Tredyffrin Township Democratic Party

Rather than partisan mudslinging, can we come together and move the Paoli Transit Center project and the economic redevelopment of Paoli forward?

The passage of the $2.4 billion transportation bill which will provide new funding for the state’s roads, bridges, tunnels and transit systems over the next five years, and the subsequent $14.5 million award earmarked for the Paoli Transit Center, brought excitement and renewed hope for Paoli. In discussion for 30 years, the train station project has languished with little movement and the new transportation funding, including multi-million dollar award for Paoli Transit Center, could be the needed catalyst. The economic redevelopment of Lancaster Avenue through Paoli hinges on building the Paoli Transit Center – its time is now. Paoli deserves a new beginning.

The release of Chester County Planning Commission’s 2013 Transportation Priority Projects report occurred prior to the House vote on the transportation bill although I did not see it until afterwards.  The report lists Paoli Transit Center as a transportation priority and includes a current photo of Paoli train station serves as the report’s cover. There is no question that the recent release of the Chester County report was a significant factor in the $14.5 million funding award for Paoli.

In addition to the county’s Planning Commission prioritizing Paoli Transit Center, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) continues to strongly support the project.  DVRPC adopts the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), the regionally agreed upon list of priority transportation projects (as required by federal law) and its recommendations. TIP’s 2013-2016 project list includes the Paoli Transit Center as a priority.

As residents in this community, we are aware of the importance of the municipal government and school district receiving Moody’s Aaa bond rating. Moody’s ratings scale range from Aaa (highly unlikely to default) to D (in default).  To receive the highest rating, requires very strong financial operations, ample reserves and strong management policies. In fact, candidates seeking office often promote maintaining our Aaa bond rating on political campaign literature.  So … it was interesting to read that we can add Moody’s Investors Service (www.moodys.com) to the list of those pleased with Pennsylvania’s transportation funding bill, calling it “a credit positive for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania”.  Moody’s also gave the bill a credit positive because it phases out the annual funding burden that the prior transportation bill (Act 44) created for the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

There is strong support for the Paoli Transit Center including Tredyffrin Township (Paoli on the Move), Chester County Planning Commission, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Transportation Improvement Program, SEPTA, Paoli Business and Professional Association, local business community, elected officials and many residents.

However, initial excitement about the transportation bill and multi-million award for the Paoli Transit Center, has been marred by some finger-pointing and local political wrangling.  In advance of the final House vote on the transportation bill, a letter to the editor by Darien Jamieson, chair of the Tredyffrin Democrats, appeared in the Main Line Suburban.  In her letter, Jamieson criticized State Representative Warren Kampf (R-157) for his lack of support for the proposed transportation bill.  Unfortunately, Jamieson took her criticism of Kampf too far, making an inaccurate and unsubstantiated claim.  Jamieson’s letter ‘Warren Kampf – Too Extreme for Tredyffrin’ stated that Kampf took the Grover Norquist “No Tax” pledge. Her statement was not substantiated and the claim was incorrect.

In his response to Jamieson (which also appeared in the Suburban), Kampf refuted her claims, stating, “I have never taken a “no tax increase” pledge with any group, including any in Washington, D.C., as Ms. Jamieson claims. I would challenge her to offer proof for this claim or admit it is 100% a fabrication”.   A couple of days later, the transportation bill passed (without Rep. Kampf’s vote) and the subsequent announcement made about the $14.5 million award for the Paoli Transit Center.

This week Main Line Suburban contains another letter to the editor written by Jamieson. Writing as the chair of the Tredyffrin Township Demoratic Committee, I assumed that the purpose of Jamieson’s latest letter was to offer a public apology to Rep. Kampf for her previous unsupported accusations.  But no, there was no apology or retraction from Jamieson to Kampf in her letter, ‘Warren Kampf: Watch what he does – not what he says’ .

As a supporter of the Paoli Transit Center and the redevelopment of Paoli, I too questioned Kampf’s lack of support for the transportation bill and did not agree with his position.  However, it was wrong of Jamieson to ‘make facts up’ to strengthen her case against Kampf.  The situation made worse by the fact that Jamieson had the opportunity to apologize to Kampf  and retract her accusations and chose not to.

I’m not certain from where Jamieson is taking her cues but I would think that following the local Democrats impressive election wins last month, she would take a low profile. With two newly elected Democrats (Murph Wysocki and Mark Freed) joining Tredyffrin’s historically Republican Board of Supervisors, it would not appear helpful to have their party chair immersed in a ‘war of words’ with our local state representative.  To be successful in their new supervisor roles, requires Wysocki and Freed to leave their political party ‘hats’ at the door and prepare to work hard for all the residents – Republicans, Independents and Democrats. That same sentiment goes for the Republican supervisors.

The transportation bill passed and the community received good news for the Paoli Transit Center – rather than continuing the partisan bickering that only serves to divide, can we come together and move the train station project and the economic redevelopment of Paoli forward.

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