Mark Freed

Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Question #4: Why Should You Be Elected or Re-Elected?

List of candidates running for Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors – voters will select one district supervisor from the East, one district supervisor from the West and two At-Large supervisors. See Question #4 and the candidate responses below.

DISTRICT SUPERVISOR 1st DISTRICT (EAST) CANDIDATES
Julie Gosse (D)
Raffi Terzian (R)

TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR AT-LARGE CANDIDATES
Mark Freed (D)
Sharon Humble (D)
Gina Mazzulla (R)
Liz Mercogliano (R)

DISTRICT SUPERVISOR 3rd DISTRICT (WEST) CANDIDATES
K. S. Bhaskar (D)
Peter DiLullo (R)

____________________________________________________________

  1. What differentiates you from the other candidates and/or board members? Why should you be elected or re-elected?

K. S. Bhaskar Response:

I will bring the perspective of an engineer and computer scientist, different from that of lawyers and real estate developers. I will review storm-water management holistically rather than piecemeal. Frequent flooding and erosion create a mutually-reinforcing spiral. Insufficiently planned development triggers the problems, and the former quarry, now a lake, at Atwater raises a water table which does not respect township borders. Also, I will use my background in mission-critical software used in banking and healthcare to review and strengthen the township’s cyber-defenses because towns in America are being hit with ransomware attacks. Also, while the Internet of Things – such as smart light bulbs that signal when they need replacement, or remote monitors on water and sewage pumps – reduces our costs and makes it easier to provide municipal services, it also increases our potential attack surface, which must be reviewed and protected.

Peter DiLullo Response:

There are three primary reasons that I would make a great addition to the Board of Supervisors.  First and foremost I have three young children utilizing all the services of Tredyffrin – schools, parks, libraries, fields, etc.  With that, I have a very vested interest in keeping Tredyffrin a great place to live.  Second, I spent the first part of my career as a CPA with KPMG and PWC.  I understand budgets and the responsible use of our residents hard earned tax dollars.  The third reason that I would make a great supervisor is that I currently work in commercial real estate giving me a deep understanding of responsible land use, smart growth, and the impact of storm water on our neighborhoods, businesses, and natural resources.

Mark Freed Response:

Experience, responsiveness and transparency. I am in my fifth year as a Township Supervisor, and believe that I have a solid grasp of the operations, finances and priorities of the Township.  My experience as a municipal solicitor and environmental lawyer also helps inform my decisions. I try to be responsive to the questions and concerns of our residents. And, I try to keep interested residents apprised of what the Township is doing and why. Whether dealing with the issues of electronic billboards, commercial or residential development, assisted living facilities, police department and fire company staffing and funding, bond issues, neighborhood noise and nuisance complaints, infrastructure repair and maintenance, stormwater, historic preservation, environmental stewardship or the many other matters that come before the Board, I try to apply my experience and knowledge for the benefit of our residents.

Julie Gosse Response:

I am a scientist, small business owner, and mother. Together, these give me unmatched capabilities and perspective that will benefit Tredyffrin. My scientific background involves breaking down complex systems, thinking hard about cause-effect, and determining actions from a fact-based perspective. Through my science communications firm, I balance client requests with fiscal discipline, and manage growth with sustainability. As a team, much like the Board of Supervisors, we work together to tackle tough problems. I enjoy science because data are dispassionate, and can take the emotion out of arguments. I enjoy client business and being a parent because both reward soft skills and communication. As a Supervisor, I bring these strengths to the Board and better serve our community as a result. Finally, having grown up in Tredyffrin, I have a deep understanding and love of the township and work to represent all residents – children, young adults, working parents, and seniors.

Sharon Humble Response:

I have extensive legal, business, executive, and charitable-board experience. I’m attorney who has spent almost 25 years in private practice as outside legal counsel representing local governments to help them improve their fiscal positions and solve other legal and practical problems. I served as the Managing Partner of my firm’s Philadelphia office. In that role, I handled all the business matters of the office, including client relationships, contracts, budgeting, B2B purchases, insurance, taxes, charitable and promotional participation, governmental affairs, HR matters, etc. I also served on my firm’s national Management Committee for 12 years until my retirement from the firm on January 1, 2018. The national Management Committee oversees and votes on all of the business matters of the firm’s 40+ offices in the U.S. I’d love to bring my years of very successful and high-level business experience to serving on the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors.

Gina Mazzulla Response:

Well, one differentiator is I am not a lawyer. My educational background is rooted in the social sciences and education and my professional background is executive development, organizational behavior, marketing and communications. My recent “extracurricular” activity is in the area of non-profit management. This background serves as a foundation for leadership built on observation of individual and group dynamics, facilitation of ideas and dialogue, integration of people and processes, and critical thinking and reasoning.

My work on the United Way community impact team has greatly influenced my readiness for the role of Supervisor and informed my framework for decision-making in the role. This includes: How many constituents are affected by the action or decision? What are the positive and negative implications? What are the consequences if we don’t act now? What is the impact on other services and stakeholders? and What are the implications for long-term (financial) sustainability?

Liz Mercogliano Response:

I am different from all the current Supervisors and running candidates. I am a behavioral health RN with hospital and forensic experience. I can run a code and save a life. I know the importance of helping families with addicted love ones. I sponsored the first Tredyffrin Backyard Opioid Event.  I survived breast cancer at age 38.

I was the Chair of Diversity for the T/E Schools because I grew up in a diverse family. I married an immigrant. I was an older student when I attended the Delaware University Law School. I am not in it to climb the political ladder or play party politics. I believe Township issues are bipartisan issues. The citizens of Tredyffrin deserve better and deserve more than red tape and minimal information (after the fact). I bring a willingness to listen and treat others with dignity and respect.

Raffi Terzian Response:

I believe in public service and my focus is on community first and how best to address the needs of our community. I take a collaborative approach in bringing people together and I am a good listener who consistently acts with integrity, accountability and transparency. I am actively involved in the community through a number of activities including my service on the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, as a member of the Township Parks and Recreation Board and through my involvement in my church. I bring a unique skillset to the Board of Supervisors as an Emergency Physician with a background in public health and I have strong leadership, organizational and decision-making skills. I presently work in health advocacy with executive experience and budget responsibility. I am prepared to serve and believe that we, as neighbors, should serve each other with a common interest in seeing our community thrive.  Thank you.

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Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Candidate Question #3: Funding Township Infrastructure Improvements

List of candidates running for Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors – voters will select one district supervisor from the East, one district supervisor from the West and two At-Large supervisors. See Question #3 and the candidate responses below.

