Over the last year, I have followed Radnor Township’s governmental problems, including how their former Township Manager Dave Bashore ran the township without any real oversight during his eight years of tenure. An outside accounting firm’s audit suggests that Mr. Bashore apparently spent over $600K of township money without documentation or approval. These expenses included an apparent misuse of a township-issued credit card on personal purchases (which were reimbursed by the township). In addition, Mr. Bashore gave himself and other township employees annual bonuses, without approval from the Board of Commissioners.
What can we learn from our neighbors misfortune? As taxpayers, we must trust that our elected officials are acting in our best interest, governing without self-interest, and are mindful that they represent all residents. In today’s Main Line Suburban Life, editor Tom Murray presented interesting comments about the Radnor Township/Dave Bashore situation. Tom includes an email exchange from one of his newspaper writers, Sam Strike. Here is a section of that email:
I think some of the things that come out of this are the importance of things like community participation, governmental checks and balances, the importance of transparency and providing documents, and truly welcoming the opinions and participation of the people.
In democracy the people are at the top, the representatives work for us and the administration works for us via them. That wasn’t the way things seemed to have been run recently.
Read these paragraphs and then think about our own township and our last two Board of Supervisor Meetings. Have Tredyffrin’s elected officials been as transparent as they should? Think about St. Davids Golf Club and the alleged $50K offer. Two meetings ago, I posed questions about St. Davids and no one answered. I knew (or at least had a fairly good idea) the answers to all those questions before I asked them, but I thought it was important that the public heard the questions and then was able to hear the Supervisor responses. Only we didn’t hear any answers that night. Fortunately for all of us, one of the supervisors, Judy DiFilippo, had the courage at this week’s Board meeting to answer those questions and to set the record straight about who had prior knowledge about the offer and which Board members and BAWG members were members of St. Davids Golf Club. But I have to wonder, if I never asked the questions, would the $50K alleged offer from St. Davids Golf Club just have remained in the BAWG report and never been questioned. I guess so.
Continuing with the excerpted comment above, do our elected officials “. . . truly welcome the opinions and participation of the people”? I am still recalling in detail this week’s Board of Supervisor Meeting. As an audience member, I watched as brave souls took their turn to comment on various topics. At times, their comments were greeted with antagonism or dismissiveness. This leads me to wonder, do our elected officials really welcome our participation and involvement in the process? I think some do and some don’t. I think that there may be some Supervisors who are OK with commentary from the community, as long as it agrees with them.
I’d like to make a suggestion to the members of the Board of Supervisors. Perhaps before the next Board Meeting on December 21, you take the opportunity to reflect that it was the voters who elected you to serve them — that is, elected you to serve all the residents. Including those who may have differing opinions. I think that it is perfectly acceptable for our Supervisors to disagree with each other and also to disagree with the residents. However, I don’t think it is OK to do so with a personal agenda or malice.
Remembering the words of John Quincy Adams,
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.