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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bath Takes Its Case to Colonial Regional Oversight Board

Members of Bath's police advisory board
address CRPD Comm'n 
In the wake of Saturday's Town Hall in Bath, a large crowd was expected at the monthly meeting of the Colonial Regional Police Department (CRPD) last night. To be sure there would be enough room, the venue was transferred from CRPD HQs to the popular Hanover Tp Community Center, a YMCA on steroids where even my grandson trains. Some people were lifting or doing cardio. Young ladies joked in the lobby as they prepared for volleyball practice. Bouncing basketballs provided the percussion. When about ten police officers entered the building, nobody batted an eye. Some of the kids even said Hi to these cops, who have apparently taken the time to develop good relations. But how are these same officers viewed by the Bath community? About 35 people were at last night's meeting, but only a few of them were residents who were neither part of the police advisory commission or borough Council.

Borough officials continue to insist that no decision has been made. But Borough Manager Brad Flynn's Budget Message from October makes clear that a mere five percent increase was so devastating that there would be discussions about the Bath's continued participation in CRPD.

Martin Boucher, a soft-spoken Lower Nazareth Tp Supervisor, chairs the CRPD Commission, which provides civilian oversight over this regional force. John Diacogiannis, from Hanover Tp, and Fiorella Mirabito, from Bath, are the other voting members. After getting the police business out of the way, Boucher opened up the floor to public comment.

CRPD Commission Absence at Town Hall. - It appears that members of the police advisory commission, along with Mayor Fiorella Mirabito, were bothered that the CRPD was absent from Saturday's Town Hall. Diacogiannis explained that he thought the Town Hall was for residents of Bath to register their concerns. That's certainly how it was presented on Bath's Facebook page. It was billed as a meeting for residents and business owners about the future of police service in Bath, hosted by the Bath Borough administration. In fact there was an attempt to prevent CRPD officers from speaking for that very reason. Boucher explained he was working on Saturday.

There's another reason why Commission members would be wise to stay away. Had they gone to that meeting and participated in discussions concerning Bath's future with CRPD, they would be deliberating about matters on which they will be taking official action. They would be conducting a public meeting without advertising and without anyone to take minutes for them. It would be a clear violation of the Sunshine Act.

Can This be Worked Out? - Diacogiannis explained that the Commission is there for each respective municipality, and that it is up to each participant.  But speaking for himself, he said, "You got a problem. Police are only one component of it."  He noted complaints that 23% of Bath's budget goes for police protection, but noted that 29% of Hanover's budget pays for police. "We view police as a public safety issue. It's our responsibility as a government to provide for that."

Is Lower Nazareth going to bolt, too? -  Eric Nagle has been singing that tune for several years in Lower Nazareth, and has used the situation in Bath to rekindle the issue there. But Boucher put out that fire. "A majority of our board doesn't feel that way," he said. "We're very pleased with Colonial Regional."

Is CRPD Willing to Provide Contracted Services? - This question came both from a police advisory commission member and from Mayor Fiorella Mirabito, who tried to insist again that no decision has been made until I turned on my tape recorder.  It's pretty clear that Bath wants CRPB, like Moore Tp, to provide a proposal for contracted services even though no guidance about what is sought has been provided. Basically, Bath wants CRPD to compete against itself, and Chief Roy Seiple said he's prepare a proposal if he was given some guidance.

Some Police Advisory Comm's members support CRPD - Tara Berger, a registered nurse at St.Luke's, and spelled her name out for me. She said she jumped at the opportunity to be part of the advisory commission. "Initially, I thought, why fix the roads?" she asked. "Because who's going to want to drive into a town that's not protected by you guys?" She added that "any rumors, any blogs or articles, it's so sad for me to think that we are questioning what they do for us." She expressed concern about an "ever-growing transient element."  She also said that she represents a large part of her neighborhood "because I knocked on doors and I talked to them, and they don't want to leave you."

Tara might wish to tell those neighbors that CRPD officers were prevented from responding to what was essentially a hit job in the "informational packet" prepared by Borough Manager Bradford Flynn, which is full of inaccuracies. As one of them told her last night, "I felt we were personally disrespected." Officers intend to set the record straight at the next Borough Council meeting on June 5.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Bath, you will not leave. You will pay the amount you are told to pay. You will not speak again about leaving.

Got it? Good.

Anonymous said...

