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Sound Off-12/12

Posted 12/11/12

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Sound Off-12/12


The Press And Journal edits only for clarity and punctuation.


“Yes, I’d like to see Middletown get a Dunkin’ Donuts . . . ”
speaker-small{play}images/Audio-Soundoff/122012/121212_SoundOff/Yes Id.mp3{/play}

“Yeah, I hope when they redo the Middletown downtown. . . ‘’ 

speaker-small{play}images/Audio-Soundoff/122012/121212_SoundOff/Yeah I.mp3{/play}


“Yeah, Lower Swatara, if they do raise the taxes up . . .”

speaker-small{play}images/Audio-Soundoff/122012/121212_SoundOff/Yeah Lower.mp3{/play}


“Yeah, they put the act of no texting on phone. . . .”

speaker-small{play}images/Audio-Soundoff/122012/121212_SoundOff/Yeah they.mp3{/play}


“I’d like to say a big thank you to the Middletown American Legion 594 . . . ”

speaker-small{play}images/Audio-Soundoff/122012/121212_SoundOff/Id like.mp3{/play}


“After reading what Highspire’s Borough voted on about not . . . ” 

speaker-small{play}images/Audio-Soundoff/122012/121212_SoundOff/After reading.mp3{/play}


“Thank you, Dr. Winter, for your letter last week in the Press And Journal . . . ”
speaker-small{play}images/Audio-Soundoff/122012/121212_SoundOff/Thank you.mp3{/play}


“I would like the Press And Journal to investigate Council President Chris McNamara and his interest to eliminate sewer inspections ordinance that is required upon the sale or purchase of any home in Middletown.”


“The town has no money, but let’s waste $30,000 for all those sick looking decorations.”


“Hey, Morgan, you have done nothing but criticize hardworking employees’ salaries and benefits while you collect $100,000 to do nothing but agree with McNamara and Louer’s dangerous agendas!”


“Is it true the council wants to decrease the police department to one officer? Say it isn't so.”


“I would like to comment on the Middletown Matters newsletter that I recently received in the mail. First off, let me start with I have never in my life read such a propaganda-filled letter to Middletown residents. I have been following this saga with our town council and their so-called professionals, but to waste money with their half-truths and full-blown-out lies – and then they show a couple of pat-me-on-the-back stories of their volunteering – is downright sickening. Please do me a favor and take me off your circulation list until next year when integrity will be restored with a new council.”


“Every year for the last 30 years of living here my family has enjoyed watching the Christmas lights over the streets turn on the day after Thanksgiving – with the exception of this year. Who in the heck’s bright idea was it not to have them come on? Is this another one of council’s brilliant ideas?”


“Make sure you pay attention to the budget. There is nothing about the water and sewer department.”


“ ‘The Christmas trees were donated! The ones that will be placed on Union Street where they removed the trees will be planted in the park at a later time. Before you protest, you should do your research.’ This personally is definitely on the inside. Perhaps council president himself? Or perhaps Mr. Curmudgeon, or is it Ms. Arnold who is in charge of beautification?”


“It is really nice to have a Borough Council trying to do the work for the residents and not for the employees.”


“ ‘Don't listen to rumors,’ council tells employees. ‘They're only rumors. They're not true.’ Then every 'rumor' came true. Then council tells employees, ‘Don't worry. We're not looking to lay anyone off.’ Well, we saw how well that went. Then I hear they told the communications center employees, ‘You'll have a job ‘til January.’ Then they lay them off in November. Just wanted to keep them around ‘til they didn't need them anymore. Yeah. This is for those supporting this council. I'd tell you to wake up, but it's too late for it to do any good now.”


“And this is how council thanks the employees for their hard work though the Sandy storm: They laid them off.”


“I can't believe the council laid off those two lovely ladies at the finance office. I have been paying my electric bill in person since I first moved into this town and have seen those ladies every time. They are efficient, knowledgeable and an asset to this town. You people on council come in to office, hire a bunch of your buddies for way more than you pay any of your unionized employees and most from out of town, and lay off the people who have given so many years of dedication to this town. How many are you up to? You don't even have enough people left to effectively run this town.”


“They don't even have enough people left in the highway department to run all the plows. There are four workers left. Merry Christmas. I hope it isn't a white one.”


“It only looks like crime is down – the borough’s figures. It’s actually up. I would chalk that up to the management. If the chief would be more proactive with the officers in fighting crime and spend less time doing politics they would be a force like no other. LESS ARREST DOESN'T MEAN LESS CRIME.”


“When you call 911, it takes a lot longer to dispatch the police. Trust me, you can definitely tell in their response time. The criminal got away by the time they arrived. No wonder they think crime went down this year. The criminals aren't being caught so the borough didn't put those figures in their math.”


