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Citizens Vent at Macungie Council Over Absent Mayor

Despite pleas, Mayor Rick Hoffman failed to attend Monday's Macungie Council meeting to defend police staffing plans.

Macungie Mayor Rick Hoffman was notably absent from Monday night’s long, contentious borough council meeting, frustrating residents who wanted to weigh in on police coverage and council members who were at times subject to residents’ wrath.

At issue is whether the borough police force is to provide round-the-clock coverage for Macungie. The mayor has said that the occasional open shift will not jeopardize the safety of the borough. Council and several citizens have said they the borough is used to.

During Monday night's meeting, which lasted more than four hours, several citizens reiterated their arguments. “Council budgeted for 24/7 coverage,” said Dorothy Kociuba. She pointed out that officers from the neighboring boroughs of Alburtis and Emmaus can only aid or cover for Macungie if at least one Macungie police officer is already on duty. “If we don’t have a Macungie officer on duty, we have state police coverage,” she said.

“Do we know why the mayor is not here?” asked business owner Tim Romig.

“The mayor is his own entity,” said Councilman Chris Becker, adding that council last month unanimously passed a resolution supporting 24/7 coverage by borough police.

Council President Jean Nagle said residents’ should take their complaints to the mayor. “Most of what is said about the mayor, should be said to the mayor,” she said.

But resident John L. Long  said he with the mayor to come to the meeting. “It’s not our responsibility necessarily to hunt down the mayor,” Long said. “I feel we’ve been sandbagged by council for two months.”

Complicating matters, the new Borough Code approved by the state Legislature leaves the borough council with less power over police than it currently has.  The existing Borough Code gave power over the police force to the office of the mayor but allowed council to set the hours of the police department, according to council members. The new Borough Code, which takes effect July 16, borough councils the power to set police hours.  

Councilwoman Debra Cope said she talked to officials at the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs who said the change was an error and it was their intention to recommend that the Legislature restore that power to borough councils.

Councilman David Boyko made a motion and Cope seconded it to urge the Association and legislators to reinstate that authority to councils. The motion was approved in a 6-1 vote. Jean Nagle voted no.

In the past three years, council engaged in a protracted and expensive legal battle with Hoffman about his authority over the police department. A Lehigh County judge ruled that the mayor was in charge but approved of some of council's actions. 

Councilman Joseph Sikorski made it clear he was in no hurry to engage in litigation over the police coverage question.

“Of the seven issues (in the court case) the mayor won four and we won three,” said Sikorski. “And the winners were the attorneys.”  

