serious than that. This mob literally took over the meeting. What was frightening – and yes, as one member of the audience remarked, intimidating – was that a significant number of those comprising this mob were Middletown Township police officers. This was gleefully confirmed by the ethically challenged, former police officer and Supervisor, George Leonhauser.

If you weren’t at the meeting Monday night, you should watch the replays. Meetings are re-broadcast on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 2:00 AM, 10:00 AM and 7:00 PM and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

If you were there, keep in mind that many of those shouting and intimidating members of the audience were officers sworn to protect and serve the residents of Middletown Township. Andrew Flager, a resident of Levittown for 53 years, said he, his wife and several neighbors who came to observe the meeting were intimidated by the behavior of these police officers and their supporters – “especially the women,” he said during the meeting. These are the same people who came out in force last November and openly intimidated people at the polls.

And their greatest supporter is our new chief, James Kane. They now have free reign to continue this behavior. It is indeed a sad day for Middletown Township.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Middletown Township's Tea Party

The tea party mindless automatons were out in force at the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors meeting Monday night to support their hero, Supervisor Chairman Tom Gallagher. I find myself wondering when I attend meetings now whether or not I ended up in some bizarre theater by mistake. It certainly doesn’t resemble what should be the sobering business of discussing what is needed to protect the health, safety and welfare of Middletown Township residents.

Unfortunately, Mr. Gallagher seems unable to carry on a discussion if it doesn’t follow the script given to him by his Tea/Republican Party operatives. Take, for example, when Julie Smith asked Mr. Gallagher why the Board would decide in one of its famous “other business” sessions to appoint, with no discussion, “Divorce Done Right” attorney Tracy Anne Timby as its labor counsel. The faux labor lawyer will be negotiating a new contract with the Policeman’s Benevolent Association this year and the Township needs much more than a divorce lawyer to keep from giving away the keys to the taxpayers’ purse. This is kind of like going to a chiropractor for quadruple bypass surgery. A chiropractor may be great at helping with back pain, but I sure wouldn’t want one carving open my chest.

Did Mr. Gallagher even acknowledge anything Ms. Smith suggested? Of course not. If the questioner isn’t one of his cheering fans, he goes into a catatonic state that is quite scary at times.

Mr. Gallagher should take note. That great movement of government by slogans known as the Tea Party is faltering, as most of these movements with brainless, bullying bigots for leaders inevitably do. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released this week, 50 percent of the respondents said they hold an "unfavorable impression" of this conservative, anti-Obama, anti-government movement – an increase from 39 percent in March. Those with a favorable view dropped from 41 to 36 percent, and those folks with no opinion fell from 20 percent to 14 percent. Put this all together, in the words of Columnist David Corn, and it appears that the more Americans see of the Tea Party, the less they like it.

Maybe, Mr. Gallagher, you should start listening to people with reasoned opinions rather than ramming through the dictates of your handlers. You might actually learn something.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hiding Behind “Other Business”

Middletown Township publishes on its Web site and provides newspapers with the agendas for upcoming meetings of the Board of Supervisors. That way residents can look over the agenda and, if there is nothing of interest to them, they can stay home and watch American Idol, secure in the knowledge that nothing untoward will take place at the meeting.

This current Board, however, is playing a shell game with the agendas. Look back over the agendas for the meetings since they have taken office and they all look pretty bland, containing mainly items dealing with the day-to-day operation of the Township. Business that might be of interest to a large number of citizens is hidden under the title “Other Business.”

Consider these items that were brought up under “Other Business:”

  • On February 16, there was a presentation by the fire companies and a subsequent vote to disband the ad hoc committee on emergency services.
  • On March 1, the job description for the position of police chief was discussed and then a vote was taken to advertise it.
  • On March 15, votes were taken to approve disability retirements for Officer Rosenstein and Officer McDonough, both of which were controversial.
  • On March 15, a vote was taken to change the rate for the Zoning Board attorney, the legality of which is suspect.
  • On April 5, Supervisor H. George Leonhauser posed a number of questions about police hiring requirements to Acting Director of Public Safety Patrick McGinty. There was really no excuse for this not being on the agenda since Mr. Leonhauser requested that Director McGinty attend the April 5 meeting to answer questions.
  • Also on April 5, without any warning or advance discussion, the Middletown Township Police Chief Selection Committee was formed and all members appointed.
  • On May 3, there was a 45-minute presentation by the PBA, a presentation filled with misstatements.
  • And, on May 17, Supervisor Andrew Kreiling nominated a new labor attorney, which, of course, passed muster with this clueless group. This new “labor attorney” is Tracy Anne Timby whose Web site is DivorceDoneRight.com. It is no surprise that negotiations on the new PBA contract begin this year, negotiations that require a tough, experienced labor attorney to reign in on some of the abuses that take place under the current contract.