“I guess when you don't replace officers who retire/resign, you’re going to catch less criminals. Save on the overtime – replace those officers.”


“I am a concerned citizen. My concerns stem from the amounts being paid to attorneys and the way this borough is conducting their business. They are opening themselves up for hefty lawsuits, both with employment issues and with insurance liability. The attorney for the borough isn't going to discourage the borough, because when the suits happen, the attorney is the only one who will benefit. The borough knows all the things that they do will result in legal actions, but they will be quick to blame this town’s bankruptcy on the people and issues they violated. The end doesn't justify the means.”


“I find it odd that when someone puts something on the borough Facebook that they do not like, the borough deletes it. When someone puts something on the borough’s Facebook that is a lie or incorrect in favor of the wolf-crying, the borough does not correct those people who are spewing misleading statements. Why?”


“How come the borough does not put reminders on their Facebook and website regarding times and dates for their meetings? I'll tell you why – ‘cause they do not want you there.”


“I shouldn't have to hear one of the volunteers from the borough say that these people at the council meetings are definitely not college-educated people. I was stunned. Maybe that’s why she is on board with this council, because they both obviously don't care about the people of this town.”


“At least $1,500 to redo the electric at the square to accommodate the decorations. Wow, lay off employees so you can pretend to those who don't know any better that the borough is improving. You don't even have enough employees to get the leaves on time with the schedule.”


“I have seen nothing improper in the Press And Journal. Certain people are quick to criticize the paper for not knowing about the Shade Tree Commission meeting. But in all honesty, most of the people didn't know about it, including the third member of the committee herself! Shame on you, Middletown Borough.”


“Everyone wants to see the town prosper, but good for you business owners who don't like your rights violated. Whoever is putting in these comments about appreciating council and following for the better of the community is, in my estimation, an imbecile. I hope the business owners – and the public, for that matter – have enough of morals not to join in on their parade. Ethics, accountability, morals and principle should all play a part of this government. Sadly, it doesn't. And when it all comes crashing down for the underhanded way that they do business, I can probably guess that our council president will not go down with his town. It will be everyone else's fault.”


“You can cram your volunteering down this town’s throats on your Internet forums, but you can't put a sentence on your Facebook page about an upcoming meeting?”


“You illegally defund the library and now you’re doing your Hoffer Holiday, with proceeds to benefit the library. The only reason why you did that was to try and appease those angry citizens who supported the library. But after the lights are all packed away, the library will still be defunded and you will still be working to ruin what is left.”


“Why does it seem like most of council’s bad decisions affect the children of this community? Library, police, or lack of the rec board. Do you not like children?”


“You know, reading some of these long-winded Sound Offs is like reading the borough’s newsletter.”


“Here is a question I would like to ask: With all the dirty dealing within the borough government, when do the professed good people in the know say, ‘Enough?’ If it isn't soon, you’re as guilty as council.”


“You say they appointed citizens on the Shade Tree Commission, but you neglected to say that those citizens were management under Borough Council. And I might add that they are also fearful for those jobs. Now it all adds up.”


“I hope all is not lost when this year ends.”


“This council voted to take $1 million out of the electric TRUST fund so they can lower the electric rate by one penny. Think about it. Who gets the check for a million dollars? And who will stop them from adjusting your other fees to make up for that one penny per kilowatt/hour? So now you have all this money, which LOOKS to be accounted for, gone. A crime? You be the judge.”


“They could have supported both the library and the communications center for their $500 thousand surplus in the budget.”


“The moment of this town’s downfall was the moment Chris Mac took office. This town could always run with the money it made. Supply the taxpayer with decent services. Supply the town with a police department who could respond to a call within two minutes (thanks to the comm center). Now all of a sudden it’s broke, they are in Act 47. You can’t get information out of these people, and they laid off half of its working employees and ruined the lives of many families and homeowners this holiday season. But they have a full service staff of management. They hired numerous consultants and professionals to supplement the full managerial staff that they have and yet they expect the town can run an electric department, water/sewage department and a highway/property department with 12 employees? I think the borough secretary should start doing his job – since your public works director now has no secretary, and he has three departments to run. You, Chris Courogen, should be pitching in and doing all the secretarial duties and take a cut in pay. Better yet, we should just lay you off. That would be the only thing that this council could do that would be worth the taxpayers’ dollar.”


“The police and the Teamsters contract negotiations is a big reason council is not forthcoming with any specific past budget numbers. Because of that fact, they are defrauding everyone – state, federal, employees and Middletown taxpayers.”


“As an employee, I get a retirement (which I contribute). I get sick days (which I was encouraged to save for those times when I need it, long-term), and I get health insurance (for which I contribute), and I am a Middletown Borough employee. Most full-time employees get those benefits and more. Those employees who were laid off did not get a dime for their sick days. So whoever you are, you’re wrong.”


