Pattye Benson

Community Matters

The Definition of a Poor Leader as provided by Tredyffrin Township . . . distrust, discontent, anger and partisan rancor

Since last Fall, the residents of Tredyffrin Township have endured seemingly endless examples of bad governing, including;

  • $50K St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk offer
  • Fire Funding 2010 budgeting (fireworks vs. fire funding)
  • Fire company politicization
  • Improper supervisor solicitation of funding (Comcast, etc.)
  • Home Rule Charter violations
  • Inconsistent ethics decisions (Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust vs. Fire Funding solicitation)
  • Political party grandstanding/campaigning (cardboard check presentation)
  • Public political party commentary

. . . all provided courtesy of our Board of Supervisors leadership, Warren Kampf as chairman in 2009 and Bob Lamina as current chair.

Most of us have an opinion on the definition of a great leader. It’s one of those concepts, in which everyone seems to have an opinion. Instead of defining a great leader, what about the definition of a Poor Leader? If you go to Webster’s Dictionary and see how they define these two words separately, here is what you get:

  • Leader – A Person or thing that leads
  • Poor – Deficient or lacking in something specified, lacking in skill, ability, or training, deficient in desirable ingredients, qualities

If you combine the two you get something like: Poor Leader A person in a leadership role that lacks the necessary skill, ability, and overall qualities to effectively lead.

As a leader you are tasked with delivering results. The best leaders know that consistently delivering great results is not something that they can do in isolation. To get members of the community to support our local government, our elected leaders need to avoid the worst traits of poor leaders. In my experience these include:

  • Being arrogant
  • Unwillingness to learn
  • Bullying
  • Poor Communication
  • Incompetence
  • Lack of Accountability
  • Aggression
  • Insincerity
  • Deceitful
  • Ruling with an iron hand
  • Indecisiveness

This brings me to the purpose of this post. In this week’s edition of the Main Line Suburban Life, is a I See It’ article written by Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Chair Bob Lamina. Having attending this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting hoping for an apology for his aggressive, disrespectful behavior of the April 19 supervisors meeting, you can imagine my outrage over Lamina’s outrageous, arrogant words. Do you characterize Lamina and his style of governing as an example of a good leader or a poor leader . . . you be the judge!

Much has been written over the last few months in Main Line Suburban Life, Main Line Times, Daily Local and Community Matters in regards to the governing of Tredyffrin Township and its leaders. Since the April 19 Board of Supervisors Meeting, there have been several articles and commentary speaking directly to the leadership of Bob Lamina. Provided are some links in case you missed them:

Here is the article which appears in this week’s Main Line Suburban Life by Bob Lamina. Read the article and reflect on Lamina’s selective memory of the April 19 supervisors meeting. Fortunately my memory is better and I’m hoping that Tredyffrin’s residents share my recall. This comment already appears after Lamina’s article, ” . . . In your short tenure as the Chair of the Tredyffrin BOS, you have managed to set a record for the most missteps in the shortest period of time. Congratulations. Disgracing your position in record time is a legacy you can be proud of long after the much-anticipated expiration of your term.”

The politics of firefighting and other matters

Published: Tuesday, May 04, 2010

By Bob Lamina

In a recent editorial, a local resident who also happens to be a local firefighter pointed out some of the qualities in our community that make so many people look to Tredyffrin as a great place to employ and be employed, to educate our children, to worship, to raise a family, to run a business. In short the qualities that make our township such a wonderful place to live. These are qualities which have long constituted the character of this community – ones which hopefully will endure in the future.

One of the qualities I’ve also mentioned on a number of occasions as being one of our township’s most endearing, qualities I believe have been equally integral to the character of our community, has been the generous spirit of volunteerism – the spirit of giving, the spirit of shared sacrifice and the spirit of shared risk and reward – that makes up the very fiber and indeed the history of our township.

That is why last fall, in that same spirit of shared sacrifice, during what remains to this day to be extraordinarily challenging economic times, the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors voted to adopt a 2010 budget that contained within it some very difficult but necessary decisions. Within our budget were the results of an earlier decision to reduce our township staff by 20 positions – 11 of those through layoffs, the rest through attrition. The budget froze most other township salaries with the exception of those required by collective-bargaining agreement, we instituted a hiring freeze and we reduced the police budget. All other general fund services, with the exception of the fire companies, were reduced by at least 14 percent.

