Living in Hanover

Living in Hanover

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Seeking Common Sense

February 20, 2014 | 5 Comments

I sat in a borough council meeting last year when folks were urging council to do the right thing and reverse the decision to move the children’s library. At one point, some members of council – I specifically remember Tom Hufnagle, who did not run for re-election last year – saying that the borough didn’t want to be in the library business and wanted to get out of the library business.

This was the crux of last year’s debate. The library, particularly the debt from the renovations and expansion, served as a drag on the borough budget for a number of reasons. Riding into the picture in recent weeks was the York County Library System (YCLS), who promised to alleviate some of the pressure. The proposed three-year deal would cost nothing to the borough in the first year and focus on ways to “maximize cost savings, increase volunteers, review programs and services for efficiency and customer satisfaction, assess the improvement of technology and coordinate fundraising.”

The second and third years would include a $30,000 “management fee” each year, which seems like a bargain to me if they can put the library on a stronger path and provide hope for the future. Besides, there doesn’t seem to be anyone else waiting in the wings to take over this project and, as I pointed out, the borough wants to be out of the library business.

So why does there seem to be any question on this? Last night, Evening Sun reporter Laura Linhard who tweeted “Members of Borough Council remain unconvinced that the library agreement is worth it.” She quoted council member Kim Griffin as saying she would not vote for it, the same Kim Griffin who lectured me on Facebook about how the borough can’t take on any special events because they already have their hands full. Well, wouldn’t this help lighten that load some? The Library Board unanimously recommended this. What could be giving people second thoughts?

Thankfully, the fuller report this morning shows that council member Sonny Eline and borough manager Barb Krebs have a more open mind on this. That’s one sure sign of the apocalypse. I have ranted and raved less about the borough these past few months for a few reasons. Some of them I outlined in an earlier post, but it bogs down to my complete lack of faith that this group will do the right thing and my continued intention to rid my life of the things that cause me undue stress. I don’t want to be negative all the time, and that’s what the borough council and administration do to me.

But this can’t go unchallenged. Neither can the public hearing next week on the “nature trail.” They should have learned to listen to the public when they had to backtrack on the library decision and have seemingly re-trenched and become more obstinate.

The circle is drawing closer. Henry McLin stood up to the leadership and now has been stripped of his vice presidency and of his finance committee chairmanship even though he has extensive finance and budget experience. That’s the Gerken/Krebs way – isolate and diminish those who disagree. It isn’t unexpected, but it’s still disheartening that the finance committee no longer has the leadership of someone with budgetary acumen at a time when it is needed most. I love Jim Roth, the former Fire Commissioner turned council member who now heads the committee, but is it really prudent to appoint a recently retired borough employee to head the finance and personnel committee? Isn’t that a horrific conflict of interest?

I guess not, but it seems weird considering that Gerry Funke lost his planning committee chairmanship right around the same time he voted against John Gerken as council president. I have heard that the reason is that he shouldn’t be in that position since he is a principal with a local engineering firm, and that could be a conflict of interest. Now I worried about that kind of conflict when he came on council, but I have heard nothing but good things about how he has handled the situation. He has the expertise in the field, like Henry, yet is kicked to the curb? Makes no sense, especially since the borough is climbing into bed more and more often for engineering services with Gannett Flemming.

The comments of Krebs and Eline help me think that the library plan will move forward, but I don’t fully trust leadership. Experience is trumped by coziness. John Gerken laughably said he didn’t hold grudges when Funke voted against him, yet almost every single action taken by this council is grudge-driven (going back to the curious professional disappearance of the one employee who really challenged Barb Krebs for the job of borough manager). The county won’t solve all the problems, but this is one step. That step, however, involves giving up control, something this council and administration has seemed incapable of doing in the past.

So what do we want – chasing our tail and retaining control or letting someone who knows better step in and lend a hand?

5 people are talking about “Seeking Common Sense

  1. Gergen and Krebs seem to have a severely flawed understanding of their roles in a representative democracy. They alone appear to have made decisions in secret without ever consulting other Council Members or even advising them of their actions. The Library and the Nature Trail are two good examples of how the stewards of the Borough’s assets have made the wrong decisions without letting in the disinfectant of sunlight or engaging the people they represent. I’m hoping Henry and Bernie will start challenging these dingbats whenever they step out of line. Like filing Open Meetings complaints when they learn of matters discussed in executive session which should be clearly open to the public. The Council has ticked off a lot of people and these people are starting to get more involved and attend meetings. Democracy may yet triumph over those who would rather not be bothered with all the rules which make it an open process.

  2. Although I do not live in the borough of Hanover, I do have a great love for the town. I attended a very heated borough meeting last fall and was horrified at watching the council in action. I am certainly no expert on Hanover Borough politics, but something seems fishy in how they handle business matters. I swore something shady went down that night, but I was so proud of Henry for standing up, although I do not know him, he does seem to have the best interest of the community we all love so dearly. I just wished that he wasn’t shot down on his motion that evening. I think the Library issues brought attention to the overall Hanover community that something is very wrong in the borough politics, now we all need to devise a plan to make it right.

  3. If you thought so much of Jim Roth you would know how to spell his name. I agree if 125 people show up to complain about the Nature Trail, Council should not do it. After all look what they did with the library in changing their minds because 100 plus people showed up and complained. One hundred to one hundred fifty people are the majority of the population in Hanover Borough. If 8,000 people oppose the Nature trail we should do it. I see what everyone means about Gerkin and Krebs and how they out vote the nine remaining members of Council. Makes sense to me. Probably will get blamed for being joined at the hips at birth with Gerkin and Krebs!!

    • The Guthrie Gals lease was terminated more because of the decision of the PA Attorney General to join citizens in a civil suit to enforce the Young Deed restriction that the property be “used as a library and for no other purpose whatsoever”. A large turnout of citizens at meetings helped because the Manager and Council have little in the way of courage or articulate speaking. But when everyone gets over the more outrageous issues like the Library and the Trail, they’ll go back to operating like before, with the Manager and President making and executing policy while the other sheeple on Council just go along to get along. That’s why they must be removed, either at the next election or by way of settlement of several meritorious lawsuits which could be brought for their blatant disregard for the law

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