1. Balance in Government.
The current 5-0 Republican super majority on the Middletown Township Committee prohibits the discussion of important issues in public, it gives the majority the ability to pass ordinances and introduce resolutions with little to no open discussion. It prohibits Democrats from having a real seat at the table to reduce the likelihood of biased decision-making that benefits one party and not the people. Keeping balance between political parties is something that resonates with voters and should be emphasized.
2. Sewerage Authority.
Former Democratic Committeeman Byrnes introduced an ordinance to eliminate salaries and health benefits for those that act as Sewerage Authority Commissioners. The Republicans initially blocked this effort citing legal concerns, and then introduced their own ordinance that effectively does the same things but “grandfathered” current members. The Democratic Party needs to remind voters that the 7 Commissioners who received these benefits are die-hard Republicans with impeccable Republican credentials in this Town. The Township spent over $100,000 per year to provide these “party perks” to these individuals. The Democrats led the charge to stop this practice, while the Republicans have reappointed all current Commissioners. There are newspapers articles that will confirm that we initiated these changes.
3. Project Mismanagement.
A. Art Center. The Republican-controlled Committee voted for and oversaw the construction of this facility that now runs at a deficit every year of $300,000 before counting the bonding debt. It was constructed with no business plan and was built on contaminated property. The Democrats discovered the contamination and made it public. Through our efforts, the Engineer was forced to go and obtain a Letter of No Further Action from the DEP years after this problem should have been discovered.
B. Shadow Lake. The Republicans rushed a vote on this dredging project to gain favor with the Shadow Lake voters. With an estimated price tag of near $4.0M, the Republicans approved the bonding for this project over the objection of Patrick Short, the lone Democrat on the Committee at the time. We now know that the plans for the project were done poorly. The dredging spoils at the bottom of the Lake contain arsenic. Nevertheless, our Township Engineers proposed creating a massive pile of arsenic-laden material on open space land located at the Stevenson Park. Not surprisingly, the DEP refused to approve this plan and the Township must now contemplate spending millions more to truck these materials out of the site.
4. Open Government.
In 2008 Democrats co-sponsored a resolution aimed at improving the transparency of our government and its operations. Despite a chilly response from the Republicans who threw up barriers to the idea of posting all resolutions and ordinances on the Township’s website prior to meetings, the Democrats persisted and obtained unanimous approval for the resolution. The Democrats also voted against an ordinance introduced by the Mayor to place restrictions on videotaping at Township meetings. Although only one or two residents have ever appeared at meetings to videotape, this resolution was aimed at making government more opaque, rather than transparent.
5. Problem Solvers Not Politicians.
The Democrats are problem solvers not politicians. We have focused on how to improve government. We have created a Strategic Planning Committee to create a Strategic Plan for this large Township. We have initiated the effort to create an Implementation Committee for the recently completed Recreation Master Plan. We have twice proposed the creation of a Finance Committee, which most municipalities rely upon, but the Republicans have consistently thwarted this effort. We have made line item recommendations to reduce spending and have consistently called for the budget process to start in July, rather than in January when the appropriated funds start to be spent. These are practical, common sense measures that needed to be done. Unfortunately, such efforts move power away from the Republican Party and into the hands of the elected officials and the citizens. More important, through the use of committees, the work of the Township Committee is augmented and the Township Committee’s ability to focus on specific issues accentuated.