Monday, June 14, 2010

Thanks, But No Thanks

At any given time, there are residents who have a bone to pick with our elected township supervisors. Disgruntled residents file into the township building for any number of reasons, large and small, some legitimate concerns, others from people who complain about everything under the sun in general. That comes with trying to govern a community the size of, say, Lower Providence, with approximately 26,000 residents. There are bound to be problems, disagreements and mistakes made that need to be fixed. But, overall, I think Lower Providence is well managed by a terrific township manager in Joe Dunbar, an excellent staff of professionals at the top of their game, and five supervisors that more often than not make good decisions. We have, over the past few years, become a benchmark against which other townships measure themselves, progressive, proactive, and a leader among our local communities. We are, usually, at least a step ahead of everyone else.

 Imagine, for a moment, if that entity were gone or, worse, overruled and hamstrung by politics and government at the county level. We all read the paper. We know how dysfunctional that’s turned out to be. Think that’ll never happen?

Think again. It is a real possibility. Democrat Rep. Tom Caltagirone of Berks County recently introduced HB 2431 (link:, which calls for a constitutional amendment to make the county the basic level of government. This radical plan would drastically change how we are governed, as it calls for elimination of townships, cities and boroughs, leaving the county to oversee all municipal functions such as land use and zoning, trash removal, police, park maintenance, road repairs etc. that townships like Lower Providence perform now. It would also determine what if any duties local municipal officials would perform.

And, counties would presumably be in charge of determining and reaping the rewards of all municipalities’ property and local taxes, including earned income tax, water and sewage fees and, also presumably, disbursement of same back into the communities within its borders. But what’s to say it would be disbursed equitably or fairly?

 Given the 3-ring circus that constitutes the Montgomery County commissioners’ office these days, about the scariest thing I can think of is the ‘dynamic duo’ of Jim Matthews and Joe Hoeffel calling the shots that affect us, and running the day-to-day operations of Lower Providence. It’s tough enough to weigh the concerns of Audubon versus those of the residents of Trooper, but just imagine where we might fall in the bigger picture, as commissioners weigh the concerns of a Lower Providence against those of Narberth, Worcester, Abington, or any of the other of the 62 municipalities that comprise Montgomery County.

 How would we like it if the county planned to put a sewage treatment plant in your neighborhood, and you had no local government to seek recourse from? Oh, wait, we’re already sort of ‘there’, what with a regional authority, the Lower Perkiomen Valley Regional Sewer Authority, trying to jam a sewer interceptor project here, but at least residents have been able to get their local supervisors engaged to fight it. I can’t imagine where something like this would fall on the County’s list of “things to do”.

 As much as I dislike the whole idea, I think a municipality should, at least, be given the option of voting on a referendum to eliminate their local government and ‘opt in’ to this county option if they desire. To have it forced on local governments and their residents doesn’t make sense. I mean, where would it stop? Why not dissolve the states? Why not let the UN govern everything and dissolve countries? Absurd, of course, and this is, too.

 I hope that Rep. Caltagirone meant well. Certainly there are likely duplications of service and the potential for savings and efficiencies due to economies of scale in areas like sourcing and human resources, for example. Not that consolidating power is any guarantee that those efficiencies will be realized. All you have to do is look at any Federal government agency to see how bigger = waste and inefficiency. No, this seems much more like a blatant power grab by Democrats, especially when you consider that all of the bill’s sponsors are Democrats, and one is from Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) and another is from Philadelphia. Philadelphia, by the way, is listed as an exception to this bill. It would not have to worry about being governed by Philadelphia County.

 In my opinion, consolidating power is not necessary, especially when our local County government seems to be a never-ending episode of a bad soap opera, rife with obvious conflicts of interest and violating its own rules such as those governing how contracts are bid and awarded. The more local the government, the greater the opportunity of having an impact in your own community. Only local governments such as what exists already are the most accountable to their constituents and most committed to keeping the spending and taxation of their constituents – many of whom they know personally, and run into regularly at the gas station or grocery store – in check.

Consider contacting your local state rep (Rep. Vereb or Drucker, depending on where you live in Lower Providence) to tell them how you feel about HB 2431.


The shadow said...


That would be BAD.

Thanks for shedding a little light on the subject, Janice.

Good work!

J. Gresh said...


Can't beileive my ears, with someone like you on the local board of supervisors passing anything developers want, and kissing their respectives butts for donations, I would vote to do away with local government in a heatbeat. You were a disgrace as a supervisor and got even worse as a zhb member. I can't wait for the current board of hard working supervisors to throw you out of there. I dare you to print my opinion of you!

Janice Kearney said...

Wow, where do I start with this. Not only will I publish it, but I'll dish a little out myself.

First off, I know who you are, and for someone who inexplicably dislikes me so much (because I've never done a damn thing to you), you have the distinction of visiting my blog more than anyone else - sometimes 4 or 5 times a day, every single day. Get out much?

Second, I have never taken a donation from anyone for anything, much less a developer. "Disgrace' as a supervisor? As a temporary appointee for all of five months, I have a hard time understanding how that is, but whatever, to each his own.

Last, no need to be thrown out of office. My 5-year term is up in December, and I do not intend to submit a letter asking to be reappointed. There are other opportunities to be of service, where what I bring to the table is appreciated, and, unlike you who has zippo other options and nobody ringing your phone, one term on ZHB is plenty.

You, on the other hand, should never have been reappointed to the slot you now hold (again). As someone with two incidents of recent juvenile petty criminal behavior (and at at your advanced age, you should be ashamed of yourself) to his name, this little diatribe of yours is simply pathetic. Hello, kettle!

So sorry I'm not what you evidently expect of women: that we stay barefoot, pregnant and at home catering to men, instead of having an opinion, trying to make a difference, and swimming in the shark tank with the big boys, but as you well know by now, that's not me. If you can't deal with that, then AGAIN, since my very existence appears to annoy and inflame you, I again invite you to stop reading my blog. Or, better yet, call me up and let's discuss whatever it is that I allegedly did that you have an issue with. I'll buy the first round. That's MY dare to you.