Tue Nov. 5th is Election Day

Tomorrow, Tuesday Nov. 5th is Election day. It’s likely I will win a slot on the Board of Commissioners since the real battle was the primary when Brian Higgins and I knocked out two incumbents.

Despite outside interest money pouring into incumbent campaigns Brian and I prevailed. Moving forward into tomorrows election we need you one more time to help send a clear message. Residents are not happy with decisions made over the last 3 years. Frankly, I am tired of talking about the last 3 years and I look forward to moving on. But one last time it’s important people go to the polls with knowledge of poor choices incumbents made over the last 3 years.

To recap one final time. Over the last 3 years:

1. The incumbents including Ryan Conrad secretly negotiated a 700 acre zoning deal with developer David Jaindl. This obligated the township to assist Jaindl in building low employment warehouses, housing and low quality strip commercial. This will destroy the last great tract of prime farmland in the township.

I fought this every step of the way. I would not have engaged in the MOU. I would have fought to protect agricultural zoning that was in place for 2 decades. I would have accepted the small quarry over the Industrial, residential and commercial.

2. When the above deal was challenged, Commissioners refused to testify and justify their actions. This meant the residents would have had to subpoena the commissioners to learn the details.

I will always defend my decisions in the most public of forums. I will never hide from decisions I make.

3. The incumbents claimed to support smart growth… but approved another large zoning change requested by a developer to allow more than 200 apartments on a piece of land that fellow commissioner and realtor Ron Eichenberg is selling as the real estate agent.

I will completely and totally recuse myself from any conflicts of interest I may have as a commissioner. I will promote smart growth, not simply pay lip service to it or promote a watered down concept.

4. The incumbents inexplicably moved ahead with cutting a hole in the middle of the townships Kratzer farm property. They did this against the advice of the township recreation board, Environmental Advisory Council and Planning Commission. All 3 expressed concern that letting the house become privately owned could create future problems for a public park.

I will always take into account the opinions of our invaluable staff and volunteer boards. I also regularly attend all commissions above and beyond what I am required to do. I did this as a candidate and will continue as Commissioner. 

5. Took credit for preventing new taxes and paying down township debt in one of the fastest growing and richest townships in the state. We were able to do this not because of financial wizardry but because of one time windfall from 20 years of hyper growth. By not addressing financial sustainability until the township manager pushed, we actually dug a deeper hole. By waiting until we had to address a deficit budget Commissioners put us in a tougher situation.

I will not bury my head in the sand for political gain. This tax issue should have been discussed months ago rather then waiting for the township manager to force a reaction when faced with a deficit budget. I spoke of financial sustainability at meetings as far back as over a year ago. The community that fails to plan ahead, plans for failure.

On Tuesday say no to politics as usual

In an email to his supporters Ryan Conrad writes about the vote in favor of re-implementing a property tax. He writes:

The other candidates in this race have been silent on this issue.  Where do they stand?  Voters deserve an answer.
-Ryan Conrad in a pretty misleading letter to his supporters

Problem is, this is not true. I’ve written about the tax issue at length in many forums. I was in fact THE first candidate to address fiscal sustainability months ago warning voters about the pending increase long before it was on the table.

I  support sustainably low taxes. But I don’t just give lip service. I’ve also laid out the “how”. By not addressing the ‘how’ politicians simply pander for votes and engage in politics as usual.

Mr. Conrad states he is opposed to re-implementing a property tax. The problem is he has provided no roadmap and zero direction on how he plans on keeping taxes sustainably low. I on the other hand have. On Tuesday Conrad and Roger Reis failed to pair ‘no’ votes with further cuts, alternatives they support or systemic changes they would implement to support their positions.

I have done this by outlining a path to fiscal sustainability through smart growth that addresses the root causes:

  • Here via a letter to the editor in the East Penn Press, patch and on my blog.
  • And here overviewing the nuances of the issue.
  • And here as far back as 1 year ago pleading with the BOC to initiate cost and benefit analysis of zoning changes.

I’ve outlined a roadmap grounded in smart growth where we can continue to grow in a financially sustainable way that protects quality of life and leads to increased revenue while avoiding the specter of constantly raising taxes.

Voters in LMT are clearly smart enough to see through ‘politics as usual’. This is how I won the primary even though I was outspent by huge margins in a coordinated campaign that enlisted television ads, fake newsletters and a barrage of robo-calls on voters.

So I ask you one last time, on Tuesday help me finish what we started.


BOC Sept 5 – Agenda and thoughts

FYI – This is a practice I started 2 weeks ago and will continue as a member of the BOC. Please remember, in these previews while I may indicate my voting inclination, it in no way means my mind is made up on an issue. Back during a critical hearing for the Jaindl issue, a commissioner once spoke before public comment outlining he was voting to move forward the project regardless of what people said during public comment. That was wrong.

My hope is this opens the door for conversations before public meetings. One of my biggest issues with the Jaindl debacle was people didn’t truly understand what was happening until it was too late. I plan on doing everything I can to make sure residents have background information and my thoughts on issues before they come to a vote  in front of the board. This is one mechanism to do that.

Lower Macungie Township – Board of Commissioners Sept. 5th 2013
Here is the agenda with supporting documents 

*There aren’t many voting items out of the ordinary this meeting. But there are a few more communication items I will comment on.

Hearings and Approvals – None

Jim Palmquist – Budget request
What: Jim Palmquist is the Chairperson of the LMT walkways subcommittee. This is a formalized subcommittee of public works. The walkways group are volunteers in LMT who organized in April. They initiated a 2 year project to increase walkability in our community. They make the case for walkways here.

