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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bath's Spending Problem Has Nothing To Do With Police Protection

About 70 attend a Bath Town Hall over regional police
Over the weekend, there actually was a town hall without a Congressman. Close to 70 Bath residents braved a rainy Saturday morning to meet at Social Hall, guzzling coffee and munching Dunkin' Donuts. They were there to discuss Bath's continued participation in Colonial Regional Police Department (CRPD). "This place should be packed," complained State Representative Marica Hahn. But to draw 70 people for a weekend meeting about government in a tiny borough of just 2,700 people, is pretty remarkable. At the front of the room was a 15-person police advisory commission, who have been studying CRPD's future in Bath for several months. At the rear were several police officers, along with Chief Roy Seiple, who will be directly impacted by that decision. It's a question of money. It's also a question of public safety.

CPRD, first formed in 1995, is a regional police department that covers Hanover and Lower Nazareth Tp, along with Bath. In 2001, it became the first regional police department in the state to become accredited. It includes 24 police officers. Civilian oversight is provided by a six-person commission, with two members from each of the member municipalities.

Bath has been around a bit longer than CPRD. Settled in 1728, it's a borough consisting of 0.9 square miles and a $1.8 million budget. According to the state Department of Community and Economic Development, it is at least $1 million in debt, with much of that money ($380,000) having been borrowed in just the last year. Its 2017 budget includes nearly $128,000 in debt service. It is nearing its debt limit. Some of the reasons can be gleaned from Borough Manager Bradford Flynn's 2017 Budget Message:
  1. Last year, the Borough decided to purchase the "Thirst Quenchers" building to serve as a new municipal center. That alone will cost $425,000, to say nothing of at least $250,000 in renovations that will follow. 
  2. Legal fees in a borough that serves just 2,700 people have doubled. Forty-one thousand dollars have been budgeted for this year. With a straight face, Borough Manager Brad Flynn justifies this so that the borough can catch up on its codifications. 
  3. In the course of one year, Bath's three-person public works department resigned, and now borough officials are dealing for the first time with a union.
It's a borough with both a spending and a morale problem. Flynn's solution is to dump the one thing the borough appears to be doing well, i.e. protecting the public. He wants to eliminate the CRPD. A manager who thought nothing of borrowing near the limit and who didn't blink an eye when legal fees doubled, was very incensed that the cost of police coverage went up five percent, from $398,000.00 in 2016 to $416,000.00 in 2017. "This increase in cost will prompt upcoming discussions with the Colonial Regional Police Commission about the Borough’s seat at the table and to what future extent," he huffed, in his October 2016 budget message.


Repeated assurances were made on Saturday that "Nothing has been decided." That's window dressing. Flynn's October 2016 Budget Message tells a much different story. It is he, a person who wants to rid the borough of its police protection, who then prepared the "informational" packet that even criticizes CRPD for its "Shop with Cops" program.

Mayor Fiorella Mirabito called CRPD "top notch" and appears to be one person who wants them to stay. But she has no say in this matter, unless there's a tie.

Borough officials claim they've made no decision, either, and then refused to allow Chief Seiple and other CRPD officers to refute the findings in Flynn's so-called "informational" packet. Seiple and others complained that opinions were mislabeled as facts, and facts were misrepresented. As things would get heated, one or another member of the panel would stand up and repeatedly state how much they want to hear from the public.

The longest speeches in a meeting that was ostensibly set up to hear from the public, of course, came from members of the advisory commission. Attorney Beth Beers went on at length. "If we truly believe that we need to go to a different service because we can afford that, it's because we believe we will have the correct and appropriate police service for the Borough of Bath."

Beers insisted that they were not looking for a bargain, though the "informational" packet makes clear that is precisely what they are doing.Moore Tp can provide police protection at a cheaper price with a department that has less manpower and is not accredited. The state police will do it for nothing, if you don't mind waiting an hour for them to respond to a complaint about someone looking in your window.

Most of these harangues would follow a statement by a Bath resident expressing concern about public safety. At least half of those at this meeting appeared to support CRPD.

After Flynn suggested that Bath has no drug problem, a woman named Helen said that "where I live, drugs are a problem. We've had drug busts right across the street from us."

