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By Tammy Pawling , Guest Columnist                                                                                                                      

February 5, 2003 

I am very disappointed by the article titled "Commission: Ex-supervisor abused power" (DLN, Jan. 25), regarding the State Ethics Commission’s review of ex-Sadsbury Township Supervisor, Neil Heineman.

Your staff writer did not mention in the article that this settlement was the result of a plea bargain and that the allegations against Heineman were not proven. It is deeply troubling that Heineman’s name is more likely to be associated with this ethics committee review than his many accomplishments benefiting Sadsbury Township residents.  

Without Heineman’s leadership and the efforts of the members of the Concerned Citizens group, our residents would be paying much higher sewer fees. How can we forget the ridiculous sewer costs proposed in 1993 by then-supervisors Joe Garris, Charles Pluck and Douglas Doratt? At that time, the proposed tap-in fee was an astronomical $10,000 per household. 

That’s when a group of residents formed the Concerned Citizens organization, which opposed this plan and investigated options. We committee members were able to delay the project long enough to have Heineman elected supervisor in 1996, followed two years later by Terry Franciscus; both original members of Concerned Citizens.  

While board chairman, Heineman replaced the existing township engineer and employed a firm who was able to reduce the sewer costs significantly through design changes and creative solutions. Heineman also secured over $630,000 in county and state grants, applied to the cost of the sewer system. His efforts resulted in reducing the tap-in fee from $10,000 to $2,445, a savings of $7,555 per household. Also while serving as supervisor, Heineman increased the township’s capital reserve fund from $20,000 to over $350,000 while lowering property taxes by 45 percent.  

Is Heineman without fault? No, of course not. No one’s perfect. But anyone involved with the planning of the township sewer system knows that Heineman did not have the position of the sewer line changed for his benefit.  

It’s often questioned why more intelligent, better-qualified citizens don’t run for public office and why campaigns are always so negative. I believe this is a clear demonstration of the reason why. Heineman greatly benefited the residents of our township during his term as supervisor. Unfortunately, rather than recognizing his hard work and commitment, the voters chose to believe the rumors and innuendo circulated by his political opponents. Rather than making an effort to find out the truth, residents chose to allow the damaging insinuations to continue.  

Why would any intelligent person submit to this undue character assassination to become a public servant? As uninformed, uninvolved citizens, we are directly responsible for the lack of candidates demonstrating honor and integrity. If we choose to bury our head in the sand and believe only the latest gossip, then we deserve the caliber of candidates we have running for public office today.  

My only hope is that the voters in Sadsbury Township will wake up before the next election and make a well-informed decision when marking their ballot. Too many voters are paying more attention to the grapevine than what is really going on in our community. 

The writer is a resident of Sadsbury. 

İDaily Local News 2003


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