Dave July 03, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Well said John. In addition, I like to add to your comment, with all due respect. The "mayor" is a child, a cry-baby and was voted into office by his "friends" and family. I never voted for him. I must admit, with embarrassment, that I didn't even know that we had a mayor until this creep started all his childish nonsense. At this point, council must take a "no-confidence" vote on our so-called "mayor" and then draft a letter requesting him to resign. I am still dumbfounded that we have a "mayor" that caused the town he was "elected" to serve to have budgetary problems due to legal fees spent in defense of itself against it's own "mayor". Can someone help me wrap my head around that issue? I certainly cannot. John, you seem like a good man, Tim Romig is a good man, Rob Sentner seems like a good man. Maybe we need to get together somehow and figure out a way to get council to act to get this clown "mayor" out of office and out right now! Your thoughts?
Dave July 03, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Petition council to take a no-confidence vote on the "mayor". Go to all the council meetings and be heard. Run for council, run for mayor.
Dave July 03, 2012 at 12:06 PM
I don't think that anyone is really suprised that this cry-baby didn't show -- AGAIN!
MaryEllen Schueck July 03, 2012 at 12:27 PM
I record lectures on Monday Evenings and am unable to attend meetings. I do vote, but I feel we need action now. Dave, Will you please elaborate on what a no-confidence vote is, how it works and what one entails?
John Rogers July 03, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Maryellen, not everyone can attend the meetings. That's understandable. My suggestion would be to write to council and ask that your letter be read at the meeting so it becomes part of the minutes.
Dave July 03, 2012 at 01:31 PM
MaryEllen: simply put, a vote of no confidence or as it is alternatly known "a motion of no confidence" is when a duly elected, sitting government, such as our council puts forth a motion stating that they have no confidence in the duly elected leader of the party in charge. In this case the mayor. While it does not grant then any specific powers, it can open the path for a second motion to be put forth requesting the mayor resign his post. The motion shows that the council has come to an agreement that they can no longer work with or support the mayor and it really is a technique used to "shame" someone into leaving office. New York State did it twice in the mid to late 90's to oust elected officals they felt were not performing their duties to the public as expected or warranted. I hope that helps.
David July 03, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Unfortunately you can not "shame" someone who has no intrinsic moral or ethical values. People lacking these basic characteristics are incapable of feeling "shame".
MaryEllen Schueck July 03, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Great suggestion John! Thank you.
MaryEllen Schueck July 03, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Thank you for the explanation, it is greatly appreciated! I do not feel we need to shame anyone but I do feel we need to replace the Mayor as quickly as possible. His actions have shown he does not hold a vested interest in the Borough or its citizens. I believe the shenanigans, between Council, the Police Force and the Mayor, have now become dangerous, due to the lack of 24 hour police coverage, and am greatly concerned. This issue, as well as others, has gone beyond foolishness, pride and money. It has now put the entire Borough at risk. Safety of our residents, including quick response by the police, should be priority #1!
Ron Beitler July 03, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Sat through this spectacle last night for 3.5 hours. Someone explain to me one thing. And again, the disclaimer I always give. I don't agree with the Mayor and I hope someone else runs and we can move past this. Thats my fundamental point of view. Please, please please move past this. My question is - 25 shifts is the directive. Thats 200 hours. There are 168 hours in a week. It's a fact that when an officer has to leave the borough.. say to the magistrate ect. that coverage can then be provided by neighboring communities including Alburtis, Emmaus ect. So long as an officer is on duty somewhere. Question - How is this not 24/7? I don't understand. You in fact then have 32 hours to spare. (4 complete shifts). This covers illness/vacations ect. ect. Illness is the only hypothetical time when the borough would have to use PSP coverage.
John Rogers July 03, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Too lengthy to explain here. The chief has explained it dozens of times at council meetings and the public who have been present have listened and have a fairly good understanding of how it works. On paper it is fairly simple. Unfortunately reality is seldom as simple as what it appears on paper.
Responsible Citizen July 03, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Mr. Beitler.....you continuously state....."move past this"......BUT....YOU persist in your rumblings regarding 24/7 coverage and STILL do not grasp the fact that those of us who reside in Macungie WANT our own police service! What part of this concept is so difficult for you to comprehend and we would really appreciate you STOP asking those of us who live here to think otherwise and "move on"!! If you are so darn interested in residing here then MOVE in!!
Ron Beitler July 03, 2012 at 08:50 PM
@responsible citizen - at least one person who spoke at council last night lives in upper Milford and owns a business in the borough. Same as me.. But you agree with that person. So thats ok. You have your own police force. You have 24/7 coverage. Whats the issue. Why the venom? What is your agenda? I simply asked a question about how 200 hours of coverage is NOT 24/7 when there is only 168 hours in a week.
Responsible Citizen July 03, 2012 at 09:00 PM