By comparison fire-company service providers’ budgets were reduced a modest 5 percent. In so doing, we adopted I believe what the community wanted, a budget that was fair and balanced and contained no real-estate property-tax increase. Despite these good works, during our deliberations we continued to hear from many in the community who asked that we try and find a way to preserve funding sought by the local fire companies. Not unlike a former supervisor who often utilized the bully pulpit we sit on to urge citizens to give generously to the fire companies, it was in response to these requests, that Mr. Olson, Mr. Kampf and I – citizens who happen to be supervisors and public servants who are also citizens of this same community – worked hard to find a way.

And the good news we announced way back on Dec. 21 was that in a great example of private-public partnering – not unlike our much larger and equally successful Library Capital Campaign a few years ago – individuals, businesses both large and small, organizations and foundations generously came forward in response to our year-end holiday appeal on behalf of our local fire companies. As was also stated at the time, the most remarkable aspect of our ability to provide the sought-after funding was really the manner in which we accomplished it. In a little more than 10 days we were able to restore the funding not in the form of additional subsidies, spending and new or higher taxes during challenging times, but in the form of pledges by others in our community who by their generosity agreed to reach out and lend a hand during the holiday season.

And that I suppose is why I was so compelled during our last public meeting to question the motivations of those few individuals who came forward to challenge what we successfully achieved nearly four-and-a-half months earlier. My fear is the continued rhetoric being displayed by those who for one reason or another still can’t comprehend the generosity of our community is in fact putting at risk some of these same qualities I believe are critical to our future and ones that we must maintain. Perhaps they didn’t believe that the funding we announced in the form of pledges would really ever be received. Well, we know now the facts are we’ve actually exceeded in charitable giving what was sought to be funded through tax dollars. We also know by earlier comments by a local blogger and former unsuccessful Democratic candidate for township supervisor that she and other similarly motivated individuals had a stronger preference to reach into our taxpayers’ pockets for funding, and that the notion of shared sacrifice for the greater good perhaps shouldn’t necessarily be shared by all. In my view this would have been to take the easier and I think incorrect road – one of increased taxpayer subsidies and spending.

So with that said, and with the political season in full swing, with the run-up to the Pennsylvania primary election on May 18, it’s always easy for those who clearly have a different point of view, or who are otherwise politically inclined, to throw around words like “conflict of interest,” “ethics” and “pay to play.” While I respect everyone’s First Amendment right to come forward at our meetings and speak their mind, those who know me best understand that I will also never shy away from expressing my own views. And in this instance, while I find that to make such politically charged and unfair assertions some four-and-a-half months later may help sell newspapers, it represents quite a ridiculous point of view with no basis in fact other than to dangerously put in jeopardy one of our township’s demonstrated and most cherished qualities – the spirit of charitable giving. Frankly the tone of some of the comments made near the end of our April 19 meeting was to somehow absurdly suggest that companies doing business in our township aren’t caring citizens too. That is just flat-out wrong, and to continue this type of rhetoric is in fact to tear at the fabric of what in part makes this community great. But, you know, in the end I think the political shots some of us have been receiving are nothing compared to the shots average citizens have taken in our community these past few years.

So while I’m not worried about the former, I do worry about making the right decisions for our community. The economic stress in our township is still very real. Revenue used to fund government services generated by transfer taxes on the sale of residential and commercial properties isn’t what it used to be, some folks have lost their jobs and their homes, and many have seen their retirement savings greatly depleted. So as I’ve stated, while it isn’t all that unusual in the heat of the political season for every gnat in the minority that’s ever nipped at our heels to want to take us on – or at least those of us who may happen to be running for one political office or another – I would challenge those who have differing views to put aside the rhetoric. I’m all too happy to have a spirited debate on the real issues facing our community. On public-safety matters like support for our firefighters, let’s put aside the politics. I hope that, for the sake of our community and the continuation of the qualities that make this community great, we can all agree on the positive nature of what was accomplished by bringing people of walks of life together in Tredyffrin to help the fire companies.

