Pattye Benson

Community Matters

What’s the meaning of ‘Good Government’? Does it Mean Something Different in Tredyffrin?

“The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the only legitimate object of good government.”

~ Thomas Jefferson to Maryland Republicans, 1809

According to Wikipedia, “Good Government is a normative description of how government is supposed to be constituted.” Last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting left me shaking my head and wondering about ‘good government’ in Tredyffrin. Wanting to believe in our elected officials and hoping that their decisions are in the best interest of our community, there were times during the meeting that I questioned the supervisors intentions.

The Board of Supervisors decided to delay the public hearing on the sidewalk ordinance for another month. Why? Eighteen months ago, dark clouds hung over this township as the St. Davids Golf Club land development agreement with Tredyffrin was put ‘on hold’ pending the results of a special sidewalk subcommittee. Township officials came under public scrutiny . . . with the newspaper headlines questioning the intentions of the BAWG report and the motives of some supervisors. It was a particularly dark time in our local history.

The land development contract between St. Davids Golf Club and the township is 6 years old. Four times representatives from the country club appeared before the township’s Planning Commission seeking relief from constructing the required walkway – and each time the planning commissioners choose to deny their request and uphold the terms of the land development contract.

After a yearlong special sidewalk subcommittee process, their report included sidewalks at St. Davids Golf Club. The supervisors voted to accept the sidewalk subcommittee report and instructed the planning commissioners to draft an amendment to the sidewalk ordinance which included an ‘in lieu of’ sidewalk fund. The Planning Commission members complied with the request and presented the draft ordinance, which was scheduled for public hearing last night. The supervisors decided to cancel that public hearing on the sidewalk ordinance and move it to the July meeting. Why?

We learned last night at the Board of Supervisors meeting that rather than honoring their vote of a few months ago to leave the land development authority in the hands of the Planning Commission, a new township land development process was presented. As discussed last night, the supervisors will now review the multiple phases of a land development plan, rather than simply the end product. Although it was suggested that the supervisors would only review the ‘larger’ projects or plans that required legislative authority, aside from the additional time and cost to developers for an additional review process, I could not help but think that this was just another way to once again delay the St. Davids walkway discussion.

Why is every decision related to the sidewalk ordinance amendment predicated on the best interests of this private country club?

A June township public hearing for the sidewalk ordinance is scheduled and advertised at a cost to taxpayers and then that hearing is cancelled, and rescheduled at additional cost. Why?

The supervisors state that they need more time to review the sidewalk ordinance. Why? So as to have more time to come up with additional ways not to uphold the contract with St. Davids Golf Club. Why don’t the supervisors just state that they have no intention of enforcing the land development contract with St. Davids? Wouldn’t that be more honest?

I have said repeatedly, this issue is not about sidewalks at St. Davids Golf Club. This is about a signed land development contract with the township; and the reasons why a wealthy country club isn’t required to comply with the conditions of the contract. I would bet if the township land development contract was with a private individual or another developer – they would be forced to comply with the conditions of the contract. Six years – and the country club continues to get a pass . . . why?

Is this ‘Good Government’ in Tredyffrin Township?

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  1. Patty, you do ask a lot of good questions. There is such a big dark cloud over this whole issue with St. David’s Golf Club and sidewalks. So again the Board of Supervisors throws another log on the fire. Why oh why does it need to go on like this for some many years. There has to be other things in this township that needs their attention. Come on you guys!!!! This should have been taking care of years ago!!!

  2. st davids should put the sidewalk in. Part of the agreement. Not about color, etc. About maybe other things.

    Didn’t they offer to buy out the sidewalk clause for a percentage of the original cost? Still not good enough.

    A deal is a deal Right? So why isn’t it being done BOS?

  3. “Good government is about working for the people and not using government as a political tool to bolster one group over another.”

    I agree, using gov’t as a political tool to bolster a groups desire to have sidewalks built is wrong.

    1. “You have 48 hours to come up with a cogent answer. Then….you’re mine… :)”

      Thanks for making me laugh. What are you going to do, hack my email account? lol

  4. Because the BoS is purely political. Alliances with both the TTRC & SDGC. Thought maybe when we got rid of WK & Lamina leaves in Dec, things might change — apparently not. Look at what happened Monday night.

    The BoS is trying to hijack the Planning Commission, again. If they don’t like a proposed ordinance or an ordinance revision, they’ll beat down the PC review after review. Costing the twp more $$$ in public hearing costs. If they’re so uptight about what the PC is doing, why don’t they attend the PC meetings instead of sending just a liaison? Those meetings are open to the public & anyone can comment on what the PC is doing.

    PS – “Good Government” means the same in Tredyffrin as it does nationally – NOTHING!!! If you have enough $$$, you get away with murder. The people aren’t worth a damn.

