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Publisher's Voice: The race for council is beginning to heat up

Posted 1/29/13

The field of candidates for Middletown Borough Council continues to grow with Rachelle Reid stepping up to run for a seat to represent the town’s First Ward. Reid’s election would mark a return to the local government body.

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Publisher's Voice: The race for council is beginning to heat up

Posted

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Good luck to Cheryl Schauers, who recently retired from a long career in the local financial world. Cheryl’s smiling face at Citizens Bank in downtown Middletown will be missed. Cheers!
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We were happy to report the Greater Middletown Economic Development Corp. (GMEDC) has taken full management of the Elks Theatre. Previous manager Ross Seltzer (who had managed the theater so well) stepped down from the job, and the local nonprofit organization grabbed the managerial responsibility without missing a beat.

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Speaking of nonprofits, volunteers for groups such as GMEDC, Friends of The Library, Interfaith Council, Middletown Area Historical Society and so many others continue to foster organizations that labor to promote and support our community. We owe them our gratitude and, yes, support!

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While there are a lot of positive things happening in our town, sadly, the behind-the-scenes transgressions of council appear to be business as usual.

Middletown residents weren’t the only ones blindsided by council’s announcement and preliminary approval of its third police chief in less than 12 months.

Both Councilor Scott Sites and Mayor Robert Reid leveled pointed remarks at the decision by the eight councilors who fell in line and voted to offer the top cop spot to Steven Wheeler, the chief of investigations in the Attorney General’s office who was about to retire from that position.

Both Sites and Reid said they were not asked to participate in interviews (if any took place) of candidates. Neither admitted knowing anything about council’s new police chief.

“I have no clue who Steven Wheeler is,” Sites said in our story published on our web site last Wednesday, Jan. 23. “I don’t believe that was an open process.”

Reid’s comments were even more critical as to the exclusivity and secretiveness of what has become the standard operating procedure for the voting majority of council.

“I’ve never been asked anything about this guy,” he said. “You would think, being in charge [of police], they would give me a call, let me know what’s going on . . . I should have known about it. It’s the council’s responsibility for selecting a chief, but [I’ve been kept informed about] every chief that was ever selected since I’ve become mayor.”

Borough Council President Christopher McNamara defended the vetting process (whatever it may have been). He asserted the borough followed the proper legal procedures and the position did not need to be advertised.

“That’s how the process flows,” McNamara told our reporter, Daniel Walmer. “We followed the same process we did with the last two chiefs.”

Considering over the past year that the police chief’s office has been little more than a revolving door for its occupants, the council’s past hiring procedures weren’t anything to brag about.

Even the borough’s most vocal defenders must admit council’s track record for hiring is anything but encouraging.

Albert Einstein is quoted to have said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Hmmmm . . .