DISTRICT SUPERVISOR 1st DISTRICT (EAST) CANDIDATES
Julie Gosse (D)
Raffi Terzian (R)

TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR AT-LARGE CANDIDATES
Mark Freed (D)
Sharon Humble (D)
Gina Mazzulla (R)
Liz Mercogliano (R)

DISTRICT SUPERVISOR 3rd DISTRICT (WEST) CANDIDATES
K. S. Bhaskar (D)
Peter DiLullo (R)

___________________________________________________________

  1. Tredyffrin Township has a substantial fund balance yet the infrastructure is deteriorating. How do you propose balancing compensation-driven cost pressure and the need to deliver infrastructure improvements while avoiding or limiting a tax increase?

 K. S. Bhaskar Response:

“Compensation-driven cost pressure” is presumably a euphemism for salaries and benefits for township employees. While we need not be overly generous, if we want our employees to put their best foot forward for the township every day, we need to compensate them appropriately and competitively for our part of the country. As the township also needs rainy-day reserves to deal with emergencies as well as fund capital projects, not all fund balances are available to be tapped for needed infrastructure maintenance resulting from kicking the can down the road for years in the name of low taxes. There comes a time to pay the Piper. While some cost increase is inevitable, I will use an impact-cost-risk analysis to prioritize projects and mitigate and manage costs. There is no magic, and these are techniques I have routinely used in managing a product business at a global Fortune 500 company.

Peter DiLullo Response:

Aging infrastructure is a topic that cannot be ignored.  Assisted by 3rd party engineering reports, projects need to be budgeted, planned and prioritized in an effort to avoid tax increases.  Furthermore, state and federal grant programs need to be researched as a funding source.

Mark Freed Response:

The Township does have a substantial fund balance.  I commend prior Boards for leaving the Township on a sound financial footing.  However, this has come at the cost of significant deferred maintenance on such things as bridges, parks and other Township property.  To address these much-needed repairs without resorting to depleting the reserves or excessive tax increases, the Township has proposed to prudently use reserves along with the issuance of historically low interest bonds.  As we move forward, we must continue to insure that the Township’s expenses are in line with its revenues.  This requires assuring that we properly prioritize needed work and other expenses.  Although excess reserves can be used to help pay for infrastructure, we must assure that they do not become so depleted that they are not available for their intended purposes: downturns in revenue and unanticipated expenses.

Julie Gosse Response:

We can no longer shy away from the critical maintenance of our infrastructure or minimize fixes on our major problems. Our fund balance is strong. We can use a portion of this in a fiscally responsible bond strategy to help meet today’s infrastructure challenges while retaining sufficient reserves to meet our future contingencies. With interest rates at record lows, now is a good time for us to issue bonds to raise money to meet our capital needs. Using this approach gives us an opportunity to fund our long-overdue infrastructure projects – bridges, deteriorating stormwater infrastructure, deferred park and building upgrades – without a significant impact on taxes.

Sharon Humble Response:

Costs for Township personnel compensation are unlikely to go down as Township personnel gain experience, expertise, and tenure with the Township. Personnel costs are typically paid from anticipated revenue as part of any government annual budget. They’re not paid from reserves or special funds created from special taxes or fees. In my opinion, capital improvements in the township should be funded from a bond issue or special funds created to address the particular infrastructure issues.

Gina Mazzulla Response:

The most honest answer I can give is “I don’t know”. I don’t know details of the mandated or contractual obligations of the township (like police pension funding, employee benefits, etc.), I don’t know the scope of needed infrastructure improvements, nor do I know the details of the township’s investment strategy or reserves allocation to make a sound proposal.

I would ask questions like, Can we pool with other municipalities to get better health care rates? Can we increase the employee share of premium costs? Can we renegotiate the terms of (new hire) police contracts away from defined benefit pensions to a 401K model? What are the risks and opportunity costs if we don’t fix infrastructure now? What are the potential consequences of waiting? Do we have the necessary expertise and broad community input to make these decisions?

What I do know is I will make decisions that prioritize resident safety, security and well-being.

Liz Mercogliano Response:

First, the Tredyffrin infrastructure updates are done with the cooperation of Chester County, Pennsylvania, local businesses, local developers and PECO. For example, Chester County does help fund our Mill Road bridges. I suggest infrastructure should be funded by bonds and the capitol project funds. The fund balance should be the last resort. The fact is no one likes tax increases. And no one wants services cut back. However, a minimal tax increase to beautify and renew may be necessary to replace roads and bridges for public safety. As a former School Board Director, I know that once the fund balance is spent down, it is very difficult to replace. The Supervisors should seek professional outside advice to strategize the various ways to fund infrastructure. I also suggest a citizen advisory board.

Raffi Terzian Response:

Addressing gaps in infrastructure should be a key priority for the Board of Supervisors but must be balanced with fiscal responsibility. The fund balance is a by-product of sound fiscal management and has allowed our township to maintain a strong bond rating. Rational and prudent spending must be preserved. It is important to establish priorities for infrastructure improvements in consultation with the township manager, engineer and others in the context of a broader comprehensive plan for the Township. In terms of infrastructure, the issue of stormwater management and development of a strategic plan should be a top priority as it continues to be a significant concern to our community. The recent establishment of the Stormwater Citizen’s Advisory Task Force is a step in the right direction, as it will leverage the collective expertise and guidance of members of our community who recognize this issue as complex and multifaceted.

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Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Candidate Question #2: How to Fund Fire & Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

List of candidates running for Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors – voters will select one district supervisor from the East, one district supervisor from the West and two At-Large supervisors. See Question #2 and the candidate responses below.

DISTRICT SUPERVISOR 1st DISTRICT (EAST) CANDIDATES
Julie Gosse (D)
Raffi Terzian (R)

TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR AT-LARGE CANDIDATES
Mark Freed (D)
Sharon Humble (D)
Gina Mazzulla (R)
Liz Mercogliano (R)

DISTRICT SUPERVISOR 3rd DISTRICT (WEST) CANDIDATES
K. S. Bhaskar (D)
Peter DiLullo (R)
____________________________________________________________

2. The Fire Companies that serve our township are facing declining financial reserves, increasing expenses and staffing shortfalls which directly impact its ability to provide essential fire, rescue and emergency medical services to the community. As a supervisor, how would you improve the situation for our volunteer fire companies – please be specific.

K. S. Bhaskar Response:
As firefighting and emergency medical services are complex jobs requiring substantial training, career professionals are necessarily a significant part of our first responder force, like our police. In my discussions with voters, I find that many are not aware that fire companies are separate 501(c)(3) entities that raise funds from individuals as well as from the township. Most individuals are unaware that the donations they make – if they make any – are wholly inadequate. I would start by better educating our voters, to help decide what long term solution(s) might work. Our fire companies and township will be key participants in the process. For example, should we stay with the current model, or should we bring emergency services under the purview of the township? If voters pay more for more professional emergency services, will they also seek the increased accountability that goes with increased cost?

