Mainline Media News

Tax Study Group to Present EIT Findings . . . Will Yellow Signs by Republican Candidates Influence Residents?

As part of the budget process for the T/E School District, a Tax Study Group composed of community volunteers was formed to determine the impact of an earned income tax (EIT) on residents and the school district.  The goal of the group was to identify the pros and cons of an EIT for residents and then present their findings in a public presentation to the community.  The Tax Study Group will offer its findings on Thursday, November 3 at 1 PM at the T/E Administration office, 940 W. Valley Rd, Suite 1700, Wayne and again at 7 PM at the Valley Forge Middle School, 105 W. Walker Road, Wayne.  Please plan to attend so that you can make an informed decision on EIT (in the event it is on the Primary Election ballot in April 2012.

I have expressed my disappointment that the Republican candidates (school board and supervisor) took an advance stand against an earned income tax prior to the presentation of the Tax Study Group.  In fairness to the process, and to the volunteer’s time of those serving on the study group, why not wait until after the presentation of the EIT before publicly declaring that you are against it.  The severity of our school district’s economic situation requires that all options be explored – the presentation by the Tax Study Group on the earned income tax is one of those options.

An ‘As I See It’ article written by John Petersen, resident of Paoli appeared in the Main Line Suburban newspaper a couple of weeks ago.  The article was written shortly after the first bright yellow, ‘no EIT’ signs began appearing in the township. Because the article was not included on Main Line Media’s online site, I could not provide a link on Community Matters.

It is with permission from the author, that I include the article below:

As I See It: Those little yellow GOP signs: proof the GOP does not respect you

If you have been driving around Tredyffrin (since this is not a walking township), you may have noticed a new type of yellow growth sprouting up all over the place. Naturalists have classified it as Fungi Reipublicae. In fact, these yellow growths are actually a new version of the yellow GOP signs that we saw in 2007. These signs come in two flavors: “No Earned Income Tax” and “Top Ranked Schools.” Both cite that you should “Vote Republican”. Let’s break down the claims.

No Earned Income Tax

This sign would have you think that there is an active question in front of the voters and that if you vote Republican, you will be saved from the evils of an Earned Income Tax. Let’s set aside the fact that many already pay an EIT for a moment and instead, concentrate on the straw man argument that Tredyffrin GOP is perpetuating. In fact, there is an earned income tax study committee that has been commissioned by the school board. That committee was first suggested by Republican school board member Kevin Mahoney. To review, there is no active tax question in front of the voters and the only group that is studying the feasibility of an EIT in Tredyffrin was suggested by a Republican.

Top Ranked Schools

It’s true, T/E Schools are quite good. The Tredyffrin Republican Committee would have you believe that Republicans, and Republicans alone are responsible for our “top ranked schools.” In fact, there are a number of Democrats on the school board. I guess they have nothing to do with the successes. Fine, let’s give all the credit to the Republicans. But if we do that, let’s examine the whole cloth. Of Lower Merion, Radnor and T/E, is T/E the best? In terms of facilities, absolutely not. While T/E has retrofitted old buildings, both Lower Merion and Radnor have made a commitment to invest in infrastructure, the type that is required for children to get a top-notch public education in the 21st century. As for test scores, college acceptance, etc – Lower Merion and Radnor are at least as good as T/E.

How about labor relations? T/E is definitely not at the top of the class there? How about fiscal responsibility? T/E is about 9 Million in the hole. You know all of the sweetheart deals for teachers the Republicans are complaining about? Guess what, it’s the Republican led school board that has consistently given the unions what they wanted. At the same time, they are not keen on paying for it. Those same Republicans have consistently raised our property taxes year after year. And yet they are the same people who claim to be protecting us from the evils of an earned income tax.

