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.

Monday, February 1, 2010

And the beat goes on

As many people in Middletown Township know by now, former State Rep. Matt Wright has paid the state $10,000 under a consent agreement regarding allegations he used legislative employees and resources for campaigning, according to a State Ethics Commission report released last Friday.

Basically, the 28-page document concludes that “In considering the Consent Agreement, it is clear that a violation of Section 1103(a) of the Ethics Act occurred in relation to Wright’s use of staff, office space, equipment and materials of his legislative District Office and his Capitol Office to further his re-election campaigns.”

The State Ethics Commission has referred its findings to the state Attorney General’s office, which will review it and decide if further action is required.

It is interesting to note, however, that Wright's case has parallels to that of former state Rep. Jeff Habay, R-Allegheny, who resigned in February 2006 after being sentenced to six to 12 months in jail for having aides perform campaign work on state time. Indeed, it was the Habay investigation that prompted Lisa Deon to write a detailed letter to the House Republican leadership describing how Wright’s local legislative office was being used as a virtual campaign re-election headquarters.

Her efforts to halt the illegal activity was spurned not only by the leadership in Harrisburg, but also by two of the aides who were involved in the activities, Harry Leonhauser (as in Supervisor H. George Leonhauser) and Russell Kavana. When Wright was thrown out of office in 2006, Leonhauser and Kavana would go on to run their own campaign for the Middletown Board of Supervisors the following year.

Leonhauser won a seat on the Board of Supervisors by 32 votes and Kavana, with the Republicans now in the majority on the Board, was just appointed to the Zoning Board. Interesting, huh?