Middletown Township residents should attend the next meeting and demand the Board of Supervisors stop hiding substantive issues behind the cloak of “Other Business.”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Disingenuous Rage

I don’t know about you, but I never was able to figure out which thimble covered the pea as Middletown Police Officer Steven Forman shuffled and re-shuffled the “facts” during his 40-minute rant at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

But make no mistake: Officer Forman’s disingenuous rage was clearly designed to intimidate anyone with the temerity to question the culture of entitlement that exists among some members of the Middletown Township Police Department. Their contract is up for re-negotiation this year and this is Officer Forman’s first salvo to obfuscate facts that may make Middletown residents question whether we can continue to afford the demands of Officer Forman and his small band of sycophants.

New Board of Supervisor members should familiarize themselves with the Garipoli Report. Last year, the Township entered into an agreement with the Pennsylvania Governor’s Center for Local Government Services to conduct a management review of the Middletown Township Police Department.

The peer-to-peer consultant for the project was Richard F. Garipoli, who is a 33-year veteran of municipal law enforcement in Pennsylvania with a long list of credentials. At the time, he was the Lancaster Police Chief. In one of our meetings, Mr. Garipoli commented on what he called “the generosity of the current contract.” He added he wouldn’t want his officers to get a look at that because his community couldn’t afford it.

More to the point of Officer Forman’s behavior Monday evening, in his official report Mr. Garipoli noted because of the “ugly” lack of respect being accorded PSD McGinty, the “supervisors of the Middletown Township Police Department need to reinstitute this culture back to the officers. Officers should be respectful at all times.”

That ugly lack of respect is indicative of real problems in the Police Department. I would venture to say that in most departments many of Officer Forman’s public rants would fall into the category of conduct unbecoming a police officer. Hopefully the new chief chosen by the Board will enforce some discipline.

We are fortunate, however, in that rmore than half of the Middletown Township Police Department is comprised of proud officers who are embarrassed by Forman, who is only in the position of PBA contract negotiator because he was elected to a job nobody wanted at a meeting that only about a third of the membership attended.

Of course one of the difficulties of gaining control of the department is the fact that Supervisor George Leonhauser is a virtual lobbyist for the Police Department – in direct and continual violation of a State Ethics Commission ruling of March 10, 2008. Because of the fact that Leonhauser has two sons on the force, the Ethics Commission ruled that in any matter that could affect his son’s financial interests, he would be required to not only abstain from voting but he is also prohibited from “using his authority of office, such as discussing, conferring with others or lobbying for a particular result.”

You can make your own judgment on how many times he has violated this part of the ruling. There is no question as to the Ethics Commission’s ruling pertaining to the PBA contract, which was finally ratified by the Board of Supervisors last year:

“Pursuant to Section 1103(a) of the Ethics Act, Leonhauser would have a conflict of interest in voting as to the execution of the finalized” PBA contract. Not only did he vote for its passage, he is also an official signatory to the contract.

This is how little regard Mr. Leonhauser has for the law he is obliged to uphold. It is an attitude that permeates down through Officer Forman and those other members of his posse. If you would like to file a complaint against Mr. Leonhauser, go to the Ethics Commission Web site, and follow the instructions in the box titled “File a Complaint.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Culture of Entitlement Redux

It is obvious from the shock some people expressed at Monday’s meeting of the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors that not enough of our residents are paying attention.

Paying attention to what, you ask? The culture of entitlement that became entrenched in the Middletown Township Police Department during the 25-year career of the last chief of police.

“Shocking” item no. 1: Twenty-one of the past 23 retirees have gone out on disability retirements. As I explained in a previous blog, retirement pensions and permanent disability pensions are addressed in the PBA contract. If an officer has served enough time to retire, he or she will receive a pension equal to 55 percent of wages earned, averaged over the last three years of service.

