In my opinion the Board of Commissioners (BOC's) rationale as laid out in today's Morning Call article doesn't hold water. The appointment of Brian Higgins certainly looks and smells like an "end around" tactic resulting in political pay back to Bob Rust for his involvement in representing residents of the township in the Jaindl lawsuit.
Higgins himself, very well qualified, had strongly endorsed incumbent Mr. Rust for reappointment. This, in addition to a litany of "who's who" of respected township volunteers and community members including Bill Royer, who chaired the Jaindl zoning hearing board (ZHB) proceedings, Commissioner Lanscek, former Commissioner Pugliese and ZHB Chair Larry Schneider, made eloquent cases for Attorney Rust's reappointment. Rumor has it that even Mr. Jaindl was supportive of Bob Rust's reappointment. And, contrary to Mr. Brown's assertion of a "split vote," the recommendation for Rust's appointment was a 2-1 majority with Eichenburg himself voting in recommendation of Rust.
When I attended the Dec. 8 interviews, what I saw was Ron Eichenburg projecting consideration because of Mr. Rust's qualifications and past performance. What he may have really been doing was setting up votes for his elevationto BOC presidency. The 180-degree turn last night was shocking and sad, as he supported Bob Rust's reappointment on Dec. 8, but perhaps after obtaining other votes needed for his elevation was no longer obligated to support Bob Rust.
So, the bottom line remains: Politics as usual. What's in it for me and not what's BEST for the Township.
Throughout appointments the board also set a sound precedent of appointing incumbents who served previously and this was the case with multiple other positions. Only in Rust's case was an incumbent not appointed despite a majority recommendation.
Furthermore, any argument that Mr. Rust displayed any conflict of interest is baseless. Rust recused himself and took no part in that ZHB decision, the ZHB decision was not appealed further, and that case is now over definitively. This is no different then Ron Eichenburg properly recusing himself last night when a work associate was being considered for a committee. Rust's representation of clients before the ZHB in the future could not possibly effect his decision as a ZHB member for future ZHB matters, since the ZHB proceedings are now over.
I've said many times that I believe this board way back when the whole Jaindl issue began was doing what they honestly believed was right. When it turned out the public strongly disagreed and when given the chance to restart the process after the county court decision in favor of the residents and give the public a chance to weigh in on "quarry vs. warehousing" they dug in and chose to appeal. This raised flags. And now this latest decision to not appoint Bob Rust, a man whose integrity cannot be questioned and whose past performance certainly and unquestionably is deserving of reappointment, is mind boggling. It further leads to alarming and uncomfortable questions in terms of motivation. How can you rationalize this decision other then being exactly what it looks like? Punishing a longtime township servant and good man for dissenting.