Tredyffrin Officials Inconsistent in Ethics Decisions . . . Today’s Op-Ed in the Daily Local!

 Tredyffrin officials inconsistent in ethics decisions . . . yes, doesn’t that newspaper headline say it all?  The editorial appearing in today’s Daily Local newspaper offers its reader their ‘take’ on Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors meeting.  For the newspaper to have reviewed the Pitcairn vs supervisors solicitation situation, and then to state, ” . . . after a review of both situations, we think she’s [Benson] right. . . ”  — was just the vindication I need!  Thank you Daily Local for this editorial and for really getting ‘it’!   Below is the complete editorial:

Daily Local Opinion

Tredyffrin officials inconsistent in ethics decisions

Published: Monday, April 26, 2010

Do township supervisors’ fundraising efforts in Tredyffrin constitute an unethical conflict of interest for the township — and more to the point, do they do so in the same way that those supervisors decided, some time ago, an “in-kind” gift worth $50,000 would have for the Historic Preservation Trust?

Pattye Benson, the president of the trust, thinks that if the donation offered to her nonprofit organization was unethical, donations for firefighters — especially from companies and individuals that do business with the township — were too.

And after a review of both situations, we think she’s right. If it would indeed have been unethical for the trust to accept the gift, it was unethical for the supervisors to solicit donations — at the very least, donations from businesses, which they did.

Situation 1: In 2008, Pitcairn, a company in a final review of negotiations with the township for a land-development deal, offered the trust an in-kind gift (that is, a donation of goods or services rather than cash).

Benson didn’t know a thing about the deal. But Judy DiFilippo, a board member on the trust, did: she was also a township supervisor. The township, concerned that it would look like Pitcairn was getting the development deal in return for the gift, told Benson she had to turn it down, which she did.

Situation 2: The supervisors were not able to find the funds to budget the normal contribution to the fire companies that serve the township. To attempt to cover the costs, Supervisors Bob Lamina, Warren Kampf and Paul Olson personally solicited cash donations — including from Comcast, which is currently negotiating a contract with the township. They collected $23,200 total.

These are the facts available, and the situations are parallel. Were the donations themselves, both offered and collected, in fact unethical, creating a pay-to-play situation? We’re not sure. Any gift could create that appearance; should, then, businesses never donate to locally beneficial causes?

This seems absurd, suggesting that the potential conflicts of interest should be transparently discussed, but not that they should be universally turned down. And in fact, in this instance, the active solicitation by the supervisors creates much more of a “pay-to-play” aura than the offer which originated with Pitcairn.

The supervisors have claimed that they were acting as private citizens. But in that guise, why didn’t DiFilippo count as a private citizen when Pitcairn offered its donation? And more to the point, are the supervisors seriously suggesting that the companies that do business with the township somehow, on some level, forgot who the supervisors were — something they’re at great pains to establish firmly during elections?

We’re not suggesting it’s bad to collect money for fire companies. We think the donations in question might not be unethical, in both cases. We are pointing out that it is, in fact, inconsistent for the township supervisors to act out of concern for appearances in one instance, while actively creating that appearance in another. The large size of the gift offered by Pitcairn and the fact that fire companies are, for most people, more emotionally charged organizations than historic trusts do not make the situations different at base.

We also think it added insult to injury when Chairman Bob Lamina told Benson, “I’m disappointed in you, Pattye. This was a win-win for the fire companies that one individual here today tried to diminish,” and questioned her motives for challenging the fundraiser. Yes, she might very well be personally miffed. But that doesn’t make her wrong — and in that situation, we might be miffed too.

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28 Comments

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  1. Here we go again, what an embarassment for Tredyffrin Twp. Why is that Kampf, Lamina, & Olson can’t seem to just follow the rules. Doesn’t it strike others how these 3 supervisors consistently manage to get Tredyffrin in the news in a negative way — St. Davids, Mt. Pleasant, Supervisor Firefighter Fund Drive.

    As a township supervisor and a candidate for Harrisburg, I wouldn’t think that Kampf would want his name consistently attached to issues that reflect poorly on the leadership of this township. Tredyffrin Twp is going to become a real joke with our neighbors.

    Calling your unethical decisions into question is not my idea of good goverment!

