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Set aside petty bickering on military banners: Editorial

Posted 5/17/17

Why do our borough leaders have to take something wonderful like the Middletown Hometown Heroes military banner program and start tearing it down almost immediately after it starts?

These …

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Set aside petty bickering on military banners: Editorial

Posted

Why do our borough leaders have to take something wonderful like the Middletown Hometown Heroes military banner program and start tearing it down almost immediately after it starts?

These wonderful signs were barely even posted around town when small-town politics reared its head. Name-calling. Charges of being anti-veteran. Charges of slander.

Ugly, childish, small-town politics at its worst.

What a waste.

We are going to state this as plainly as possible: Those who want to buy these banners to honor their loved ones DO NOT CARE about these rifts that members of the borough council clearly have.

This program has been a success. Almost 90 people bought a banner. Based on the response we have seen — and comments by council member Diana McGlone, who helped get this program off the ground — there are plenty of people who still want to take part.

These area residents were unaware that the program existed until banners were in place and now want to buy them. This is a good problem, right? People have seen how great they look and want to be a part of it?

Except instead all we hear about are problems.

There are not enough poles for all the banners. The project was done without proper council approval. There is a risk of running afoul of competitive bidding requirements for such projects.

Every part of this fiasco could be solved if cooler heads simply prevailed. But, as is way too often the case in the issues facing Middletown, that’s not how things are done.

Instead, McGlone calls Council President Damon Suglia and Council Vice President Dawn Knull “anti-veteran” for not supporting the immediate continuation of the program. Such charges are totally off base, uncalled for and completely inflammatory for no reason. They accomplish nothing and further widen the divide.

A lack of poles has been blamed. All the decorative ones are in use for banners already. So why not just continue to use utility poles? Several dozen already have been placed on them.

Suglia said he wouldn’t want a banner that he purchased placed on one. Knull said several people have told her they look “tacky” on the utility poles. Why don’t we let those who are buying the banners decide? Tell them they will be on utility poles. If that’s not what they want, then they have the option not to buy.

Putting them on utility poles also allows them to be in areas of the borough that don’t have decorative poles, such as Ann Street.

If the program needs to go through a proper bidding procedure, then do so. We don’t want to risk a lawsuit. But that’s an obstacle that can be overcome.

Suglia has said that the program can be reopened for more people to buy banners after the two-year period expires for the first set of banners — meaning in 2018. We hope he reconsiders. The excitement exists now. Take advantage of it.

Suglia, as council president, can put this on hold if he wants, although council never signed off on it to begin with. And that’s part of the problem in his view.

We believe McGlone has a point when she says that “it’s disgusting that we have council leadership trying to interject their personal vendettas against me.”

Suglia himself said as much: “She needs to learn how to play by the rules instead of making her own.”

Fine. Maybe this project didn’t come about in a perfect manner. But can’t we set that aside and move ahead with something that is a visible source of pride for the borough? These signs are making people feel good about where they live.

This project should be about honoring our veterans who protected us. Overcome these obstacles, put petty bickering aside and let this successful program continue.

We aren’t taking McGlone’s side. We aren’t taking Suglia’s side.

We are on the side of the area residents who want to take part. We are on the side of the area residents who enjoy seeing these tributes. We are on the side of our veterans.

Those are the people our elected officials should be supporting, too.

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