Letter to the Editor: Frequent Patch Commenter Provides His Take on the History of the Republican Party (PART ONE)

Patch commenter, Holden Magroin, supplies background and links to some of the Scotch Plains' Republican Party's history over the last 16 years.

This is the first part of a three part letter, which was broken up due to length.
Check back with scotchplains.patch.com tomorrow and Wednesday for more on Holden's thoughts.

I’m Holden MaGroin and I want to thank the Republican Committee for winning me $5. I bet my friend Herbie that I could guess the order of the letters to the editor for the SP council race. I even have the opportunity to double my money this Thursday.

The reason I was able to take Herbie’s money is that there is a pretty familiar pattern by the people who seem to run the local Republican Party and who will do the same predictable things to retain power.

This group, which includes, former Mayor and Republican Committee chair William McClintock, former Mayor Joan Papen, former Councilwoman and current candidate DePaola’s campaign manager Paulette Coronato, and former Mayor and current Republican Committee Chair Martin Marks, have a history of words and actions that seem to point to a need for power, as well as control over those we elect.

In response to some of my Patch comments, I’ve been asked to provide links to those that have some recollection, but cannot find the details. Within an hour I’ve found the following links to support my thesis.

I was surprised how much is out there, so I’ve had to break it into a few parts.

Today is Part One.

I’ll start with the poop tax and the establishment of the local sewer utility.

The sewer utility was started because the costs were growing too quickly and the council didn’t want to cut other things. Below is a link showing McClintock supporting the utility. While at that point the council was left with little options, it does provide a segue to our local representation to the Rahway Valley Sewer Authority (RVSA), the cause of the need for the Utility.


Beginning in 1995 former Mayor Joan Papen was appointed by her former colleagues (our council) to be the Commissioner representing Scotch Plains on the RVSA, being selected as Chairwoman in 2008.


Since its inception, costs have grown, with an ultimate 31% increase tipping the scales and forcing our council to birth our local sewer utility, removing it from the town taxes and adding it as a fee. During this time there were a series of articles reporting on lavish spending by the RVSA committee, using taxpayer funds for lavish dinners at Echo Lake Country Club, retirement dinners at Ferraro’s restaurant and the Westwood, and first class travel.



Even our current Councilman Bo Vastine, when running for NJ Assembly with former Mayor Marks weighed in about this lavish spending on his blog.  


Unfortunately, after being defeated in the Assembly race and successfully gaining a seat the following year on our town council, there have been no further blog entries on this topic from Vastine.

When mayors from other participating towns called for a budget oversight committee to look into the spending habits of the RVSA, Committeewoman Papen stated that it would be illegal to have such oversight.


The sitting majority of our council, in defense of establishing the local sewer utility, shared with the public that this would be fairer, since businesses, schools and non-profits would now be paying more, and the residents would pay less. Former Mayor Papen’s letter in the SP Times from last week repeats this.

We taxpayers also got a fancy pamphlet sent to our homes that year showing a graph that said the Republicans lowered our taxes.

I guess those with intestinal blockages could conceivably be paying less.

During this time of shifting around the costs, the Republican majority imposed an additional $400 fee on our local business owners through the establishment of a Special Improvement District (SID), our school budget was defeated, and contributions to non-profits decreased.

This too was not without controversy, as these additional expenses hurt our businesses, schools and non-profits.

This brings us to the SID and the “pro-business” solutions over the years.

For those that don’t remember, the idea behind the SID was to help organize the local businesses and try to redevelop the downtown area by making the local businesses pay additional fees. The linked articles below will show how that is working out.



In response to parking concerns, even going back 13 years ago, then Councilman Marks is quoted as saying he “sees nothing wrong with having a minor parking problem” in the downtown shopping area.” He defended that because he said people would be forced to walk around more.  

http://www.goleader.com/99mar25/99mar25.pdf  (front page)

In response to the Shackamaxon golf course being sold, and seizing on 25 years worth of studies that they said would help the local businesses but were never acted on, the council approved in a 3-2 vote a plan noted in the link below. Opinions on that action are included in the comment section. Even the mayor at the time weighed in.  

These actions include a contingency to move the municipal building that just recently had a $4 million bonded facelift.


There’s more, but the reader can get the gist of policies and practices that claim to be pro business and keeping taxes low, while actions do not always support this notion.

Tomorrow we can discuss how power is maintained and how public claims of the democratic process are again not supported by actions or comments, with further links for the reader to decide for themselves.

Nicole Bitette October 23, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Hi Tom, We are good with monitoring vulgar content and names that are intentionally crude but Holden has become a frequent commenter on Patch and knows much about the towns of Scotch Plains and Fanwood so Patch has allowed him as a user (much prior to my time as an editor, because he has been around for way longer on this Patch). His content is always informative and that is why Patch has chosen not to take action against him. In the future Patch might require all users to use their real names, but as of right now editors have not been informed of it. We don't encourage inappropriate talk on Patch so please don't think that of Patch. Thanks for commenting. Best.
Mary October 23, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Good for you Nicole for standing your ground. Tom isn't refuting the article because it has references to each assertion. The parties on our dime by an entitled mayor are more disgusting than a silly name.
becks October 23, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Tom you really think children are logging in to read letters to the editor about town politics? Well maybe some do but not children in age just adults that act like children.
Michael Lewis October 23, 2012 at 02:32 PM
A recent event that has not received a lot of publicity has been what seems to be yet another about-face on the part of SP on the subject of consolidating its police department with that of Fanwood. Understanding that discussions have been dragging on for quite awhile, former SP Mayor Malool published an open letter on March 1 essentially supporting continuing study of full consolidation of SP and Fanwood over Fanwood's strenuous objections: http://www.goleader.com/12mar01/12mar01.pdf On March 15 current Mayor DePaola and Councilperson Vastine pubished their own open letter calling for secondary issues relating to the merger of the two police departments to be marginalized: http://www.goleader.com/12mar01/12mar01.pdf Now, not only is SP spending $4K - with a certain amount of bipartisan support - to determine optimization of restructuring (something that should have already been done behind closed doors), Fanwood Mayor Mahr is alluding to an SP email unilaterally dictating that further impediments to a merger be set aside: http://www.goleader.com/12oct18/12oct18.pdf Once again, it appears that the two towns are negotiating in the press. Once again, it appears that there has been a shift in the position of the SP Republican establishment. And once again, Mr. Glover somehow looks like a statesman in comparison.
Nicole Bitette October 23, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Hi Michael, I'm actually supposed to speak with Mayor DePaola today about their choice to hire a consultant after speaking with Mayor Mahr about how upset she was SP chose to do this without informing Fanwood.


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