Opinion: Take the Money and Run

Columnist Marsia Mason sounds off on last week's Open Space brouhaha.

It is a wonderful thing when our elected officials live up or down to our expectations, don't you agree? After all, we elected them to be our voice in government, to speak for us and, more importantly, to listen to us. How refreshing then, that the majority of our beloved town council did what they set out to do in 2011: hijack the Open Space funds for their expensive fields project. How totally predictable. 

I spent last weekend stewing about attending the council meeting on Monday. It was the day before my eldest son's birthday and the only time he could get away from work was that Monday night. I rearranged my work schedule so we could all go out for sushi, always thinking in the back of my mind "I should be at that meeting, I need to be at that meeting." So, why wasn't I there?

My sons, my family, will always come first. That is as it should be. After all, that's , remember? But wait. Didn't they then run for spots on the Moorestown Republican Municipal Committee after making that announcement and ? Just asking. Guys, it's a good thing you're spending "quality time" with your family these days, because not even your own party is inviting you to the gala. A little "Politics 101" lesson for Mayor John Button, Gallo and Testa: Listen to your constituents, not just subsets with deep pockets.

Starting early in 2011 , I attended meeting after meeting after meeting where multitudes of people stood up and spoke out passionately about preserving the Open Space funds for passive recreation, historical preservation and the acquisition of farmland. I even remember once upon a time, at one of those meetings, I actually sat there thinking "They HAVE to hear us; they won't take that money." That was way back when I was young and still idealistic—57 years old.

And so, on Monday night, the sushi was great, the company even better. It was my soon-to-be 22-year-old son who finally put things in perspective for me. My eyes kept wandering to the clock as it inched towards 7:30 p.m. My mouth was still saying the appropriate things while my mind was contemplating the meeting, envisioning that smug trio, feeling the frustration. Finally, Hank said to me, "Mom. You've been upset about this for a year. Why would you put yourself through that again? You know what they're going to do."

He was right; but please don't tell him that. Those in the cheap seats, AKA practically everyone on one side of the room that night, . Supposedly, it went on for over an hour: earnest townspeople begging them not to do what they set out to do several years ago.

Like the movie Groundhog Day, all the meetings I've attended have been exactly the same: People standing up and saying "Please don't use Open Space money," while the intransigent trio looked bored (Testa), arrogant (Gallo) and mentally in Massachusetts (guess who), while council members Stacey Jordan and Chris Chiacchio struggled to hide their disgust. And let us not forget the effervescent town solicitor Thomas Coleman. Should we be listening to his legal advice? , but hey, Mr. Coleman will tackle the pending Open Space lawsuit pro bono, for the good of Moorestown and mankind! What a guy!

Arrogance is ugly. And from what I hear, . Hmmm. , Mr. Mayor. You and your sports-addled buddies on council may have won the hearts and minds of the sports clubs in town, but everyone else is shaking their heads in despair. You will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Congrats, your highness.

Look at what's happening at Penn State. This was an institution that revered their football program above everything else, including education and the welfare of children. I would never compare Moorestown to Penn State, but there is a lesson to be learned by putting sports on a pedestal much higher than that of education. Anyone will tell you high school and college athletes are treated much differently than their peers. I would even venture to say many high school athletes are bullies. Ask any non-jock at and they will concur—anonymously of course.

I sincerely hope something positive comes from this mess. The coaches that wanted the turf fields, enhanced lighting and all the other bells and whistles are very happy right now. Good for them. And good for all those unfortunate young’uns who’ve been deprived from club sports due to those dangerous fields. Let’s not have one more “death by divot” on our hands, I beg you!

The way Mr. Mayor and his cohorts have pushed the fields issue through has divided this town in half. It is a very important lesson for all of us—that power in the wrong hands is a very dangerous thing. I did not go to Monday night's meeting because I am in mourning. I am grieving the fact that local government is no different than state or even national government: those with the power do whatever they want. We, the voting public, really don't have a voice. We elect our government, but only rarely do they listen.

