Eddystone is primed and ready for yet another small town political showdown. Newly appointed (not elected) Councilman Dale Kerns is “alarmed” (his word) about the results of a financial investigation document authorized by the 2012 Borough Council. In particular, he seems to question Councilwomen Reeves’and Tatisciore’s roles in actions taken by then Borough Manager Francie Howat. Kerns is "alarmed" at the lack of transparency from previous Council actions. Reeves and Tatiscoire think Kerns is making ‘much ado about nothing,’ as they say there was no missing money. In fact, they say the report showed an excess of $48 over the 4 years investigated.
Let’s cut through the mud and try to get to the bottom of this issue. Kerns, who has unsuccessfully ran for at least 4 elected positions in the last 4 years, is running against Reeves, Tatiscoire, and a team of 3 others in the May primary. Kerns, who is running as a part of Team Orr, is looking to make a name for himself in the hopes that people will elect him into office. On the other side, Reeves and Tatiscoire are close friends with former Borough Manager Francie Howat. Kerns is running with the support of Ralph Orr and Danielle Thompson, and his attack on Howat is seen as a continuation of Team Orr’s 2012 attack on her. This attack is being met with opposition from the two Councilwomen. Whether there was an attack or not, we are not arguing either side. The bottom line is that both sides think the other side is wrong.
It would be nice if both sides of leaders would call this report, audit, or whatever it is for what it really should be called. Here’s is our independent ‘audit’ of the report:
First....it was necessary. Kerns wants to decry the cost of the report, saying it wasted taxpayer’s money. The bottom line is that the Mayor and his team of people authorized the report. The report was necessary because a new treasurer took over the books. A new treasurer with any sense of bookkeeping would require a review of the books prior to taking them over. That way, there is a clear reference point if a mistake comes up in the future.
Second....the independent investigators found that no tax dollars were missing. Let that sentence settle in. No tax dollars were missing. As much as the Mayor and his people want to accuse Howat of misusing money, no money was missing.
To their credit, neither Reeves or Tatiscoire have publicly supported Francie Howat returning as Borough Manager. They have fought to pay Mrs. Howat what she earned, but they are not suggesting (at least publically) that she should work for the Borough. I agree with them on both counts. Give Mrs. Howat what she earned and move on. On the other side, Kerns wants to make the alleged excess of $48 over four years a big deal. He is talking about it, Facebooking about it, and writing about it. More concerning to me than any of the issues raised in the independent evaluation report is the fact that Kerns, an unelected Councilman, is trying to use big words that lack in any substance or experience in accounting, thereby creating a situation where the Borough could be liable for his words if sued by parties perceived to be injured by his statements.
How will he justify the legal defense fees the Borough will have to spend to defend his ignorance?
This primary season looks like it will provide the Borough with a real choice. It will be interesting to see which candidates step away from years of small town infighting and position our community for positive growth. Splitting hairs over minor issues does not help the Borough grow, it does not fill the vacant houses, and it does not grow the local economy.
Let’s see which team can run on real issues this spring.