September 9, 2007

More on county commissioner race

Another point of view, Bucks County Courier Times, September 9, 2007

Hypocritical critic

I find it incredible that Republican Commissioner Jim Cawley is accusing his opponent, Diane Marseglia, of "hypocrisy" because Middletown Township, where Marseglia serves as a supervisor, has been slow in making the minutes of several supervisors' meetings available online.

As a former journalist in Bucks County for the Courier Times’ sister paper, the Intelligencer, and the Allentown Morning Call, I covered every administration of Bucks County commissioners from 1979 to 2006. I found no administration more secretive and unwilling to make public information available than the current board, which is composed of Cawley and Republican Charles Martin. Before the tenure of Martin and Cawley, Bucks County government was open and accessible to the press and public. With Martin and Cawley at the helm, access to public records has been consistently denied and department heads have been dis­couraged from speaking with reporters.

Martin and Cawley even put locks on the doors to the commis­sioners’ suite of offices in the Bucks County Courthouse with the specific intent of kicking out the press. These two Republican commission­ers have created an organization of secrecy and obfuscation that only Dick Cheney would find desirable.

But don’t take my word for it. Ask the Bucks County Coalition for Voting Integrity which was denied access to records on the purchase of the new voting machines, or your sister paper, the Intelligencer, which attempted to publish an investigato­ry report on the safety of Bucks County swimming pools a couple of years ago.

The Bucks County Health Department refused to turn over records of its pool inspections, even though, as I recall, the agency’s counterpart in Montgomery County was very forthcoming with records.

Who is the real hypocrite here, Mr. Cawley?

Hal Marcovitz