Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Columbia's Revolving Loan Fund faces possible legal challenge, attorney requests information from borough solicitor


Columbia Spy received a copy of the letter shown above that was sent to Columbia Borough's solicitor from an attorney for the law firm Stock and Leader requesting clarification on the borough's controversial Revolving Loan Fund. The letter questions the statutory authority of the borough in establishing the loan program with taxpayer revenue. The letter also suggests a legal challenge may be in the offing. Borough council is likely to discuss the issue at tonight's regular borough council meeting at 7 p.m. at the District Administration Center, 200 North 5th Street.


60 comments:

  1. Columbia Borough Council......what a bunch of dirty rats!! They should all be ashamed of themselves.

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    1. Columbia mayor and council think they are above the law , they got to comfortable now they got in over there dictator style heads. Now sue them and show them "we the people speak"

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  2. For the first time in my life I am involved in what has happened to this town with the Council members to be removed, Problem is only 4 can voted out, all 7 should be voted out, Including the Mayor should go. Going to the meeting tonight is like being slapped in the face by these ignorant people. I will be very involved with Columbia Spy, Brian Long, and Norm who woke us up, This Back door shit and spending and lending money has to stop, we need to take back our town, open transparency , good old boys personal agenda at TAX payers expense needs to stop!!!!!!

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  3. James R. Settle IIJanuary 22, 2019 at 6:41 PM

    A few of us are looking to possibly change that!

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  4. How a business to start up when even the Banks are leaving town?

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    1. It will be another junk shop or nonprofit .

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    2. What junk shop are you referring to ?

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    3. The one that will go into the bank building.

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  5. the solicitor has not been at the last 2 meetings. I wonder why? I hope we get good people to run in this next election.We need change big time

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    1. They think they are gods and above the law , now we will see .

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    2. APPARENTLEY the solicitor should be fired too, to let these gods screw up this bad, under the states constitution ,that was not just written .

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    3. Now is the time to ask for a COMPLETE STATE AUDIT, hold the ones that passed this ordenence ACCOUNTIBLE ,period..

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    4. There is a complete state audit,as required by law, done for every municipality every year..Columbia included.

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    5. where are the results ?

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    6. Go to the state auditors websiste or request the documents from the borough under the Right To Know law.

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    7. I mean a real COMPLETE AUDIT , not checks and balances , the total of where the money went, you see the mayor has already lied about a 32,000 dollar fence and 8,000 dollars of trees that some also have been planted on the same PRIVATE PROPERTIES along heritage drive or what ever they are calling it today.

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  6. This is the true colors of the mayor , council president , and the followers on council . Now how do they get the illegelly lent money back, The ones mentioned above should have to get a loan and pay it back with in 60 days or the borough should put lean on ALL of there homes, drastic yes but codes said if people don,t comply they will take the property, so I see NO difference here. This Hitler style that the borough has been using is going to bit them now!!!!!!

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    1. Not saying most of what you say isn't true but you may want to read a few history books regarding Hitler style comment ... just sayin!

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    2. Maybe the commenter you're advising is closer to the truth about Hitler's leadership style; frankly it's the style adopted by all despots and poor leaders: the one of autocratic, "I'm in charge and you're not."

      Whether charismatic or ruthless, the despot ultimately gravitates to the core premise: ultimate control - his way. Two other examples of megalomaniac leadership (read that despotic leadership) include David Korech and James Jones.

      Take a look at these references:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/hitler_commander_01.shtml

      https://sites.psu.edu/leaderfoundationsclarke/2016/09/26/the-dark-side-leadership-of-adolf-hitler-and-how-it-is-still-compelling/

      https://online.stu.edu/articles/education/autocratic-leadership.aspx

      https://www.historyextra.com/period/second-world-war/the-dark-charisma-of-adolf-hitler/

      https://www.bbc.com/timelines/zsmm6sg

      https://alphahistory.com/nazigermany/hitler-and-stalin/

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  7. Way to go we have to take this borough back for the tax payers

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    1. I heard the loan given to don murphy of 200K + has only had $2K paid back on that loan in two years. Is this the truth? If so, why is this allowed. Why doesn't he need to pay this back faster to a loan program that apparently isn't even legal in the first place. When will he start repaying the loan faster? There is also over $600K in taxes that have not been paid. What is happening and being done to the people not paying their taxes. These names should be published. It is a shame since the taxes are so high people just can't pay, but I pay mine so they have to pay theirs. There needs to be a LOT investigated. What a mess.

