McCandless OKs Land Development Plan For Potential Wal-Mart

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

McCandless gave an assist to Wal-Mart in its plan to build a store by speeding through the approval process, two attorneys said during a contentious council meeting Monday night.

“I wouldn’t be standing here if this wasn’t the most egregious consideration of a big box in my more than 32 years of experience,” said William Sittig, an attorney representing O’Hara-based Giant Eagle Inc.

The town council voted 5-2, with Cynthia Potter and Gerard Aufman Jr. against, to approve Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s subdivision application for a store in a Blazier Drive shopping center between Blazier’s intersections with Ingomar and McKnight roads. The council also voted 4-3, with Potter, Aufman and William McKim against, to approve a land development plan.

Wal-Mart plans to demolish two commercial buildings on Blazier Drive and replace them with a 150,000-square-foot supercenter that will include a grocery store, auto center and drive-through pharmacy.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6462288-74/mart-wal-council#ixzz38ruqXvcW
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Luzerne County Council Must Decide How To Spend $16 Million

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Luzerne County has $16 million in past-borrowed fundsavailable for capital projects, or $2 million less than officials had estimated, county Operational Services Division Head Tanis Manseau said Monday.

Manseau said he received the revised figure after the budget/finance division recently reviewed payments and outstanding invoices from the account.

County Council members called a special meeting tonight to discuss how they want to earmark this remaining funding because they’re supposed to adopt a capital budget by Sept. 1 under home rule.

Manseau emailed an updated list of suggested projects to council Friday night, but Manseau said he is working on additional revisions that will total around $14 million.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/50041470/Luzerne-County-Council-must-decide-how-to-spend-$16-million

WATCH: Fall Out Boy Offers To Play Music With Garden Spot Marching Band

Fall Out Boy offered to visit and play music with the Garden Spot marching band in a video published on the band’s Youtube channel today.

The band apparently heard about the school board nixing their song, “Thnks for th Mmrs” from the marching band play list this week.

State College Borough Council OKs Neighborhood Plan

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

— Council unanimously voted Monday to approve the borough’s neighborhood plan, bringing almost two years of work and planning to a successful conclusion.

The plan was presented to the board by borough planner Meagan Tuttle. Tuttle had previously presented the plan to the board during the July 14 work session.

She explained that following board feedback, the planning staff looked into the borough’s role in realizing several of the goals presented. Some changes were made from the version presented on July 14 that moved the borough to a leadership position, and the council would see those changes on the final draft.

Clock Is Ticking On Consolidating 4 Pottstown Fire Companies

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — For more than three years, borough government has been urging Pottstown’s four independent fire companies to come up with some plan for consolidating.

Earlier this month, the clock started ticking for real when the borough issued a letter to all four companies notifying them that the fire service agreement between them and the borough would be terminated at the end of the year and starting in 2015, the borough will only sign one fire services agreement with a single, consolidated fire company.

Unlike the police department, fire protection in Pottstown is not under the direction of borough government, but instead is provided by four independent volunteer fire companies over which Pottstown Fire Chief Richard Lengel has operational control during a fire.

But in matters of their own affairs, such as finances, the election of officers and the like, the fire companies are independent.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140722/clock-is-ticking-on-consolidating-4-pottstown-fire-companies

York Mayor Kim Bracey: 5 Game Changers That Could Save York (Column)

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the 2015 budget season approaches, it is my duty to talk straight about our city’s fiscal challenges and pension legacy costs that have been growing since before the turn of this century. While laying out the dire conditions, leadership requires us to hold out meaningful hope by advocating for bold measures. Long term fiscal game-changers can stabilize our property taxes while enabling us to continue providing quality public services and infrastructure that our people deserve and demand.

At times, I feel like a night watchman of earlier centuries who witnesses a spreading fire and vigorously shouts and rings the bell to alert citizens of the imminent crisis. During the last two city administrations, we’ve been warning of the growing fiscal crisis for 13 years, and we’ve done as much as we can internally to make our budget process transparent, to seek sound recommendations from outside experts, to cut costs, and to be fiscally responsible. The list is extensive.

• In 2003, under Mayor Brenner, our city initiated its first open budget hearings, an annual tradition that continues to this year.

• In 2006, our city was one of the very first in the state to enter the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Early Intervention Program, which provided an analysis of York’s finances by outside experts. Their analysis concluded that York’s financial controls and management were strong but that systemic constraints beyond its control were leading to out-of-control costs. Recommendations included implementing a parking tax, which was done.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_26165619/kim-bracey-5-game-changers-that-could-save

Former Police Chief Sues Monroeville As Whistleblower

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monroeville’s former police chief has sued the municipality in federal court, alleging mistreatment after he exposed lapses in how officials protected sensitive law enforcement and medical information about residents.

