John Bravacos

Another Tredyffrin Supervisor Candidate Drops Out . . . and then there were 3!

On January 13, I wrote the following on Community Matters:

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.

I was so convinced that the Board of Supervisors would make the ‘right’ choice . . . the non-political appointment of John Bravacos, that I made a bet with a close friend.  I lost that one-dollar bet!  Yesterday, John Bravacos decided to withdraw his application for consideration to fill the interim supervisor vacancy. In John’s confirmation to me of his withdrawal, he offered that a recent change in his work travel schedule precipitated his decision. Bravacos served on the Board of Supervisors, two as chair, and the only candidate to state that he would not be on the Special Election ballot in May. 

A few weeks ago, there were five candidates and then we learned that candidate Joe Muir withdrew his application.  Now two days before the Personnel Committee interviews the candidates, John Bravacos decides that he too will leave the supervisor appointment process. Three candidates remain for consideration, Republicans Mike Heaberg and Kristen Mayock, and Democrat Eamon Brazunas.

What I had hoped the appointment of John Bravacos to the Board of Supervisors would achieve is no longer possible. Sadly, with Bravacos out of consideration, it now appears obvious that there is political party influence in the selection process. Coincidentally the change in the Sidewalks Subcommittee presentation to February 7 corresponds with the appointment of the interim supervisor.  The new interim supervisor is to be announced on February 7.  Once appointed, the interim supervisor will be in a position as the possible ‘swing vote’ on the land development authority ordinance. 

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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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No Breaking the Sunshine Act in Tredyffrin . . . Interim Supervisor Candidates to be Interviewed!

I am pleased to report that interim supervisor candidates, John Bravacos, Eamon Brazunas, Mike Heaberg and Kristen Mayock, will be interviewed on Wednesday, January 26, 7 PM. The Board of Supervisor’s Personnel Committee (Bob Lamina, Phil Donahue and Michele Kichline) will conduct the interviews in the Community Meeting Room at the township building.  The interview process will be open to the public. 

I know some have questioned my need to see the interim supervisor candidate process remain transparent.  I am very process-oriented and believe that less problems are created when procedures are followed.  I think it’s OK to question the way things are done but unless a process is ‘officially changed’; it is important that the rules are followed.  If you don’t like a specific rule, fine . . . work to change it.  Just don’t arbitrarily break the rule because you know better.  Although some may question my dogged approach to transparency in regards to the supervisor vacancy — for me, it is about encouraging an open public process from our elected officials.

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Keeping Tredyffrin’s Interim Supervisor Appointment ProcessTransparent

As a personal effort to understand the township’s interim supervisor candidate interview process, I sent the following email to Mimi Gleason yesterday and copied Tredyffrin’s solicitor Tom Hogan and the Board of Supervisors.

Mimi – 

I have a couple of questions concerning the interim supervisor candidates and interview process; and hope that you can help.

(1)    Understanding that yesterday, January 10 was the deadline for residents to submit their bios, resume, etc. to the township if interested in the interim supervisor position, could you please tell me if any additional applications were received.  That is, any additional applications other than those received from John Bravacos, Eamon Brazunas, Mike Heaberg and Kristen Mayock. 

(2)   As stated at the January 3 Board of Supervisors meeting by Chairman Bob Lamina, we understand that all interim supervisor candidates will be interviewed.  Now that the deadline for receiving applications has occurred, could you please let me know the anticipated schedule for interviewing candidates?  With the clock ticking and the time constraints of the individual supervisors and candidates, I imagine that finding an acceptable candidate interview date is difficult.

The residents were informed of the candidate interviews at the last Board of Supervisors meeting and we all understand the importance of the process.  As the candidate process is public information, your response to this inquiry would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Kind regards,

Pattye Benson

There are reports of Sunshine Act violations by elected officials in other municipalities almost daily in the newspapers.  My email to Mimi was a personal attempt to encourage an open and transparent process in the interim supervisor appointment; thus avoiding any suggestion of Sunshine Act violations by our township officials. 

There may be ‘doubting Thomases’ among you, but I am pleased to report that I received a response to my inquiry from our township manager by the end of the day.  In an email reply, Mimi confirmed that no additional residents applied for the supervisor vacancy.  John Bravacos, Eamon Brazunas, Mike Heaberg and Kristen Mayock are the four township residents to be considered for the interim supervisor position.

Mimi confirmed that it is a “ . . . challenge finding an interview date.”  She explained that she does not have a date or any more information on the process.  However, Mimi offered that, “When it’s sorted out (and yes, that has to be soon) . . . “  that she would let me know the plan. 

