Police Contract Debacle Threatens to Engulf Persing
Last year, faced with a strong opponent in his race for re-election, a desperate Mayor Persing sold out the city, giving in to every pension demand made by his police department. He certainly wanted their contract off the table in the worst possible way, to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2005, when dissatisfied local officers played a significant role in helping secure Jesse Woodring’s primary victory.
Persing was terrified at the consequences of losing again, this time to Joe Bartello. Having built up his lucrative softball business over the years, and making a small fortune from the questionable use of taxpayer-funded city property and other assets, he had to do whatever it took to retain control. For him, the alternative was unthinkable. (see A Tale of Two Cities)
Mayor Persing has discovered that there is more to life than softball, certainly when it comes to paying for damage to private property caused by his contractor during the recent $400,000 extension to his palatial Hall of Fame.
A house in Race St. belonging to Linda Metzger, and which she shares with her disabled husband, sustained severe damage during demolition of an adjoining property. Despite clear evidence of negligence including a video, Persing refused to accept liability, and arrogantly dismissed all claims for compensation.
For many residents, increasingly concerned by the circus at City Hall, the events at the meeting of Monday 12th May were the final straw. Following the leaked announcement on WKOK the previous Friday of Chief Mazzeo’s demotion, there had been a widespread feeling of despair and confusion. This mood however, turned very quickly to one of anger when it became apparent that the decision on his demotion was arbitrary and capricious, was not supported by any evidence of wrong-doing, and was not part of any rational plan from the city administration to enhance the performance of our police department.
Once again Persing has betrayed our city and his oath of office. It has become painfully obvious that the defense and protection of our citizens and the safeguarding of their constitutional rights is something which is not deemed worthy of his consideration.
Calls for his recall are today reverberating around Sunbury.
The world’s media are laying siege to Sunbury. For the past few days they have been engaged in a feeding frenzy stirred up by a local reporter, and the claimed revelations of his exclusive Friday night interview with “Craig’s List Killer”, Miranda Barbour, in Northumberland County Jail.
Everyone from Dr. Phil to Fox News wants a piece of the action and to find a different news angle on the lurid details. They want to speak to the reporter, to the prison warden and to police chief, Steve Mazzeo. Above all they want to learn more about the young accused and her grizzly list of alleged murder victims – “I stopped counting when I got to 22!”
While the Persings were living high on the hog during their trip to Oklahoma City last week, others less fortunate were facing up to the prospect of a huge tax hike for the City. We hate to say it, but we told you so. Rather than a $400,000 budget reduction under Joe Bartello we face a $400,000 increase, following the same well trodden path that Persing has taken before – increasingly wasteful expenditure brought about by irresponsible policies pursued by a corrupt and incompetent administration.
Shamokin has already gone down this road and Sunbury is charging headlong in pursuit. When this latest increase proves not to be enough, stand by for an appeal to the county court for an increase in tax limits. Then, rather than going to 25 mil, we can see our tax rates going to 35 mil or even higher – a sure fire recipe for disaster, driving more good people out of Sunbury, leading to increased property blight and a rapidly decreasing tax base.
Unfortunately, this time there is nobody in City Hall who will stand up to such profligacy. With the departure of Councilmen Snyder and Bartello and their replacement by the incoming Henry and Reichner, the collective IQ of those running City Hall has probably halved, and Persing can look forward to little or no informed opposition to his misconceived plans for the next 4 years.
On Tuesday evening, Mayor David L. Persing had a wonderful opportunity to start the healing process for his deeply divided city. He had the chance to be magnanimous in victory, to hold out an olive branch to his opponents and to chart a new way ahead for the city which would be acceptable to a vast majority of its citizens.
Instead he went into attack mode with a bellicose and threatening speech, more reminiscent of Nazi Germany than the Land of the Free, a speech which has spawned a YouTube video entitled “Defiant Mayor with only 60% of vote calls opposition, evil, garbage, makes threats”.
A vital piece of Sunbury’s historical fabric and a huge potential tourist attraction has a massive question mark hanging over its future.
We all know that Vinny Clausi wants to close the prison and put the county into debt by building a new larger unit in his own backyard at Coal Township. What is not so widely known is that Vinny also wants to demolish the existing prison building and sell off the stone.
I don’t think I am alone in finding it strange that Mayor David thought it necessary to divert two of our police officers from their normal duties of protecting our citizens in order to accompany him while campaigning in the Market House last Saturday. It may not have been his intent, but many people found their presence to be intimidating, and kept well clear.
The question has to be asked, Why? Why divert our hard working officers from their regular duties at a time when reports indicate they are unable to deal with more than 50% of the calls which come their way.
Does Mayor David feel threatened walking the streets of our City these days? Does he believe that he has upset so many people that his safety in Sunbury can no longer be guaranteed? This despite all the many improvements he claims to have introduced during his long reign?
If it is no longer safe for political candidates to be out on their own, then how about extending the same courtesy to his rival for Mayor – Councilman Bartello? I am sure he is in more need of it than our illustrious leader.
Campaign Terrified by Budget and Tax Cut Proposals
The Daily Item published some of Joe Bartello’s proposals for the City this morning. What they missed from their article is of greater significance.
There was no mention of Joe’s key proposals – the ones to cut the City Budget by a minimum of $400,000 and also cut City Taxes as a consequence – both issues of which we are sure their readers would like to be informed.