"Do you know how many meth labs were busted on Old Forge over the last two years?"asked one gentleman.

Another asked borough officials whether they have considered allowing themselves to be swallowed up by a government that can provide public safety. A borough that claims to be on the brink of financial disaster and wants to shed its police department has not even considered that possibility.

Chief Seiple noted that Bath pays about 12% of the CRPD budget and gets about 15% of the services. Though borough officials attempted to shut him down, he was plainly irritated at how "Shop with Cops" was misrepresented by Flynn.

"'Shop with Cops' is a program where we solicit donations for underprivileged children within our three jurisdictions to provide them with a Christmas. We give them each $500 and pick them up and go out to Wal Mart. That's a heckuva' program. Eighty per cent, if you want a number, of the kids we pick up for this program are from the Borough of Bath."

As Bath officials should know, truck traffic in the Lehigh Valley and Bath is expected to double over the next ten years. Like it or not, and it's mostly not, the big boxes cometh. Under these conditions, it would be sheer lunacy for the borough to rid itself of a police department that actually is certified to do truck safety inspections

In January, a bank robber in downtown Bath was apprehended by CRPD within a mile of his crime. How long would it take state police to respond? Or Moore Tp?

Instead of shedding CRPD, Borough Council might want to consider eliminating what appears to be its real problem, a spend-happy borough manager who hopes to solve this problem by eliminating CRPD and replacing it with ... whatever. He could them participate himself in "Shop with Cops," but does not live in Bath.

This discussion will continue this evening when the Colonial Regional Police Commission meets at 7 pm.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bath and Bangor appear to be on parallel glide paths. Bangor manager Dysard has let public safety slide and public works crew and has spent the boro into the poor house buying parking meters and signs and new chairs for meetings that no one sits in among other lip stick personal buys like office carpeting and table skirts. No money for fire service equipment or police requests for funding but money for cameras he can watch from his office to spy on the help that has not quit...yet.

Anonymous said...

A young, inexperienced Borough Manager is Flynn. He should absolutely not be leading this highly charged political debate. Wondering behind the scenes the name of the Council members pushing him to be out in front of this issue? Does Flynn live in Bath and for how long? Does he really know what goes on in the streets or is he a zoom in zoom out Manager? Of course the Borough can afford the Police if it were spending its money wisely. A full non governmental audit is what is needed in Bath to see where the money comes from and goes as well as how its handled. Current Certified fund balances are then needed to accompany the audit. Once that is accomplished, the Borough needs to sit down and then, with full pubic participation start making its decisions.

Anonymous said...

Mirror image in Bangor. Council propping up a mean spirited guy who has no compassion for the public, the business community or the greater good. Glorified bean counter who has alienated an entire town with his dour personality and unchecked spending and control of finances that council has gleefully turned over to him rather than act as oversight themselves as duly elected officials. Boro web site has no contact info for any of the council members or mayor. Complaints enter boro office and never appear again. Total control given to a control freak micro manager. A despot by any other name.

Anonymous said...

Lets look at the real villain in this scenario. Don't blame Bath Borough's current administration for this debacle. Look at CRPD'S personnel costs as the main driver in this problem. Just the Chief alone is the 4th highest paid police chief in the Lehigh Valley for the 7th largest community. The CRPD has the 9th Largest police department in the Valley. Neither of these two [2] statistics justify his inflated salary. He makes more than the Chiefs in Easton, Whitehall Township, Upper Macungie, Bethlehem Township and Palmer Township [all with populations greater than the CRPD]. In Boroughs with similar demographics, the mean average salary of a borough police officer is $57,127 p/yr. CRPD is in excess of $76,000 p/yr. When the CRPD was born in 1995, it was a matter of time until the Borough of Bath couldn't afford to be a partner in this venture. I must admit 22-years was a good run, however, Bath Borough cannot afford the associated costs to be part of it without severe budget hardships in other areas. Infrastructure projects have been overlooked by previous administrations and have become essential; don't blame Mr. Flynn for past mistakes! A good government looks forward and doesn't pass on the problems to the next generation.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I find it inexcusable for you or anyone to begrudge the salaries paid to men and women who risk their lives every time they out on a uniform. If anything, they are paid too little. The cost od CRPD is nothing new. It is not exorbitant and goes u gradually, just like everyone else. Bath has basically been a spendthrift,and has found who it wants to blame bc otherwise it would have to blame its own mismanagement, as I think I've made abundantly clear.