If, on the other hand, an officer is retired on permanent disability, this pension goes up to 75 percent of the three-year average, which the retiree receives for life – tax free. A prime example of this is Supervisor George Leonhauser, who receives about $80,000 a year on a disability pension – and has for the past 16 years. The disability-pensioner is free to secure other employment; Leonhauser, for example, has a full-time position with the Bucks County Tech School. He also receives a $4,000 per year stipend for being on the board of supervisors.

The last two disability retirements discussed at Monday’s meeting were for two officers, ages 38 and 40, who had torn rotator cuffs. Rotator-cuff surgery has become quite common place and allows a person to attain full function and rotation of the affected shoulder. However, these officers are allowed to refuse surgery – so you and I will be paying them 75 percent of the last three-year average of their salary, tax-free for the rest of their lives, which could be for 40 years or more.

“Shocking” item no. 2: The contract requires anyone who retires on a disability pension to undergo an annual physical from an independent physician chosen by the Township. This way if a disability has been corrected – say, for example, a person with a torn rotator cuff has it repaired – the retiree can be ordered back to work or forfeit his or her pension.

To date, confirmed at Monday’s meeting, none have undergone this annual physical. I know that when Township Manager Raymond Stepnoski attempted to implement this requirement, he ran up against opposition from the Policeman’s Benevolent Association. Perhaps with the backing of the new Republican-controlled Board he will get better results.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

These are your leaders


Can't add a thing to this.... this Wizard of Id cartoon says it all!

This cartoon and the comments above it were e-mailed by Middletown Township Supervisor Drew Kreiling to a number of other Republicans, including Supervisors Pat Mallon, George Leonhauser and Tom Gallagher.

It is repugnant on a number of levels.

Democratic residents should be outraged to learn that this is what their leaders on the Board of Supervisors think of them. Keep that in mind the next time you have to address the Board on an important issue.

What is really outrageous is this seeming endorsement of an intelligence test for voters. Maybe if Kreiling, Mallon, Leonhauser and Gallagher had any understanding of the history of civil rights, they would have been less likely to find any humor in this cartoon.

In case you have any difficulty reading the text:

Panel 1, left balloon: Shouldn't voters have to pass an intelligence test?
right balloon: You don't have to be intelligent to vote.

Panel 2: What if there are more stupid people than intelligent people.

Panel 3: Then the Democrat wins.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What an Outrage

Well, it sure didn’t take the Republican hypocrites on the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors long to toss the Sunshine Law out with their promise to conduct a thorough and fair search for a new chief of police.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, Supervisor Patrick Mallon proposed a police chief review committee comprised of citizens who would be nominated to review all applications, conduct interviews, and make a non-binding recommendation of the top 5 candidates to the board.

For those of you who don’t know, “other business” comes after regular agenda items. Unless there is an emergency, I have never seen it used to push through important business that should require a period for public input – and there are very few decisions as important as empowering a select few to determine who the next police chief will be.

Why do I say a select few? Because not only did Mallon propose this police review committee, but he already had a list of those whom the Republicans decided should serve on the board.

Now, if this wasn’t discussed among the four Republicans on the Board outside of a public meeting and in clear violation of the Sunshine Law, how was it that they not only had the list of those who will serve on the committee ready to introduce, but all four voted to approve the appointments with only a few words of background on each person and virtually no discussion among themselves?

In the words of a friend of mine who has been around long enough to know, “I do not recall Middletown ever appointing a committee without taking applications. Last night they appointed one of the most important committees in this township (a chief of police search) and took not one application.”

It is clear if this had been done by the previous Board, Mike Fitzpatrick would have rounded up a few shills to file one of his famous lawsuits for violating the Sunshine Law – and for once he might have prevailed.

Who are these shining examples of public service? Believe me, if you are not a supporter of Lieutenant Kane for the chief’s position, you probably wouldn’t recognize them. Four Republicans, David Zellis, Michael Lentine, Sharolyn Hessenthaler and Michael Jones. Democrat David Kemmerer has already privately indicated his support for Kane and Martin Duffy, the other Democrat, publicly indicated his support for Kane on at least two occasions that I am familiar with. And Todd Buch, the seventh member, is not even registered in Middletown Township. Furthermore, there is an extreme lack of geographic representation on this committee. Given the diversity in Middletown Township, this committee should be comprised of a representative sample of citizens from across the township. This is difficult to achieve, though, when in fact three of the seven appointees come from Mr. Mallon’s district (Upper 6).

