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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lower Nazareth Decides To Keep Colonial Regional

(Top row, from Left to Right: Robert "Pappy" Kucsan; James Pennington; and crowd shot in which a developer hides his face. 
Middle row, from Left to Right: Solicitor Gary Asteak; Manager Timm Tenges; and Chair Eric "Rick" Nagle.
Bottom row:  Gerald Green; Martin Boucher; and "Back to the '80s" sign).

After seven months of uncertainty, Lower Nazareth Supervisors last night ended their threatened breakaway from the Colonial Regional Police Department. This decision came during a meeting at Lower Nazareth Elementary School, before an audience of about 170. Supervisors sat below two signs. One of them read, "Welcome to the Wonderful World of Lower Nazareth." The other, prepared by the third grade, read, "Back to the '80s."

Despite the signs, the Wonderful World of Lower Nazareth has decided not to go back to the '80s.

The Colonial Regional Police Force, first formed in 1995 as one of the area's first regional police departments, currently serves Hanover and Lower Nazareth Townships, as well as Bath Borough. But last year, Lower Nazareth rejected this year's $3.39 million proposed police budget. This operated as a notice of intent to withdraw in a year if the problems remain unresolved. If unable to come to terms by July 1, Lower Nazareth would have no choice but to go it alone, starting in January.

It looked like a long night was ahead. But before hearing from anyone in the audience, Supervisor James Pennington moved to rescind the notice of intent to withdraw and accept this year's police budget. Pennington had previously backed Nagle's stated desire to go it alone, if necessary, but had a change of heart.


After the meeting, he explained. Opening a folder, he showed sheet after sheet of pros and cons he was ticking off, both with respect to the regional force and a go-it-alone department. He said he kept going back and forth, but what really changed his mind is walking his dog, believe it or not, although it is not his dog who convinced him.

Pennington walks his dog twice a day, and during these jaunts, he speaks to a lot of residents. They were concerned about losing Colonial Regional. One of the neighbors he spoke to is former Northampton County Sheriff Jeff Hawbecker, who is also a former state trooper. Hawbecker started the process that led to Northampton County's Sheriff's department being one of just two departments statewide that are accredited..

To his credit, Pennington listened to what he was told, and took it to heart.

Pennington's motion was quickly seconded by Supervisor Martin Boucher, who has supported Colonial Regional from the start.

All this appeared to take Supervisor Robert "Pappy" Kuscan by surprise, and when he realized what was going on, he exploded.

"Do you realize we're going to have to raise taxes?" he exclaimed in a voice that needed no microphone. He went on to discuss the costs and then, referring to the audience, said, "These people don't know what's happening?"

"I think they do know what's going on," disagreed Boucher. "That's why they're here."

Kuscan continued to blow oil, discussing the merits of a police department with a station right by the municipal building.

"A station right next to the baseball field?" asked Boucher, referring to the large number of athletic fields next to the municipal building at which children play baseball, soccer and football.

"Absolutely!" thundered Kuscan.

"What, are you cRraZy?" asked Boucher.

At this point, Chairman Eric Nagle ended the exchange. It was getting argumentative, and worse, Kucsan was losing.  

Nagle then repeated the arguments he's been making all along. He acknowledged that he's on record as calling Colonial Regional a "great department" (he's actually on record as calling it the "best in the state"), but said the funding formula for the regional force is disadvantageous to Lower Nazareth residents, who pay more for police protection than their counterparts in Hanover and Bath.

He acknowledged that the budget increases are small, in the area of just 5%, but "that could be a 9 or 10% increase on us."

He concluded that for $250,000 less than what it is paying now, Lower Nazareth could have its own force.

Kucsan continued to blow oil, now claiming that Hanover and Bath get together and outvote them. "We have less township people and we're paying a lot more money than they are. ... That's not fair."

But Boucher countered that, if anything, Lower Nazareth is ahead of the others. Lower Nazareth pays 35% of the budget, but receives 37% of the service. He added that a solo police department would actually end up being more expensive.

Supervisor Gerald Green voted to join Pennington and Boucher in rescinding the notice of intent to withdraw and accepting this year's budget. Kucsan and Nagle voted No.

The room burst into applause, erasing any doubt about where they stood on this issue.

Though he voted against Nagle, Green defended him to the audience, arguing that Nagle is motivated by the "best interests of the township" and "did his homework."

Very classy. Maybe Lower Nazareth really is a wonderful world.