In Moorestown, they don't listen at all.

Frank Taylor August 01, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Tom: the nastiness and the bullying started with Town Council ramrodding this through. To think that everyone would stand by and say, "oh, well.. that's okay..." is poor judgement. The fact that ONE PERSON has come out and spoken for the other side tells me everything I need to know: the bullies don't like it when someone questions their objectives. Frankly, I'll stick up for Mrs. Mason just because she is standing up to all of you people. L&L Kitchen Cabinet: that is a pathetic attempt at threatening someone - just because you don't agree with what they say you want them fired from their job? Your intolerance and selfishness are disgusting. Please leave her alone. That would be like me saying your poorly-worded and mean-spirited attack on Mrs. Mason means you must be terrible at your job, too. But I would never say that - not knowing anything about you - because I'm not as spiteful as you are. My guess is that you're excellent at what you do. YOU DON'T HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT MRS. MASON DOES AT THE LIBRARY. SO KEEP YOUR PERSONAL ATTACK TO YOURSELF. Finally, again for Mr. Ed Nice: it's your opinion that Mrs. Mason should be fired. My opinion is that your opinion is just like mine: WORTHLESS. Go ahead and keep complaining and moaning and whining. I hope Mrs. Mason irritates you on a daily basis with her insightful (and inciteful) comments regarding all that is good and bad about Moorestown. Know why she has a job? She's more talented that you are.
Townie August 01, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Frank, Thanks for the name props. Glad you like. I think you may want to review my comments again. Minus her linguistic styling and the Penn State comment, I didn't bash anyone. I agree with the sentiment. Besides...it just opinion.
Frank Taylor August 01, 2012 at 01:10 AM
The reason I love "Townie": 1) it's kinda old school - I went to a humongous college where the locals (townies) were a distinct-and-proud minority, even though it was their home. They wore their pride on their sleeves. Inspirational. 2) Love the movie "Breaking Away" (where townies became a national term) 3) Moorestown has a lot of folks like me who aren't from here. So those who have lived/loved Moorestown for a lifetime will always have my respect and admiration. It's an awesome place to raise a family - as Mrs. Mason has routinely pointed out. Of course, I could be wrong because this is all just my... opinion.
Frank Taylor August 01, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Townie - YOU'RE RIGHT! Ooh... that is humiliating. I'm way off, but the fact that you know the movie is crazy-good. OK. So I've been put in my place as I deserve. Thanks.
Mrs. Chris Fisher (nee:Rauffenbart) August 01, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Marsia, I still say you are paramount in what you wrote in my eyes, especially with my being in the corner of an underemployed art instructor. Ginger, Ed, did your parents grow up in Moorestown? Did you ever get the essence of what Moorestown was founded on? Maybe you should both go get a book at the library and sit in there and read it it's a vibrant experience. There's a love for Moorestown floating around in the arts in this town! "..And that's all I have to say about that!"
Rob Scott (Editor) August 01, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Ed, I'm sorry. I hate to be a censor. But while there's a certain level of profanity I'm willing to allow, you have to cool it just a little bit with the obscenities. Please and thank you.
Ed Nice August 01, 2012 at 04:20 AM
That would be Then You not That....... And you think I have no talent....LOL. Frank she can write all the articles she wants and Rob can print them no matter what she says. As I said below, say what you want but when you attack innocent kids I have some big issues and if you were a man with any sense you would also. Support her for the rest of her column that's fine, but for the offensive part, you and everyone in their right mind might want to tell her she went too far and crossed a line she shouldn't have. Again read me right........ complain and be the hater she is, is fine, pick on kids ........ then I'm going to stick up for them!
Ed Nice August 01, 2012 at 04:21 AM
I can re word some what !!! No problem....
