Reade Twp. antics keep on sinking

Going forward, the first order of business for members of the Reade Township Municipal Authority should be to end friction and personality conflicts that have eroded the authority’s image and, more importantly, the ability to conduct itself in an organized, professional and productive manner.

If a municipal body such as the authority cannot conduct its business in general harmony — the Reade authority has found that duty to be increasingly elusive — those whom it serves have cause to be concerned about the capacity for good decision making on business that’s routine as well as not-so-routine.

That observation isn’t meant to imply that all votes need to be unanimous. Indeed, split votes are a healthy part of municipal business, because they indicate thought regarding the issues at hand and show that business isn’t being conducted in a rubber-stamp manner.

All that said, what occurred before, during and after the Reade authority’s May 30 meeting can be sized up best as a debacle much larger than the authority and the area it serves.

Something so basic as properly advertising that the May 30 meeting would be held was ignored. Then, during the meeting, misstatements weren’t corrected, and minutes of the meeting weren’t recorded.

The meeting’s aftermath then turned, on May 31, into an exercise of damage control that didn’t excuse what occurred prior to and during the previous day’s session.

The misstatements that were expressed but weren’t challenged led to incorrect news coverage by this newspaper. It’s the policy of the Mirror to correct errors, and a June 1 article was published with that goal in mind.

But it was inexcusable for the authority to hold the May 30 meeting without advertising it properly.

Authority members voiced the flimsy justification that it was an emergency meeting. However, the agenda items didn’t fit an “emergency” classification.

It’s virtually unheard of for any municipal entity to fail to record meeting minutes, which are a record of what took place during the proceedings.

Compiling a record is not a shallow exercise; it’s invaluable both for the near term and distant future as new decisions are being weighed.

As for not challenging obvious misstatements, that can be the height of irresponsibility, and it was on May 30.

Misstatements that day centered on the alleged “firing” — or “letting go” — of a Reade Township solicitor.

It was a wrongful allegation that was made without evidence to back it up.

Tom Hollis, a Reade Township supervisor who also serves on the authority, said on May 31 that it would take too long to correct all of the inaccuracies mentioned by board members at meetings; note that he mentioned “at meetings,” not only at the May 30 session.

Meanwhile, authority Chairman Jim Thompson admitted on May 31 that, although he had used the terms “fired” and “let go” during and after the May 30 meeting with community members in attendance, he was not certain that an attorney had been fired.

That smacks of gross irresponsibility. Hopefully, the new low that the May 30 meeting represented will be the incentive for the authority to begin correcting its problems.

However, that doesn’t portend to be an easy task when there apparently are so many confrontational — indeed, dysfunctional — attitudes that demand attention.