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Letter: GOP Team Ready to Lead Moorestown

Republican council candidate Pete Palko pitches his team and their plan for Moorestown ahead of the election.

To the editor:

As Moorestown gets back on our feet—even while some of us continue to be without power, including my family—we need to remember that the direction our country will be moving over the next four years will be decided next week as the election fast approaches. Regardless of your party affiliation, it’s important to take the time to vote for what you believe in so our country can move forward in a direction the majority of us want from our federal government. Hopefully that is for all Republican nominees in column 2, because we have to change the direction our country is heading, reinvest in small business and stop the ridiculous spending and debt from rising, which will ultimately harm our children’s ability to have families of their own, their own homes or build their own businesses.

On a local level, fortunately we have smaller issues to deal with, but property taxes are something that can make an immediate impact on our personal financial situations if controlled and reduced. For that reason, our team has talked to and met with thousands of township voters as part of our door-to-door networking program, during presentations we performed at numerous committees and organization events, and during numerous open-access events where we provided an opportunity for people to talk to us in person and candidly about what concerns them and enable them to ask our opinions on issues important to their families without a microphone present. That experience has been tremendous in enabling our team to better understand which issues are most important to our community and which require immediate attention versus being able to be deferred as secondary concerns. Without a doubt, reduction of taxes ranked first. Our team is ready, willing and capable of acting on each of the issues that have been put before us, with the underlying, consistent message that our goal is to control and hopefully ultimately reduce our current tax burden.

Critics can take stabs at each one of us individually, or attempt to blame us for other’s past decisions, but as a united team, we believe we complement each other’s abilities and we can contribute to making this town a better place to live for all its residents, whether they be Republican, Democrat, renters or homeowners. We know the issues, the budget and even minor components of it—like what we pay for open space per hundred—without needing to ask others. Our team will be one that uses professionals to support us, but not purely rely on their opinions without challenging them hard.

Although I respect each one of our opponents for willing to volunteer, which some would characterize as a thankless job, there are fundamental differences between our two teams. We have all seen and heard various video interviews this week that we, as a team, elected not to participate in. Not because we fear anyone or anything that would be asked of us, but because it simply didn’t make sense when we have spent the last eight months getting our message out and talking to folks face-to-face. Participating in interviews didn’t seem like a priority versus spending that same time reading thousands of pages of reports on issues that matter, reviewing our municipal budget and holding meetings with each of the current town councilmembers for their thoughts on township issues, meeting with township employees to understand the challenges they face and how we can improve them, meeting with every township professional we currently employ, knocking on an additional 1,000 doors and/or holding open public events that were designed to give back to all Moorestown voters.

Believe it or not, our team has already been working seven days a week developing plans to make our town better. The democratic candidates want to spend on solar, new lights, new parking, more redesign of town hall and a few other things, including using up to $250,000 of the liquor money for a Main Street manager. Our opponents have presented ideas for courts, which I would agree need to be decided on, but failed to understand one of the key reasons a decision has not been made. The governor has made it clear townships need to work together and share services. If we rush to create a redevelopment model downtown before at least investigating whether courts can be shared with adjacent towns, we risk the state pulling yet more funding in the future.

So what about liquor? Is it time to tap the keg and start a spend-a-thon? Not at all if you ask us. GNP wants to lock the liquor money up and invest it if possible, while we attempt to settle the $500 million in tax appeals at the state level, which could impact the township budget. Remember, our township income is based on taxes being collected on $4.6 billion in ratables. This is a massive issue that could not only eliminate the entire liquor windfall, but create further reductions in ratable income for years to come. Reductions in ratable income mean tax increases for those that remain.   

With GNP, the township has the ability to elect a cross section of candidates that vary in age, experience and technical ability but that complement and support one another and that will be on the same page as current councilmembers. We don’t need new councilmembers coming in and challenging our incumbent members on decisions made long ago, which has already been the case with the “let’s revisit town hall” message coming from our opponents after $4 million has already been spent. I would be the first to say I did not agree with demolishing the old town hall and believe we could have renovated it instead, but I am not that far removed that I think we should derail the direction previous councils have laid out.