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem Twp has been a spendthrift for years but for some reason, not enough residents give a shit?

Anonymous said...

Bernie's 7:52AM comment right on track. Sure policing costs go up and there would be nothing wrong with inviting CRPD to the table to ask what internal budget reviews they could do on their own finances to help out the 3 member communities. BUT any legitimate audit of Bath will show exorbitant hourly rates paid for the borough's legal counsel and hours upon hours of billables. Could easily be biggest cost driver outside police contributions. Add on decisions like the beverage building purchase (which throws the volunteer historical museum treasure out on its ear), mismanagement in the borough office (uncashed checks stuffed in clerks' desk drawers, unanswered citizen complaints, next-to-nothing road repair, public works employee debacles, etc.), and you could find a potential path to financial resolution. And "not a drug (or other crime) problem" in Bath? What route is this manager taking in and out of the borough to go home and has he read a news source in the years he's been there or the police blotters from before his arrival!

Anonymous said...

They should just merge with Moore Township, use their police department (after adding a couple of new officers), and move on. Consolidate all administration and other government functions, ax the borough manager position.

Anonymous said...

Flynn has made it crystal clear what his agenda is. He has done nothing but try and smear the name of CRPD in everything he prints. It was a shame what he gave out to the public on Saturday. And shame on council for not allowing the police to respond in that public forum to the garbage and wrong info that was printed.
He did nothing but print negativity. He really said DARE was not worth it and that the Christmas program Shop with Cops showed no benefit to the children of Bath. Really!?! How small of a man is he to try and smear a charity event funded entirely on donations from the public to give kids a Christmas they normally wouldn't get.

Bernie O'Hare said...

After handing out a document to the public that basically smears CRPD and goes so far as to suggest that there are no drugs in Bath, I was appalled that the officers there were not even allowed to respond to these slurs.

FIORELLA R MIRABITO said...

If I may add...and, clarify:

First, thank you Bernie for attending our Town Hall.

We are faced with a huge union issue - one public works employee decided to leave to go back to his original employer. Another public works employee decided he didn't want to work through the 32" snow storm and decided to quit the day before. The last public works employee, and leader of the union decision, also left to go to a neighboring municipality - simply because he wanted a larger salary. All of the initial employees who began the union process are gone. We've now hired two very hardworking public works employees - who by the way, want out of the union. Due to costs - we've not hired a third. Instead, we are hiring seasonal employees to get us through. The costs we are incurring from this, are absurd..and, I can assure you - has nothing to do with our Borough Manager.

Our Borough Manager has been directed by Borough Council to do extensive research for this incredibly difficult decision our Borough faces. That is all. He will not make the final decision. We're very grateful for the six-member Police Advisory Panel which was formed by Borough Council to also assist and research the future of our police services.
For some unknown and very disheartening, reason people are blaming this on our Borough Manager. He is simply doing his job. He has done extensive research from the state and other authorities, and has merely provided it all to Borough Council.

This is an issue which should have been looked at years ago. Costs will only continue to escalate. We are in a partnership with two huge very resourceful municipalities, and simply cannot keep up with the increasing costs of healthcare, salaries, pensions, etc. If our member municipalities can assist us in some way - in my eyes, that will determine the future of the Borough of Bath and CRPD.

I for one, would absolutely like to keep CRPD...not a question. Although, I too have to face reality...how can a little Borough, one mile square; 7th poorest Borough in the LV; average household income of $49K; no manufacturing...and, the list goes on - possibly keep up with the rising costs of CRPD? PSP and Moore Twsp PD are two great agencies as well - no doubt, they too can provide what we need.

Therefore, I ask everyone to please stay informed. This is not an easy decision for anyone. Please don't place blame on anyone - that's simply not fair. We are faced with a huge decision...and, we all must keep in mind - our number one priority
is the safety and well-being of our residents and businesses here in our Borough...nothing more.