    [Reply]

    Steve Rogers Reply:

    It would be embarrassing for Michelle, Phil, and Carole to repudiate their endorsements now that they’ve made them. For these three politicians to renounce Kampf now would be to invite questions as to their own judgment and foresight. I believe that to wrangle these endorsements there was a blend of gentle arm-twisting, a dash of favorite-son-ism, and not a little bit of political pragmatism. These three are Tredyffrin politicians all, and it’s a bit of a sticky wicket to foul one’s nest.

    Michelle, Phil, and Carole cannot change their minds now. It would make them look indecisive and weak.

    [Reply]

    TT Watcher Reply:

    How out of touch is Mr. Kampf and a good chunk of the TTRC?

    For starter, check out Ed Sweeney’s letter to the editor:

    http://www.mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2010/04/28/main_line_suburban_life/opinion/doc4bd7212792cb9582939018.txt

    Petersen is right, there is no disclosure on Sweeney’s part. It’s all just a regurgitation of Kampf’s campaign website.

    How can they be so detached from reality? Let’s go back 30 years to a story about C.T. Alexander, TTRC Chair:

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1964&dat=19820915&id=NwItAAAAIBAJ&sjid=-c4FAAAAIBAJ&pg=1059,2914226

    [Reply]

  2. Clearly the Op Editor read the blog Pattye — because he/she didn’t draw any conclusions we haven’t voiced here. So glad that they included Lamina’s pronouncement – that really was the icing that I’m sure made even WK cringe.
    It’s time for KB’s people to copy this op-ed and get it distributed….that’s not negative campaigning — that’s educating voters. CR is right — it’s embarrassing for Tredyffrin, but maybe it will finally wake up the taxpayers around here that it doesn’t have to look broken to need fixing.

    [Reply]

  3. To: “Chesterbrook resident”

    “As a township supervisor and a candidate for Harrisburg, I wouldn’t think that Kampf would want his name consistently attached to issues that reflect poorly on the leadership of this township”.

    The reason Mr. Kampf’s name continues to be attached to negatives is due to the fact he is a complete FRAUD!!!
    Mr. Kampf will manipulate any situation – say or do anything he has to, to climb his political ladder. He totally manipulated the fire funding to capitalize on the situation. They had the funds (fireworks) but chose to put on this show with the media and cardboard check to show that he somehow solved the problem….the problem he created. He has bamboozled the entire republican committee that he is a conservative. I guess if you say it some will believe and in this case those who know better are quietly going along with the program so as to be a team player. I have helped out for many years and can’t tell you how disappointed I am they put this person on the ballot.
    Mr. Kampf claims he protects tax payers…the position of a fiscal conservative. He forgot that after his last re-election to the BOS he raised taxes…I believe 5%…no attempt at cutting spending then. I guess he wasn’t running for the state house, there was nothing to be gained. I have been told he defied the pleas of the republican committee asking him not to do so at the time. Fiscal conservative…no, manipulative political climber…yes!!
    Mr. Kampf says he’s pro life, what qualifies that? just because he says it? Prior to this run for the sate house has anyone ever heard him take a position on this issue? I asked him and he changed the subject.
    Warren Kampf stands for everything that the public hates about politics. I am sorry to say I supported him and saw how he was, back when he took my vote and then raised my taxes. I knew then he was a typical politician. He came to my door bragged about not raising my taxes, got re-elected and then raised them. Mr Kampf doesn’t have a sincere bone in his body and any republican that thinks he represents their values needs to put the koolaid down and wake up. He is more dangerous to republicans than democrats because at least we know what they are about. I have been on a fixed income for ten years and I am truly afraid of him getting elected.

    [Reply]

    no spring chicken Reply:

    Old but Not Blind,
    I feel the genuine disappointment in your words, and I know I have felt that way about a number of our elected officials over the years. However, as a loyal Democrat, one of the few who comment on this blog, it seems, I take issue with your characterization of Democrats. (not as dangerous at Warren Kampf bc “at least we know what they are about.”

    Come on now…Just as all Republicans aren’t cut from the same mold, neither are Democrats. You can find a number of Democrats who are pro-life, fiscal conservatives, and supporters of a strong military presence. Though political parties have platforms and put pressure on their elected officials to tow the party line, there is considerable variation within each party – and even each politician, depending on whether he/she is running for re-election or not, running in a primary or a general election. The Republican Party has actually run many good moderates out of office in recent years, but there are still many moderates and even some conservatives who call themselves Democrats.

    As a Democrat, I don’t think WK is the devil. But he has made a series of politically motivated decisions in the last 6 months that don’t seem grounded in principle or that reflect strong personal values. That is telling.