Any organization that would try and sell the political rhetoric that we see in these yellow signs clearly does not respect their customer. The Republicans believe that we are all too stupid and too quick to fall into the fear trap. The Republicans are banking on the fact that we will believe the scare tactics that the other side is just out to tax and spend our money. Seems to me, the Tredyffrin Republicans have done a good job of that on their own already. They don’t need help from anybody! And never forget, the Tredyffrin Republicans is the party of Bob Lamina, and Paul Olson. If that is not enough reason to give the Tredyffrin Republicans a vote of no confidence, I don’t know what is.

John Petersen
Paoli, PA

 

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Citizen Journalists Can Make a Difference . . . Community Matters Keeping Company With CNN & Reuters News!

Who could have predicted that I would see my words and Community Matters quoted in a citizen journalist article . . . and keeping company with the likes of Reuters News  and CNN!  Yes, in “Citizen Journalists End 2010 With a Bang”, writer Susan Cormier refers to me as a blogger receiving notice from professional journalists as credible and worthy of adding to news sites.  (see article below).  To say that I am honored and flattered to be included in the article would be an understatement!

I feel that sometimes we all can become engulfed in the mainstream media, whether the outlet is MSNBC, CNN, FOX, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer or our local newspaper.  We all have the ability, and the right, to state our opinion.  Citizen journalism allows for people to connect with one another regarding issues or opinions they have, . . . regardless if those involved are in agreement or not.  Citizen journalism is important and sometimes I think it’s underestimated. 

Tom Murray including Community Matters on the front page of Mainline Media News validated the value and place that it serves in mainstream media.  Susan Comier’s article salutes citizen journalists and credits those more traditional news outlets (like Mainline Media News) with appreciating and understanding the value of citizen journalists in today’s world.

Susan C. Cormier is from Denver, Colorado and has more than 28 years of experience in the media arts, including stints as a broadcast writer, legislative bureau chief, city editor and now citizen journalist. Susan is the head coach in charge of training at the National Association of Citizen Journalists (http://nacj.us/) and co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists”  (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/).

Thank you Susan for including Community Matters in your article – and here’s to making 2011, the ‘Year of the Citizen Journalist’!

Citizen Journalists End 2010 With a Bang

Exciting developments and investments involving citizen journalists were announced during the last couple of months of 2010.

Here are just some of the news items:

1) Thomson Reuters announced Dec. 14 that it will partner with citizen journalism site, Examiner.com, and other U.S. content providers as part of the company’s multimillion-dollar investment to help meet the needs of U.S. newsrooms. In a Dec. 14 press release, the news agency said its goal is to increase its domestic news offering, and to offer publishers and broadcasters the tools they need to increase efficiency, reduce cost and drive revenue. Examiner.com, whose 65,000 citizen contributors – or examiners – generate thousands of articles daily with “fresh, original and locally relevant content,” is just one of the entities involved in the Reuters America project, according to the press release. Other outlets distributing content through Reuters include The Wrap News, SportsDirect Inc., The Sports Xchange, US PRESSWIRE and SB Nation.

2) Yahoo announced on Nov. 15 that it was launching a contributor network to add the “voice of the people.” In its press release, Yahoo! said it “is inviting people to contribute to many of its most popular sites with the launch of the Yahoo! Contributor Network, a new platform for people to publish their creative content on Yahoo! The Yahoo! Contributor Network . . . will bring contributions from more than 400,000 writers, photographers, and videographers to the Internet’s largest media destinations. . . . ”

3) On Dec. 15, it was announced that blogging community network Global Voices and citizen journalism wire Demotix will begin sharing text and images.

On the Demotix blog, CEO Turi Munthe said: “We share a profound commitment to the ‘crowd’ and its power, and a profound commitment to opening the news conversation. Global Voices run the best network of global bloggers anywhere – to combine their work with our images has always made sense.”

4) CNN, which first began accepting citizen reports in 2006, celebrated citizens’ involvement with a video released Dec. 16 that showcases 194 iReports from 194 countries.

While these are some of the larger stories that have appeared in recent months, there also a couple of smaller stories that are worth noting as well.

