On Monday January 3rd, the Middletown Common Council once again rejected Mayor Sebastian Giuliano's appointment of Acting Police Chief Patrick McMahon to the permanent chief position. The vote was strictly along party lines: all Democrats against, all Republicans for.
I've written more than one column asking the Common Council to appoint the chief unless they could provide real evidence that his record, his behavior or his qualifications were a problem.
Those opposed to the chief's appointment addressed those issues, but I didn't hear a single shred of factual evidence that a problem was uncovered.
It appears that political squabbling has played more a part of the confirmation process than actual concern for the public interest.
Considering the fact that more than one of those opposed cited "the interest of the public" for the reason they voted, and considering the fact that they provided no evidence that their actions were truly in the public interest, I've decided to try to measure the real public interest.
I've asked the Town Clerk of Middletown to create an official petition, which if completed, will put the question of the chief's appointment before the general public as a referendum item on the ballot for the November 8 election.
Since it's in the public interest to settle an ongoing dispute between the mayor and the Common Council, and it's in the public interest and the interest of public safety to have a permanent chief, I feel it's essential to let the public decide.
The Town Clerk has approved the petition request.
The wording of the petition is as follows:
The following question has been determined to be in the public interest by the Town Clerk, per Section 6, B. Initiative of the City of Middletown Charter, and is being presented as a question on the November 8, 2011 ballot for public consideration:
“Shall Resolution 7-1, as proposed at the Jan. 3, 2011 meeting of the Common Council, approving and confirming the appointment of Patrick McMahon as Chief of Police for the City of Middletown, BE APPROVED AND ADOPTED?”
To get the question on the ballot, I will have to collect 2,275 signatures of Middletown registered voters between July 1, 2011 and September 9, 2011.
I can't collect signatures before July 1, but if you are willing to sign, or help collect signatures, you can join the Facebook group, Let the Public Decide, or send me an email here at the Middletown Eye (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)
I know I will be accused by some of bias. But as a resident of Middletown, a registered Democratic voter, an activist and a citizen journalist I am only interested in determining what's best for the public, as decided by the public. The outcome of such a ballot as described above will determine just that.
If in the event a permanent Police Chief is appointed and confirmed before July 1, the petition drive will be canceled.
- Ed McKeon