I believe my role as an incoming councilman would be to manage the decisions the current council is making, control costs for construction and not allow them to exceed current budgets. If that means pushing back on a contractor’s request for a change order, I’ve spent my entire life doing that and consider myself an expert in that arena. That being said, not every councilmember needs to be an experienced professional engineer and/or contractor with experience in almost every facet of our municipal capital needs—but it may be nice to have one. The same applies to a technology expert with a youthful opinion of how technology can be applied to make our township more user-friendly, in addition to having a councilman who has spent countless years working on township committees, the RAC and “gets it,” versus one whose priority is to install solar panels.

The GNP team has been working hard to build relationships with our elected officials in the event we need to call on them for support, all the way from the governor and lieutenant governor on down to our county officials. One of the keys to our town receiving benefits is maintaining strong relationships with county, state and, in some cases, federal officials so we can call on them when we need them. Our team has been with our elected officials at dozens of events for a reason. Each one of them knows what we stand for and has offered their support to us and our town going forward however they can.

In summary, and like my co-candidates Phil Garwood and Victoria Napolitano, I am extremely proud to be a Moorestown resident and have my family reside in this community and attend our fabulous school system. I can assure you I will work hard for our community and make decisions that are fiscally conservative, but at the same time do not strangle our town's ability to stand out as a great place to live. Thank you for all your support in the past and going forward.

