And...we're off!

Every two years, on the first Monday in January, we at The Citizen are challenged to be at four municipal reorganization meetings within an hour and a half. By now, we pretty much have this down to a science, as we start in Emsworth and move up river to Bellevue in half-hour increments.

Historically, we breeze through Emsworth, Ben Avon and Avalon to get to the fireworks in Bellevue, where an obviously tainted water supply has made officials testy at best, and downright nasty at other times.

Well, folks, that water has apparently reached the North Boroughs line, bringing with it a never-before-seen level of uninformed arrogance.

In both Emsworth and Ben Avon we saw new council presidents making major changes in borough services without informing their entire councils or going through the traditional means of ensuring that such changes are actually in the best interests of the people of the boroughs.

It was pretty obvious that Earl Bohn had consulted with a chosen few of his Ben Avon Council colleagues about hiring a new solicitor. But solicitors normally are not hired as a result of knocking on someone's door during a political campaign. Normally a borough will put out a request for proposals, and have everyone on council review the rates and experience of several law firms. Ben Avon may have picked the perfect solicitor, but the taxpayers will never know for sure because the proper procedure wasn't followed.

There also is something to be said for showing grace in victory. The winner of the "us" vs. "them" battle of the election must keep in mind that the government still includes some of "them," who also have been elected to serve their constituents. Eliminating "them" from committee positions and not informing "them" of serious borough matters is a real good way for "us" to become "them" in two short years.

Then we have Emsworth, where new council president Alex Nalevanko wasn't going to let anyone vote on borough appointments. It probably made sense, as he failed to inform his council of what those appointments would be.

We would hazard a guess, however, that his request for a motion to advertise the borough's legal notices in the Post-Gazette instead of The Citizen was not a surprise to everyone on council.

The loss of the $485 paid to The Citizen for Emsworth's legal advertising in 2013 is hardly going to push us into bankruptcy. In fact, we might just make money, because we have kept our legal advertising rates at a ridiculously low level for years. We feel a deep sense of responsibility to the areas that we serve, and we don't want to see our tax dollars -- or yours -- spent on a legally mandated advertising requirement rather than things like public safety and infrastructure.

But what could Emsworth do with the more than $11,000 they will be paying a daily newspaper in 2014 for the same amount of advertising?

Once again, the proper procedure was not followed. Nalevanko and his friends never bothered to get price comparisons from a number of publications before making a decision. In fact, when informed what the cost difference would be, Nalevanko refused to believe it.

We can only hope that first-night jitters were responsible for some of the very troubling behaviors we witnessed that first Monday night in January. It will be up to the people who live in these boroughs to keep a close watch on their officials in the coming months.

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