Thursday, April 25, 2013

Small Games of Chance Resolution

At the McSherrystown Borough Council meeting on April 24th, I presented to the Council, for a third time, two Resolutions for adoption. These resolutions had been tabled in the past, with opposition from some parties on Council as well as the Mayor.  While I respect their opinions on these matters and have the utmost regard for the democratic process, I feel it is my duty to inform the citizens of McSherrystown, as well as those everywhere in the state of Pennsylvania, why I feel so strongly about these resolutions.

Today I would like to discuss the one that did gain support and was adopted, concerning the Small Games of Chance Bill (HB 290).  In the presented resolution which I authored, I call for the elimination of the Aggregate Prize Limits which are currently detrimental to the service clubs and the community. At this time, many of our area clubs such as the Eagles, the Moose, the Home Associations, the Republican Club and others have experienced fines and suspensions, and have had to close their doors for months at a time, because they exceeded the current prize limits of $35,000 a week. When they are closed by the PLCB for these suspensions, it is the community that suffers.

When these clubs and fire companies like SAVES here in McSherrystown sell "jars", have raffles or bingo, they have a specific amount of money they pay to the winner. The rest of the money is collected and 70% of these funds (after the first $40,000, which can be used to cover operational expenses) go straight back into the community through documented charitable donations. McSherrystown has benefited from this when the Police Department received funds for the new speed sign, which helps alert drivers that they are exceeding the speed limit and raises awareness to safety in school zones and other parts of town. Delone Catholic High School received a majority of the funds needed for their new scoreboard from such funds, which are generated by people in the community participating in the small games of chance.  SAVES, being a community organization, is allowed to raise funds for their efforts by having small games of chance at their functions. Over half of their funding comes from such activities, however, they are limited by the same laws as the service organizations.  The fundings generated by these small games of chance have helped the community without burdening the local government budgets or pulling from the taxpayers.

When people in the community support these efforts by patronizing such events, it is my opinion that it is their right to spend their money where they want, knowing that it is directly helping the local community and infrastructure.  It is beyond the proper powers of our government to tell these people that they cannot do so, or to limit their participation by setting limits on the organizations. By removing the prize limits, clubs and organizations would be able to generate more funds for charitable endeavors...can anyone explain to me why this would not be a good thing?  In a time when government funds are scarce and resources are thin from a struggling economy, it makes sense to allow those in the community to support their own purposes and interests by pooling their money together. If they choose to do so in a gaming fashion, so be it. 

Are we limiting the amount of profits that can be generated by big-business casinos in this state?  It is estimated that casinos generate over $1.3 billion in tax revenues a year in Pennsylvania (  The state legislation has backed and even safe-guarded the interests of the casinos for this very reason.  I will say that, when properly utilized as they are supposed to be, these funds do a great service to the residents of our state.  However, this is largely due to the fact that the state legislation has the final say over the allocation of these resources, which I will comment, has NOT always gone towards the endeavors for which they were originally intended.  The reason we have such an issue with the small games of chance limits is obvious...the casinos want that revenue for their own profit and the state wants control over the taxes produced when the casinos get those profits.  When a service organization is allowed to allocate their own funds to the community, it takes the power over that money out of the hands of the state. Therefore, limits and suspensions create opportunities to siphon some of the funds that would be kept here in our area to fund our projects and infrastructure, and they instead go to line the casino owners' pockets and to fill the state coffers, which we then have to petition the state for our share.

I want to thank the McSherrystown Borough Council for supporting my legislation, which passed by a vote of 6-1.  I would also like to extend my appreciate to the Council of Fairfield, who had passed both of my resolutions at their March meeting.  As the Legislative Committee Chairman for the Adams County Boroughs Association, I will be calling for a vote on these resolutions at the upcoming meeting in May. If adopted, I will be forwarding them to the State Congress and the Pennsylvania State Boroughs Association for consideration. It is my hope that we will gain enough support for the change I have proposed to eliminate the aggregate prize limits, and allow local citizens the ability to contribute to their community through small games of chance without restriction.

David "Scotty" Bolton
McSherrystown Borough Councilman and citizen

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

All Things Important to The People...

Representative Government works for The People when EVERYONE is represented. When I first ran for McSherrystown Borough Council, I did so because of the conversations I had with other residents. During those conversations, I discovered that the decisions that were being made by the members of Council were not completely representative of The People with whom I spoke.  Before I joined the Council, all votes on subjects passed with unanimity, and there were very few discussions about what The People thought, and more about what the Council thought.  I will concede, as it was stated at our last Council meeting, that The People elected us to be their voice and to make decisions, but I find it extremely disturbing when I bring the voice of The People, to whom I have spoken at lengths, to the Council and do not receive their support on those subjects.  I am a full supporter of the democratic process, and if a vote is defeated, or does not receive a “second” to even come up for a vote, or when a subject is tabled due to “lack of interest” by the Council to pursue it, although I feel the voice of The People has not prevailed, I do feel that I have done my best to represent them and bring their concerns before the Council, and to defend their issues to the best of my ability, and I will continue to do so for as long as The People will let me!

That being said, what have I done for The People of McSherrystown in the past two months? 

