Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Question – Is it OK to Fund Township Budget With Political Party Contribution?

Originally, I was not going to write about a contribution that was received last night at the Board of Supervisor meeting. But the more I think about it, the more uneasy I’m feeling about what kind of message we are sending. As Supervisor Chair Kampf read the list of contributors to the $23,200 which will fund the reinstatement of the fire company’s budget cut, I was impressed by the varied list of area businesses and individuals on the list. He read a contribution from the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee (TTRC) – I remember thinking this seemed an interesting contributor, but there were no dollar amounts attached and I let it go. Following the reading of contributions, the current chair of the TTRC, Mr. CT Alexander stepped up to read a statement from his organization which qualified their contribution, stating it was $5K in matching funds.

I think we can all agree that I am about as non-partisan as they come, and I actually am a bit of a Pollyanna when it comes to how our leaders should govern our community. I believe that government should be for all the people and not based on which party you may belong. So, here we go in to the new year with (1) a complete Republican Board of Supervisors; (2) our current Board of Supervisor Chair (who is a member of the Republican Party) deciding to run for State House 157; and (3) the local Republican Party donates $5K to the township budget.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great that organizations (Republican Party Committee or otherwise) want to contribute directly to the fire companies, I am just questioning what this says about our local government taking political contributions for the budget? Oh, I’m sure that this TTRC contribution is legal . . . so why does this offer somehow just not seem right? Why do I feel a real uneasiness about the message (political party control?) that this may be sending to the community? I would welcome comments – if fact, I’d be relieved if I could discover that this kind of political party contribution made directly to local government is routinely done in other municipalities. I’m looking for some thoughts on the subject . . .

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  1. Pattye:

    My understanding is that the contribution was to the fire companies – that’s why the “big check” was presented to their representatives. Now, it did make the fire companies “whole”, after considering the 5% reduction in funding from Tredyffrin – so, it helped the Township by resolving that contentious issue. No $s went to Tredyffrin Township.

  2. the checks were written to the fire companies, not the township.
    you claim to be non-partisan, yet you go out of your way to look for ways to criticize the republicans.
    why is it that you are not critical of the TTdems, and their failure to act to close the budget gap like the TTRC did?
    i ask, who really supports and cares about the fireman and the safety of our community?
    do the firefighters consider that perhaps the TTdems were using them for the sole purpose of playing politics? instead of trying to solve the actual issue, which was the funding, the dems instead did nothing but complain. and now that the funding is restored, they look for abstract arguments to somehow still criticize the party who stepped up and helped actually solve the problem.
    the TTdems could have contributed also, it was their choice not to.
    i would argue that nothing would make the dems happier that to not have the funding restored, so they could use that issue to gain votes.
    they would rather have the issue then solve the actual problem.

    1. so the funding was made whole and you are still complaining… what else is new.

      No one was frozen out. The you guys (the TTdems) could have raised some extra money through fund raising on your own.

      aren’t you happy that the money was raised?

  3. As far as I am concerned, every resident that has the ability to contribute should help any of our many nonprofits organizations, especially during these trying times – whether its the fire companies, Surrey Services or Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust (of which I am president). I would make the same observations concerning last night, whether it was the TTDEMs or the ‘party of purple’ that made the contribution.

    This is my personal opinion and observation – last night just seemed very ‘orchestrated’ for the benefit of the TTRC and Mr. Kampf in particular. As an audience member, I felt at times that I was at a political rally. Maybe that was not the intention of Mr. Kampf or the TTRC, but that is how I felt.

    I take issue with your statement that I look for ways to criticize the Republicans. Absolutely, not accurate — my best friend is Judy DiFilippo (Republican) and she too will run for the 157. The difference between her and Warren Kampf last night — unlike Mr. Kampf, Judy did not feel compelled to use last night’s Board of Supervisor Meeting as a personal campaign platform.

    I was a lifelong Independent for a reason. . . I support people and issues, not political parties. Any issue that I had with the TTRC and what I view as their grandstanding tactics for political gain last night — I would have the same problem if the TTDEMs had acted in similar fashion. I do believe that I mentioned Supervisor DiFeliciantonio’s inappropriate behavior to leave in the middle of the BOS meeting (and the last time I checked he was a Democrat).