I have been active within and supportive of the group since it’s inception. Jim and others have made presentations in front of the Parks board, public works committee and planning commission over the last couple months.

Many of the requests they are making in the upcoming budget process ensure we get a return on investment with amenities developers installed when subdivisions were built. This is great for the township, but what has happened over time is we’ve built alot “walkways to nowhere” in the township.

I am supportive of these budget requests and the township exploring “connecting the dots” to make sure we get maximum return on investment on our existing disconnected walkway infrastructure.

David Jaindl – Comment on proposed limit on plan application extensions
I disagree with Mr. Jaindl here and as of now I am in favor of the Planning Commission proposal to limit the amount of time a plan can sit dormant. I have been present for discussion at length about this topic at the planning commission level. At some point in the near future I will write more on this specific topic. My vote would be in favor of a 5 year limit on permit timelines.

John and Margaret Desanto – Comment on Hamilton Crossings Grant Application
I  agree with everything the Desanto’s say in their letter. But as I outlined in my last agenda preview I will not turn away money for the township with what I call an “activist” vote.

The Hamilton Crossings project is coming. I do not see it as the best fit for our community and I would have preferred a moratorium on all major development projects until completion of the smart growth planning exercise but unfortunately I would not have had the votes to stop it and certain approvals have already been granted. Therefore I am motivated to see it be the best project possible and this grant money will help. I do have major issues with state taxpayer money going to a suburban strip shopping center project but that is an issue that can fundamentally only be fixed in the state house.

Letter of thanks from Francee Fuller EPSD Board Member.
Director Fuller expresses gratitude to Lower Macungie for the team effort to get the WLES school corridor ready for the school year. I observed the first day drop off and echo that sentiment.

Appointments to Boards:

Public Safety Commission 1 vacancy
The PSC will recommend Liza Ackerman to the commission. My philosophy for appointments will be deferring to the commission recommendation. I will then take into account the recommendation of the umbrella Commissioner committee but I place more emphasis on the specific commissions recommendation moreso then the committee. Unfortunately I know from experience commissioners get political with appointments and I honestly feel as though the individual commission knows best who will be the best fit for their board.

I will support the PSC’s recommendation of Elizabeth Foley. On a sidenote I know Liza. A few months ago we attended tree tenders training together. She is energetic, cares about our community and is in this for all the right reasons. I’d love to see her on the EAC but I think Liza will do a fantastic job on the PSC. She will be the youngest and only woman on the PSC.

I do not think there will be any votes on any items in the committee reports as I believe it’s been awhile since any committee has met. I am however interested in hearing discussion on EAC request for tree-tender committee. This is something I am supportive of in lieu of a shade tree commission.


What this blog is.

I started this as a local news blog about 1 year ago. Really informal. Hobby. I wanted to get information ‘out there’ about the Jaindl issue. Raise awareness. First started on Patch but then wanted to catalogue my posts in one place.

At the time I wasn’t going to run for office.  I simply wanted to apply for a volunteer position at the township. After failing to get on the planning commission,  I thought I could get appointed to Parks Board (since ya know I had the support of the parks board..) and I thought it’d be cool to blog about our park system.. So I made a blog.

Fast forward to this happening….

That’s really when I decided I wanted to (well had to…) run for office. I had ideas and people seemed to think my ideas were good/interesting. The Board had different thoughts.

I wanted to see if the majority of voters agreed with my ideas. Turns out they did. At least Republicans during the primary. Gearing up for the primary campaign it was much easier to just convert my existing blog to my campaign site. I thought, heck it contains my thoughts on almost every big development issue. So I just left all the content on it and re-designed a little bit. Created the platform page and welcoming letter. I wanted a site that really dove into the issues. And my blog did that. So it made sense.

When the campaign is over it goes back. Some say it’s bad politics for politicians to blog. That it’s bad strategy. That you should be purposely ambiguous. . . No thanks.

As far as the future I’ve been lucky. The blog kind of took off. Didn’t plan it. In 1 year I had just over 5000 unique visitors of 7000 total and 21,000 pageviews. I have no idea if thats considered ‘good’ or not in the blogosphere but it’s more then I expected.

My weakness is I’m not a technically great writer. Not by any means. I write really conversationally and also oftentimes rushed. Blogging is a big time commitment. That I learned. My strength I think is that I do this cause I care about my community where I grew up. I don’t know all the answers but when I see issues I take the time to look into alternatives and read stuff written by and talk to folks with experience. Really I want to start conversations. Get people thinking about local issues and shine a spotlight on them. I think I’ve been good at that.

It’s even gotten some local, regional and national coverage and re-postings. Regionally I’ve gotten to guestblog on crossroads the Renew LV blog. One post got picked up from SmartGrowth America. Recently a nationwide conservative smartgrowth blogger reached out to do some collaboration.  There may be a conference of conservative smart growth advocates in DC I may attend. Exciting stuff.

For Manda – who puts up with my 2am blogging. 🙂

So yes, this is primarily a land use blog. That’s my passion. It focuses on the East Penn area but I also dive into interesting regional stuff. I also write about local gov’t in general above and beyond land use issues. I also write occasionally about national issues. But I try not to so much to take focus of the blog off local and land use. But I shake it up mostly as a self indulgence every now and then.

It also got me into blogging culture. I hit up my rss everyday and comment often on other local blogs. Check them all out on my blogroll to see who I read. I don’t always agree with everyone but I think the ppl on my blogroll contribute positively to the discussion. That’s what it’s all about. I think blogging is important. I think this post hits it.