Board of Supervisors

Tredyffrin Township resident Michelle Kichline appointed Chester County Commissioner

With Republican Ryan Costello’s 6th District Congressional win in the November election, Chester County needed a new County Commissioner to fill his unexpired term.  According to Pennsylvania law, the Chester County Court of Common Pleas had to fill the vacancy with another Republican to finish Costello’s term, which runs through 2015.  The voters will elect a commissioner for a full 4-year term next November.

Michelle Kichline (R), along with five other Republican candidates, John Primus, Leon Spencer, Jr., Maureen Snook, Hudson L. Voltz and County Treasurer Ann Duke interviewed this morning with the judges of Chester County Court of Common Pleas for the Board of Commissioners vacancy. The judges made their selection and I am delighted to report that Michelle Kichline, attorney and former chair of Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors, is our new Chester County Commissioner!  Costello’s official resignation date is tomorrow December 9 and his Commissioner torch passes to Kichline.

It’s exciting to have a Tredyffrin Township resident represented on the Chester County Board of Commissioners!

When will Tredyffrin Township hire budgeted police officers?

When will Tredyffrin Township hire budgeted police officers?

Looking for answers, today I met with Tredyffrin Police Superintendent Tony Giaimo. I wanted to understand the search for and selection of police officers. As I explained to Giaimo, applicants for police department positions have contacted me over the last 6-8 months, anxious for a hiring update. I learned much about the police department hiring process and thought it worthwhile to share.

Early in 2012, the Tredyffrin Township Police Department advertised the April 14, 2012 physical assessment and written test date for vacancies in the department.  According to Giaimo, 130+ individuals applied to take the physical and written exam.  In addition to the application form, a physician statement and informed consent form were required.

The physical assessment is judged pass/fail; the written test included multiple-choice questions plus a written narrative.  If a candidate passed the physical exam and received an 80% or higher score on the written exam, they moved to the next step.  All candidates were notified of the test results 2-4 weeks following the April 14th exam.

Of the 130+ applicants, close to 100 individuals passed the physical test and scored 80% or higher on the written part. The next step for the successful applicants was an oral interview by an Oral Interview Board, composed of three police personnel selected by Giaimo. At the time of the interview, applicants were required to provide education transcripts, military discharge papers when applicable, and three reference letters (other than relative and employers). Failure to provide documents at the interview, disqualified applicants from the selection process.  The interviews were conducted between June and August 2012.

Each member of the Oral Interview Board independently scores the oral interviews and those scores are then added to the written exam score. For those applicants that advance to the next step, they receive a polygraph examination. According to Giaimo, the polygraph test is to indicate deception on a pre-determined set of questions.  After the polygraph phase, the top list of 15 candidates is prepared.  The ranking is based on all phases of the test process to this point.  For those 15 candidates, the next step is a background investigation by the Tredyffrin Township Police Department including previous employment, education record, military record, criminal history, credit rating, etc.

The next step is a conditional offer of employment.  Hiring is contingent upon successful completion of psychological and physical examinations and selection by the Police Superintendent. (I believe this part of the examination process takes approximately 4 months.) Once this conditional phase is completed, the cadet serves a two-year probationary period.

At the start, prospective applicants are told that the process takes approximately 6-8 months from the time the exam is taken – in this case, the exam was given on April 14 so if they successfully completed each step, vacancies were to be filled somewhere between October – December, 2012.

I received a call from a father of one of the cadets that is on Tredyffrin Police Department’s ‘short list’ in early January, looking for an update.  I assured him that the township would be hiring 2 police officers shortly.  I was confident giving this response for the following reasons, (1) the police contract was settled; (2) the ICMA consultant’s study (pg. 11) suggested a minimum of 2 additional officers were required to maintain township safety levels and (3) supervisors approved the 2013 budget that included 2 additional police officers (with the possibility of a third officer added sometime during the year).

The focus of my meeting with Superintendent Giaimo was to find out the hiring date of the two police officers.  Remember the cadets were told last April the application process would take approximately 6-8 months; it’s now 10 months!