In the suit filed late Monday night, Steven Pascarella, a 26-year veteran, is claiming civil rights violations, retaliation despite his status as a whistleblower, and failure of the municipality to accommodate an unspecified disability.

Mr. Pascarella, 46, was quietly fired in April. By then he had returned to the rank of lieutenant at his request because of medical issues.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/east/2014/07/15/Former-police-chief-sues-Monroeville-as-whistleblower/stories/201407150135#ixzz37Y2z8uqz

Survey Of Washington, Greene Elected Officials Shows Positive Views Of Gas Industry

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A survey of elected leaders in Washington and Greene counties found generally positive experiences with the gas exploration industry that has changed the face of their communities.

“They’re starting to see a lot of vitality. There’s physical activity in the communities and new wealth among some property owners. New employees. That’s all very positive,” said Diana Stares, the director of the Center of Energy Policy and Management at Washington & Jefferson College, who oversaw the survey. “Now they’re anxious to draw from that development some long-term results. And some don’t know how to go about that.”

Interactions between drilling companies and local officials are improving as both sides get to know each other, and as money and jobs flow into the region, several people said.

“It was a growing experience, I think, by some of these companies coming in here,” said Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi, a Democrat. “But they saw that if you treat people fairly, they’ll respond in a positive way.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6383333-74/industry-officials-percent#ixzz36tbYQPSg
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Moon Schools Eager To Talk Merger With Cornell

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Moon Area School board voted recently to reach out to its much smaller neighbor, the Cornell School District, to discuss a possible merger, it resurrected an issue that had been explored at least twice before.

In 1992 and 1998, the districts studied the idea of a merger or of Cornell students attending Moon on a tuition basis. It died both times because of opposition in the communities and the lack of state financial incentives, but the voluntary merger of the Center Area and Monaca districts, to form Central Valley School District, in recent years has some Moon board members taking a new look at the prospect of sharing resources.

The Central Valley merger, initiated with board votes in 2007 and finalized in 2010, was the first since the court-ordered formation of the Woodland Hills School District in 1981 and the only district in Pennsylvania to be formed through a voluntary merger.

“I just think it’s something we should take a look at,” said Moon school director Laura Schisler, who raised the idea at a May 25 board meeting to vote on the closing of an elementary school.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2014/07/07/Moon-schools-eager-to-talk-merger-with-Cornell/stories/201407070045#ixzz36o7qTuSO

York Lawmaker: CRIZ Decision A ‘Setback’

Map of York County, Pennsylvania, United State...

Map of York County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The chance that York City will get a shot at a City Revitalization Improvement Zone designation this year just got much slimmer.

During the debate over the state’s 2014-15 spending plan, lawmakers nixed a proposal that would have opened the next round of CRIZ applications to more cities earlier than originally planned.

The version of the fiscal code approved by the state Senate included three new CRIZ designations in 2014 and two more in 2015, said state Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City.

But, Schreiber said, Republican members of the House Rules Committee voted to remove “anything having to do with CRIZ” from its version of the fiscal code, a companion bill to the state’s annual budget.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_26094527/york-lawmaker-criz-decision-setback

Richard Scaife, Conservative Champion, Newsman & Philanthropist, Dies

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tribune-Review owner and philanthropist Richard Mellon Scaife, whose vision and funding reinvigorated conservative politics in America, died Friday, July 4, in his home.

His death came just one day after his 82nd birthday.

Many of the nation’s leading conservatives considered him to be the man who sustained the Republican Party after its crushing defeat in the 1964 presidential election and the Watergate scandal in 1972.

His support for and promotion of a conservative agenda led to Ronald Reagan’s election as president in 1980 and the nation’s turn toward the principles those two men shared.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6338603-74/scaife-dick-pittsburgh#ixzz36VmqdDyi
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Pennsylvania’s Stagnant 2013 Growth Has Political Repercussions

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania’‍s economy stalled last year, according to a report from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Pennsylvania’‍s real gross domestic product, an indicator of general economic conditions, grew just 0.7 percent in 2013. Only three states and Washington, D.C., saw slower growth.

Pennsylvania was also out-performed by its neighbors, West Virginia and Ohio, which saw 5.1 and 1.8 percent growth respectively. West Virginia has now outgrown Pennsylvania for six straight years, and Ohio has for two. Even struggling New Jersey beat out the Keystone State, posting 1.1 percent growth.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/06/19/Pennsylvania-s-stagnant-2013-growth-has-political-repercussions/stories/201406190114#ixzz356R8ZzWX

Cross-State Cost On Pennsylvania Turnpike In 2015: $46.05

Pennsylvania Turnpike Ticket from the Warrenda...

