Middleport Mayor Gives Opinion on Previous Council Meeting

stars-storyOp/Ed submission by Middleport Mayor, Mike Gerlach

I’m angry! I’m very angry! Our Village employees are working hard for us. But, members Council are attacking them without cause. If employees do mess up, their supervisors report to me and we determine the best course of action. They can get warnings, suspension without pay or even fired. All of these have been used since I became Mayor. Council does not know the daily assignments of employees or what time or number of employees are required for an assignment. Council never provides the names of the people that observed these situations. They never provide dates or times. We have the dates, times and assignments. We know what the employee is doing. But, it doesn’t matter to these Council members. They claim good audits are bad audits. Employees are badgered and their jobs are threatened if they, “don’t look the other way.” What happens when we have nobody to enforce the FEMA rules? You know the answer to that. You don’t have to take my word for all this. Come to a Council meeting. Many are coming. You have probably already heard from some of them. This is just the thing we have come to hate about government and it does not have to be that way. It is not ethical. This continues only if we let it. For that reason, we are asking the Attorney General for an investigation. Let the proper authority decide.

Everybody also knows about the controversy over the economic director position. We didn’t ask for it. There was no money for it. Council did not want to put it out for applications but we had to so we don’t discriminate because everybody is supposed to get a fair chance. We had two applicants. One was a young woman who graduated with honors and two business degrees but that wasn’t who Council wanted. So, what do they say about her in public meeting? “We wouldn’t hire her unless it was to flip burgers or fix us a pizza.” And, then, they laughed. They laughed and voted to hire who they wanted. There was still no money for the position and besides that Council doesn’t fill positions. They argued that point but our Solicitor investigated and gave his opinion. Council doesn’t fill that position. The Village Administrator would fill it with the approval of the Mayor. That would never do. So what happened at the very next meeting? Council voted to eliminate the position of Village Administrator. I wonder why? Instead they want to go back to having a Board of Public Affairs.

The Board of Public Affairs is to be made up of three citizens who know the requirements for a public water and sewer system. Lots and lots of regulations that have to be met or the Village is in violation. Fines are levied. Offenders can go to Federal Court. It is that important. Middleport used to have a Board of Public Affairs. It was overwhelming. Things got missed. Wells weren’t producing enough, tests weren’t being done properly, fire hydrants weren’t being repaired, the lines to them were too small. Some areas of town didn’t have any hydrants. There were no maps of line locations. We didn’t know where to dig. Every hole that missed the line costs more money. Illegal dumping of waste was being allowed in our sewer lagoons. The Village was polluting the river. It is public record. You can look back to see who was on the Board, Council, and Mayor when the state first came and said shut it all down and get safe water from some other town. Was the price of water cheaper from that other town? You know the answer? Who was in office? Some of you know that, too.

So, what does Council do? They get rid of the person who brought our water and sewer system back into compliance. The person correcting the problems, seeing that the lines get mapped. We have the required source water protection plan. And, why did they do that? What wouldn’t he do that they wanted him to do? Who is going to be responsible now? Council? No, they want three citizens to take that legal responsibility. We have already informed the EPA what Council did. They are waiting to see who takes the position. That first day there are required tasks and everyday tasks change. They all have to be reported properly, daily, weekly, monthly.

So here is the first emergency situation. The former Board of Public Affairs apparently had no maps and they had no building inspector. They allowed a house to be built right over a 6 inch water main. The main is transite, an old brittle type of pipe. The same line is too close to the foundation of two other homes. Nearby is another home. It has a 10 inch line too close to it. The damage from a break by any of these would be tremendous. Do you think the homeowners will sue the Village? The old Board of Public Affairs? The new Board? At the last Council meeting, the Administration presented a project to correct the situation as quickly as possible. Council refused to even allow it to go to bid. As required, I had it entered into the minutes that we presented it. We have reported it to the proper authorities. So, now who is responsible? Council or the new Board or both? Maybe that is what they mean by responsible government. Council says our workers can get it done but remember all those required tasks for each day. Somebody else is now responsible? That is why you don’t see so many Boards of Public Affairs anymore.

So whose homes are in jeopardy while Council delays?

The house built over the line is at 910 Broadway. The two houses built too close to the 6 inch line are 929 and 931 Hysell Street. The one too close to the 10 inch line is 895 West Hysell.

So how well do you think Council is doing? Hey, they are willing to spend a bunch of money on some fancy fingerprint time clock to replace two new ones we already have. I wonder if that will make the owners of those four homes sleep any better tonight?

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