Written Nov.17, published in The Courier Times Monday, December 20, 2011
Abuses, ill-mannered disregard for citizens led to GOP’s overthrow
by Bill O’Neill
Bill O’Neill is a registered Republican who works to do the right things for Northampton. He openly consulted with and worked in the winning political campaign for Democrat Dr. Kimberly Rose.
A political tsunami hit Northampton Township November 8th. Voters changed a 289 year Republican dynasty to Democrat. Sic Transit Gloria.
Northampton’s government had become horribly broken. I’m not saying anybody violated the law but there were misdeeds. I believe that bad government along with political blindness and psychological denial by the GOP was behind the Democrats tidal wave.
Leaders mis-represented the records to hide their mis-deeds.
I can personally attest that records were altered, hidden or went missing.
Citizens were disrespected at public meetings.
Residents were charged for services they never received or that were received by others. Overcharging was admitted but never corrected.
The total township financial burden is far higher than it should be.
The GOP doubled taxes then mislead us about it.
Use and Occupancy certificates were used to get money from people who wanted to use their new buildings. One business owner was charged $8,000 because he removed some of his trees to build a new building. Another reported a $30,000 “tree charge”.
Citizen’s comments were withheld from the minutes.
Half of the supervisor meetings were cancelled I was told, because too many residents spoke out .
The township was caught in ten years of misrepresentations about the West End Sewers. The GOP supervisors hid the plan to install public sewers in the West End. Then someone discovered the 1997 plan.
Officials had denied the existence of that plan.
Even the DEP was mislead. It believed Northampton had installed sewers in the West End.
Previously approved, inexpensive septic system repairs were prohibited by government.
Residents had to install expensive septic systems which cost fifteen times more and ruined their properties. Then they were or will be forced to connect to the recently completed public sewers.
In apparent violation of the First Amendment, public comment at the supervisors meetings was just about shut down.
Opposition supervisors and citizens were openly insulted by the smug power-lusting GOP supervisors. Although not a lawyer, I successfully sued Northampton over Un-Constitutional ordinances – twice – and won.
This was a hard fought campaign. The Democrats took the high road. The Republicans followed the same despicable playbook that seemed to work two years ago. This time it blew up in their faces.
An obnoxious, malicious GOP political website was resurrected from the previous election to ridicule and condemn the Democrat candidate. It backfired. It attacked in a cruel manner, five private citizens who were not running for office. The website was a despicable political mis-calculation. The Courier called it “venomous”.
With the help of many Republicans and Independents, Democrats elected Dr. Kimberly Rose, a complete newcomer to politics giving the Democrats a 3 to 2 majority on the Board of Supervisors. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in Northampton. All of the Republican candidates were successful in Northampton except for the GOP supervisor. The exception happened because of a long train of abuses including a sneering, ill-mannered disregard for the citizens by the GOP.
There may be a deeper problem. Bucks county’s top four elected officials in Harrisburg and Washington endorsed the losing GOP incumbent. They should have investigated. They should have known about the havoc against the people of Northampton.
The good news is: this was a victory for Northampton. Northampton came together and voted justice over party loyalty. All day at the polls I heard from people fed up with the local chaos, the dirty tricks and the insider deals.
Usually political conversations are about safe things like national and state issues. It’s a surprise when the people openly talk about their local government. Decent people try to accommodate their neighbors, not fight against them but the GOP abuses were so wrong that the citizens finally had enough. Damage in Northampton was so great that a lone Democratic candidate, Dr. Kimberly Rose scored a major victory even though Republicans all over Bucks County won their elections. The GOP in Northampton Township was the exception.
Can the Northampton GOP clean itself up and return to representing the people? Perhaps. They get to try again in two years, but for the moment the Democratic victory needs to be celebrated. The voters did the right thing.