DiBuonaventuro

Tredyffrin Twp Sidewalk Saga Continues Tonight . . . Are we moving one step closer to sidewalks at St. Davids Golf Club (or not)?

Tonight is Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors meeting and a public hearing on sidewalks will follow the meeting. Continuing from July’s public hearing, the discussion continues the review of the proposed sidewalk amendment change to the township’s land development ordinance.

Supervisors John DiBuonaventuro, Michelle Kichline and Mike Heaberg agreed at last month’s public hearing that the proposed ordinance change should only affect prospective land development agreements, not pre-existing land development agreements. The sidewalks at St. Davids Golf Club are in the ‘pre-existing land development agreement’ category and therefore would be exempt from the proposed amendment change, at least according to DiBuonaventuro, Kichline and Heaberg. Supervisors Paul Olson and EJ Richter appear to be committed to the notion that sidewalks are not needed (or desired) at the St. Davids location. Supervisors Bob Lamina and Phil Donahue were absent at the last meeting, so I look forward to learning whether they support excluding pre-existing land development agreements from the proposed sidewalk ordinance change.

Regardless of the determination on the proposed sidewalk ordinance change, here’s hoping that we can look forward to resolution on all eight outstanding land development agreements which contain sidewalks (including St. Davids!).

On August 2, I wrote “Tredyffrin Township Needs an Economic ‘Call for Action’ from its Elected Officials”. The post discussed the township’s economic climate, closing of local businesses and empty storefronts. As follow-up to the post, I emailed the Board of Supervisors requesting an official public update on the Paoli Transportation Center and also on the Economic Development Committee which was approved at the April 4th Board of Supervisors meeting. I can report that I received a response from township manager Mimi Gleason – and we can look forward to a status report on these two important topics at tonight’s BOS meeting.

In reviewing the agenda for the BOS meeting, I’m curious about a couple of items:

Approval for Transportation and Community Development Initiative grant for zoning ordinance update

Review and comments for Willistown Township’s official map

I wonder if both of these items are related to the Paoli Transportation Center — I’m not sure why Tredyffrin Twp should be reviewing Willistown Twp’s map?  Unless there is some confusion as to township lines as it relates to the Paoli Transportation Center? 

One other township note – next Monday, August 22 the Board will begin the 2012 budget process with a public workshop, 7 PM in Keene Hall.

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Tredyffrin’s ‘Personnel Committee’ to Interview Supervisor Candidates

Here is the latest installment on the Tredyffrin’s interim supervisor appointment . . . I feel like keeping this interview process transparent has become my life’s work.  With so many things going on in the world, why is it so important that this township process work correctly?  Because it just is.

So where does the interview process currently stand?  Well, here goes.  I emailed our township manager Mimi Gleason (and copied township solicitor Tom Hogan and the Board of Supervisors) the link to the specific Community Matters post, along with reader comments. In my email, I addressed the issue of the supervisor’s Personnel Committee conducting the candidate interviews vs. the Board of Supervisors. I suggested “. . . the appointment of an elected official is not a personnel matter.” Further suggested that the “. . .  situation could be easily remedied if all the supervisors were in attendance on January 26 and participated in the interview process.”

Here is Mimi’s response to that email: 

 Pattye,

The full Board must vote on the appointment of the interim Supervisor in a public meeting and will do so. 

There is no problem with the Personnel Committee, or any other subcommittee of the Board, interviewing the candidates.  The Home Rule Charter does not require the Board of Supervisors to interview the candidates.  However, in the interests of full transparency, the Board has chosen to have interviews conducted by the Personnel Committee and has invited the public to the interviews.  The Board is going beyond the minimum requirements of the Home Rule Charter and the Sunshine Act in order to provide even greater public access to this process.

I’ll be around all afternoon.  Let me know if you have any more questions.

Mimi

After receiving this email, I still had questions for Mimi and sent the following email (copying Tom Hogan and Board of Supervisors):

Mimi –

Thank you for your response, however I do still have a few questions.

(1)   You say that the Personnel Committee, or any subcommittee of the Board of Supervisors can interview the candidates, then why the ‘Personnel Committee’ vs. the Finance Committee or any other subcommittee? If appointing an elected official is not a personnel matter, why choose the ‘Personnel’ Committee for the interviews?

(2)   Bob Lamina stated at the Board of Supervisors meeting that the candidates would be interviewed by the supervisors.  By having a ‘committee’ rather than the Board of Supervisors interview, is this really meeting the objective?