  4. Last night’s meeting was ……. a show. ” POLITICS IN THE SEWER”. The actors
    were terrible. The plot unbelievable. The prop outrageous.
    The audience was great. Rip Tilden, Bill Bellew and J.D. saved the night along
    with a strong audience support. The next few years will be a lesson in creative
    budgeting ……. Fire Companies should be funded with tax dollars. There should
    be no begging, pleading and guessing by our volunteers. Their service to the
    community is never understood unless you have walked in their boots.

    Pattye, you’re doing a fine job. Political parties should work towards the common good here in Tredyffrin. We’ll get there. Keep trying. b.

  5. Overall I support the 2010 budget initiatives and the adjustments the township and most of us need to make in this economy. The “restructuring” of our township operations is a necessity… and it is amazing to see good results when you ask people to do more with less… you just need to ask and challenge them.

    Kudos to those involved who raised additonal funds for the fire companies!!! That said the obvious play of politics was nausiating… we need to simply do the right thing and let the action speak for itself.

    The actions of Mark DeFeliciantonio ~ an elected official~ walking out of the last two public meetings (his last two) ~ speaks volumns to his impact and legacy.

  6. Fire Company funding:
    The Township still cut the budget. No matter how you look at it. “Supplementary” funding was identified, yes, has it been delivered? Nope. All they have is a big ol check like Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler movie reference). The donations that were received: Were they from businesses and people that normally donate during the regular fund drives that those companies conduct? If so, are they now going to forgo their contributions during that annual campaign, therefore nullifying any effect that these have??? As they liked to say last night so much, out of the left pocket and into the right pocket. As well, Supervisor Lamina tried to make it out as if he was so valiant and heroic and “3 Supervisors in 2 weeks were able to raise these funds from the community, now if only we had all worked together…” Aren’t you the great savior… It was nothing except to make it look as if they were helping the fire company, yet not committing budget monies to it. THEY STILL CUT THEIR FUNDING. Supervisors Kampf and Lamina also stated that (if you read between the lines) they cut the police department budget by an even greater percentage and the fire companies should be thankful. GREAT… You also fund the police department 100%. They tried to make themselves look better by throwing the BAWG under the bus stating that the BAWG wanted to cut the fire departments funding even more… Doesn’t matter, you’re the governing bodies that acted on it.
    Quick question, this being a Commonwealth and all. The Townships are responsible for the fire protection and medical response of the citizens, and in reality, the state is responsible for the enforcement of law and order. Yet you fund the PD 100% and give embarrassing “contributions” to the fire company…

    Supervisor DiFeliciantonio:
    What an embarrassment! 30 seconds after taking it upon himself to lecture the citizenry on how he feels they should be more involved than they are and show up at more meetings, he skulks out the back door. And this is after showing up late to begin with. Not to mention he lets his cell phone ring several times during the meeting without even having the respect for the proceedings to silence it or turn it off. Where has the respect gone for holding a public office? Customs and courtesies, etc. Just plain common sense and good decorum… Go away Supervisor DiFeliciantonio and good riddance!!!

  7. At its best and worst ~ Government Official and People… BEST ~ JUDY DIFILLIPPO… a tireless public servant for over 20 years and while I did not always agree with her she was honest and always had the people in her heart and our best interests in her thoughts!!! WORST ~ MARK DiFeliciantonio… what a waste of four years having someone like him take up a seat in our township government… never prepared or able to engage in meaningful debate… he owes this township a big apology!

  8. While I am not happy with Mark D., Kampf, Lamina, and Olson are far worse. Last night proved that. Smoke and mirrors!

    I hope our township can turn things around in the 2012 and 2014 when elections come up.

  9. I think that’s about enough regarding Mark.

    No one knows, except him, why he acted that way. Everything else is wasteful speculation. I wish he hadn’t left, but what does piling on him have to do with 2010?

    In some small way, I hope Mark’s leaving helped elevate Judy’s moment. She’s definitely earned it. What an amazing, amazing (yes, I meant to type ‘amazing’ twice) list of accomplishements.

    But there I go speculating. . .

    1. You’re right, Doug. We should not speculate on what caused him to leave so early…

      You tell me though. He smirks and smiles when his cell phone interupts, not once, but twice, during the meeting. While I cannot stand Supervisor Olson at all, Supervisor DiFeliciantonio takes snide shots at him on the stand, in public. He then smiles at Supervisor DiBounaventura and stands up, grabs his jacket and walks out.

      I could care less what caused him to leave early, be it because of personal differences with the other Supervisors, etc. Have more respect for yourself, the position, and US dammit.

      And to say that we don’t have any right to be angry about that is just disgustingly apathetic.