For those of us I attendance last night, it was quite a frustrating realization that this mayor has sabbatoged and abused our community since he took his oath of office and many members of council support his inaction by their own inaction!! He has done NOTHING redeemable or positive for this borough! In observing the absolute frustration of the residents in attendance, I cannot help but all attention to everyone to think about the ongoing frustration of police Chief Harry who has continued in his attempts to communicate with this man in an effort to move forward and maintain our community's safety! Chief Harry had to endure the ultimate assault on his professional record by being suspended by this imposter and individual lacking in character, morals and ethics! From what I understand, Chief Harry had a well-decorated, unblemished, stellar resume/work history until he came to Macungie!!! If we all can be as frustrated as we are as residents, we should all be offering Chief Harry our apologies and empathy!! I can only surmise how the rest of us would feel if we had to experience such injustices professionally! His name was dragged through the press for the past several years and WHY? Because of this individual whose only motivation was to "get back" @ the police for doing their job in citing his son for a DUI which was his SON'S fault! Now this man positions himself as the Great Wizard Of Oz!! He has SPOKEN and thinks we all need to listen and obey!!
David July 03, 2012 at 09:12 PM
The problem Mr Beitler is that it has been explained time and time again. That is why the people in attendance and the people speaking out here are so passionate. After a while it becomes annoying to have an explanation asked for yet again as well as to have to listen to or read it yet again. Hopefully you can understand tyr frustration. If providing 24/7 coverage was as simple as the math you ask about, there would be no controversy. In fact, I dare say that the police chief would have done it himself. His track record has proven time and again that he will do whatever it takes to save the boro money. Including spending HIS OWN money!!!!!
john l.long July 03, 2012 at 09:50 PM
I think the time has come for the Citizens of Macungie to take a stand. The Mayor won't come to us at a meeting so,I say WE NEED TO GO TO HIM ! We should get together and go to his house and PROTEST IF NEEDED , HE NEEDS TO ANSWER SOME QUESTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN RAISED AND IT APPEARS ONLY HE HAS THE ANSWERS. ALSO,THE PRESS MUST BE THERE SO THEY TO CAN ALSO RECORD WHAT THEY NEED TO. Mayor Hoffman , You and only you have brought this action on . The reason is that you faild in your DUTY AS MAYOR IN NOT ATTENDING THE MEETING.. JOHN L. LONG
Responsible Citizen July 03, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Mr. Beitler....firstly, I agree with AV.....secondly, what is YOUR agenda??
Ron Beitler July 03, 2012 at 10:22 PM
My agenda: Living in LMT for the bulk of 3 decades. Caring deeply about the community where I live and the adjacent community where my business is located. A place I hope to invest in for the permanent home for my business. The community my kids will grow up. The main st. that my girlfriend lives on. And the larger region of which it's a part. I explained to you folks over and over while I don't think 24/7 is necessary. I do think trimming the budget IS critical. Knowing that 24/7 is important to many people I'm trying to understand more about the issue. I'm also trying to understand what your so afraid of since for all intensive purposes you have 24/7. It's why I've been to 6 council meetings in the past year. Why I blog. Why I comment. Why I'm involved. I applaud you folks for being involved, but wish you would adjust your tact a bit. Trust me I see many of your points. But your whole strategy of constantly attacking is a real put off. I have a buddy who I encouraged to come to council (also a business owner in the borough) and get involved. He came to one saw what goes on and said never again. "waste of time". Even someone like myself who AGREES with you on many points you seem heck-bent on attacking. Makes no sense? I'm grateful the council put the plan for Lumber yard first so that poor couple didn't have to see what went on later. Might have scared them away from investing in this place. Or don't you want their dollars since they aren't residents?
John Rogers July 03, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Mr. Beitler, 6 meetings out of 24 in a year? You alluded to Romig in an earlier post as a business owner living in the township. The difference is that he has probably attended 20 out of the 24 meetings. And his record of attending meetings and speaking up for the elected officials to perform properly extends back many, many years. The people of which you speak have been attending council meetings for a good number of years and have been subjected to the lunacies and selfishness of this as well as past councils. They have been subjected to the tyranical behavior of many present and past council members. What you have witnessed in your 6 meetings in the last year is the culmination of many years of frustration. Yes Mr. Beitler, they have 24/7 up to this point. Only because the police chief has refused to permit otherwise. As I am sure you have seen in a previous article containing this mayors's emailed orders, he has now made it next to impossible for the chief to continue to provide the service for which he understands the importance to this community. So, Mr. Beitler, if this path continues, it is only a matter of time before a shift is left uncovered and someone desparately needs help. Immediately!!! And the help they desparately need will not be a few minutes away, but unfortunately, what may be a long way off. I pray Mr. Beitler that the person awaiting that help that is not coming expeditiously is not you, your girlfriend or even an acquaintance of yours.
get real July 03, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Hey John, count me in but i'm afraid when the Mayor gets wind of the plan, he won't be home. But i'm sure his wife would be willing to handle the meeting and conversation for him just like she did when the Mayor was supposed to have discussed the GPS issue with Lehigh County officials. Then when the meeting is over, his son who likes to be the mouthpiece for the Mayor can hold a press conference on his behalf. j
MaryEllen Schueck July 03, 2012 at 11:49 PM
I still like Dave's idea: no confidence vote! Take it or leave it: I believe anger, frustration and pride got us in this mess. I also believe we don't need anymore! Debating issues, via the Patch, is one thing but bashing others is reprehensible. This is what is happening at Council Meetings and it is childish and unnecessary. Please do not allow others, no matter how low they maybe, to bring you down with them. Opinions should be valued not forced!
