EDITORIAL: Don’t be Fooled by Faux Candidates: They Represent the “Me First” Party
by Dr. Eric Stein, Media Borough Council
I’d like to comment on the upcoming democratic primary election in Media Borough since there is considerable confusion caused by some literature being distributed by a group of republicans and independents running for office. This group has resorted to dirty tricks to sneak candidates into office that represent their interests, not Media Borough’s. I will address who they are, who the REAL democratic candidates are and what Media Democrats serving in office have done in the past few years.
I write as a serving Councilman in Media Borough. My responsibilities currently include chairing the Borough Information Technology committee, serving on the Finance Committee and the Community Design Committee. I also serve as liaison to the Environmental Advisory Council and the Media Business Authority. I am a full-time professor in the Business School at the Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies (Malvern, PA).
I am in the final year of a four year term (2009-2012) and have decided not to seek re-election to pursue my other passions, which include spending more time with family and close friends, promoting sustainable new ventures, my career, and playing jazz music. I will continue to serve the citizens of Media on select committees and community groups as time permits.
The other reason I chose not to run is the slate of four highly qualified people that I know will represent the interests of Media with integrity and commitment: Lisa Johnson, Kevin Boyer, Sayre Dixon, and Amy Johnson. Each brings a unique set of talents. Kevin served several years on the Board of Recreation and brings great civic experience. Lisa has extensive managerial experience in the private sector and brings excellent organizational and analytical skills to problems. I had the pleasure to work with her when I was the liaison to the Board of Recreation for the borough. Sayre has been involved in community organizing through church and other non-profit bodies for many years. She also has been active in the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, and the League of Women Voters. Amy has deep knowledge of community farming and the environment. She helped start the Media Farmer’s Market and I know she will be a valuable asset to our town in all matters related to sustainability. Together they constitute a ticket that will make the people of Media proud. They are the REAL democrats wholly endorsed by the Media Democratic Party. More information about these candidates can be found at mediademocrats.com and in newsletters.
Media Democrats can rightfully take credit for several recent initiatives that have enhanced our town. I will only comment on the projects in which I had direct involvement although this list is by no means exhaustive, representing just a small sampling of what I and other democrats have been up to.
Business Development and Growth
Since 2009, I have worked with the Media Business Authority (MBA) to improve its functioning, rewrite its bylaws, assist in its ability to raise outside funds through sponsors, promote shared services such as side-walk cleaning, broaden its outreach through social media, attract and serve new and existing businesses, and to continuously improve great events such as Media’s Dining under the Stars (see below). I should note that the MBA is a free-standing quasi-independent body formed over twenty-five years to promote development of the business district. It has its own officers, its own solicitor and is audited as an independent body. As liaison to the MBA, my role is to promote the free-flow of communication between it and the Council. I have no voting rights at MBA meetings. I have a very close working relationship with the current President of the MBA, Kevin Schramm, who has done a fantastic job leading the organization. I serve in the position of liaison with the full knowledge of the officers that my work commitments (I teach at night 2-4 days per week at Penn State) limit my ability to attend all monthly meetings. I therefore work with the President and officers through alternative means such as face-to face meetings, monthly reports (that I present at Council meetings), phone and email. This arrangement has worked very well.
Interestingly, the “Me First” party, lacking anything substantive, has attacked me repeatedly in print for not being at all of the monthly meetings. I am flattered that they assume that I have so much power, but it is a foolish observation and a critique without merit. The MBA has great leadership and officers. I am a non-voting attendee at monthly meetings and I meet with the officers through other means. My role is facilitative. To better understand the role of liaison, I have provided a definition for the faux party’s information: A person who acts as a link to assist communication or cooperation between groups of people (google.com). I hope it helps.
I introduced and with the support of my democratic colleagues we passed an ordinance requiring businesses to identify buildings with house numbers on the back streets to assist first responders. I have also met with the Mayor, the Chief of Police, the Director of the MBA Zubair Khan and the President of the MBA, as well as the restaurant owners to craft ways to make Dining under the Stars the most fun, safe, and well run outdoor dining event in the area.
Environment and Community Design
I have worked with the borough’s Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) under the fine leadership of Walt Cressler to promote renewable energy for Media, energy efficiency on municipal buildings (we received a score of 91 out of 100 on the Energy Star rating by the EPA), waste water management, solar panel data monitors, and recycling. Two years ago, I helped to facilitate a strategic planning session for the EAC hosted by Peter Williamson. The Community Design Committee (of which I am a member with Kent Davidson), under the excellent leadership of democrat, chair and Council President Brian Hall, has successfully managed economic development while retaining the unique character of Media through prudent application of existing guidelines. We have revised our recycling ordinance to bring it up to date and to make it more enforceable. We have guided numerous permits, which have resulted in new businesses re-locating to Media’s business district. Finally, we are working to guide the development of the new Comprehensive Plan for Media Borough with our partners.
