Tredyffrin Republicans

UPDATED: Who Said Local Elections Aren’t Interesting — T/E School District Region 2 Candidate is Also a T/E School District Teacher! How is that Possible??

UPDATE: The following  blog post originally appeared on October 12. After posting, I contacted T/E Region District 2 school board candidates Kyle Boyer (D) and Doug Anestad (R) and chair of Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee  Kathleen Keohane, offering to post responses to the post. I received responses from Doug Anestad and Kathleen Keohane and those responses now appear at the end of the post. (See Below). There was no response to my email from school board candidate Kyle Boyer.  

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Based on the colorful campaign yard signs sprouting in our neighborhoods, we know that the countdown to Election Day 2017 is underway.

While it should be a given that the the upcoming Municipal Election on November 7 for township supervisors and school board directors is important, we know that historically turnout on a non-presidential year is not good.  In an attempt to encourage interest in our local races, I wrote a post earlier this year after the candidates filed their petitions, listing all the supervisor and school board candidates.

In that March 8 post, I commented about the T/E Region 2 school board race between Democrat Kyle Boyer and Republican Doug Anestad; asking if a current T/E School District teacher (Boyer) could run for the T/E School Board.  Although intended as a “procedural question”, there were a few comments that suggested I was biased in this race because I knew Mr. Boyer’s opponent (Doug Anestad). My point wasn’t to advocate or side with one candidate over another — it was simply seeking an understanding of the situation from a legal/procedural standpoint.

I subsequently learned that a candidate (in this case Kyle Boyer) can run for T/E School Board as a T/E School District teacher.  The candidacy is not the problem; the difficulty arises should the candidate win the election … as a currently employed District teacher cannot also serve as a member of the District’s school board. However, it was stated in March that Boyer intended to leave the District and work as an administrator in another school district and that his departure would be long before the November election or the 60-day requirement of notification to the District. It was assumed that the situation would resolve itself.

Between the Trust’s 13th Annual Historic House Tour in September and a trip to Seattle to see our first grandchild Audrey last week, I have admittedly been distracted from local issues the last several weeks, including the upcoming municipal election. I have now learned that the situation with the T/E Region 2 school board candidate Kyle Boyer has not resolved itself.

Mr. Boyer did not resign from his position with the T/E School District and remains in the classroom as a T/E Middle School teacher. The deadline for candidates to withdraw their name from the election was August 8 and Mr. Boyer did not withdraw. We have a T/E School District teacher with his name on the ballot as a candidate for the T/E School Board yet he cannot serve the District as a member its school board and as a District teacher.  Now what??

The following email was received from Neill Kling, chair of the Tredyffrin Republican Committee regarding the Kyle Boyer issue, stating “what had been a troubling potential conflict of interest has now become a legal question …”  I will contact the chair of the Tredyffrin Township Democrats Kathleen Keohane and T/E School Board Region 2 candidates Kyle Boyer (D) and Doug Anestad (R) for their comments on this matter.  If responses are received, the post will be updated accordingly.

The local T/E School District Region 2 race just became a lot more interesting!

Pattye:
We know that T/E school district employees are forbidden by law from serving on the T/E School Board because that creates an obvious, immediate and irreparable conflict of interest. Nevertheless, one of the candidates for School Board in Region 2, Kyle Boyer, is currently a teacher at Valley Forge Middle School. While this may technically be permitted (so long as he leaves his position in time to serve — see below), it obviously creates a similar conflict of interest, particularly at this moment of District/Teacher contract negotiations.

However, I learned over the weekend that Mr. Boyer did not notice his resignation as a teacher in the T/E School District by October 6 and, to my knowledge, still has not done so. That is critical, because, as I understand PA law, a teacher must give 60 days notice of their resignation before it takes effect. I presume that rule is to protect the smooth transition of instruction for the students being deprived of a teacher, and give the district time to identify a proper replacement. In any event, should he be elected School Board Member, Mr. Boyer will not be able to assume the office on December 4, 2017, which is when the new school board sits. Thus, what had been a troubling potential conflict of interest has now become a legal question: is Kyle Boyer eligible to be on the ballot given that he will not be able to serve at the appointed time? And that raises other troublesome questions, such as: 1) By whom would a waiver of the 60-day rule be given and on what basis? 2) Could such a waiver be given conditioned on his election? 3) Is there some deal in the works whereby Mr. Boyer has already been promised such a conditional waiver? 4) Has he asked for one? 5) If Mr. Boyer’s name remains on the ballot and he gets the most votes, but withdraws from the race or is unable to serve, who decides upon the person to serve on the School Board in his stead, and under what criteria? 5) Should the parents of Mr. Boyer’s students have been told what the potential status of his employment is?