I could not believe Giaimo’s response today re the hiring of police officers; telling me that he had not been authorized to hire.  What?  That’s right folks. The police contract was signed in December and the 2013 township budget approved (which included the hiring of the two officers) but the Board of Supervisors have not given Giaimo permission to hire the two officers.  Gosh, even pg. 11 of the ICMA police department study indicated the township needed to hire two officers to maintain satisfactory safety levels.

Giaimo assured me that he has the ranked list of candidates ready to go — all he needs is the OK from the BOS to make the offers. If you think that adequate staffing of our Police Department is an important issue, you may want to attend the next BOS meeting on February 11 and offer your opinion.

1st Amendment Rights in Tredyffrin Township

“The dominant purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit the widespread practice of government suppression of embarrassing information.”          ~ William Orville Douglas, US Supreme Court Justice

According to John DiBuonaventuro’s letter to the citizens, Community Matters posts are an “ongoing effort to discredit our government and its efforts to serve the citizens by creating and fostering an environment of conspiracy among its limited readership.”  I received many emails and phone calls in regards to the inappropriateness of the letter but more importantly, the inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars to post the letter on township letterhead on the township website.  The letter contains a personal attack on me, Community Matters and on those citizens who dare to have an opinion.  For some reason, DiBuonaventuro also feels compelled to mention my failed election in 2009 as a Board of Supervisors candidate … I guess that was contained in the letter, as a ‘just because’, he could … and he did.

I was hopeful that Michelle Kichline as the chair of the Board of Supervisors, the township solicitor Vince Donohue or the township manger Mimi Gleason would recognize the inappropriateness of DiBuronaventuro’s letter on our public website and that the letter would be removed quickly before any further damage was done to me or the other citizens of Tredyffrin Township.

I sent the following email this morning to Mimi Gleason, our township manager:

Mimi,

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?

I await your response.

Pattye Benson

I was extremely surprised by her immediate response below.  Ms. Gleason states that she OK’d the letter on the website with approval from the chair of the Board of Supervisors, Michelle Kichline and township solicitor Vince Donohue.  Folks, as a short-timer whose last day as township manager is Monday, September 17, 2012, Gleason has decided to make her true feelings known about me, Community Matters and for all those who dare to express an opinion.  As sad as I was about the DiBuonaventuro letter, I wanted to believe in our government and the people we elected to serve.  Bob Byrne, editor of TE Patch received a similar response from Gleason to his inquiry about the township website and DiBuonaventuro’s letter.

If the Board of Supervisors had been more forthcoming about the situation when the story first broke in the Main Line Media News, the outcome of the situation would have been very different.  If the public had received any assurance from the Board of Supervisors that they were reviewing the internal investigation report of the Police Department, or if the public had known that the District Attorney’s office had reviewed the report, if, if, if, … no one said anything, there was no communication or explanation.  Were it not that I went from the District Attorney, to the District Judge and then to the Police Chief, we would still have questions and no answers.  The summary information I provided on Community Matters was not secret, the residents could have had, and should have had it.

So what is the bottom line?   Gleason’s email says to me that to hold our government and its elected officials accountable by the citizenry is not acceptable in Tredyffrin Township.    You read her response and be the judge.

Pattye,

I think it is interesting that you seek information from me now, but not before starting a storyline full of inaccuracies and innuendos that had the potential to harm people’s reputations.  Correcting falsehoods well after the fact does not undo the damage from your original posts.  You feed cynicism and assumptions of impropriety when there is absolutely no basis for it.

You have done the same thing with the assisted living facility.  So much of what you have written on that topic is factually incorrect.  Why don’t you make an effort to get accurate information before you write articles and leave impressions with your readers?   You have to know that your so-called legal expert has no expertise, and therefore I can only conclude that you share his agenda to make the Township and the Board of Supervisors look bad, without any regard for the truth or ethics.  That has been a disappointing conclusion to arrive at.

In answer to your question, it is unusual to post a statement from an individual Supervisor, but given the inaccurate and derogatory statements and innuendo publicly made about John DiBuonaventuro, I decided to approve the posting of the letter on the Township website.  In this case, he was the subject of baseless public speculation simply because he is a Tredyffrin Supervisor.  The circumstances justified the use of the website to publicly defend him, carrying with it the implicit endorsement of the Township to the accuracy of his statements.  The Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and the Township Solicitor agreed that it was appropriate for the letter to go on the website.

