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Platt Neglects Duties, Missing Key Opportunity to Address Cherry Hill’s Top Issue while on Annual Month-Long Florida Getaway

February 23, 2010

A Courier Post article today exposed what Cherry Hill Republican Committee Chairman Rich Ambrosino called, the town’s “worst-kept secret”:  Each year since becoming Mayor in 2003, using vacation time at his discretion, Bernie Platt has spent the entire month of February in sunny Boynton Beach, Florida while collecting his annual $65,000 salary.

As if a town the size of Cherry Hill’s mayor taking such a large chunk of vacation time on the taxpayers’ dime weren’t enough, the Courier Post points out that Platt’s staff has been less than forthcoming with his whereabouts and no-one’s been informed exactly who is running the township.  Further, all this comes to a head this month, when Governor Chris Chrsite declared a state of emergency due to the historically high snowfall.

From the story:

When asked about the mayor’s whereabouts, a top aide to the mayor lied and said Platt was in town.

When first asked about Platt’s whereabouts last Thursday, Chief of Staff Dan Keashen said that the mayor only took two weeks of paid vacation each February. Keashen added that Platt had been “around” throughout the storm, for which Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency.

Keashen also said that Platt had been on ride-alongs with Department of Public Works vehicles to monitor snow removal.

Keashen later called to apologize and say that he “misspoke.” He admitted he knew that Platt was more than 1,000 miles away the whole time in Boynton Beach, Fla., where the high temperature in February hovers around the mid-70s.

The Courier Post goes on to note that the township ” it has not publicly disclosed to residents that business administrator Maris Kukainis is acting mayor this month, which has been the case every February that Kukainis has been with the township.”

Said Ambrosino:

“It begs the question again of who’s running the town.  I don’t know Dan and I don’t know his qualifications but I didn’t vote for him or for Maris.  [Platt] had every opportunity to come back and he just chose not to.”

Despite the criticism, Platt has no plans on returning north before the end of the month, and further evidencing the disservice and neglect of his duties.  The Mayor, who called municipal aid cuts and Council on Affordable Housing Authority (COAH) regulations “two of the biggest challenges the township faces this year” will once again miss the League of Municipalities’ annual Mayor’s Legislative Day, during which COAH will be among the top discussions according to the League’s assistant executive director.

As such, the article notes that Platt “will also be missing a key opportunity to lobby Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers.”

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