Why wasn’t there some consideration for balance on this committee? There are a number of those who have been involved in public service that could have been considered. There are talented recruiters and public business managers who could have been asked. Furthermore, rather than naming partisan appointees for this important committee, perhaps a better approach may have been to identify the qualifications desired on this committee and then recruit people that meet those qualifications. Examples may have been:

  1. An experienced Human Resources executive.
  2. Representatives from large township business that rely heavily on the Middletown Township Police Department like Oxford Valley Mall or Sesame Place.
  3. A representative from St. Mary’s Medical Center, the largest employer in Bucks County.
  4. A fire chief or volunteer fireman, given how closely our police and volunteer firefighters work together.
  5. Retired Pennsylvania State troopers or FBI agents living in the township.
  6. A representative from Neshaminy School District.
  7. A block captain from a township Neighborhood Watch Group.

Coincidentally, there you have seven examples of the profiles that could have been represented on this committee. Instead, what Mr. Mallon wants to be a bi-partisan effort, is really just more of the same partisan politics.

The only conclusion I can come to is that Kane was promised the job by the Republicans running for office and now they are delivering on their promise. All Middletown Township residents should be outraged. This “search” is nothing but a sham.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A great deal for Middletown Township

For the past two weeks, I have been immersed in painting the downstairs of my home. So, I have been a little distracted – although not enough not to notice that President Obama has produced a great win for the American people who truly care about improving the health care delivery system in the U.S. Maybe a decade from now we won’t have the 37th place ranking among the world’s nations – right below Costa Rica and only two places above Cuba.

I received an interesting phone call earlier this week from a friend whose property was needed for a cell tower. He called to see what I knew about the deal Middletown Township was getting for the two towers currently going up here. I explained that basically the Township receives $10,000 yearly per carrier on the towers and there are currently two carriers on each.

It is very likely that the number of carriers will rise to at least five of the six carriers that cover this area, so we could be earning about $50,000 from each tower, with regular increases included in the lease agreement.

In his case, the company negotiating the lease for his property – which is not Tower One, the company working for Middletown – offered monthly payments that added up to just under $20,000 for two carriers that would be included with the initial erection of the tower. However, they were offering him a one-time payment of $2,500 for any carriers that were added after the tower went up.

Obviously, when he heard of the agreement Middletown reached with Tower One, he is going to take a tougher stand with the company that wants to lease his land.

To me, this highlights two important points – thanks to the research of Supervisor Robert McMonagle, Middletown Township is getting a great deal that will help hold the line on taxes, and there is a lot of demand for tower sites to help fill in the gaps created by the explosion in cell phone use. So get ready to see one of these near you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Incredible Short-Sightedness

With all the howling and gnashing of teeth over cell towers at the past few Middletown Township Board of Supervisor meetings – particularly on the March 1 day-after-a-full-moon meeting – protestors are missing the point. Their irrational behavior is exemplified by their anger over a simple question put to them by Supervisor Robert McMonagle: “Do you own a cell phone?”

According to U.S. Mobile Markets: Analysis & Forecasts, the latest report from consumer technology think-tank, The Diffusion Group, by the end of this year, mobile phone subscribers will climb to 75% of the US population or approximately 236 million users. There is a growing consensus that cell phones are no longer a luxury but a necessity.

Because of the sky-rocketing demand, cellular service companies are scrambling to erect the towers needed to keep up with the usage. Mr. McMonagle saw an opportunity to bring in new revenue to the Township last year when he suggested the Board look into locating new cell towers on Township-owned property. Tower One was subsequently tapped to locate potential sites and negotiate lease agreements with carriers.

According to Nicholas Pullin, a partner in Tower One, conservatively, if there are just two tenants on each of the two cell towers currently under a lease agreement with the Township – which is what is currently on both the Veterans' Highway and Langhorne-Yardley Road structures – the total aggregate value of those leases would be $7.5 million over a 29-year period.

Also, these two towers could accommodate up to six carriers, so the potential for income for the Township is significant – income that will lessen what is needed to be collected through property taxes.

