I never thought the day would come when someone in this community would irritate me more than Mr. Hylton. However, that day has now arrived.
Mayor Heath’s recent behavior is that of a petulant child. The mayor stormed out of the last Pottstown Borough Council meeting after not getting her way on a vote. Following close behind was her husband (Mr. Mayor), who as I reported in my last council coverage, made a derogatory comment about the collective intelligence of our council.
Pottstown has a weak mayor, strong council form of government. We employ a professional manager (Jason) and the council dictates the course of action we take as a community. Everyone takes direction from council. Those seven elected officials, representing each ward of our borough, make the decisions that shape our future. The Office of the Mayor is ceremonial (aka spirit bunny/ribbon cutter) and in the event of a tie vote on council the mayor is called on to cast the deciding vote. The mayor also “oversees” the police department, which again appears to be fairly ceremonial as Chief Flanders runs the department.
After Bonnie’s stellar performance last month she went on WPAZ to bad mouth council and whine about the PDIDA vote, which Mo Gallant reported on her Pottstown’s Blog. Again, is this a professional way for a mayor to act? She may only be ceremonial; however, she is an elected official! I suggest Bonnie run for council if being mayor does not have enough “teeth” for her liking. Stop trying to make your job more important than it is!
Now we come to the most disturbing and egregious offense the mayor committed recently. During the dedication ceremony at Pottsgrove Manor a few weekends ago, Bonnie approached two Montgomery County Commissioners and pushed for the PDIDA Downtown Lighting Project to be the number one priority for funding as Pottstown’s revitalization project. Pottstown Borough Council had already voted and approved the Gallery School project as our top priority in March. A presentation was made to Montgomery County, by the borough, supporting the Gallery School project as our number one priority for funding. There was much debate by the Councilors about what Pottstown’s priority project should be at March’s council meeting. A roll call vote was requested by President Toroney and the Gallery School project won. This should have been the end of any debate!
In Bonnie’s “talks” with the Commissioners she relayed that the Galley School would profit greatly if the county funded the purchasing of their building. This “information” was taken back to the committee who decides the funding. This “information” is one of the reasons cited for their hesitation in funding the Gallery School project. The final decisions have yet to be made, but Pottstown may get cut out completely for this round of revitalization dollars. Once again, it appears to the county that Pottstown does not have its act together – a common complaint from them. Unity of vision and speaking with one voice is essential when applying for grants and any kind of funding. The ULI Report remarked that Pottstown’s in-fighting was a serious problem.
I must say this behavior is shocking. This one woman side-show could not only hurt Pottstown but it could hurt one of the few businesses on High Street. Council has gotten its act together and has worked better as a group lately. They can agree to disagree. As Councilor Gibson stated after Bonnie stormed out of the meeting – he doesn’t get mad when a vote doesn’t go his way; he has to respect his fellow Councilors and the will of the majority. That is how things work in a democracy. This meddling by the mayor could seriously jeopardize our downtown revitalization. The mayor should be held directly responsible for any negative repercussions that her loose cannon behavior causes. I again call upon Pottstown Borough Council to formally reprimand/censure, whatever terminology you would like to use, Mayor Bonnie Heath for totally overstepping her authority as Mayor of Pottstown; and knowingly and willfully undermining a binding vote of council (toward the revitalization of our central business district.)
Lastly, Mayor Heath was asked to do something that actually falls within her limited realm of mayoral responsibilities. The mayor was asked to speak at a welcoming event for a family who is bicycling across the United States. They were making a stop in Pottstown for the BMX event at Trilogy Park. The mayor agreed to speak at the welcoming event on May 26th at PMMC. As part of the welcoming event, the family was to be presented with gift certificates to cover their meals while in town. The mayor also agreed to go to three restaurants to get donated gift certificates for the family. On May 26th, the Mayor never showed up at the hospital to welcome the family nor did she speak with any businesses. After the ride was finished down High St., people went and got the three gift certificates and presented them to the family the next day. If you check out the family’s blog, they wrote a nice article about their stay in Pottstown.
The next council meeting is Monday, June 13th at 7:00 p.m. in Pottstown Borough Hall. If you are as outraged by this behavior as I am, I would invite you to address council during the portion of the meeting that allows residents to comment.
Personally, I think our mayor should resign. This is disgraceful behavior and harmful to Pottstown. She should hang her head in shame!