Ed Nice August 01, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Ok to address this nonsense. First of all I have lived in Moorestown Like Ginger for many years. I have lived here for 38 years and counting. I don't recall saying she should be fired, I said that Rob has the final decision to either print this junk or not. Now as to her breaking the stones of our town council I'm all good with that. I don't agree with her opinion on that but you know what they say about opinions. What I have a big issue with her is her attack on the innocent kids which she called bullies and bring Penn State into her comparisons. They have nothing to do with this issue and never should have been brought into it. My other issue is the nut jobs and yes I am saying a nasty thing here, nut jobs that come to her defense on that issue. I haven't been coaching kids in this town for 29 years and don't know the character of these kids. I have coached kids from 4 to 19 in my many years and I can say that grouping all kids that play sports as bullies is horse puckie. Sure there are bad apples in a bushel but the crop as a whole when it comes to most kids is great! Shame on anyone of you people running to her defense. I will tell you this that she has done nothing to help her cause of a new Library with this article. I too have offered to help in the fund raising for a new library but to my knowledge they have done nothing to raise any money and the money that was purposed was taken off the table because they felt the new library wasn't big enough.
Ed Nice August 01, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Better!!! LOL
Rob Scott (Editor) August 01, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Thanks, Ed.
Frank Taylor August 01, 2012 at 05:24 AM
Ed, for someone who loves to tell us about his accomplishments in coaching athletics in Moorestown, you whine an awful lot. Nobody questions your coaching ability and how you've helped young people. You made a difference and you're a good man. OK! This isn't about you, or baseball or any other sport. This is about taking money from the "Open Space Fund" and using it for another purpose. The powers-that-be were bent on doing this. I don't know if they did anything illegal, but it isn't ethical. It's wrong. It was completed in the dead of summer, there was no vote, no petition, and very little opposition to something that many of us feel is corrupt. No, the library is not corrupt, no matter what your opinion is, so stop bringing it up. Taking money from a fund expressly earmarked for something else is dishonest, I don't care if they found a way around the law. Anyone who dares question that is vilified, cursed, derided and threatened. That is bullying, Ed. That's wrong, too. I don't care if you're the greatest sports coach in the history of New Jersey. Mrs. Mason doesn't deserve to be bullied just because she called the bullies on their behavior. I bet she knew all of you were going to attack her personally when she wrote this column. Maybe you know a lot about coaching, Ed. Mrs. Mason is the underdog, nobody on her side, she doesn't have 38 years of experience and your incredible knowledge. But she is standing up for what is right. I would think you'd understand that.
Frank Taylor August 01, 2012 at 05:34 AM
First: thank you Mr. Scott for editing profanity out of the Moorestown Patch. Final quick note: after looking through a number of Patch issues, dating back some 14 months, it's clear that Mrs. Mason - regardless of what you people think of her opinions - is very popular. Her political pieces are particularly well-read and get more response than just about any other writer here. Her feature pieces (which brag about what a wonderful place Moorestown is) have been picked up by other publications and printed, making some of her work syndicated throughout New Jersey and in other states as well. I'm sure she takes all your nastiness and personal assailments with a grain of salt. Or I hope she does. She is a very talented, very skilled, and very pointed writer. I do not always agree. But I know someone who has a flair when I see it. You go girl!
Frank Taylor August 01, 2012 at 06:05 AM
No. You're wrong. I do not believe she attacked innocent kids. If you want to tell me that there are no bullies in the Moorestown schools, then you have more problems than just your wrong-headed attacks on Mrs. Mason. She exaggerated. OK, but she did NOT say that EVERY kid in Moorestown is a bully. She shouldn't have compared Penn State's insanity to Moorestown, either. I'm sure she wishes she had not. Frankly, she's not attacking innocent children. She's attacking bullies. Some of whom are Moorestown council members. You over-react to everything, Ed. I never said you have "no talent." That is what you read - which is your problem. I said she is MORE talented. There is a very clear difference. You should go to the library, study reference materials, and expand your horizons. You'd be a better writer, a more consistent and efficient writer, and you'd have a clearer understanding of what people have written.
