Reader takes issue with mayor’s annual speech

Here we go again. Same old tired rhetoric from Edison Mayor George Spadoro in what can only be described as an off-the-shelf speech. It’s the same insight you’ll get from any of his campaign brochures for as far back as you care to look. You can do it from memory. Taxes, open space, public safety and seniors.

Where he runs into trouble though is if anyone compares what he says he did to what really happened in 2004. If you do, you’ll find the time-honored tradition of Spadoro half-truths.

Now, it’s not that he shouldn’t try to place the results of 2004 in the light most favorable to himself, but his version of 2004 has so much spin in it that it’s surprising that he was able to stay upright.

In order to buy into his summary of 2004 you’d either have to be a Democratic Party groupie or have been out of town for the whole year.

Take, for example, his claim of holding the tax rate flat. He tells of how hard he worked to keep his early promise of a zero dollar tax increase. Was it true and did he hold the municipal rate flat? Yes, it was and he did hold the rate flat.

However, that’s just half the story. What he’s not telling you is that while he held the rate flat, he continued spending to the tune of $7.2 million over the $90 million previous year’s budget.

So, he’s done nothing differently than he’s done in previous years, with one exception. In order to continue spending and still hold the rate flat, he had to use the surplus to cover it. Deceptive and misleading, you bet. Fiscally responsible, you bet — not.

Let’s look at open space. Did he acquire open space in 2004? Yes, he did. However, what he doesn’t tell you is there is inadequate accountability of what we got and how much we paid. While he touts the historical Oak Tree Pond Park, he neglects to point out that acquisition resulted in us paying over $1 million per acre and included the most abusive use of eminent domain by an elected official in the township’s history.

On public safety, he points out spending $2.1 million for equipment, $1.9 million in capital improvements and another $1.7 million for renovation of one of the firehouses. However, what he doesn’t talk about is the single largest expense in the $97 million budget, which is payroll.

Here’s a single expense item that’s well over half the $97 million budget and actually more than the amount of property taxes to be raised in the fiscal 2004-05 budget — and the majority of those payroll dollars are in public safety. You’d think that would be worthy of some discussion.

On seniors, he increased the seniors’ budget by only $6,000. Enough said.

Then, there are all the things that didn’t make it into his speech, like any cost-cutting measures he implemented, any savings from his health care changes, any explanation as to why he continues to incur legal fees to defend illegal challenges to state law, why he engaged in the illegal taking of property from one of our own residents and finally, no discussion about pay-to-play reform.

Now, ignoring pay-to-play reform was already a big concern on the municipal side, but even more so now since he spent some time in his speech to recommend to the Board of Education that they should combine all their capital needs and bond for everything at once.

But, hey, it was a nice speech if you’re into rhetoric and not substance and you could ignore what happened in 2004 when looking at the reality of his plans for 2005.

Ralph Bucci

Edison Township