“I have gone to council meetings. I know a lot of the employees – elected, management and union – yet I have not read one thing in the Press And Journal that said anything but the truth of the matters. I have also witnessed first-hand the arrogance of the borough communications director-secretary. These are not nice people.”


“The borough employees they are letting go are good people who have been there for years. Some of them were volunteer firefighters. Others were homeowners in town. Some had families to support. Some just found out they were going to be a family. Some just got married. The electricians found other jobs making a lot more money per hour (who didn't know that?). This town doesn't know the dedication that these employees had to this town. All of them, I hope, will never be forgotten when this council is out of office and your tax dollars are spent paying for attorney fees and paying off debts.”


“It’s a wonder there wasn’t a picture and story of our beloved borough secretary, Chris Courogen, getting a pat on the back from McNamara for such a wonderful piece of propaganda – Middletown Matters. I never laughed so hard in my life!”


“Since the Grinch stole our Christmas spirit, I officially declare that Middletown is now Whoville.”


“I don't like guns, and I don't want to own one, but if the Middletown Police Department is cut back, I'm buying one!”


“Why aren't the police officers in Middletown setting up checkpoints and pulling people over who have been drinking and driving before they kill an innocent family? I have seen people leave the bars having slurred speech, trouble standing still, and having the smell of alcohol on their breath and person. Why aren't these people being pulled over by the police? How are they able to drive a car in that condition? If you are drinking and driving, please stop before you end up killing an innocent man, woman, boy, or girl!”


“Look at the services that we lost in this town. Leaves aren't getting picked up because this council is more worried about their Christmas decorations getting up so they look good. What a joke. You put up lights in the square to do . . . what? It's like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg – it's not going to work.”




“I'm not sure why it is so hard to revitalize downtown Middletown. Has anyone ever asked Hummelstown and Elizabethtown how they did it? Are we too proud to ask for help and suggestions? Downtown Middletown is a mess and unappealing for new businesses. It looks old and rundown. Middletown used to be such a nice town. I must say, the square looks great!”


“Okay, enough about the tree cutting. The trees are gone, council did not handle it properly, and the meeting should have been advertised in the local paper. It is getting really sickening to read so much going back and forth between the Sukles and the Borough Council. We get it – the council isn't doing the right thing. But the Press And Journal isn't handling it the right way, either. I think Scott Sites is the only one with a clear head and no agenda. We need more young and fresh minds on the council. I hope it doesn't happen too late.”


“In response to ‘There is a real division in Middletown . . . ’ The previous leaders had been so irresponsible that it's taking our current Borough Council to clean up the mess. Where do you suggest the money come from? The only solution you offer is for them to resign! Why? So another group can find out that what they're doing is the right thing to do? The financial experts are providing information that none of us want to hear! It's about time the people realize that the town is on the verge of bankruptcy! This council inherited a mess to clean up! The lucrative benefits for employees, cash payouts for unused sick leave, retirement pensions, overtime, medical insurance, reimbursement of co-pays. The greed has finally caught up and those who were benefiting are the ones who are complaining! Hopefully, the nepotism has ended too! I work 20-30 hours of overtime every week, however, I'm salaried so I never see any monetary compensation! I'm happy to have a job and weekly paycheck! I pay my own retirement, my own health benefits and there's no reimbursement for unused sick leave! It's like an insurance policy! If I don't file a claim, I don't get it back! How greedy for anyone to expect to get paid twice when it comes to sick leave! Most people never get paid sick time! How lucky those are that do have that benefit! The workers aren't concerned about taxpayers funding their bank account! Why should taxpayers be concerned about layoffs?”


“Where was council's volunteering spirit last year? And now they all want the residents to think how wonderful they are not using borough employees? The only problem I see is that as long as these council people are getting their monthly check, I would say that they are truly not volunteering!”


“Yes, I recently heard that Borough Council cut $16,000 from the police force and that they also want to build a three-story garage in downtown Middletown. What the heck for? You cut a part-time police officer and want to put a parking garage? Explain this, please. There is plenty of parking space for the small amount of people going to downtown. Besides, there is not that much to see and do in downtown Middletown. We need the police more than we need a parking garage. I think it's time to replace Borough Council.”


