Month – June 2011

Supporting Corbett’s Budget, Rep Kampf claims it a “Victory for All Taxpayers”

I received an official email from Rep Warren Kampf supporting the newly approved state budget and claiming that it a “victory for all taxpayers”. Included in the email was a YouTube video of Kampf’s remarks presented last night in Harrisburg.  The 4 min. video contains something for everyone . . . I encourage you to watch it and look forward to your comments.

Hear my Floor Remarks from Last Night’s Budget Vote

I heard you.
Last night was a victory for all taxpayers because after eight years of uncontrolled spending and borrowing, we have brought fiscal discipline back to state government.?

View my remarks

This budget recognizes the financial burdens we’ve placed on our families and reverses these trends by reducing spending and rejecting tax increases when people can least afford them.

I also knew we could do a better job prioritizing spending than the governor did in his proposal, and we have. Local schools will receive millions of dollars more than proposed. For example, we were able to restore $1.276 million to the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District alone.

Corbett’s Budget – No Marsellus Shale Fee but $1.3 Million Restored Funding to T/E School District … Any Chance of a Rebate on 3.77% Property Tax Increase?

The fiscal year for Pennsylvania starts July 1 and for the first time in 8 years, a signed budget will meet the deadline.  The Pennsylvania House Republicans passed the budget and all that awaits is Gov. Corbett’s signature.

In the last few days, there was a major battle over the projected revenue surplus.  Expected to be close to $700 million, the Democrats wanted most of the money to go to the Department of Education to restore spending cuts to higher education and to school districts across the state.  There was support from the Democrats that the revenue surplus should also help restore the funding cuts to human services.  The Republicans argued that the $700 million should be held in reserve.  The battle is over on this one – the revenue surplus will go to the ‘rainy day’ fund; although some might argue that we are living in the eye of the storm now.

Some are suggesting that this budget is not a ‘no-tax’ budget as has been touted but rather a ‘tax-shift’ budget.  Using the ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ approach, the money is coming out of one pocket and going to another pocket.  Theoretically, Corbett can claim that his budget does not include a tax increase to the taxpayer, the end result filters down locally.  Pennsylvania taxpayers may not see an increase in state tax but due to the decrease in public education funding, school districts are forced to increase property taxes. Isn’t this shifting of the tax burden creating the same product?  Whether it is at the state level of locally, the taxpayer will see an increase in taxes. 

I received a copy of a ‘talking point’ statement circulated by the office of House minority leader Frank Demody (D). Among other things, it addressed the tax-shift notion of Corbett’s budget, claiming that, “. . . middle-class homeowners and seniors being forced to pick up the tab through higher local property tax hikes”.  I uploaded the statement – click here for an interesting read.

Although the education cuts are not as severe as were contained in Corbett’s draft budget in March, significant cuts remain – approximately $860 million from public schools and funding to higher education remains scaled back.  School districts will receive less funding than a year ago but certainly more than in the original March budget proposal. 

Sen. Andy Dinniman, minority chair of the Senate Education Committee released the figures on the Chester County school districts.  Collectively the 13 Chester County school districts will see state funding restored by $11+ million over the governor’s original budget. From Dinniman’s office, the followings list indicates the school district and the increase over Corbett’s proposal from March.

Avon Grove $ 280,716
Coatesville Area $1,987,156
Downingtown Area $ 949,310
Great Valley $ 750,487
Kennett Consolidated $ 405,560
Octara $ 120,294
Owen J. Roberts $ 785,118
Oxford Area $ 186,084
Spring-Ford Area $ 893,610
Phoenixville Area $ 825,756
Tredyffrin-Easttown $1,276,771
Unionville-Chadds Ford $ 827,233
West Chester Area $1,757,349

The timing of this information comes after the deadline for school district budgets.  The T/E school board passed the 2011-12 school budget with a 3.77% property tax increase for taxpayers just a few weeks ago.  The school budget passed 7-2 with school board members Debbie Bookstaber and Rich Brake casting the opposing votes.  At the time, Brake who serves as the board’s legislative liaison, offered that he believed that some state public education funding would be restored. Although Brake did not have a crystal ball, he was estimating the amount could be $900K to $1 million.  At $1.3 million in restored funding, T/E school district exceeded Brake’s expectation and was only behind Coatesville and West Chester on the county list.

