Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Looking for a Few Good Citizens...

Democracy works when people claim it as their own.

-- BILL MOYERS, The Nation, Jan. 22, 2007

It's doubtful that too many people made a New Year's resolution to get more involved with their borough government, but for those of you who did, opportunities are on the horizon.

At Monday night's Borough Council Meeting, appointments will be made to a number of borough committees boards and authorities which have enormous influence over how things get done in Pottstown.

Appointments will be made to open seats on:
  •  The Blighted Property Reviews (four one-year terms);
  • The Historic Architecture Review Board (one vacancy which must be filled by a Real Estate professional);
  • The Pottstown Borough Authority (one five-year term);
  • The Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority (three five-year terms);
  • The Zoning Hearing Board (one three-year terms and one alternate).
  • Next month, an appointment will be made to the Pottstown Planning Commission (one four-year term).
Most of the incumbents in these seats have asked to be re-appointed, with the exception of the HARB vacancy, which must be filled by a Realtor; and in the case of the borough authority, for which Councilman Jeff Chomnuk has asked to be considered.

On PDIDA, two incumbents are seeking re-appointment, Andrew Monastra and Cynthia Brower, but a third, Warren Holohan, is not.

On the planning commission, the term that is expiring is that of Borough Council President Stephen Toroney, who asked to be re-appointed. "I think we can accommodate you," said Councilman Dan Weand, who also sits on the planning commission.

Despite the fact that most of those incumbents and members of council seem destined to be appointed or re-appointed Monday, those interested should know that council is free to appoint anyone who applies, or even someone who does not.
Borough Manager Jason Bobst did not indicate whether any other applications have been made, although he usually notes it when there are.
In the past, the borough has made an outreach effort to bring people into the process, but that has not occurred this year.
But even if you can't get appointed to one of these committees or boards, there may be another way to get involved.
Wednesday night, council indicated it will review a number of ordinances and among them is the possibility of an ordinance authorizing Citizen Advisory Groups.
The borough plans to look into forming Citizen Advisory Groups
Most recently called for in a Dec. 24 post on Code Blue's Blog, The Pulse, such groups are a way of getting citizen input on crucial issues facing the borough, said Bobst.  

He told council that the state of Washington has "a very comprehensive ordinance." 

Bobst added "we're not advocating for this, but we are asking for permission to investigate it."

Toroney replied "I think it's a good idea that we should move forward."

So if you want to get involved, stay tuned.

... Or, perhaps you're a bit more cynical and your view of such things mirrors that of H.L. Mencken: "Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance."


  1. We need to get Weand OFF the planning commission. The current planning commission has done NOTHING to preserve businesses in the borough and has systematically supported the movement of businesses over to the Pottsgrove's. PLEASE anyone with half a brain should through their name in the hat. You'd be the smartest one there.

  2. Don Read, whose request to be re-appointed to the Pottstown Borough Authority last year was denied by council, tried to post here but could not. What follows is his comment on my Facebook page:

    "Evan good point but we have seen time and time again people try to get involved in working with borough government, but as soon as progress in solving some of the issues is started, you are removed. As soon as you are deemed to be a problem solver, your days numbered as far as most councilors are concerned."

  3. Also unable to comment was Mercury cartoonist extraordinaire, Alan MacBain. Here too is his post on my Facebook page:

    "Even volunteering in organizations is fruitless, once you establish that you have knowledge, experience, credibility and a skill set you're willing to apply, you're branded as a "polarizing influence" because you're revealing that those in control don't have a clue."

  4. If you have trouble commenting on my blog, e-mail me your comment at and I can post it here. I reserve the right to remove inappropriate comments.