A member of the Lansdale Borough Communication Commission publicly shamed Lansdale Council Vice President and Economic Development Committee member Steve Malagari at council’s work session Wednesday, accusing him of playing party politics by siding with council President Jack Hansen for potential future political endeavors.
During the public comment period, Rick Murphy, a resident of Cedar Street, told Malagari that he does not put Lansdale first and was disappointed in his support of Hansen for president at this month’s reorganization meeting.
Malagari works as a senior account executive at Warrior Diamond Inc., a concrete and stone cutting solution firm in Conshohocken, whose CEO is Nathaniel Webster. Coincidentally, Webster was also the campaign manager for Hansen’s unsuccessful State Representative run against Republican Bob Godshall in 2008.
“I, unfortunately, am a constituent of Steve Malagari,” Murphy said. “I should be at home, tending to my wife, my newborn and my toddler, but I am here tonight because one of my councilmen last week made an irresponsible vote.”
Murphy said he thought he knew Malagari quite well, but never realized how well he knew him until his vote for Hansen instead of Jason Van Dame for the presidency.
“I have even said to you, Steve, that I felt sorry for you when it came to this time. I thought you were for Lansdale instead of your own political career,” Murphy said.
Murphy mentioned a conversation he and Malagari had on a train ride home from Philadelphia with the topic of running against Godshall for his 53rd District seat.
“I knew, within the first two months of being on council, you wanted to run against Bob Godshall,” Murphy said. “You even asked me if I would consider running against him. I said ‘no,’ and I asked you the same question, and you said ‘yeah.’”
Murphy said Malagari’s status as councilman, at that time, was a stepping stone. Being voted as vice president at last week’s reorganization meeting, he said, was another stepping stone.
Murphy continued berating Malagari, bringing up two other examples of Malagari’s alleged foibles as councilman and committee member to put Lansdale first.
Murphy said that, in May 2013, during a joint session of the Communication Commission and Economic Development Committee where they interviewed consultants for the borough’s website redesign, Malagari missed interviewing three of the consultants because he was at the gym.
“I have the email here stating what day we were to meet and at what time,” Murphy said.
The third example Murphy revealed to the public occurred in October 2013, he said. At that time, a joint selection committee comprised of Economic Development Committee and Communication Commission members met with the website consultant, he said.
“You never told anyone you were going to be late and showed up with five minutes left in the meeting,” he said. “You have a Smartphone; you should have let someone know.”
Murphy said he trusted Malagari and voted for him in November 2011.
“When you run for re-election this time, I’m not going to vote for you,” he said.
“I don’t know what deal you made with Jack (Hansen), whether you’re not going to be Primaried—unlike what happened with (Councilwoman) Mary (Fuller) this year—or if you’re going to be put on the ballot to run against Godshall,” Murphy said. “Just remember this Steve: Any vote you make that is against Jack, he has leverage over you.”
Murphy told Malagari, any time he does not vote for Hansen’s way, he will potentially be Primaried next year or won’t be on the ballot for a State Representative race.
Being “Primaried” means an incumbent is challenged on the grounds that he or she is not adequately partisan. In many cases, it can involve a wealthy political backer supporting someone from the same party who will publicly bash and oppose said incumbent.
“I told you, I don’t play party politics and I don’t have the time,” Murphy said. “I want what’s best for Lansdale in Ward One, and, right now, that’s not you.”
Murphy said, if Malagari, a Democrat, put Lansdale first, he would back him and do all he could for him, just like he did for the 2013 re-elections of Democrat Fuller and Independent Van Dame.
“You did not. You put your own political career ahead of Lansdale. You lost my vote,” Murphy said. “I hope everyone that voted for Mary and Jason will vote against you next time. You burned a bridge last week and that’s one thing I’m truly sorry about.”
Malagari had no comment after the meeting.