I had an interesting comment that arrived overnight in regards to the St. Davids escrow vote from the Board of Supervisors meeting. I’m thinking that the person who sent in this comment (posted below) is probably an attorney (and quite possibly a municipal attorney). Give this a read and see what you think. It appears that based on the Home Rule Charter, the St. Davids escrow vote was indeed null and void because it was not listed on the agenda.
When the supervisors take their oath of office, they pledge to uphold the Home Rule Charter and the Administrative Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is obvious that this information is not known (or if known, not followed) by Supervisors Lamina, Kampf, Olson and Richter. In this week’s Main Line Surburban Life, Chair Lamina defends the St. Davids Golf Club motion not appearing on the agenda. “Under our current rules, any supervisor is free to offer any motion he chooses at any time,” said Lamina. “It is not unusual at all for board members to offer unpublished motions during discussions at our meetings and I believe it’s reasonable and appropriate for our board to have this flexibility where needed in its proceedings. . . ”
So the residents are left wondering, when the supervisors take their oath of office to uphold Tredyffrin’s Home Rule Charter, doesn’t that oath matter? Don’t they ever read what it is they have agreed to uphold? If they don’t have a personal copy of the Home Rule Charter, it is on the www.tredyffrin.org website. Apparently based on his comments in the newspaper, Lamina has been working under this misconception for some time. How long has he served as supervisor? Do I want to believe that Olson who has served as supervisor for 30 years still doesn’t know what the Home Rule Charter says? And let’s not forget Supervisor Kampf (remembering he is also an attorney) didn’t he feel compelled to read the Home Rule Charter that he took an oath to uphold? And Ms. Richter, newly elected supervisor . . . does she take an oath of office to uphold the Home Rule Charter without a peek at its contents?
I do not attest to being a legal authority, but my guess is that the residents of Tredyffrin Township have real grounds to ask that this latest motion be thrown out on procedural error. But I am betting that when the ‘spin doctors’ read this post, they will try to wrangle a legal loophole! (Here’s hoping that it may not be possible).
I know that we had a ‘substitute’ township solicitor from Lamb McErlane serving at the last meeting, and I also understand that the solicitor serves at the pleasure of the board but wouldn’t it be the responsibility of the solicitor to point out the procedural error of Olson’s motion (and the 4-3 vote to approve)? Perhaps Township Solicitor Tom Hogan could have a look at the Home Rule Charter before Monday night’s meeting and offer his opinion to the supervisors.
The way I read it is the motion to return escrow to St. Davids Golf Club (and vote to approve the motion) don’t count . . . and the supervisors cannot make a new motion on Monday night because it would have to be placed on the agenda. The St. Davids vote should simply be thrown out. If after further discussion with the township solicitor, a supervisor decides at some future meeting to make a similar motion, it needs to be placed on the agenda at least 8 hours in advance. Comments?
JudgeNJury, on February 5th, 2010 wrote,
Tredyffrin’s Home Rule Charter requires the Board of Supervisors to list all matters to be considered at a Board meeting on the agenda for the meeting: “The Board shall cause to be prepared for each regular meeting an agenda of matters to be considered by the Board at such meeting, including pertinent background, which agenda, along with a copy of financial and other activity reports, shall be distributed to the public at the start of the meeting. The agenda shall be available at least eight hours prior to the start of the meeting.”
Township of Tredyffrin Home Rule Charter § 211(C) (http://www.tredyffrin.org/pdf/ordinances/home-rule-charter.pdf).
It seems to me that there is a good argument to be made that introducing and voting on the escrow issue without including it in the agenda violated the Home Rule Charter and, therefore, the vote is null and void.
All we’d need is a plaintiff with standing (a Township resident who would benefit from construction of the sidewalk might be the best bet) to file a lawsuit against the Board. The plaintiff could request (i) a declaration from the court (“declaratory judgment”) that the vote is null and void and (ii) an injunction prohibiting the Board from raising or voting on non-emergency matters that are not specifically included in the agenda for a meeting. Who’s game?