The PA state law for school directors can be found athttp://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/US/HTM/1949/0/0014..HTMunder ARTICLE III. SCHOOL DIRECTORS. The prohibition against an employee serving as school board member is Section 324. The language requiring teachers to give 60 days notice can be found in ARTICLE XI. PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEES. Section 1121.

We are currently looking into these questions but I would appreciate your putting this up on the CM website to generate valuable discussion among community members.

Best,

Neill Kling
Chair, Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee

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UPDATE:  Below is the response to the post above from T/E School Board District 2 Candidate 2 Doug Anestad (R):

Pattye,

It is telling that neither Kyle Boyer nor Kathleen Keohane have responded for four days, and is a clear indication that they don’t have a good explanation. I am sure they will come up with something, but it will not answer the fact that teachers are required by state law to give 60 days notice to resign, or that teachers cannot serve on the school board of the district in which they work.

There are only two possibilities here if Kyle Boyer wins:

1) He violates state law and resigns with less than 60 days notice before the December 4th swearing in date. All signs point to the fact that – because he has violated the law and not resigned in time – he cannot serve on school board.

2) He does not resign as a teacher and simply cannot serve on school board.

This looks increasingly likely as Mr. Boyer has already missed two important dates this year in regards to resigning.

Now, no matter what explanation is provided, it must be noted that Mr. Boyer and his party leaders have already lied to the public about this issue.

On March 14, 2017, Kathleen Keohane stated on Community Matters that, “Kyle will have left the District long before the November election or the 60-day requirement.” He has not.

If Mr. Boyer were absolutely certain he was going to resign, he would have done so with the proper legally required notice, and in time to be seated on December 4th.  Again, he has not.

As noted by Mr. Kling, the legal problems run even deeper. The same law that says a school district employee may not serve on school board in that district also says: “No school director shall, during the term for which he was elected or appointed, as a private person engaged in any business transaction with the school district in which he is elected or appointed, be employed in any capacity by the school district in which he is elected or appointed”

The important phrase there? “During the term for which he was elected.”  This means that if Mr. Boyer were to win, he could not teach in T/E for the next four years unless he received special treatment from the board.  Nor could he serve for the next four years as he violated the resignation notice requirements.

Finally, if Mr. Boyer were to win, he would be taking away the voice of Region 2 residents.  Remember: he can’t serve.  That means that the remaining school board members choose who would take his spot – some of the same people who ignored our Region 2 community in the past would be the ones to pick our representative.

Mr. Boyer’s actions have put residents, the school board and even his students in an untenable position. A position that was avoidable had he and his party leaders just kept their word.  But they didn’t.

As for me, I will continue to run on my record and background as an active and involved citizen fighting for our schools. For example, after I found out that our region was underrepresented by almost 50%, I pushed for, and got, new boundaries for the voting regions for school board that are equal in population size. I was a voice for our parents and community in the Valley Forge Middle School fence issue. I fought to bring technology education to our middle schools. And, I have helped protect taxpayers by stopping wasteful school spending. If elected, I will continue to do the same.

Sincerely,
Doug Anestad


The following is the response to the October 12 blog post from Kathleen Keohane, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee:

Pattye,

Once again it is political season and some members of our community have sought to infuse false narratives into a local school board race that should be non-partisan and focused on the issues. Posted as a blog statement, last Thursday’s letter from Neill Kling, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee, calls into question Democratic school board candidate Kyle Boyer’s fitness to serve. Neill chose not to post this letter on his party’s website or in a letter to the editor but on a local blog, which allows for anonymous comments.

All voters should continue to focus on the facts:

Kyle Boyer is fully entitled to run for T/E school board as a resident of the district. He is aware of and appreciates the requirement that he resign his teaching position and leave the district if and when he is elected on November 7, and is fully prepared to do so. As for the 60-day provision in the PA Code, it gives districts the latitude to hold teachers for sixty days. However, there is solid precedent that the T/E school district has released professional staff with much less notice.

Further, T/E School District Regulation 4031, which governs all district employees, states:

The District will accept, without prejudice, the resignation of any employee provided written notice is given at least two (2) weeks in advance of the planned resignation date.

In late winter, Kyle Boyer informed his supervisor of his intention to run for T/E School Board. He did so out of respect for his colleagues and the school district, knowing that it would become public information after nominating petitions had been certified. That initial conversation and the public knowledge of his candidacy constitute over 8 months’ notice of a possible vacancy in his position at Valley Forge Middle School. It is safe to assume that school administrators have planned for that possibility.