Leash Law:  I was contacted by several citizens who were concerned about dogs not being controlled by their owners.  They wanted to see a Leash Law imposed for dogs on public streets and lands.  I did my research, spoke with the appropriate governmental agencies, and even employed the assistance of Rep. Dan Moul’s office to see what could be done on a local level to have dogs in public leashed.  In short, I discovered that the Borough WAS allowed to pass such a law, which could be enforced by the Police Department and the District Magistrate.  Opposition on Council said the DM would not enforce such a law, from their personal conversations.  I held that it was his prerogative whether he wanted to enforce it, but it is negligent for us as Elected Legislators to ignore the requests of our citizens.  I was also told that we should not pass a law just because ONE PERSON had a complaint.  I believe that when you hear one person who is brave enough to speak out, there are many others in silent agreement, and those are The People that I went out to speak to about this topic, and could find only ONE PERSON not on Council who opposed such a law.  I also believe that, if the Borough is going to pass an unconstitutional law telling you what kind of furniture you have on your porch, in the name of safety (if you remember, they backed up their stances by saying that some furniture could POSSIBLY become infested with rodents and bugs, even though we already had a law on the books to enforce this situation), then it follows that a dog not on a leash is potentially more dangerous than a couch sitting on someone’s porch!  After three meetings of discussion, I brought my Amendment to the Ordinance up for a vote, and received NO SECOND.  Not one member of Council believed that physical control of dogs in public was necessary for the safety of our citizens.

ACBA Resolutions:  I authored two resolutions, after speaking with The People of McSherrystown and other municipal leaders of Adams County. 

--The first would eliminate the limit of how much local service, civic and charitable organizations can raise for the community through the use of Small Games of Chance (House Bill 290, page 6, Line 2-4, Section 302).  As you may know, the State Government and the PLCB limits, fines and suspends the licenses of such clubs as the Moose, the Home Association, the Republican Club, the Eagles and others due to these limits.  The only thing this accomplishes is to take money that is generated by The People out of the community.  This money is used to fund public lands, to provide for police and fire service needs, to support school programs, and much more.  If the money belongs to The People, and they want to use it to support their community through the Small Games of Chance at their local clubs, then it holds to be unconstitutional for any government to deny them. 

--The second resolution would support Senate Bill 65, which would allow local municipalities to decide on issues they want to put on the voting ballots via referendums.  I believe that this is the cornerstone of our democracy; to poll the voices of the voters on important issues.  When I brought this up at the Council meeting, it was tabled, and opposition stated that people vote for us as Council members to make those decisions, and that putting referendums on the ballot would “confuse people” because “most aren’t smart enough to research the topics”.  I cannot disagree more to this rebuttal!  I believe that The People know more than this person thinks, and that if it were known by The People that this was said in a Council meeting by an elected official, there would be a definite backlash.  The People deserve to have their voices heard, and what better way to state what they want than to have them vote on it while voting for the leaders they believe will defend their views?

Although I have the support of the Adams County Boroughs Association (ACBA) and several other Boroughs in Adams County, who have or plan to pass my legislation on a local and county level, and in light of the fact that the Pennsylvania State Boroughs Association (PSAB) is considering both resolutions for adoption on a state level, I am having difficulty gathering support from my own Council.  I hope that YOU will make your voice heard by calling the Borough Office at 717-637-1838 and tell them you support my resolutions, or by attending the next Council meeting on Wednesday, April 24th at 7pm at the Borough Office and telling the Council to let your voice be heard!

Hanover Regional Economic Development Committee:  Being assigned to the Steering Committee, I was happy to reach out to community leaders to join us in our efforts to bring more businesses and jobs to the area.  I am excited about the direction we are taking with our efforts, and it is essential to everyone’s benefit for us to find businesses who will come to our area and create more jobs for our citizens and thus better the living conditions for everyone.  I was honored to be able to recruit Tommy Hufnagle (Winner’s Circle owner) and Troy Wentz (Business Manager for Hanover Public School District) to the Steering Committee last week.  I believe that Tommy has his finger on the pulse of culture in Hanover, as he has big plans to bring a true musical venue to the area with his expansions of the Winner’s Circle.  Mr. Wentz will bring invaluable information to the Committee in formulating what courses could be implemented in the local school districts to support the businesses we currently have and also the ones we wish to attract.

York Waste Management agreement:  The Borough’s contract with York Waste has concluded its three year segment, and they have the right to extend the agreement under the same terms for two more years.  However, Council heard from Don Isabella that the company wished to only extend the residential service, as the commercial service is not profitable for them.  I argued that the original contract stated that it could be extended “under the same terms”, and by picking and choosing which part the company wanted to extend based on profitability was not in the interest of The People.  Why?  If the Borough only bids out the commercial part of the contract, it will not get as good an over-all rate as if both residential and commercial are bid.  Also, if you remember, York Waste petitioned the Council to limit the number of bags YOU were allowed to put out last year to three, because they were picking up “too much” and again, it wasn’t profitable for them.  This company has repeated shown that they are concerned more about their bottom line than they are about fulfilling the promises made in their bid contract.  When a Pro Athlete wants to change their contract in mid-stream, the cries go out that they are being self-centered and not being a team player.  I feel the same way about this contract, and I was very vocal at the last Council meeting that I am not in favor of continuing with any extension that is not in line with the original agreement.  As of the writing of this blog, York Waste has NOT replied by the deadline of last Friday to extend the full contract.  Council will vote at our next meeting to advertise bids for the next contract.  I am hopeful that we will be able to get local service at a comparable price who will put The People first!

There is so much more that I would love to discuss with you, but I see that I have gotten a bit long-winded, so I will save my other topics for the next blog.  Please call on me anytime; I'm always around!  Thank you once again for allowing me to represent YOU on the McSherrystown Borough Council, and I hope that you will support me in my re-election bid on May 21st at the polls. 

David “Scotty” Bolton
McSherrystown Borough Councilman and citizen