Gannett is adding to its investment in TucsonCitizen.com, a community journalism site created when the Arizona newspaper closed down in May 2009. The site was designed to satisfy Justice Department requirements regarding Gannett’s Joint Operating Agreement with Lee Enterprises, publisher of Tucson’s other daily, the Arizona Daily Star.

With the persistent and very capable leadership of site editor Mark Evans, TucsonCitizen.com now has 65 citizen contributors and has nearly doubled its page views from the same time last year to almost 1 million a month.

Evans said he no longer fears that he will come to work one day and learn that the site will be closed down.

Just the opposite appears to be happening. With Gannett funding, Evans was able to hire Anthony Gimino as a full-time employee beginning Jan. 3 to oversee the TucsonCitizen.com’s growing sports blogging network and to assist in the overall administration of the community website. Also in January, a part-time social media editor will be hired to help with the site’s social media efforts and to grow the site’s audience.

In Pennsylvania, Pattye Benson is among the bloggers being noticed by professional journalists as credible and worthy of adding to their news sites. Benson, who has been writing her blog, Community Matters, for a year, announced Dec. 17 that she could now be found on the newspaper website of Mainline Media News.

Benson notes on her blog: “There have been a few naysayers who have questioned if my blog was mainstream journalism. Tom Murray’s offer for Community Matters to ‘live in the space’ of the newspaper validates this citizen journalist and hopefully now quiets those critics.”

There may be many more smaller stories like these last two, but I just don’t know about them. All-in-all, I’d say the outlook is pretty bright for citizen journalists and bloggers. I can’t wait to see what 2011 brings.

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Deteriorating bridge, parking safety concerns, liability issues . . . Why spend taxpayer money on open space and not maintain?

Back on November 15, the Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors agenda included awarding the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge repair contract. (The lowest qualified bidder was Bill Anskis, Inc. in the amount of $84,655.50.)  This bridge repair has been on the Township capital projects list for a long time and had finally found its way to the top. The Swedesford Road Open Space property is located directly across the road from my house, so I am acutely aware of its usage and its associated parking issues for anyone attempting to use this Township open space.

I spoke at the November 15 supervisors meeting to explain the Swedesford Road Open Space usage, particularly during spring and summer trout fishing season.  Swedesford Road is a highly traveled road and I assumed that once the liability issues to the township were understood, this project would move forward.  In fact, in the township’s five-year plan, improvements to the Swedesford Road Open Space project specifically state, “bridge and parking lot safety improvements”.  Additionally, the necessary repairs needed for the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge and parking improvements is included in the implementation of the latest Township Comprehensive Plan. Rather than approving the Public Works project, the supervisors voted to pass it to the Parks Board for further discussion.

The Parks Board met last week and the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge project was on their agenda for discussion.  It is my understanding that the Parks Board voted unanimously not to support the bridge repair and parking safety project.  I simply do not understand. Either the members of the Parks Board did not visit the Swedesford Road site (and see the deteriorating bridge and existing parking liability issues) or they are choosing to follow the lead of some of the supervisors. But it does surprise me that members of the Parks Board would not support the needed repairs and maintenance of one of the parks they are appointed to protect.  As an appointed member of the township’s HARB (Historical Architectural Review Board), I liken their decision to . . . me not supporting the historic buildings in the township. I guess I do not understand the Parks Board motivation. 

If the township (1) supports open space through purchase of property and (2) advertises the use of the open space and parks, then (3) doesn’t the township have a responsibility to maintain the property so that it is accessible and safe for the residents to use? 

Back in 2006, there was a firestorm of debate over the purchase of the Swedesford Road property (and its price tag).  The purchase price  for the 5.7 acres of open space was $825,000. However, a Chester County grant paid for more than half the cost.  The Swedesford Road Open Space ordinance in 2006 stated the property was to be “utilized perpetually for park, recreational and natural-resources conservation purposes.”   Many in the community thought that the price was too high for this property but that debate is long gone . . . the taxpayers own the property and it should be accessible for use.  

