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.