Mimi

Chester County Planning Commission Comments Reflect the Views of Many Tredyffrin Residents … Will the Board of Supervisors Listen

As follow-up to my Community Matters post of July 20,Tredyffrin’s Proposed C1 Zoning Amendment Change … Where do we go from here’, here’s the latest installment in the continuing saga of the proposed C-1 zoning ordinance change to permit assisted living facilities. Although the proposed C-1 zoning ordinance change would permit assisted living as a ‘by-right’ use for all C-1 township properties, the focus is on the 1-acre Jimmy Duffy property on Lancaster Ave in Daylesford.

Tredyffrin Township’s proposed C-1 zoning ordinance amendment (below),

“A residential care facility for older persons providing permanent residential accommodations and/or assisted living facilities/services (and supplemental services) as defined in the applicable Pennsylvania state statutes, rules and regulations along with support services, which may include, but not limited to: personal care and health care services, medical services, skilled nursing, community facilities, and congregate dining facilities; provided that the property shall have direct access to an arterial street.”

was sent to the Chester County Planning Commission for review on July 5 and this past week Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission received their comments/remarks. (Click here to read the CCPC response).

Although we were told that is procedurally OK that the township sent the proposed zoning ordinance amendment to Chester County Planning Commission, it struck some of the residents (myself included) rather pre-emptive to ask for comments from the county in advance of our own Planning Commission giving their ‘thumbs-up or thumbs-down’ on the amendment.  As many Daylesford neighbors and other township residents have repeatedly commented, the proposed zoning ordinance amendment needs restrictions/requirements attached to it.

Reading the comments on Tredyffrin’s proposed C-1 zoning amendment change, it is apparent that the Chester County Planning Commission echos concerns of many township residents.  The official response from the county, offered the following comments in regards to the proposed C-1 zoning amendment change:

  1. The proposed zoning amendment does not appear to be consistent with the Township’s land use policies as currently written.
  2. The proposed zoning amendment does not appear to be consistent with the goals and objectives specified on page 67 of Tredyffrin’s Comprehensive plan.
  3. The proposed zoning amendment does not appear to be consistent with the purpose statement of the C-1 Commercial District, which, according to Section 208-64, is “designed to encourage and provide for attractive, company, retail convenience-type commercial development in locations close to the residents served”.
  4. Residential care facilities are currently permitted by conditional use in the IO Institutional Overlay District with specified bulk, height and buffer regulations.
  5. Other Chester County municipalities address assisted living facilities utilizing conditional use in medium to high-density residential or institutional zoning areas.
  6. Assisted living facilities are not found in any other Chester County Commercial zoning districts.

If I did not know better, it would seem as if the Chester County Planning Commission were audience members at Tredyffrin’s supervisor and Planning Commission meetings.  Every one of the points that the Chester County Planning Commission presented in their review of the township’s proposed C-1 ordinance amendment have been made repeatedly during the last several months by  township residents.

The Chester County Planning Commission summarizes their remarks by stating, “Tredyffrin Township should consider the comments contained in this review before taking action on the proposed zoning ordinance amendment.”  Well, … by their comments, it appears to me that Chester County Planning Commission is suggesting that assisted living facilities should not be in Tredyffrin’s C-1 zoning districts.  My understanding of their comments appears to suggest that clarity is needed from the township with respect to restrictions and regulations.

Here’s an interesting point to consider – although the Chester County Planning Commission looks to be in complete agreement with many of the township residents opposing the proposed C-1 zoning ordinance amendment change, their opinion will not decide the matter.  Members of Tredyffrin’s Planning Commission, and ultimately the Board of Supervisors, will have the final say on whether assisted living facilities become a ‘by-right use’  in all C-1 zoning districts.  Should the supervisors approve this proposed zoning ordinance amendment change, they will also decide whether to add any restrictions to the ordinance, such as bed density, height, buffer requirements, etc.

