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The More Things Change …

January 16, 2014 | 7 Comments

So the dust has started to settle for some of Hanover Borough Council’s big issues. I promised myself to not wrap myself up in the shenanigans of this collection of individuals as much this year, but a few things need addressing, if only to get the word out.

  • Henry McLin – the only remaining council member to openly criticize the leadership of council president John Gerken (and, by extension, manager Barb Krebs) –  is out as finance committee chair. This is not surprising, but it’s kind of sad and needs to be impressed upon people that council has made it de facto policy that criticism of leadership will not only go unheeded, but you will be be put in the corner.
  • McLin’s vice president position went to councilman Sonny Eline. Gerken praised Eline as being “open.” Considering the new vice president is the man who ran a private Facebook group to hear citizen input and then banned people (me one of them) for not kowtowing to him and said nasty things about those people privately and tried to force a council member to resign because they were open about their opinions on Facebook, I have no earthly idea what definition of “open” the Head Pickle is using here. By the way, every four years, he switches vice presidents. How’s  that for “leadership.”
  • We have a new council member – Robert Marcoccio – who has a blog that is staggering in its, well, inaccuracy. Click on the links for Hanover Resident Blog and Hanover Views. In one post, he refers to the borough manager as an elected position and basically says the library situation is simply happening because of the meddling of the state and some local businesses. In other words, he is parroting the excuses the current leadership is using to hide the fact that they really have no earthly clue what they are doing. The mind reels.
  • The series of library meetings yesterday – which are basically a dog and pony show because the only way out of this mess is to hand some control over the county, and if the borough gets chesty the county will walk away and the problems that emanated from the previous plan will look like child’s play – brought the news that one part-time employee was let go and four full timers were reduced to part time. One of those folks resigned.

This is where I start to see red. Five people have had their employment affected by the financial problems at the library. That’s not surprising and pretty much needed to happen. Except it didn’t necessarily need to happen because of the poor management in place on Frederick Street. Salaries and benefits make up the bulk of the expense for most businesses. The borough has cut some salaries here. But what about the benefits?

Did you know that borough employees do not – unless this has changed, and I don’t think it has – pay any health care premiums. Krebs bragged that she saved money this year by increasing the deductible for the health care, which put higher co-pays in the hands of employees. Did you know the borough pays the deductibles for employees?

Let me repeat that, the borough pays the premium and the deductible for its employees. Again, if I’m wrong – and I have talked to a bunch of people about this – let me know, and I’ll correct myself. Now I have been told this practice is not uncommon in municipal government and would be difficult to change because of union contracts. That’s why Barb touted her ability to have the borough pay more in deductibles to get the higher co-pays because the unions had to agree.

Well then why aren’t they pushing for the unions to do more? Why are they satisfied with a modest gain when a much larger change – employees paying deductibles or part of the premium – would undoubtedly save more money? Why must the happiness of the people Barb calls “her people” rise above fiscal sanity?

I have beat this drum before and had people criticize me for expecting employees to feel pain and not caring about them. Well, five people either have reduced hours or no job. How’s that for pain? I would rather everyone have a job with a greater expectation for contributing to their health care as opposed to cutting staff.

Oh, and don’t buy the line that Barb saved us money by getting an agreement to a wage freeze. If I understand what I was told correctly, contracts were extended and the raises they lost this year will be applied to that extension so it was just a deferral – a literal kicking of the can down the road – and not a truly astute financial move. (Again, tell me if I am wrong.)

So to wrap up, we have a vindictive set of leaders who are more interested in maintaining their position and making small advances to benefit a few instead of making the truly tough decisions to benefit the greater good. Oh, and they don’t give a damn if you want to see an agenda or read meeting minutes or have meetings scheduled at a time convenient for everyone.

This is why I find myself at a crossroads. They are a truly obstinate bunch, a reality that played a role in my decision not to try and run for council last year. I have many more positive things to do in life than spend my time battling with people who have stacked the deck so I can’t win. Yet, I worry about the future of some of those positive things the longer these folks get to pat themselves on the back for their own incompetence.

So maybe I’ll just keep spouting here. Maybe I’ll sit in their fraudulent meetings  again at some point. I really don’t know. I know I will continue to support downtown businesses and Hanover enterprises in general and will not stop talking and debating and sharing information. I guess I have to since the people in charge refuses to do so.

7 people are talking about “The More Things Change …

  1. You may find this link of interest since you seem to be eager to dramatically change the old balance between wages and benefits; historically, civil servants bargained for future benefits while accepting lower pay – over time employees wound up with costly benefits (e,g., health care, defined benefits) it is time to negotiate improved wages that would compensate for deteriorated benefits.

  2. In plain words you won’t attend meeting but just take information “through the grapevine” and be satisfied to make comments on what is wrong. Did you ever hear of being part of the solution rather than the problem.

  3. When I was assisting Bernie with the second of his two Be-Ins, I asked him who were the people on “the other side” (from him) on downtown development, and he provided this list:

    Pam Brown
    Heidi Hormel (Pam’s sister)
    Brian Shea
    Mike Hoover
    Melissa Bilello Speal
    Scott Roland (and wife Karen)
    Dee Dee Garber
    Gary Laird (though he tries to stay teflon pres of the CofC)
    Those are the negative forces. Kate is an advocate as is Andrea (most of the time).

    I posted it on a FB page and he removed me from the group. I favor a more confrontational approach to political issues and suggested that those on the other side should be attacked mercilessly on the merits (or demerits) of their ideas. He is more of a “go along to get along” guy and doesn’t take criticism very well.

    • Oh, man. This is funny. I’ll reply more later, but this makes me laugh. Seems Sonny has confused “anti-downtown” with “doesn’t buy Sonny’s brand of BS.”

  4. I was informed by a reliable Hanover source that Ms. Krebs still has her husband on her Borough health insurance policy even though her divorce was all but finalized in December 2012. I checked the Prothonotary’s records online and it does appear that the case has been in condition for a final decree since then, with the last entry in November 2012. In the November 2012 postnuptial agreement posted there, they agreed not to move for a final decree until April 11, 2014, the two-year anniversary of their date of separation. So as it read it, the Borough has been paying the difference in premiums between insuring her and her children only, and insuring her, her children and husband for over two years. That’s my kind of ObamaCare.

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