Obviously a registered nurse, who makes a healthy salary also, will be a cheerleader for one of the most expensive police forces in the Lehigh Valley. If her neighbors were so concerned, where were they at the CRPD and Town-hall meetings. She can be the poster girl for higher taxes in Bath. As for Mr. Boucher of LNT, he is part of the overall problem in the CRPD. He approved the lavish police contracts the department enjoys and he is the reason why LNT's contribution rate increases $50,000 to $60,000 per/year. They, [the CRPD Commission], created an entity that just keeps sucking money from the taxpayers in a spiral of unrelenting costs. It will be interesting to see if Bath leaves the CRPD, who will pick up the additional $413,543 cost! Go for it Mr. Boucher or Hanover Township; you deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Bath needs to leave. They simply cannot afford the ever increasing costs of CRPD. Nothing is going to change. LNT and HT could care less about Bath.

Anonymous said...

It is a usual statement, a mere 5% increase, has the Bath income increased by 5%, has the citizens of Bath enjoyed a 5% increase in income. I think not, the problem is the Public sector feels entitled to increases in excess of the taxpayers increases in income. It is unsustainable.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:37, or should I say Eric Nagle, If you want to slam your fellow Supervisor in LNT, at least have the courage to sign your name. Also, who the hell do you think you are to lay into a RN who is mother and wife and is expressing an opinion? That's really rotten of you. Had you attended the meeting, you'd know this woman did not much care for my blog bc I am reporting that, contrary to the Marabito line, I think borough officials have made up their minds andarelikely goingh against the will of the people who elect them.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Dear Bath, you will not leave. You will pay the amount you are told to pay. You will not speak again about leaving."

Actually,it is Bath officials who told police officers on Saturday that they could not speak bc this was a meeting for the residents. Then the same crowd turns around and demands to know why the CRPD Commission was not violating the Sunshine Act and attending this meeting,too.

Anonymous said...

As a resident of Moore has anyone asked us if we want our PD covering the Borough? How are they going to chose what calls to handle and which one not to? I think our Supervisors need to withdraw our offer for police coverage immediately. I'm sure they will get sick of dealing with Mayor Fi and her Facebook whining. Stop Moore Township PD from patrolling Bath.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bath needs to leave. They simply cannot afford the ever increasing costs of CRPD. Nothing is going to change. LNT and HT could care less about Bath."

This attempt to drive a wedge between the borough and townships is totally unfair. As HT Supervisor Diacogiannis explained last night, HT pays a higher percentage of its revenue into the police department than does Bath. It also assumes costs that benefit both Bath and LNT. HT was able to donate three vehicles to CRPD from gaming grants. It secured ballistic vests on its own.It assumed the cost of repairing a vehicle damaged in Bath. It did not demand a reduction in its share for this, nor did it invoice the other two townships. It is a regional effort. The "ever increasing costs" are about five percent per year.

Anonymous said...

8:25am BO
The police spoke. Get your facts straight. The commission members knew it was advertised.

8:28am Anonymous
The mayor gives her residents information, unlike other community leaders.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand how a registered nurse has identified "transient people" as a problem in Bath. The definition of transient is staying or working in a place for a short time. How does she know this? Is she inferring that transient persons are minorities or they comprise the 12.9% below the poverty level. Either way the statement or unqualified opinion can be considered nebulous, with possible biased overtones. I think she should stick to nursing, politics is not her bag.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I do have my facts straight. Police officers who tried to speak were shut down and told this was a meeting for residents, not them. While Chief Seiple did manage to make a few points, it was only at the sufferance of Mark Saginario. He wanted to hear nothing from them at all.

Anonymous said...

8:28, I am glad to see a Moore Twp resident chime in. How are you going to feel when you need a police officer for an emergency (burglary, domestic, medical, etc) and you are told that the police dept that YOUR tax money supports will get there as soon as they can, they are tied up on a call in Bath? If I were you I would be asking some serious questions of your Twp. Supervisors.

As for 8:53 can you explain what an "unqualified opinion" is? An opinion is exactly that an opinion. As a wise man once said, Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

Anonymous said...

Assume transient = renters.

Bath has issues, too numerous to list. 5% increase sucks, but while the easy scapegoat is to blame staff salaries, it's certainly not a money grab, its just the cost of doing police business in an area that is expanding/growing with homes and businesses.

I'm sure salary increases of some sort are cooked into it, but costs to keep the patrol cars running and on the road have increased, insurance costs go up, water, heat, electricity bills rise, training/vendor costs aren't going to remain static, let alone replacing and/or improving the material and equipment the officers are using to keep the citizens safe.

Scott

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:53, Bath does have a high level of individuals below the poverty line (12.9%), has a majority population of renters and 90% work outside of the borough. I think this nurse, as a resident who has lived in Bath for years, is in a good position to judge for herself whether there is an increasing number of transients. It would be people she is not used to seeing who suddenly leave and are replaced by other people she is not used to seeing. She can make that assessment as a resident, and there is nothing remotely racial about it, except perhaps in your own mind. It really bothers you that a resident spoke up for CRPD, doesn't it? So you smear her.

http://lvpc.org/pdf/2015/Profiles_Maps/Profile&Trends-MuniProfiles%2063.pdf

Anonymous said...

