Thursday, November 5, 2009

Special Commentary on Mayor Ken Short

On the night of his election, Committeeman Bill Roehrich spoke about a recent campaign mailer in which he and Ken Short appear side-by-side. Bill explained the process in which he was sent a proof of the mailer prior to its distribution by Alan Zakin Associates, a political consulting firm used by nearly all local GOP candidates. After reviewing the content appearing under his name, Bill replied with a go-ahead. He left it up to Ken Short to approve the content under his name that included a "held average tax increases to less than 2% per year" claim that has been totally debunked by the Township CFO. The actual average tax increase during Mayor Short's tenure is 3.5%. While the 1.5% difference may seem small, the impact over Ken Short's tenure represents a $4.5 million difference in municipal tax collections. While Bill couldn't comment on what happened, just the fact Ken Short was involved leads one to easily imagine the debacle that eventually transpired.

In an interesting twist, Bill stated Short's intention was to use the above quote in the limited context of his two year performance as Finance Liaison, thus purposely avoiding the full context of his fiscal performance during his nine year tenure as a committeeman. Such "selective memory" would exclude Short's higher tax increases including the record 11.1% tax increase he imposed as Mayor in 2005. This now begs a question. With the Committee having eliminated the Finance Liaison position earlier this year because as Ken Short stated at the October 2009 Township Committee Work Session, "essentially the Township CFO does all that stuff", why would Short now go to great lengths to only inform voters of his fiscal performance in the context of a position he felt was so unnecessary, he pushed to eliminate it? The answer is simple. A 2% average tax increase sounds a lot better than the actual 3.5% average tax increase, and a heck of a lot better that a one time RECORD 11.1% tax increase.

In essence, what started out as a clear attempt to DECEIVE the public on the full extent of Short's fiscal record, ended up being a blatant LIE when it arrived in the mailboxes of some 1500 or so Washington Township residents. And while Short's underhanded attempt may not have been carried out as planned, the resulting mailer actually worked to a greater advantage as it clearly provided a false impression of his FULL record on tax increases.

Beyond all this, what is most despicable about Ken Short's actions is he made no attempt to set the record straight prior to voters going to the polls this past Tuesday. Yes the mailer hit mailboxes as planned on the Saturday before the election; but after realizing his error, Short could have easily sent a statement to the Daily Record correcting the record and for that matter to the Observer Tribune as well with a request it be placed online ASAP. This is what an honorable person would have done. This is what honest community leaders like Harlin Parker, Jody Price, Kevin Walsh, Tracy Tobin, or Kim Kaiser would have done. In fact, this is what Kim Kaiser demonstrated when she woke up on the morning of her 2005 Primary victory and learned someone had placed racially insensitive signs throughout the township about her opponent. Instead of doing nothing, this great woman and her family got in their cars and drove around town until every sign was removed. This is what any decent human being would have done. Leave it to Ken Short to choose the easy option of staying quiet, all the while reaping the benefit of his own incompetence.

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