For the record, T/E school district currently has $29 million in the fund balance.  The $1.3 million will be additional revenue for the 2011-12 school year. Based on the restoration of $1.3 million in state funding, presumably there is no mechanism for the school board to recalculate and lower the approved 3.77% property tax increase. I guess it is not possible for TESD to offer some form of a rebate back to the taxpayers.

We have learned that the state budget does not contain imposition of a fee or tax on Marcellus Shale gas drilling.  Further discussion of imposing a natural gas extraction fee is off the table until at least the fall.  Another topic that will take a break is the school voucher discussion.  Although temporarily on hold, legislators will most likely take up that discussion after their two-month summer break.  Transportation funding is also on hold until late summer or early fall.

Cowboy Tattoo Ranch is Gone but Will Parking Prove Difficult for Paoli Town Center Project?

Following up on June 16 post, Cowboy Tattoo Ranch no more . . . Paoli Town Center Project Coming to Paoli! I have learned a few more details on the Paoli Town Center sale.

Rather than an individual buyer, the E. Lancaster Ave. block of buildings was purchased by Paoli Town Center, LLC. , a partnership of three local real estate investors. The property owner, Tim Bruni (of Bruni Tailoring) sold the 18,000 sq. ft of properties for $925K to the investors. The lower level is commercial space and the upper floors are currently used as apartments. The property consists of six retail stores, nine residential apartments and two offices. Jacobs Realty Group represented the buyer in the real estate deal and Sam Pilotti of Metric Realty represented the seller.  According to the sign on the storefronts, Jacobs Realty is the leasing agent.

Clearly, the new owner is going to spend money to upgrade the property. As I mentioned in the last post of the topic, the plan call for some much-needed face lifting for the group of buildings, including exterior painting and re-stucco and interior renovations to the lower commercial space and the apartments.

The selling price struck me as rather low for a commercial strip across the street from the Paoli train station.  In checking around, I saw that the original asking price for 2 -18 E. Lancaster Ave was $2 Million but the selling price was less than half.  I wonder if the discounted selling price reflects a ‘sign of the times’ or could it be the perceived parking problems associated with these properties?

The seller’s agent Sam Pilotti and I were on the Paoli Business and Professional Association Board together and he often spoke of the difficulties of finding tenants because of the parking situation.  Today, I received the following comment from Sam which underscores the parking problems and suggestions for improvements. Although I agree that parking could be improved – I would maintain that with the right tenants, people would find the needed parking.  What do you think, if an upscale bistro or a wine bar took the corner space, would you walk a few blocks?  Or, do you think that without additional parking spaces, there could be problems for the new owners?

Here’s Sam Pilotti’s opinion —  

Dear Community Matters,

Any upgrading of the façade of this new “Paoli Town Center Project” will certainly be an improvement; however, it will not take care of the real problem which is insufficient parking for the employees and patrons.

The new owners need to convince Tredyffrin Township to purchase a property nearby within walking distance for a municipal parking lot similar to what other towns have done with store fronts close to the highway and apartments on top and lack the parking. They have from Ardmore, Wayne and West Chester built many parking lots to accommodate parking for the retail locations that previously lack parking.

Tredyffrin is one of the only townships that have absolutely no municipal parking. The township needs to be convinced to buy the 2 properties on So. Valley Road that are nearest to this project and then I believe you will have a successful Town Center Project.

Sincerely,

Sam Pilotti,
Metric Realty
(has managed property for the last 25 years)

Political Shortcuts Around Tredyffrin . . .

We learned this week from the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee (TTDEMS) there would be some changes on the November ballot.  At-large Democratic supervisor candidate Ernie Falcone’s name appeared on the May primary ballot.  However, according to a press release from Dariel Jamieson, chair of the TTDEMS, Falcone has withdrawn from the race, stating ‘personal reasons’.  Replacing Falcone as a Democratic at-large supervisor candidate is Murph Wysocki, currently serving as vice chair of the TTDEMS.  Wysocki joins Molly Duffy as at-large Democratic candidates.  Opposing Wysock and Duffy in November for the 2 at-large supervisor seats will be Republicans Kristen Mayock and Mike Heaberg.  At last month’s special election, Heaberg won the special election by 2 votes and now occupies the vacated seat of Warren Kampf.  You need a scorecard to keep track of the candidates and the races.