It appears that our township manager (and supervisors) understand the importance of keeping the interim supervisor appointment process open and transparent to the community.  As information about the appointment process develops, I will keep readers informed through Community Matters.

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And Then There Were 4 . . . Tredyffrin Interim Supervisor Candidate Drops Out

I have learned that Joe Muir has withdrawn his application from consideration for the interim supervisor vacancy.  Mr. Muir was a member of Tredyffrin’s 2009 Budget Advisory Working Group (BAWG).  He has a Marketing and Finance degree from Susquehanna University and his career has been in sales and sales management in the healthcare industry and is currently employed by IMS Health.  I do not know the reason for Mr. Muir’s decision to withdraw as an interim supervisor candidate.  I also do not know whether Mr. Muir will be a candidate in the Special Election.

Currently, there are four remaining interim supervisor candidates for consideration by the Board of Supervisors:  John Bravacos, Eamon Brazunas, Mike Heaberg and Kristen Mayock.  The deadline for submission of resumes to township manager, mgleason@tredyffrin.org is Monday, January 10. 

Following the candidate interview process, the Board of Supervisors will vote and appoint a supervisor on Monday, February 7.

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PA Sunshine Act Requires Tredyffrin’s Interim Supervisor Candidates to be Interviewed in Public

At the January 3 meeting, township supervisor Bob Lamina formally announced a board vacancy.  Interested residents were invited to submit their resumes to the township manager by January 10.  The process for appointing a new supervisor as explained by Lamina was that the candidates would be interviewed by the supervisors and then a vote and appointment would take place at the February 7 Board of Supervisors meeting. 

This process appeared to be straightforward to me.  As you know, I called the township manager and received the names of the five individuals that had submitted resumes.  I contacted the candidates and asked for their resumes, bio, etc. Three of the candidates (John Bravacos, Eamon Brazunas, and Kristen Mayock) supplied the information to me and the other two candidates (Mike Heaberg, Joe Muir) choose not to provide the information. In lieu of a resume from these two candidates, I provided a short bio.

What a difference a day makes!  After numerous calls, emails, etc. I now understand that Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act complicates what appeared to be a simple, straightforward process to interview the interim supervisor candidates.  Under the Sunshine Law, the selection of a replacement supervisor is required to proceed in a fashion that is substantially different from what would likely be the case in a non-municipal setting.

At the beginning of each township supervisor meeting, the chair of the Board of Supervisors announces the topics that were discussed in Executive Session.  There are only three topics that qualify for private discussion (for purposes of reaching a decision) by the supervisors.  Those three, that qualify under certain circumstances for Executive Session consideration involve: 1) certain legal related items; 2) certain real estate acquisition related items; and 3) certain personnel related items.  The twist with #3 (and the reason that interviewing supervisor candidates does not qualify) is that a township supervisor is not an employee, from the standpoint of qualifying as a ‘personnel type’ that may qualify for executive session activity.  In other words, the whole process, including the interviews for a replacement interim supervisor, is required by the Sunshine Act to occur in advertised public meetings. 

If you are  interested in further information, here is a link to the Sunshine Act,  http://www.openrecordspa.org/sunshine.html  A statement to consider from the Open Records website, “Open meetings are the basis for positive discussions between citizens and their elected officials. Government decisions should not be made in secret.”

So what does all this mean for the selection of an interim supervisor for Tredyffrin . . . ?  It seems clear to me that the Sunshine Act requires public agencies to hold open meetings, provides for behind-closed-doors executive sessions in certain cases but specifically prohibits ones “involving the appointment or selection of any person to fill a vacancy in any elected office.”  There is a regularly scheduled Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, January 24 where the interview process of prospective interim supervisor candidates could take place.  Since all Board of Supervisors meetings are advertised, I am guessing there would be no additional advertising (or expense) to the township.  On the other hand, if I understand the Sunshine Act correctly, a Special Supervisors Meeting could be scheduled (and advertised) for interviewing the candidates. 

However, the clock is ticking . . . so I suppose that the township manager, solicitor and Board of Supervisors are working on the next step to schedule the interview date for the five candidates.  Again, remember you can still submit your resumes through Monday, January 10 to the township manager, Mimi Gleason at mgleason@tredyffrin.org.  Having received emails/phone calls for me to encourage her, I am going to have another conversation with Judy DiFilippo and see if I can convince her to submit her resume to fill the interim supervisor position.