Colonial Chief Roy Seiple was obviously happy, and addressed the Board and the audience. "Some of you maybe I've arrested. Sorry for that," he joked. He thanked Supervisors for looking at the police study objectively and making the "correct" decision.

Hanover Township Manager Jay Finnigan was there, and after the meeting, had this comment: "I believe the Board of Supervisors in Lower Nazareth Township took the appropriate action in supporting one of the strongest police forces in the Lehigh Valley. The officers provide all municipalities outstanding service committed to the residents in each municipality."


Anonymous said...

...Kucsan continued to blow oil, now claiming that Hanover and Bath get together and outvote them. "We have less township people and we're paying a lot more money than they are. ... That's not fair."...
Like I said in an earlier post, it's all about control, and Commissioner Kucsan showed his hand with this comment. Well, the taxpayers exerted a little muscle, and they are in control....for now.

Anonymous said...

This was the right move. I've attended multiple LN meetings as a non-resident, and both Kucsan and Nagle I found to be distasteful. Kucsan was challenging something he knew nothing about, but was reading questions from a piece of paper he got somewhere. He looked like a fool that was intent on discrediting something, but he didn't know the subject matter. Nagle is a narrow- minded puffed up buffoon. Pennington looks like he can swing with Nagle when he wants, but made the right call in this case.

Anonymous said...

@12:24 As the other supervisor challenged - LN also gets the most service. The police are pretty much stationed at Kohl's and WallsMart. You can't blame Bath or Hanover for that.

Anonymous said...

@12:26, One may only guess where that paper came from. My guess, someone that the Commissioners employ.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Pennington is swayed by a lifetime public employee/pensioner and partisan?

12:26 - narrow-minded puffed up baffoon? Nice substantive argument. He's is all that, because he saw a chance to save a quarter of a million now, more later and was bold enough to try something other than accept inertia and scare tactics?

As for the swing voter, the record shows he never met a tax dollar he wouldn't spend. His time on the school board was marked by massive spending, 20% increase teacher contracts, hiring of miscreants written about here and elsewhere, and, if I am not mistaken, approving a contract that ended up with us shelling out over 60k to the last superintendent for unused sick days.


Anonymous said...

@Clem, What ever happened to the will of the taxpayers? These gentlemen were elected to serve the residents of LNT. The residents spoke, and were heard, for once.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of wild, Bernie I must bring OT issue to your attention.

Remember the Ponzi scheme scumbag Freer that took advantage of relatives and the elderly with his Ponzi scheme in Nazareth.
Get this one, his Ahole attorney, G. Heitczman thinks he should be paid first from any recovered proceeds. He is petitioning the courts for first dibs on any cash recovered.

Sorry, had to vent. Back to shitty local government and the need for a county police force.

Anonymous said...

"Hawbecker started the process that led to Northampton County's Sheriff's department being one of just two departments statewide that are certified."

BO, please change "certified" to "accredited". There is a difference. All Sheriff's departments are Act 2 certified, however, only two departments are accredited through PLEAC. Your previous statement is incorrect and I just thought you would want to be accurate in your story.

Anonymous said...

There were not just LNT taxpayers at that meeting. And, more than a few I know who communicated our go-it-alone views directly to the board could not attend, so I don't buy that "The will of the taxpayers" was done. The E-T account speaks of the non resident "interested parties" including a wife of one of the force who was their to beg for her husband's job, not what was best for us. Another was a clerk there to tell the story of how upset everyone was not knowing if they would have a job. And, of course, all the other CRPD crowd and the other townships' folks who desperately needed us to stay in.

Not necessarily the stuff of objective consideration.


Anonymous said...

Just for the record, LNT does not pay the majority of the budget. They pay 35% which is about 1.2 million. Hanover pays about 50%which is 1.6 million. So Kusan crying that lower pays more was not ccorrect.

@clem, you sound like u have ax to grind against crpd. Who are these supporters u mention to nagle and kuscan? I guess they forgot to show up at the meeting.

Anonymous said...

Clem can be a real douchebag. he is just an angry teabagger.

Anonymous said...

funny, i'm pretty liberal on most issues, but I find Clem to be one of the most intelligent contributors to this board

Anonymous said...

@603...by intelligent you mean so far out in right field that he is no longer part of the game anymore? Then yes I agree he is intelligent.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being there and your report Bernie.

Anonymous said...