Due to the at-large supervisor candidate switch, I assume that the TTDEMS have to provide the required number of signatures for Wysocki by the August deadline.  Falcone must file to officially remove his name from the general election and the TTDEMS will file the necessary paperwork for Wysocki.  Also noted in Jamieson’s press release was the announcement that John Cameron, a Democratic committee person from W1 received 979 write-in ballots in the May primary and will run as a candidate for Township Auditor.  Cameron will oppose incumbent Bryan Humbarger (R) for the position.

In addition to the two at-large supervisor races, there are two other Tredyffrin supervisor races . . . in the eastern district, incumbent Paul Olson (R) will be challenged by Tory Snyder (D).  This is going to be a very interesting race in the township for several reasons.  Olson has served on the Board of Supervisors fir 30 years with only a 2-year leave a few years back.  Snyder is a first-time supervisor candidate but has served on the township’s Planning Commission for several years and recently chaired the sidewalk subcommittee.   If the township supervisors do not resolve the St. Davids sidewalk issue by election time, that issue is apt to play an important role in the Olson-Snyder race . . . Snyder supports the Green Routes network and the township’s plan for sidewalks whereas Olson opposes the sidewalks at St. Davids. 

In Tredyffrin’s western region, District 3 has a supervisor position also on the November ballot.  Incumbent supervisor John DiBuonaventuro (R) currently holds the seat and has no Democratic opposition.  The District 3 supervisor race is the only unopposed Tredyffrin race for the general election.  However, there is 5 weeks for that scenario to change!  The deadline for a third-party ‘Independent’ candidate to register for the November general election is August 1. 

To understand the process and the registration requirements for an Independent candidate, I called Chester County Voter Services.  First off, to register as an Independent candidate for November’s general election, you must already be a registered third-party Independent voter (And I believe that you needed to be registered by April 10 as an Independent). Assuming that you meet the initial registration criteria, an Independent candidate must file a ‘Nomination Form’ with required signatures by August 1.  How many signatures are required by the Independent candidate?  An Independent candidate is required to obtain signatures equal to 2% of the highest vote getter in the last election (November 2010) in the district for which the candidate will register. 

According to Michael at voter services, in the 2010 general election District 3, Gerlach received the highest number of votes – 2,538. Calculating 2% of that vote total, and a prospective Independent supervisor will need to obtain 51 signatures for the Nomination Form.  Required signatures can come from Republicans, Democrats or Independents as long as the person is a registered voter and is in one of the 4 precincts of District 3.  Here’s an interesting aside . . . In doing the precinct calculations for me, Michael discovered an interesting fact . . .  in the 2010 State House 157 race, the vote count in District 3 for Warren Kampf and Paul Drucker was exactly the same – 2,239 votes for each.

Back to District 3 discussion, how many registered Independents live in District 3? Assuming that my arithmetic is accurate, the combined total of registered Independents from the 4 precincts in District 3 of the township is 1,240. That means there are 1,240 voters who could collect the required 51 signatures to register as an Independent supervisor candidate and appear on the general election ballot.  If you believe that there should be choice in November and you are a registered Independent in District 3, perhaps you will consider challenging JD for his supervisor seat.  However, the clock is ticking . . . only 5 weeks for registered Independents in District 3 to make up their mind.

A few more political notes . . . This week I attended the Chester County Preservation Network dinner and reception.  An annual event, it highlights the preservation work of the HARBS and Historical Commissions throughout Chester County.  I had the pleasure of meeting the newly appointed County Commission Ryan Costello (R).  A supporter of historic preservation, Costello was charming and quite personable . . . I could really see him continuing to climb the political ladder. I also received a press release that our former State Rep Paul Drucker (D) will be starting a new job with Kunkle & Sennett, a West Chester law firm specializing in worker’s compensation and employment law. 

Is the Answer to Pennsylvania’s Budget . . . Robbing Peter to Pay Paul?

All eyes are on Harrisburg as the clock ticks down to the June 30 state budget deadline.  Some say that to reach next week’s deadline would require a final budget in place by the end of today.  At this point, Gov. Corbett appears intent on meeting the June 30 deadline . . . that by itself will mark a change from the past administration.  I don’t recall if Ed Rendell’s budget was late all eight years of his administration but certainly most years.

