Beckerman True Leader
Thursday, October 31, 2013 • 10:07am
In recent weeks I have had the displeasure of reading numerous, misleading letters to the editors of our local media outlets. Each time, I have fought the urge to respond out of concern for the working relationships I have developed since joining the council in January. With that said, I've decided to indulge myself one submission this campaign that will be based upon fact rather than rhetoric and that will not attack any particular candidate.
In the interest of the readers' time, I will keep each point brief and will leave my thesaurus in the drawer.
Lou Beckerman has been my partner on the council for nearly a year. He has acted with integrity in each and every vote he has cast and has been led by nothing other than a firm commitment to our incredible town. He has made decisions based on what was right for our Township's future and for the realities currently faced by our residents. Behind closed doors he has been a consistent voice of reason and an advocate for unity within the Council.
The police merger - Possibly the easiest point of all. The Township of Scotch Plains has been at the table with Fanwood discussing a merger of the police departments for several years. Throughout these discussions Fanwood has been very clear on one, non-negotiable, point and that is the joint meeting. While the local Republican Party would like you to believe that there are other forms available to us an option, the reality is this: Fanwood leaves the table if we attempt to move this process forward in any other format. No merger, no savings.
Yes, Fanwood is a smaller entity. Yes, they will be paying less into the joint police department than the Township of Scotch Plains which is approximately nine times the size of their one mile Borough. If you were to look at this as a household to household issue, the costs and savings are equitable in both municipalities and will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings, each year, in the most conservative estimates. Of equal importance is that this is accomplished without demotions or layoffs. Anything else is smoke and mirrors. I would caution our residents that the ability to post early and often on a variety of blogs does NOT make the arguments currently being pushed upon us by the Scotch Plains republicans accurate. Rather, their highly misleading antics have served only to lessen the morale of our officers and cause unnecessary alarm in our residents.
Legal fees - When the balance of Council shifted in January, changes were made to the professionals that serve the Township. This is an absolute fact. That change provided the Township with a long overdue opportunity to revisit existing policies and procedures. What was discovered, was that in many cases these were lacking, leaving the Township open to future litigation.
Time, and yes money, has been spent to correct deficiencies in these areas. I stand firm that in the end, money spent to proactively address areas where we have previously been exposed is money that has been spent wisely.
Furthermore, also inherited from previous administrations were personnel issues predating our time on council, a fact that seems to escape the recent rhetoric on attorney fees.
The library - Yes, I voted with Councilman Beckerman to fund the township library at the level required by State law. Faced with the reality that numerous departments were struggling with emergent needs and the township's budget was spinning out of control, we did vote to allocate only the funding deemed necessary to maintain the services previously in place. With well over half a million dollars available to the library, any other vote would have been irresponsible as the Council worked with the reality that we are currently representing residents who are genuinely struggling with this overhead of running thier households. Included in this overhead is property taxes. Arguably, the council has control over only a small portion of the total tax bill. Such reality is not an excuse to spend with reckless abandonment. The library board would have liked to be funded at a greater level. I understand and respect the request. Each year, as a department head in a public school system, I too make budget requests that would help my department to thrive. Each year, items and dollars are removed from my budget by those with the opportunity to have a greater sense of the needs of the entire school district. And yet, I am very proud to say that my department is able to thrive. More with less has become a mandate of this economy, and the mantra of responsible government. Wants are not needs. Such is not to say that the library shouldn't be funded at a greater level in future years, but in this year, in this economy, we made the right decision. The fact that the entire republican campaign against Couniclman Beckerman has been based on his budget vote, speaks volumes as to the man he is. Councilman Beckerman voted to fund the library at a responsible level. He did so knowing full well he'd be faced with an election this November, and that this decision wasn't popular.
All this brings me to one final point, Councilman Beckerman is a tried and true leader. On November 5th, I ask each of you to join me in voting for Lou Beckerman for Township Council.
Very truly yours,
Township of Scotch Plains