Following the public hearing and vote for the C-1 zoning change, the Board of Supervisors meeting reconvened the regular meeting. Of note, the township Finance Director Tim Klarich was named acting township manager, township secretary and Municipal Authority secretary and township Zoning Officer Matt Baumann was named Open Records Officer. Yesterday marked Mimi Gleason’s last day as Township Manager however, she was approved for a consulting contract with the township (contents of agreement were not disclosed.)
The regular Board of Supervisor’s meeting ended with supervisor and citizen new matters. Chairman Michelle Kichline read a statement from the Board of Supervisors concerning the use of the township website for John DiBuonaventuro’s letter to the citizens. Although a personal attack on a private citizen, Kichline stood by the decision to post his letter on township letterhead on the website. She did say that the board will look into developing a policy for the use of the website going forward. As the private citizen who was the target of DiBuonaventuro’s venomous attack, Kichline and the Board of Supervisors response was far from satisfactory.
Following Kichline’s statement on the Suzy Prawtoski matter and the use of the township website for a supervisor’s personal letter, Andrea Felkins, a former School Board director and longtime resident, presented a lengthy statement in opposition. Felkins was absolute in her conviction against DiBuonaventuro’s use of the township website for his personal attack on me and of Community Matters. She spoke of the school district’s strict policy and suggested strongly that a similar policy should be adopted by the township. Felkins has been a regular commenter on Community Matters, especially for all school board related matters. Her comments always thoughtful and engaging. I would like to publically thank Adrea for her public support.
To view the Kichline statement and Felkins statement video, click here.
Last night posed a near impossible situation for me. A close friend has often remarked to me that I see people as I wish them to be, not as they are … that was never truer, than last night. The last couple of weeks have sadly left me wondering about people who I thought that I knew and who I thought that I could trust. It has been particularly sad to realize and have to accept that there are those in positions to make a difference or create change in Tredyffrin, but choose ‘group think’ rather than independent thought. As if life could not have been more challenging, something happened last Friday that will forever alter how I view the place that I call home.
To watch my BOS personal statement, click here.
Below is the transcript of my statement from the September 17 Board of Supervisors meeting.
September 17, 2012
Members of the Board of Supervisors and citizens of Tredyffrin Township – I had not intended to speak tonight, preferring to listen to other’s voices. But something happened this past Friday, that has shaken me to my very core. At approximately 9:40 AM on Friday, September 14, I received a joint phone call from township manager Mimi Gleason and Police Superintendent Tony Giaimo that has forever changed who I am. In life’s journey, this is my watershed moment and a feeling that I will never forget.
Unable to shake how I was feeling, after 24 hours, I wrote the following email to Mimi Gleason and copied Michelle Kichline, chair of the Board of Supervisors.
Let me share that September 15 email with you.
Dear Ms. Gleason,
There are two reasons that I am writing this email (1) to state that as a citizen of Tredyffrin Township, I now feel threatened and harassed by our government and (2) to request that you never contact me again, unless it is with a written apology for your actions.
I have thought of little else since receiving your phone call yesterday, Friday, September 14. As a township resident, to be blindsided with a conference call from the township manager and the police superintendent was more than a little intimidating; I have to wonder how often you have taken a similar approach with other citizens in this community. The telephone conversation left me wondering exactly what was the purpose of the call and why did you involve Tony Giaimo except as a witness or possibly to record the phone conversation. Although there was no mention made of the call being recorded, Tony did state he was in his police vehicle, so am I to assume that the telephone conversation was recorded without my knowledge.
Between the historic house tour, the Paoli Blues Fest and personal health issues, I do not have the time or energy for your directives, missives or whatever else was the intention of your phone call or of your email dated September 7. On September 7, I emailed you the following simple question:
“Who is responsible for Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s letter on the township website? Was placing the letter on the website sanctioned by you, the township manager?”
The only response that my question required was a simple, yes or no, with the possible addition that the chair of the Board of Supervisors and the township solicitor had OK’d the letter for the township website. However, no, you decided on a different response, one that was not required, not needed and not necessary. Frankly, as a citizen and taxpayer in this township, your response was one that I believe you should never have sent. When I received your email, I made no response.