I hope everyones numbers are correct on this issue. If I read this correctly,, the budget is 3.2 million dollars. Lower Naz pays 35% of the budget and gets 37% of the service. The overall budget is going up 4% or $128,000 overall. Of that amount Lo. Naz. will increase their share 35% of the overall increase or simply $45,800.00. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Shared costs based on population and not crime statistics is a bargain for Lo. Naz. Twsp. since they use most of the services (37%).
What bothered me most of all was that no Township resident was allowed to address the Supervisors prior to them taking a vote. The place was packed and only after the vote was taken was anyone allowed to address the Issue. Is this open Representative Government? I don't think so. Time for a change in Lo. Naz. Twsp. and I don't mean the police department.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:35,I made the change you suggested and thank you for educating me.

Anonymous said...

Having been in attendance this evening and watching the events unfold it is obvious that Mr. Nagle and Mr. Kucsan are out of touch with the residents of Lower Nazareth. We are demanding police protection from a quality organization not something thrown together by a township manager and a Kutztown professor.

Mr. Kucsan and Nagle were rude and disrespectful to those attending. It was obvious they have a personal vendetta against the CRPD. Someone commented yesterday that it resolves around a 2009 incident with Nagle and the police. Anyone check on it?

Having attended many recent LNT meetings Nagle is disrespectful to residents. Tonight you couldn't hear what the board was saying and he constantly threatened to adjourn the meeting and to take conversations out to the hall. Perhaps if the board was using an PA system attendees could have heard them.

Mr. Kucsan screaming about the way the police board was set up was unprofessional. Mr. Kucsan, if what you screamed it true, there isn't an organization that requires unanimous consent to pass motions. By the way, the LNT board just passed the updated agreement in 2012 according to your minutes unanimously. Didn't you vote for it?

There needs to be continued public scrutiny of the LNT board, particularly those that voted against Mr. Pennington's motion to stay in the CRPD. Who is going to do it? LVL? Express Times?, Morning Call?

We need 200 people to attend every LNT meeting starting on June 25th. We need to get to the bottom of what's going on in LNT.

Anonymous said...

As a resident, I was very pleased that the board ruled to keep Colonial Regional as our police force. There wasn't one resident in that room who wanted to see Colonial Regional go, based on the resounding applause following the 3-2 vote to stay with their services. Mr. Boucher stated that Lower Nazareth currently pays 35% of the police budget, while using 37% of their services, thus showing what we receive is actually a deal. I think every reasonable citizen knows taxes will be raised from time to time to cover increased costs within the area they reside. If Lower Nazareth supervisors really feel strongly about not raising taxes as costs rise, I would suggest that they consider other areas where there could be possible savings. Not an area like Police coverage, which could potentially be dangerous to the citizens and the officers themselves. Great job Mr. Pennington, Mr. Green and Mr. Boucher for listening to what the residents want, you truly understand what it means to serve your community by listening to your residents.

Anonymous said...

An area the township could have saved $$ is in their fight to change the name of Selvaggio Drive to Municiple Drive. Don't quote me but I believe it was upwards of $30,000-$40,000.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:15, This was my third meeting of L Nazareth Supervisors. My impression is that Kucsan is definitely out of touch.

Nagle is a bean counter. That gives him strengths and weaknesses. For example, last night, I ragged on him with some bullshit about the Sunshine Act, and he immediately knew how many meetings i had attended in the past. He's good with numbers, and obviously has a good memory.

He did threaten to adjourn the meeting, but that is bc people were talking and it makes things rough on people trying to follow a meeting. I have no problem with that.

He's not exactly Mr. Warmth, but I think like Gerald Green that Nagle is doing what he thinks is right for his township.

Pappy Kucsan likely needs to go. His claim that the audience did not understand was condescending and betrays him as someone who thinks they exist to listen to him and not the other way around.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Clem, Your criticism of Pennington is designed to create the impression that he is some kind of rabid Democrat who spent his career in the public sector. That is inaccurate. It was also a cheap shot that addressed no facts.

Pennington, a Lehigh U grad with a MBA, spent his career at PPL as a manager in corporate cash. He is certainly no politico.

I don't know why anyone sits on school boards bc they are thankless unpaid positions. And I don;t consider a school board government, even though they deal with more tax dollars. They are an educational board.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" I find Clem to be one of the most intelligent contributors to this board"


Bernie O'Hare said...

"Clem can be a real douchebag. he is just an angry teabagger."

This is an example of the kind of comment that does not belong here and makes Clem, by comparison, look smart.

