Story Summary

Mayor Thompson Comment, “ScumBag” Perry County

Thompson was discussing the city’s recycling initiatives when she told news reporters: “We’re not opening up our flood gates for, you know, some scumbag that comes from Perry County who got the money and pocketed it, and comes here and wants to dump it for free.”

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Police arrested a Harrisburg man Thursday, charging him criminally, after investigators say he illegally dumped trash behind a church on South Cameron Street over the course of the week.

Charles Patrick Whittington faces charges of criminal mischief and theft by deception on top of code violations for dumping couches, boxes and other things in an overflow parking lot behind the Redeemer Community Church.

“It’s always been an issue, but it does seem to be worse right now,” said Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste.

The issue of illegal dumping, including who’s doing it and where, has turned political in recent weeks in light of Mayor Linda Thompson’s recent comment when she said, “We’re not opening up our floodgates for some scumbag that comes from Perry County who got the money and pocketed it, comes here and wants to dump it for free.”

She later apologized and said the comment was taken out of context.

During Thursday’s announcement she said she still believes the issue is a regional one and is damaging to the city’s ability to bring in new businesses.

“A perpetrator such as this one is an enemy,” said Thompson. “Projects like this are critical to sending a loud message that we are not your waste ground.”

First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo said Whittington was arrested Thursday and is being held in the Dauphin County Prison for probation violations. Chardo said Whittington also was in violation of Megan’s Law.

Chardo said someone paid Whittington to haul the trash to a legal dumping site. Witnesses helped identify Whittington, Chardo said. Investigators also sifted through the trash and found items identifying whose trash it was.

Pastor Bin Hwang said since he noticed the garbage piling up Monday, he was concerned about the cost to the church. He pointed out he leads a small congregation with a small budget.

“How do we deal with this? And then, suddenly, by God’s grace, someone called me,” said Hwang.

County crews hauled the trash out of the parking lot Thursday afternoon. Chardo said if there’s a conviction in the case, he wants Whittington to reimburse the county for the cost of the cleanup.

County leaders recently reconstituted its Illegal Dumping Task Force, which is a seven-member group aimed at curbing the problem.

Dauphin County

Officials in Duncannon Borough are reacting to Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson’s so called “Scumbag” comments.  The borough will now be hauling their trash to another transfer station, instead of the city of Harrisburg.

Some of the scum that makes its way to the incinerator in Harrisburg is finding a new home. Harrisburg Mayor Thompson says that she is not as concerned about losing the business, as much as keeping the city free of illegal dumping.

Several weeks ago, Mayor Thompson’s clear concerns drew criticism from neighbors around the region…especially neighbors in Perry County.

Perry County neighbor, Kathy Smith says, “She may not have meant to lump us all together in one group, but we’re proud and we’ll stick together as a group.”

Sticking together and hauling their trash to a new location, outside of Harrisburg.  Diller Transfer Station in Cumberland County, is now working with Duncannon neighbors.

Duncannon Borough Utilities Commission Chairman, Bill Corsnitz says, “We hauled slightly over 700 tons of trash last year and the rate we’re getting now is just short of $5 a ton.”

With an overall savings of $3500, Corsnitz says the move proves to be the right decision.

Corsnitz says, “It came upon us as elected officials, to do what’s right by the people we’re elected to serve.  So if we can save them money, we’re constantly looking for ways to save.”

Mayor Thompson says, “I certainly am not going to lose any sleep over it.”

Smith says, “Hit them in a pocket book where it counts, and it’s a sad thing becuse Harrisburg people aren’t bad, and I know that, and the bulk of Perry County knows that, but they need to choose their leaders wiser.”

Thompson says, “Let’s just hope they’ll get their needs met and my responsibility is we don’t have any illegal dumpsters into the city.”

Corsnitz says, We may live in Perry County, but we’re not stupid people.”

The Duncannon Borough says they are pleased to take steps to accommodate Mayor Thompson’s wishes.

A screen printing shop in Perry County is trying to capitalize on the controversy by raising some money.  Artistic Image Screen Printing and Embroidery is selling ” Scumbag” t-shirts.  One design features a caricature of Mayor Thompson.

Scumbag2  scumbag

The Money raised will go towards the Newport Library and Playground in the borough.  Anyone wanting a shirt can contact the store at 717-567-7070 or artisticimage@earthlink.net.  Prices range from $10 to $14.

Local News
04/01/13

Linda Thompson Campaign Signs Defaced

Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson’s re-election campaign is underway with signs going up all over the city.  But people have been defacing some of the signs by writing “scumbag” on them.

 

This is in response to the mayor referring to people from Perry County as scumbags during a press conference last week.

A recent comment made by Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson about Perry County has generated a lot of backlash. But instead of getting upset, a group of people from Perry County spent part of their Friday picking up trash around the city of Harrisburg.

“Since the incinerator is such a burden, which started this whole fire storm to begin with, We thought we will just come down, clean up the trash, take it out of the city, help in any way that we can we’ll take it to Perry County and do away with it,” said Organizer Reese Crane with Love Beyond Ourselves Ministry.

During a press conference about Harrisburg’s growing trash problem Wednesday evening  Thompson said that she didn’t want “some scumbag from Perry County” benefiting from a free incinerator day and other possible solutions to an illegal trash dumping  issue.