Peter DiLullo Response:
The safety of our township residents is paramount and our local fire companies need to be supported in order to provide the response times and service that we expect in Tredyffrin. These companies face headwinds including an aging population, dwindling volunteer base, several new assisted living facilities, and escalating equipment cost. The Board of Supervisors needs to be transparent with residents on the issue and provide the support necessary to keep our residents safe.

Mark Freed Response:
As supervisors we need to assure that we have fire companies that can properly serve our residents, and that the fire companies have the funding and other resources they need to do so. Since I joined the Board in 2014, Township combined cash contributions to Berwyn Fire Company and Paoli Fire Company have increased more than 70%. Most recently, as a member of the Tredyffrin and Easttown Joint Emergency Services Plan Committee, I supported funding Berwyn Fire Company’s new Old Forge Crossing substation to help improve the fire company’s response times in Chesterbrook, Glenhardie and other surrounding areas. I am also supporting the funding of Paoli Fire Company’s new Advanced Life Support (ALS) services. We must continue to help our fire companies obtain sustainable funding sources and create incentives to increase its volunteers, by working with state, county and other municipal governments, as well as the fire companies themselves.

Julie Gosse Response:
I propose taking a two-pronged approach to improving our fire and emergency services: (1) align funding with utilization and a changing volunteer/career professional makeup and (2) improve our fire infrastructure to reflect our current population and service needs. First, the utilization and staffing of volunteer fire companies continue to shift. We, as a township, need to keep pace. To this end, I have collected data from our fire companies and have started building and refining objective models for prudent township funding, with the goal of providing sustainable support that our fire companies can count on. Second, our current fire/EMS infrastructure does not optimally serve our residents. Fire stations were built on the Rt. 30 corridor based on the population decades ago, which has changed dramatically with Chesterbrook and other developments. I will work with our fire companies to develop a strategic plan to rethink our fire/EMS infrastructure.

Sharon Humble Response:
The PA Auditor General’s recent release to Tredyffrin volunteer fire companies of a large amount of funding from a 2% tax on fire insurance premiums was a good start for improving our VFRAs’ standing. Ambulance billing accounts for approximately 37% of Berwyn Fire Co’s income sources, yet many of these receivables are never paid by the service beneficiaries. Tredyffrin’s Fire Companies should contract with reputable collections attorneys who work on a contingency basis to collect these unpaid receivables. Tredyffrin should work with State legislators to require insurance companies to pay, directly to the Fire Companies, the fees for responding ambulance service when they treat a patient at the scene, including in cases in which the patient declines transport to a hospital. Township contributions to its Fire Companies should be increased, and I’d seek greater corporate sponsorship, including “naming rights” on fire trucks.

Gina Mazzulla Response:
As a former EMT and current business member of the Berwyn Fire Company, and having served on the VRA board at GFAC (West Chester), I see first-hand the changing reality from (unpaid) volunteer service to a (paid) professional services business, akin to the police department.

I am not suggesting that fire companies become “employees” of the township but I am suggesting that they are funded in a similar manner with fire company leadership involved in the budgeting process to the same degree as other department heads. If existing dollars cannot be “found”, I am not opposed to implementing a specific and reasonable fee to ensure for long-term provision of capital equipment, life-saving technologies, and skilled paramedic professionals to serve our community.

One reason for a decline in the number of volunteers is the cost of living in Tredyffrin, forcing many who grew up in the fire service to move away for more affordable housing. I propose a township “tax relief” benefit for verified volunteer fire and EMS personnel as a measure of support to encourage increased and sustained volunteerism.

Liz Mercogliano Response:
The solution for fire and rescue lies in the consolidation of resources and an optional flat fee for fire and rescue included in the township tax bill. There should be an exception for hardship. The consolidation and merger of some services can be approved through the Board of Trustees for Paoli, Radnor and Berwyn Fire and the local townships.

Since the PA State law mandates the emergency services, it is not an option to NOT fund fire and rescue. And, since there is a larger population and an aging population the services are needed. As per best practices, the annual budget review can track revenue sources and deficits and point to trends. Here are several revenue sources that help but do not close the gap:
• The Pennsylvania State Firefighter Insurance fund
• Fundraisers
• Emergency medical service billing for ambulance services
• Community donations

These sources are just not enough to prevent deficits and a possibility of closing a single fire company. I vote for more State funding by earmarking specific need, grants and a flat fee.

Raffi Terzian Response:
We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated group of volunteers and career Fire and EMS personnel who serve our community. Public safety should be a top priority and the services provided by the Radnor, Berwyn and Paoli Fire Companies must be viewed as an essential service by our community and the Board of Supervisors. In the short-term, budget planning must include a focus on funding this essential service. In addition, a plan must be established to ensure the solvency of these organizations in the long-term.

As a Board Certified Emergency Physician, I have first-hand experience working with EMS systems and providers directly. I am aware and have an understanding of the billing challenges that our fire companies face. The Board of Supervisors should lead the way in creating a comprehensive plan that better coordinates services and promotes dialogue and cooperation among our fire companies.

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Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Candidate Question #1: Zoning

Starting today for the next four days, is a daily question which was presented to the Tredyffrin Township supervisor candidates. All eight supervisor candidates responded and their responses will follow the question in alphabetical order according to last name. Here is the reminder of the candidates running for the Board of Supervisors – voters will select one district supervisor from the East, one district supervisor from the West and two At-Large supervisors.

DISTRICT SUPERVISOR 1st DISTRICT (EAST) CANDIDATES
Julie Gosse (D)
Raffi Terzian (R)

TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR AT-LARGE CANDIDATES
Mark Freed (D)
Sharon Humble (D)
Gina Mazzulla (R)
Liz Mercogliano (R)

DISTRICT SUPERVISOR 3rd DISTRICT (WEST) CANDIDATES
K. S. Bhaskar (D)
Peter DiLullo (R)

_________________________________________

Question #1:  If you could change one thing in the Tredyffrin Township zoning code or township ordinances, what would it be and why?

K. S. Bhaskar Response:

I would change the regulations to reduce the maximum permissible housing density. While multi-family residential structures like apartment buildings are appropriate, and we want Tredyffrin to be a welcoming community to one and all, excessive housing density adversely affects our quality of life in ways such as exacerbating traffic (which in turn adversely impacts the timeliness of emergency services) and adding to overcrowding in our schools. In our transition from villages to suburbs, change is inevitable. But change must be managed rather than allowed to run roughshod over us.

Peter DiLullo Response:

The first thing that comes to mind is that the Board of Supervisors should have final approval of any land development plans.  This responsibility should not be relegated to an appointed volunteer planning commission.

