Why won’t Chambersburg Borough Council answer the questions brought to them by constituents about the NDO?

CHAMBERSBURG – When the Mayor of Chambersburg, Walt Bietsch, officially vetoed the nondiscrimination ordinance for the LGBTQ+ community in Chambersburg last week, a lot of people saw it as a chance for council to reconsider the ordinance and perhaps answer some questions posed by residents.

Chambersburg Borough Council will likely have the mayor’s veto on the agenda for the regular council meeting on October 11.

Councilmember for the First Ward Allen Coffman joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen Monday morning on First News to discuss the Business of the Borough where the NDO was brought up.

Coffman said, “I know Walt pretty well. We’re close and it does not surprise me at all that he decided that he would veto this. I think he looked at it in a very objective way and I think he raised good questions about it. Anybody that really looked at what the special committee did would know that they didn’t really go to the ends of the earth to investigate this thing. I’ll go back again to what I had said at the meeting. We understand that State College is ready to get out of this NDO thing and turn it back over to the state, but they were never brought in to be a witness or presenter or information source to talk about this ordinance.”

Ryan pointed out, “And of all places, Happy ‘Lefty’ Valley.”

Jansen said, “Besides the questions that Walt asked, I have 17 other questions that were brought up by testifiers at the exploratory meeting that were never addressed by the exploratory committee or council and brought up by concerned citizens where they were able to launch their public complaints and from emails sent to the exploratory committee itself that were never answered. Well, here’s the opportunity Walt’s given them. Let’s answer these questions, council. You owe the community these answers before you take your second vote on this.”

Coffman predicted, “You know what’s going to happen with that. I understand it’s already probably on the agenda for the 11th. There’s no reason to think that it wouldn’t be, but coming right on the heels of that is the decision to talk about Southgate again. So here we go with two major incidents that need thorough discussion and we’re right at the beginning, almost mid-stream, with the budget season, too. It’s just almost overwhelming. To most citizens who look at it, it’s overwhelming if you really study it.”

Jansen said, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to bring this up again. Bill Everly had asked about the nondiscrimination ordinance, why the rush? Why are we voting tonight? We just heard a lot of concerns from community members that we haven’t answered. Why the rush? He was given zero answer from the president and then seven people voted. He also asked why do we have to rush and only do two weeks before we make this decision about Southgate? Why don’t we take a bit more time? He was voted down for that. He said let’s take a vote to give us just two more weeks to look at this.”

Coffman said, “It was party line vote, too, and it’s like Mr. Talhelm said to me once, we’ve got the votes. That’s where it is. It’s all political.”

Jansen said, “What I challenge borough community members then is this what you want on your council? Do you want people that sit there and will not answer your questions or will not take the time to look at things carefully to make sure this is right? I’m convinced there’s a lot of ideology there. That they’ve just made up their minds. This is the social justice way to go whether or not it’s good for the bottom line or the money or whatever. They just have it in their heads that they owe something to somebody and that’s why they’re going to do it. Whether it’s the LGBTQ community or our minority community, they’re going with ideology. They’re not actually considering what might help the whole community, including those two groups. I find that really dangerous and not what an elected official should be doing. That’s what an activist does, not an elected official. So get the activists off that council and get people in there that will actually, rationally and sanely consider all the factors.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission will meet tomorrow night with an update on the comprehensive plan.

Coffman said, “I’m hoping to get a few questions answered, especially how they did the research and so forth concerning Southgate and their focus groups.”