Kyle has chosen to continue working as a teacher in the district until voters select him to represent them on the school board. He is a native of T/E, graduated from our schools, and most importantly, is committed to serving our community. Parents have found him to be an excellent teacher and role model for their children. They see him participating in the community (he is a member of FLITE’s advisory board and a member of the Tredyffrin Parks Board). They know him as a person of integrity who has shown he cares about all T/E residents.

Regarding the suggestion of a conflict of interest, Kyle would be serving as a former teacher – with all the experience that entails.  As others have pointed out, his opponent also is a former teacher, along with current school board vice- president, Scott Dorsey. Former school board members who worked as teachers and administrators include Rich Brake, Karen Cruickshank, Sandi Gorman, Kris Graham and Pat Wood, who resigned as TESD Coordinator of Community and Volunteer Services after her election to T/E’s school board.  All have brought an appreciation for the educational process and the systems in which they operated.

Lastly, in response to anonymous comments about Kyle Boyer’s relative youth, remember that Debbie Bookstaber was elected to the T/E school board in 2009. She was 27 years old, a short-time resident of T/E, and had never attended public schools. The TTRC willingly supported her candidacy.

At 29, Kyle is an example of TESD’s great success at preparing its students well to succeed, and to serve their community. With a B.A. from the George Washington University, an M.S.Ed. and M.P.A. from University of Pennsylvania and his principal’s certification from Immaculata University, Kyle has successfully spent his career teaching.  An ordained minister, he currently is pursuing a third Master’s in Divinity from Lutheran Theological Seminary and serves in the local faith community as well.

As one Valley Forge Middle parent commented online, “We should be debating the fitness of the candidates for their prospective positions, not procedural minutiae that are irrelevant to most.”  I agree.

Sandi Gorman, former T/E school board member and head of T&E Care has endorsed Kyle Boyer. She writes, “I’ve honestly never known anyone more qualified and dedicated to the causes he follows.  How lucky for the TESD that he believes that the good of our kids is a cause he’d like to champion!”

Sandi has served the best interests of the children and families of this community for thirty years and has earned our respect and appreciation. She clearly knows the facts and the law. A long-time Republican, she is supporting Kyle. All Region 2 voters should consider doing the same.

Best regards,
Kathleen Keohane
Chair, Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee

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Are voter ID laws good policy? Will the laws impact the general election in November?

Image result for voter identification

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a total of 34 states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. 33 of these voter identification laws are in force in 2016. West Virginia’s law, signed on April 1, 2016, goes into effect in 2018, missing the November general election.

In Pennsylvania, a law requiring voters to present photo identification was signed into law by former Gov. Tom Corbett in March 2012. However, the PA Commonwealth Court held that the in-person proof of identification requirements were unconstitutional. The Court’s ruling on proof of identification applied only to identification requirements for voters who appear to vote at their polling place – the ruling left in effect previous rules regarding identification requirements for first-time voters at the polling place. If a voter is voting for the first time in an election district, the voter must show proof of identification, either photo or non-photo identification. Returning voters need not show any identification.

Nothing is more fundamental to American democracy than the right to vote. As the November general election nears, how much of a difference could voter ID laws make in the results across the country? I read recently that some are speculating that voter identification laws could be the next “hanging chads” in the upcoming election.

On the issue of voter identification, I received an editorial from Dr. George Anderson of Devon, titled “The Importance of Voter IDs”. (You may recall that Dr. Anderson was a TE School Board candidate in the last election cycle. However, he withdrew from the race citing the work demands of international travel during the campaign season.)

Dr. Anderson supports identification requirements for voters —

The Importance of Voter IDs

For a nation to exist there does not have to be agreement on every issue but there does need to be a generally accepted set of civic norms;  the processes by which things are done. The perceived validity of the decision making process is in fact, more important than individual decisions. That is why the myth of “Cultural Diversity” is so dangerous.

It is not the fact that the concept of “All Cultures are equal” is demonstrably nonsense. If the myth of cultural diversity is accepted, the societal common bonds start to disintegrate, ultimately leading to competition between groups, social and economic chaos.

For a Constitutional Republic to exist there needs to be a general acceptance of the importance of the Law, the process which creates and upholds the law. Without such acceptance and obedience to the Law, at best we are a tribal society with each tribe competing to enforce it’s will upon the others.