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  8. If the council is found guilty of wrong doing, on the loan market, is there criminal charges that will be held against them or no?

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  9. Last night there were SIX people that spoke in favor of this council's actions. Of the six, half of them I've never seen at a meeting prior to last night. The other three do not attend on a regular basis.

    The arrogance of those residents and the council was sickening.

    No one in this tax repeal movement is anti-progress for Columbia and we do not want to be labeled as such.

    We are against giving taxpayer dollars to private businesses that stand to profit from that. One word describes this: Wrong.

    Sharon Lintner

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    1. Thank you sharon for saying this. You are absolutely correct that we have been mislabeled, mainly by the spouses and friends of council and one Nate Bunty!

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    2. I agree 100% Sharon, these people that spoke in favor are idiots!! I liked what Marry Wickenheiser said that the borough inherited the problems! Yet, she was on council for 13 years!! That is what i call putting your own FOOT IN YOUR MOUTH!!!She was and always will be a problem in this town!!

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    3. Well said Sharon. Agree about Wickenheiser and the other smart butt that was there mouthing off. She has always been a know it all her whole life and much more impressed with herself than warranted. Maybe they are getting paid off. I know now there was that "spy" in the midst running back to the herd to be sure they knew the plan for the evening and to "plant" people in the meeting to support the council. It was pretty obvious. The people own this town NOT a few who think they can do whatever they want. Now the giant has been stirred and they won't have the reigns much longer.

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    4. cost thousands at the r/p

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    5. Name calling, such as calling council members idiots, is out of line. But then again the Democratic party has made it the norm and it seems their followes go along blindly so I can understand

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    6. Six people attended a meeting they normally don't attend, yet have every right to attend, and since they didn't agree with your philosophy Sharon they are ignorant and arrogant...spoken like a true liberal. Perhaps you should take a long look in the mirror Sharon. All citizens are entitled to thier opinion and should not be subject to name calling just because they don't agree with you.

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    7. Clarification: I have never called council idiots. As far as my use of the word arrogant, that describes the behavior and comments of a few of the six people that spoke at the meeting. I will leave the name-calling to the Republican councilman that is permitted to do it with impunity. I am more democratic than most because as a registered Democrat I have friends that are Republican, Independent, etc. I am more about the cause than the party. The affiliation is necessary to vote in the primary. Lastly, I do not begrudge anyone from their right to speak at a public meeting, it's funny though how these experts come out of the woodwork and know everything when they have never been to meetings to hear it for themselves. Sharon Lintner

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  10. I keep seeing someone always saying the PA state does a yearly audit on Columbia. While I'm sure some kind of audit takes place, it sure didn't catch an illegal procedure now did it? Also, IF you have ever seen an audit, they go over the numbers to see if they all balance. The word Audit sounds menacing. It's NOT, UNLESS they are LOOKING FOR SOMETHING. That is what the citizens provide to push more than a normal audit. Balancing numbers is not the issue. It's WHAT THE MONEY HAS BEEN USED FOR. That is the issue. The state does not get into that. YES AN AUDIT needs to be done, but moving forward, the citizens need to be involved up to their eyebrows to keep the town cleaned up and not waste taxpayer money and keep THE EYE on everything. These are elected officials of a small town, NOT Congress. THEY WORK FOR THE CITIZENS and need to start answering to THE CITIZENS.

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    1. Need the state auditor to step in, the attorney general and board of ethics.

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    2. I agree 100%. Why do we pay the high school taxes for a school that is falling apart. Not all the classes are even working we are told. What is being done to fix that mess instead of the idea of expanding a river park to read a book. I think they already found the mayor lied about the fence, more lies in the bag? Unless you charge for reading, expanding a park won't bring any money. To put concerts beside a active railroad track with booze and teenagers is a disaster waiting to happen. What is happening to this poor town. Needs NEW leadership. What new business are going to move here and pay these taxes.