L&L Kitchen Cabinet August 01, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Frank - Where in my post did I threaten her job? It is my OPINION that the library should consider the type of person that is working with our children and I asked for other's thoughts on the issue. I am well aware of what Mrs. Mason does at the library since my kids have attended those programs. I have every right to question her ability when I am leaving my children with her. The same way every parent has a right to question a teacher/camp counselor/coach. I never called her any names, so where are the personal attacks? In calling "many high school athletes" bullies and insinuating that Moorestown holds athletics in the same regard as Penn State, she has shown her true colors. And for that, I am concerned about her influence on young children. No threats, no name calling. Just like Marsia, whether you agree or not, it's just my opinion (and maybe others).
Ed Nice August 01, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Frank does anything anyone including myself write on the patch sink into your head. Have you bothered to read that the fund that you say council took money from is not earmarked only for open space. That is why it was legal. Not tricks, just the facts. We as a town voted to approve 5 ( FIVE just in case you don't know what a 5 is) uses of the trust fund. I have never said the library was corrupt. Where do you get this stuff? There is a need for the library, it has great stuff for kids and the towns people. I stand by that, but at this time we have a library and don't need to spend that kind of money on something that is working now. That building is 40 years old and we are supposed to tear it down just because Marsia and the rest of the library girls want us to. When we can afford it, yeah lets do it if the rest of town wants it to be done. I won't use it, I have a computer. That is my choice, doesn't mean a new library wouldn't be nice. And if as you point out Marsia is the under dog then she obviously isn't part of the majority which has no issue using the os trust fund for it's approved on and voted on 3 times uses. Frank do you think we make up the research we post on the Patch? I'm good but not that good. Maybe you should read some of it. You would be surprised at the misinformation that the OSer's have put out there for you all to choke on! I not sure why I bother I am probably arguing with Marsia here not Frank!!!
Ed Nice August 01, 2012 at 07:17 PM
" I would even venture to say many high school athletes are bullies." No she is not calling all athletes just many....... Frank are you for real defending that statement. Dude get a clue. read what people write and stop making stuff up. Anyone can click on my name and read what I have written. I am consistent and I support the town as a whole. She is just worried about here little corner. I'm done replying to you because I'm sure your not even Frank and this is a waste of my time. The people that come to this site for information see what I have posted and can make a better informed decision on where they stand on that issue. It may sway them to my side or not, the point is both sides have to be represented here. OSer's can post there opinions while I will post mine backed with facts. That easy. I stand by my disappointment in Marsia for her comments but she has a right to print her opinions on what happens in the town. Are we really saying anything different. I never disagreed with what you said she has a right to do. Taking shots at kids is screwed up though. They have nothing to do with the conversation. I'm done with it. I think people have been made aware of her mistake I need not comment on it any more!
Frank Taylor August 01, 2012 at 07:52 PM
OK. I'll work backwards. Just because I agree with Mrs. Mason doesn't mean I AM Mrs. Mason. I understand this is your way: insult, curse, castigate, whatever. So let me assure you: I am NOT Marsia. My legal name is Frank. Yes. I am aware that using Open Space Funding for turf fields and scoreboards and whatever else is needed can be "allowed' and is "legal." I thought I made that point. But I wonder why, then, are people (not just Mrs. Mason and myself) so upset about this? If this is all by-the-book and perfectly reasonable, why are we trying to stop it? By the way: my kids played little league baseball here in town (and loved it - many happy memories). Mrs. Mason's eldest son was a member of the undefeated state championship football team, and from what I understand he was critical to the first TD scored in the game. So it's not as if everyone is anti-sports. I'll go further: I already have agreed and reinforced what is common public knowledge: you have done a great job with the children and young athletes of M'town. Whew... point being that sports are obviously important to all of us! Yeah, I think you make things up, Ed. You have accused me of being Marsia for starters (there is more, but that is a HUGE insult to her so I'll begin with that). I don't care - doesn't mean squat to me. But yes, obviously you make things up. The library doesn't mean anything in this conversation. YOU keep talking about how it's a waste of tax money. I disagree.