Since the disappointing loss suffered by the Democratic Party in the 2000 Presidential election the division between Americans has been growing. There were Democrats who claimed the election was invalid even though there were multiple counts of the same ballots by members of both parties and witnessed by a judge. (Disappointing yes but invalid, no.) There were Republicans who claimed the 2012 election was invalid, with counties reporting more votes than registered voters and precincts reporting 100% participation and 100% straight Democratic vote. (A statistical impossibility.)

What you see very much depends upon where you stand. Attempts to institute voter ID Laws have generally been denounced by those on the Left as an attempt to restrict voting.  Those on the Right respond it is true, limiting the vote to one each for US Citizens over 21 is appropriate. The tragic truth is, if we cannot agree that American Elections should be limited to one vote per mature citizen then the divide in this country is truly wide and the civic norms which tie us together have become very tenuous.

The terrifying prospect is the logical conclusion to such civic separation.

Sincerely;
George E. Anderson III, PhD

 

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Tredyffrin Township Democrats attack Republican School Board Candidate George Anderson for extremist views on Facebook

Republicans-vs-DemocratsWith Election Day 2015 still four months in the future, the Tredyffrin Township Democrats are not letting the “dog days of summer” keep them from going after one of the Republican TE School Board candidates, Dr. George Anderson. With a headline reading “Extremist Views Espoused by TE School Board Candidate”, an email blast was sent to the TTDEMS mailing list and the article posted on their website. The use of graphics and commentary from Dr. Anderson’s personal Facebook page provide the proof of the TTDEMS accusations (see below).

The individual responsible for the TTDEMS email and the website entry is TE School Board candidate, Democrat Alan Yockey, but I am told that the other three Democratic school board candidates support his actions.

Yockey (D) is a candidate for Tredyffrin Region 2 whereas Anderson (R) is a candidate for Tredyffrin Region 1. Although Yockey and Anderson are not seeking the same TE School Board seat, it was interesting to note that Yockey used a entry from Anderson’s Facebook page, which also included a photo of Republican Ed Sweeney. Sweeney is a school board candidate for Tredyffrin Region 2, the same seat for which Yockey seeks office. It’s unclear whether Yockey’s inclusion of Sweeney’s photo from Anderson’s Facebook page was an oversight or calculated to discredit this school board candidate by association.

Politicians and political parties are in the era of Internet campaigning. Creating a social media strategy for use during political campaigns has quickly become an essential part of every candidate’s plan to get into office. Today’s example by the Tredyffrin Democrats shows that the use of social media is a two-edged sword. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are all useful tools to help win an election but as Anderson (and possibly Ed Sweeney) learned today, can also be the secret weapon in local politics.

School Board candidate George Anderson and Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee Chair Neill Kling both provided responses to the posting by the Tredyffrin Democrats (see statements below).  The Chair of the Tredyffrin Township Democrats, Kathleen Keohane, was contacted and should she provide a statement, it will be added to this post.

The calendar may say July, but it looks like this could be a very long campaign season for local voters.  And the battle begins …

From the Tredyffrin Township Democrats email and posting (To read, click on the graphics or go to their website, www.ttdems.com)

TTDEMS

TTDEMS 1 TTDEMS 2

In response to the Tredyffrin Township Democrats posting, School Board candidate Dr. George Anderson provides the following:

In response to carefully excerpted selections from my personal Facebook page being put up by the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee I plead guilty… I am guilty of believing those holding political office should not use governmental power to promote their personal political agenda, (as America witnessed in the recent use of the White House as a screen for the Rainbow Flag). I am guilty of believing in every American should have the ability to defend themselves and their families by exercising their Second Amendment Rights. I am guilty of believing Darwin’s explanation of how life developed on our planet was incomplete and is unsupported by science as it developed over the last 150 years. I am guilty of believing drug addiction is a horrible affliction and having the threat of imminent death may reduce the number of those who take the chance for a thrill. I am guilty of believing, there has been no global warming for the last 10 years and the continued calls for more draconian regulations are more about governmental control than they are about saving the planet. If basing my opinions upon the American Constitution and the existing science is extremist, then I am most certainly guilty.  (I have little doubt the next email from the Tredyffrin Democrats will headline … “Extremist Candidate admits Guilt”)

The level of effort which went into this email is interesting. I do post many political items on my personal page, and they are generally opposed to the policies of this administration but it also includes photos of my new Koi pond, photos of my birds and pictures of Bulldog puppies. One is forced to ask; why has someone put in so much effort, going through thousands of posts, to slandering me? Is it because on my official Facebook page (Dr. George Anderson for TE School Board), I expressed the radical concept that “We owe our children the best education we can provide. We owe it to our citizens to achieve that goal in the most transparent and frugal way possible.”  or perhaps it was the extremist concept that members of the School Board work for the citizens of the TE school district and should be available to them.