Opponents fail to recognize the fact that these towers are strategically sited to meet the demands of service. If the Township didn’t lease the property it owns, the companies would find an alternative private site nearby. Ultimately, these protestors would still have a cell tower in their neighborhood with the revenue going to a private individual or corporation.

These people who show up at each meeting to shout, cheer and jeer are incredibly short-sighted. One suspects that if they were around in the 1870s, they would have protested the erection of the first telephone pole.

Speaking of cheers and jeers, Board Chairman Tom Gallagher has a gavel in front of him at each meeting and should learn how and when to use it. While Mr. Gallagher likes to be the hero of the cell tower opposition, he has a responsibility to run these meetings in a professional manner – they are not and should not be pep rallies for his re-election campaign.

Perhaps some people will show up at the next meeting to thank Mr. McMonagle for seeking out ways to raise revenue in an effort to hold the line on property taxes. Now wouldn’t that be refreshing.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Frank Farry: The real reason I haven't done anything in Harrisburg

In a March 5 blog, I chided Frank Farry for the excuses he made in a meeting with the editorial board at the Courier Times. Basically, he complained that he couldn’t get anything done because he was in the minority party.

Today he had a guest opinion in the Courier that is one of the most excuse-ridden, whiney pieces I have ever read. Frankly, I was embarrassed for him.

I was going to write a comment on it until I saw the first blog attached to Farry’s piece. I usually ignore these as they too often appear to be the work of cretins. But in this case, no one could have put it more succinctly. So my hat is off to the blogger who wrote:

“Just what constituents want to hear...a detailed explanation from their representative as to why he has been toothless. Doesn't Mr. Farry know that as soon as a politician starts a sentence with ‘These are not excuses,’ that every voter knows to get ready for the excuses to start flying?

“You know what the ‘reality of some of the things wrong in Harrisburg,’ is? Someone who gets elected, then campaigns on why he wasn't able to get anything done.

“In the ‘Maybe no one will realize I've done nothing’ department, Frank Farry decides that only now that everyone does know he has not been part of the solution, he ‘will voluntarily match the mandatory Senate contribution for his health benefits by sending a personal check to the state monthly.’ Others have been doing it all along. Retroactively sending the money back after you've been exposed only shows just how stupid you think the voter is.

“You might want to consider returning your entire 14 months salary. Maybe the voters won't notice the ‘reality’ of you not doing your job.”

Friday, March 5, 2010

Farry's Excuses Ring Hollow

In the “Thumbs Down” section of the Courier Times criticizes Frank Farry, who by “citing his minority party status over and over again, seems to have thrown in the towel.”

The emphasis is mine since it confirms what many of us already know – Farry is much better at whining than he is at acting. It leads one to wonder if Farry has done anything at all for the residents he is supposed to represent.

The editorial further states: “For example, Farry said he won't initiate a bill calling for state House members to contribute to their health benefits – even though he said he'd be ‘the first one to sign on to it’ – because the bill would be blocked. Glad to hear the representative would sign on. But actions speak louder than words.”

So I have a suggestion: Let’s show Farry what it means to act and send him back to his beloved fire company, where I believe he is still the chief, and send John Toth to Harrisburg who will be a full-time legislator for all the people he represents.

We need someone who acts, not someone who makes excuses.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What was he running for?

Now that we have gone through the fourth snow storm of this winter season, I learned from a source that Supervisors Chairman Tom Gallagher isn’t too happy about the number of telephone calls he has been getting from constituents. Can’t imagine what he thought he was running for.

Another friend of mine bumped into him in the Tax Collector’s office. Knowing he was new to the office, she introduced herself to him. In a rather gruff manner, he told her that if she had any problems, don’t call him. That’s what the Township Manager is for, he reportedly said.

Apparently Mr. Gallagher is so upset over the telephone calls he said he wishes his number weren’t in the book. So, in case he does decide to pull it next year, it is 215-752-3557. Pass it on. Trust me, it is his job to listen to you and, when possible, try to solve your problems.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Calling out incivility for what it is

Dick Polman, cited by the Columbia Journalism Review as one of the nation's top political reporters, writes a regular column in the Philadelphia Inquirer called the American Debate.

On Sunday, his column was titled The incivility death spiral. In it he notes that “millions now seem to assume that an Internet connection is a license to indulge their most sociopathic impulses.”