Ed Nice August 01, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Frank just because a handful of people are suing the town doesn't make them right in their thinking. In my eyes just selfish. If they had supported bonding then there would be plenty of money in the account so says Tom M. If they win that would mean that the county has it all wrong also and 100s of millions of dollars will be at stake. Funny how every other town doing the same thing we are is wrong also like Delran, Haddonfield, Mt. Laurel, and on and on and on! Again I never said the library is a waste of tax dollars. What I have said is we don't have the tax dollars right now to pay for it. As for you being Marsia or not who would know unless we sat down for a cup of coffee and discussed it like men. There are a lot of shady characters on this (ROB look at this...lol) comment area of the Patch! I think it is funny you think i make things up. I have attached town hall minutes, news paper articles, ect. Do you think I'm making this information up? As I said I'm good not that good! OSer's are going to love the article I write for the patch that refutes Elizabeth's claims that we have to have the funds in the trust to get matching funds from the state and county. What a crock! I wanted the truth so I e-mailed Tom Ford and had him answer the question. Want the answer Frank? Here it is anyway. NO it is not true. I will be posting the e-mail string conversation between he and I. All time stamped with our e-mail addresses. When I do this what part are you not going to believe then?
Harra Sment August 01, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Here's a hypothetical situation: Let's say a small town has a very opinionated columnist who writes things that some people agree with and others don't. Most people comment in a civil and respectable manner depending on their feelings towards the column. Not everyone agrees with everything, but that's the way opinions tend to work, right? But there's this one reader - let's just call him 'Ed Amiable' for kicks - who is almost obsessive about spewing hate and negativity into almost every article this columnist writes. It's as if he sits by his computer 24 hours a day, with nothing to do but constantly check if this columnist has written any new articles. The moment she does, he blows her statements out of proportion, makes personal attacks, and makes typos and grammatical errors that would drive any educated person crazy. The columnist can barely say 3 words without old Ed Amiable coming in to blow them out of proportion, attack them, and while he's at it make a few misspellings. Would this person be considered a bully? (Perhaps a bully with a sub-average IQ) This is all purely hypothetical, of course.
Ed Nice August 01, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Ahhh yeah right ........ First off I loved her article about Memorial field. Took me back and if I think back I had nothing but positive comments as did Ginger. Also I don't really care to spell check and worry if I have my comma in the right place. Everyone gets the points to my comments. So enough with the distractions and stick to the points. You can't fight the facts that I post so you attack me. And I'm the bully. I will defend my opinions when they differ from hers but as I have said all through this article she has the right to say what she wants. Once again she was wrong to bring the kids comment into it and Penn State. Everything else I'm good with. don't agree with but it is a free country. Today was a bad weather day and I obviously have spent way to much time in front of the computer working on estimates and have allowed myself to be distracted by fact name after fact name. Funny when you click on all the names how they are all new accounts. The one person breaking my stones ..... your not fooling anyone. Keep defending her right to make a fool of herself and her her cause. No sweat off my back!