Although not a legal requirement for our Planning Commissioners or supervisors to give any credence to Chester County’s recommendations on the proposed C-1 zoning amendment change, I would hope that they seriously consider these comments in advance of the next Planning Commission meeting on August 16.

Ed Morris, the developer eyeing the Jimmy Duffy site for an assisted living facility, will need the C-1 zoning amendment change to move forward.  It was Denise Yarnoff, Morris’ attorney, who wrote the township’s proposed amendment change.  We learned at the last Planning Commission meeting that the applicant’s attorney agreed to add restrictions to the proposed amendment and re-submit for the August Planning Commission meeting.  We have been told that there is nothing wrong with the applicant’s attorney writing the proposed amendment but where does it end?  After Yarnoff created the draft amendment, I think it needs to be the responsibility of our Planning Commissioners and/or township staff to add any additional requirements or restrictions.  I am troubled that the re-write of Tredyffrin Township’s proposed zoning ordinance amendment is in the hands of the applicant’s attorney … just doesn’t feel right to me.

“A Job is Not a Life” … Mimi Gleason Resigns as Tredyffrin’s Township Manager

For those of us who attended last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, it went very late, until 11:30 PM.  Now I have to wonder if the 4-hour marathon meeting had any bearing on this morning’s decision by our township manager.

Mimi Gleason has been Tredyffrin’s Township Manager for the last 7 years.  Prior to becoming township manager in 2005, Mimi served under Joe Janasik as assistant Township Manager for 3 years.  There was no indication at last night’s meeting of Mimi’s impending announcement this morning; and the news has taken many of us by surprise.

Rather than speculating on the reason behind Mimi’s decision to resign, I spoke at length with her this afternoon.  She assured me that the decision to leave was completely her own rather than anyone pushing her in that direction.  Mimi told the township supervisors and her staff this morning of her decision to resign; her last day will be September 17.

I asked Mimi why she was resigning – was it another job?  No, she is not leaving Tredyffrin for another job. In fact, her explanation for the resignation was actually quite simple … “A job is not a life”.    She went on to explain that she is uncertain about what she wants to do, but knows that she wants to do something different and to work less.  Her plans after September 17 include taking a few months off from work, visiting friends around the country during the fall and her annual trip to Hawaii in January.  Although Mimi does not view the decision to resign as some type of mid-life crisis, our conversation did turn philosophical as we discussed the importance of really ‘living’ life.

What has she enjoyed most about serving as our township manager?  An easy question, she responded “… the people … the staff … the volunteers … the groups she works with”.  I then asked what she liked least about the job and that proved another easy question.  Her quick response, “night meetings!”  Based on last night’s supervisors meeting that ran until 11:30 PM, I could not help but think that may have made her decision  this morning a little bit easier.

Wondering if Mimi could be cajoled into extending that September 17 deadline, I asked her that question.  No, her mind is made up.  Remembering her words, “a job is not a life”, Ms. Gleason has some living she wants to do! 

I know that you join me in wishing Mimi well; wherever this life’s journey takes her. We thank her for her ten years of service to the residents of this community and can take some solace in knowing that this was ultimately her decision, and no one else’s.

A Life Lesson that Good Guys Can Still Make Mistakes . . .

An article appeared in the December 14 edition of the Daily Local, ‘Chief suspended after son crashes police car’ .  According to the article, Tredyffrin’s Chief of Police Andy Chambers was suspended for 4 days as a result of allowing his 16-yr old son to drive a township police car and was subsequently involved in an accident with the vehicle on November 23.

First off, let me say that I like and respect Andy Chambers – he’s one of the ‘good guys’ — someone who supports the residents of Tredyffrin Township and cares about this community.  Was this simply one of those dumb lapses of judgement that as parents we sometimes have?  You know one of those times when something seemed like a good idea at the time but in hindsight, we realize it wasn’t too smart.

The story as reported in the paper explains that an  Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC) training was held in Bridgeport,and Chamber’s son (with a learner’s permit) was allowed to drive a Tredyffrin Township police cruiser on the training course.  In driving the car on the course, the kid somehow had an accident with the police car which caused enough damage that the car had to be towed. The accident also slightly injured a trainer who was in the car with Chamber’s son.