Pennsylvania Turnpike Ticket from the Warrendale (30) Toll Stop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike will increase 5 percent in 2015, effective Jan. 4.

The decision by the Turnpike Commission Tuesday to hike tolls for the seventh year in a row means the cash toll to drive from the Ohio border to the New Jersey border will be $46.05 for passenger cars, up from the current $43.85

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140618_Cross-state_cost_on_Pa__Turnpike_in_2015___46_05.html#oMutHh3mv0r47KXy.99

Our Thoughts On Last Night’s Pottstown Borough Council Meeting

Editor’s comments:  Below I have reprinted the text from Katy Jackson’s heartfelt speech with my thoughts.  Love her or hate her, Katy cannot be accused of taking the path of least resistance.  The time Katy has put into trying to make Pottstown a better place is enormous.  There are plenty of other things she could be doing with her time.  Katy gets no pay, Mr. Toroney yet she puts in countless hours working toward the betterment of Pottstown and has plenty to show for her efforts, it in terms of accomplishments. Yes, I know you work full-time.

It angered me that Katy was interrupted and told to “wrap it up” at only 4 minutes.  It showed a complete lack of respect and civility.  Mrs. Jackson is WELL AWARE of the time limit for citizen comments.  She was reading a prepared text, which she timed.  That fact that she was the ONLY person interrupted tells me her words hit too close to home.  The truth hurts. 

All this blustering and obfuscation needs to stop, along with blaming the taxpayers.  It pisses them off as you were told last night.  I hope you heard that loud and clear. 

Mr. Toroney, you know being a Councilor is time-consuming, yet you keep running for re-election.  You know it pays virtually nothing, yet you keep running for re-election.  Either the job is your joy and sacred duty or a time-sucking pain in the ass, it cannot be both.

After introducing herself as a representative of the Citizens Action Committee of Pottstown, Katy said:

Mr. Toroney, you’ve taken the path of least resistance in your lengthy term (15 ½ years) on council.  Art Markman, PhD, a professor of Psychology at the University of Texas and Director of the Program in the Human Dimensions of Organizations, writes ‘the path of least resistance’ asThe psychologist Tom Ward points out that when we think about anything, we follow the path of least resistance.  Without realizing it, we instantly and automatically categorize every situation we see based on our previous experience.  So, despite our best efforts to do something bold and new, our memory drives us back to things tried and true.  Our efforts at creativity are thwarted before they get on track.

Several years ago, you made a comment to a council person that “you don’t get paid enough”.   Yet, you have vied to retain your seat and you’ve accepted the position of Council President, more than once.  Have you failed to understand that serving as an elected official is not about the money?  Or is it…?  Mr. Toroney, if being on council is your “sacred duty” as you professed last night, then may I suggest you actually do something.  Last night would have been the perfect opportunity for a list of accomplishments that you, as Council President, achieved which propelled Pottstown forward.

Given that the process was in place and, taxpayers covered the costs to seek a qualified outside borough manager, you took the path of least resistance.  This is the $120,000 question.  If Pottstown Borough government operated in the real world, a more experienced person would be Borough Manager and making a more reasonable salary considering the size of the local government.  Also, a more experienced person would have realized if you spend more money than you bring in, you create a deficit.  There is no “extra” money in the budget to reward our friends with promotions and raises, to buy a new car, to hand out iPads, or spend money on consultants that we planned on ignoring all along.  Taxpayers are smarter than you think.

When it was time to select a new Police Chief for Pottstown, you made no pretense about choosing the path of least resistance.  Again, in the real world, people are held to metrics and performance goals.  I supervised people for over 20 years and wrote countless performance appraisals.  Employees were ranked according to their achievements.  If you failed to meet goals such as quantity and quality, your performance review reflected this.  Your raise, or lack of a raise was dependent upon your results.  Your customer service skills, ability to work and play well with others, your attendance, punctuality etc… were all measured.  When my people missed their goals, I heard about it from my boss.  Had I told my V.P. that my goal was to increase productivity by 1% I would have most likely been demoted, once he stopped laughing.

Each month when the expenditures for the borough are approved by council do you read the line items and scrutinize the spending or…do you take the path of least resistance?  I will say Pottstown’s finances improved greatly due to Jason Bobst, Janice Lee and Dan Weand.  However, if we allow the borough manager spend money we don’t have, whose fault would that be?  In the real world, his supervisor.  In Pottstown’s case, that would be borough council, headed up by El Presidente, Steve Toroney.  The borough manager needs supervision, sorry.  Inaction makes you complicit when overspending occurs.  Just say no.