    In general, politics has become a dirty game driven by money from any quarter. Politicians sell access and their votes in return for political survival. And until this process is sanitized – and what are the chances that the foxes will vote to end access to the hen house – politicians will continue to leave a lot of wiggle room and take few definitive positions on issues we all care about.

    But it is what it is at the moment. As frustrated as we all feel – admittedly for different reasons – our choices are to speak out and vote, or turn away and guarantee that nothing will change.

    [Reply]

    old but not blind Reply:

    To “no spring chicken”

    “I take issue with your characterization of Democrats. (not as dangerous at Warren Kampf bc “at least we know what they are about.” ”

    My apologies to you and any other democrats who took me to mean something I didn‘t.
    My point was that Mr Kampf is portraying himself as something he is not and that HE is more dangerous to the republican party than the democratic’s (politically). I respect those I disagree with, we all have our convictions. It is great to debate with individuals that are stead fast in their beliefs whether I agree or not. Mr Kampf is not even remotely what I describe, but a liar and opportunist that is driven by his own greed for political status with no true convictions or beliefs. He says he’s a conservative- what proves that other than his rhetoric? His record shows he is anything but a conservative. When’s the last time he was in a church? You want to represent the right, we are not that easily conned. Now that I am letting it all out he has to my knowledge not really gone along over the years with the republican committee at all. He certainly has not been involved in any true conservative activities. Not until he set his sites on higher office did he even pay attention to those on the committee. Who is this arrogant snob….does anyone know? I am patiently waiting for the day he has the gall to knock on my door again- we’ll see what kind of conservative he is.

    [Reply]

    Anon for now Reply:

    To Old but not blind
    I don’t know what the purpose of this is, but it would be helpful for you to consider what qualities you are looking for in a candidate rather than rant about what you cannot find in WK. I am not supporting WK, but I know for a fact he is a faithful believer and a dedicated family man I’m a longtime Republican, but I think it’s a waste of energy to talk about whether someone is conservative or not. What does that word mean anymore? The ultra-conservatives are trying to redefine Republicanism — and that’s a danger too. As to WK – he’s certainly not liberal — and getting the endorsements he has from Tredyffrin means to me that he has worked the system.
    The secret to a successful politician and thus representative is someone who can put together coalitions and get things done. What good is it to have a conservative representative who is so right wing only the wing-nuts will work with him/her.
    What are true conservative activities anyway? Tea parties? Picketing abortion clinics?

    Let’s focus on what is in the realm of reality for someone working in Harrisburg — not a supreme court justice.

    Anon Reply:

    Anon said:
    but I know for a fact he is a faithful believer and a dedicated family man

    A believer in what, seeking higher political office? We know he is a “dedicated family man”. At least, that is what he writes about on his Facebook page.

    You are right, it is a waste of time to talk conservative vs. liberal. It is not a waste of time to talk about somebody who claims to be one or the other when it is deemed politically the best thing to do.

    I think what is needed in Harrisburg are people who are real and genuine. I for one do not believe that Supervisor Kampf is either.

    It turns out, Supervisor Kampf did not attend the turnpike meeting. Ken Buckwalter did. That would make two local meetings Mr. Kampf has disregarded.

    If you want to keep the focus on the “realm of reality for someone working in Harrisburg”, great. I think you will find that Mr. Kampf is not qualified, whether in core skills, morally and as recent history shows, ethically.

    Kampf Watcher Reply:

    Here’s a great example of just how FOS Mr. Kampf is. Check out his Tweets: http://twitter.com/WarrenKampf

    Look at this “turnpike update” tweet. The meeting referenced was the one that Mr. Kampf decided not to attend.

    If you didn’t know better, you would think he was there actively participating in the discussion.

  4. Pattye, you should feel vindicated by the Daily Local’s objective look at the facts and conclusion that you were on solid ground questioning the ethics of KLO’s soliciting on behalf of the fire departments. And this opinion piece was approved by an editorial board not prone to questioning Republican officials.

    But the DL article does not mention several facts that place a bigger cloud over the BOS’s judgment in recent months.

    For one, this whole fire funding fiasco could have been avoided. It is a problem of KLO’s own stubborn, face-saving making. Mistake #1 ; the prior board’s 4-3 decision (KLO + Shimrak) to cut fire funding in the 2010 budget, while voting to ADD fireworks ( in other years paid for by Easttown Township) to the budget. at the same meeting.