There are some hurdles for Corbett’s budget before it is finalized. Some sticking points include whether the $300 million in Tobacco Settlement Fund revenue remains in the general fund as Corbett proposed in his preliminary budget.  In the past, the tobacco fund revenue was not included in the general fund but helped fund social and welfare programs.  There was a claim in March by Pennsylvania’s Auditor General Jack Wagner that over the past few years, over a $1 billion has quietly diverted from the Tobacco Settlement Fund to the general fund to help balance the state’s budget. You know the saying, ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’.

If the $300 million revenue from the Tobacco Settlement Fund were to come out of the general fund, it is possible that some of the spending cuts to basic and higher education and welfare programs could be restored.  If you recall, Corbett’s preliminary budget announcement back in March indicated excess tax revenue of $78 million but to date, he has refused to increase spending.  The state tax revenue in March and April of this year was higher than expected so it would seem to suggest that Corbett could afford to restore some of the education and welfare spending cuts.

Will Corbett’s final budget package include a Marcellus shale impact fee?  My guess . . . highly unlikely. But the real question is why is the state not charging an extraction tax or impact fee to the drilling companies?  It defies logic; I absolutely do not understand why the opposition to charging the companies– especially given the current and potential future damage to the environment and roads caused by the gas drilling.

I certainly do not claim to be any political guru; but when you look around this country and see that every other state is charging some form of a drilling tax, impact fee, or whatever you want to call it; it does beg the question, why doesn’t Pennsylvania?  Is the answer so that Corbett can stand on his campaign promise of no new tax increase?  Is the administration’s reluctance to impose a Marcellus shale fee have anything to do with campaign financing support? I wonder how much revenue the state has already lost and will continue to lose by not imposing a Marcellus shale impact fee. 

As school districts across the state are challenged to balance their own budgets and taxpayers face property tax increases – again I have to ask, why not tax the Marcellus shale drilling companies.

TESD Finance Committee Notes, Including EIT Tax Study Group Members

As I was attending the Board of Supervisors meeting last night, I imposed on friend Ray Clarke to attend the Finance Committee meeting.  Ray graciously attended and submitted his notes from the meeting for our review.  I was pleased to see that the District released the information on the custodial outsourcing bid process.  It is important for the integrity and transparency of the process, that the public receive the information – and I thank the school board members for providing it.
 
As Ray details, the 9 members of the EIT Tax Study Group have been chosen and were announced at the Finance Committee meeting.  The members of the group include Michael Abele, Michael Benning, Rita Borzillo, Marie Falcone, William Mullin, Terri Smith, Andrew Snyder, Edward Stevens and Lauren Walsh.  I am sure that you join me in thanking these community members for agreeing to serve on the tax study group.  
As always, thank you for your notes from the meeting Ray — we are all most appreciative!
TESD Finance Committee Notes – Ray Clarke
 
Some important topics discussed at the Finance committee meeting:
 
1. This year’s projection. Revenues and expense roughly equal, without the budgeted $1.3 million from the Fund Balance. Helped of course by the PSERS rate reduction and internal programs more than offsetting revenue reduction. Somehow the district again manages to extract more money from taxpayers than is needed, and that will be especially true next year, with the just approved budget set for all worst contingencies. (Included is a just-received $225,000 bill from Blue Cross for 2009 expenses – a hazard of self-insurance [previously T/E was with the County consortium] that speaks to the need for long run funding, see later).
 
2. Fund Balance commitments. Regulations require the commitment of the fund balance for specific purposes. Previous designations seem to have been much looser and Finance Chair Mahoney is requiring a thorough analysis of the policy in the new context. The previous policy was to designate 5 years of PSERS increases vs the current year for “PSERS stabilization”. Which arithmetically means that the fund balance can only be accessed for stabilization when the cost starts to diminish (out in 2025 or so). Alternatively, should the balance be used when the increase is in fact ramping up, to mitigate the increase? Alternatively, should we not in fact assume that the state will have to come up with alternative funding anyway, and so return T/E’s money to the local property taxpayer? There is not enough money for the full five-year increase, as it is now anyway. Plus there is a need for a mechanism to smooth out health care costs in self-funded situation. An important issue.
 