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  11. The borough should be audited every 3 months!!! The cheating bastards that the borough is makes me sick to look at the SCUM in OFFICE!!!!

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  12. It is not only giving to private investors, it is paying these ridiculous amounts of taxes. The tax increase should be reversed. Quite confident if "the digging" continues there will be enough wrong doing to accomplish that with legal help. Some of the proposals to use tax money are just really "out there" and will not bring needed revenue to the town. A hotel really? Occupancy every night and weekends to see what in Columbia? When it's not full then what? Somebody is trying to build a legacy in that town. I wonder who that may be? Focus on the school system that is falling apart. Do something to slide in to another township so the kids can get an education. Hammocks in a River Park aren't going to bring money to keep the town alive. Wake up citizens!!!!

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  13. Definitely a story for the Associated Press

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    1. Tv more likely , but I bet the mayor won't stick his face in this time.

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  14. Outrage! Conspiracy! Nazis! Taxes! Audits! Lawsuits!
    Oh, The Virtuous Few! The Freedom Fighters!
    Storm the borough hall!
    Lord...
    Everyone lives in a bubble: A 1950s wonderland of what it all was!
    Understand where Columbia is in Lancaster County, where it is in the economic Northeast corridor from Boston to Washington DC, the societal and cultural changes that are evolving... For those who understand these political, cultural and economic forces, you can start to adapt.
    This isn't Mayberry.
    This isn't little ol' Amish Lancaster County, anymore.
    Move to Quarryville.
    Actually, all you would be better equipped for Schuylkill County.

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    1. Well don't you think you are special. Everyone knows where Columbia is. Almost bankrupt and forging ahead with the wrong development. Corridor from Boston to DC, really... If you are so high and mighty, why don't YOU pay the taxes for the elderly, the out of work people and anybody else who is struggling. It's wonderful for you to beat your chest, but if a town does not have the money to spend, DON'T SPEND IT. Lancaster County has progressed, but Columbia is strapped with a failing school district and people who don't understand economics. Take YOUR bubble and YOU move. I will be gentle and not tell you where You should go. Get realistic. You must be part of the Government to make these statements, and you have the NERVE to insult the people of Columbia by telling us where we belong and should go? Grow up.

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    2. Please do not undermine the power of democracy of these citizens.We all live in a town of poverty, and supporting each other will only make us stronger. Back in the early 1900's, Columbia was an all Democratic town with heart and determination to work together for the common good.This is the first time in many years to see Columbia come to life in the political ring.

      Vote with your heart to make pride a priority.

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    3. I think you hit the nail on the head with the failing school district. It is a money suck for sure.

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    4. As the original poster, my sarcasm got your attention. Believe me, I'm not from the Government---or the council---And I'm Not Here To Help Or Offend. I would like to take a moment to reply with rationality and nuance, and hopefully that can create a dialogue of understanding...Nor, do I want this to seem like a lecture. (Also, I don't mean that in a pandering, patronizing or demeaning tone.)

      What I meant by the Northeast Economic Corridor, is that there is real external socio-economic changes happening in Central Pennsylvania. I'm sure you're aware of Lititz being 'Coolest Small Town' a few years ago. Center city Lancaster, within the last 20yrs, has undergone significant changes, and that is still unfolding. The Amtrack station plays a big part in that, drawing tourists and who people work in those monied cities of NYC, DC and Philly. In those large cities, the center continues to "push out" meaning, economic development, housing... Some of it good some of it bad. That same effect will happen here in Columbia as Lancaster City expands. Is that "push out" Gentrification? Yes, Revitalization attracts Outside development.

      What is happening in Columbia is not Gentrification. Why? Right now the change is coming from WITHIN the borough. I would call it Revitalization. Cimmaron Investments is invested in their hometown. We can argue all we want about the 'hotel' and its viability, but the Murphy's are refurbishing another building. Other things are developing, which in the long run, could accelerate the downtown, attract more businesses, expand the tax base blah blah blah...right? Now, could in the future that turn into Gentrification. Heck, yes. Is The "luxury apartments" project Gentrification? Hmmm... The owners are originally from Lancaster, but again, I see that as a local investment.

      Throughout all the the Columbia message boards and Facebook sites, I see a lot of OUTRAGE. What I think it is is FEAR.

