Over the past several months, northwestern New Jersey has been treated to a political wild west of sorts, where Phillipsburg is the main character in a show no one wants to watch. From arguments to cronyism, this public theater has become nothing more than another side show in the issues that plague New Jersey.

“A Phillipsburg youth center's decades-long partnership with town government may be in jeopardy. It started with a town employee's Facebook post.” (Novak, 6 April 2018). 

This is an honest headline from an article from lehighvalleylive.com, which owns the most circulated newspaper in Town – The Express-Times.

To summarize, the Town’s Recreational Director, Kelly Post-Sheedy, was given a RICE notice for a change in salary. The subsequent Council meeting was well attended in support of Mrs. Post-Sheedy where attendees discussed the various positive impacts she has had on the Town. In response, Council President Robert Fulper stated that the RICE notices for Mrs. Post-Sheedy would be sent out indefinitely. A month later, Mrs. Post-Sheedy’s salary was cut by $17,000. The result of this? Mrs. Post-Sheedy resigned from her post and has since filed suit against the Town and three Town Council members.

More recently, Town Council is now looking to stop using The Express-Times to post official notices for Phillipsburg on the claim that The Express-Times covers very little of what is happening in Town. The fact that The Express-Times does not cover much Phillipsburg news is fact. There are no reporters in Town Council meetings, there are no reporters when news breaks within Town limits, and their papers focus solely on other areas of the Lehigh Valley.

However, I would argue that there is a stronger connection with cutting those ties and the subsequent headline you read above. The article itself is pretty scathing against the current Council as have other articles written about the Town. Looking at it objectively, the paper itself leans to the left on all fronts, so it comes as no surprise that there is little if any positive coverage on Town Council actions. If you look at previous articles, the paper staunchly defends Mayor Steve Ellis, a Democrat, whether he is right or wrong in various actions.

That being said, the paper makes a very valid point:

“The resolution before the Phillipsburg Town Council would designate the weekly Hackettstown Star-Gazette and The Morning Call of Allentown as the town's papers of record, with notices forwarded to The Express-Times and WFMZ-TV.

There are 11,561 households in Phillipsburg, according to Express-Times circulation data. The Express-Times daily circulation is 2,783, and 3,095 on Sundays.

For comparison: The Morning Call's daily Phillipsburg circulation is 156, and 165 on Sundays. The Star-Gazette's circulation? Nine.” (Novak, 16 April 2018)

Possible retribution for not so flattering headlines and articles? It doesn’t look pretty.

Please note – this is just a microcosm of the issues that currently exist in Phillipsburg. If you do just a little more digging (and I do mean little), you will find issue after concern after problem. It goes across all offices, all politicians, and all areas.

This is the worst political theater around. Stay classy Phillipsburg.

Rob Case is a proud Libertarian with small-town Libertarian beliefs that focus on less government and more community building. Rob is currently focused on improving all things Phillipsburg and is involved in several youth organizations that promote community and family.