Almost ten years. Exactly 500 columns. Time to say goodbye. The Silent Majority is finally falling silent. All good things must come to an end.
Or not. Maybe I'll just become like General Motors.
Back in 1976, the Cadillac Eldorado was the only domestic convertible being produced. GM heavily promoted it as "the last American convertible", limiting production to 14,000 in the final year. The last 200, white with red and blue pinstripes, were designated as "Bicentennial Edition" (1976, get it?). The final baby off the assembly line was sent to the Smithsonian Institution. But in 1983, GM decided to get back into the convertible market. Today, Cadillac produces a sleek, sporty two-door convertible, and has just debuted its latest fabulous ragtop creation, the four-door Ciel.
Coke Original, buzz cuts, the Volkswagen Beetle, high-waisted jeans, Goldenberg's Peanut Chews, yo-yo's, Slinky, Converse sneakers, turquoise and silver jewelry, hula hoops, and rock 'n roll all came back. Nothing is forever.
When I was asked by Lanita Lum, the General Manager of The Free Press in 2003, to write a volunteer (read: unpaid) column about Upper Bucks politics, I never imagined that the gig would last 10 years, or 500 entries. There was a hot public debate in the area over land development in Richland, and I had written several letters to the editor criticizing the lack of knowledge shown by other letter writers. One column just led to another.
Issues were plentiful back then....land development, demagogue political candidates, concerns about Quakertown's police chief and borough manager, the Milford reactor, the need for new blood on Borough Council, union organization, politically-motivated lawsuits in Richland, and, finally, a multitude of problems in our schools.
But most of all, there was a discouraging lack of good information available to the community. The Intel and Morning Call both closed their local offices, and The Free Press was a weekly paper that covered the news, but, with very limited resources, had no one to look behind the scenes. The reporters were stretched thin covering the area's stories, large and small, leaving no time to dig very deep. That is where opinion columnists, and journalistic investigators, came in. Among others, that was me.
Today there is political harmony in Richland, Quakertown, Milford, Haycock, and Richlandtown. Municipal election campaigns are non-events. QT has a combo borough manager/police chief, Scott McElree, who is popular, fair and excellent in both hats. Council now deals with their vision for Quakertown's future rather than waxing eloquent about the past. Land development has been moot for many years, due to the sewer moratorium, economy, more effective ordinances, and the fact that most of the large tracts are either preserved or developed. Richland has a top bond rating, established police force, and long-term economic plans that work. Supervisors are regularly re-elected by landslides.
QCSD is still suffering from the long-term effects of the old guard mindless spend/spend board members, most of whom are now distant bad memories. But the new directors have brought a new direction, and once Superintendent Lisa Andrejko either retires or is replaced, change will come even more quickly. It is hard to imagine that she, and her failed fad curricula, will be welcome here much longer, given the terrible results we see from our students year after year, test after test, evaluation after evaluation.
The board is no longer her rubber stamp. And once the long-delayed surveys are held, and the results made public by the board, the community will finally be heard. Andrejko will no longer be able to claim that she has the support of the "owners" of the schools - the people. It has been far too long in coming.
Over the years I have uploaded my column from a ship on the Yangtze River, the Galapagos Islands, a small village in Peru, a high-rise in Hong Kong, the Amazon jungle, a hotel lobby in Paris, and one of the first transatlantic aircraft to offer onboard wi-fi.
I am proud to have been recognized by the professional journalism community for my work - twice named best column in the state, and third place for best suburban newspaper opinion column in the country. My name appears on the DMOZ Open Directory of best opinion columns in North America, alongside the best-known writers in the field. Not bad for a part-time volunteer.
But I am most proud of the role I played in bettering this community, documented in the 10 years of archives on this website. They will be available here forever, so the history of Upper Bucks is never revised, or forgotten.
The Lone Ranger frequently ended his TV episodes by saying "Our work here is done, Tonto". Well, after 10 years, my work here is done.
Unless I just become like General Motors.