3. Custodial out-sourcing. There were four bidders, all of which invested considerable time in their bids. The lowest bidder was Aramark, with a “base bid” of $1.3 million which was at least $500,000 below the others. The Administration concluded that the total cost would have been about $1.7 million, which they compared to the projected in-house cost of $2.6 million. If I have it right, the TENIG overtime changes and salary increase waiver (all TENIG members, not just custodians) closes $450,000 of the $900,000 gap. Of course, in future years as TENIG rates increase and PSERS rates escalate, the cost comparison for the out-sourcing solution will become more compelling. Hopefully all sides will continue to work on a satisfactory long run solution.
 
4. EIT study group. Members announced: Michael Abele, Michael Benning, Rita Borzillo, Marie Falcone, William Mullin, Terri Smith, Andrew Snyder, Edward Stevens, Lauren Walsh. As Pattye has reported, the selection process was based entirely on the demographics. Each applicant assigned a random number (1 to 186 total applicants), then the administration started from number 1 and filled up the various categories (6 T/3 E, 4 EIT/ 5 No EIT, 1 retired, 2-3 with school-aged children, 1 business owner, I renter, plus loose “as many age brackets as possible”, and “both genders”. Apparently they had to get down to #150 to fill all the categories. The essays only used to exclude those who had written “grossly inappropriate remarks” (none of those!). The group will meet six consecutive Thursdays starting the Thursday after Labor Day, and hold two “information sessions” for the public. A consultant from the PSBA will provide “information and data”. All meetings will be open to the public and hopefully will be used to solicit ideas for analysis and issues relevant to the Board’s decision on a referendum.

What’s the meaning of ‘Good Government’? Does it Mean Something Different in Tredyffrin?

“The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the only legitimate object of good government.”

                        ~ Thomas Jefferson to Maryland Republicans, 1809

According to Wikipedia, “Good Government is a normative description of how government is supposed to be constituted.” Last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting left me shaking my head and wondering about ‘good government’ in Tredyffrin.  Wanting to believe in our elected officials and hoping that their decisions are in the best interest of our community, there were times during the meeting that I questioned the supervisors intentions.

The Board of Supervisors decided to delay the public hearing on the sidewalk ordinance for another month.  Why?  Eighteen months ago, dark clouds hung over this township as the St. Davids Golf Club land development agreement with Tredyffrin was put ‘on hold’ pending the results of a special sidewalk subcommittee.  Township officials came under public scrutiny . . . with the newspaper headlines questioning the intentions of the BAWG report and the motives of some supervisors. It was a particularly dark time in our local history.

The land development contract between St. Davids Golf Club and the township is 6 years old.  Four times representatives from the country club appeared before the township’s Planning Commission seeking relief from constructing the required walkway – and each time the planning commissioners choose to deny their request and uphold the terms of the land development contract.

After a yearlong special sidewalk subcommittee process, their report included sidewalks at St. Davids Golf Club.  The supervisors voted to accept the sidewalk subcommittee report and instructed the planning commissioners to draft an amendment to the sidewalk ordinance which included an ‘in lieu of’ sidewalk fund.  The Planning Commission members complied with the request and presented the draft ordinance, which was scheduled for public hearing last night.  The supervisors decided to cancel that public hearing on the sidewalk ordinance and move it to the July meeting.  Why?

We learned last night at the Board of Supervisors meeting that rather than honoring their vote of a few months ago to leave the land development authority in the hands of the Planning Commission, a new township land development process was presented.  As discussed last night, the supervisors will now review the multiple phases of a land development plan, rather than simply the end product.  Although it was suggested that the supervisors would only review the ‘larger’ projects or plans that required legislative authority, aside from the additional time and cost to developers for an additional review process, I could not help but think that this was just another way to once again delay the St. Davids walkway discussion.

Why is every decision related to the sidewalk ordinance amendment predicated on the best interests of this private country club? 

A June township public hearing for the sidewalk ordinance is scheduled and advertised at a cost to taxpayers and then that hearing is cancelled, and rescheduled at additional cost.  Why?

The supervisors state that they need more time to review the sidewalk ordinance. Why?  So as to have more time to come up with additional ways not to uphold the contract with St. Davids Golf Club.  Why don’t the supervisors just state that they have no intention of enforcing the land development contract with St. Davids?  Wouldn’t that be more honest?