I’m committed to doing so if you are. But if there’s anyone who still wishes to draw a political lesson relative to my statement concerning my own character, please know this. I will continue to work for you in good times and bad, and not shy away from making the right and often hard decisions I believe are in the best interests for our community. And lastly, one of the qualities I neglected to mention that also makes this township so great is that we do have good government in Tredyffrin, from the guy who plows your streets to this elected board. We work hard to keep your taxes as low as we can, maintaining the services you have come to expect, while at the same time not making local government intrusive in your lives. So when you do go to the polls on May 18, as I’ve mentioned in these remarks, and like the citizen firefighter who expressed so eloquently the qualities that make this township such a special place, please consider what it’s going to take to continue to maintain these qualities in our community in the future. So whether you’re a citizen supervisor from our own township who aspires to higher public office, or any other candidate, know we’re not playing games here; we’re here doing what we believe is the people’s business.

Bob Lamina is chairman of the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors and a former member of the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee.

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  1. Thank you Pattye! I saw the article in the online Main Line paper and was glad that you added it to Community Matters. Lamina is unbelievably arrogant — does he think we’re all stupid! I know that you posted part of the comment below, but thought others might like reading the entire comment. I completely share philabob’s sentiments on Lamina. When will his reign end??

    philabob wrote on May 4, 2010 11:09 PM:

    ” I read Supervisor Lamina’s comments with increasing amazement. Here is a man who is claiming that attendees at the Tredyffrin Township Supervisors meetings need to tone down their rhetoric; yet in the same piece, he refers to those who may hold differing views as “gnats”.
    Now that’s certainly acting responsibly, Bob. it is but a small example of the disingenuousness that has characterized your short tenure at the helm.
    It’s interesting that you point out the “ridiculous points of view”, while never bothering to explain how your actions on behalf of the Fire Company- while noble in intent- differed from Ms. Benson’s attempts to receive an in-kind gift from the contractor on behalf of the Historic Preservation Trust.
    By suggesting that such a gesture hinted at “pay-to-play”, you impugned the integrity of Ms DeFilippo, who has served this community with dedication and dignity for many years. The hypocrisy is unmistakable, in light of your recent actions.
    Fresh on the heels of the St. David’s Golf Club escrow debacle, which we all know was engineered behind the scenes, you have managed to create yet another blemish on the office you hold with your extraordinary hubris.
    Please answer these questions: 1)When you and your partners Mr. Olsen and Mr. Kampf solicited the businesses on behalf of the Firefighters, did you identify yourselves as Township Supervisors? 2)If you were truly interested in raising as much money for the firefighters, why did you exclude the other Supervisors? Certainly, they could have also exercised their rights as “private citizens”, as you and Mr. Kampf have alleged, and perhaps raised a greater amount with their efforts.
    I will, however, give you your rightful props, Mr. Lamina: In your short tenure as the Chair of the Tredyffrin BOS, you have managed to set a record for the most missteps in the shortest period of time. Congratulations.
    Disgracing your position in record time is a legacy you can be proud of long after the much-anticipated expiration of your term. “

  2. Patty,

    Several times you have recently referenced Leaders and Leadership on the BOS. I don’t think there have been any Leaders on the BOS for a long time. There are and have been leaders (lower case L), but no true Leaders. True Leaders are few and far between.

    At the local government level, in this day and age, I would be happy with competent managers who are more aware of the strategic issues facing the community. If we can get a Leader out of it – bonus.

  3. This AS I SEE IT demands response from all of us IN THE PAPER….Mr. Lamina has now used the bully pulpit to boost Mr. kampf’s campaign position. Let’s identify the elephants in the room — Pattye I know you will be tempted to answer, but this is a Republican fight now. stand back and watch.

  4. In Chairman Lamina’s mind, his latest letter to the editor is just an appropriate use of the bully pulpit. .In my view, HE HAS ACTED LIKE A BULLY WITH A PUILPIT!!!!

    Lamina’s 1,500 word blather in defense of of his actions and those of Mssrs. Olson and Kampf has the sound of a fairy tale. Once upon a time in the land of Tredyffrin where all was well and the spirit of giving reigned, an evil and dangerous band of people appeared. Their “motivations” were suspect and their words and actions endangered us all by “putting at risk some of these same qualities I believe are critical to our future”.