There is an upcoming supervisors meeting on Monday, December 19.  Will the supervisors inform the township residents of the situation and of Chamber’s 4-day suspension?  It’s important that the facts surrounding the matter are fully understood.  Otherwise, the rumor mill will churn out its own version of the story unless the supervisors present the timeline of events and the facts.

Although Chambers paid for the towing and repairs to the township vehicle, there remain questions surrounding the incident.  Assuming that the Daily Local is correct, it is unclear when the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors were notified of the incident as no police report was made at the time of the accident.  Did the supervisors only learn of the accident from the Daily Local reporting?

Having read the article in the Daily Local, John Petersen wrote the following email to Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors and copied myself as well as the writer of the Daily Local article Jennifer Carboni and Susan Greenspon, editor of the Main Line Media News.  Assuming that the information is correct in the newspaper account, John makes some very interesting legal and liability points concerning  this incident.  John also states that he likes Chief Chambers and like me, considers him one of the ‘good guys’.

I am disappointed in Andy Chamber’s actions but at the same time I feel sorry for him — we’ve all had those momentary lapses of judgment. This incident just proves that even the good guys can make mistakes.  

 

 To: Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors
Subject: Cover up???

Clearly, WAY more to this story. If this reporting is accurate, then it appears clear that the BOS (as a body) – didn’t know about this until the letters were emailed by the DL. That does not negate the possibility that one or more supervisors knew what happened. What is interesting is the citation to the Motor Vehicle Code. It appears clear that there was an affirmative duty to report the accident. That may be something that Risa Ferman may have to deal with. I have but one question in this whole thing – “When did Andy tell you guys about this?”

Based on Donahue’s interesting word choice that Andy “admitted” what happened, that would lead one to conclude that he [Andy] was confronted with the information. The lack of a police report supports that conclusion. If that is the case, then that is a fireable offense.

As the old saying goes, it’s never the underlying issue, it’s the cover up that gets you. Let’s remember, this was township property. Who in the world would permit a non-township employee, let alone a 16-year-old pre-licensed driver to drive a police cruiser – regardless of whether it was on a closed course. As Howard Baker in 1973 during the Watergate Hearings asked [slightly paraphrased] “What did they know…and when did they know it?” That is the question – when did Andy tell you guys on the BOS? Again, if he didn’t tell you until the DL made you guys [as a board] aware, then that is most definitely a fireable offense. On the other hand, if the board knew back on 11/23-24, then why wait so long to suspend him.

The other disturbing aspect of this, if true, is that this was driven by un-named members of the TTPD. The timing of the letters is interesting. The first one was the Friday before the BOS meeting of 12/5. Clearly, nothing happened – which prompted another letter on 12/8. It’s all rather peculiar, and admittedly, speculation on my part..

Finally… I like Andy. He’s a good guy. And yes – he as given loyal service to the Tredyffrin Citizens over these many years. I supported his succession to chief in 2008. However, those in leadership have to live to a higher standard – a point I’ve made clear to all of you in the past vis-a-vis St. David’s, fire funding, etc. If this was all duly reported, then I agree with the sanctions as levied.

However, the timing and information contained in the aforementioned news article, if accurate, indicates that the events were not duly reported – and that transgression is far worse than the substantive issue. And let’s also remember that Andy allowing his son to operate a township vehicle put the township in harm’s way. The township was opened to liability – and it is far from certain that the terms and conditions set forth in the policy (the township is self insured) would have covered the liability. What if somebody was run over, permanently injured or worse, killed?

I fully expect the BOS to brief the public on what happened. This is where it counts to be fully transparent. And – this is why we need a properly functioning press so that matters like this get the spotlight they require.

Many thanks to the Daily Local for their reporting. I trust the reporting is accurate. And if so, I trust the BOS to do the right thing.

Regards,

John V. Petersen
Former Member, Tredyffrin BOS

Tie a Yellow (Pink) Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree (Light Pole)!