I have said repeatedly, this issue is not about sidewalks at St. Davids Golf Club.  This is about a signed land development contract with the township; and the reasons why a wealthy country club isn’t required to comply with the conditions of the contract.  I would bet if the township land development contract was with a private individual or another developer – they would be forced to comply with the conditions of the contract.  Six years – and the country club continues to get a pass . . . why?

Is this ‘Good Government’ in Tredyffrin Township?

What Does the EIT Tax Study Group and Sidewalks at St. Davids Have in Common?

Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors meeting is tonight, 7:30 PM at the township building.  The T/E School Board’s Finance Committee meeting is also tonight, 7:30 PM at the school administration building.  Looking at the agendas for both meetings, there are topics of interest.

According to the agenda for the Finance Committee meeting, the nine members of the EIT Tax Study Group are to be named at tonight’s meeting.  There were at least 150 applications received from residents by the June 15 deadline.  The selection criteria for members of the tax study group was agreed upon by school board members attending last week’s Public Information committee meeting.  It is the intention of the school board that those residents chosen to serve on the tax study group will represent a cross-section of Easttown and Tredyffrin residents.

In addition to the EIT Tax Study Group on tonight’s agenda, I noted with interested that the Finance Committee will present the custodial outsourcing bid results. It is understood that the recently passed 2011-12 school budget includes continued custodial service provided by the non-instructional union, TENIG.  For public information, it is important that the school district release the results of the custodial outsourcing bid process.  Going forward, it may not be economically possible for TESD to continue to retain TENIG for custodial services and the bid results will offer a starting point for future contract considerations.  I am glad that the school board decided to release the outsourcing bid results.

The long-awaited public hearing on the proposed sidewalk amendment and sidewalk fund ordinance was scheduled for tonight’s Board of Supervisors meeting.  The homepage of the township’s website still lists the sidewalk public hearing; however, the public hearing is off tonight’s agenda and has been postponed until July 18.  I am not sure why the public hearing has been postponed . . .  the 2010 sidewalk subcommittee presented their results to the supervisors several months ago, the planning commissioners have completed their proposed sidewalk ordinance, and the supervisors have received the Planning Commission’s sidewalk ordinance recommendations.  So why postpone the public hearing? 

Any discussion of sidewalks in Tredyffrin brings up the elephant in the room . . . and that would be the sidewalks at St. Davids Golf Club (actually it’s not a sidewalk, but a walkway!).  How many years ago was the original land development agreement signed between Tredyffrin Township and St. Davids signed?  Answer:  6 years; the agreement was signed in 2005.  How many times did St. Davids Golf Club go the Planning Commission seeking relief from building the sidewalks and how many times was their request denied?  I think the answer is 4 requests and 4 times denied.

In December 2009, the Board of Supervisors voted to name a yearlong sidewalk subcommittee to review the sidewalks, trails and paths throughout the township and to make recommendations for where they should be in the township.  After a year of meetings, the subcommittee presented their report earlier this year; and the sidewalk at St. Davids Golf Club was included on their list.  Next, the supervisors instructed the planning commissioners to review the sidewalk ordinance and make a recommendation for an amendment to include a ‘Sidewalk Fund.’  The Planning Commission complied – the work is now completed and their recommended ordinance amendment now rests with the supervisors.

This takes us down ‘Memory Lane’ but brings us back to the starting point, which is where do we stand on the sidewalk at St. Davids Golf Club?  To be clear, the existing land development agreement between the township and St. Davids is separate and apart from any proposed township sidewalk amendment ordinance.  For the last eighteen months, the St. Davids sidewalk has remained an open issue and I believe that the time has come for the township to enforce their land development agreement with St. Davids. 

Here’s hoping that the Board of Supervisors agree and that the St. Davids sidewalk issue can be put to rest, once and for all . . . at tonight’s meeting.  The township’s elected officials need to enforce the 6-year old land development agreement with St. Davids and require the construction of the walkway. 

Father’s Day. . . Times have changed and so has Fatherhood

Times have certainly changed and so has Fatherhood.  Nervous fathers-to-be used to pace the floor, waiting for the nurse to open the door and say: “Congratulations, it’s a girl! Or it’s a boy.” 

In the old black-and-white movies, there wasn’t much discussion about the nine months of pregnancy or the intensity of the mother-to-be’s labor leading to the baby’s birth — just absolute astonishment from the young guy when all of a sudden he hears those words for the first time, that he’s a Dad.  In the old movies, the new dad hands out cigars to all those in the waiting room and all is well with the world.

