Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Supervisor Olson Provides Updates on Fire Company's Holiday Drive

I am excited to report that Supervisor Olson contacted me in regards to my questions surrounding the Fire Company’s Holiday Drive, the timeline for collection, contributions collected to date, responsibility for follow-up, etc. Yes, on the eve of the first 2010 Board of Supervisor meeting, Supervisor Olson called to give me an update. As you recall, Supervisors Olson, Lamina and Kampf organized the Holiday Drive, which culminated in the $23,200 cardboard check that was presented to Berwyn, Paoli and Radnor Fire Companies at the last Board of Supervisor Meeting on December 21. Supervisor Olson was able to offer the following information in regards to the Holiday Drive.

  • There is now a paper trail in place to track the pledges and donations, which will allow easier follow-up.
  • All fire company Holiday Drive pledge money to be contributed by March 31, 2010.
  • All checks for the Holiday Drive are to be made payable to ‘Berwyn Fire Company’. Berwyn Fire Company will make the appropriate disbursements to Radnor and Paoli Fire Company.
  • Supervisors Olson and Lamina met with Berwyn Fire Company president Rip Tilden in the last couple of days; checks totally $8,950 were given to the fire company.
  • According to Supervisor Olson, there is not concern regarding the duplication of fundraising efforts to local businesses. It was my understanding that the Berwyn Fire Company is willing to review the contribution checks and make the decisions necessary so that each fire company receives contributions from businesses in their particular jurisdictions.
  • Supervisor Olson is unclear as to the exact meaning of Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee (TTRC) Chair CT Alexander’s ‘matching fund’ statement that accompanied his announced contribution of $5K from TTRC. Supervisor Olson indicated that the TTRC money was going directly to the Berwyn Fire Company and was not included in the $8,950 checks already distributed. He was uncertain of the exact contributions to date by TTRC but thought it was about $2K (Apparently, TTRC’s contributions are going directly to Berwyn Fire Company). Supervisor stated that he was not a TTRC committee person and therefore was not certain about the details. He suggested I contact Mr. Alexander directly for follow-up on that issue. (If Mr. Alexander or members of TTRC are reading this blog, any update you can provide related to the $5K fire company contribution would be helpful).
  • Supervisors Olson, Lamina and Kampf will take care of all necessary follow-up required for the Holiday Drive.
  • I inquired whether the full list of Holiday Drive donors would be public. Supervisor Olson’s reply was appropriate; he said that the judgment to release the donor list would need to come from the fire companies.
  • Supervisor Olson mentioned the idea of creating a Fire Company board, suggesting representation on the board from local businesses. There are required capital expense items upcoming for the Berwyn Fire Company, and help with funding is needed.
  • It is not the intention of Supervisor Olson to make the Holiday Drive an annual event.

Supervisor Olson was completely forthcoming in his responses. Although I am grateful for his candor, I did suggest that it would be helpful if he would make this information public at tonight’s Board of Supervisor Meeting. Open and transparent government leaves the public asking fewer questions and I challenge the Board of Supervisors to think about this as a resolution for the New Year.

Based on the fundraising talents of Supervisors Olson, Lamina and Kampf, . . . I am making a personal appeal. If they can raise in excess of $20K for the fire companies in a matter of days, I am asking them to help me and the Board of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust with our Build the Barn Capital Campaign. Historic preservation needs their help in Tredyffrin; I am asking them to join us to raise the necessary funds for our rebuilding effort. Locally, we have recently witnessed the tear down of La Ronda in Lower Merion and Radnor’s Eastern College tear down of a historic log cabin. Let’s show our neighbors that Tredyffrin Township cares about their historic resources . . . and I’m asking the Board of Supervisors to help.

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  1. I assume there is a pledge of about $25,000 and some of the Board will now run around and try to get that amount by the end of March. I thought the check at the meeting meant they had all the $ and this was a done deal???

    Let’s hit the reset button and try this again for real in 2010 minus the political grandstanding.

    1. “If they can raise in excess of $20K for the fire companies in a matter of days, I am asking them to help me and the Board of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust with our Build the Barn Capital Campaign. ” Pattye, while many of your questions have been fair, why would they agree to ever do this again? On their own time, they went out and raised the money to make the Fire Companies whole – a reasonable solution in response to the budget choices they made. In return, they get nothing but scrutiny and criticism – where’s the money! (in December, when the money was committed for 2010), what are Kampf, Lamina and Olsen’s personal motives, we want a list of every donor so we can scrutinize THEIR motives, etc. As Supervisor Olsen said, this should be a one-time effort.

      1. Mike,
        I think that my questions have been fair (both on the Fire Department contribution and also on St. Davids).

        I am about process. I believe that if you are going to announce a gift of $23,200 in a public meeting, than the process should be in place before the collection drive is started, and you should be prepared to be held accountable. I would have also involved the fire departments with the process and told them about the Holiday Drive, prior to the display of a cardboard check (I suppose one could argue ‘style issues’). When you don’t give all the information to the public, there are grounds for questions (or questioning of motives).