The tale of Tredyffrin’s burned out streetlights continues.  Based on comments from several people on Community Matters, I started my mini-research project of non-working street lights  in the township.  As one person explained, the street light poles are marked with pink ribbons if they need new light bulbs.  Sure enough, I see a number of street light poles on Chesterbrook Boulevard tied with bright pink ribbons.  On Mill Road, at the entrance of the township building, there are three light poles right in a row with apparent burned-out light bulbs as they each have pink ribbons.  Question . . . What is the time line for replacement light bulbs on those light poles adorned with ribbons?  Don’t know.  I also don’t know how long the ribbons have been on these poles.

Based on some of the comments on Community Matters, I assumed that the Public Works staff was the ones replacing the burned-out light bulbs.  However, according to the township website, street light maintenance and repair is not handled in-house but is a contracted service.  My guess is that the township staff marks the street poles with pink ribbons and then the outside company does the necessary light bulb changing.   Again, not clear how long it takes to get a new light bulb after it is reported and the staff adds the pink ribbon.  Residents can fill out an online township form (click here) with location details for light poles requiring new light bulbs or other maintenance issues.

Researching on the township website, I discovered that Tredyffrin owns and operates 1,824 lights. Who knew?  The use of the word ‘owns’ may be accurate; but I think we need to address the ‘operating’ part.  It is my understanding that PECO actually owns the light poles and the township pays a flat fee for the poles – and it appears that we pay by the pole, regardless if there is a working light bulb or not.  There had been some discussion and I hope movement towards changing the regular light bulbs to LED bulbs.  LED light bulbs have a higher front end cost than regular light bulbs but they last longer and are much more energy-efficient.

On November 15, 2007, Mimi Gleason presented the 2008 budget.  Contained in the budget was the following information on streetlights:

A new initiative is proposed to begin upgrading streetlights to a more energy efficient medium. Most of the Township’s 1,900 streetlights are mercury vapor lights. The most energy efficient, long lasting street light available is a new LED light. Because the technology is new for streetlights, they are still very expensive. Estimates range from $1,000-$1,500 per light or roughly $2.5 – $3 million in total. In time, the cost should come down significantly. The proposed budget includes $50,000 this year to upgrade about 40 lights as a demonstration area to help promote further use of LED lights. With the Board’s approval, during 2008 staff will pursue a state grant to install a larger number of LED streetlights in 2009. From there, we would embark on a very long-term plan to eventually upgrade all of the lights.

Continuing my search for answers on the street light situation, I came across the August 12, 2008 Tredyffrin Township Municipal Authority Minutes with the following information included:

Mr. Norcini [former Public Works director] continued his discussion on the electric rate for streetlights. He said we purchased streetlights from PECO several years ago for cost effectiveness. Our rate is based on street light rates. We plan to install LED lights as a test this year.

Two meters will be installed – one to the existing streetlights and one to the LED lights. The meters should show how much electricity the LED light uses and how much our existing lights compare to what PECO says it uses. If the LED test project works and provides savings to us, we can determine a capital plan to replace the existing lights. We will be metering on Cassatt Road, and testing 14-15 new LED lights on North Valley Road from Central to Swedesford.

Fast forward to 2011 and next month the supervisors will be reviewing the proposed 2012 township budget.  I for one will be looking at the line listing in the budget for street lighting and will be very curious to see its ‘expense’.  In my research, I could not find the name of the company that holds the contract with the township on street lighting.

It is somewhat interesting to see where the township ‘was’ and where it is ‘now’ on the subject of light bulbs. I wonder what happened to the upgrading of the streetlights to LED plan in the township.

Gosh, at this point, I just want to see all the burned-out light bulbs prioritized (and replaced)!  Seems to me that this discussion could also fall under the category of resident ‘safety’.

Paoli Resident Calls for Fair Play and Common Sense From Elected Officials

The following Letter to the Editor appears in this week’s Main Line Suburban Life newspaper.  Written by Paoli resident Eugene Grace, this letter really hits on what some of us have been thinking lately.  Mr. Grace doesn’t write his letter with a particular political view or slant; nor is he suggesting that one political party is better or worse than another.  Mr. Grace’s  message is simple . . . he is asking for fair play and common sense from our elected officials.  An interesting letter — comments?

  To the Editor:

Fair play and common sense are the two traits that voters want from their political leaders.

