To the Editor:
It is high time for our Highway Department to be led, not solely managed. Certainly there are planning, human resource and fiduciary responsibilities that are critical functions in keeping the operations of the department running (setting schedules, maintaining equipment, balancing budgets against the service demands necessitated by a town of Bethlehem’s size, etc). But we should not forget the core of the services provided by the Highway Department — the people providing the services.
Mr. Meredith rightly recognizes the hard work of these town employees in his Oct. 18 letter. The more obvious question then becomes, why so many problems still remain year after year. If we are all acknowledging the hard work of the team, a simple person such as myself might assume it was the leadership, or lack thereof, that is the problem. So despite his smoke screen around the complexities of submitting budgets, prioritizing needs and making middle-of-the night decisions (apparently infinitely more challenging than making middle of the day decisions), what we have lacked at the Highway Department is an emotionally intelligent leader.
John Anastasi is just that leader. He was born and raised in Bethlehem and you will be hard pressed to find someone who cares more about the town and more about the people. “Tiger” does not see just in the colors of Democrat vs. Republican vs. Independent; he recognizes everyone as part of the community regardless of party affiliation.
Tiger has been in the construction business for over three decades and in that time has led extremely large projects that involve all of the same attributes as the infrastructure projects done by the town – dealing with budgets, aggressive schedules, disgruntled customers, managing the acquisition and maintenance of heavy equipment and every human resource issue imaginable. There are no aspects of the Highway Supervisor role that Tiger has not faced previously, on countless occasions. And the unyielding loyalty of the people that have worked for Tiger over the years is proof positive of his leadership.
It is quite true that Tiger– like the other two candidates– does not currently have all of the direct experience that will be required to run the Highway Department. (Just like Mr. Meredith did not have all of the experience when he took over the job.) And as Mr. Meredith conveniently leaves out of his overly subjective narrative, there are processes and procedures in place to support all of the necessary functions of the role. And I am quite sure the new Highway Supervisor will leverage these support mechanisms just as Mr. Meredith did when he took over.
If history has shown us anything (and the piles of leaves we see peeking out from underneath the snow the last few years will quite readily agree), we need more leadership and less politically-oriented administration in the role of the Highway Department Supervisor. There is only one person uniquely suited for that role — John “Tiger” Anastasi.