Technically, I've only been in office 83 days this year, but I thought I would get ahead on my 100 Days in Office report. I have not blogged since December, for reasons of promoting the peace. It seems that my last blog and subsequent local newspaper coverage of its topics was not received well by some, and as such, I decided to let some time pass in efforts to heal the wounds of some who feel they incurred injury from it. A single description of my perspective of a meeting, about which I gave "Kudos to Councilman-Elect Doug Duvall and citizen Rick Groft for standing before Council and asking the tough questions, even if they didn't get the clearest or truest answers.", was the purported reason. There were some who took offense to this, and even took it personal. I did apologize to those people personally if that was how they took my comment.
Since my last blog, the Gettysburg Times reported on what transpired at the following Council meeting. Their article, as published January 31, 2014:
Tempers flared at the McSherrystown Borough Council meeting Wednesday over a letter to the editor of the local newspapers written by one of the councilmen.
Several councilmen expressed concern that David Bolton, councilman, was calling them liars in his Dec. 13, 2013 letter to the editor.
Bolton, in his letter, suggested council had not given the "truest answers" to questions regarding the cost of a roof replacement on the municipal building and not agreeing to his suggestions for increasing income to repair the sewer lines in the borough. Bolton voted against the tax and sewer rate increases as well as the 2014 budget.
"I take exception to what he put in there. I'm not untrustworthy. I've been here 26 years and nobody has ever played politics in a letter to the editor. If you have a problem, air it out here," said Stephen Weaver, councilman.
Anthony Weaver said he has been involved with borough affairs for many years, initially as a police officer and later as a councilman and now as mayor, and at no time during his tenure has anyone ever resorted to mudslinging in the newspaper.
"I've been through so many battles here councilmen yelling at each other, but I can honestly say no matter what side I was on, whether I was on the borough side or the police side at the time, it was never taken out of here, and it was never for self-promotion. The people in here can be trusted," Mayor Weaver said.
Mayor Weaver said many council members have disagreed over the years, but "we kept it civil and we kept it in here."
James Forbes, a longtime councilman, said he was in agreement with the others.
"We've had battles in here but when we went out that door we remained friends. We did business and this is a business and we try to run it like a business. And I don't appreciate your remarks and I agree with Steve, if you have something to say to us, say it. It's always been that way," Forbes said.
Bolton said the only thing he did was express his opinion of what transpired in the council meeting the end of last year.
Several councilmen started speaking at once with no one specifically having the floor, so Bolton shouted, "Let me finish my thought." When quiet prevailed Bolton continued, saying any politician in this country does the same thing
"They reach out to their constituents and tell them what they think, why they think that way and the direction they think it should go," Bolton said.
Mayor Weaver said that was all well and good, but Bolton had crossed a line.
"I think that's all fine. We disagreed a few times, but the thing about it is, putting it in your blog is one thing, putting it in the paper is another thing. You say not the truest answers were given. That's a slap in the face to some of the people who sit here," the mayor said.
"Somebody here you called a liar," Stephen Weaver said.
Bolton said as an example of what he was talking about was the roof repair estimate, saying one amount was given at one meeting and later another, higher amount was cited but no new contractor's estimate was presented to show the increase.
At the Wednesday meeting, and at a December meeting, it was discussed that the estimate was several years old and the cost would have gone up.
Scott Cook, borough supervisor, also noted that the prevailing wage was another determining factor as well as cost of materials, particularly rubber roofing which is tied to petroleum costs.
Bolton said he objected to the amount of money transferred when an exact cost was not known.
Cook reminded that the money was put into the miscellaneous fund so it would be available, and that it might not even be enough with current costs.
"That was my objection, because we moved money from one account to another, to cover that cost, and we didn't know what that cost was going to be. That was my objection," Bolton said.
I will make this statement on the matter: I used the words "clearest or truest answers", and I stand by my words, without calling anyone a liar or untrustworthy. The costs of the repairs were not concrete, and several numbers were thrown around, from a quote of $27K to an increase for inflation/costs from $30-40K to $50-70K in another meeting.
It was not "clear" to me how much it was going to cost, and I do not believe that we had a "true" idea of how much we should budget for the project. It was not the members of Council that I was calling into question; it was the costs. None of us at that table had the answer to that. I objected because I felt that we should have those answers prior to moving any funds around to cover the costs that were undefined at that time. I would expect any responsible steward of the public trust to do the same. As you have entrusted me with the ability to do so, I have taken pride in fulfilling my duties to you, The People.
Thank you for allowing me four more years to continue that work.
So now, I will move forward and explain some of what I have been doing so far this year...
At the January 20th meeting of the Adams County Boroughs Association, I was asked to author a Resolution through the Legislative Committee in favor of the use of Radar by Municipal Police. This Resolution would be distributed to the municipalities in Adams County for individual adoption, and copies would be presented to our representatives in State Congress. This Resolution was also submitted to the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs' Resolution and Policy Committee. It will be voted upon at the Annual Conference April 5-9, and if adopted, the PSAB will actively lobby Congressional leaders to support a change to the Motor Vehicle Code allowing for Municipal Radar.
As of today, I have received copies of the signed Resolution from 6 municipalities, as well as one letter of support for municipal radar use. I have also received notice that the PSAB R&P Steering Committee have accepted the resolution and are recommending adoption at the conference.
As I am the McSherrystown and Adams County voting delegate to the PSAB, as well as serving on the R&P Committee and the PSAB Board of Directors, I will personally be attending the conference and will make sure the voices of Adams County are heard in this and other matters. I will be joined at the conference by locals Dave Wheeler, Councilor from Littlestown, Perry Shearer, former mayor of Abbottstown, Debbie Shearer, former President of the Abbottstown Council and my predecessor in the PSAB, and Fred Walters, long-time McSherrystown Councilor and recipient of one of PSAB's Lifetime Service Awards.
I will also be meeting with Christopher Capp, Executive VP of the PSAB prior to the conference to discuss any questions I may have concerning the future of the organization. I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve The People of McSherrystown, Adams County and Pennsylvania in such capacities. I will take the next two weeks to review and acquaint myself with Financials, research other proposed Resolutions and decide what seminars to attend at the Conference. After 5 days in State College, I will return the evening of the 9th for our Borough Council meeting, so I am sure to have a lot of information along with me at that meeting.
Hope to see more people in attendance at the Council Chambers!
David "Scotty" Bolton
McSherrystown Borough Councilmember and Citizen
VP and Legislative Committee Chair, Adams County Boroughs Association
PA State Association of Boroughs Board of Directors, Resolutions and Policy Committee
Adams County Transportation Planning Organization-representative
Hanover Regional Economic Development Committee-representative