The dust has settled on the December 21 Board of Supervisor meeting and now its reality time for the Berwyn, Paoli and Radnor fire departments and their promised contribution. Following the unveiling of the oversize cardboard check in the amount of $23,200 from local businesses and individuals (including Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee’s $5K in matching funds), I posted a list of questions that I had concerning the contributions, the time line, and the process for distribution of funds to the fire departments. Click here to read the posting, Is it OK to Fund Township Budget with Political Party Contributions? (Make sure to read the 24 comments that followed that posting). Also, click here to read my follow-up posting, Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee Contribution Not Political? along with the accompanying comments which include a list of questions that I have surrounding the $23,200 gift to the fire departments.
Township Supervisors Kampf, Lamina and Olson were responsible for the fire department fundraising whose efforts produced $23,200. I was not certain if these supervisors read the Community Matters blog, so I sent the posted list of questions to each of them with a personal note asking for their comments and updates. As of today, there has been no response from the three fundraising supervisors.
On behalf of the fire departments, and as my attempt to see that their financial commitments are honored, I continue to have concerns and questions surrounding the contribution. It is my understanding that the fire departments have not yet received any of this money nor any promise as to when it will be received. (Fire Company representatives please confirm or correct me if I’m wrong.) Channel 3 News had multiple showings of the infamous $23,200 cardboard check being turned over to the fire companies at the last Board of Supervisor Meeting. The Main Line Suburban newspaper ran an article (and photo of the cardboard check) along with the details of the generous contribution with leading statements indicating how this contribution helped save the Tredyffrin Township budget. However, the news reporting and hype is all meaningless unless the check is real and that the money actually exists.
Personally, I don’t know of any bank that is willing to accept a cardboard check deposit. When exactly does the cardboard $23,200 check become a currency that the fire companies can use? Who is doing the follow-up collection? In my past fundraising efforts, it is generally the responsibility of the fundraising committee to follow-up and make sure that gift from the donor is delivered to the recipient. Will Supervisors Kampf, Lamina and Olson being doing that legwork? I also asked for the complete list of donors to be made public. I think that once this $23,200 donation became public information at the Board of Supervisor meeting, it becomes a ‘right to know’ issue and therefore should be public information. Much in the same way, that once the BAWG report was accepted as a public report, the $50K suggested St. Davids Golf Club offer could be available for public discussion.
One of the questions that I am still struggling with is in regards to the appropriateness of a political party contribution to a fire company? What is unclear to me is the ‘legalities’ of Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee (TTRC) giving money to the fire company. If the $5K in matching funds, which TTRC Chair C.T. Alexander committed to the fire companies was made up of individual donation checks that would be one thing. But Mr. Alexander stated that the money was coming from the TTRC which implies to me that a check is to be written by the TTRC. And exactly what ‘matching funds’ was Mr. Alexander referring to? This sets off a bell in my head . . . is it OK for a volunteer fire company to accept a contribution directly from a political party? Does the individual charter of the fire company allow for the acceptance of such a gift from a political party? I am confident that members of the TTRC who are lawyers (including Supervisor Kampf) would have counseled their organization on the legalities of such a gift, right? Again, I have the questions but so far I’m coming up empty handed with the answers.
With just a few days remaining in 2009, I think all outstanding issues surrounding the fire company and the 2010 budget need to be answered. In fairness to the Berwyn, Paoli and Radnor Fire Departments, let’s make sure that these volunteer nonprofit organizations receive the $23,200 that was promised on December 21, 2009. In less than a week, on Monday, January 4, 2010 the first Board of Supervisors meeting for the new year will take place. Now is the time for all unfinished 2009 business to be completed.