Skirmish between Cunningham and a resident
Jim Cunningham’s has apparently become embroiled in a skirmish with a local resident David Palmer.
From the Times:
Media councilman’s conduct called into question
To the Times:
Regarding the Media Borough Council meeting of Aug. 19: The “new” leadership of council occupied nearly the entire comments section of the meeting with overwhelmingly negative feelings about it being expressed by the citizens present.
This was due to the way it was done, which was perceived as underhanded, as well as of questionable legality with regard to the Sunshine Law, and because of the reasons given, or more accurately not given, by the cabal members.
An example of the junta’s leadership potential was displayed when Councilman Jim Cunningham, who took affront at my laughter at his ridiculous claim regarding polls showing support for the cabal’s actions, threatened me on camera for daring to express amusement at his absurd and unsupported claims. Cunningham actually shook his finger at me at one point and likewise declared “You do that again and I’ll …” before being brought back to reality by another attendee.
It is my understanding that Mr. Cunningham receives a check for his “services” on the council and is thus an employee of the Media Borough. It is also my understanding that there is a printed code of conduct regarding employees of the borough and their interactions with citizens of the town.
I would like to know if Mr. Cunningham’s conduct was in keeping with this code of conduct. If not, and frankly I don’t see how physically threatening a citizen wouldn’t fall in the “not” category, I want to know what actions have been taken to discipline Mr. Cunningham. Has he been reprimanded? Has he been terminated? Are there any pending disciplinary actions for his threatening a citizen?
In years past I would have kicked sand back in his face. However, since outgrowing the sandbox I have learned that adults, particularly adults holding positions of trust and power like being a registered voter or a member of borough council, should behave with a little more maturity. And I will be at the next council meeting demanding a response regarding Mr. Cunningham’s behavior.
And Jim Cunningham‘s non-reply reply (again, from the Times) emphasis added:
Media Borough Council won’t be intimidated
Published: Tuesday, September 21, 2010
To the Times:
The Times recently published what was purported to be “a matter of public interest” letter from David Palmer of Media about our last borough council meeting. In actuality, it was nothing more than a thinly disguised and scurrilous personal attack unbecoming of sensible public discourse. The foolish letter asked for a reply, which I do not intend to dignify by wasting my time and breath on.
However, I do have a message for him and his ideologically driven partisan friends and supporters. The new bipartisan reform majority on council does not intend to be intimidated and pushed around by a loud group of political bullies of which he appears willing to be the self-appointed spokesman. Rather, we intend to continue to represent the needs and wishes of the concerned and fair-minded citizens who elected each of us. We also will perform our duties with fidelity despite the ideologically motivated and driven show of feinted hysteria and irrationality pushed by a vocal minority desperately seeking to maintain their control of the people and community life of Media at any cost. We will not be demonized or silenced by such individuals, even those who are appointees of the borough government itself who supposedly should be representing, on a non-partisan basis, the interests of the people of Media. We will not be marginalized by those who wrap themselves in constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and expression while cynically denying them to others who disagree with them. They are the ones out of touch with the realities of today’s changing political environment. The old days of self-interested political agendas are over. As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times they are a changing!” for the better and no town deserves it more than our beloved Media.
JAMES J. CUNNINGHAM
Media Borough Council
I (Kent Davidson) was at the meeting, and Mr. Cunningham never threatened anyone, however he did become incensed and did say the things Mr. Palmer quoted when someone from the audience chuckled while he was speaking. Since it appears that Mr. Palmer has brought up the issue twice publicly, one can only assume that he is the one who chuckled.
Mr. Palmer also attended the September 16th meeting and complained about Mr. Cunningham’s behavior, similarly as voiced in his letter. President Alyanakian declined to pursue the matter further.
And in all honesty, while Mr. Cunningham‘s behavior at the August meeting was unbecoming of a public official, Mr. Palmer pursuing the matter does not seem terribly productive. I’m unsure what kind of retribution could even be legally enacted by the Borough Council, aside from expulsion. Like him or not, Mr. Cunningham will be in office until December 2011 and will be up for re-election then.
And to quickly break down Jim Cunningham‘s reply:
- He calls David Palmer (and others):
- scurrilous, foolish, ideologically driven, bully, hysterical, irrational, controlling, demonizing, out of touch with reality, self-interested
- I love the “wrap themselves in constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and expression” part … Really? You’re using the First Amendment as something negative? How has anyone denied Jim Cunningham a voice?
The irony, of course, is that Jim Cunningham‘s words could easily describe himself better than it could describe his detractors.
And after attending Borough Council meetings now since August 2010, I understand why Jim Cunningham could get elected: He always sticks up for the “little guy,” painfully apparent in the issues he raises and discusses:
- He is a vehement opponent to the Hampton Inn, sticking up for the residents on the neighboring street, and appears to be trying to thwart that process by getting the Hampton Inn to reapply for a permit when they’ve made minor changes to their application.
- He was for the removal of a parking space next to John’s Grill which made it hard for cars to see when pulling out (it was voted down)
- He was in favor of adding a stop sign to 3rd and Lemon street at the urging of a resident (it was voted down)
In short, he’s a huge proponent of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) which puts the rights of the individual over the rights of everyone else. If you want nothing to change or no progress made in a town, NIMBY is a great way to stifle everything.
However, his short-sightedness means that for projects which will benefit everyone in town (like the Hampton Inn), the rights of few neighbors outweigh the rights of the other 5990 residents, and is unfair to the rest of us, and it’s not a good policy. The neighbors of the Hampton Inn have received a settlement (meaning they’ve been paid for their troubles), so we assume their pain in putting up with the inn has been compensated.
As well, when the room was overflowing into the hallway in August (the meeting in question), Jim Cunningham said, “Listen, don’t for five minutes think that what you saw here represents the people of the borough …” and obviously is reflected again in his letter.
When I see this type of angry letter from Mr. Cunningham, I believe less that he is doing what’s best for Media, and instead is doing what’s best for himself.
Finally, in the Borough Council Meeting on October 21st, Mr. Cunningham brought up a change to the borough code of ethics which mimics some of his language in the letter:
But more on that later. For now, judge for yourself what’s best for Media, not what others say is best for Media.