    1. “You may also want to think about running an independent candidate against JD.”

      WANTED: Resident of Tredyffrin-West to run against popular, well-financed, incumbent supervisor. Must be willing to sacrifice oneself on the altar of ideology in an act of political hara-kiri. Must be able to fog a mirror.

      JP, you’re in the West. Why don’t you run?

    2. An elected group of people is purely political? I’m shocked. Next thing you know, they will be running for something and we’ll have to decide whether or not to VOTE for them.

      1. I think readers understood what I meant. Just like every other elected official (whether local, state or federal); they are beholden to special interest groups & will not buck the system (their party) to stand up for & vote as they truly believe or for the best interests of their constituents. $$$ buys elections these days and has for some time.

        1. “they are beholden to special interest groups”

          The so-called special interest group that any politician is “beholden” to are their constituents, the people that get them elected. They don’t stand outside the polls handing out dollar bills to voters. Each person, regardless of wealth, intelligence, or immutable characteristic, gets exactly the same number of votes – one.

          The people can always throw a bum out when he’s doing a poor job, when folks have been sold a bunch of “hopey, changey” hooey.

        2. I agree with you — what I was saying just as calmly….politics and money has co-opted most reasonable people. It’s an ebay mentality in life — “I won” the auction — no — you paid more than anyone else for the item. Well — I won the election means you cultivated more “support” than your opponent, no matter how that happened. Voters don’t take the time to learn the issues, and even if they do, they have to guess which option is most likely to govern the way they think should be governed.

          Read yesterday’s MLSL article about the person substituting for Falcone for BOS. I don’t know the person at all, and he may be wonderful, but the “credentials” for the Dems putting him up for the seat is this long list of real estate development and big money connections. Do I really want someone who IS a developer/represents developers being on the BOS? No one that teaches in TESD can be on the TESD school board. Fox in hen house indeed.
          So again, not personal about the candidate (cannot remember name?), but some real pause over what credential being a real estate honcho would provide TAXPAYERS…..

  5. John, your ‘widgets” reference is exactly right. A deal is a deal. And if they wanted to challenge the deal, there were better ways of doing so, instead of making it look like an inside job. Very poorly done. Maybe its style as you said, but I think it is more ‘substance”. In any event it is in poor taste.

  6. moderate.. money has for as long as I can remember bought elections. Doesn’t matter if you are an elepant or mule. It is really wonderous that we have survived for as long as we have..

  7. “Don’t think John would want to go through that again” confirms Bill Aitken’s comment.. But if John ran, he wouldn’t have him to do the harassing.

  8. Voters don’t take the time to learn the issues


    I think this is a pretty accurate statement. So, with that in mind, how come we continue to blame the candidates for using bullet points and sound bites and not running deeper campaigns?

    The candidates are in a situation where that is the only thing that will get through to the people making decisions (the voters) because that is the only thing those people will give the candidates time for.

    If voters took the time to investigate issues, people, etc., the candidates would be forced to provide more information, position detail, etc.

    And before we say the candidates should be responsible for raising the level of debate we need to remember that has been tried and those candidates lose…because they can’t get that level of info through to voters.

    I am not clearing the candidates of all wrong-doing, but we need to be fair to them and admit that the people they must talk to in the election don’t really want to hear them.

  9. yes yes! An informed electorate. The lack thereof has gotten us into deep trouble, on all levels. This may sound very obnoxious but maybe the voting age should be raised to say, 25. The thinking here is there will be less xenophobia about a particular candidate, and 25 year olds hopefully have more worldly experiences than say an 18 year old.

    But where to get information? The family dinner table? Msnbc? (ok for those liberally minded, Fox news? The new york times? )Interesting that an article I read recently decried the lack of HISTORY being taught in high schools generally. Maybe schools should concentrate on history, civics, US government and current events? I believe Conestoga does offer these courses. It SHOULD be sufficient to help our fledgling voters to understand the ramifications of decisions made in the past, and help these yearlings THINK about the decisions they will make in the future. Could there be a teaching bias in schools? Well we know in colleges there are for sure. Would like to be a fly on the wall in a US Gov or history class at Conestoga.

    My own experience has been dinner table discussions have “righted” (not in the political sense) the comments made by teachers at school, even some comments that were not appropriate for that particular class.(English). Is there indoctrination? Subliminally? I was a good student and do not remember this stuff when I was in high school. OK. I’ve opened it up. Let me have it!

    1. Teaching more history in school may be a good idea… depending on who writes the history.

      1. TT that is a good point. Bill Bennett has a good book out that many schools are using Last Best Hope I and II I believe.