      Long time residents are scared of the future. They scared of the present. Why? The Future is accelerating. I say this in a non-political manner, but it appears previous regimes of Columbia leadership attempted to isolate Columbia, keeping it 'Proudly Independent! Roll Tide!' Keep it Scum-lumbia, if you will. That has created real consequences.

      Why? Because as the rest of Lancaster--and even York--have developed, and began to "push out" Columbia remained in the past, insulated, unprepared for the real economic changes happening not only within Lancaster County, but the Country.

      I'm not chuckling at long time residents having to make financial decisions that may result in them moving or leaving, but, because of the changes, more economically viable places may have to be considered. And, believe me, I'm not someone in a financial position to buy their properties and flip them.

      Instead, I think everyone in this town should look beyond The Outrage Culture, take a moment to examine what is happening and what will happen, so we can make the "pain" bearable.

      Why? Because dreams of lawsuits, repeals and audits are not going to happen.

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    5. It's really difficult to take the above soliloquy as anything but whiff in the wind; again "pride of authorship" is important. Take off the hood.

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    6. @ 3:04pm. Columbia hasn't seen an influx of decent homeowners for almost two decades now, when the taxes weren't so awfully bad. Now that they are the highest taxes in the county, no one with any common sense is buying a home here, NO ONE! This is the armpit of Lancaster County and if you want new home owners, you're not getting them with the highest taxes. PERIOD!!

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    7. Whoever wrote the long "out there" soliloquy, take a breath and what are you smoking? You must be an outsider, not here for life. Make NO MISTAKE, it IS OUTRAGE - not FEAR. It is easy to hide behind such a stupid comment. FEAR is not being able to pay your bills living on a retirement income or wanting to move out of Columbia but not being able to sell your house for the value of the home due to the taxes. Fear is a reducing population from years ago due to over taxing and improper spending. You sound like a little liberal Pollyanna who watches too much TV. Columbia is living in the past because THERE IS NO MONEY. Money has been misused (this isn't new) and there is no real leadership. Don't compare Columbia to these outside communities like Litiz or the mayor talking about Manheim Twp. WAY out of the league. A different ball game. If I didn't live in Columbia and considered it as a residence, all I had to do was look at the rating for the school district and the taxes to pay. Lancaster would be easy to get to quickly. And, it's real easy to renovate and build things when somebody is feeding you money that isn't getting paid back. Talk all you want, but lawsuits, repeals and audits ARE going to happen. So Mr. or Ms.know it all, DON'T FOR A MINUTE THINK THE PEOPLE OF THIS TOWN ARE STUPID. Keep you little explanations of "progress" to yourself. People know what is going on. Your continued sarcasm is unbecoming and not welcome, NOR is your reference as it being SCUMLUMBIA? How dare you.

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  15. This town is headed to be a huge tumbleweed town. What do you have here??? The Boro people are nothing but LIARS AND THIEVES!!!!!! They already have to rules done before the meeting starts. Town people have no say. GET THE BASTARDS OUT!!!!!! I will be voting for the first time ever to get the loser out before this town will die... R.I.P Columbia Pa....

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  16. What are they doing about a assistant manager, this position should be abolished, it was made after the fact that they hired rebbeca .WE DO NOT NEED A ASSISTIANT ,IF SHE CAN"T DO THE JOB FIRE HER, we all ready have seen mistakes, she was brought in the back door by Murphy and puppets now send her packing out the front door, and take her revolving fund with her to some other town , she does seam to be good at that , you know bring other peoples ideas here.

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  17. I disagree that the town is dying. This town is coming alive. So many new businesses and they all seem to be doing a good business. So if we are seeing the awakening, and new businesses have been successful without Boro loans, why do we have to start a loan fund now? We know taxes have to go up slightly due to the lack of a balanced budget and no tax increases for so many years. Why increase the pain by creating a loan fund that by all observations is not needed at this time.

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    1. While the small business concept is great and seems to be somewhat moving, what the town needs is to bring back business like
      Kleen rite. Large businesses need to contribute to the community., provide jobs and help with taxes. Go find a colonial metals or something similar to move in. Unfortunately the high taxes will keep them from settling in Columbia.