“While waiting to attend the next farce of a council meeting, I began to ponder whether the current council really thinks they are doing what is in the best interest of the town. I came to the conclusion that in their own twisted way, they must be justifying the actions that they are taking to reduce spending. I must say that I am not for it in this manner. Local government is, like all government, charged with the duty to act in the best interest of the people – all of the people. Let's look at what they have done. In an attempt to gut the spending plan of the town, they have driven off almost all of the employees with institutional knowledge, placed unrealistic expectations upon the managers that are left, placed no real plan in place and, most importantly, never shared their plan with the citizenry. We are all AFRAID of what they are going to do next. Whether it is selling the utility services, cutting the police force or isolating the access to the borough even further. We demand and deserve better of our elected officials. People have enough stress over healthcare, career longevity and national defense to be worried about the small-time politics of their town. The last meeting showed how frazzled people are – to the point of condoning or enjoining lawlessness to get the point across. Do you think it is going to end there, Chris? Do you think you are going to get out of this term with your dignity intact? Will anyone look at you the same, Rob? How about you, Mrs. Arnold? When you go to the grocery store are you even worried about the whispers behind your backs? You should be with what you have done to this town and the blatant disregard for responsibility in choosing your ‘advisors’ and managers. I encourage all citizens to become engaged in this local government debacle. It is time that we all press them for a plan, transparency and accountability.”


“My question is this: If other companies and boroughs are cutting costs and making their employees help pay for their benefits, what makes the employees of Middletown think they are any better? They have been enjoying the gravy train for too long. They are so used to getting what they want – top benefits and top wages. Welcome to life in the real world.”


“Council says that the borough is structurally unsound and the way that revenue is generated through electricity is not proper. Have they looked at what neighboring boroughs charge per mil on their taxes? Middletown’s rate, 5.4; Steelton, 15.0; Highspire, 14.3; Paxtang, 10.73; Royalton, 3.0; Hummelstown, 2.35. Let’s start looking at what the needs of the borough are and raise the tax level to the appropriate rate if we really feel that generating revenue from electricity is wrong.”


“Is it finally coming to this – council threatening the union workers in open meetings? Where is the Attorney General? What, no bargaining in good faith? I guess council figures if you can't bargain with them, you should throw your weight around. Isn't it bad enough that you laid off half the workforce and whipping the others into doing the extra work – now you want to take more? How about we take stuff away from you nine people within weeks of Christmas?”


“I just don't understand Middletown's council. If they just spoke in open meetings about their intentions like they are supposed to, then the citizens would have the opportunity to lobby for their side in a meaningful dialogue. In being secretive about the ‘plan,’ the council never gets a true gauge of what it's constituency really wants. Personally, I don't think this bunch really cares what we think.”


L“To those of you that think council is finally being open with their actions on the police department, think again. Look at the budget for 2013. The police budget has been cut almost in half. Don't think for a minute that the department is going to stay intact. Let's spend money on new cars and remodeling offices and renewing a building to house the police while laying off officers. There are a lot of deals that go on behind closed doors.”


“This state study that was in your article regarding the police regionalizing, is this the same state study that says the borough’s employees should only get eight hours off for the death of an immediate family member? Over the past month or so, you criticized the employees for not using their sick time and getting paid for them – now you’re criticizing them for using their sick time. Now you’re going to pay your consultant, Morgan, to do an audit on your employees’ use of their earned leave time? Aren't you the pot calling the kettle black? Stand tough, workers. There are laws out there to protect you.


“Hey, I was wondering: Whatever happened to the investigation that was going on at the Highspire Fire Department? From what I've been hearing there was nothing found and the case was closed.”


“No more student housing complexes! Save our Middletown Cemetery lands for burials! Why are the students not allowed to fill all the vacant apartments in Middletown? Rented means revenue. This Borough Council's backward thinking is going to bring about the demise of our beautiful town. Wake up!”


“Merry Christmas, Press And Journal, friends and family in Middletown. Don't forget it's our Lord's birthday, too. Be safe, and have a wonderful holiday. Blessings from Florida.”


“Hold on a minute – what the current council is doing to Middletown may turn out good! Yes, they are arrogant, but maybe they will get something done here. We've had years of nothing. Before you get too upset, let's see if council can actually DO what they say they are going to do. A revitalized Middletown would be great for us all!”


“If it wasn’t for all the residents and media showing up at last week's council meeting, you can bet the council would have tried to vote on either eliminating or extremely downsizing the police force. That is what the meeting was actually called for – it was not a rumor.”


“Just don't understand – in one article McNamara says that he needs proof of storm water runoff in the system, and in another article Courogen says the plant was overrun when we had Sandy. Is the Press And Journal making that up, or what? Why would council not want things kept up to date?


“Mr. Morgan is the man. Earlier in the year, he said it was not good business to transfer electric money to pay the bills, so he created a big deficit. Now, in the proposed budget he wants to transfer $1.3 million to help pay the bills. Expert advice from an expert, I guess.”


“So they had a special meeting to seek a possible merger, but with who? It’s not like three or four communities sat down and said this – just our heroes. Who would sit down with them, anyway?”