Mark Freed Response:

It is difficult to pick a single issue, as I am regularly considering changes to many provisions of the Township Code (e.g., sign requirements, assisted living facilities, development, stormwater, historic preservation).  If required to pick just one, I would choose stormwater.  We are in a period of sustained increased rainfall.  These events have exposed gaps in stormwater management throughout the Township and the region.  The solution to many of these problems are capital improvements, which the Township has and will continue to undertake.  However, the Township is also evaluating ways that the ordinance can be improved to address these issues.  This is why I supported the creation of a Citizens Stormwater Advisory Task Force to review the Township’s stormwater management requirements and to make recommendations on how to improve these requirements.

Julie Gosse Response:

The current zoning code is tilted toward growth over sustainability, and I am in favor of amending it to limit negative impact on our strained shared resources. A reasonable starting point is to address the construction of new assisted living facilities that would encroach on our residential neighborhoods. We can do this by: (1) removing assisted living facilities from C-1 zoning districts altogether or (2) only allowing them in specific C-1 areas (e.g., on a major arterial highway). In addition to changing the character of a neighborhood, assisted living facilities create increased call volume for our already-strained fire companies. Beyond adjusting our C-1 zoning, we could consider requiring conditional use approval for assisted living facilities, adding the additional step of review and approval by the Board of Supervisors.

Sharon Humble Response:

The first “thing” on my list for change is to revoke the Planning Commission’s final decision-making authority on development plans and requests for waivers and variances. On October 7, 2019, the Board of Supervisors authorized the Township Solicitor to review methods by which the Board of Supervisors may obtain final land development approval authority, which I fully support.

Tredyffrin has seen a surge of oversized development projects before the Planning Commission seeking waivers from the restrictions designed to protect the rest of us. Too often, the developers’ requests are granted, to the great detriment of the surrounding homeowners and the environment. Responsible development, however, fits within Township ordinances that exist to protect the Township’s infrastructure, property values, safety, and quality of life. Township residents are not willing to have their safety, quality of life, home property values, and regional environment stability sacrificed for the sake of a developer’s greater profit.

Gina Mazzulla Response:

I support efforts to return final approval authority for land development concerns to the Board of Supervisors. Zoning and land development concerns, I believe, have the broadest and deepest impact across the spectrum of services the township is responsible for, including emergency services, roads and traffic, stormwater, open space and population density, and of course, taxes – affecting both resident stakeholders and the physical infrastructure of the township.

As a Supervisor my duty is to represent the interests of, be a voice for, and be accountable to the residents and voters I serve, balanced with due consideration for the interests of the township as a whole entity.  Recognizing the complexities and legalities of zoning and land development, I also support mandatory education for Supervisors, Planning Commission and Zoning Officer and Hearing Board through programs such as the Chester County Planning Commission’s Master Planning Program for (new) municipal officials.

Liz Mercogliano Response:

The most important zoning ordinance update should be in the area of the planning and development including storm water management. The Supervisors should take back the final decision role in the final approvals of building plans.  The Supervisors are elected and must respond to the constituents. Currently, the township allows the planning commission, (a group of Supervisor appointed volunteers), the privilege of the final decisions on the development plans. I suggest the Supervisors take back the final approval. In addition, the supervisors should give the residents in the immediate community a stronger voice.

Our citizens should not have to attend Supervisor meetings begging for help. Our taxpayers should not have to scream, beg or read dissertations for the Supervisors to acknowledge their views. I plan to listen and help in any way I can in a polite civil manner. A simple response of thank you, I am glad you came to our meeting would suffice.

Raffi Terzian Response:

I am honored to serve as a Board member of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust whose mission is to preserve and protect historic and cultural resources in our Township. The Board of Supervisors must enact a historic ordinance which is meaningful and which firmly recognizes the importance of these resources for the benefit of our community and ensures their preservation for future generations. Progress is being made with the creation of a draft ordinance, which is winding its way through the approval process, but this process must advance swiftly and with transparency. The recent controversy over the installation of a digital billboard, which many of us oppose, illustrates the need for open dialogue, community engagement and greater visibility in the creation, review and application of our Township ordinances.

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Theft of ‘BAN the Digital Billboard’ signs from private property throughout Tredyffrin — At Least 60 Signs Stolen

This is the post I didn’t want to write …

I have lived here for many years and I have never seen a community and its residents so united on any single issue as they are in their opposition to the proposed digital billboard in Paoli! The strong anti-digital billboard sentiment was the reason that the social media campaign was mounted – Change.org petition (over 3,300 signatures), dedicated Facebook page and a GoFundMe account to help offset the price of BAN the Digital Billboard print materials and lawn signs. Through generous donations of residents two hundred and fifty signs were ordered and delivered in early November.

Not wanting to risk people accidentally picking up the BAN lawn signs with the political campaign signs post-election, I waited until after November 6 before distributing. After notifying residents that I had the signs, the decision was made to initially only place on private properties. I hand delivered the signs to make certain that they were safely in place. Since Election Day, approximately 100 signs were put on private property throughout Tredyffrin Township – Paoli, Malvern, Devon, Berwyn and some went to Easttown.

A few days after posting BAN lawn signs, I was notified by residents that a few had disappeared. I didn’t think much about it and quickly replaced the signs. However, by the time we got to the second week in November, it was becoming obvious that many signs were gone. The phone calls and emails were picking up from residents upset that their signs were taken – and then two signs were stolen from my own property.

As the numbers in missing BAN signs grew throughout the township, it was clear that this was not a teenage prank but rather trespassing, vandalism and theft of private property. I filed a police report as did at least two others. I did a drive around and put together a list of stolen signs, street by street. (Remember I knew the locations because I had placed the signs myself).

The initial list of stolen BAN signs was forwarded to Tredyffrin Police Chief Beaty on Friday, Nov. 16, about ten days since the first signs went up. The list of stolen BAN signs has continued to grow; to date at least 60 signs stolen (and in less than three weeks!) The value of the stolen signs is over $500.

That’s right – In less than three weeks the BAN the Digital Billboard signs have all but disappeared — trespassing, vandalism and theft of personal property. This is not a joke – 60 signs have been stolen!

Residents who have had their BAN signs stolen are extremely upset. There are very few ways that the public can make their opposition to the proposed digital billboard known – many have called or written supervisors and township officials, signed and shared the Change.org petition and then in the last few weeks put up the lawn signs on their private property to show their opposition

If you look around the township, you will see left over political campaign signs, real estate signs for new developments that are not in the township, signs looking for Kraft bus drivers, firewood and painting advertising signs – you name it – you will see these signs are all over in public areas of the township. Those signs are not placed on private township resident’s property and yet they remain untouched, some standing for months on end.

And here we have at least 60 signs on private property of township tax payers – and they are all stolen.

One resident on Conestoga Road who filed a police report for theft of their Ban the Digital Billboard lawn sign asked me for a replacement sign which I delivered. Fearing the same outcome as the old BAN sign, those homeowners actually went to the hardware store and bought wooden stakes to secure their replacement sign – to see if that would dissuade the trespasser from coming on their property again.