        Community Matters is about questions I have as ‘Joe Citizen’ not representative of a special interest or political party. When Supervisor Olson called me, I asked questions that I was interested in finding out the answers to — I asked if th Holiday Drive would be an annual drive, solely for my own interest. Lots of one-time efforts become annual events — I can look at any number of fundraising events that I have started, thinking that they would one year. The events were successful and I continued with them, example the Historic House Tour, now in its 6th Year; In the Mood for the Trust, working on the 3rd year. The Paoli Sings the Blues – another example — we thought it would be one year only, and we are planning the 2nd Annual Blues Fest for October 2010.

        I have taken a lot of time with this blog, spent more hours than I should, always trying to be balanced with the postings, allowing comments without editing on my part, hoping that people would become more engaged in the community — so I’m somewhat taken aback by your comment. I asked questions of Paul Olson, he responded and I thought that people might be interested in knowing the answers. Again, I asked the questions that I was interested in —

  2. Pattye:

    I did not intend any offense to you . If you reread my post, I specifically state that “many of your questions have been fair”. Mr. Olsen was forthcoming and we appreciate that you got the answers. You have your point of view, which I respect, and you attempt to maintain balance and you respect other points of view, without malice.

    However, there are 6 or 7 threads related to Fire Company fundraising over the past two weeks and more than 50 comments – if you read over the comments, you will notice an overall negative tone, distrust, personal attacks, scrutiny of motives, and a lack of gratitude to Messrs. Kampf, Lamina and Olsen for their efforts.


  3. Mike,
    Please educate yourself as to the history between two of these supervisors (Bob and Paul) and the fire companies. This may provide you with the insight you desire regarding some of the negativity towards this “rescue.” Also, in what realm is a “reasonable solution” to go door-to-door to fund an essential service. Last, a list of donors will allow the companies to determine whether they should expect lower fundraising returns this year, as some of the normal donors may have given in this effort and will not give again.

    At the end of the day, this wool being pulled over the eyes of residents (at least some). The problem wasn’t solved, the companies suffered a 5% reduction in municipal funding. At what point will you acknowledge that funding these services is the township’s responsibility? What would your solution be if the volunteers simply dissappeared?

    1. you say “as some of the normal donors may have given in this effort and will not give again.”

      do you have anything to back this up? or is it just pure speculation on your part?

      seems to me that some people are more concerned about where the money comes from, rather than that the money is there. what does it matter that the 5% is from donors and not the township? isn’t the money the important thing?

      what would you say if one year, 100% of the firefighters yearly budget requirements were raised in the month of january? would you still demand that the township still contribute that year?

  4. From some of the comments I would ask if it is ok that Radnor and Easttown Township businesses were solicited for donations from Tredyffrin Board members without notifying the fire companies or those Townships of their actions? Will this happen again?

    Do we as taxpayers in Tredyffrin approve of pushing of our problems to other towns that are also dealing with tough budgetary decisions?

    If anyone can raise the $3 million or so that make up the annual budgets of the Tredyffrin fire departments in 1 month I would like to see it. Maybe if we get the Rolling Stones to do a concert in Wilson Park this summer we could pull it off.

    I think there is more behind the fire company funding issues that I simply don’t know about.

  5. If I was a Radnor Township supervisor


    My township’s tax dollars already supplement Tredyffrin’s underfunding of Radnor Fire Co for the panhandle


    tredyffrin supervisors came into my township and asked companies to donate to the Berwyn Fire Co (who will then share the funding with all 3 fire companies)..


    I can assume that that company will consider this their donation for 2010, and will not send a 2nd check to Radnor Fire Company..

    …I would not be pleased. let them fund raise in their own township.

    1. so what would you do CJ? pass some kind of ordinance that slaps a fine on any business (or individual) that donates to a fire company outside their own township? or try and make them give the money back?

      the whole argument that these businesses have no interest in supporting fire companies in a neighboring township is completely asinine. people in the neighboring townships patronize those businesses, and, without them, they would not exist. so isn’t it in their best interest to donate?

      it would be interesting to see if individuals and/or businesses outside the township have ever donated to the local firefighters.

  6. Why the skepticism and mistrust of the motives of the Supervisors? As was pointed out earlier, all we have to do is look back at how these Supervisors treated those guys/girls in the past. For years the only way that they (the fire companies) have been able to get any type of reaction out of them (the Supervisors) was to bring the issues out into the public eye. Whenever we have heard about these issues with the fire companies, it was after months of talks that led nowhere and they brought it to our attention at meetings. Supervisors Lamina, Kampf, and Olson have long held attitudes in regards to those guys /girls.