        If NBC can accidently on purpose leave “under God” out of the pledge, then one can believe history can be in the eyes of the beholder.

    2. FF — no question about it. Part of the reason for the liberal bias in teachers, I assume, is that conservatives are not drawn to public education, and even less so to belonging to a union. Go audit an education class at West Chester, where they train teachers, and you will see why more conservative thinkers shy away from the field. I have anecdotes to support it, but why bother. The “liberal” perspective goes hand in hand in education with elitism. People give lectures on their ideas because they truly belive they represent the informed and special class.

      Now — not all teachers are like this, and many are not, but those who have strong opinions that they deliver to students dont’ tend to be the ones who hold back.

      1. Give, I thought it amazing and a clear violation of privacy when a teacher at Conestoga asked the class who was Republican and who was Democrat. That was not necessary and put kids in a terrible pickle. My kid was smart enough to recognize that. Clearly the “teacher” could have used some other tactic to draw out conversation. It was very uncomfortable and unnecessary.

        I like your explanation of why liberals occupy the classroom as a majority. WHen I was in professional school we used to say if you can’t “do” you teach.

        The rise of Barack Obama to the presidency has been described as the watershed result of a new generations liberal education. Coupled with the main stream media, it WAS a slam dunk.

        1. I’d stop short of “those who can’t do, teach”….since the newer age is “those who can’t do, consult”….

          Teaching is a gift. The Goodmans, Housemans and Drakes of the world are good teachers — just going along with their passion for teaching is a great deal of passion for issues. When you feel you have been “called” to a profession, sometimes you get a bit preachy.

          I don’t think it’s the rise of a liberal education. But I do think much of politics has become social correctness — those who need help vote one way, those who don’t need any help vote the same way. It’s those considered “middle class” who can’t afford it all, and can’t afford to give any away. Not the majority it used to be.

      2. Adults who attend college should be more than capable of detecting any “bias” on the part of a professor, whether it be “liberal” or “conservative” in nature. I think one of the best things about college is the opportunity to observe & interact with people (other students as well as teachers) who are different in culture, religion, political thought and economic background.

        However, when an institution such as the Texas School Board is allowed to actually re-write history and teachers are required to teach what is essentially propaganda to grade school children, that is a very different matter. Children that age cannot differentiate between opinion and fact in the way that adults can. Why is that acceptable?

        1. Just, it is not acceptable. I am not sure what specifically you are referring to, but I would bet the farm that there are many many examples going both ways. As I stated before, it happens in Conestoga, right here under our collective noses. And I am not sure about the sanctity of the college classroom vis a vis bias. Maybe it is difficult for a student to speak up or out against the propaganda of the professor when that professor wields POWER. And I contend, rightly or wrongly as you can decide, that after seeing the xenophobia on college campuses for the promotion of Barack Obama to the presidency, there was little thought given to his future policies as it pertains to the very same xenophobic “students’ as it relates to their ability to get a job, at least outside of government. I will tell you that no matter who the candidate was, it was frightening to see the overflowing blind enthusiasm for a man they really knew little about or chose to ignore what they could have known. Yes, this was blindfaith ignorance of youth, and I would have felt that way no matter who was the candidate because of the mere frenzy of the movement. I believe they were enamored with the fact that we were running a black man, which in and of itself is cool, but in my opinion, the wrong black man. This is from firsthand witnessing at a college in Pa and I am sure it was replicated throughout the land. These kids thought they had a clue, it was good in a way to see them involved in the process but it the unbridled enthusiasm was best left for a Springsteen concert.

  10. While it is true that some voters – too many – don’t bother to educate themselves, there are all kinds of voters. Some work very hard to understand complex issues. The hard workers include voters who wake up to an issue. Sometimes groups of people, who initially had no real interest, get concerned (or excited or mad as hell) about an issue that affects themselves or their community, and then they get educated and involved, support candidates, and truly effect a meaningful change.

    Our system often seems to be on the brink of collapse becasue of the former type of citizen, but so far, the latter type always steps up and renews it. Let us hope that will always be so.

    1. Kevin
      I’m guessing you are referring to your “class size” platform. WHere are those people now? Single issue voters are as dangerous as single issue candidates. Maybe moreso. You didn’t join the board to accomplish one thing — and certainly didn’t stay around to protect it by yourself. But where was your mandate crowd when you ran against the Dem who had nothing special to bring to the table….just some credentials that made her sound like she would be good at education stuff…..

      1. Most of their kids are graduated and I suspect that some of them lost interest along the way. Then again, we don’t know how many of them were still paying attention and voted for (or in some cases against) me. No way of knowing. The election was very close. I was thinking of the country as a whole, however. I am optimistic and hopeful for the most part, but I have to admit there are times when it is hard to maintain that attitude.

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