Peter Palko  
Moorestown Republican council candidate

Peter Palko November 03, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Another, The letter that was posted was mine with some edits by patch personnel. Unfortunately I only had a few hours to write it yesterday as both my home and offices were without power all week until late yesterday. It represents a combination of my opinions as well as those of our GNP team. Each of the three of us submitted letters but we were told only one would be posted so we plan to upload all three letters to our website GNP2012.com later today for folks to read. Thanks for taking the time to read it and feel free to contact me via our website with any questions that you may have. Additional information on views from each of us can be found in the Moorestown Sun Meet the Candidates piece on line as well.
TrueRepublican November 03, 2012 at 03:28 PM
I wonder what Mr. Palko & Company can do about Moorestown awarding the town hall contract to a firm with so much bad history. Why should Moorestown Taxpayers be screwed like this?
Greg Cucumber November 03, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Dude Get a Life.
Elephant utr November 03, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Thanks. Mr cucumber that explains it about "truerepublican" . Does mr cucumber heard of any polls of the elections or have any feelings of where this town council race is going?
Greg Cucumber November 03, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Excuse me while I sneeze into the microphone. The only thing I hear is Romney's chance are improving in New Jersey so we need a big voter turn out for Ole' Mitt. Let's give him a mandate so he can fix our economy and get America working again!
Jeff B. November 03, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Wow - Watch the Dems videos then read this. Any question the Republicans deserve our votes this year? Not even a contest!
SteveS November 03, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Here's part of Palko's letter that got edited out by the Patch maybe this will answer you question: I believe my role as an incoming councilman would be to manage the decisions current council is making, control costs for construction and not allow them to exceed current budgets and if that takes pushing back on a contractor’s unsupported request for a change order, I have spent my entire life doing that and consider myself an expert in that arena that will not require any architect, construction manager or other township professional’s opinion to educate me for me to act. Once the low bidder puts up their performance bond, there is no way that project will blow apart under my watch. That being said, not every council member needs to be an experienced professional engineer and/or contractor who have experience in almost every facet of our municipal capital needs but it may be nice to have one. The same applies to a technology expert that has a youthful opinion of how technology can be applied to bring our township current and more user friendly in addition to having a councilman who has spent countless years working on township committees, the RAC and “gets it” versus one whose priority is to install solar panels. Didn’t our president hand out $525 million to a company in solar that went under?
G. Williams November 03, 2012 at 06:57 PM
True R, I assume your posting of a press release (Press of Atlantic City) regarding the Egg Harbor school construction debacle, was intended to scare Moorestown residents. Sambe Construction was awarded our Town Hall, and they were also the second phase contractor on the Egg Harbor project. You should know that the underlying problem in the Egg Harbor project was their involving the SDA (state agency) in the first place, which they admitted. Their level of incompetency and nightmarish bureaucracy is well known. Reorganizing from the SCC to SDA didn't help them any. There is much more to the Egg Harbor story, and I am not playing Sambe Construction's tune, but on one issue alone, verbal change orders and promises of payment are unacceptable in the industry. If you are suggesting that Sambe will be a nightmare for Moorestown, you should back that up with facts. I am willing to hear them. Better yet, read your link thoroughly, and do some research before you throw stones. Keep in mind, that Sambe was the lowest qualified bidder, and thus there are rules that apply. When you make bad assumptions based on a news article regarding a multi-year contract you expose yourself to hard questions that you cannot answer. When you suggest that Moorestown would be screwed by this firm you should be prepared with supporting facts. And, on another topic, when you talk about the Municipal Complex costs, try using accurate numbers. You will find the public more receptive.
HomeStew November 03, 2012 at 07:59 PM
In 2010, Ms. Jordan and Mr. Chiacchio ran against Mr. Sattinger on hiring a main street coordinator and the Economic Committee's parking plan; neither which is done or even under consideration. Did they lie to us in 2010 just to get our votes? How is Mr. Garwood, Ms. Napolitano or Mr. Palko better suited than Mr. Sattinger to solve our town's fiscal issues?
Peter Palko November 03, 2012 at 10:34 PM
True, I would not loose much sleep over the award. The reality of contracting is that any firm that has the ability to provide a performance bond for a $10M+ project in this economic environment has both strong financials and a history of being able to complete the projects they bid. If they didn't, their surety would not agree to bond it because they are on the hook if the contractor fails to perform. A bond guarantees a project is completed per the specifications and contract. If the contractor failed to perform, we would simply force the bonding company to complete the work. If disputes arose between the contractor and the design firm over incompetent or flawed design work, that is why engineers carry professional liability insurance which is an avenue the town could use to recover overages as a result of inferior design work if that were the case although i would highly doubt that would occur based on the number of firms that prepared and reviewed the bid package. Both avenues are available to protect our town from simply agreeing to cost overages that are not due to scope changes requested by us. But remember, if your elected council members don't understand the contracting process, these avenues may never be brought up or understood. Hope that helps.