    I am embarassed as a Tredyffrin resident, and as an Uncle to a volunteer firefighter at the amount of support our township provides these guys. It is absolutely disgusting. A LIFE OR DEATH service. The libraries and education are all VERY important. But the fact that we undercut those guys so bad is just abhorrent.

    And this latest folly strictly to save face by the 3 Supervisors. That is all it was. To save face. It had no true motivation to truly help them, only to keep their own names out of the paper. And it by far did not make them “whole” as you put it Freddy. It merely made up for the budget cut that they still enacted. A woefully underfunded budget I might add. As young Lt. Brazunas had mentioned at the Dec meeting, they are tired of going there and begging for peanuts. And that is exactly what Tredyffrin provides them. All the while funding the Police, Parks, libraries, etc with millions upon millions of dollars. Ridiculous. I am ashamed of my Supervisors.

  7. Bill L.:

    “And it by far did not make them “whole”” Please define “make whole” for me. Did the Fire Companies get the funds they sought?

    “It had no true motivation to truly help them” Since you are so skilled at mind-reading, please tell me what my wife REALLY wanted for Christmas?

    1. Actually, what the fire companies sought, was for the Township to not cut the budget with regards to the fire companies. THAT is what they sought. And Cut is what The Township still did. And I stand by my statement of not making them whole. Make whole is funding the entirety of the fire companies budget, not the minimal amount they give those guys now.

      And if you need me to explain for you the OBVIOUS motivations, then you truly do need to pay a little more attention to the issue and how it has been handled. Were it not for the public outcry of the Township citizens, even the cardboard check would not have happened. As evidenced by the eleventh hour presentation and unorganized approach to the whole mess. Let’s not kid ourselves. Most everyone else realizes that this was nothing more than a stunt to save face and to be able to cash in on when Supervisor Kampf runs for the 157th.

  8. While I can appreciate that there is motive and suspicion in this discussion, the reality is that Tredyffrin Township is openly becoming a Pay to Play township. Mr. Kampf is planning to run for Mr. Drucker’s seat in the 157th and so no tax increase was an important step in his plan. Lamine and Olsen both consider this township their personal domain, and raising money is a side issue. The donor list should be made public because it should be obvious that anyone with an issue coming before the supervisors or the planning commission may have made their donation “willingly” but would have refused to donate at a great cost.
    Likewise St. Davids. It sounds easy to say let’s take the money — but at the same time, someone better put up a sign at the entrance to the township — Make us Happy or Go Away. Favors for sale (make checks payable to Tredyfrin Township) We are running this township for a life in the past — we need to find people who are willing to consider the future instead.

    1. Sarah:

      If the Supervisors’ efforts are all about “Pay to Play”, why would Margaret Kuo’s, Devon Hill BMW and others that operate outside Tredyffrin have made their donations? They don’t PLAY in Tredyffrin, so they don’t need to PAY.

  9. You all are apparently much smarter than me. Here I thought that the reason that businesses outside of Tredyffrin like Margaret Kuo, or Devon Hill BMW gave was because if their business was on fire, the Radnor, Berwyn, and/or Paoli Fire Companies would come put out the fire – and someone asked them for their financial support of those Companies.

    1. Mike
      I did not mean to infer that all donations were quid pro quo — certainly other businesses can choose to support our fire companies for whatever reason. But when supervisors go on a fundraising tour, NOT donating can have repercussions. When Mr. Olsen ran for the second time around as a supervisor, he did it on the platform of his fundraising for the library, and the folks that did NOT donate were singled out for failing to do so. As a private citizen, that was his right, but the clear (or muddled depending on your view) message to me is that we are paying to play…and that the St. Davids mystery money along with donations to support a fire company NOT raised by the fire company itself has a taint to it that seems likely to develop into a stink. No one has to intend malice for bad outcomes to happen.

  10. There should be absolutely no need for a Radnor business to subsidize a fire company which has no first due area in Radnor Township. I guess one way to avoid “raising taxes” is to have your neighbors and their businesses pay for your ineptness. How utterly embarrassing is it that ONLY IN TREDYFFRIN have the supervisors decided that instead of providing the appropriate funding they would go on a begging tour. Next thing you know, they’ll want the fire companies to dress in rags so they can put the firefighters on a TV commercial to let the residents “Adopt a firefighter.” Please.

    1. Roger
      They raised money so that Mr. Kampf could run on a platform of no tax increase — reference his previous assertion that he was technically approving a budget with a sewer increase but not necessarily in favor of that. Then as chair he holds the sewer increase vote and the ayes have it so he votes last and votes nay…giving him the high road on “even opposed any sewer increase.” It’s not politics of one party anymore. It’s a very small group – a subset of extreme conservatism -of people that select a candidate and then orchestrate everything around the relevant universe to take the decision out of the voters hands by positioning their candidate to LIVE on the high road. Keep your eyes open. It’s not evil just because it isn’t pure, but we need to look for who has the strings in this puppet show…and be sure we don’t just sit back and watch.

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