A funny thing happened on the way to the New Hope Borough Council meeting Jan. 17.
The meeting agenda that evening listed a vote on whether to “accept” the resignation of Council President Bill Scandone, who was absent. His stated reason for resigning 11 days earlier was “familial obligations,” with no further detail provided.
But at its Jan. 17 meeting, half of council voted to reject Scandone’s resignation, thus granting him 45 days to change his mind, and half voted to say good riddance. The mayor broke the tie, voting to give Scandone a “do-over” if he desired. Scandone was reportedly “thrilled” with the vote, and the next day said he’d stay on as president of council, after winning what appears to have been in effect a vote of confidence.
So why did Scandone resign in the first place? Why did his need to “focus on familial responsibilities” seem to vanish virtually overnight?
Scandone refuses to comment.
But according to sources close to the situation and documents obtained by the Free Press, Scandone resigned Jan. 6 in reaction to scathing criticism directed his way Jan. 4 from fellow Council Member and Former President Claire Shaw.
“I, more than anyone, understand your need to micromanage, and I have had the misfortune of having to deal with your disregard for boundaries,” said Shaw in her letter to Scandone, which was shared with the rest of council. “I understand limitations.”
Shaw was clearly frustrated that Scandone had privately arranged to meet with Larry Panzica, owner of Moo Hope Ice Cream at 22 S. Main St., and new owner of the former Cryer’s Hardware building at 20 S. Main St. on Jan. 5. Also invited to attend were Borough Manager Cathie Thomas, Zoning Officer Jim Ennis, and Council Member Ken Maisel (who serves on New Hope’s Universal Construction Code Committee, or “UCC”).
Left off the invite list, UCC member Shaw lambasted Scandone Jan. 4 for sidestepping the committee to address “Larry Panzica’s experience/complaints with the UCC process.”
Asked Shaw, “Why have you circumvented the committee’s jurisdiction?
“You have single-handedly created an unsettling image of this council in the eyes of the borough residents and businesses,” she continued. “In an effort to promote ‘transparency’ and to actually accomplish something in 2017, I personally would encourage a reorganization of this council.”
Shaw is not alone in her impatience with Scandone’s apparent disregard for transparency and consensus-building. Additional documents and interviews with multiple sources over several months reveal a pattern by Scandone of intervening directly in controversial issues and projects under the jurisdiction of council and its sub-committees, often in private meetings arranged outside of traditional council protocol and without fully informing council members.
Documents show that Scandone canceled the meeting with Panzica “as a first step in addressing” Shaw’s concerns on the morning of Jan. 5. But, according to a source close to the situation, he began demanding an apology for her letter, which was not forthcoming, and threatened to resign. Documents reveal that Scandone, in fact, did resign the very next day on Jan. 6., “effective immediately.”
Thus, consideration on Jan. 17 of “accepting his resignation” became less a procedural necessity than a vote of confidence. And half of borough council apparently would be quite happy with his departure.
Borough Hall wouldn’t comment on the matter. Prior Borough Manager John Burke often acted as spokesperson for council, but current Manager Cathie Thomas is under a “gag order” not to speak with the press, according to a source close to the situation who requested anonymity. Thomas has not responded to several requests for comment in recent weeks, but on Monday said, “Whoever told you I am under a ‘gag order’ not to speak to the press is mistaken.”
Thomas then failed to answer any questions about Scandone’s on-again, off-again resignation.
Are these alternative facts at play?
So what is the penalty for intentionally lying on public record by an elected official? Why am I even asking this question in 2017?!
You would think they would be more concerned about the increasing number of businesses leaving/failing in New Hope (Blue Tortilla, Bitter Bobs, , etc etc etc) more than the “I’m in charge” sentiment. This is a contributing factor on why this town and its tourism business goes further and further down the drain. Oh, and why we’re at it, why don’t we we raise parking fees for those who still venture here. Great idea!
Charlie here’s a challenging assignment for you:
How about a story detailing the actual accomplishments of our local govt that have improved local businesses, quality of life, etc of this town…instead of the petty infighting of this gaggle of self-important, inconsequential, do-nothing politicians on a vanity project
No shade on you Charlie…I hope the implication was apparent, I.e., there ARE no actual accomplishments. So thanks for turning on the light to these cockroaches
Can’t help but say just follow the money people.