I went for a ride along once with CRPD as part of their citizen police academy. It was the overnight shift. The car I was in, and the other cars on duty that night, spent the majority of the night in Bath. There was no calls in LN and one minor call in HT. To pull CRPD out of Bath in favor for PSP or Moore would be a mistake. The increase in yearly cost is minimal compared to the protection that CRPD offers. Bath will get what they pay for, increased crime and slow response time, if they go another route. Increased crime leads to decreased property values, killing the tax base. That 5% increase won't seem so bad in a few years.

Anonymous said...

Dear MR O'Hare. Contrary to your speculation, I do not respond nor contribute to your blog. While I do review it from time to time to hear what your bloggers have to say, I do not feel this is the venue for elected public officials participate in public discourse. Anyone that knows me knows that I believe in transparency and I have never been afraid to voice my concerns and support my positions with facts regardless of consensus or the controversial aspects of the issues. As my fellow LNT Supervisors and residents that attend our meeting know, I do not cower from public opinion and I have no problem being the lone voice of reason.

My position on this issue is very simple. Bath has to determine on their own how to provide police services for their citizens just like any municipality does, including Lower Nazareth. It is a municipal decision, not a CRPC decision or some advisory groups decision. Your comment that I am stirring the pot is inaccurate also. The facts are, LNT can't afford Colonial either. They represent 35% or our budget and our representatives on the Commision (Boucher and Pennington) do nothing to control or cut the CRPD budget. Additionally, the funding formula benefits Bath and Hanover at the detriment of Lower Nazareth.

In conclusion, this will be the only time I contribute to your blog to set your record straight.

Respectively,

Eric E. Nagle

Anonymous said...

Let’s use the information from the package Mr. Flynn passed out at the Saturday meeting which is full of unverifiable and inaccurate information. HE indicated that the mill rate will increase from 15.0 mills to 16.5 mills in 2018. So what will that cost a tax payer in Bath whose house is assessed for $63,000. Their Bath tax bill will increase from $94.50 to $103.95 to keep CRPD. Again, using Mr. Flynn’s projections in 2032 the tax bill for BATH alone will be $119.51. While any tax increase hurts everyone’s wallet the bigger hit will come when the crime rate increase due to the lack of police protection. Bath will either become a ghost town, overburdened with crime or both. So in 15 years it will cost a Bath resident approximately $275.00 to keep CRPD. I’ll bet without police they will lose $15-20,000 in home value over the same period without PD.
We need to support the CRPD.

Anonymous said...

To attack your fellow supervisors on a blog shows exactly why you are not well liked.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Eric, I have reasons for accusing you of posting that comment, and they are good reasons. I will be happy to share them with you back channel. Be honest and we will get along fine, even if we disagree.

FIORELLA R MIRABITO said...

Anonymous 8:28am...

Grow a spine and identify yourself - or, shut up. Unlike you, I don't hide behind my laptop...I keep the residents of my Borough informed. I try to do my best for everyone involved. Again - if you don't like my posts on social media - don't read them.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mayor Mirabito, I allowed that anonymous comment to stand bc it did not appear to be personal, but I can see now that I should have said something. Let me disagree with that reader and state that I, for one, appreciate the transparency in your Facebook updates. I think you do an outstanding job of keeping the public informed. I do wish that you would state publicly that, even though you have no vote, you oppose separation from CRPD, at least this year. I think you need to take a much deeper dive than what appears in that poorly drafted informational packet. You need to survey the residents, who prefer the CPRD according to at least one speaker.

Anonymous said...

Here is the great Bernie O'Hare supporting tax increases to pay for very expensive police protection services. The same guy who lives in an apartment and doesn't pay any municipal taxes directly. No wonder the Borough of Nazareth wants you gone!

This is the same guy who champion's minority rights, yet who obviously supports clandestine comments to infiltrate his blog that are obviously directed against the poor and minorities in Bath.

Get off the CRPD bandwagon and look at the true facts presented. There is no way, a borough with Bath's financial situation, can sustain these uncontrollable costs. For you to support these spiraling costs, just shows that you have no IDEA what is going on and that your knowledge of facts is distorted and confused.

Bernie O'Hare said...

True facts? What, pray tell, are they? Your anonymous ad hominem destroys your credibility before you even get started. You defeat yourself.

Anonymous said...

Boro's have more crime than townships..that is a fact of life. Bath knows it yet they balk at spending the needed money that proportionally goes toward responses in town. Stop being silly and pony up the money. Your residents deserve police protection 24/7.