    In their judgment, fireworks were a higher priority than adequate funding for firefighters – with a full-throated defense from Bob Lamina about the importance of celebrating our freedom on the 4th of July -ironically with the help of volunteer firefighters…..

    Then, without acknowledging township residents’ organized efforts to support firefighters over fireworks, the Board reversed their vote at the following meeting – only to (mistake # 2) redistribute these funds to the police and public works budgets – still leaving the fire departments to the whims of charity. Again, a question of judgment.

    Then (mistake # 3) the fundraising efforts of “private citizens”, KLO, to save the day were treated as township business – a celebration with props like a 4′ cardboard check, a news camera rolling, all orchestrated by none other than the chair of the local Republican Party.
    ( Mistake # 4): Mr. Alexander credited the Tredyffrin Republican Party as a major contributor to the firefighters’ fund without correction by KLO- a contribution which could not have been accepted by the fire companies. The truth? Individual members of the TTRC were “asked” to contribute and their checked were bundled. The party itself did not and could not have contributed.

    After the BOS’ decision NOT to apply the defunded $21,000 for fireworks directly to the fire/EMT budget, KLO went on to defend their soliciting by (mistake #5) accusing anyone who took issue with their actions as having questionable motivations and a partisan agenda.

    Hypocrites that they are, Bob Lamina and Warren Kampf clearly had a political agenda of their own last Monday night.

    And these errors in judgment are associated with only one of the numerous controversies surrounding the BOS in the last 6 months. So the citizen who stood up and gently suggested that our township is being laughed at for a series of questionable decisions was right on target, reinforced this week by headlines and op-eds in both local papers.

    Maybe the outcome of the May 18 primary will bring some sanity, but regardless of who prevails, the “block of 4” will bear continued watching.

    [Reply]

  5. I cannot deal with this anymore. How much more water are we supposed to carry for Warren. There is only so much we can do on the TTRC.

    CB

    [Reply]

    Dissapointed Republican Reply:

    If you would only call Ken to let him know you support him, it would be appreciated.

    [Reply]

  6. From the West,
    Good point. As I’ve mentioned before, I am an R in Tredyffrin but am not affiliated with the TTRC. Warren is a fraud, flat out. Bob is mean-spirited and does things purely out of spite for groups he feel has “wronged” him. Paul simply has no idea what is going on. This is not who should be representing the republican party. Start with JD over Warren and Ken over Warren. Let’s move these guys out and get some legitimate representation. These guys who think only “liberals” follow Pattye’s blog are dead wrong. People follow this blog who care about the community as a whole.

    [Reply]

  7. ***************
    The reason Mr. Kampf’s name continues to be attached to negatives is due to the fact he is a complete FRAUD!!!
    Mr. Kampf will manipulate any situation – say or do anything he has to, to climb his political ladder. He totally manipulated the fire funding to capitalize on the situation.
    ****************
    Very True. In fact, Warren did not do most of the Solicitations, but he tried to capitilize on the situation and got dragged right in there.

    PS: Kate – AMEN for a well written post! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    [Reply]

    Mike in Berwyn Reply:

    John:

    In his letter in the Phoenixville News, Kendrick Buckwalter says, “First the water and sewer rates – these are not taxes but fees for usage.” Maybe you should straighten out Mr. Buckwalter?

    [Reply]

    Kendrick Buckwalter Reply:

    Mike in Berwyn:

    The rates (fees) that Phoenixville charges for water and sewer are fees for use and not taxes.

    Usage is calculated by meters installed at each home or business. We charge for what is used. The fees go into a separate fund for each utility. The money can only be used for that purpose and none other. This is no different than you purchasing water from AQUA or American. You use the water and pay a fee, not a tax.

    Tredyffrin, as I understand it, collects a fee for sewer use and that money goes into the general fund. General fund monies can be used for any of the general expenses of the township from police protection to copy paper.

    This may be where you have the impression that the sewer fee is a tax because it is placed into the general fund and not a specific sewer fund set aside for that purpose and that purpose only.

    [Reply]

    Anonymous Reply:

    Chet,

    Based on what I have read here, I would have to conclude that the overall sentiment is that Paul would prefer to face off against Mr. Kampf, not Mr. Buckwalter. Ken keeps Phoenixville a possibility for the GOP. I would have to agree with the conclusions that Paul would likely beat Kampf and is less likely to beat Buckwalter. I don’t see how you can make your conclusions.