  10. I have to respond to Freddy the Waterboy’s take on last night. He’s so caught in the tunnel vision of the TTRC that he can’t see reality. The blatant pollitical grandstanding that went on last night was enough to make all but the most cynical observers ill.

    While witnessing C.T. Alexander’s performance, I decided his photo should appear in the dictionary next to the word BLOWHARD . As he windily described his party’s great generosity, it was obvious this had all been pre-planned. C.T. just could not resist spotlighting the TTRC among the many area businesses and individuals who pledged funds for the fire companies. He thought we needed to hear a full reading of his group’s “historic” resolution. The talking point to follow – that THEY contributed while the TTDEMS didn’t, was all in the planning.

    Good delivery, Water Boy.

    No, the TTDEMS knew nothing about this plan to dig up private donations. Most of us contribute annually to our fire companies with no fanfare because supporting them is the right thing to do.

    Ditto with the public libraries, and many of you remember that C.T and Paul Olson played the same card in that politically motivated drama – again meant to elevate themselves and point fingers at local Democrats.

    It was transparent and pathetic then. And it still is.

    BUT Democrats as a group generally believe that our tax dollars should be properly allocated to fund essential services, and we’re perfectly willing to pay for them.

    In our view, the SOLUTION was to restore the fire companies’ funding to the budget where it belonged. And we spent the last two weeks writing letters to the editor, to the supervisors, and getting 500 plus signatures on a petition.

    For years the township has gotten away with pushing off as much financial responsibility as they can directly onto our volunteer organizations. And in a Republican-run town where people like Paul Olson firmly believe that government should be shrunk to the size of a bathtub, that belief – that government has a very limited role to play even when it comes to the safety and welfare of Tredyffrin residents – will come back to bite them.

    Kampf, Olson and Lamina are the same people who wanted to spend millions on Westover Park and an optional “intersection” improvement nearby, and have obligated the taxpayers to spend megabucks to maintain Wilson Park in perpetuity. But in their world, parks get you votes and avoiding disaster is easily overlooked by the citizenry.

    That our firefighters and EMT’s have to scrape up operating funds by begging for money is unconscionable.

    So last night changes nothing. A band-aid has been applied by the very supervisors who deicded to cut the funding in the first place. Ironic, isn’t it? In my view, making the fire budget whole was the least they could do.

    Going forward, the fire companies deserve a reliable funding stream that comes from our municipal tax dollars. A dedicated fund keeping separate fire tax revenues would be best, and a Fire Board to help determine the long-term funding needs of each fire company serving Tredyffrin.

    And it can NOT be stacked with Republican friends and cronies of Kampf, Olson and Lamina or run by an idealogue like Tom Colman OR a stink should be expected and a pall cast as was the case with the BAWG.

    1. >>No, the TTDEMS knew nothing about this plan to dig up private donations. Most of us contribute annually to our fire companies with no fanfare because supporting them is the right thing to do.<<

      kate, are you suggesting that ONLY dems donate to the fire companies on a regular basis?

      and just for the record, i am in no way associated with the TTRC.

    2. “No, the TTDEMS knew nothing about this plan to dig up private donations.” This was reported on John Petersen’s blog on 12/14 – I find it very hard to believe nobody from TTDEMS read it.

      “BUT Democrats as a group generally believe that our tax dollars should be properly allocated to fund essential services, and we’re perfectly willing to pay for them.” “the SOLUTION was to restore the fire companies’ funding to the budget ” No, the SOLUTION was to work to make sure the fire companies got the money. Let’s face it, in the Dems’ world, the government is the first answer to every challenge – another Board, another “reliable funding stream” (tax on our property or paycheck)… Unfortunately for the Dems, this is not the prevailing view among the people in this community and never has been. The Dems got Mark D. elected to the BOS – how would you rate his performance at these recent, widely-followed meetings?

      Merry Christmas to all!

  11. Kate,
    I couldn’t agree more. At what point are the elected officials (most of them) and other township citizens who have spoken on this issue going to realize it isn’t the function of the fire companies to fundraise. It is there responsibility to receive the appropriate financial support and in turn continue to provide services that are superior.

    Last night did nothing but muddy the waters and put a band-aid on a gaping hole. The attempt to turn this thing (as was done by at least two supervisors last night) into a situation where the onus is put back on the fire companies to fundraise is wrong. While donations are great, no other donees have ever made such a production out of it. Political – you think? I will say, the township’s “$420K” investment in the fire companies provides an outstanding ROI – something like twenty-fold.