No where is that more apparent than in the responses to articles in the Courier Times. Things the worst of us may have merely thought 10 years ago are now considered worthy discourse on the Courier blog posts.

Polman was using as his example of incivility the way people on the right were rooting for the death of Ted Kennedy while those on the left were doing the same for Dick Cheney when he entered the hospital with chest pains. This behavior is only the tip of the incivility ice berg.

He is correct when he states “Part of the problem, of course, is that our brave new digital world allows people to root for death from the safe confines of anonymity. I bet they would spare us their most toxic thoughts if they were required to put their names to the words, and take some measure of responsibility.”

That’s the problem with these people – responsibility is not a part of their lexicon. As Polman sates, “incivility extremism can’t be stopped. All we can do is call it out, in the name of civility. I've just done that. You should do the same.”

Well, now I have as well.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Move Over Bristol!

I never thought I would see the day that the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors meetings would challenge Bristol Township for its supremacy as the antithesis of representative democracy.

Sadly, that day has come.

Last night, in the limited 30-minute public comment on non-agenda items section at the beginning of the meeting, Supervisors Chairman Tom Gallagher spent, by my watch, 20 minutes grand-standing on cell tower placement. He doesn’t realize that just because he almost never attended a meeting last year that issues such as the cell tower policy were thoroughly aired. He should, however, realize that this period is for public comment, not dissertations from the chair.

Anyone else who wanted to speak had to wait until well after 10 p.m.

Then there is the cheering section. Mr. Gallagher doesn’t’ seem to realize that these are public meetings with serious issues that need to be soberly debated – not a public rally for his early re-election campaign. One has to assume he enjoys the circus atmosphere because not once did he bang the gavel and caution the audience about cheering, clapping and other outbursts.

Don’t take my word, watch for yourself on Comcast channel 22 and Verizon channel 30. Meetings are re-broadcast Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 10 a.m., 7 p.m. and 2 a.m., and Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

There were some positive developments, if one cared to listen through all the hyperbole. Unfortunately, my time is up.

It would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Truly Unbelievable


That’s about all I can say each time I read a new round of the unabashed love Mike Fitzpatrick enjoys from the editorial staff at the Courier Times.

Last Wednesday, I listed the startling number of times they ran banner stories about a statement from Mr. Fitzpatrick and then followed them up with editorials of high praise. And they don’t miss a beat when they see an opportunity to slam U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

I know when I worked at the Philadelphia Bulletin, we reporters were often embarrassed when we read editorials that were clearly biased or showed the writer didn’t have a clue about what he or she was examining. But I don’t remember anything so slanted as what I am reading in the Courier. It is almost as if they are running Mr. Fitzpatrick’s campaign.

So, I was surprised today when I read a Thumbs Up for Rep. Murphy “for his vote against raising the federal government's debt limit another $1.9 trillion.” That is, until I read the last paragraph: “While Murphy deserves credit for bucking the president and his party, Republican congressional candidate Mike Fitzpatrick asks a good question: "Why was (Murphy) willing to vote for all the bills that piled up the debt but not to cut the check to pay for them?" Does Mr. Fitzpatrick actually sit on the Courier editorial board so he is readily available to provide his slant?

The writer of this editorial didn’t even comprehend the utter hypocrisy of Mr. Fitzpatrick’s “good question.” Check Mr. Fitzpatrick’s record during his four-year stint in Congress and see how many bills he voted for that ran up the debt because they were unfunded.

I can only repeat what I stated in a post on Friday: This lack of professionalism and transparent bias is beyond comprehension.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Career Mike on YouTube

From a friend of mine:

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is up to the same dirty tricks that we've seen for two decades - and he'll stop at nothing to get re-elected so he can implement the failed Bush-Cheney policies that got us into this mess in the first place. It's hard to believe, but Congressman Fitzpatrick, a guy who has been running for political office for 20 years, claimed that he has "no interest in becoming a professional politician".
Problem is, Fitzpatrick already is one. In fact, that's all he's ever been. [Italics mine.]

He must be hoping that the people of Bucks County have forgotten his long political record - full of property tax increases, $23,668 in pay increases for himself, and big-spending ways.

