Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Easttown Township Supervisor Appointment Goes to Local Attorney Not Third Place Finisher

At Easttown Township Board of Supervisor meeting last night, the board vacancy was on the agenda. The supervisor appointment was announced and it did not go to Michael Wacey (D) who received the third highest number of votes in the November election. Rather, the decision was to appoint Republican Karl Romberger, an attorney to the Board of Supervisors.

Although the supervisor appointment was to be made by the four remaining members of Easttown Township’s Board of Supervisors (all Republicans), it should be noted that they were split in their decision with Jim Oram and Betsy Fadem voting for Michael Wacey and Marc Heppe and Chris Polites voting for Karl Romberger. In the case of a tie, 2-2, Easttown’s Vacancy Committee (Kim Richards) was to cast the deciding vote.

After I wrote the initial post on this issue, I was contacted by a member of the Easttown Township Democratic Committee – she wanted to explain the timing of Brandon Adams departure, the election results, etc. I asked her if it was true that Mr. Adams was aware (prior to the General Election) that he would not be able to serve if he were elected. I had previously heard this information and wanted to verify and she said yes, that his company had been acquired and that employees were not permitted to serve in this capacity. Fair enough; through no fault of his, the candidate would not be able to serve and it was too late to have his name removed from the ballot prior to the election.

What I did not understand (and stated it to the Easttown Dem representative during our phone call) was why didn’t either the candidate or his political party make a public statement prior to the election to notify the voters. All voters may not have received the message prior to the election but it certainly would have been a more open and transparent way to handle the situation. In my opinion, had the public known that Brandon Adams could not serve if elected, it is quite possible that Democrat Michael Wacey would have moved into second place when the votes were counted and would now be sitting on the Board of Supervisors. (I did not want to mention this point on until after the Easttown Board of Supervisors had made their decision so as not to taint their decision in advance.)

Do I think that Michael Wacey should have been chosen as the replacement supervisor? Yes. His running for public office proved his interest in sitting on the Board of Supervisors and he received nearly 1,400 votes. But at the same time, I hold the Easttown Township Democratic Committee somewhat responsible for the outcome of the situation.

Good for Betsy Fadem and Jim Oram, both Republicans, who stepped up and voted to appoint Democrat Michael Wacey, rather than letting partisan politics govern their decision. And lastly, congratulations to Karl Romberger on his appointment to Easttown Township Board of Supervisors.

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  1. I supported Wacey for the position because he received the next highest number of votes and also because he is a D and the citizens clearly wanted a D to serve in the position.

    No sour grapes here though. It’s well within R’s right to appoint whoever they want to the position.

    Congratulations to the new Supervisor.

    1. No idea why the choice, but his expertise could be helpful to TESD who are facing a $7 million deficit for which out-of-control special education expenses have been blamed. This issue was not addressed in the list of budget-balancing programs presented to the Finance Committee last night.

      Back to the topic: kind of SAD! that in Easttown the Dem party strategy and the Rep incumbents combined to go against a nationwide movement that just yesterday was manifest in a Wisconsin state senate seat where a Dem turned a 26 point deficit to a 9 point win.

  2. This is for the BOS. Completely separate from the TESD. The fact that Mr. Romberger is an attorney and specifically, an education lawyer is 100% irrelevant. One of his specialties is special education law, on the defense side. That means he defends school districts on matters where parent plaintiffs are advancing IEP/IDEA claims on behalf of their kids. One of the things that makes TESD a great district are the accommodations it affords (and is required to do so under the law) to students who require IEP’s. Mr. Clarke, you appear to be one of the many who like the benefits of a first class school district but don’t like to pay for them. Comparatively, TESD taxes are quite low.

    1. No idea who you are, but you think I don’t know the difference between Easttown and the School District? Further, if the “accommodations” TESD affords are all legally required, then how come TESD is “great”er than any other district? Or that lawyers like Mr. Romberger have a practice that helps districts defend their rights?

      As for taxes, unfortunately the tax rate has more than doubled in the time I’ve been living here, while inflation and income certainly have not. The result is the cycle we are seeing at this very moment: increasingly, it only makes economic sense for families to live here, thus enrollment rises, thus costs bump up against Act 1 limits, thus programs are cut…. Unless there comes a referendum that approves an even larger tax increase, which exacerbates the whole cycle.

      So, I still think that the School Board and our diverse and fortunate community could benefit from volunteer services from Mr. Romberger.

    2. ET-REs
      Since you are stating our taxes are so low—
      Just curious, what do you think our tax rates should be?

      Also, Lower Merion & Radnor school districts have higher tax rates, yet our
      TESD is rated higher–with lower taxes. Why do you think that is?

      1. Caution: It’s very difficult to compare taxes using millage rates from 3 district in 3 different counties with 3 different development patterns.

        1. Keith,
          I appreciate & understand your reply. However, I’m still curious as to ET-REs’ thoughts as
          far as our tax rates should be and why does he/she think they are so low in the first place.

          Just another point Kieth–you can compare expenditures from one school district to another. For instance, when you compare Radnor’s expenditure for buildings–their new Middle School added to the debt load of their tax payers.

          Finally, all this tax talk can be a moot issue if/when the state takes over.

  3. Rather than comparing millage rates, I agree with you that comparing expenditures is better. If I remember correctly, TE & Unionville both spend about $21K per student; Radnor $25K; Lower Merion $31K.

  4. Thanks for the info.

    Still leaves the question—
    If TE spends less per student than Lower Merion & Radnor,
    How come TE is consistently ranked better than LM & Radnor?

    This is an open question–but it would be nice if ET-REs could
    provide input since they want to increase our taxes.

  5. Karl Romberger advises school entities about special education, student services, school-behavioral health placement reimbursement disputes, civil rights, policy development, contracts and service provider arrangements. He also represents educational institutions in administrative hearings, including special education cases, MOU reimbursement actions, and actions before the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and litigation in both state and federal courts. Karl provides regular consultations through the firm’s Pool Counsel program and also provides staff in-service presentation trainings on special education and student services topics. He is a regular presenter before various continuing legal education audiences and is also trained as a special education hearing officer with the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education.

    Prior to joining the firm, Karl was a permanent Federal Law Clerk to Hon. E. Mac Troutman of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and also served as a Pennsylvania Special Education Hearing Officer, in addition to working for a large Philadelphia-based national law firm.

    Betsy Fadem was a TESD Board Member. It is yet to be seen whether is appointment is relevant.

  6. Thanks for reporting on this issue. Two things I would like to add:

    Once Brandon realized he could not hold the office, I had every expectation that he would come in fourth. In addition, I naively thought that even though his name was on the ballot, his votes would not be counted since he had filed to be removed. After the election, I read the Pennsylvania election code and now understand exactly how it works. Until Brandon actually resigned on 1/2/2018, I was hoping that he would find a way to take the seat.

    Secondly, I find it distressing that someone would not take the time to run for office but then put their name in for appointment. The supervisors decided that holding positions that they appoint was a better criteria than votes. Note that I tried many times to get appointed by previous boards but they made it very clear that as a Democrat, I would never be appointed.

    I look forward to running in 2019 and getting out and meeting all the citizens of Easttown.

  7. It seems like the party representatives of BOTH parties could have passed out a note saying “Brandon Adams respectfully requests you do NOT vote for him, as he petitioned too late to have his name removed from the ballot” or some such thing?

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