Category Archives: televised meetings
I am a mother of two whose family goes back four generations in Middletown and whose children were educated in our Middletown schools. For the first time in my family’s history, I see families being priced out of our Township, because of our soaring taxes. As our incomes have remained flat, we have seen steady, significant municipal tax increases exceeding 40% in the last 6 years. If you believe every municipality has experienced these increases, think again. While many of our surrounding towns have had minimal or no increases in taxes, over the last six years, our elected officials have burdened our citizens with a dramatic tax increase unmatched by our surrounding communities. Many members of the next generation of Middletown children cannot afford to live here. Poor management of our local government produced these unnecessary tax hikes. I am running for office to reverse this trend.
>Middletown Democratic Committeeman Sean Byrnes discusses transparency and the need to televise Township Committee meetings over the Township’s public access channels during the Byrnes and Mahoney Town Hall Meeting that took place on September 27,2010 in Middletown.
Since this video was taken Mayor Scharfenberger has stated that he would not be in favor of televising meetings to the public at any cost because he doesn’t see the value in it.
>Middletown resident Carol Stiglin is a senior resident of Shadow Lake Village who has difficultly getting out at night. She addressed the Middletown Township Committee Monday night Oct.17th and addressed the issue of televising Township meeting so that Middletown residents such as herself could watch proceedings via the local cable access channels.
She presented a petition to the Committee that contained 124 signatures of support on it. Stiglin said that those signatures are in addition to the previous petition that she presented to the Township Committee last year.
At one point during the meeting Monday night(which isn’t captured on this video), mayor Gerry Scharfenberger stated that he didn’t care if the cost of televising meetings cost $102,000 or 102 cents, if it cost the township any money to do so, he wouldn’t support televising meetings!
So much for transparency and keeping citizens informed, I suppose it is better to robo call residents in the middle of the night to inform them of changing to the recycling ordinance than it would be to inform them via television.
“…I think televising our meetings is an important step toward engaging our citizens in their Government...” – Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes – Middletown Township Committee
Many residents around town have been advocating for the Middletown Township Committee to broadcast their monthly meetings on the townships 2 public access channels, Comcast channel 20 and Verizon channel 26, their numerous request and letters to the editor have gone unheeded thus far.
In recent years that type of involvement has been limited to a small segment of our residents. When good times prevailed, many members of our community lost interest in the activities of our elected officials. I do not exclude myself from that criticism. Escalating real estate values and a booming economy lessened the burden of real estate taxes on the average resident. As a result, the actions of our elected officials became less important.
But those times are gone for the foreseeable future, and we now must manage our public resources during a time of financial crisis. This means mobilizing our citizens to participate in the governing process and to volunteer to perform services that may have been previously paid for with tax dollars. As an example, we budget a significant amount of money every year toward the maintenance of parks and fields. We should explore organizing the local neighborhoods adjacent to our parks to participate in regular cleanups, grass-cutting and upkeep of these assets. I believe that Middletown residents would welcome the opportunity to come together as a community to take care of their “jointly-owned” assets and save tax dollars at the same time. To set ourselves on this path, we need to connect to our residents. Televising our meetings would allow citizens to observe their government at work and to weigh in on decisions that impact them or that involve matters where they may have expertise.
Corruption and mismanagement arise when Government is conducted in the shadows. Two years ago we took an important step toward opening up our government when Committeeman Short and I introduced a resolution to place all township meeting agendas, resolutions and ordinances on our website in advance of meetings. This resolution was passed unanimously by the Township Meeting. (It was also an excellent example of bipartisanship). This allowed residents to see what was being voted on at meetings. Prior to this, residents who attended meetings would frequently have little idea what was being discussed, because they had never seen, and had no meaningful access to, the documents being voted upon. Bringing our meetings to television would further open a door to local government that until recently remained shut to all but a chosen few.
We live in a time when we are often too busy or simply unable to attend our own local government meetings. Given the current financial crisis, it is more critical than ever to be aware of what our elected officials are doing with the responsibility entrusted to them.
As a candidate for the Middletown Township Committee, I feel it is time that Middletown televises their town meetings.
If we have the capability to record our concerts in the park, than we should be able to do the same for our meetings.
Mary E. Mahoney
Candidate for Middletown Township Committee