It is a personal attack. It is anonymous. It doesn't even bother to address the subject of the post.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"There were not just LNT taxpayers at that meeting. And, more than a few I know who communicated our go-it-alone views directly to the board could not attend, so I don't buy that "

Clem, It's certainly true that many officers were there, along with their wives. Hanover Tp officials were there. But there were also many Lower Nazareth taxpayers at that meeting. In fact, after it was over and i was discussing the matter i the parking lot, car after car drove up to ask how the vote went and the drivers were happy when they learned that go-it-alone failed. Thise were obviously LNT people.

Your comment is designed to create the impression that LNT Supervisors were subjected to an invasion of outside special interests. That is inaccurate. They were there, but they were heavily outnumbered by residents.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't a cheap shot at all. And no axe to grind with CRPD. Not much difference between departments in my experience, so why pay extra if you don't have to.

Here is what the essence of the "cheap shot": Two supervisors attempted to do things more efficiently. The majority went the other way, believing saving money was not that important. The deciding voter switched his position after, as you wrote, walking his dog and talking to a career cop. He went with spending more. I simply pointed out that the swing voter has a history of participating in spending more than you have to (which is what the losing side believes is the result) when vested with the power to do so by an electorate. That is reasonable to point out to those who laud the decision without thinking about how the "little extra expense for the best and brightest today" may very well create a much larger one tomorrow. Been there, done that. I think the comparison is valid and illustrative of what we can expect based on past performance in a similar role.

I didn't call him any names, question his education, didn't attack his "private sector" experience. But, since you brought it up, public utilities are much closer to the public sector than private. Fountains, fancy buildings, long lunches and ever increasing rates granted by the government. Sound familiar?

In the end, it is done. We will see. And I'm comfortable that this will be another I told you so in a few years but, we will see.


Anonymous said...

Clem - Its the devil you know versus the devil you don't.

Everyone would love to keep taxes flat and avoid budget increases. The likely savings of forming our own PD would be outweighed in short order as the reality and bureacracy set in and in 5 years time we'd still be stuck with increased costs for what in effect would be reduced services.

You speak of inertia - once we left it would be difficult to climb back up to the level of service the community currently receives/expects and once that's realized it would be too late as the sticker shock of what it would take to get back there would be too prohibitive.


Anonymous said...

The bigger, more obvious point that Mr. Kucsan and Mr. Nagle seem to overlook is this: municipalities join regional departments in order to share costs while having professional services. Trying to "go it alone" always leads to higher expenses and higher taxes. And please don't be fooled by the bogus study that was done. The "formulas" may say that 6 officers plus a chief is adequate, but people with common sense and a true understanding of crime in LNT know that the 7-person department would quickly balloon to double that number in order to deal with all the calls in that township. Thank goodness there are some people on that board with common sense so that taxpayers don't get crushed with huge tax increases down the road.

Anonymous said...

Clem personifies the problem in America today. The idea that everything is solved by spending as little as possible to survive.

As an individual one can certainly make that case but as a civilized society you need to think beyond yourself. The tea party and the heads at Fox make lots of money by getting people in touch with their "Id". What's in it for me and mine. It is part of our human condition to long for the family or tribe life were things were kept small scale and less complicated. However, in a large and complex global society these ideas are long behind us. You can't have an organized society and civilized life and still think the world runs in your micro-economic viewpoints.

Time to grow up and open your eyes.

Anonymous said...

No surprise that the "me" generation grew up to become crazed teabaggers. Hopefully the young will save America.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely true. There are necessities in the public sector that shouldn't be reduced to mere dollars and cents. Yes, it's wise to get the most bang for your buck. But, the least expensive option is not always the best option.

Anonymous said...

No all folks from the "baby boom" are tea party zanies, I assure you.

Anonymous said...

@Bernie "My impression is that Kucsan is definitely out of touch."

Yep - it only takes seeing him once to come to this conclusion. He should resign or not run for re-election. He peers from side to side like he is disoriented and confused, as an elderly person does when they are confused as to whether they need a bedpan or not.

Anonymous said...

@Bernie "they were heavily outnumbered by residents"

LNT residents are upset right now. The turnout for the IDI hearings has been consistently excellent. When your residents get pissed, they go looking for a place for relief.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I did not care for some of the things Nagle said about the Sunshine Act after yesterday's meeting. I think I may be attending more of their meetings myself.

Anonymous said...

"Clem personifies the problem in America today. The idea that everything is solved by spending as little as possible to survive."

"No surprise that the "me" generation grew up to become crazed teabaggers."