It is an old saying “If you cannot attack their ideas, attack them personally.”  With, personal attacks this early in the election cycle, one is forced to ask, who or what is the Democratic machine trying to protect?

Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee Chair Neill Kling provides the following statement in response to the Tredyffrin Democrats posting:

Dear Pattye:
I understand that the Tredyffrin Democrats (in the person of Region 2 School Board candidate Alan Yockey) have sent out an e-mail attacking Region 1 School Board candidate George Anderson as an “extremist” based on material that he has re-posted on his personal facebook page. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond.  

This is a tactic that the TT Democrats used in the last local election to foment opposition to our Republican school board members and candidates. It seeks to demonize certain of our neighbors who put themselves up for election and divide our electorate rather than bring us together to address the challenges that our school district faces.  I’m sure that we Republicans could find material against our Democratic opponents that would perhaps paint them in a way that some of our electorate would consider extreme.  But these are our neighbors, this is not the campaign that we Republicans choose to run, and we will not respond in kind.  Such tactics do not produce a healthy environment for school board (or any other) governance going forward.

Our school board candidates, while certainly all good Republicans, are individuals with many perspectives and  talents who bring their personal opinions to specific issues (issues we hope to engage fully in the Fall campaign) while focusing generally on the core principal of good stewardship — of our children’s education and safety, of our hard-earned tax dollars, of our invaluable school employees, and of our school facilities.  School Board is an unpaid, difficult, often thankless job and each of our neighbors who has served and has stepped forward to ask for your vote this November (Republican and Democrat) deserve our respect.

I also understand that Mr. Anderson has sent you a response to Mr. Yockey’s post.  For my part, I know Mr. Anderson as a devoted father and husband, as a former student of the T/E Schools, as an educator at Valley Forge Military Academy who is also tasked by that institution to bring diversity to its ranks, and as a person with a strong background in finance.   Mr. Anderson has told me that he welcomes any discussion about his views and he will be walking the neighborhoods this Summer (as will all of our candidates) so that our neighbors can get to meet him and engage him in conversation.  I hope that all take the opportunity to do so.

Thanks again for your courtesy,

Neill Kling
TTRC Chairman

Since this Community Matters post went up yesterday, the graphic from George Anderson’s Facebook page which included Ed Sweeney’s photo was removed from the TTDEMS website and replaced with a different graphic.

Kathleen Keohane, Chair of the Tredyffrin Township Democrats provided the following statement in response to school board candidate George Anderson and Tredyffrin Republican Committee Chair Neill Kling:

Hi Pattye,

I appreciate your bringing this troubling issue to light. I disagree strongly with Neill Kling’s characterization of the TTDEMS’ webpage post and email to our subscribers. They cannot be reduced to “a politically motivated attack” on a private person who reposts what some may find offensive material on his Facebook page.

On July 8, George Anderson stepped way over the line when he wrote, “I personally believe it should be against the law to revive someone who has a drug overdose. Letting them kill themselves would thin the herd.”

Understandably, our candidates expressed disbelief and revulsion that a person holding this view could be in the position to make decisions about the welfare of our District’s children.

No one disputes George Anderson’s right to express whatever views he may hold. But there are consequences to doing so. I believe every Tredyffrin voter needs to take a careful look at each of the candidates running for local office. Yes, they are our neighbors, and we appreciate their willingness to step forward to make a difference in our community. But who are they, and what do they stand for?

We are less than a month into the lazy days of summer, and I know that few people are focused on the fall election right now. From a political standpoint, our party’s decision to take a stand against George Anderson on July 11 was hardly strategic.

It simply had to be taken. His heartless belief that it should be a crime to administer life-saving medicine to a dying addict, along with some of his other extreme views need to be known. I feel certain that the reasonable, caring, well-informed people who live in our community will reject them.

Best regards,

Kathleen Keohane
Chair, TTDEMS

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Community Matters Clarification on BOS and School Board Candidate Responses

It has come to be attention that some readers may be confused about the last couple of Community Matters posts and are questioning why Tredyffrin Republican supervisor and school board candidates did not respond to my questions and that the Democratic candidates did. Hope this post will offer clarification.