Anonymous said...

Mayor...you need to take a stand..now! Stop dancing around the fire and tell the people where you stand.

Anonymous said...

Spending money on empty buildings and ignoring the police issue is derelict behavior.

Anonymous said...

Yes, taxes will increase to keep CRPD. That's fine. All the increase will go directly to CRPD and then our roads will not be fixed and other projects won't get done. Then you all can stand back and complain that the Borough isn't taking care of things. Please take a look at the bigger picture instead of being narrow minded.
Pam Henninger

Bernie O'Hare said...

If you read the comments here, you'll see that if anyone id being narrow-minded, it is you. If you abandon CRPD on favor of the more limited coverage offered by Moore or complete absence offered by PSP, you'll see property values decline. You'll see residents leave, at least the good ones. You'll see businesses far more reluctant to establish themselves there. Basically, you will be ruining your tax base. This is penny wise and pound foolish.

Anonymous said...

Can council put a number on how much taxes will go up? The info from the town hall says estimates will increase $15-20 per person over the next 15 years. Do the math on how that will really affect us. Then it should be asked how much increase to pave our roads. I'm assuming that will be far greater cause millions are needed for that. So are the police costs really the issue or years of council kicking the can?

Anonymous said...

Pam just to ask, if all taxes will go to pay police budget, and the budget only increases a max of 5% for Bath's portion, that would be a total of $20,700. That means a total of $7.66 per resident. Narrow minded is wanting to leave CRPD over $7.66

Anonymous said...

Regime change needed in Bath. Time to stand up to the nonsense. Run as independents if nothing else. Fight the powers that be!

Anonymous said...

OK...Now I have to say it..If we stay with CRPD..Yes our Taxes will go up ALOT but Mark my words.."Lower Nazareth WILL PULL OUT then The Boro of Bath will be FINISHED as a Boro."...We CAN NOT stay with CRPD..The other 2 Townships WONT HELP US and Both of them can build buildings to bring in more revenue..Bath Cant do that...WAKE UP BATH RESIDENT S...As for the town hall meeting...I dont believe the Chief had ANY RIGHT to compare their services to anybody other police department...He DOESN'T LIVE HERE..Its NOT His PERSONAL Budget being effective..He is only worried and he should be.. Because if Bath and/or Lower Nazareth pulls out..CRPD WILL BE FINISHED..Just my opinion...Scott Henninger

Anonymous said...

Mr. Henninger, if Lower Nazareth would pull out of CRPD the department would reorganize, cut services, and cut officers. The borough would not need to bankroll the portion that LN was paying because there would be no need to have that many officers and resources. If LN were to pull out I would think that Hanover could establish its own force out of the existing CRPD building and Bath could take advantage of that.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:54, the notion that LNT is leaving is erroneous. A majority of Spervisors support CRPD, and the residents there are quite vocal about it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:54, the other two townships do not exist to serve Bath, but they do. They already subsidize some of the police coverage in Bath and Hanover pays for equipment and secures grants. As for the chief being muzzled, you claim that is as it should be bc he does not live there. Ironically, after silencing him, members of the police study commission wanted to know why the CRPD Commission was absent from the townhall. You can't have it both ways. Finally, if you want to encourage economic development and higher property values, the last thing you do is drive out an accredited police force. That's just stupid.

Anonymous said...

Pam and Scott Henninger, you two are on the citizen panel for Bath boro correct? Both of you seem to be making comments and assumptions without having a full understanding of all the facts.

Anonymous said...

What facts do we not know..

Bernie O'Hare said...

You have not studied what effect a reduction in police services will have on your property values. You have not studied whether this will make it more difficult to retain existing business or draw new ones. You have not studied whether Bath will still be financially distressed. You have failed to consider options of merger with another government. You have failed to survey your citizenry. There are numerous facts you do not have. It seems to me that CRPD is a scapegoat for decades of mismanagement. You. Are approaching your debt limit. I'd say you have lots of work to do, but it appears that this has nothing to do with facts. Also, your comments establish that the assertion that nothing has been decided is a flat out lie.

Anonymous said...

May 23rd @ 11:07 explained how much your taxes will go up over the next 15. $275 total over that entire period. Meanwhile your property value will plummet. Pennywise and pound foolish.

Anonymous said...

I was also at the meeting on saturday. I saw that info and it said the shop with a cop has no known benefit to kids of Bath. I know families that did that and it affected them. It gave them a christmas. Measure that!
If thats not a slanderous thing given to us i dont know what is. Boro manager basically told us elephants are pink and that citizen panel and council are buying it hook line and sinker. Raise my taxes or do better research council. Shame on you for drinking managers kool-aid.