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Don’t use taxpayer dollars to bully free press, former council president says: Letter to the Editor

Posted 11/21/18

When I was Middletown Borough Council president from 2012 to 2016, there were times I strongly disagreed with the newspaper’s coverage of the borough. Those disagreements have been well …

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Don’t use taxpayer dollars to bully free press, former council president says: Letter to the Editor

Posted

When I was Middletown Borough Council president from 2012 to 2016, there were times I strongly disagreed with the newspaper’s coverage of the borough. Those disagreements have been well documented ... no need to rehash them here.

And it is no secret that when I was council president, we moved our legal ads to another publication.

Recently, Mayor James H. Curry III, and others, have brought that up in an attempt to justify their decision to stop advertising in the Press & Journal. But there is a big difference between those two decisions.

Our decision was not made because of the coverage, or editorial opinions. It was made strictly on dollars and cents. I explained at the time that we made the change because we found we could run those ads elsewhere at a lower cost. It was our responsibility to the taxpayers to choose that less expensive option.

I often did not like the coverage in the Press & Journal, but that was never the reason for our decisions on where to run the ads.

I understand, and appreciate, the frustrations the current administration might feel at times when coverage does not paint them in a favorable light. Serving in an elected office can be a thankless task, especially in a town that has had as much bickering and disagreement as Middletown has had over the years.

Whether I agree with what the current council is doing, or not, I don’t doubt their intentions. Nobody takes on the duties of serving on council looking to hurt the town. And when people disagree with your decisions, or the media coverage seems to be negative, it can hurt.

But decisions on how you spend taxpayer dollars should not be for political considerations. That is not fair to the taxpayers. If the borough can run its ads someplace else for less, that is what it should do. If it would cost less to run them in the Press & Journal, they should run them there.

Taxpayer dollars should not be used to try to bully the free press into giving the borough flattering or uncritical coverage.

Chris McNamara

Middletown