In early October, I sent an email to all the Tredyffrin Republican and Democratic supervisor and school board candidates.  In addition, I sent the Republican and Democrat school board candidates in Easttown the same email.  The email asked the candidates to (1) idenify what they thought was the most important issue facing either the school district or the township, (2) the candidate was asked what they would do to help or solve the issue if elected and (3) what in their background or experience qualifies you to help solve the issue.  I was specific and asked that the 3-part question be 200 words or less and gave them a deadline that was prior to the League of Women Voters debates.

The Easttown school board candidates Pete Motel (R) and Craig Lewis (D) responded with their answers prior to the deadline and those responses were posted on Community Matters on October 19.   In that October 19 post, I also explained that the Tredyffrin Republican and Democratic supervisor and school board candidates had declined to participate.  Here is an excerpt from that post:

. . . Believing that it is important for voters to make an informed decision on which candidate they elect to serve us, I saw no downside to the candidates participation in May nor did I at this time.

Much to my surprise, the individual Tredyffrin Republican supervisor and school board candidates declined my offer, suggesting that voters could visit their websites for information and that, “We are more than happy to answer questions from individual voters across Tredyffrin – and are doing so while going door-to-door, attending community events, and more.”

The chair of the Tredyffrin Democratic Party Dariel Jamieson responded on behalf of the Democratic supervisor and school board candidates, declining to participate until after the League of Women Voters debates.  Here is an excerpt from that email:

“Our BOS and School Board candidates prefer not to submit answers to the questions you posed to them until after the LWV [League of Women Voter] debates. The questions were all ones that were asked in the debates two years ago – as they should have been, they are key questions – but to have our answers published first is not fair to the LWV and makes the job of our candidates harder to distinguish themselves in the debates.

Following the League of Women Voters debates, I received responses to my questions from the Democratic supervisor and school board candidates.  Although the responses were past my original deadline, I thought there was value for the voters in posting them.  But so everyone knows, I actually sent a courtesy email to the Republican candidates last week to explain that the I had received the Democratic responses and offered the Republican candidates a second opportunity to answer the questions. My email to the Republican candidates stated that that no response was required if they were not going to participate; and for the record, there was no response to my email.

So there is absolutely no question in anyone’s mind — if the Republican supervisor and school board candidates would like to answer the 3-part question — I am now making a third offer to them.  Candidates — answer the 3-part questions in 200 words or less and email them to me at: tredyffrincommunitymatters@gmail.com  I will be happy to post your responses!  I hope this clarifies the timeline and that I gave all candidates exactly the same opportunity.  I am sorry if there was any confusion!

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Why Must the Campaign Season be ‘Politics as Usual’ . . . Please, Can it be the Truth?

Truth allows you to live with integrity. Everything you do and say shows the world who you really are. Let it be the Truth. ~ Oprah Winfrey

Is it ‘all in the name of politics’ these days that candidates seeking public office can simply fabricate information and then claim it as a truth? Is that OK or just what we have come to expect during campaign season?

Depending on where you live, as a Tredyffrin Township resident, you may have a received a negative political mailer today from the Tredyffrin Township Republican school board candidates. This mailer immediately took me back to two years ago, when as a supervisor candidate and new to politics, my fellow supervisor candidates, Eamon Brazunas and Sean Moir and I were the target of a similar negative mailer.

I will never forget the feeling of distress at reading misleading and false information contained in that 2009 campaign mailer about myself. And it is for that reason that I must use this forum to speak out on today’s Republican school board candidate mailer.

The words on the mailer from the Tredyffrin Republicans state . . . “Tredyffrin’s Democrat School Board team wants to implement an income tax” and  “. . . the Democrat Team for School Board has begun the process of creating a new tax – an earned income tax”. These words are not only misleading, they simply are not accurate and hurtful.

Previously I have written about my disappointment at the yellow ‘No EIT’ Republican signs.  I believed that the school district’s tax study group should present their ‘pros and cons’ of an earned income tax at next week’s public meeting without premature judging from a political party.  OK, I get the idea behind the signs – they present an effective way to make it look like the Democrat candidates are ‘for’ an EIT without having to actually say it. Although we did hear all supervisor candidates state, at Monday’s League of Women Voters debate, they were opposed to an earned income tax (and that included the Democrat candidates).

So, as I read the words on the Republican school board candidate mailer, I ask where did any of them read or ever hear a Democratic school board candidate say that he or she wants to implement an earned income tax.  It is one thing to imply something cleverly on a political sign, but stating a falsehood as the truth is something different.  It is particularly disheartening that this is a mailer for the ‘school’ board election . . . don’t we want to set the right example for our children?

I support the value of giving voice to the community but not for those who choose to further divide us.  Shouldn’t we want better for our community? Tredyffrin Township and its residents deserve the truth. I know several of the Republican school board candidates personally — and I believe that they are better than this mailer represents.