It is also important to note that the Swedesford Road Open Space project is a capital expense and not included in the township’s operating budget.  The project is funded through bond and grants money and would not affect the supervisor’s passing of the 2011 budget.

In reviewing the agenda for the upcoming Board of Supervisor meeting on Monday, the Swedesford Road Open Space bridge repair and parking improvements is listed.  With the reinforcement of the Parks Board member’s unanimous vote not to move the repair project forward, it is doubtful that the supervisors will approve this Public Works project.

I do hope that the supervisors recognize that there is a liability issue for the township by choosing not to repair the bridge or improve the parking situation. Residents see the township’s sign ‘Swedesford Road Open Space’ and attempt to pull off the road on to the open space property.  With no room to turnaround, drivers are often forced to back out on to Swedesford Road . . . a risky proposition!

If the supervisors are not going to repair the bridge and improve the parking, I suggest that the township remove signage and close the area of Swedesford Road Open Space to discourage visitors.  However, before taking down the Swedesford Road Open Space sign and closing the area to public use, perhaps the township supervisors should notify Senator Andy Dinniman and Commissioner Carol Aichele.  Chester County dollars through a grant were used to fund this open space purchase and their names appear on the sign!

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Additional notes:

Following the November 15 Board of Supervisors meeting, an article, ‘Tredyffrin has its own bridge to nowhere’ appeared in the Mainline Media News newspaper – here is a link.

For those that are unfamiliar, I have included some photos of the Swedesford Road Open Space property – the bridge and the parking area.  In the last few weeks, there has been a traffic accident at the Swedesford Road Open Space where the guard rail has become dislodged.

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Blogs are Becoming Mainstream Media . . . Community Matters Now on Mainline Media News!

The question is no longer, whether blogs can be journalism. I think there is no question that blogs are now mainstream media and that citizen bloggers ‘are’ journalists.  And we are now seeing mainstream media coming in the other direction by more traditional media outlets adding blog content.  Blog sites are now touching tens of millions of people in the United States and the numbers of blog readers are projected to continue growing.

I recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of my blog, Community Matters.  Passing this marker, I found myself reflecting over the last 12 months.  Who could have forecasted that I would write 580 articles (and on a myriad of topics) or predicted that Community Matters readers would leave 7,800 comments as a result of my posts? 

In addition to the blog’s recent anniversary, another milestone has been realized for Community Matters.  I was approached by Tom Murray, editor for the Mainline Media News, about the possibility of adding my community blog to his newspaper’s online site.  Although intrigued by the offer, I had some reservations.  Would I maintain complete control over Community Matters . . . the blog’s contents and its comments?  Flattered by Tom’s interest in Community Matters, it was important that my writing and reader’s comments be protected and not compromised, edited or filtered.  Tom assured me that not only would I remain in control of Community Matters (Community Matters is password protected) but that when readers visited the newspaper online and clicked on Community Matters, the traffic would go directly to my site.  As a result, I am excited to announce that Community Matters can now also be found on the home page of Mainline Media News, http://mainlinemedianews.com/

Will citizen journalists garner respect in the mainstream journalism world?  I guess it is like anything, it will depend on the quality of the writing of the specific blogger and the standard of their blog. There has been a battle the last few years, bloggers vs. journalists. I don’t think that the rise of blogs equals the death of professional journalism. The media world is not a zero-sum game. Increasingly, in fact, the Internet is turning it into a symbiotic ecosystem — in which the different parts feed off one another and the whole thing grows.  That’s how I view the relationship of Community Matters with the local newspaper.  There is no reason a community blog cannot successfully exist independently but also keep company on the home page of Mainline Media News.  Hoping to increase traffic to Community Matters with this new venture, I view the opportunity as a win-win for me and for the newspaper.

There have been a few naysayers who have questioned if my blog was mainstream journalism.  Tom Murray’s offer for Community Matters to ‘live in the space’ of the newspaper validates this citizen journalist and hopefully now quiets those critics.

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