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  18. I agree kudos to the businesses who made it on their own without tax money.

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  19. Get rid of the loan fun ---- Then LOWER THE TAXES to a reasonable increase.

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  20. Although I disagree with the loans made to private enterprises and the huge tax increase, the name calling in some of these comments makes taking these people seriously. Liars, scum, thieves, bastards just to mention a few. No wonder people refuse to listen to your point of view. If you can’t make an informed rational comment, do everyone a favor and don’t make any

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    1. I am sorry but the TAX people had enough of the Council! Thats the bottom line!!

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    2. Well said. In a polite society we debate issues and do not become triggered when someone says something we don't agree with and do not resort to name calling

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    3. Sadly, we are not a polite society anymore. Too much name calling for not being what libs want you to be.

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    4. In a polite society taxes wouldn't be to the point where people are losing their homes they worked for all there lives due to irresponsible spending by those supposed to be representing all citizens and not just their own interests. I don't support the name calling but understand the frustration. Not all retired from Cat and then chased it out of the area from Union demands and then we're proud they left the area so future workers could not get a decent job. Yep true story.

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  21. I agree the name calling needs to stop. I am against the tax increase, revolving loan fund, large tax breaks for new business (10 years too long) & don't agree with the money they want to spend at the River Park. But let's be mature adults. What should be done is comprising. Not sure the counsel understands what that is. But, keep in mind, we have not been keeping tabs on what's happening by being present at the meetings. So we citizens are to blame as well. Honestly what needs done is a plan for the schools to find a lower tax base & provide an excellent education with much needed discipline there. This is a very large reason people don't move here. Yes, too many rental properties for a town of our size. Can anything be done about this? Has this been brought up to council? One step at a time to reach a common goal. Mine is to see lower taxes with a thriving school district. Then things will change. Better real estate values & people wanting to move or simply stay in their home town.

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  22. Name calling is bad, the one council mans comments were just so out of line ,but if he paid his own taxes I don't think it would have happened. If one wants to be in public office they better have clean hands and go by the rules that every one else has too. The boro has to treat every one equally ,(which they don't and have NOT for years), SLECTIVE ENFORCMENT by Helm has gone on for years and still today. Yes we all have to keep the talk civil ,the boro has to be fare. As far as Mary saying they inheritated the problems ,well if they work on the town instead of the money pit the problems would not be there or at least not as drastic , and a transparent council would not have caused the problems it has. Did any one know about the loan program before this broke out NO just a few, is this a problem? Hell yes this council did so much behind closed doors or at the coffee club ,it is not funny, they got so confortible they feel like dictators. Codes dept has said many times "if they don't comply we will take the property from them" the boro should be working with the citizens not against them. This mess started years ago with the code/zoning officer letting some get away with things and others not, it can't be cleaned up in a year or two. Oh one more thing why do we do our own restaurant inspections? The state does them for FREE and posts them, do we trust a person who let this other mess to continue to today to inspect these food places , we all see the mess that we have here, it all starts with the council to straighten out the mess that they let happen over the last 15 years and thought they were above the laws , and they could not be touched . Mayor and council it is your names going to hell under Columbia , so if it a legesty you want you got a good start but it is not a good one.

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    1. I agree Helm tried to be the big man and pushed people he could push but others he ran from , he cost the borough more than any thing, he does the old friend system , if your a friend any thing goes but if not he goes for your back. How can he inspect restaurants with his tract record, there is some kind of power trip here, be carefull of the places you eat , there is a lack of caring for the citizens here by the borough, the state should be inspecting them and posting problems like every were else. Just think one day he is at a storm water leak (3rd street ) then he goes to inspect a restaurant and back to inspect something else in a rental house, or a mice infestation , than back to the borough to make some citizen jump threw hoops for a permit, this should be cleaned up by the manager if she knew what she was doing, but with the council letting her in the back door, she is Not qualified for the job that Murphy and puppets opened up the back door and the mayor thought they got another puppet WITCH THEY DID . Come on November maybe a new council can start to decrease the image that council started making for them selves 15 years ago. THE LAUGHTING STOCK OF THE COUNTY They spent all the money that should have cleaned up the town on the money pit.

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