get real July 03, 2012 at 11:55 PM
The article points out that Jean Nagle said " residents should take their complaints to the Mayor," like the residents were at the wrong venue to speak to and address the Mayor! Jean Nagle was the only councilperson not to support this motion passed by council, WHY! Jean Nagle SUPPORTS THE MAYOR, and is doing every thing in her power to aid the Mayor and attack our police department. At the next election we need to send this pompous, arrogant, despot packing! Then hopefully she will follow her friend Lucy Ackerman, and move out of the state, just like Lucy did when the voters sent her packing.
Macungie Resident July 04, 2012 at 12:29 AM
I did support the Mayor because of the issues with the police dept. that needed to be brought to the publics attention. I do feel now he is not living up the job he was voted for especially by not showing up to the council meetings. If I recall only a handful of people ran for mayor and Mr. Hoffman won with under 400 votes so people can't complain if they didn't vote for someone else. The one person I am tired of hearing about is Tim Romig in every article about Macungie. If Macungie is soo bad why don't you move your business out of Macungie and stop wasting the few minutes the residents have to speak at council meetings and wasting my tax money all you do is complain.
Ron Beitler July 04, 2012 at 12:52 AM
John respectfully, I saw the same cast of characters poo pooing many great new ideas in 2010 when I attended Main Street Revitalization committee meetings. From what I understand many people on the committee got frustrated by the constant negativity. In 2011 I sought out this committee excited to get involved. From what I understand many aren't involved anymore and the committee has gone dormant. And that is a damn shame. The meetings I attended in 2010 I could see frustration on the committee members faces just like I see now with council. These are volunteers doing the best they can dealing with a Mayor who seems to be playing games with serious matters. I lost all respect when he started shirking his responsibility to attend meetings. I've never met the guy, but I'm not shy. I'd ask him straight up why he isn't attending if I would see him. I won't get into a back and forth over whose the better citizen and attended the most meetings. Thats useless. I do my best to stay informed and engaged. If my girlfriend, or myself or a client in my office needs help during the extremely small % of uncovered shift under current situation (if someone calls in sick) and no MPD is on duty I have 100% trust in the PSP, Macungie Ambulance Corp and Macungie and other local fire departments to assist. Again, my personal thoughts. Thats all.
Responsible Citizen July 04, 2012 at 12:54 AM
John Rogers....well articulated in response to Mr. Beitler. I, too, hope Mr. Beitler and his family, friends etc...are not the victims of an uncovered police shift. It is a shame in this country when people only comprehend when it directly affects them!! He would also have a better view about the politics in this borough if he either resided here and/or attended as many meetings as other Macungie residents. He might then be as appalled at council, prior council and the current mayor! Until then, despite everyone being entitled to an opinion, HIS is baseless!
Ron Beitler July 04, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Me my family, many good friends and approximately 30,000 other people in Lower Macungie do just fine with primary PSP. The borough and it's residents would be well served with this very same coverage during the extremely small % of times MPD isnt available.
Responsible Citizen July 04, 2012 at 01:25 AM
So happy that system works so well for all of you!! Now....please allow our residents to speak for what we feel we require. We do not comment ad nauseum regarding your situation in LMT. Thank you!
for real July 04, 2012 at 01:31 AM
I get the frustration in Macungie. One truth you may want to consider is that if you look at the numbers you are getting 24/7 police coverage 99% of the time. Please stop acting like the world will come to an end if an hour or so goes by when you don't. We have good resources nearby to assist. Also, the nastiness at borough meetings needs to stop. The council cannot force the mayor to attend. Go to the mayor's house if you want but don't ask council to do more than it can. A vote of no confidence? What is this Great Britain? A lot of good people live in this borough and we are tired of the nastiness with law suits and rude behavior at meetings. We will have a new mayor soon enough. Maybe consider coming together on some issues to improve Macungie. Growling snarling and yelling will accomplish all of nothing.
Guy Ramsey July 04, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Scheduling coverage and having coverage are two different things. If you have enough officers to cover 200 man hours per week, with168 hours to cover, and an officer is injured, sick, attending certification training, attending court, or on vacation, there are frequent occasions that require an officer to shift from working an AM shift, to a PM shift, or a night shift, or a double shift. In order to provide a good quality of life for these loyal and trusted people, tack shifts are appropriate. Then, when an officer becomes unavailable for a shift a simple two hour adjustment can provide coverage, not an 8 hour adjustment. The big issue before the department and the council is wages, retirement and healthcare, not man hours to cover. This problem can be partly resolved with part time officers, and a Mayor that will permit the part timers to have a dependable schedule. The council budgeted for it. The Mayor should not have the authority to subvert or supress the level of coverage that is budgeted, and supported by the community.
Guy Ramsey July 04, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Good idea. I wish people could rally to support good ideas, rather than merely rail against bad ones. But, this does not seem to be the way of politics. Sad really, a weakness in our system. Few and far between were comments and support for good ideas. Frequent were barbs and insults when they weren't so good. But, never real support when it came to ways forword for enforceable sidewalk ordinance, or down town master plans, or streetsape improvements, or enforcable lighting, or nusiance noise ordiance.

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