While an WFMZ headline read “South Whitehall Commissioners Start Hitting Gridlock” in describing the BOC meeting last Wednesday, many others saw it as the first time in the last 15 months that progress was made towards meaningful and consequential discussion in their township without a pre-determined outcome. You see, Matthew Mobilio, a reliable ally and vote for board president Tori Morgan and appointed Commissioner Joe Setton, resigned abruptly last week, setting up a 2-2 dynamic between the previously unrelenting majority and the opposing two highest vote-getters in the last election.
It all came to a head when the nomination of a Planning Commission candidate (who I cast no judgement on) was up for a vote. Without any significant background information, president Tori Morgan, who also serves on the Interview Committee along with the now absent Commissioner Matthew Mobilio, tried to push the nominee through as though she had her reliable allies on her side. But wait . . . good questions and discussion came up concerning the process involved in selecting this candidate, resulting in Morgan complaining at one point that this was the same, or similar, process used for years.
So why was her nomination for the Planning Commission questioned? Well, surprisingly, the answer came just a couple minutes later when a former commissioner colleague said “you don’t trust each other!” Bingo! This process, and others, that worked for a long time in the past for the board, the administration and the public is now questioned because of a lack of trust! This process historically was based on involvement of all board members from beginning to end, wide-ranging (but the same), questions posed to each of the applicants, and full disclosure of the candidates’ responses before a recommendation was made to the full board. Apparently, the process has been skewed to the point where it is unrecognizable to what was successful in the past, but for the unwary, easily passed off as the “same or similar”. But is even this point important? Should the vestiges of the past become “rule of law” and take precedence over the direction of the future? Is the status quo what the residents want, or did they express their wishes in the past election by voting in two commissioners who are pushing for transparency and change?
I think the former commissioner is right - that pesky little thing called “trust” has been lost over the last several years. I’ve written about the quite obvious lack of transparency and communication, but he actually voiced the natural consequence of conducting local government business this way. Credit to him.
How and why has trust been lost? I will address this tomorrow. But in the meantime, do you have any thoughts on this? Have you’ve seen things happen, or not happen, that make you question your own trust level in South Whitehall today?
Blogger's Note: Blogger Michael Molovinsky asserts that the way South Whitehall's BOC has handled Wehr's Dam has made him question his trust level.