Fair play means simply following the established rules of the game as well as their related customs and traditions. Locally, fair play does not include Tredyffrin’s use of “New Matter” to keep a significant township matter off the published agenda. Locally fair play would not allow the Lower Merion School District to plant remote-controlled webcams into school-provided computers without some form of notice.

Nationally fair play does not include the U.S. Senate’s use of a tactical tool known as “Reconciliation” to pass major legislation. Under “normal” Senate rules, 60 votes are required to move legislation through that body. Reconciliation was developed as a speedier way to move smaller budgetary or tax issues through the Senate with only a simple majority of 51 votes. The Senate’s use of Reconciliation for health care would be a departure from Senate rules and tradition.

Common sense informs us that Tredyffrin should have collected monies owed under previous commitments without further study and that the Lower Merion School District should have provided notice to students regarding a potential invasion of privacy. Common sense says that the U.S. Senate should not employ Reconciliation regarding health care, which constitutes 16 percent of the U.S. economy. Common sense tells us that leaders should lead.

The fact that “The People” are leading on all these issues tells us that fair play and common sense have been thrown to the wind. Common sense tells us that the “leaders” responsible for these decisions should have a similar fate.

Eugene P. Grace, Paoli

Tredyffrin's Board of Supervisors – Some are Political Party Committee Members – is this OK? Radnor Township Says No for their Commissioners

Tredyffrin Township is governed by Home Rule Charter, and you can find a copy on the township website, www.tredyffrin.org.    With a new year, and 3 new supervisors on Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors, I was curious about something.  When someone is a committee person for a political party and is elected to serve their community, I wondered how this subject was handled under Home Rule Charter (or was it even addressed).  From my vantage point, supervisors are elected to serve all the residents, and by remaining a committee person for a particular party, I would think that there is an appearance that a political committee person would ‘lean’ in the direction of their party.  Of the 7 members of Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors, we now have 3 supervisors who are also Tredyffrin Township GOP committee members (Kampf, Kichline, Richter).  I think that Supervisor Kampf is also a PA State GOP committee member – but I’m not 100%.

I checked Tredyffrin Township’s Home Rule Charter and this subject is not addressed.  So I looked to our neighbor, Radnor Township who also uses Home Rule Charter for their local government.  I guess the residents of Radnor Township share my concern with political party committee people serving in elected positions, as they are very clear in their Home Rule Charter. Radnor Commissioners are prohibited from holding an elected or appointed political office.  The information below is cut and pasted directly from Radnor’s Home Rule Charter.  Reviewing Radnor’s regulations on elected officials holding political party office, I was also interested in their ‘Conflict of Interest’ section (also included below).  Reading this,  I am wondering if Radnor Township’s Commissioners would have been permitted (under their ‘Home Rule Charter’) to solicit to businesses on behalf of Radnor Fire Company?  Interesting question, don’t you think?

From Radnor Township’s Home Rule Charter

§ 21.9-904. Prohibitions.

 A. The activities which follow shall be prohibited in the operation of the Township government.

   1. Discrimination. No person shall, in his employment by the Township in any capacity, appointment to any Board, Commission, or Authority, or removal therefrom, be favored or discriminated against because of age, race, national origin, sex, handicap, or political or religious opinions or affiliations in violation of applicable Federal or State laws. No person shall be accorded favored treatment in employment or appointment because of family relationship.

   2. Improper Gifts. No person who seeks appointment on any Township Board, Commission, or Authority, or employment by the Township in any capacity shall, directly or indirectly, give or pay any money, service, or other consideration to any person in connection with such appointment or employment. In addition, no elected or appointed Township official or employee shall receive any money, service or other consideration in connection with such appointment or employment.

   3. Political Party Office. No Township official elected under this Charter, no appointed official, and no full-time Township employee shall hold any elected or appointed political party office.

   4. Improper Political Influence. No elected or appointed Township official and no employee of the Township shall request any Township employee to make a political contribution or engage in political activity.

   5. Other Government Service. No Township official elected or appointed to an elective office under this Charter and no full-time Township employee shall hold any other Township employment or any other elective or appointive Township position. No Township official elected or appointed to an elective office under this Charter and no full-time Township employee shall hold any full-time employment, or any other elective position, with Delaware County or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This provision shall not apply to employees of School Districts or of other educational institutions.

