Banner actions show lack of patriotism by borough officials: Letter to the Editor
I write in support of our military, the men and women who have bravely fought and continue to fight for our country’s freedom. I usually do not get involved with politics because I do not have …
Banner actions show lack of patriotism by borough officials: Letter to the Editor
I write in support of our military, the men and women who have bravely fought and continue to fight for our country’s freedom. I usually do not get involved with politics because I do not have the stomach for it. However, when politics starts to interfere with honoring these brave men and women, I cannot sit back and let it happen.
I am a resident of Lower Swatara Township. I purchased a Hometown Heroes banner for my grandfather, who lived in Middletown for more than 75 years. I have been wondering, why is my banner not yet displayed? This is why I decided to attend my first political meeting, the Middletown Borough Council workshop Sept. 19.
I did not receive any clear answers, but many of my suspicions as to why the project was delayed were confirmed. The lack of teamwork, personal vendettas and unprofessionalism that some on the Middletown Borough Council and Mayor James H. Curry III have displayed is downright disgusting. They have taken a project that has brought our community together and which has had such an overwhelming response and turned it into something ugly, bringing the worst out in many, including threats, trash talk, hurt feelings and a delay in honoring those who deserve it most … our military. I also found Curry and Council President Damon Suglia to demonstrate very concerning behaviors of bullying.
Councilwoman Diana McGlone presented this program to council in February and it was approved. The program was posted on the council Facebook page and in the Press & Journal. There were 88 banners purchased to be displayed from Memorial Day through Labor Day. After people began to see the banners displayed, they inquired as to why they did not know about the project. Not everyone has a computer or chooses to use social media and some do not subscribe to the Press & Journal.
At the May 2 Council meeting, McGlone informed council that she would like to reopen the program. Here we begin to see the true colors of Curry and Suglia, and those colors are not red, white and blue.
At the June 20 council meeting, the program was reopened and had a larger-than-expected number of applications. McGlone tried to keep all the promises made to the people who purchased the banners, but it was impossible because of the lack of support from many council members. It is a two-way street and help could have been requested. However, it is also the council president’s duty to follow up on projects and offer assistance where needed. This clearly was not done because Suglia’s vendetta got in the way of his duty as council president and his duty as an American … to support our military.
Due to the delay of the second round of banners arriving, the Middletown Public Works director stated that they do not have enough manpower to get the 187 banners hung. Many people who purchased banners live in surrounding areas so they could be asked for assistance in hanging the banners. This was brought up by McGlone but abruptly dismissed without discussion by both Curry and Suglia. The audacity to not even entertain the idea is very upsetting. I would be more than happy to reach out to surrounding municipalities to ask for assistance. I know many individuals, both at the meeting and via social media, expressed that they would be happy to assist as well.
Another highly debated issue was about who would be liable if they allowed the banners to be displayed through the winter months. The simple solution would be to have everyone sign a waiver. When I tried to make that suggestion to Curry, I was totally disregarded and the idea was never addressed.
McGlone made a motion that Councilman Robert Reid seconded that the additional 187 banners be displayed, as time permitted, by the Public Works Department and that all banners remain up through Veterans Day 2018. This would cover the two-year program period and allow for a clean slate should the borough decide to continue the program in 2019 (which at this point I find very unlikely). This seemed a feasible solution.
Curry stated that he wants a “compromise.” He suggested that the original 88 banners be taken down since it is past Labor Day. Then in the spring all 88 original banners plus the additional 187 banner will be displayed through Labor Day and the first 88 will be returned to their owners. The additional 187 would be displayed in spring 2019 through Labor Day then taken down and returned to their owners. This was a statement, not a suggestion, and the arrogant attitude Curry displayed shouted everything except “compromise.” This was a mayor using his position of power in the most unprofessional and inconsiderate manner with total disregard for those who purchased the banners and those who were to be honored by the banners.
Curry never considered that the banners should be displayed through Veterans Day or that many of the World War II veterans are elderly and not in the best of health. Some are concerned that their loved ones may never get the chance to see their banner proudly displayed if they are not put up until spring 2018. However, caring about the “wants” of 187 people who purchased banners is not something Curry is concerned about. All he cares about is that he gets his way, and unfortunately it looks like he will.
McGlone’s motion eventually was denied 5-2. It was at this point that Councilwoman Anne Einhorn made a motion to send out letters to all individuals who purchased banners in the second offering to let them know the council’s decision and to post all the names of the individuals who were to be honored by banners on the council Facebook page and possibly the Press & Journal. This motion was accepted 7-0.
I received an email, not a letter, from the council secretary on Friday, Sept. 22 explaining the situation. The most upsetting part of the email is that the council was essentially saying it was the fault of the Bob Smith Detachment for not providing the banners to the borough in a timely manner. The detachment was gracious enough to continue the project so that our military received the honor they deserved. For the borough council to assume no culpability whatsoever for failing to put aside their personal agendas and work together as a team to see this wonderful program become a success is deplorable.
Hometown Heroes is a wonderful project and shows how proud the people of Middletown are to show military support. It has a waiting list for the next cycle of banners. Many people are saying how beautiful Middletown is starting to look. Curry and Suglia should be ashamed of themselves for how they are acting when they should be doing everything possible to see that all the banners are displayed to honor the great men and women of our military. Do they truly lack that much patriotism?
I would like to thank McGlone for her continued fight to see this program through. I would also like to thank Bob Hauser and the Bob Smith Detachment and Reid for their continued support and Einhorn for her concern for those who purchased banners and who have the right to know what is going on. If everyone on council would work together as these few individuals have, all the banners would already be proudly displayed and this would be a moot point. However, this is politics — aka, get what you want at any cost.
Although it is very unlikely to happen, I respectfully request to have all banners displayed before Veterans Day and stay displayed through Veterans Day 2018. This is about the men and women who served and continue to serve our country by land, by sea, and in the air, and the sacrifices they have made. Council needs to stop with all the drama and give them the honor they deserve.
I would like to say “thank you” to all of our military men and women for their service. We cannot begin to imagine the things you may have seen, the things you had to do and the sacrifices you have made, both physically and mentally, to ensure that we have our freedom. Many take that freedom for granted. That is why it is so important to have programs like Hometown Heroes. We must never forget and always give you the honor and respect you have earned. God bless America.
Lower Swatara Township