Your call yesterday revisited the opinion you stated in your September 7 email to me; again complaining that Community Matters contained misinformation and incorrect facts, specifically the assisted living project. However, never once in the conversation did you cite specifics as to what was incorrect. As a response to your complaints about the Suzy Pratowski matter, I stated that the Main Line Media News, TE Patch, Daily Local and the Philadelphia Inquirer had all written articles on the subject. I further stated that there was at least a week after the news articles appeared for the police department, the township or the Board of Supervisors to make a statement before I wrote anything on Community Matters. Residents were asking questions and no one seemed to be providing answers.
As a result of the situation, I did my own mini-investigation, speaking with District Attorney Tom Hogan, District Judge Tom Tartaglio, BOS Chair Michelle Kichline and Police Supt. Giaimo. After a thorough analysis, I presented my own summary statement on Community Matters. I clarified that John DiBuonaventuro was not the unidentified driver with Ms. Pratowski in the May 28 incident, as a photo in the newspapers may have implied. In my summary, I stated that DiBuonaventuro was interviewed by the police and that the police were satisfied that he was not in any way involved with the two police officers not appearing for the August 21 court date. I wrapped the summary up and tied a ribbon on it, stating that the two police officers missing the hearing was a human error, a mistake. I also thanked those involved (Hogan, Tartaglio, Kichline and Giaimo) for their help and used the words that I was ‘closing the chapter’. Little did I know, what was to happen … DiBuonaventuro’s letter, your involvement with the letter on the website, your September 7 email and most recently, your telephone call of September 14.
Feeling threatened by your phone call, I remarked at one point during the conversation that I should have an attorney on the call. I stated to you and Giaimo that as a resident of this township, I have rights, and as a citizen of the United States, I have rights, including 1st Amendment rights. I believe that our government does not have the right to harass and intimidate those citizens it serves to protect. I am not an attorney but I cannot imagine that your actions of yesterday (or your email) would be viewed favorably by the courts. Further, I cannot imagine that you would have considered making a similar phone call to Main Line Media News, TE Patch or the Philadelphia Inquirer nor would you have dare taken this approach with an attorney who might understand the legal implications of your actions far better than me.
Supt. Giaimo asked what I would like to see happen going forward – my response was a denouncement from the Board of Supervisors for the letter going on the website and an apology from the township manager. It should be noted that I quickly also stated that I did not expect either of those two things to happen.
It saddens me greatly that you were compelled to bring Tony into this matter. He and I have enjoyed a good working relationship over the last several years, including the blues festival and the house tour. Was your motive to damage my relationship with him, or was it to record the conversation? It is entirely unclear why you involved the police superintendent, except to further intimidate me.
In case you are not aware, your phone call was so upsetting, that I immediately called Michelle Kichline, chair of the Board of Supervisors to report the conversation. You suggested that I was ‘mistaken’ when I suggested that Ms. Kichline had not seen Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s letter before it was posted on the website. For the record, Ms. Kichline again confirmed that she had not seen the actual letter before it went on the website; I guess you are the one who is mistaken.
In closing, your intimidating actions have contributed to my feeling harassed and threatened by some in our local government. I ask that you not contact me again, unless it is with a written apology. For the record, I believe that John Petersen is also owed an apology from you, for the words, “so-called legal expert has no expertise …” contained in your Sept 7 email to me.
This is the end of my email to Ms. Gleason but I have a few closing remarks.
The great irony is that today is this country’s Constitution Day. Two hundred and twenty five years ago, on September 17, 1787, forty-two of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting. Only one item of business occupied the agenda that day, to sign the Constitution of the United States of America. Our founding fathers fought and died for our freedom, and I am left wondering if what is going on in this township is what they would have intended.
In closing, I am but one person, but I believe that I represent a far greater community.
Can we question our government?
Do we dare to have an opinion?
I believe that ALL our voices matter.