John said...

Little Berks County boroughs of West Lawn and Temple couldn't hack independence for a variety of reasons, mostly financial. If a borough appears to be bumping against debt limits, can't maintain streets, and alleges they can't afford police protection, what's next? It's surrounded on three sides by East Allen Township. Perhaps East Allen could consider Colonial Regional membership?

There are too many municipalities in Pennsylvania and Bath residents appear, in my mother's words, to be getting "hind teat" level of municipal services.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If the borough is unable to perform as a government, it has no reason to exist and should consider a merger with East Allen or Moore. Yet that is an option that was not considered. Why not? If you really want to look at this from a cost perspective, then look at everything.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Joh=,I believe you are right. The real problem here is one they won't address out of parochial concerns. It's fragmented governance. There are simply too many of these petty little fiefdoms. East Allen or Moore should swallow Bath and then joining CRPD for a regional force that would be far more effective than the PSP coverage in East Allen.

Anonymous said...

Mayor how can people stay informed when the info they are being fed is one sided and slanderous? Your council told the police to present their facts and figures in writing to council, what good will that do? The public has been fed what your boro manager wants them to know, not what the residents want to know.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I for one, would absolutely like to keep CRPD...not a question. Although, I too have to face reality...how can a little Borough, one mile square; 7th poorest Borough in the LV; average household income of $49K; no manufacturing...and, the list goes on - possibly keep up with the rising costs of CRPD? PSP and Moore Twsp PD are two great agencies as well - no doubt, they too can provide what we need.

Therefore, I ask everyone to please stay informed. This is not an easy decision for anyone. Please don't place blame on anyone - that's simply not fair."


Mayor, Thank you for your comment. It is quite clear from the Borough Manager's Oct 2016 Budget Message that he decided back then that it was time to leave CRPD. I believe the decision has already been made, and the exercise on Saturday was nothing more than a dog-and-pony show. His "informational" packet was completely slanted. How dare he condemn the Shop with Cops program or suggest that Bath has no drug problem when he does not even live there! It was nothing more than a hit piece disguised as facts. You ask everyone to stay informed, then prevented police officers from responding to Flynn's fluff.

You are hocked up as far as you can be, have tossed the museum out, have spent like drunken sailors on a new municipal center, have been paying way too much for legal fees and then complain about a 5% increase in spending for police? That is sheer nonsense. Your borough manager, if he actually knew what he was doing, would have stopped some of this ridiculous spending before it happened.

If you really want to take a deep dive into this, you need to look at whether you should continue to function as a government. Why have you refused to face the gorilla in the room? It is not CRPD. It is Bath Borough government.

FIORELLA R MIRABITO said...

Anonymous 9:01am...

I urge you to attend the next Bath Borough Council meeting and present your questions and comments. Contrary to popular belief - NO decision has been made.

If I were an employee of CRPD - I would do all I could to keep a member municipality.













Anonymous said...

Bernie, if they would in source some of allentowns administrational skill set implimentors Bath could make claims of being a thriving metropolis and gleen more grant grab get to give instead of debt!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mayor, I believe that you think no decision has been made, but that assertion flies in the face of your Borough Manager's October 2016 Budget Message. That makes things very clear. And how on earth can you claim to be transparent when you allow him to prepare a slanted piece and then refuse to allow officers to respond? That was inherently unfair. If you really want to look at spending, look at everything. The most basic question is whether Bath Borough should continue to exist. Spuds and Suds is no reason for a government.

Anonymous said...

Union salaries, benefits and pensions have turned municipal budgets into wealth transfers from the taxpayers to the employees and pensioners of the municipality.

Any amount after that which is left over is used for actually providing services to the citizens.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Your comment is driven by a short-sighted animus to unions, not fact. Nothing about unions caused the borough to do into debt the way it has done. Nothing about unions is behind the purchase of a building the borough can ill afford. Nothing about unions is behind the decision to pay nearly double win legal fees for codifications that could be done more gradually. But facts fail to fit your narrative, so you blame unions.

Anonymous said...