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Tredyffrin Interim Supervisor Candidates . . . Bravacos, Brazunas, Heaberg, Mayock, Muir

Because of Warren Kampf’s resignation from the Board of Supervisors, there is a vacancy for an ‘interim supervisor’.  The interim supervisor will serve on the Board of Supervisors until the Special Election in May.

At this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting the vacancy was formally announced and interested residents were asked to send their resumes to the township manager by Monday, January 10.  Because the vacancy was anticipated, the interim supervisor position has been advertised on the township website since early December.  Residents who have applied for the interim supervisor position is public information and I contacted the township manager for the list of candidate names.

After receiving the names, I sent an email to each candidate explaining that I would be writing an article and would be including the candidate names.  As a means of keeping the selection process transparent and open, I offered to include a “summary of experience, brief bio or a personal statement” with the article if provided by the candidate. 

The following individuals have submitted their resumes to the township manager for consideration as interim supervisor. 

  • John Bravacos
  • Eamon Brazunas
  • Mike Heaberg
  • Kristen Mayock
  • Joe Muir

John Bravacos, Eamon Brazunas and Kristen Mayock responded to my email and supplied their resumes, bio, etc. and that information is available below.  Information was not provided by Mike Heaberg or Joe Muir.  However, I have attempted to find background information to include for these candidates.

John Bravacos

Email received from John Bravacos with his resume. (Click here for  John Bravacos resume.)

Pattye,
Below is what I sent to Mimi for the vacancy.

Additionally, I have provided this to Board Members and other interested people. I would like to fill the vacancy only until the Special Election to:

1.  Move the Rt. 252 Amtrak bridge forward;
2.  Work with Willistown to create the joint municipal authority;
3.  Start the discussion about the future of the Paoli Library and its lease which ends soon;
4.  Help position the Board for the upcoming contract negotiations; and
5.  Briefly enjoy the opportunity to serve the Township residents again. 

I am not seeking election as there are excellent candidates for the Special Election and for the Primary that have the fresh perspective, enthusiasm and specific plans necessary to sustain them for the full term.

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to talk with you.

John G. Bravacos, Esq.
___________________________________________

Mimi,

Attached is my resume.  I am interested in filling the vacancy on the Board of Supervisors created by the resignation of Warren Kampf.  Having served on the Board for eight years and lived in the Township for more than 40 years, I believe I can provide valuable service during the brief duration until the special election.  As I am not interested in being a candidate in that special election, my time can be focused on the needs of the residents and not electioneering.

John G. Bravacos, Esq.

Eamon Brazunas

Click here for Eamon Brazunas cover letter to the township manager and resume.

Mike Heaberg

With more than 25 years in investment services, Mr. Heaberg co-founded Axiom Asset Management in 2003 and currently serves as the company’s managing director. His previous experience was with Prudential Securities and PaineWebber. Mr. Heaberg is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and is a member of the CFA Society of Philadelphia.  An original board member of FLITE, Mr. Heaberg continues to serve on the organization’s board of directors as chair of the Finance & Investment Committee.

Kristen Mayock

Email received from Kristen Mayock with her resume. (Click here for Kristen Mayock’s bio and click here for her resume.)

Pattye:

Pursuant to your request, I have attached my bio and my resume. 

I am committed to serving Tredyffrin Township because I believe it is the ideal place to live, work and raise my family.  The surroundings are idyllic, rich in history, accessible, safe and affordable.  Our Township services and schools are among the best in the region.  By serving as a member of the Board of Supervisors, I hope to preserve and improve upon the unique quality of life that Tredyffrin offers to the individuals and families who live here.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my background, experience and commitment to our great Township with Community Matter.

Sincerely,
Kristen Mayock 

Joe Muir

Mr. Muir was a member of Tredyffrin Township’s 2009 Budget Advisory Working Group (BAWG).  He has a Marketing and Finance degree from Susquehanna University and his career has been in sales and sales management in the healthcare industry and is currently employed by IMS Health.

______________________________________________________________________

Sometimes elected officials find it easier to embrace open government in theory than to facilitate citizen access.  By keeping the candidate process in the public’s eye, I hope the supervisors will be open, transparent and accountable to the residents of Tredyffrin as they interview the candidates and ultimately choose the interim supervisor.

The intention of this post is to provide information to the public.  Although I will accept comments on this post, I ask that your remarks be thoughtful and accurate.  As a former political candidate myself, I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of negative campaigning and misrepresentation of issues and I do not wish to see these candidates have similar experiences!

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