Community Matters did not exist two years ago so I did not have many options to ‘balance the scale’ after I was the targeted with misleading and false information during the campaign.  Because of my experience, I am giving the four Democratic school board candidates – Karen Cruickshank, Jerry Henige, Scott Dorsey and Jenny Wessels an opportunity to respond to the Republican mailer on Community Matters.  If they choose to respond, I will post their comments.

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Campaign Mailer side 1

Campaign Mailer side 2

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Tredyffrin Supervisor and School Board Candidates Do Not Participate but Easttown School Board Candidates Do!

With the countdown underway to the General Election on Tuesday, November 8, I sent an email about a week ago to Tredyffrin Township supervisor candidates and to school board candidates for the Tredyffrin Easttown School District.  My email to the candidates was simple; it contained a 3-part question asking the candidates to respond in 200 words or less to the following:

(1) In your opinion, what is the single most important issue facing Tredyffrin Township (or Tredyffrin Easttown School District)
(2) If you were elected, what would you do to help solve or improve this issue?
(3) Tredyffrin Township (or Tredyffrin Easttown School Board) needs problem-solvers; what in your background or job experience qualifies you to help solve this important issue?

In addition to posting their responses to the 3-part question, I offered to include the candidate’s resumes on Community Matters, as I did prior to May’s Primary Election.  Believing that it is important for voters to make an informed decision on which candidate they elect to serve us, I saw no downside to the candidates participation in May nor did I at this time.

Much to my surprise, the individual Tredyffrin Republican supervisor and school board candidates declined my offer, suggesting that voters could visit their websites for information and that, “We are more than happy to answer questions from individual voters across Tredyffrin – and are doing so while going door-to-door, attending community events, and more.”

Although my email offer was sent directly to the individual candidates, it was the chair of Tredyffrin Township’s Democratic Party, Dariel Jamieson that responded on behalf of the Democrat supervisor and school board candidates.  Dariel’s email on behalf of the candidates, likewise declined the offer to participate but the decision was for a different reason,

“Our BOS and School Board candidates prefer not to submit answers to the questions you posed to them until after the LWV [League of Women Voter] debates. The questions were all ones that were asked in the debates two years ago – as they should have been, they are key questions – but to have our answers published first is not fair to the LWV and makes the job of our candidates harder to distinguish themselves in the debates.

Dariel also suggested that voters could visit the website of the candidates. She apparently does not want the Democratic supervisor and school board candidates to ‘show their cards’ in advance of the debates next week.

I’d be more likely to buy that explanation were it not for a lengthy editorial written by Democrat at-large supervisor candidate Murph Wysocki that appeared in last week’s edition of the Main Line Suburban newspaper, Main Line Media News online and TE Patch online.  His editorial describes his background and skill set and what he views are the important issues facing the township; in essence, answering the 3-part question that I posed. This week I see that Democrat supervisor candidates Molly Duffy and Tory Snyder have a joint letter to the editor in the paper in the Main Line Media News.  In other words, Dariel’s logic of not wanting to ‘let the cat out of the bag‘  pre-debate is lost on me.

To be fair, I do not know if the Democrat candidates weighed in on this decision or not.  In the case of the Republicans, their email was signed by the candidates.  As full disclosure, Dariel did offer that the candidates could answer my 3-part question after the debate.  I believed that this was a win-win opportunity for candidates (and more importantly, the voters) to respond.

My sole purpose in sending the request to the supervisor and school board candidates was to offer voters an additional resource to ‘know the candidates’ before Election Day — believing that the more informed the voter, the better choice he or she will make.  I also saw this as one more opportunity for voters to review the resumes of the candidates before voting.

I want to see our community elect independent-thinking problem solvers and viewed that this exercise could encourage voter turnout on Election Day!

You notice that I talk about the Tredyffrin school board candidates; not the Easttown school board candidates.  Easttown resident and TE School Board encumbent Pete Motel (R) is being challenged by Easttown resident Craig Lewis (D).

Because our school district is made of school board members from Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships, I had sent Motel and Lewis the same email with the 3-part question. Motel and Lewis were appreciative of my offer to help inform the voters and have chosen to participate.  For the record, Motel and Lewis will also be participating in next week’s school board debates alongside the Tredyffrin school board candidates.

When I sent my emails to the supervisor and school board candidates, I stated I would post their responses in the order they were returned. Therefore, Pete Motel’s response is first, followed by Craig Lewis’ response. Their resumes follow their responses.  Although I cannot vote for either Motel or Lewis for school board, I thank them for their participation and understanding the importance of informing voters on the candidates.