Chris Chiacchio November 03, 2012 at 11:03 PM
HomeStew: Thank you for paying attention! I do not agree with you, but I commend you for following the issues facing our great Town. I originally supported the recommendation of our Economic Development Advisory Committee to hire an Economic Development Coordinator. However, after trying to balance two budgets and facing short falls, I do not want another expense heaped upon your shoulders and the shoulders of the taxpayers in town. More importantly, in my time serving on Council, I have gotten to know many of the business owners in town. I have absolute confidence that they know what they need to succeed. I feel an Economic Development Coordinator was a good idea when proposed but a new and better solution is the Moorestown Business Association ("MBA") forming a Main Street subcommittee made up of Main Street business and property owners and chaired by a Main Street business owner. Who better to develop a marketing plan and events than the stakeholders themselves? Regarding your comment about my support of a new parking plan, I absolutely support improving our downtown parking situation. Are you telling me that you are fine with the chopped up and inefficient parking scheme we have now?
Greg Cucumber November 03, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Councilman, it amazes me that the same people who cheered Councilwoman Jordan and you in the past are now throwing knives at your back. Politics as usual by the Camden County funded Norcross team of Mark, Brian and excuse me while blow my nose into the microphone Greg.
HomeStew November 04, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Mr. Chiacchio, thank you for responding. If you were so concerned with heaping expenses on the taxpayer, how were you able to build a new town hall and syn-turf complex? We can spend $25 million but not a fraction of that on businesses and parking that will have immediate benefits to both users and businesses? Where are your priorities?
TrueRepublican November 04, 2012 at 01:55 AM
The disaster called Town Hall Project has from the start been mismanaged, over budgeted, and incompetently managed by our Republican council members. And, all for a $5.00 trash can fire. No one has be held accountable. Not surprised Republicans.... you gave raises to employees without any merit performances. Now, an over-budgeted unnecessary project - TOWN HALL, is being awarded to a firm with questionable competence, over budgeted costs, and excessively LATE. Still these problems persist - today. Now MR. Williams and Mr. Palko are enabling a questionable project and a questionable firm that I would not even grant permission to work on any property I own. How does Moorestown attract such losers?
HomeStew November 04, 2012 at 03:17 PM
TrueRepublican, what should really concern people is if Mr. Palko was against the town hall project, why did he not speak up and stand up to his party? And what about the library - should that have been renovated also? Mr. Palko seems very concerned about losses in income but does not condemn the spending of $25 million for a new town hall and syn-turf complex. Making excuses are not leadership. We need people who will stand up for what they believe in.
HomeBrew November 04, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Mr. Chiacchio: In you letter to Patch, co-authored with Council Member Jordan ( http://moorestown.patch.com/articles/letter-councilmembers-endorse-republican-slate ), you state that in 2012 "council was able to put forward a budget that had a zero increase in the municipal tax levy." However, clicking through the linked text in your letter reveals that the budget increases the municipal tax levy by 4 cents per $1,000 valuation. ( http://moorestown.patch.com/articles/council-agrees-to-a-budget-two-days-from-deadline ) Can you explain the discrepancy? Could you please post a correction?
Peter Palko November 04, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Homebrew You may want to check your facts before you provide inaccurate commentary yet again. I was quite vocal on both issues to members of council over the last several years up to and including late recommendations to reevaluate the demolition of the old town hall. Unfortunately my opinion did not count on that vote and the current situation is what it is as it relates to any incoming council members. I would have been happy to cc you on my emails but wasn't sure which of your 10 alias's to send it to. Good luck to all the candidates running tuesday as i believe volunteering to be considered for such a position already shows some degree of leadership quality versus the non-educated opinion of a coward afraid to use their real name. Have a great day.
utr November 04, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Mr. Palko, I don't think it's nice to attack 99.9 percent of posters as cowards. Some are your supporters. If you want to, you could show everyone on patch these emails so we know you were against this wasteful government spending. We hope you feel the same way about building more new government buildings we don't need. Anything you are willing to comment on that? Go GOP! We don't need tax and spenders like Obama or chiacchio
HomeBrew November 04, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Mr. Palko: Sorry, I'm a one-alias person, and mine includes a "B". And I join you in expressing appreciation to everyone running.
Pop Quiz November 04, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Pop quiz HotShot.....answer both correctly and you get two passes to the Obama Inauguration in January! 1) What sports organization did Garwood refer to as "the worst run organization I have ever seen"? 2) What was Garwood really in favor of before he decided to run for office?