Information Technology (IT)
Democrats Monica Simpson, Kent Davidson and I were instrumental in the project to redesign Media Borough’s web site, which resulted in an award from the PA Association of Boroughs. As chair, I have taken the lead with Mr. Davidson on a number of initiatives such as updating our IT infrastructure to promote transparency, accountability, efficiency, and outreach to the public. We recently added credit card devices to our existing parking meters for client convenience and remote monitoring. We are bringing new mobile applications to residents and staff that allow reporting of potholes and downed lines, among other things. We are exploring new technologies for checking parking meters and installing kiosks in our garages. Finally, we are about to begin our first ever strategic planning process for IT to establish our priorities over the next 5-10 years.
So that is a brief sampling of some of the on-going projects sponsored by Media Democrats.
Who is Me First?
Now let me shed a little light on the faux candidates in the primary who call themselves “Media First” (a.k.a. “Me First.”)
None of these people are Media Democrats. None. Cunningham and Tyson are Republicans. Cunningham changed party affiliation just for this primary, an example of dirty tricks from the playbook of Nixon. Rehoric is a Republican-leaning independent who registered as a democrat to get elected in the last election and was a key player in the coup that forced out Democratic Council Chair Peter Williamson in favor of Republican Pete Alyanakian (Alyanakian was convincingly voted out of office in the last election). Lemon is an independent who has never held office.
I served with Cunningham for two years and Rehoric for almost four. Here is what I learned: they would rather block progress and criticize others than to add value to Media. Let me give you some examples. The Borough obtained funding for the CMAQ project through PennDot. CMAQ stands for “Competitive Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality.” The project, now completed, increases traffic flow along Baltimore Pike, saves gas, reduces emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases, and provides new handicap curb cuts, walkways, and timers for pedestrians and motorists. Who voted against this worthy project? Jim Cunningham. He also voted against the Hampton Inn project and it is a matter of public record that he put up every obstacle possible to slow the project down. He voted against the Farmer’s Market. Although he likes to wander the streets of Media greeting constituents with a folksy hello, don’t be fooled by his promises to put up a stop sign in your neighborhood or get rid of a dead tree; that work is not done by him or because he has political sway. We have a highly effective borough manager, staff, and Public Works department that will gladly field all documented requests. Just pick up the phone or send an email to the borough or to the chair of any one of the council committees. No, I am not aware of anything of substance that Mr. Cunningham has accomplished in the past several years.
In a similar vein, ask Ms. Rehoric what she has done the past four years on Council. It is a matter of public record that she holds the record for “No report” at council meetings. What are her accomplishments after four years? The voters have a right to know. I do know that she opposed a set of “Leadership Guidelines for Elected Officials” that I authored that promotes ethical behavior and professional conduct for council members (now part of the HR orientation packet we each receive). She has taken every opportunity to attack the Media Business Authority despite excellent leadership by Kevin Schramm. Rehoric has not shown leadership or produced anything of lasting value for the residents of Media that I am aware of. If you find something in the public minutes, please let me know.
Sam Lemon is someone that I have known for years. However, I have to question his commitment and suitability as a leader based on the company he currently keeps and on his initial foray into community service. He was appointed co-chair of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) for the 3rd Street Roadway Project. I co-authored the charge for this committee (with Peter Williamson), which was to collect data of the views of residents on four possible options for the roadway: build a dam, build a greenway, build a bridge, or demolish it completely. These data were sampled, tabulated, and analyzed. However, before the final results came in, Sam decried the process, quit his position as co-chair in protest, and sent out a sharply worded letter to the editor (Delco Times) blaming everyone, including myself. There were several highly experienced and educated people on the CAC boasting Masters degrees and Ph.D.’s and such claims were an insult to their intelligence and integrity. I can tell you in no uncertain terms that as a researcher I and others took great pains to ensure that it was a fair and objective process and the results reliable. More importantly, the CAC delivered the results to the full Council on time (special thanks to Terry Rumsey), which aided in its deliberations. It was just one of many inputs to the decision making process. I cannot understand why Sam chose to quit and attack the committee in this way. When you are an elected official, you cannot simply quit mid-way. Consequently, I have to conclude that Sam does not have the temperament to lead or serve on Council. Perseverance is a pre-requisite for this job, not quitting.
Finally, Mr. Tyson. He is a staunch Republican and was colleagues with Alyanakian and Cunningham.
So Democratic voters in Media, please think twice about who you vote for in the 2013 primary on May 21 and later in the general election. Vote for the democrats endorsed by the Media Democratic Party: Dixon, Boyer, Johnson, and Johnson.
Stay away from the faux candidates; i.e., the “Me First” party.