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Published: Saturday, 12/22/2001

Springfield's shameful pair

Springfield Township Trustees Robert Floyd and Walter Taube, Jr., have participated in their last board meeting. That means they don't have Springfield Township - or their “colleague” Susan Meek - to kick around any more.

Hopefully that will mean a much happier new year for township residents weary of the Gang of Two's heavy-handed management style. Neither man had the guts to run for re-election in November, and township voters certainly indicated that they were ready for a change when they voted to return Marylin Yoder - a former trustee who lost her seat in 1993 - to the board, and picked Robert Bethel for the other seat.

Mr. Bethel edged out Andy Glenn for the second seat; Mr. Glenn is a man Ms. Meek says was hand-chosen by the other trustees as a preferred successor.

It's ironic that Mrs. Yoder returns to the board because when she lost her seat in 1993, it was Mr. Floyd and Mr. Taube who campaigned on the need to slow down growth they attributed to her 24 years on the board.

How times, and tunes, change. Mr. Floyd and Mr. Taube came to represent everything they had campaigned against, riling their constituents and no doubt contributing to their decision not to run again. After years of damning the public they serve, they would have been repudiated if they had tried, just as the two candidates they hoped would replace them, Mr. Glenn and Burt Rogers, finished out of the running.

Also, the township's two highest-ranking employees submitted their own resignations, effective as soon as Mr. Floyd and Mr. Taube leave office Dec. 31. Jon Gochenour, township administrator, and Jean Kelly, the office manager, will follow the trustees out the door rather than deal with Trustee Meek in the future, they said.

No surprise there, really. It's been a tightly held cabal at township hall, with Mrs. Meek forced to engage in verbal combat at virtually every board meeting, and employees who owe their employment to the board majority resentful of her legitimate concerns about uncontrolled growth and development issues.

Typically, Messrs. Floyd and Taube are not going quietly. So complete is their contempt for the voters that they decided at their final meeting as trustees to give the township's five management employees two extra weeks of pay or comp time. But management employees aren't entitled to comp time. It's a $7,000 payback for helping the two trustees perpetuate their agenda. Mrs. Meek, outnumbered as always, was the only trustee to rightly say such payments were inappropriate and unwarranted.

Public officials are supposed to be above spite, but it was an act of spite when they rejected Mrs. Meek's suggestion that the township immediately advertise for new administrative staff. Instead the township will be left in administrative limbo Jan. 1.

This is ridiculous conduct by the lamest of lame ducks.

The shame of it all is that great expectations and promise accompanied the 1993 election. Instead of working to bring sensible planning to their rapidly expanding township, they embodied the old order, allowing development that turned Airport Highway into a chaotic jumble of retail sprawl and snarled traffic.

We are hopeful that the new Springfield Township Board of Trustees, with Mrs. Meek's counsel, Mrs. Yoder's experience, and Mr. Bethel's fresh approach, can begin to restore good governance in Springfield Township.

To Mr. Floyd and Mr. Taube, we say: Good riddance.

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