Pop Quiz November 04, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Pop quiz hotshot...what former repub leader is now trying to submarine his own party?
PuppetMaster November 05, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Pop, Do you have proof of what you say? That would be very sad, My how the mighty have fallen.
HomeBrew November 05, 2012 at 01:47 PM
How much will Superstorm Sandy cost Moorestown? And, with dwindling tax revenues and stretched budgets, how will we pay for the cleanup? Good questions, especially today when work is slated to begin on installation of a second, $1M+ syn-turf field at WBNorth. Moorestown's all-Republican Council battled over the syn-turf project for more than a year. Three members even tried to drain the OS Fund to pay for it. Finally, they unanimously approved a "compromise": Let taxpayers foot most of the bill. Do Moorestown Republicans, who squandered scarce tax resources on an unnecessary and extravagant project like a second syn-turf playing field, deserve to retain control of Town Council? Good question, one that all Moorestown voters should ask and answer for themselves before voting on Tuesday.
Ed Nice November 05, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Homey do you have any point ...wouldn't that mean they unanimously squander 10 times as much on town hall? Just think if they use the Open Space Recreation and Historic Preservation Fund which is exactly why we pay the tax for this use, it wouldn't have any impact on the town budget. How about that?
Yah Mo B There November 05, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I guess you’re telling us the Dem ticket will cease all spending immediately. See, personally I see the OS fund as useless and extravagant. What more elitist than buying up property to prevent others from entering our exclusive town? That’s simply my opinion and the fund exists and I pay into like a good little citizen. Same for you and the turf field. Can't make everyone happy. I'd love your opinion of the national budget seeing your concern at the local level. You must be a Gary Johnson supporter? By the way, revenues are about to increase with the Mall, Lockheed, virtua and debt service will be dropping off.
HomeBrew November 05, 2012 at 06:59 PM
I'm against foolish spending at any level of government. Wish our GOP Town Council that approved spending for a second, $1M+ syn-turf field at WBNorth felt the same way.
Peter Palko November 05, 2012 at 09:34 PM
HomeBrew, My apologies for the keystroke slip when i hit a B versus an S. I agree with you that foolish spending should be avoided at any level of government but to generalize that all members of the GOP are spendthrifts might be a bit out of line, especially when the democratic candidates have proposed a long line of spending for you. Recall your quote from July 2012 where you said "Sincere thanks to STEM and allies, to the majority of the OS Committee, and to Council members Jordan and Chiacchio for standing up against this enormity." You agreed with GOP councilmembers when they pushed back hard on any decision on the fields until OS was protected, the athletic organizations stepped up to fund significant portions of the project costs and our township officials reviewed our financials to detemine the affordability of such a project. All three items were ultimately answered satisfactorily in their minds to move forward and even the Dems agreed with proposed improvements to the fields, just not using OS funds. I would not call that squandering, as the safety of our children is necessary. Would you agree that it is a good thing when community field improvements can be made that result in a net zero impact due to debt service reductions, signficant contributions being made by the clubs, and other revenue increases are expected. That being said, I sincerely respect your concern for controlling our tax dollars.
Ed Nice November 05, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Yeah they did what JB and the clubs proposed all along! Who cares if Open Space Recreation Farmland and Historic Trust money is being spent to maintain the same fields you objected to in the first place? Still waiting to here your thoughts on whether council squandered scarce tax money on town hall or not.
Ed Nice November 05, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Hey True clown......... question did Moorestown have any issues with this company when they built the Mac center at the high school ...... Ahh No get over it. What part of they had no choice but to award it to them do you not understand? It would not have matter if you were on council..... you would have had to award it to them also. Now Move on!
HomeBrew November 06, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Mr. Palko: Thanks for your thoughtful reply. You won't be surprised to learn that I respectfully disagree with you. I have always believed that a second, $1M+ syn-turf field at WBNorth is an unnecessary extravagance, especially when budgets are tight, positions in critical departments are left unfilled, and the township is doing things like tapping the OS Fund to pay more than half the DPW salaries. Fact is, Ms. Jordan and Mr. Chiacchio felt the same way, until their recent "Road to Damascus" conversions. Just a couple of points: I believe the peaches-and-cream financial picture you describe is based on Mr. Carew's back-of-the-envelope calculations -- calculations that even he admitted didn't take into account "every single variable." ( http://moorestown.patch.com/articles/manager-19m-in-capital-projects-can-be-done-w-no-tax-increase ) I'd say Moorestown got smacked with a pretty big "variable" last week. I wonder if Mr. Carew accounted for Superstorms? Also want to point out that after nearly two years of wrangling over syn-turf at WBNorth, we still don't know for sure how much of the cost will be offset by club contributions and sponsorships. That strikes me as really strange. Thanks again for your reply. And thanks to you and all the candidates for enduring the rigors and rigaramole of running for local office.

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