These comments might make more sense if we weren't $17 trillion in debt, largely compiled by the "me" generation. Assholes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Unless Lower Nazareth is $17 trillion in debt, you're off base.

Anonymous said...

"Clem personifies the problem in America today. The idea that everything is solved by spending as little as possible to survive."

More correctly, Clem understands that after racking up $17 trillion of debt on the books, $70 trillion more in off the books promises than can never be kept, NOTHING has been solved by spending as much as possible every time you want something.

But every single time someone tries to cut something, ANYTHING, it's the same old "How can you do that, you cretin!"

See, I'm 52. I'm gonna be pushing up daisies by the time the shit hits the fan. But you are fucking with my kids' future and, what is horrifically worse, your own kids' future every time you simply say spend more because we simply must have it and you are a heartless bastard if you say no.

The me generation? That is rich. Nowhere is the I want it all and I want it now attitude more on display than with the grasshoppers who can never, ever accept a fiscally responsible initiative and who crucify those willing to do something other than simply spend today without any critical consideration of tomorrow.

YOU are the me generation, personified.


The Complex Triathlete said...

Bernie, I have only commented here a few times but I feel like I have to today. In a post this morning about a harassment charge you referred to the Colonial Regional Police as "professional and accredited" vs. the Nazareth police force which you referred to as "a mess." The implication of this statement was that what happened in Nazareth couldn't happen with the CRP.

Sadly, you are wrong and I am the proof. In 2008 I was falsely accused of harassment and stalking based on the word of one individual. At the beginning of my sage Police Chief Seiple personally showed up at my house to accuse me of something I didn't do, told me I should apologize to said individual, and that he didn't need any proof other than this individual's word. I told him a much different story and asked to have my statement taken for the record. He refused to do this and when I went to the station in the following days to do just that, my request was outright refused.

Over the next 14 months I had no contact with this person other than one time when I passing him while out on my morning run. Which is when my problems really began.

A few days later a CRP detective showed up at my workplace with a blatantly false statement and telling me that they would be arresting me shortly. I asked him if he had any proof, any actual evidence, and he told me that the statement of the individual was all that he needed. A few days later I was arrested on these false charges.

Long story short, I do have a very good lawyer and was willing to fight the charges. A few months later all charges were dropped.

Why were the charges even brought up? Because of who the other individual happened to be. That individual was as Northampton County Judge. Why were they dropped? Because they were bogus. If they were legit, certainly they would have thrown the book at me, the accuser, after all, is a judge.

How might we know that I'm not the crazy or non-corrupt one? One of the things I was accused of was "false pleasantries" (I kid you not). I was also falsely accused of running his family off the road 6 months before my arrest. That sounds serious until you take into account that there was never a police report filed when the alleged incident occurred and, one would think, that charges of trying to run a family walking on the street off the road would would lead one to call the police and file a police report - at the time of the incident. Especially if that person making the accusations is concerned with "false pleasantries."

So yes, Bernie, CRP are accredited, but, at least from my experience, they are no better than a police force you refer to as "a mess." In the case of the CRP, my experience has led me to conclude that the right term is a fair bit stronger than "a mess."

P.S. I have no problem discussing this in further detail offline and off the record if, Bernie, you need more proof of what I am telling you.

Anonymous said...

Dude, given your too long passive aggressive tirade, any sane person would be concerned about you.

Anonymous said...

10:08. Really, are you nuts. You and Pappy must have the same oil leak.

Anonymous said...

Not one, and I mean not one of these loosly elected local yokals is morally and professionally qualified to disband and start up a police force. Not one of them!The people elected to these positions would never ever be qualified to hold a position of any stature in local government but run around and pretend that somehow they know better and are all the more wise. It is sickening actually to see what local yokal Supervisors can do to screw with professional's livelihoods. It is almost CRIMINAL. Thank you to the Supervisors that had the guts to stare down the Nagle clan and to do the right thing and not fix something that is not broken.

Anonymous said...

So who is qualified to make that call?

Anonymous said...

I agree. You should stop hiding from behind this blog and attend the meeting on the 25th and call them on it.

Anonymous said...

Bernie you peaked my interest. What did Nagle say?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm not quite sure if Nagle said them for public consumption, so I will not quote him to be fair. But he did violate the Sunshine Act. I will explain this week.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"You should stop hiding from behind this blog and attend the meeting on the 25th and call them on it."

I disagree with Nagle on this one, but he is elected to give his best judgment. I respect him, though I disagree with him on this point.