As of last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Tredyffrin Township supervisors approved a communication policy that included the use of the government’s website by the supervisors. Although I was told earlier in the day by the township solicitor Vince Donohue that the meeting agenda would be changed to include this ‘vote’, no such change appeared on the agenda, leaving me to believe the discussion would occur at some future date. The resolution for a communication policy was not listed on the agenda however; it was included in the meeting. According to Donohue, a resolution does not take advance advertisement.
Michelle Kichline read the resolution for the communication policy with no comment from any of the supervisors. You will have to watch the BOS meeting or wait to see if the meeting minutes include the policy, as the resolution was not available in a printed format at the meeting. The vote to approve the policy was unanimous. Going forward the policy for the use of the website is, with approval from the township manager and township solicitor, that supervisors are permitted to use the website for ‘township business’ in communicating with residents. However, the communique must explicitly state which supervisor(s), whether the entire board, a subset or an individual are responsible for the message.
Individual supervisors can independently use the website for whatever he or she believes constitutes ‘township business’. Although I questioned that, without oversight or a majority vote from the other supervisors, John DiBuonaventuro’s letter of September 5 or a similar personal diatribe could be repeated, it changed nothing. Based on recent history, resident, Cheryl Bittner asked that a definition of ‘township business’ be included in the communication policy. That was not deemed necessary – which seemed to suggest that supervisors know what constitutes township business.
In essence, there is absolutely nothing to stop DiBuonaventuro or any of the other six supervisors from writing opinion letters on the township website whenever they disagree with residents, the press or comments on a blog. They just need the approval from the solicitor and township manager. Scary proposition – given that the township solicitor and township manager approved DiBuonaventuro’s September 5 letter as ‘township business’. The township’s communication policy has now given all seven supervisors a green light to use the township website as they wish – just call it ‘township business’ and it becomes a personal tool to communicate your message.
What’s the saying; “rank hath its privileges” … guess the use of the township website is a new perk if you are an elected official in Tredyffrin Township.