Many of the folks who have had signs stolen are older and some live alone. One resident, who lives alone, said that it scared her that someone had come onto her private property just 10 feet from her front door and stole her two BAN signs.  But again – because this township resident so strongly opposes the proposed digital billboard she too requested (and I delivered) two replacement yard signs.

To be clear, most of these 60 stolen signs were located on private property – removed from the front yards of homes throughout Tredyffrin Township.

My home telephone number is on the BAN the Digital Billboard signs. As  result, I have answered countless phone calls and emails from residents all seeking information and update on this important issue. The public was kept in the dark about the proposed digital billboard for well over a year and now that that the issue has surfaced residents want and expect updates.

Last Monday I went to Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors meeting seeking answers, updates, something, anything! During the citizen comment section, I read a prepared 3 page statement – about the township-wide theft of the BAN signs and asking for an update on the digital billboard.

Residents have no idea where our township supervisors actually stand on the proposed digital billboard with the exception of newly elected supervisor Mark Freed. Mark (who was in the audience) and his opponent Judy DiFilippo answered questions before the election. I posted the answers on Community Matters – and both candidates responded opposing the proposed digital billboard.

At the meeting, the supervisors remained silent with no response to the stolen signs or to my request for an update on the proposed digital billboard. To his credit, supervisor Paul Olson did ask me “who did I think was taking the signs” – I sidestepped the question with a response of “who” had the most to lose from the BAN the Digital Billboard campaign. Several times I commented that the theft of private property is not a joke – one supervisor (who will remain nameless) had a smirk on his face the entire time suggesting that he found the issue amusing.

Sadly, I can report that my statement and questions to the supervisors regarding the proposed digital billboard elicited no response.The township solicitor once again stated that the public would be given advance notice when the digital billboard was back on the agenda.

Let’s not forget that it was the solicitor who announced that there was a draft agreement between the township and Catalyst Outdoor Advertising regarding the digital billboard. As I stated at the meeting, there are over 100 BAN yard signs remaining in my garage – when I feel that it’s safe they will begin to reappear.

The Tredyffrin Township Police Department is now actively involved in the investigation. If you have had a sign stolen, Police Chief Beaty suggested folks call the police number (610-647-1440) and an officer will respond to take the report.

The BAN the Digital Billboard campaign and the theft of yard signs may seem like a joke to some or at least to one supervisor — but I assure you that the anti-digital billboard sentiment of this community is not going away!  Although frustrated and disappointed, we will continue to fight back!

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For those that are interested, here’s the list by street of signs stolen. Please let me know if you know of others and I will add to the list.

  • Swedesford Road – 4 signs (including 2 on my personal property)
  • Biddle Road – 1 sign
  • Valley Road – 3 signs
  • Valley Road – 2 signs
  • Central Avenue – 8 signs
  • Maple Avenue – 4 signs
  • Russell Road – 4 signs
  • Old Lancaster Ave – 2 signs
  • Glen Ave – 1 sign
  • Old Eagle School Road – 2 signs
  • Conestoga Road – 2 signs
  • Bear Hill Road – 5 signs
  • Lancaster Avenue – 6 signs
  • Valley Forge Road – 1 sign
  • Valley Forge Road – 1 sign
  • Upper Gulph Road – 4 signs
  • 50 BAN Signs stolen in Tredyffrin Township + 10 Signs stolen in Easttown Township
  • TOTAL of 60 BAN Signs Stolen in 3 weeks

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Tredyffrin Special Election Supervisor candidates – Where do they stand on the digital billboard, historic preservation ordinance and transparency? Know before you vote!

How many of you know that there is a special election on November 6 to fill an at-large seat on Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors? And that for the first time in township history, both candidates running to fill the vacancy are former supervisors! 

The last time that there was a special election on the ballot in Tredyffrin Township was in May 2011; a highly contested race between Mike Heaberg (R) and Molly Duffy (D) to fill an interim supervisor seat, as a result of Warren Kampf’s election as PA State Representative. If you recall, the special election results were so close that the winner’s name changed when malfunctioning voting machines required ballot hand counting. Ultimately, Heaberg was declared the victor and in the general election match-up race the same year, he won a regular 4-year term.

Now seven and a half years later, township residents will be choosing a supervisor in the special election on Nov. 6. In the sea of political campaign lawn signs are a couple of locally familiar names – Republican Judy DiFilippo and Democrat Mark Freed are the special election candidates running to fill the vacated at-large seat on Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors.

Republican Sean Moir, a second term supervisor abruptly resigned last month, having moved from the township and therefore no longer eligible to serve. The term for the vacated seat runs through 2019. The good news for residents is that both DiFilippo and Freed are seasoned township supervisors – Judy served for twenty years, six as its chair and Mark completed one four year term (2014-17).

Whoever wins the upcoming election will determine the party majority on the Board of Supervisors. With the departure of Moir (R), there are three Republicans (Heather Greenberg, Paul Olson and Trip Lukens (and three Democrats (Murph Wysocki, Matt Holt and Kevin O’Nell) currently serving. Because so often local township votes come down on party lines, the impact of who fills the seventh seat could be significant and if Freed wins, it will mark the first time in township history for a Democrat-majority board of supervisors.

The township and its residents is embroiled in a serious issue that would forever change the landscape and village feel of Paoli – the proposed digital billboard at the intersection of Rt. 252 and Lancaster Ave. I remain troubled that as a community we were kept in the dark for 18-24 months while township supervisors discussed the proposed digital billboard. The public only learned at the 11th hour with the township solicitor Vince Donohue using words like “negotiations” and “settlement agreement” in advance of the Catalyst presentation. I, like many others took that to mean that the digital billboard was a fait accompli.

With nearly 2,500 signatures showing support for the Change.org petition to “BAN the Digital Billboard in Paoli”) and a GoFundMe exceeding its goal, the community is fully engaged.  The laws signs are scheduled for delivery this week!

It is critical that voters know where special election supervisor candidates DiFilippo and Freed stand on important township issues –  the proposed digital billboard, historic preservation ordinance and transparency in local government. The candidates received 3 questions from me and were asked to respond in 100 words or less to each question. The following are the questions and the candidate responses, in the order received.

Question #1: As you are aware, the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors is entertaining a proposal to construct a digital billboard at the intersection of Rt. 252 and Lancaster Ave. in Paoli. The community has been told by the township solicitor that Catalyst Outdoor Advertising will initiate legal proceedings if the digital billboard is not approved. If you are elected before the vote occurs, how will vote and why.

Candidate Judy DiFilippo (R) response: I do not support the proposal by Catalyst Outdoor Advertising to construct digital billboards at the Route 252/Lancaster Avenue intersection.  In addition to the concern for safety of the traveling public, in my opinion, the mass of the signs proposed is not appropriate on that site. They do not reflect the overall aesthetic desired in Tredyffrin and do not respect the existing structure and its significance. If there is a deficiency in the Township’s sign ordinance relating to digital signs, a moratorium should be considered on any future applications for digital billboard signs until the ordinance is corrected.