All one has to do is look at the annual budget to see how much bloodsucking the union costs the taxpayers, versus what they receive in benefits for their tax dollars.

Franklin Roosevelt stated correctly that "All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.... The very nature and purposes of government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with government employee organizations."

Anonymous said...

Something doesn't pass the smell test here. Why would Bath pay $414K for police coverage when they could pay $273k? That $140k savings can be applied elsewhere (numbers courtesy of WFMZ).

The world will not end if Bath switches to Moore Twp for police coverage. It's troubling that wanting to not overpay for services is aligned with maligning the police. That's a shameful strongarm tactic that will hopefully be crushed with the ethical decision to not over pay. Maybe lower naz will wake up and realize that they too can provide police service at a more reasonable cost.

Bernie O'Hare said...

As I indicated, this has NOTHING to do with unions. I HAVE looked at the budget. Your comment is not factually based and is unhelpful, just an off topic smear. At this point, I start deleting you.

Anonymous said...

How many of these decisions are being made during cards games attended by advisory commission members, the manager & the mayor? Bernie, something stinks here. I too was stunned Mr. Flynn kept cutting the police off at the meeting Saturday and how slanted his document is. The place is being run like Allentown, back room deals everywhere. Flynn's wife works for CRPD in the station. Interesting!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"It's troubling that wanting to not overpay for services is aligned with maligning the police."

That's precisely what the borough manager did. He maligned CRPD, and then they refused to allow CRPD to respond.

Anonymous said...

Mayor you need to keep the manager of this blog. His figures represent a stable police department with brass and officers without turnover. The other municipalities gave part-time officers and significant turnover. Good forces, with good management have stability and higher wages. To criticize Shop with Cops is a slap in the face to those that contribute and those that benefit from it. I'll bet 90% of those that benefited over the years are from Bath.

Anonymous said...

Decisions like this in small communities should be decided by referendum. Let the residents decide, 23% of budget sounds excessive.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Really? For what reason does government exist, if not to provide for public safety? 66% of NorCo's budget pays for the back end of crime. How about we just stop funding DAs and the jail?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Unfortunately, a question like this cannot be decided by referendum. But there is nothing to prevent the borough from conducting a survey of residents. They have not done that, either.

Anonymous said...

11:49am, 23% of a municipal budget expenses going to public safety is very low. Look around the county and beyond and you will see the average is anywhere from 30%-45% and beyond.

Anonymous said...

11:49 So it is a crime to be thrifty and not spend money unnecessarily ?

Bernie O'Hare said...

No, but it is extremely irresponsible to hold yourself out as a government when you are unable to provide for public safety. Governments that pinch pennies with people's lives should be held accountable. After a few civil rights verdicts, you will realize you have been penny wise and pound foolish.

Anonymous said...

1:04 The police are not your bodyguards. They exist to apprehend suspects, investigate crimes and most importantly, write traffic tickets for revenue collection.

Bernie O'Hare said...

No one has suggested they be personal bodyguards, but a borough that refuses to pay for basic police protection is subjecting its citizens to predatory behavior in the form of home invasions, robberies and other violations of a citizen 's right to be secure in his own home. In effect, this government causes those privacy violations, and in time, I can see courts hold those governments accountable. So much for saving money.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. So these slippery politicians pull this nonsense as you have pointed out. I mention how this was like when Northampton County with John Stoffa and county council tried to sell off Gracedale with half truths and some fake facts, and my post goes to spam. Why was that. This is just another example of how public officials play games with things people need.

Les from Bath.

Anonymous said...

since you are disbarred I would not expect you to recall the landmark case that says Police have no duty to protect anyone.

Warren v. District of Columbia[1] (444 A.2d. 1, D.C. Ct. of Ap. 1981) is an oft-quoted[2] District of Columbia Court of Appeals case that held that the police do not owe a specific duty to provide police services to citizens based on the public duty doctrine.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...





According to the Pennsylvania State Police, 1,287 of the 2,561 municipalities in Pennsylvania have no local police force. Those townships and boroughs rely entirely on the state police for all criminal, traffic and public safety proceedings. They pay no additional fees for those services, and still collect half of the fines from traffic tickets.

