15 Sep 2014
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School Resource Officer Controversy, Tax Reassessment Fight: Only in Moorestown

Our columnist gives her take on a busy week in Moorestown news, from the SRO issue to a reassessment battle over the town's (and the state's) largest home.

School Resource Officer Controversy, Tax Reassessment Fight: Only in Moorestown

Even though I love my job at the library, I am always happy when Friday comes and goes, leaving me with several days of less structure and more junk food. And how delightful to wake up on Saturday morning to a blanket of snow! Who doesn’t love a good "snow event"? I was almost envious, texting with my younger son who is hiding out in his dorm room in Boston. Two feet of snow is an invitation to partake in Hot Pockets and sloth—two of his favorite things!

After spending three years in Southern California, we moved back to New Jersey in 1994, specifically to East Oak Avenue, where we rented a home recently vacated by Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams. We had missed the ice storms that plagued Moorestown for several winters, but were there for the snow event that dumped close to 30 inches on our town, stranding two toddlers, Elvis the dog, and me while the husband was doing a show in Las Vegas. It wasn’t my husband’s fault he couldn’t be there with us; he was working after all. But I was so mad you could have fried an egg on my forehead, if you like that sort of visual.

This storm marked the beginning of my bad back, as I struggled to dig us out of the very heavy white stuff that blanketed Moorestown. When the Rev. Jonathan Miller and one of his wonderful daughters came out to help me finish the job, I almost wept and became a Presbyterian, I was so overheated and overjoyed.

Later that same week, the temperatures soared and all 30 inches of snow melted and filled our rented basement like a cement wading pool, ruining all the still-packed boxes stacked on the floor. It was sort of a mixed blessing, since I was able to get rid of unnecessary stuff AND occupy the boys at the same time. I slapped boots on them and we sloshed around down there, waiting for the next deluge.

This past Friday afternoon saw a mad, pre-storm rush hit Wegmans. I saw a woman with eight gallons of water in her shopping cart, along with some leeks and a rasher of bacon. I wanted to gently grab her sleeve and say, “M’aam, I have six gallons of water left over from Sandy. Come on over and let’s make a deal.”

People were scurrying around, grim-faced, cramming as many staples in their carts as they could. But one person’s staple is another person’s not-so-staple. Eggs? A necessity. Tastykakes? Not so much. Still, you have to lay in treats when anticipating a snow event. I searched in vain for some dark chocolate M&M's, but apparently other Mo’towners had wiped out this particular staple earlier in the day, forcing me to settle for 70 percent cacao nonpareils, a much more expensive alternative. 

I’ve been following the story about School Resource Officer (SRO) Bryan Wright all week. The story broke on Patch on Tuesday, with a follow-up story on Saturday. It was initially reported that Officer Wright was being replaced as the SRO, after 13years on the job at the high school. Officer Wright is a beloved figure. The students like him, the faculty like him, and it looks like more than 1,300 citizens like him and are outraged any such decision would be made without first consulting them. How dare the higher-ups in the police department make such an audacious, exclusionary decision?

An online petition belies the town’s outrage, as parents continue to support Officer Wright. Officer Wright has allegedly spoken to unnamed sources who report that he doesn’t seem to want to leave. Well, duh! In this day and age, it is a luxury to stay at a job for five years, let alone 13, but has anyone considered that the police department might have some very good reasons for wanting to change up the SRO position at the high school after 13 years?

It’s all moot now, since Saturday’s story reported that the township has put their plan to replace Wright on hold while it tries to make every single person in Moorestown happy with future decision(s). So, while township manager Scott Carew works with the school district and the police department to create a new “shared services agreement,” Wright will continue patrolling the halls of the high school while all the relieved parents go back to Pilates, chauffeuring and obsessing about SAT scores. Another crisis averted—for now.

With the deadline to review our tax reassessments approaching (Feb. 12), Mo’towners who read the Philadelphia Inquirer last week were treated to a story about one of Mo’town’s finest who is fighting a tax reassessment. How exciting to see Vernon Hill’s mega-palace (dwarfing South Valley School) on the front page of the paper! It was also pretty groovy to find out that La Vern and Shirley paid $394,000 in property taxes last year. I think that story was printed just to make us feel good about the “paltry” amount we pay. Ten thousand dollars a year? What’s that compared to $394,000?

We were treated to a new definition of what it means to be a patriot by the Hill’s mouthpiece, attorney Steven Irwin of West Orange, NJ. First he informed the reading public that, were Villa Collina to go on the market, there would be no value to the Hill’s homage to overindulgence because “Philadelphia-area millionaires opt for the Pennsylvania suburbs and most East Coast rock stars and Wall Street wizards choose to live close to New York.” He then went on to say, “The whole theory of this case is that the property was tremendously overbuilt for where it was situated.” YA THINK?

While most of us do not have a “Lemon Room” that contains a variety of lemon trees or an entrance foyer with marble floors, attorney Irwin reminds us, “Rich people have the same rights as everyone else.” What a relief! So, the next time you decide to buy 44 acres here in town and build a monument to excess, remember Mr. Irwin’s NEW definition of what it means to be a patriot: Build your uber abode so it is a few square feet smaller than the White House. That, in 2013, is the essence of what it means to be a patriot.

Only in Mo’town, my friends!

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