Candidate Mark Freed (D) response: I oppose the Catalyst digital billboard proposal.  This billboard is wrong for Tredyffrin Township and would result in the destruction of a valued historic resource.  I have opposed the billboard since the concept was first floated by Catalyst when I was on the Board of Supervisors. I advised both my fellow Board members and Catalyst of my grave concerns.  I have not seen anything in the recent presentations to change my opinion and remain opposed to Catalyst’s proposal.

Question #2: Unlike most Main Line townships, Tredyffrin does not currently have a historic preservation ordinance. Please comment as to whether or not you would support such a township ordinance and why.

Candidate Judy DiFilippo (R) response: The Township has an award-winning 2003 Historic Resource Survey that lists hundreds of historic buildings and it explains the historic and/or architectural significance for each.  Valley Forge National Historical Park lies within Tredyffrin. We have a significant link to the founding of our country.  We should be proud to share that history.  I support the creation of an ordinance that appreciates and protects our most significant historic resources. Pennsylvania’s Municipalities Planning Code and Chester County’s Planning Commission have tooIs available to help us do that, including adaptive reuse.  We can protect historic resources and still respect an individual’s property rights.

Candidate Mark Freed (D) response: I support a historic preservation ordinance that protects our Township’s valued historic resources.  We must recognize Tredyffrin’s rich historic heritage.  We must also be mindful of the rights of the owners of historic resources. I understand that the Historical Commission has proposed an ordinance amendment that would prohibit the demolition of designated historic resources unless reviewed by the Historical Commission and approved by the Board of Supervisors at a public hearing. This amendment would prevent the issuance of over-the-counter demolition permits that have resulted in almost immediate demolition of our historic resources.  It would be a significant step forward.

Question #3: The support for openness and transparency in local government often appears on candidate campaign literature. What does it mean to you for local government to be open and transparent? Please be specific.

Candidate Judy DiFilippo (R) response: Transparency means you abide by the Sunshine Law. Certain matters dealing with Township personnel or pending litigation can be discussed in Executive Session by the Board and the Solicitor. When Executive Session meetings are held, it is announced during the Public Meeting. All Township Commissions, Advisory Councils, and Boards must abide by the Sunshine Law as well because their decisions and recommendations also impact the Township.  Open discussion by the Board and with the public is the only place for decision-making. The public should be able to rely upon that and upon the trust given to the individuals they elect.

Candidate Mark Freed (D) response: To me, openness and transparency mean providing the public with information in a timely manner, giving the public the opportunity to express their views at public meetings and elsewhere, listening respectfully, responding forthrightly, and letting the public know that their voices have been heard and respected.  They mean being clear and direct with the public about the Board’s decision-making process.  They mean remembering that Board members serve the public.

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2,300+ Change.org petition signatures, GoFundMe exceeds goal & State Rep Warren Kamp (R) & Democrat opponent Melissa Shusterman make statements opposing digital billboard in Paoli!

The community’s voice of opposition over Catalyst Outdoor Advertising’s proposed digital billboard in Paoli continues to grow louder! After hearing that our Tredyffrin supervisors were considering the digital billboard proposal at the intersection of Rt. 252 and Lancaster Ave (and demolishing the historic Clockworks building) my social media campaign to inform the community went in to full motion. And based on the overwhelming response, you have to believe that the Board of Supervisor Chair Heather Greenberg and her fellow supervisors are getting the message —  residents do not want the billboard or the Clockworks building destroyed in the process.

Over the years supervisors have lamented that they don’t hear from the public – Not the case this time! Over 2,300 people have signed the Change.org petition opposing the digital billboard. (If you oppose this proposed digital billboard and have not signed the petition, please join us by clicking here)

Reasons given when signing the Change.org petition range from safety and concern for distracted drivers to changing the small town appearance and not wanting to see another historic building destroyed in our community. Tredyffrin resident Jennifer Whip left this comment when signing the petition; “Tearing down an Okie building to put up a digital billboard is a double negative. We are willing to tear down a beautiful, historic building in order to put up an ugly, distracting billboard at a dangerous intersection in an era of too much distracted driving. We are privileged to live in a beautiful community that has learned to use and repurpose its historic buildings for the benefit of generations to come. No one is going to cherish a billboard.”

The GoFundMe exceeded its initial goal of $1,000 in less than four days! As a result of the community’s generous contributions, lawn signs to “BAN Digital Billboard in Paoli & Save Historic Clockworks Building” have been designed and ordered and will arrive late next week.  Based on the number of people who have asked me for a sign, a second order may be needed. Printed material will also be available starting next week. If you are interested and able to contribute, you can find the GoFundMe link by clicking here.

In addition to Savvy Main Line and Main Line Neighbors recent articles about the community push-back over the digital billboard under consideration, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Erin McCarthy called for an interview and photos were taken in front of the Clockworks building. For those that remember the Covered Wagon Inn saga, it was déjà vu standing in front of another of our historic township buildings with hopes for a similar outcome! Taking the photo at 4 PM, the Inquirer photographer received an up close and personal idea of the congestion of this intersection – and that’s without the construction of a 20 ft. high digital billboard and its blinking messages!

With the mid-term election coming up in 2-1/2 weeks, the local political campaigns are in overdrive – I was surprised to learn that the community effort to stop the digital billboard and save the Clockworks building was recognized by PA State Representative Warren Kampf (R) and his opponent Democrat Melissa Shusterman on their Facebook campaign pages. Typically Warren Kampf has not weighed in on local supervisor issues, but is making an exception in the case of the digital billboard, opposing it 100%

On her Facebook campaign Facebook page,  PA State Representative Democrat opponent Melissa Shusterman is also clear in her opposition to the digital billboard under consideration by our township supervisors.

If there was any question or doubt as to where the community stands on the issue of the digital billboard and the demolition of the historic Clockworks building — Tredyffrin township supervisors should be receiving the message loud and clear!

There is an important Special Election on the November 6 ballot — registered voters in Tredyffrin Township will be choosing an at-large supervisor to fill a vacated seat on the Board of Supervisors.  Given the current situation with the proposed plans for a digital billboard, lack of historic preservation ordinance and transparency issues, the selection of the new supervisor is extremely important to this community!

In my next blog post, I will discuss the supervisor candidates, Judy DiFilippo (R) and Mark Freed (D). and offer their responses to three timely questions which I posed.

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Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors Approve Wayne Glen’s Conditional Use application, 5-2

Wayne Glenn aerial map

Wayne Glen, NW corner of Swedesford & Old Eagle School Rds.

Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors approved the Conditional Use application for the Wayne Glen project by a vote of 5-2 at the special Board of Supervisors meeting last night.  The proposed mixed-use development of townhomes and carriage homes plus a commercial office development is located on the Northwest corner of the intersection of Swedesford and Old Eagle School Roads in the Glenhardie section of Tredyffrin Township.

Wayne Glen’s developer Arcadia Tredyffrin LLC will be the first developer in Tredyffrin Township to utilize the Trout Creek Overlay District zoning which requires increased stormwater management and flood control in the flood-prone Trout Creek area.  The plan is for 108 residential units and a 240,000 sq. ft. office building.

Arcadia filed its application in April 2013 and many, many meetings have taken place in the intervening two plus years – with the Planning Commission, Glenhardie citizens and homeowner groups, residents, supervisors, township staff, experts, etc.  The township held seven public hearings regarding the proposed project in 2015, where citizens with standing, and experts for the township and developer, provided testimony.

Based on the testimony received by residents and experts, the conditional use permit required additional conditions beyond those imposed by the township’s Planning Commission. Many of the concerns raised by residents during the process were addressed in the compromise contained in the approval of the conditional use application, including the increased minimum road width of 24 ft. from 20 ft.

Knowing that you can never “please all the people, all the time”, there were a couple of Glenhardie residents, Jacqueline and Richard Kunin, who expressed their displeasure at the supervisor’s vote to approve the conditional use.  The Kunin’s have passionately stated their opposition to Wayne Glen throughout the process, claiming that the stormwater and sink hole issues are not adequately addressed by the developer’s plan. They have also continued to cite concern that the proposed project may be located on a sacred burial ground of Revolutionary War soldiers and Indians.

The vote of 5-2 by the Board of Supervisors to approve Arcadia’s conditional use application came down along political party lines – the five Republicans (Mike Heaberg, Kristen Mayock, EJ Richter, Paul Olson and JD DiBuonaventuro  all voted in favor of the conditional use application and the two Democrats (Murph Wysocki and Mark Freed) voted against the application.  Both Wysocki and Freed delivered lengthy remarks as to why they could not support the project. Wysocki used the words “unsuitable”, “unsound”, “unsound” and “unsafe” in describing the Wayne Glen project and Freed claimed that Wayne Glen was “ill-advised” and that the property was “not suitable” for this type of development.

According to Arcadia’s website, the developer states, “With cutting edge techniques for integrating stormwater management and urban design, Wayne Glen will alleviate existing problems with streambank erosion, poor water quality, and flooding.”

The next step in the Wayne Glen project is for Arcadia to submit their land development plan to the Planning Commission.

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Tredyffrin BOS discusses Town Center zoning changes and TESD finances discussed

As is often the case, last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting conflicted with the Finance Committee meeting of the School District.  I attended the Supervisors meeting as I was particularly interested in hearing about any Chesterbrook Village Center updates.

Prior to the regular BOS meeting, the supervisors held a public hearing on the proposed amendment changes to the Town Center zoning ordinance which would affect the redevelopment of Chesterbrook.  The 122,216 square foot shopping center lost its anchor store, Genuadi’s supermarket in August 2010.   With the departure of the 40,000 square foot grocery store, the Center saw a significant drop in foot traffic and began a downward spiral as the empty storefronts continued. The shopping center was sold at a receiver’s sale November 1 for $8.9 million to 500 Chesterbrook Boulevard, LP.  As someone who lives in the western part of the township, I regularly use travel through Chesterbrook and I look forward to seeing its redevelopment.

Lou Colagreco, attorney for the shopping center owner, offered eight suggested changes to the township’s Town Center zoning ordinance.  After much discussion from the supervisors and with opinion offered from audience members, there were a couple of sticking points that could not be satisfied.

Colagreco sought to decrease the parking requirement from 2.5 parking spaces to 2.25 parking spaces per townhouse, citing various national surveys and local development trends.  Although Colagreco offered neighboring municipalities have decreased their parking requirements, he found little support for this change from the supervisors and definitely not from the residents, many of which live in Chesterbrook. He also hoped to change the stormwater requirements and exclude decks as part of impervious coverage requirement.  Because of the severity of stormwater issues in the township, lessening this requirement also did not meet with a favorable response, particularly since these changes would affect the entire township, not just Chesterbrook.  After a couple of hours of discussion, the supervisors decided to send the suggested Town Center zoning ordinance changes back to the Planning Commission for further review and revisions rather than approving.

I am anxious for the redevelopment of Chesterbrook and look forward to seeing  the preliminary draft of the plan when it is available. The Town Center ordinance combines commercial and residential usage. Last night marked the last official supervisor meeting for supervisors Michelle Kichline and Phil Donohue; we thank them their commitment to the community and their public service during the last four years.  On Monday, January 6, Murph Wysocki and Mark Freed will be sworn in and join the Board of Supervisors.

Ray Clarke attended the TESD Finance Committee meeting and I thank him for providing his notes from the meeting.  I note that the school board is resurrecting the Public Information Committee which is great news.  If you recall, Debbie Bookstaber chaired this committee but after she left the school board, the committee was disbanded.  At that time, Betsy Fadem stated the committee was not necessary, as each existing committee would provide their own public communications.  But as we have seen during the last year, communication could be improved and I am grateful that Scott Dorsey is taking over this role to chair the committee.  Ray also mentions that the Board intends to have public discussion on the Affordable Care Act and its requirements.  The aides, paras and substitute teachers received a reprieve on this TESD jobs for one-year that runs until June 2014. To meet the ACA requirements will require the school district to offer affordable health insurance to all employees so this discussion should start soon rather than later on this topic.

Here are Ray’s notes:

A note before getting to the meat of last night’s TESD Finance Committee – some encouraging signs on the communications front.  The Public Information Committee has been resurrected, now under Scott Dorsey’s leadership.  The FC meeting was structured to facilitate community input (although the competing Township event limited participants).  And the Committee took steps to add back historical context to the monthly financial statements, so our analysis should become easier.  Time will tell on all of the above, but the intent seems real.

1.  2013/14 Forecast.  The budgeted $1.7 million deficit is now projected to turn into a break-even (including the one-time TEEA bonus).  This is driven by the $0.65 million benefit from the Vanguard settlement, a $1.4 million favorable variance in salaries (factoring in all retirements, resignations, leaves), a $0.2 million reduction in salary-driven benefits, a $0.2 million savings in transportation, offset by (non-salary) special education expenses that are $0.85 million over budget.  So, yet again, the budget under-estimated the salary “breakage”.  The special ed development is perhaps more of a surprise and although it wasn’t clear, seems to be made up of outside tuition and legal costs driven by an unexpected influx from early intervention programs.  That seems like an especially large variance given a total special education budget of $16 million.