(3)   I appreciate that there is no requirement for the Board of Supervisors to interview the candidates in public; however, didn’t that option go away when the township advertised and solicited resumes for the vacancy; which was then followed by Bob Lamina’s statement that the supervisors would interview the candidates.  Bob made a commitment to the residents that the supervisors would interview the candidates – there was no caveat from him that the interviews would be conducted by a subcommittee, Personnel Committee, etc.  The implication of his words was ‘all the supervisors’ would interview.

(4)   If only 3 of the supervisors are going to interview the candidates in the Community Room (without it being televised) how is that the other 3 supervisors (Olson, Richter, DiBuonaventuro)  will know the candidates responses to the questions.  If this interview process is public, will there be minutes taken of the meeting?  How do the 3 supervisors who conduct the interviews discuss the matter with the 3 supervisors who do not attend the interviews, without breaking the Sunshine Law.  I understand that the vote will be in public, but how can the supervisors discuss this matter prior to the public vote if 50% of the board does not participate in the interviews?

Mimi, you say that the supervisors are going beyond the requirements to provide transparency.  If that is the case, then why not just have a quorum with 4 supervisors present for the interview process and remove doubt and questions about the process.  The Board of Supervisors have an opportunity to make this process right. 

I will put off posting information related to this topic on Community Matters until after business hours today. It is my hope that all supervisors appreciate the importance of the interview process and will be encouraged to participate . . .  or at a minimum, one more supervisor beyond the 3 supervisors currently onboard.

Pattye

Rather than emailing her responses, Mimi called and we talked through my questions/concerns.  Here is where we stand . . . the Personnel Committee, consisting of three supervisors (Lamina, Kichline, and Donahue) will conduct the supervisor interviews on Wednesday, January 26 at 7 PM; the public is welcome.  Neither Mimi nor any other township staff will be present for the interviews and there will be no minutes of the meeting taken.  The three candidates conducting the interview will apparently brief the other three supervisors on the interview process and the candidates.

Mimi explained that it was difficult to find an available date for all supervisors for the interviews.  I asked if that was the reason there were only three supervisors instead of all six supervisors attending the interviews and she was not sure why.  I suggested that an easy scheduling solution would be for the interviews to be conducted before or after the regularly scheduled Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, January 24.  Presumably, all supervisors could attend and since it was a public meeting, there would be a record of the meeting with minutes.  I was told that this option was considered but not accepted . . . it was thought the interview process would take too long and they wanted the candidates to have sufficient time.

Although I encouraged a fourth supervisor should attend the interview process to have a quorum, at this point that appears unlikely.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one of the other three supervisors, either JD, Paul Olson or Evelyn Richter, stepped up and agreed to participate in the interview process on January 26?

The appointment of an interim supervisor is a serious duty of our elected officials (even if only for a few months) and I do not want to see the process manipulated by politics.

What do I mean manipulated . . .Only one of the four supervisor candidates, John Bravacos, has stated that he will not be on the ballot for the Special Election in May.  Presumably, the other three candidates, Eamon Brazunas, Mike Heaberg and Kristen Mayock, all intend to participate in the Special Election required to fill the vacancy. 

To be clear, I am not questioning the credentials of these three candidates but the only non-political appointment for this interim supervisor position is John Bravacos.  Additionally, John Bravacos is a former township supervisor and former chair.  To appoint one of the other three candidates would be politically motivated and give an advantage to that individual in May’s Special Election.  For the record, a Republican (Warren Kampf) held the vacated seat and John Bravacos is a Republican.

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Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors Meeting, 2-8-10 . . . YouTube Video Part V: Residents Pattye Benson, Liz Feinberg & Supervisor DiBuonaventuro's Response

As I have said from the beginning, for me the decision to return St. Davids escrow is not about sidewalks.  It is about the failure of certain supervisors (Lamina, Kampf, Olson, Richter) to follow the policies and procedures as set forth in Tredyffrin’s Home Rule Charter.  I find it remarkable that as elected officials they make the choice to disregard the rules (deciding instead to govern as they please), apologize for their actions and then expect the community to  just move on.  I stand behind the comments that I make in this video clip.  The actions of Supervisors Lamina, Kampf, Olson and Richter have now set precedent; with liability to the taxpayers for lawsuits as a result of this vote. When asked at the January 25 supervisors meeting, township manager Mimi Gleason agreed that the return of St. Davids escrow has now set precedent for future developers doing work in Tredyffrin. 

Supervisor DiBuonaventuro’s response is an interesting section of this video clip.  His comments and understanding of the citizens stands in stark contrast to remarks made by Supervisors Lamina and Kampf.  I know many of us thank JD for hearing the residents and trying to ‘right’ the wrong of the decision to return St. David’s escrow.

Please watch this video clip:  YouTube Video Part V: Residents Pattye Benson, Liz Feinberg & Supervisor DiBuonaventuro Response 

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