    Last evening did not address the long term needs of the fire company and did nothing but provide a nice little show for those who wanted it and for those few, naive residents who still feel that private donations are the optimal way to fund a basic township necessity. Furthermore, listen to some of the businesses that donated in this “rescue effort.” Did anyone notice how most of them were NOT Tredyffrin businesses? So now Radnor and Easttown businesses as well as EASTTOWN TOWNSHIP are subsidizing Tredyffrin’s inability to fund a vital service. This township should be embarrassed, I know I am as a resident.

    Should the sewer crew have a Turkey Raffle next year to by pipe?


  12. Pattye,
    your article has set off quite a debate. I would like to make a clarification if I may. The members of the TTRC vigorously discussed what action we could take to help the situation. We have 2 Berwyn Fire Fighters on our committee so we had first hand information on this issue. We as individuals agreed to raise $5,000 to help our Fire Fighters. This was not, I repeat, not TTRC money, so not political money as I see it. As far as I am concerned everything is not all politics, we on the TTRC that agreed to pledge money did it because we wanted to help our friends and neighbors that volunteer their time and risk their lives for us.For the record, I signed the petition to restore the 5% funding. I was as surprised as everyone to see that check for $23,000 from so many sources. I hope I cleared up some of the issue at least.

    For those that stayed for the latter part of the meeting, I think Judy got a nice send off for all her years of service. She also received one of the longest standing ovations I think I ever saw. Thank you to all that were in attendance and showed her that respect, I know she appreciated it.

    Giovanni D’Amato
    TTRC, Area 23 Chairman
    (Western Tredyffrin Township)

  13. John,
    I’m not going to fence with you on all you’ve said. You have your opinions and thats your right. Its not my place to argue whether you are right or wrong. My statement was to express the sincerity of those on the committee that chose to pledge. If it were a neighborhood association or some other group that came forward to do this there would be no debate. We met as a group and chose to do this to help.

    I have been trying to get the funding restored for a long time and yes I was at the December 7th meeting. Both Judy and JD were in support of the funding being restored and both are Republicans that I supported. Many of us supported the funding being restored for all the right reasons, the Suporvisors handled it a different way. They are the ones elected to run this township, not me. I was as surprised as you and everyone else that the money was raised.
    As far as us excluding the Democrats, thats simply not true. They can do whatever they like. They also showed support, is it our fault they didn’t do what we did…of course not. I don’t think beating up the individual members of the TTRC for contributing to help is right, all of us on the TTRC are donating with sincere intentions as all do. Thats all I wanted to say.
    Thanks, and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  14. What a farce! Once again we have to listen to that blowheart, Alexander. There was absolutely no reason for his reading of the statement. He should learn to keep his mouth shut. It would have been sufficient that the TTRC was listed as one of the donors. As far as Kampf goes, what a lot of empty nothing. It sounded more like a stump speach, and a boring one at that. This goes for Lamina (who wrote that ridiculous article) and Olson.
    One of the township’s main corporate suporters was missing from the donor list. I wonder if they will come forward to rescue the fireworks? There is only a short window to get the funding in place in order to retain a fireworks provider.

    Keep up the good work, Pattye.

  15. Giovanni,

    I appreciate your tone. There has been so much nastiness – some of it motivated by partisan gamesmanship and some by sharp differences of opinion on the direction and management of this township. I think most of us would appreciate an increase in civility.

    The problem is that nice guys don’t win arguments and they don’t win races. Tredyffrin is about to return to an all-Republican governing board in a community where the Republican Party insinuates itself into everything it wants. There is not an elected or volunteer commission, board or committee that is not dominated by the “chosen ones”.

    What’s so discouraging is that the TTRC doesn’t even support many of the most dedicated, effective Republicans – because they don’t tow the conservative party line .

    Did you notice that C.T Alexander and his entourage made a quick exit before Judy DiFillippo was honored for her years of service at Monday’s meeting? I hope every loyal Republican took note of that. What a disgrace and an insult to Judy!

    As I see it, this township has many thoughtful, caring people who will not tolerate the kind of politically motivated shenanigans that we have all seen going on in Tredyffrin lately.

    We need to be able to trust our local officials to make decisions in the best interest of the community and not for their own personal gain or party control.

    For me, this is more likely to occur when there are two parties represented on the dais and a bipartisan spirit prevails. I guess we’ll have to wait at least two years for that…

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

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