“We didn’t want it to be Perry County versus Mayor Thompson. It was just after all of the firestorm we wanted to be something incredibly positive,” said Crane.
Although the mayor has issued an apology for the comment, many people are still upset.
“So many people in Perry County work here in the city. Highways, every work day they are clogged up with people coming down from Perry County and so we give a lot to the city on a regular basis. I think most of the people felt kind of betrayed,” said Crane.
“We are not scumbags as she said. She will see that we have big hearts and we’re ready to and willing to release, and hold out our hands and arms to help people in different communities. It doesn’t just have to be in our community,” said Karen Tilkens, as she and others spanned blocks around the Bethesda Mission, filling garbage bags trash.
“We wanted to be kind of a light in the darkness. We wanted to be a positive response because we were reading so much backlash from this and we thought to ourselves we have to do something different,” said Crane.
Harrisburg City Council member Sandra Reid brought recycling bins and joined the cleanup. “Anybody that is willing to stand up and roll up their sleeves and help Harrisburg I’m going to be there to help you,” Reid said. “Perry County, Dauphin County, Lancaster County, York County, we all need to work together and they’re all our neighbors. They took lemons and made lemonade. That is really a positive thing.”

People in Perry County are firing back in response to what they say is an offensive comment made about their county, by Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson Wednesday.

Thompson was responding to a question about offering up one free day a week where residents could drop off trash at the city’s incinerator.

“Our goal is to make sure that most of the people do it are living in the city of Harrisburg and are doing business in the city of Harrisburg,” Thompson said. “We’re not opening up our flood gates for some scumbag who comes from Perry County who got the money and pocketed it and comes here and wants to dump it for free.”

When that clip made it to the news, a social media firestorm erupted.

One Facebook group, named “Perry County Scumbags who want to see Linda Thompson impeached,” is thousands of members strong.

“Boycott Harrisburg,” said Jennifer Seiler, a bartender at Dugout Sports Bar & Grill in Duncannon. “Why would we go down there and spend money when we’re being called scumbags?”

A spokesman for the mayor released the following statement:

“The mayor’s reference specifically to illegal dumpers from Perry County has been distorted out of contact (sic). Obviously the mayor was not referring to the citizens of Perry County. Many of the city’s workers, visitors and friends come from Perry County into the city everyday and the city has a long, positive relationship with the county. The Mayor apologizes to the good citizens of Perry County for any negative connotation implied in her comments on fighting blight in the City.”

But State Representative Mark Keller, R-86th District, said it’s just not enough.

“Now she does an apology through a spokesperson? That’s not good enough for me,” he said. “That’s not good enough for me. We need here in Perry County to hear directly from her.”

County Commissioner Paul Rudy Jr. said Thompson did call the commission office Thursday morning to explain her comment, but one thing was noticeably missing.

“In that, we fully expected to hear an apology, but it was more like they really got this wrong,” Rudy said. “Maybe the mayor would like to visit Perry County and get a better appreciation for who we are and what we’re all about.”

Dugout Sports Bar & Grill is planning a Perry County Pride Party for all day Friday.

The business is joining with others to encourage people in the county to keep their dollars local and out of Harrisburg until the mayor issues an apology they feel is acceptable.

“We’re trying to send the message that, making a statement like that, again, whether it be us or any other county is inappropriate,” Seiler said. “We’re proud of where we come from.”

perry

A sign shows how some Perry County residents feel about Mayor Thompson’s remarks Wednesday

State Rep. Mark Keller (R-Perry/Franklin) today issued the following statement in reaction to Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson’s apology for the derogatory comment she made Wednesday in reference to Perry County and its residents.

“I give Mayor Thompson credit for issuing a quick apology regarding her outrageous comment about Perry County and the wonderful folks who live here, but I am not satisfied with how it was done.

“The mayor was out of line and I took personal offense to what she said. The negative reaction from Perry County residents who contacted me or my office has been overwhelming, and I called on the mayor to apologize immediately. However, the apology should not come through her spokesman. It should come from the mayor herself, just like yesterday’s ridiculous comment.

Linda Thompson

“This is not the first occasion the mayor has spoken negatively about Perry County. She has also accused residents of dropping off their unwanted dogs in the city. I chose to hold my tongue in that instance, but this time she went too far.

“Elected officials in the midstate should be working together to move our region forward. This kind of off-the-cuff remark damages the positive relationships needed to achieve that common goal.”

During a city hall news conference she held Wednesday about illegal trash dumping, Thompson said, “We’re not opening up our flood gates for some scumbag that comes from Perry County who got the money and pocketed it and comes here and wants to dump for free.”

Thompson’s apology was released Thursday morning by her spokesman:

“The mayor’s reference specifically to illegal dumpers from Perry County has been distorted out of context. Obviously the mayor was not referring to the citizens of Perry County. Many of the city’s workers, visitors and friends come from Perry County into the city every day and the city has a long, positive relationship with the county. The mayor apologizes to the good citizens of Perry County for any negative connotation implied in her comments on fighting blight in the city.”

Local News
03/27/13

Mayor Linda Thompson Offends Perry County

State Representative, Mark Keller is telling FOX43 WPMT that he wants a public apology from Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson.

During a press conference Wednesday she offends him and his constituents.

Mayor Thompson made the comments during a press conference today about cleaning up the city streets of trash.

The mayor says she plans to install security cameras in areas where people are dumping trash illegally.

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