You can tell an election is near in Scotch Plains when the Republican candidates roll out their smear campaign. What we fundamentally observe in the Republican campaign approach is a penchant for misrepresentation of the facts as a cornerstone of their campaign strategy.
A few years ago Republican Marty Marks, effectively admitting guilt, pled no contest and paid a large settlement for slanderous statements made by the Republicans in a previous campaign. The three incumbent Republican councilmen up for election this fall have taken the same low road, conducting a campaign rife with disinformation and untruths. Such an intellectually bankrupt campaign strategy results because the incumbent Republicans lack any positive progress to report. The residents of Scotch Plains should ignore the Republican nonsense and instead focus on the key issues.
The fact is that the incumbent Republicans are on the wrong side of key issues and are bad for Scotch Plains. For example, the Republicans candidates have indicated their support for "cooperative purchasing vendors" as if that were a good thing. In so doing, they have excluded Scotch Plains businesses that have traditionally secured contracts with the town by a competitive bidding process. Think about that for a minute, the Republican councilmen are actively discriminating against Scotch Plains businesses. Moreover, the Co-op they are talking about is in Morris County, not Union County, where we pay taxes.
A prominent Republican, P. Bartels, critically reports that the out of town "co-op contractors" preferred by our town's elected Republicans were awarded contacts when there were, in fact, lower bids submitted by local Scotch Plains contractors. The Co-op actually represents a misplaced commitment to a Morris County organization to the exclusion of Scotch Plains businesses that would like a chance to bid competitively on town contracts. Further, many of the services contracted to the Morris County Co-op can be supplied for either less expensively or free by partnering with Union County government according to Freeholder Al Mirabella. But our town manager and the Republicans in control didn’t consult with the county in which we pay taxes. Make no mistake about it. The Morris County Co-op deal smells big time! It is bad for Scotch Plains taxpayers and bad for Scotch Plains businesses, period.
Mr. Marcus, the lead incumbent on the Republican ticket, tried unsuccessfully this summer to take the right to elect the town Mayor away from the residents of Scotch Plains. That’s right; Micky Markus does not believe the residents of Scotch Plains should be able to vote for who they want as Mayor. During the campaign, he reiterated his belief that the Scotch Plains residents should not be allowed to elect their Mayor. You can’t make this stuff up!
In a recent letter to the editor the incumbent Republicans attempted to blame the Special Improvement District (SID) failure on Mayor Glover. But the failed SID, a Republican initiative from the beginning, was wildly unpopular among town businesses because those businesses never received any demonstrable benefit from its existence and considered it an unfair supplemental tax on Scotch Plains businesses. Indeed, the SID was terminated because it was an abject failure; the SID ran for several years yet the Republican campaign effort makes no claims of beneficial SID accomplishments, instead they refer only to some vague and intangible hypothetical future value. The truth is Mayor Glover has won widespread support for his position on termination of the failed SID.
The Republicans also claim credit for formation of an adhoc Downtown Development Committee, which was formed by secret invitation without vetting either the idea or the secretly nominated members through the duly elected Town Council. In attempting to bypass the Mayor and Town Council, they are thumbing their noses at the voters and attempting to rule Scotch Plains by a hand-picked secret society. After several months this unofficial adhoc committee has yet to publically discuss any plans or recommendations. This lack of transparency is abominable and the absence of results means the Downtown Development Committee must be considered another Republican failure.
The Republican Councilmen have persistently and incorrectly asserted that the Democratic Council members have held the budget process hostage. In fact the opposite is true. The Mayor and Councilwoman Gialanella actually supported many budget items. What the Mayor and Councilwoman would not support was putting the tax payers further in debt by unnecessarily purchasing hundreds of thousands of dollars for more Township vehicles, including a $30,000 SUV for the head of the DPW. The Democrats were also vocal against purchasing $150,000 in computer software and systems without performing a thorough analysis of the system's value to the municipality. This analysis could have been performed by the township's very capable technology committee, had this volunteer organization not been unceremoniously disbanded by the Township's manager. The town's incumbent Republican Councilmen also advocated spending tens of thousands of dollars on a GPS system to track the location of our DPW trucks. Had they consulted the now disbanded technology committee, they might have discovered that essentially free alternatives exist to the expensive GPS tracking system they went forward with.
When the budget failed to pass due to the objection to many wasteful items voiced by Mayor Glover and Councilwoman Gialanella, the Republican councilmen stubbornly and unproductively resubmitted the same budget with no changes, demanding an all or none approval. The resubmitted budget failed also because the Republican Councilmen were intransigent, refusing to compromise and thus it is the Republicans on the Town Council that are guilty of holding the town budget hostage.
More Republican sleight of hand is shown by the Republican spin on the Shady Rest renovation. They claim to support renovation of this historic but dilapidated public landmark. But the incumbent Republican councilmembers voted against Shady Rest funding multiple times before finally unanimously approving the first round of renovations at a town council meeting several months ago. Yet, since that vote the bid for replacing the roof has yet to go out. So verbally the Republican council members support the renovation plan but they nevertheless continue to delay and block the process in any way possible. Look at what they do, not what they say. Political double talk at its worst!
Never before has there been such a stark and clear choice in front of the voters of Scotch Plains. I have been pleasantly surprised in recent weeks to see many prominent Republicans in town that are fed up with the behavior of the incumbent Republican Councilmen and actively speaking out against them. Mayor Glover, a Democrat, was elected with an unprecedented Republican crossover vote. It’s time now for members of both political parties in town to send another message to those controlling the Republican party in town. Their policies are bad for Scotch Plains.