There are eight counties, all rural, that are fully covered by state police: Cameron, Forest, Fulton, Juniata, Potter, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Wyoming. Without central population centers, it can be hard to justify having a standing police force for each township or borough.

But Pennsylvania has no state law that requires a municipality, any municipality, to have a police force. Wealthy or poor, urban or rural, if local leaders don't want to pay for local police, they don't have to.

Anonymous said...

Go with the PSP

Bernie O'Hare said...

At off-topic comment about Gracedale has been deleted

Anonymous said...

Mr. Flynn needs to visit Old Forge and repeat his assertion that there is not a drug problem in Bath. Where does he and his wife live?

Anonymous said...

Bernie your way off target. Nobody from council or the citizens advisory board has suggested that Bath Borough is not going to provide police services. They are looking for cost effective police services that fit their demographics. The cash bin CRPD is just too expensive for a small place like Bath. If their true desire is to keep Bath in the CRPD, why don't they reopen their collective bargaining agreement and take a pay cut to marginalize cost increases. {You have a snowballs chance in hell that will happen]. The CRPD and their commission know that their personnel costs are out of line and not one of them will sacrifice their salaries and benefits to save their jobs. If Bath leaves the CRPD, Lower Nazareth will be next! Both entities will bring in alternative police services that are affordable and cost effective. Unrelenting cost increases for police services in the instant case is the problem here; you might want to drive a BMW, but you have a budget for a Chevy. Simple!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"....how can a little Borough, one mile square; 7th poorest Borough in the LV; average household income of $49K; no manufacturing...and, the list goes on - possibly keep up with the rising costs of CRPD? PSP and Moore Twsp PD are two great agencies as well - no doubt, they too can provide what we need."

So you put Flynn out there as your patsy scapegoat Madame Mayor to slant this? Mr. Flynn will learn a hard lesson from this. No way should a municipal manager be put into this type of issue. A consultant could have been hired to come to the same conclusions. At the end of the day, if the Boro doesn't want CRPD, then just say it and do it. The Boro can afford this it is all whether they WANT to afford it. Not sure Moore Township would want to expand its functioning Department into the less than thriving Boro unless there was an iron clad agreement for Bath to pick up costs that yes, include legacy costs. PSP, as Lower Macungie has found, is the best FREE alternative so long as the locals realize they have no say in how their community would be policed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"since you are disbarred I would not expect you to recall the landmark case that says Police have no duty to protect anyone."

Let me tell you what I know as a disbarred lawyer. "The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience." Those are the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and the first sentence of his treatise, The Common Law. The law evolves and adjusts itself to societal norms. And the public has a right to expect a government to do its best to protect them from our ignoble elements. So though a police officer may owe no specific duty,the government does owe a general duty. If it fails to perform that duty, it is only a matter of tie before some courageous lawyer convinces a court that the government is violating the civil rights of his client. The first duty of government is to protect lives, not run them.

Anonymous said...

For a clean deal, come to Bath.

Anonymous said...

The manager as patsy argument may have some merit,again on a parallel path is Bangor. It's boro manager is an extension and tool of the agenda bully president of council and his minions who do as he says and speak only when they are asked to do so in support of his limited ego driven agenda. Flynn possibly being used by others to keep his own job, to make their points and advance their cause..running interference for others including Bath's mayor and council who do not want to speak their minds and express their opinions as they are supposed to do as elected officials. Present the facts and let the public into the conversation!

Anonymous said...

"Our Borough Manager has been directed by Borough Council to do extensive research for this incredibly difficult decision our Borough faces. That is all. He will not make the final decision. We're very grateful for the six-member Police Advisory Panel which was formed by Borough Council to also assist and research the future of our police services.
For some unknown and very disheartening, reason people are blaming this on our Borough Manager. He is simply doing his job. He has done extensive research from the state and other authorities, and has merely provided it all to Borough Council."

You set up your young Manager! That is not his job. His job is to manage the day to day affairs of the Borough with the tools, policies and Ordinances you Sir put on the books. It is NOT the Borough Manager's job to be a consultant. For Mr. Flynn, he is now linked to this issue as part of his career because of a group of local elected people not knowing his real role.