Below is an email from Hopatcong resident Philip Crosson Jr., the Chatham Borough police chief, to Hopatcong Mayor Sylvia Petillo on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 1:36 p.m. Crosson said the entire Hopatcong governing body and business administrator were copied on the email. As of Sunday at 2 p.m., Crosson has not received a response.
UPDATE: Crosson spoke on Sunday afternoon with Officer Robert Haffner, Hopatcong's OEM coordinator.
Crosson on Monday said:
"I did speak with Officer Haffner yesterday afternoon and he did update me on some of the efforts the Borough used to attempt to contact residents. Some of us who did not have access to the internet were unable to receive the updates via the web and felt that the town should have delivered some type of informational flyer door to door. Officer Haffner identified that those initiatives were in fact implemented however; it appears that our neighborhood may not have received those notices for whatever reason and he is going to look into that for us."
Crosson's original letter:
Good afternoon Mayor Petillo,
I know that you are most certainly inundated dealing with the chaos created by the series of recent storms that have crippled our area. I too have been busy dealing with the very same issues. During the previous 12 days, I have been at work sometimes around the clock manning our emergency operations center, meeting 2 to 3 times daily monitoring the progress of JCP&L and working with regional and local managers to ensure prompt service to our residents. At the end of the day today, almost all residents in the community that I serve will be fully powered.
Like many other residents in Hopatcong Borough, I face both personal and professional issues during these events and currently my wife has very limited mobility due to a recent surgery and has not been fully capable of assisting with her own care or that of our daughter. This struggle for us has been exacerbated due to the lingering effects of this weather event and the demands placed on me by the community that I serve.
With that said, I would like to receive an official response from my local elected officials detailing the steps that are being taken on a local level to deal with the issue of extended power loss. I do not want to hear that the town officials are on conference calls with the JCP&L representatives and the Governor because I too have sat in on those and have found them to be completely ineffective and lacking in any real substance. Nor do I want to hear that they are serving food at the local shelter because that can be handled by the Red Cross and other volunteers. Local officials here in the municipality where I serve have exerted appropriate pressure on the public utilities and as a result have achieved very positive and rapid results for their residents.
I understand that the Borough of Hopatcong does not control JCP&L however; the elected officials do have access to direct contact with them and as such, should be doing whatever it takes to represent the people who elect them to office in these situations.
Moreover, I also found the communication relative to the storm and recovery operations with the community to be severely lacking during the critical stages and it has only slightly improved almost two weeks into the crisis. Leadership is critical in a crisis and communication is critical to solid and effective leadership.
Unfortunately, from what I observed during this event, both were seriously lacking. I send this correspondence to express my concerns and opinions about the incident in its entirety and not to be critical of any one or two persons. As a lifelong resident of Hopatcong it has been my observation and personal experience on many occasions and dealings at Borough Hall that the overall philosophy, especially among some of the municipal officials and employees, is that the public can wait.
Service to residents in many areas of municipal operations is lacking. In tough times like this, real leaders step up and take extraordinary measures through creativity and forward thinking to get the job done. To be clear, I am not one of those people who expect government to take care of me and I have taken measures to prepare my family to include powering my home with properly installed generator power.
However, I will hold my governing officials accountable and when all is said and done; I would appreciate a breakdown of what my elected officials have done for me in this situation. I would like to understand the steps taken to ensure that my interests were represented properly.
To be absolutely fair, I would like to commend the first responder emergency service personnel; Fire, Emergency Squad, Police and DPW for their bravery and dedication to serve the community in extraordinarily difficult conditions. They always perform first rate in their selfless service to the community. In my humble opinion, Borough officials and departments should follow the lead of the police department.They have been exemplary in dealing with residents and continue to do their best in fielding questions and complaints.It is evident to me that there is solid leadership in place at the Hopatcong Police Department.
Mayor, in closing I have been a lifelong Republican and have never deviated from that belief until this past local election. I believe we need some change in philosophy in our town and until I see that change I will continue to vote outside of the party line while encouraging my family and friends to do the same.
Thank you for your personal attention to this matter and I will patiently await your response.
Philip J. Crosson, Jr. - Chief of Police