I hope that after watching this video, you'll send it around to your friends, family, and colleagues. We need to make sure as many folks as possible know about the real Mike Fitzpatrick- and we need to make sure they know that our country can't afford to go backwards.

I hope you'll help us get the word out and thanks in advance for your help in this fight.

Click Here Career Mike on YouTube to watch Mike's 20 year political career in under one minute.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Second coming continued

The editorial staff at the Courier Times should be given a prize for the most concentrated effort ever to get their prince charming elected. In a post on Wednesday, I asked, “Can we expect an endorsement every time [Mike] Fitzpatrick opens his mouth?” Apparently the answer is yes.

Today he even got a twofer.

The thumbs up for today went to Fitzpatrick for issuing “a term-limit pledge this week. If he bests his GOP competitors in the primary and goes on to defeat Democratic incumbent Congressman Patrick Murphy in the fall, Fitzpatrick promised to serve only four terms or eight years. And since he already served one term, before losing to Murphy in 2006, the ex-congressman said he'd only serve three terms.”

This editor should come down from his ivory tower. Since I was a cub reporter for The Bulletin in 1974, I have seen one congressional candidate after another promise to limit their terms to four if the oust the incumbent. The only way I ever saw those promises kept was when they were kicked out of office before serving eight years. Fitzpatrick is so power hungry (more about this in coming posts) that there is no way he will keep this promise.

While praising their pretty boy, the Courier gave a thumbs down “to Congressman Patrick Murphy for his petty griping to a business group that some stories involving him have appeared on the inside pages of the newspaper rather than Page 1.” Maybe they should do a count on the number of times Fitzpatrick’s fluff makes it to at least Page 1 of the local news section.

Maybe the real problem is they have their noses out of joint because Murphy doesn’t jump up and salute when they call on him. They note in this thumbs down – and this is so unprofessional it defies imagination – that “It would be both responsible and accountable of the congressman to actually return calls from the newspaper rather than charging his communications director with that task - as he so often does.”

But wait, it is not enough that they have praised Fitzpatrick for what is basically an old political trick while blasting Murphy for valid criticism on the same day, but they go on to praise Fitzpatrick again in the thumbs down remarks on the Republican leaders’ assertion that they have a responsibility to endorse candidates.

Frankly, it is certainly fair to criticize this assertion – on its merits. But that isn’t enough for the Courier. The writer goes on to note: “Republican congressional candidate Mike Fitzpatrick, probably the party's biggest name, made the endorsement process an issue when he asked the bosses to stay on the sidelines. That got our endorsement as well as all lot of voters.”

This lack of professionalism and transparent bias is beyond comprehension. But then, they own the ink.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Courier loses its perspective with Fitzpatrick's "second coming"

The Courier Times today endorsed Mike Fitzpatrick’s call to limit spending in the November Congressional race – while admitting that “some will say it's hypocritical, given that Fitzpatrick once held the seat and didn't hesitate to take advantage of the fundraising benefits of incumbency.”

Note how the editorial explains that “some will say …” Certainly not the editorial staff at the Courier since it is acting like Fitzpatrick’s candidacy is akin the second coming of the lord.

It was only nine days ago that the Courier trumpeted the story that “Fitzpatrick makes it official: He’s running.” Read the story and tell me if you don’t think it sounds like heralding of the second coming.

Quick, tell me the names of the other five Republican candidates running in the primary. Of course you can’t. Because they aren’t getting any coverage by the Courier.

Two days later, the Courier runs another big story about Fitzpatrick calling for an open primary.

Two days after that, another editorial by the Fitzpatrick-adoring editorial staff endorsing his call for an open primary. With the kind of coverage they are giving him, calling for an “open primary” seems a little hypocritical.

Five days after that, the Courier runs another big story about Fitzpatrick’s call for Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy to limit spending in the election campaign.

And, a day after that, the Courier endorses his proposal.

Give me a break! Doesn’t anyone but Fitzpatrick make proposals worthy of endorsement? Can we expect an endorsement every time Fitzpatrick opens his mouth? Why not end the suspense, Courier, and give him your full endorsement now, even before an “open primary” decides who the Republican nominee will be.

If the Courier really took a hard look at Fitzpatrick’s behavior since his loss four years ago, I don’t think its writers and editorial staff would be enraptured. So stand by because I plan to provide some enlightenment of my own.