__________________________________________________________

Pete Motel (R)  — Easttown Township School Board Candidate

The biggest challenge facing the T/E School District is maintaining the quality of education it delivers during the current economic downturn.

District revenue is down by millions of dollars primarily due to two reasons:

1) Property tax assessment appeals resulting in decreased real estate tax collection;

2) Decreased home sales resulting in decreased real estate transfer tax.  This is coupled with steep increases in the state required contribution to the state pension system – now millions above the contribution required last year.

Great efforts have been made by the Board to balance the District’s budgets without significantly effecting educational opportunities. The Board has implemented cost containment through administrative salary freezes, implementation of self-insured health insurance and more efficient scheduling of staff time.

With the economic recovery projected to take another several years, T/E Boards need to continue to cut expenses without reducing core educational programs.  Success will require detailed knowledge of District operations and proven leadership skills.

My experience on the T/E Board as Committee Chairs and past Board president, coupled with my professional experience as a small business owner, demonstrate that I have the proven skills to help guide the District through the next few years of difficult budgets.

Pete Motel Resume

__________________________________________________________

Craig Lewis (D) —  Easttown Township School Board Candidate

TE’s biggest issue is irresponsible budgeting.

  • My opponent, republican Dr. Motel, has mandated 5 study halls per week in Conestoga High (12% instruction reduction) AND a 20% increase in students per teacher.  TE was the 4th best high school in Pennsylvania.  Losing this rank will result in a 10% home price decline, reduced college acceptance, scholarships and earning potential.
  • My opponent diverted education money to purchase, tear-down and build non-educational facilities wasting millions of dollars.

TE’s projection shows out-of-control budget shortfalls.  Starting with the current year they are:

-$777,000

-$3,909,000

-$7,925,241

-$11,862,000

-$15,450,000

My fiscally conservative priorities to prevent this catastrophe are:

Stop wasteful spending

  • Halt all construction and real-estate acquisitions.
  • The teacher pay was cut and workload increased 20%.  Aggressive cost reduction has to look at all other areas.
  • Halt no-bid contracting

Preserve our premier school ranking

  • Repeal the 5 study-hall mandate.
  • Respect our staff; balance their workloads.
  • Initiate summer enrichment programs for profit.

Retirees deserve school tax relief – My opponent never did this, I will.

I have twenty years of experience in setting goals, developing strategies, creating and managing budgets, both departmental and enterprise wide.  This required creative approaches, engaging individuals from different departments to drive successful outcomes.

Craig Lewis Resume

__________________________________________________________

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Countdown to Primary Day, May 17 . . . Presenting Tredyffrin Supervisor Candidate Resumes

The Pennsylvania Primary Election is 30 days from tomorrow — Tuesday, May 17, 2011.  As was previously announced on April 11, I will provide all the candidates resumes on Community Matters using the following schedule. I hope that by providing in-depth information on local candidates will encourage increased voter turnout for the Pennsylvania Primary Election.  Historically, voter turnout in Tredyffrin Township has been low for the Primary Election, (particularly in a non-presidential year) —  here’s hoping that trend changes next month.

In Pennsylvania, only registered Republican and Democratic voters are permitted to vote in the Primary Election.  As a reminder, this year in addition to the Primary Election, there is a  Special Election in Tredyffrin Township — Independents, as well as Republican and Democrats can vote in the Special Election race.

The Special Election will fill the vacancy in the office of the Board of Supervisors caused by the resignation of Warren Kampf.  The vacancy was temporarily filled by the interim supervisor appointment of Mike Heaberg.  As required by the Township’s Home Rule Charter and the Pennsylvania Election Code,  a Special Election will be held and voters will choose between incumbent Mike Heaberg (R) and Molly Duff (D).  The individual elected will fill the remainder of the supervisor term, ending on December 31, 2011.

  • Monday, April 25:  Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisor Candidates
  • Monday, May 2:  Tredyffrin-Easttown School Board Candidates
  • Monday, May 9: Chester County Magisterial District Judge, District Court 15-4-01 Candidates
  • Wednesday, May 11: Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors Special Election Candidates
  • Tuesday, May 17:  Pennsylvania 2011 Primary

According to the schedule above, today is for the Board of Supervisor candidates.  I have received resumes or bios on each of the candidates listed —  click on the candidate’s name and the link  will take you directly to the individual candidates information. 

I encourage you to review the information that the candidates have provided and welcome your thoughtful comments.

Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisor Candidates:

         ** Incumbent

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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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