Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ansinn and Marseglia on Comment Please

I listened to the taped archive of Oct 21st's Comment Please radio show, hosted by Darryl Berger.  The guests were the Democratic candidates for Bucks County commissioner.  These are rough notes, not intended as a full transcript.  Voters are encouraged to listen to the interview themselves and research the candidates to make an informed decision.  

Comment Please, sponsored by Univest, with host Darryl Berger

Oct 21, 2011

Det Ansinn and Diane Marseglia, Democratic candidates for Bucks County Commissioner
Marseglia incumbent, Ansinn is the Doylestown Borough Council President

Marseglia – bio, social worker in county for 25 years, about 4 years ago I decided one of the best things I could do is help county improve social services

Ansinn – also local, background in business, created businesses, created jobs, board president of library board, bring business acumen to do good things in county.

DB:  minority commissioner a watchdog position?

DM:  many things , many of the employees comfortable coming to me and telling me of problems and I go to newspaper or police or wherever needed.  Now putting county commissioner meeting agenda up days in advance, now have to file applications for county jobs and checking qualifications.  Now someone in charge of keeping track of county cars and who has and how used.  First 3 years I was excluded a great deal, shown materials but not allowed to keep them.  Current county supervisor better about this, still not equal access

DB:  platform points

DA:  number 1 is issue of jobs, Bucks has higher unemployment than neighboring counties.  Problem is county has not taken a proactive role.  Second issue is corruption.  Indictments and guilty verdicts.  Third, county has been deficit spending for last 5 years.  

DB:  what can government do?

DM:  try to encourage people and county to buy America and buy Bucks.  Work on infrastructure.  Problems dredging Del River.  People aren’t going to come here if they can’t get here.  Expand companies that are here.  Best thing we can do is help companies already here.  Zoning problems, regulation problems.  Appoint someone as economic development officer. 

DB:  developing plan and implementing it

DA:  For Commissioner Cawley and former Congressman Murphy put together panel and asked what can county do better.  They put together plan.  First thing is hire an economic development officer.  Marshalling resources in Bucks, county has 7 chambers of commerce, no one providing single point of contact.  Streamlining, easier to do business.

DM:  Teva wanted to be in Warrington went to Philly, hospital in Lower Makefield, no one to direct them to other places in Bucks. 

DB:  Warrington didn’t want Teva.

DA:  Other places in the county would have welcomed them with open arms.  No one directed them there.  Lost to NE Philly.  That’s the problem, don’t have leadership.  Economic initiative is leadership. 

DB:  transportation infrastructure, 202 parkway project

DA:  tough to say, project has gone on so long, that’s just one part of transportation infrastructure.  People don’t know we have a port here in Bucks, Diane had dredged so larger ships could come in.  Project long time in coming.  Pales with what happens in upper part of county, development with no planning.

DB:  enough coordination among different levels of government?  one congressman, state delegation, municipal officials, role of county?

DM:  An economic development officer, could meet with each municipality at least twice a year, better use of planning commission.  Be like Chester County, don’t provide open space money unless project is part of county plan.  Has to be somebody that everyone knows to go to

DA:  We have good people on planning commission, need to be more proactive, need support, shouldn’t shoot down their ideas

DB:  justice center, parking garage, cost about $84M, you have been critical

DA:  in Doylestown this is in our backyard.  Our chief concern, what will happen with old building.  They wanted to knock down old garage, build new building, but no plan on what to do with old building.  County still can’t say how all space in new building will be used.  Don’t know how people will move from parking garage 1000 ft from building to building

DM:  If we’re in office with access to plans and legal teams.  Is it possible for current contractor to continue.  Maybe shift some work to old building. 

DA:  tough thing is, earlier this year before contract award.  A judge said project a rathole.  We need to evaluate.  We need to be in office to do that. 

DB:  was this necessary at all?

DM:  criminal court we did need a new area, criminals and defendants are in same area now, that should change, but we could still use existing 6 courtrooms. 

DB:  nothing similar in area to charges against row officers, Wills area, county workers being coerced into doing political work paid for by county funds.  Trial scheduled for November

DM:  one of about a dozen scandals in last 4 years.  Culture is a problem.  Want to open things up and give a fresh perspective.   Says grand jury report says CEO of county knew what was going on.  It is much bigger than one row dept.  going on for decades. 

DB:  what would you do?

DA:  this is institutionalized corruption.  You have those problems when you have the curtains closed.  Hold people accountability.  $465 M county budget, need transparency, records accountability, how offices operate, campaign finance records.  Regardless of political party can lead to problems. 

DB:  Should county commissioner meetings be morning meetings

DM:  I made a pledge four years ago and making another pledge now.  Hold in early evenings so people can come and see what county commissioners do.  Let people know what happens.

DB:  how many people usually attend

DM:  other than staff and those getting awards at beginning, 5 maybe 6.

DA:  There are actions being taken that affect us.  If you attend one and can make comment.  You can’t speak until end, after commissioners have taken action.  When commissioners taking actions they should know what people think.

DM:  Right now free agenda meeting.  We will meet with department heads ahead of time.

DA:  we took an ethics pledge.  Current commissioners took no action.  We said no politics on county time with county property.  We took 5 point pledge.  Really shouldn’t be necessary.  This is what people expect.  We are committed to that not just as a pledge but these are steps we will take to address it.

DB:  what are other scandals?  Examples of culture of corruption?

DM:  investigation of sheriff’s dept., funds that should have been spent on mental health spent on lunches, Creekside voting place moved and people ordered not to talk about it. 

DB:  wrap up?

DA:  This is not an office people think about but this office makes decisions that affect people’s lives.  You can have the biggest effect on everyday life.

DM:  county provides services.  There are problems.  Increase in number of elderly needing help.  We will be at least $14M short in budget.  Must elect quality people to office.

DB:  campaign site

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