Look at how things have changed.  Many fathers-to-be choose to be in part of the entire baby process, proudly proclaiming the news, “We’re having a baby”, with a real emphasis on the word ‘we’.  Often times, the dads-to-be attend coaching classes for the birth and are present for all the doctor visits leading up to the big day.  Not only do they plan to be in the delivery room, they are active participants.   We see dads-to-be capture the entire birth on their video cameras, digital cameras or cell phones (sometimes much to the chagrin of the moms-to-be).   Photos of the new baby are electronically transmitted to family and friends all over the world.  Entries of the newest member of the family seemingly appear instantaneously on Facebook and other social media outlets.

Fatherhood has changed. The modern-day Dad has evolved from the sometimes-absent traditional married breadwinner and disciplinarian in the family.  Now he can be single or married; working outside the home or a stay-at home dad; gay or straight, an adoptive or a step-parent. But children, no matter how old, remember riding on their father’s shoulders and dancing on his toes.  Dads remember those things too, but what really stands out are the unexpected rewards of parenthood.

The easygoing Dad with the unstructured fun . . . giving kids enough freedom to learn life’s lessons.  Remember your dad letting you fall of your bike so you could learn how to make sure it doesn’t happen again?  Like many, my dad was more apt to let us kids be adventuresome and just be kids.  He would let us take a fall so that the next time we got into a situation, we would be able to work it out ourselves.  Dad would let us kids explore, where mom was more prone to say no, no, no.  He knew how to have fun and he shared it with his kids.

Dad can be the love in our lives that holds our hand as we take our first steps, and when we’re older, that holds our nervous arm as we walk down the aisle. When our daughter was born, my husband was standing in the operating room as the doctor did an emergency Caesarean section. I couldn’t see past the tenting of white cloth rising above my chest. My husband kept giving me reassuring nods, turning away only long enough to ask a nurse if this was normal. By the time I saw the baby, she was pink and wiggly. Days later, I marveled at the sheer terror my husband faced in the operating room, and did so without flinching. So much for the black-and-white movie image of the inept man who keels over as he hands the nurse a cigar in the earlier days.

Like I said, fatherhood has changed. There are the modern, liberated men who consider parenting a top-tier job and share all aspects of child-rearing. That was my husband’s approach, and it’s familiar to many dads who will be given presents of neckties and after-shave today.  These modern dads change diapers, get up in the middle of the night for the 2 AM feedings and let a 4-year-old win at hide-and-seek.

As our daughter grew, so did her love for her dad and his for her.  Now at 27 and married, she still calls him for all her computer problems, her car issues, or just to talk. As a young physician, those telephone calls with dad are shorter in length and not as frequent, but the calls remain just as important, especially to her dad.

I speak from experience when I say the tag-team approach to raising a child really comes in handy – whether you are hosting a 1-year-old’s birthday party or planning her dream wedding. Together, my husband and I did better than either of us would have done on our own. So, today on Father’s Day, I have a message for my husband . . . a simple thank you. I couldn’t have done without you.

To all the Dads, enjoy your special day and remember that you make a difference in your child’s life each and every day! 

100 Birthday Candles for Paoli Troop 1 . . . Public Invited to Celebrate with Paoli Boy Scouts on Saturday, June 18

One of the oldest Boy Scout troops in the country, Paoli Troop 1, www.paoli1.org is marking their first 100 years of service with a weekend of celebration.

On Saturday, June 18, the public is invited to join local Paoli Troop 1 Boy Scouts and alumni from the area and across the country at Paoli Troop 1 headquarters, a beautiful 20-acre wooded site at 1038 Radnor Road, Wayne.

Join the spectators in the bleachers, Saturday, 10 AM – 12 Noon for a spirited display of scout relays and competitions. Watch as the scouts test their skills from knot-tying and Morse Code signaling to tower building, camp building and fire starting.  The Paoli Troop 1 scouts will compete in the Full Field Competition on the Troop’s parade field, an annual tradition dating to the earliest days of the troop.

Saturday marks the special celebration of Paoli Troop 1’s century of history . . . men ranging in age from 17 to 97 will rekindle memories of growing and serving with childhood friends in the scout patrols of Paoli Troop 1.  

Congratulations Paoli Troop 1; and here’s to your second 100 years!

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