    [Reply]

    chet Reply:

    Mr. Petersen,
    I am suspicous of you for endorsing Buckwalter. I don’t think you are a registered Republican, and you have a lot to say about this primary. I have to wonder, other than your hatred for Kampf, what your motivations are. Altruistic? That would be refreshing. It seems both candidates have nicks and blemishes. I might say you protest too much.

    Good campaigners don’t always make good leaders. (see washington today).

    I wasn’t supposed to write here anymore. But I am curious.
    Hope this gets through.
    Chet

    [Reply]

    Kendrick Buckwalter Reply:

    Chet,

    I am not aware that I asked for or received an endorsement from Mr. Petersen.

    Ken

    [Reply]

    chet Reply:

    Ken, If you read the threads for the past upteen months you will see the Mr. Petersen has essentially implored voters to vote for you instead of Mr. Kampf. I understand you neither asked nor received an official endorsement from Mr. Petersen, who afterall is a private citizen. It is probably better for you that you stay away from him, politically. He is your number one fan vs. Kampf. I think he probably thinks, deep down that Drucker can beat you more easily than kampf, even considering Mr. kamps problems, daily enumerated here by mr petersen. Or his hatred for Kamp is so deep he would “endorse” Attila the Hun. No offense to you, please! Just about his comments on this blog.
    Good luck in your election endeavors.
    Chet

    [Reply]

  8. John
    Thanks for the link to the Phoenixville News letters to the editor. One problem — the woman who wrote her own letter to the editor considers KB the devil she knows — and she instead plans to vote for the devil we know. Isn’t it all about politics and campaigning? Certainly the reason that WK received the endorsement from supervisors, school board etc is that he’s the only choice those folks considered — for their political well-being for sure. I do like KB’s response to the letter and certainly find it more refreshing than the stonewalling we get from WK — perhaps KB can be more engaged on this site to refer us to some of his issues as well.

    I have no problem with the local R’s supporting WK publicly. We don’t know what lever they pull in the voting booth and they don’t need to tell us. WK’s most recent mailing has fixed the “small business owner” claim to at least explain why he believes he has the experience — and there is something to be said for someone who has the support of the people he works with. But perhaps WK will use this site or someplace similar to actually deal with the people who question him —

    [Reply]

    Steve Rogers Reply:

    Warren Kampf’s claim that he’s a small business owner is ridiculous. He’s a partner in a Philadelphia law firm “backed by a regional network of nearly 230 attorneys.” To call such a claim misleading would be charitable. Of course, if he truly owns a small business, like Ken Buckwalter’s locally run framing shop, perhaps he could enlighten us.

    [Reply]

  9. Pattye,
    I am a conservative Rep who has lived in Tredyffrin for 30 years. I always vote in the Primary and have voted for Kampf, Lamina and Olson. Since December, it has been nonstop with these 3 – when will it end? For me, it will be at the polls.

    I’m don’t know this Ken from Phoenixville but he’s got my vote. There’s no way that I can vote for Warren. And if somehow Warren wins the Primary, I will go to the election in November and vote for the first Democrat of my life — Paul Drucker. If we want change in Tredyffrin, we have to make change happen!

    [Reply]

  10. John,
    Focus on the Lawsuit. Forget the polls, lets get them off the board, do us all a favor.

    [Reply]

    chet Reply:

    RH, so you couldn’t vote them out so you send your attack dog out to “get them off the board”? Brilliant. Votes matter.

    [Reply]

  11. I appreciate Ken’s further color on the Phoenixville water and sewer fees and agree with his characterization of them as fees. In fact, I agree that Tredyffrin’s are fees, since they only apply to those who use the sewer system, although the inclusion of the streetlight monies certainly muddies the waters.

    I haven’t fully decided on my vote but am very impressed with Ken’s candor and willingness to address these issues and explain his thinking.

    [Reply]

  12. From WK website:

    As a small business owner, Warren has seen firsthand how the state makes it harder for job creators to thrive. He has also proven his ability to develop a budget, help create jobs and control costs. It is these real world experiences and skills that are desperately needed in Harrisburg to help fix our economy.

    Innovation to Save Tax Dollars
    Warren Kampf believes that government isn’t always the best solution…but it can play a role in making positive things happen. That’s why, as Supervisor, he helped create the partnership that is keeping the Tredyffrin Library in Strafford and turning it into a state-of-the-art learning center. He later used this same approach to raise nearly $25,000 in additional, non-tax funding for local fire companies.

    [Reply]

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