Frank Taylor August 01, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Ed, you're right: if they had supported bonding there would have been enough money. Agreed. They didn't. Next. And I'm with you on this: the waste of money and the insanity seems endless. I'm taking for granted your facts are correct. Just so there is common ground. I'm trying hard to be gracious - but at the same time I'm aware your... uh... style... is: I disagree with you, I'm with Mrs. Mason, therefore I'm an idiot. Yet I'm still trying to find a way to communicate with you. How about this: YOU'RE RIGHT, YOU WIN. Next. Here is my bottom-line: Mrs. Mason doesn't deserve to be blacklisted, or lose her job - just because she is a lone voice in the wilderness. I don't feel like the OS funding should go for athletic fields. If it happens, OK, so be it. I won't be heckling you or these other spiteful bloggers if/when the fields are complete and the money is spent. It's a socio-topical choice, based on need and available funds. I'm not for it. Mrs. Mason is fighting for what she believes. There are mayors in big cities outlawing businesses for religious beliefs - which is wrong. The Obama Administration rammed a health care plan through the system over the disagreements from many people. I thought that was wrong, too. I'm ALWAYS on the wrong side of these issues it seems like, and whether its personal opinion or what I think is best for the country, state, county, community, I share my opinion. I would have voted on this OS funding for athletic fields, but there was no vote.
HomeBrew August 02, 2012 at 12:46 AM
The key to the OS/syn-turf lawsuit, as I understand it, is the wording of Moorestown's '07 referendum, which states that OS funds shall be used “exclusively for the acquisition of lands for recreation and conservation purposes; development and maintenance of such land ..." http://moorestown.patch.com/articles/suit-filed-against-township-over-open-space-spending BurlCo's rules for and uses of its OS fund are irrelevant. Still, we could follow the county's lead and disallow use of OS funds for syn-turf. After all, If BurlCo can do it, so can we.
Ed Nice August 02, 2012 at 12:56 AM
HomeBrew we could follow the lead of the county and only use our OS funds for all the stuff not turf although other counties like Somerset pay for turf all the time. http://www.co.somerset.nj.us/cms/service/NJSOMER/NJSOMER_138/NJSOMER_138_20111026_093812_en.pdf Or we could bond for the turf and have the clubs pay it back just like we did for MYBF which I notice you didn't object to or we could also bond the whole project and get er done right? We could also follow the countys lead and give all the money to recreation and not farms. "No money will go to the farmland preservation" http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/burlington_county_times_news/county-to-continue-to-collect-voter-approved-tax/article_29cad392-f7f0-5632-8142-68aa724a1ff9.html
Harra Sment August 02, 2012 at 02:04 AM
I'm not a new account - I joined in April of 2011. Get off the computer and go do something productive.
Carla McIlmail August 02, 2012 at 12:35 PM
As I read this, I get the feeling that being "Part of the Solution" is agreeing with your point of view...interesting how someone who has a different viewpoint is holding this field mess back according to your way of thinking. There are always 2 sides. Marsia expresses the other side quite well I think. She is "Part of Seeing the Whole Issue" I think.
HomeBrew August 02, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Ed: Your posts remind me of an old arcade game. Your topics pinball from pillar to post, lots of times you end up in the gutter, and by the time I'm done reading, TILT! TILT! TILT! is flashing in my head. BTW: MYBF is committed to paying full annual cost of their turf infields. How much will clubs using the proposed second $1M+ syn-turf field at WBNorth be kicking in? Also, like BurlCo., Moorestown does spend OS funds on "Maintenance of Lands for Recreation and Conservation" (nearly $50OK from OS fund in 2012 budget). http://www.moorestown.nj.us/filestorage/207/243/249/2260/466/2012_Municipal_Budget.pdf p58.
Ed Nice August 02, 2012 at 04:38 PM
HomeBrew your posts remind of why politicians are not trustworthy because you are wishy washy and make up excuses. Are you for or against turf? Good for the county using our OS taxes for all uses and not being selfish like STEM. Here's another FACT for ya. The turf for WBN will cost less than what those clubs have offered. Rob can research this if you dont want to believe me. That leaves us with these facts. we have a turf field built by Howard Miller in 2006 and you did not complain. MYBF is building turf which all council said yes to and you did not complain and just like MYBF is paying for the turf and so are the other clubs. Here's a bonus one for ya why is WB South not approved by J/C? No turf and clubs paying a nice share of the costs for the kids. What is the objection?
HomeBrew August 02, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Ed Nice August 02, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Great comeback HomeBrew! LOL!!! Facts speak louder!!! Look FREE GAME!!! LOL!!! If only Rob would police this blog site and correct the lies I wouldn't have to.


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