 B. Violation of any provision of this Section shall constitute grounds for forfeiture of office, termination of appointment, or dismissal.

§ 21.9-905. Conflict of Interest.

 A. No elected or appointed official of the Township and no Township employee, shall engage in any activity which follows.

   l. Take any action as a result of information acquired as a Township official from which action the Township official or employee or any other person or entity in whose welfare the official is interested, shall realize a gain or advantage. Such action shall not, however, be construed to be prohibited if the gain or advantage were realized generally by a group or class of citizens as the purposeful result of such action.

   2. Solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, favor, service commission, or other consideration that might reasonably tend to influence that official or employee in the discharge of the duties of office.

   3. Seek to influence, directly or indirectly, the awarding of any contract where such Township official or employee, or other person or entity in whose welfare the official or employee is interested would benefit directly or indirectly, financially or otherwise, from said contract.

 B. Disqualification from Action. Any elected or appointed official and any employee of the Township, having a direct or indirect financial interest with any person or business entity proposing to contract with the Township for the purchase or sale of land, materials, supplies, or services of any kind, or seeking formal action of the Board or any petition application, request, or appeal, whether that interest be as an employee, a party, a partner, or a stockholder, shall disclose fully said interest and except where stock holdings in a public corporation shall be minimal, shall not participate in the discussion or formal action relating thereto. Violation of the provisions of this Section shall render the contract of such actions voidable by the Township.

The 'Big Give' in Tredyffrin

In today’s Main Line Suburban newspaper, Malvern resident Kathleen Keohane writes the following Letter to the Editor, titled The ‘Big Give’ in Tredyffrin.  Kathleen’s take on Monday night’s Board of Supervisor Meeting is a poignant reminder to us all on the importance of sufficient funding to our volunteer fire companies.  Here is her letter from the paper:

To the Editor:

After following Tredyffrin’s budget brouhaha for several months, I attended Tredyffrin’s final Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Monday night with a mixture of hope and low expectations. As one of many who came to support full restoration of 2009 funding levels for our volunteer fire companies to the 2010 budget, I doubted there would be enough votes to reverse the cut but I had hope the Christmas spirit would move at least one supervisor to change his mind.

Instead, at the start of the meeting, BOS chair Warren Kampf pre-empted a nasty shout fest by announcing to a standing-room-only crowd that over the last two weeks he and fellow supervisors Paul Olson and Bob Lamina had gotten commitments from local businesses and residents to the tune of $23,200 to close the gap. Mr. Kampf said he thought even more private contributions were likely. He seemed very pleased that no taxpayer dollars were involved.

Short-term, it is good news for the cash-strapped fire companies, but it offers no assurance of future funding. As Supervisor John DiBuonaventuro noted, some of these generous end-of-year donors may be ones who would normally contribute directly to the fire companies and will not do so again during their 2010 fund drives. It is hard to gauge the net effect of this.

Also, the problem of establishing reliable funding streams to allow Paoli, Berwyn and Radnor fire companies to plan for major equipment purchases and other capital expenditures in the future remains. Though fire and EMS services are among the most essential services a township provides, these volunteer companies are left to wonder what lies ahead.

In my view and that of over 500 residents who signed a petition in support of maintaining fire funding at 2009 levels, it is ultimately the responsibility of local government and not private citizens or groups to ensure adequate fire protection. The buck stops with the board.

And we must not take a step backwards! If anything, Tredyffrin supervisors should be looking for ways to increase their support for our volunteer organizations in the future. We need to support them in ways that enhance the fire companies’ ability to recruit more volunteers, whose interests lie in helping the community – not in year-round fund-raising or enduring dismissive treatment from tone-deaf supervisors.

In this era of declining civic engagement, we need to honor our volunteer firefighters/EMTs, who put their lives on the line for us. Not providing a dedicated and predictable level of funding is disrespectful to them and endangers our community’s safety.

The proposed budget cuts to our firefighters sent the wrong message. And while one-time private contributions are much appreciated, they are a seat-of-the-pants response to an ongoing problem.

Kathleen Keohane, Malvern

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