Do you believe that upper management requires exorbitant salaries, top of the line new vehicles, iPads for officials, costly analysis of the codes department, bullet proof surround for upper management while taxpayers and residents of Pottstown watch in disbelief as our community deteriorates before our eyes. Diligent public employees struggle to do their best with chaos but others could care less about their jobs.  You have taken the path of least resistance, Mr. Toroney.  See above commentary…this also falls under reigning in your employees.

You appointed an ad hoc committee to vet prospective engineer firms who ultimately chose Remington, Veronica and Beach, in March 2012. It is evidenced that you were aware of impropriety in that process yet, you did not speak up.  You went on to support a hasty, questionable expenditure of unbudgeted tax payer money of around $33,000 for an analysis of the codes department by Remington, Veronica and Beach.  Again, I ask, was this the path of least resistance?   This debacle is just unbelievable.  No words.

I believe this poor, struggling community cannot afford you, Mr. Toroney. Your selective interest and support of worthy organizations in Pottstown appears to be based on your personal approval or disapproval of the individuals that comprise their groups.  Despite your disdain, these organizations forge ahead in the challenging roles they have accepted to make Pottstown a better place for all residents.   Why has it been difficult for you to offer encouragement and take an interest in your community?  In this, you have again chosen a path that may have been easy for you but you have made it difficult for many others.   Mr. Toroney’s irrational fear of a certain non-profit organization in Pottstown is just maddening.  This organization can actually list substantial accomplishments that have made Pottstown a better place.  This mentality is very junior high school.  Stop the madness and grow up.

You have failed to advocate for the taxpayers and good citizens of Pottstown and in doing so, you condone the rising crime and disintegration of our community.  Rather than using your position, as Council President, to communicate with Montgomery County and State officials, to keep the concerns of this community in the forefront of their decision-making, you have engaged in conspiracy theories about the Counties intentions toward Pottstown.  And we have been further isolated in our efforts to revitalize.  Pottstown’s potential is enormous.  As I drove down High Street last night from McDonald’s to borough hall I remembered what drew me to live in Pottstown all those years ago.  I like towns better than “burbs”.  I like the hustle and bustle, the diversity, the architecture, the history etc…  When I first moved to Pottstown in 1983 I lived in Valley View Apartments in North Coventry Township.  Less than two years later I moved into the borough and lived on the 200 block of Walnut Street, followed by the 100 block of King Street, the 1400 block of Queen Street and the 900 block of Hale Street.  I CHOSE to live in Pottstown.  Sadly, in 2012 I CHOSE to move out of Pottstown because of crime, blight and the cost of living. 

We’re asking you tonight to step down from service to this community so that an “individual” among you, that council deems qualified, can pick up the pieces, and lead. We desperately need real leaders in Pottstown.   Lead or get out-of-the-way, Mr. Toroney.

Mr. Toroney are you proud of what Pottstown has become?  John Potts is rolling over in his grave on a daily basis over what has been done to his town. 

It’s not too late to save Pottstown but the residents need to start driving the bus and stop being taken for a ride.  Power to the Pottstown People!

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Toroney Touts Tenure On Pottstown Council, Accomplishments – Reads From Prepared Statement

POTTSTOWN, PA – Several dozen people stood in front of Pottstown Borough Hall, before tonight’s council meeting, to protest the rash of violence, including a homicide, that has gripped the borough in the last few weeks.  NBC 10, the Reading Eagle and ace Mercury Reporter, Evan Brandt were all on hand (sorry if I missed anyone).  Motorists honked and shouted encouragement from time to time as the protesters held up signs asking Pottstown Borough Council President Steve Toroney to resign.

Despite the threatening weather, the demonstration went on.  Around 6:30 pm, Mr. Toroney arrived and entered the building by the front door.  He appeared indifferent to the demonstrators.

The meeting started at 7:00 pm with the Call to Order.  For the Invocation, President Toroney briefly spoke about former Pottstown Mayor Anne Jones, who passed away a few days ago.  A moment of silence was then observed for Anne and her family.

The agenda then moved through the Pledge of Allegiance, Roll Call, Approval of Minutes and then Comments from Citizens Present.

The first commenter was well-known Pottstown civic activist, Katy Jackson.  Speaking on behalf of the Pottstown Citizens Action Committee, Mrs. Jackson read with emotion from her prepared statement, which outlined in less than five minutes the flawed leadership of President Toroney.  She was interrupted at 4 minutes to tell her she had one minute left and to “wrap it up”.  No other speaker was interrupted.  See my Roy’s Rants Facebook page to view video.

