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 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.”