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Flat Tire on the Road to Sharetown

Seems three big potholes along the road to his shared police services plan have given the mayor a blowout.

At Wednesday night’s council meeting Mayor Pringle expressed his great disappointment that three of our four councilmen have come out against the plan before even hearing the twice-postponed presentation about it. (The first postponement was because of the untimely passing of Colleen Graney, but the more recent one is obviously because of dissent in the council.) No new date has been announced. It was clear to any observer that they had been discussing this during the executive session, which is not open to the public. (The executive session, we are told, is for the discussion of sensitive subjects such as contract negotiations and pay increases.) This conversation, if it did indeed occur, should have been in public.

We would never have seen anything like this a year ago, but the mayor’s lame duck status has given the council the elbow room to oppose him now and the upcoming election, in which all four are candidates for some office, has given them the motivation.

 The idea of shared police services is not popular. The police department is at the core of a town’s self identity. Having it’s own police department is a defining characteristic of even being a town. While people might want our recycling program to be run as cheaply as possible, even if it means partnering with other towns, there is something different about the police. We want to be proud of our police. We want them to be a team, our team, against the bad guys. (The only people who take a similar pride in recycling programs are progressive politicians.)

I was planning to attend the shared police services presentation with an open, but skeptical mind. Honestly, I thought it was a done deal anyway since in the past the mayor never met this kind resistance in the council for any of his plans once they were made public. I was planning to ask for a provision that Belmar be able to unilaterally pull out of the agreement if it was found in practice to be not working in Belmar’s best interests, and I was planning to ask for a council resolution that Belmar never even consider at any time merging politically with any other towns. The way it looks now, there may never even be a presentation.

The mayor’s lug wrench is not as big as it used to be. He may no longer have the leverage he needs to fix his flat tire.

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