Dianne Krumm, another member of the Pottstown Citizens Action Committee echoed much of Mrs. Jackson’s concerns.  She also cited Pottstown Police Chief Richard Drumheller’s goal to reduce crime in Pottstown by 1% when he took office.  She suggested Pottstown ask for help from the state to aid the beleaguered police department.

Cindy Conard, former challenger for the 7th Ward Council seat, stressed the need for conversation and communication between the residents and the borough.  She also mentioned the lack of vision and direction as contributing factors to the frustration of taxpayers.

David Garner, Esquire addressed the 7th Ward Councilor for ignoring his emails (not the first person with this issue).  He again offered his help to the borough, even after being told his help “was not needed and not wanted”.

Several others addressed council with comments like “come live in my neighborhood for a day or a week”, “my property value has dropped $40,000 in 5 years” and “the borough manager rejected my request for an appointment”.

A young woman told a horror story of being abused by an extractive property investor.  His property was inspected by the Pottstown Codes Department, there were major violations yet nothing ever happened to her landlord.  She had no heat for two months and duct tape over the windows and doors to keep the air out, “you could see outside”.  She called the Pottstown Police Department because she was being terrorized, nothing happened.  They were more interested in running her information to see if she had outstanding warrants than they were to protect her from defiant trespass.  She had to go to Norristown to get help and moved before her lease was up.  She rightly wonders why her landlord was not held accountable for the ordinances she found on the borough website and why the police department was not interested in helping her.  Great questions.

The last person who spoke expressed his frustration with being told he, as a taxpayer, is not doing enough to help fight crime in Pottstown.  He is a life-long resident of the borough, an upstanding citizen who does call the police and tries to do the right thing.  Being told he is not doing enough “pisses him off”.  He lives within a block of the recent murder (and a previous murder).  He also mentioned shootings, arson and cars being vandalized in his neighborhood.  Blaming the people who pay your salary is never the way to go.

So after all these taxpayers poured out their hearts to borough council, a red-faced Steve Toroney read a prepared statement touting his 15 ½ years on Council.  Normally politicians can rattle off a list of their accomplishments at the drop of a hat.  Steve is proud of what he has accomplished but did not offer one illustration of any accomplishment in his statement.  Interesting.  See my Roy’s Rants Facebook page to view video.   Mr. Toroney got a “jab” in at former Sixth Ward Councilor, Jody Rhoads in his remarks about not resigning.

The next item was the Mayor’s Report.  The mayor had three talking points.  First she talked about Anne Jones.  That was very nice.  Then she talked about Edgewood Cemetery, at some length.  Basically, it’s abandoned and the borough does not own the property.  The cemetery needs to be maintained… the problem.  Lastly, Sharon addressed crime.  She talked so long the video card filled up and my camera stopped recording.  Sharon did mention the last citizen’s comments in her remarks about crime.

The Borough Manager’s Report was short.  He mentioned the upcoming Pottstown Rumble volleyball tournament and that the hours are changing at borough hall. He did not acknowledge any of the citizens comments.

I left after his remarks.

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The Unfurling Of Cronyism In The Borough Of Pottstown…

Roy:

We feel this post merits re-posting on our site. We feel the time has come for the good people of Pottstown to say ENOUGH ALREADY! Your presence at the demonstration and meeting tomorrow night is essential if the elected leadership is to see people mean business. The only way to send a message is to show up. 10 people at a council meeting sends the signal that the good people of Pottstown are either okie dokie with the way things are run OR that y’all don’t care. We urge you to make the time to attend the meeting tomorrow night. Share your displeasure with the elected leadership. Demand change. You pay very high taxes to live in Pottstown and deserve to feel safe and secure. Power to the Pottstown people!

Our friends at Golden Cockroach write:

Originally posted on :

Back in March, 2012 the Patch online news conducted a survey of Pottstown.  They asked:

“What Keeps Pottstown From Success?”

Survey said:

Crime — 31 percent
Drug gangs — 2 percent
A high rental to private homeowner ratio — 16 percent
Section 8 — 6 percent
Government — 33 percent
Negative thinking and apathy — 6 percent
The need for a commuter train — 0 percent

* This is not a scientific poll*  In my experience it is an accurate representation.  However, when asked, Pottstown officials repeatedly say the biggest problem is NEGATIVITY AND APATHY among Pottstown citizens… 

as exemplified in the comments of Borough Manager/former Chief of Police, Mark Flanders, in this 2010 article.  These sentiments are not unique to Flanders, they are etched into the minds of local officials.  They are passed down, as a torch, to all incoming leaders until it has become the mantra, the…

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