    In other words – be afraid of these people. They are not like us, and they threaten our idyllic lifestyle in Tredyffrin.

    Have you ever heard such hooey? Lamina’s version is so full of holes, hypocrisy and shameless arrogance, one hardly knows how to respond.

    He’s right about one thing: the people of Tredyffrin value the quality of life here _ AND WE WANT TO KEEP IT THAT WAY. Unfortunately, the actions taken by some of our supervisors – particularly in recent months, call the future direction our our township into question.

    The “good news” spin on the charity drive three supervisors coordinated with the local Republican Party was to restore funding for VITAL TOWNSHIP services – funding that apparently was available for fireworks – and it was grandstanding at its “best”.

    The facts? These same supervisors could have and should have voted NO to taxpayer-funded fireworks this year and YES to keeping the puny fire funding budget intact.
    Lamina tries to create a partisan divide on this issue i.e. Democrats want a dedicated fire tax to prevent annual funding amounts from being subject to the whims of sitting board members – while Republicans want you to keep your hard-earned money and let the fire departments step up their begging efforts to cover operating expenses.

    Which is more fiscally responsible and at the same time serves the best interests of ALL Tredyffrin residents?

    The fact that this issue continues to be publicly discussed reflects the problematic nature of the BOS vote and their subsequent handling of this matter. IT all smells, no matter how you look at it!

    Halfway through the hot-air-fest ,Chairman Lamina clearly ventures beyond the bounds of decency and shows appalling judgment in disparaging Pattye, who has had the courage to stand up and ask the tough questions. She is someone who has devoted far more time to community matters than anyone sitting on that dais – even Citizen Emeritus Paul Olson himself. She deserves to be treated with respect by Mr. Lamina and all his fellow supervisors – as does every citizen who speaks at a public meeting. THERE CAN BE NO EXCEPTIONS.

    So Lamina could not be any more ludicrous than he was in his claim that he “respects everyone’s 1st Amendment right…to speak their mind”, immediately following by calling their opinions “ridiculous…with no basis in fact other than to dangerously put in jeopardy one of our township’s most cherished qualities…” Bla Bla Bla.

    Not yet atisfied he’d adequately put his Chairman’s stamp on “the way it is in Tredyffrn”, Lamina had to opine that:

    “in the heat of the political season for every gnat in the minority that’s ever nipped at our heels to …take us on……… I WOULD CHALLENGE THOSE WHO HAVE DIFFERING VIEWS TO PUT ASIDE THE RHETORIC”.

    I hope you haven’t just eaten.. I know how my stomach feels right now…..

    IMHO, Bob Lamina is totally unsuited to lead the BOS and must go. We can all guess that childish, oppositional- defiant Bob isn’t going anywhere or doing anything he’s told. NO. So he will have to be removed by a majority of residents in this community.

    Funny. He imagines he has the majority of this township in his back pocket, and that only a small (but dangerous) band of GNATS is stirring up trouble.

    He needs to learn otherwise.

  5. Lamina is taking over the entire BOS as his personal platform. I watched that BOS meeting and he conveniently leaves out the discusson of the ‘pay-to-play’ appearance of the BOS over the Trust and Pitcairn issue, choosing to make up the story. Kate’s reference to a fairy tale is accurate. Lamina is living in the twilight zone with no sense of reality. I don’t care what political party you are registered with — everyone needs to be outraged by his attitude. What kind of goverment has Tredyffrin turned in to? Lamina has no business on the BOS let alone the chairman.

    I am not interested in participating in a community where its elected officials think so little of its residents. I am totally disgusted!

  6. Bob Lamina cited the fundraising campaign as ” a great example of private-public partnering”. Local governments appear to be very interested in establishing P3’s. Anybody care to help me understand the politics and legalities of Public-Private Partnerships (P3’s)? What are the benefits and drawbacks of these partnerships? How and where do P3’s fit into Tredyffrin’s future?

    (I always think of that PA Child Care LLC detention center fiasco out in Luzerne County. Not a good example! Talk about corruption!)

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