Critics of public gatherings permit pack Milford Borough Hall

Milford. Councilmembers say the borough’s police department does not have the personnel sufficient to control 300-person protests that endanger public safety. Critics of the permit say it amounts to a violation of citizens’ “inalienable rights.”

| 22 Dec 2021 | 09:58

People came from outside Milford, and even from New Jersey, to object to the borough council’s proposal to require a permit for public gatherings.

“Our inalienable rights are not to be violated,” said Robert Percall from Greentown, Pa. “Where is the guarantee you will grant the permit?”

“They are taking more and more of our liberties,” said Michael Schrader of Milford. “Politics is everything in this town. It’s ugly.”

“The one million dollar bond violates our First and Fourteenth Amendments,” said Robert Lennon. “The First Amendment is not for organizations. It is for individual rights. This is a preemptive violation of our rights without a purpose. No government control; the people can control.”

Realtor Lisa Gamarekian McAteer said she’s “Milford’s biggest cheerleader.”

“My group and I are not going away,” she said. “We are ready to fill an auditorium to protest this ordinance. There are no issues in Milford.”

McAteer said she hadn’t been involved as much as she should. “Shame on me,” she said.

She said she plans to come to all future meetings and bring many others with her.

During a mix-and-mingle at the Tom Quick Inn on Dec. 15, McAteer said her lawyers advised her to use a 503c4 and not a 503c3. A 503c4 can be used for political donations, and there is no tax write-off.

Some, like Matthew Contreras, founder and president of PA Advocacy for Children’s Education (PACE), have also been speaking during open comment sessions at Delaware Valley school board meetings. He called the proposed ordinance an “affront to the Constitution.” Annastasia Theodoropoulos, director of Freedom Patriot Academy, pre-K through grade 12, addressed the borough council, as she did the school board recently when she objected to the contact tracing of Covid infections.

Councilperson Joseph Dooley said the council had been discussing the ordinance for almost a year. He said he wasn’t ready to approve it.

Between speakers, Councilman Frank Tarquinio and Mayor Sean Strub explained why the permit is needed. Traffic is a problem, and pedestrians need access to sidewalks. During the Nov. 6 demonstration at the Pike County Courthouse, people holding signs were darting between cars, wreaking havoc on traffic.

They said the borough police department is unable to manage 300 people converging at the courthouse, and their concern is to keep the public safe.

“The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) states what is permissible under rights,” Theodoropoulos told the council. “I thought the demonstration at the Pike County Courthouse was excellent. Never once did anyone block the streets.”

Councilman Pete Cooney told the Courier some people at the meeting didn’t get a chance to speak. He, along with others, noticed that many who came to speak weren’t from the borough but from other parts of Pike County. One came from Matamoras and one couple told the Courier they were from Jersey.

Outgoing Councilman Rob Ciervo had a final word upon his departure: He said he didn’t appreciate McAteer’s texting his son in the middle of the night about the borough meeting. She should have contacted him, not his son, he said.

Ciervo suggested all kinds of ways McAteer could have contacted him.

McAteer apologized. They continued with a back and forth conversation. Someone suggested they move off to the side to talk.

The meeting was then swiftly adjourned.

Budget letter to residents: The budget letter to the council, signed by council president Frank Tarquinio, fully outlines and explains the 2022 budget. Tarquinio said the letter would be posted on their website.
Milford Borough Water Board: The borough council appointed Councilman Frank Tarquinio to the Milford Borough Water Authority Board. He will replace Michael Asimakopoulos, who resigned.
Frisky Goat Resolution 5K Run: The Pike County Historical Society will host the Frisky Goat Resolution 5K Run on Jan. 1, 2022. The walk/run begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 11:30 a.m. The tent setup is at at 8 a.m. The route extends from the Columns Museum at 613 Broad Street, on to Fifth Street from Cherry Alley, Sarah Street from Fifth Street, to Constitution Avenue. Volunteers will be stationed to direct runners and assist with traffic control. Someone asked if it was now the “Sparkomatic Run,” after the new business that has replaced the Frisky Goat. Tarquinio said Frisky Goat is still the official name of the run.