2.  Preliminary 2014/14 budget.  The FC voted to approve for discussion at the January 6th Board meeting a draft that calls for a 3.2% property tax increase: the 2.1% Index and 1.1% PSERS exception.  This looks to me like a budget with enough leeway to absorb costs of a TEEA agreement and AHA solution, both of which are left as “status quo” in the first pass.  The ~$3 million expense increase is a result of a $1 million net PSERS increase, and a $2 million increase in “other” expenditures.  The breakdown of the “other” number was not quantified, although Special Ed and Maintenance cost increases were cited.  Interestingly healthcare costs are expected to be flat.  The salary line is level also, but results from a number of puts and takes: absence of the $1 million plus bonus and savings from the new TENIG agreement, offset (completely?) by nine additional teachers, six due to enrollment, two due to special ed, one for mental health.  No sign of the (in) famous breakage in this calculation, though!

My take-away:

1.  The Board needs to be persistent in seeking a full accounting of the projections, as the high level numbers net out and obscure many different trends (more detail was requested).  Also, it’s too easy, as was done last night, to place the blame on Harrisburg/PSERS, when in fact that’s only one third of the expense increase.  Everyone last night quickly accepted that all cost savings opportunities have been implemented after the efforts of recent years.  It may be helpful to the community to recap what possible next steps would be (eg are we really down to major and unlikely options like class size, arts programs, transportation, facilities capital spending**, etc., and what would be the magnitude for those?).  [**Capital spending is paid for by tax payers, too].

2.  The size of the Special Education program in total, the “miss” this year and continuing above-index increases are clearly a budget concern.  The district has taken steps to control costs, but those are being overwhelmed.  I think it would be helpful to the community to have an exposition of the program, perhaps at an Education Committee meeting?  A description of the services offered, the utilization and price trends, steps we have taken and plan to take, comparison with other districts and so on.

3.  There is no sign yet of any increase in the real estate assessed base value, which is budgeted flat, but signs of development suggest that any change will be to the upside.  On the other hand, residential development will increase enrollment, and as Dr Motel is quick to remind us, that’s a net negative for the school district.  So the pressure on real estate taxes to increase above the rate of inflation will continue.  (Although PSERS will be more or less leveled out by 2018/19, even with the just-released slight increase in planned contribution rates).  I continue to believe that it makes sense to share the tax burden between property and income via an EIT, although of course implementation would be a huge problem.

4.  The community needs to pay attention, starting with the January 6th Board meeting.  Although the budget evolves as more data comes in, and exceptions advertised may not be requested or indeed taken, early numbers have a way of being sticky.

A final note: President Buraks informed us that the district is putting together a full analysis of the options associated with the requirements of the Affordable Healthcare Act.  This would be presented for community discussion rather than as a Board recommendation.  The idea seems to be to do this soon, although no specific timing was given.

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State Rep Warren Kampf takes on TTDEMS Chair Dariel Jamieson for lying about him … again!

Below is an excerpt from an op-ed written by State Rep Warren Kampf (R-157).  In the article, Kampf is calling for an end to uncivil discourse.  He uses a couple of examples in his editorial of uncivil speech, including Dariel Jamieson’s recent letters to the editors.  It is not Jamieson’s right to voice her opinion concerning Kampf’s vote on the transportation bill that is the issue but rather her lying about a political pledge she states that Kampf took.  As I said in my last post, Jamieson compounded the difficult situation by writing a second letter to the editor and not taking responsibility for her incorrect accusations contained in her first letter. Civil discourse means to engage in conversation intended to enhance understanding – personal attacks and lies are wrong and diminish the value of the argument.

In his latest op-ed, Kampf does not say Jamieson’s actions were politically motivated.  However, when you write an editorial attacking a Republican elected official and sign the letter as chair of the local Democratic Committee (as Jamieson did), it is not a stretch to come to that conclusion.  For those keeping score – Dariel Jamieson has now written two editorials attacking Warren Kampf in the last couple of weeks and Kampf’s op-ed marks his second response back to her.  Here’s hoping that Jamieson does not feel compelled to write a third letter to the editor on the same topic!

Beyond the uncivil discourse created by Jamieson’s letters, I remain troubled that her actions as the political party chair are putting Murph Wysocki and Mark Freed, the newly elected Democratic Tredyffrin Township supervisors, in an awkward position less than a month before they take office.  Wysocki and Freed will join five Republican supervisors on the Board and this ‘war of words’ from Jamieson going on in the background cannot be helpful to them.  I will not believe that Jamieson sought counsel with either Wysocki or Freed before engaging in this discourse against Kampf – if she had, it is extremely doubtful that they would have approved either of these letters.

When you accept the role of president or chair of an organization, and act publically in that capacity, you need to ensure that your voice is representative of those that you are elected to serve – are Jamieson’s letters to the editor representative of TTDEMS members opinions?  I hope not.

In closing, I echo Kampf’s words,” … every citizen and every elected official – would be better served saying what we must in a way that achieves civil discourse …”   Below is the excerpt from Kampf’s Op-Ed, to read the entire article, click here.

It’s Time to End Uncivil Discourse

As State Representative, I am accustomed to hearing from constituents as they present their views and positions on issues being addressed in Harrisburg and here at home.  Some agree with me.  Some do not.  But, mostly, all make their points in a manner that is respectful and fair.   I work hard to do the same in answering their concerns.  It’s called civil discourse, and it is one of the foundations of our representative democracy.

Unfortunately over the past few months – as we have seen arguments over government shutdowns in Washington, D.C., differences surrounding the recently enacted Transportation Funding package in Harrisburg, and now the passionate feelings over eminent domain issues in Phoenixville – it has become clear that too many have abandoned civil discourse in favor of uncivil speech and actions.

This speech and these actions do us no good.  It forces people, who are otherwise normally reasonable, to abandon the idea of achieving pragmatic progress.  It forces gridlock.  It stops us from addressing truly important issues.

During the debate over the Transportation Funding package, I was accused in a Letter to the Editor of choosing my position based on a political pledge to a Washington, DC special interest group.  The problem?  I had never taken any such pledge (something that was easily verifiable with a simple internet search) and I had made it known publicly that my position came from surveying the people I represent.  My attacker, however, had no problem simply submitting a lie to the newspaper.  That’s uncivil discourse.

I give my attacker respect for her position on the issue and her passion over it.  I believe, however, her point could have been made in a way that was more respectful to both the public and me.  Had she made her point this way, I believe it may also have been more effective for those she wished to persuade. . . .

Let me be clear: I am in no way suggesting that citizens abandon making their voice heard, be it in favor or opposition to an issue.  As the saying goes, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

I am just suggesting that all of us – every citizen and every elected official – would be better served saying what we must in a way that achieves civil discourse again.   In this way, we can find our way to truly addressing issues rather than just fighting about them.  That is a simple goal we should all strive to achieve if we truly care about making our community stronger.”

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