political complacency


Tammany Hall’s Boss Tweed ruled 19th Century New York City with an iron political fist.  He is fascinating to read about, but eventually got caught up in his own web and died in prison. He wielded crazy political power and corruption. He had many minions to do his bidding.

It took courage in 19th century New York City to bring down Boss Tweed. People feared him. He was a petty tyrant and for a while New York City was his dictatorship.

Boss Tweeds have existed throughout history. Different countries, centuries, same M.O. Boss Tweeds operate on a fear based system.  They still exist today. They exist because we are politically complacent and allow them to exist. 

 Election season is about a month away. Throughout Pennsylvania there will be local and county elections.

The result depends on the voters. There is plenty of whining and whispering behind hands but do all of you have the courage to put some career politicans out to pasture?

The full court press of political fairy tales begins now. In local politics, it’s not fancy commercials, their little legions of volunteers will fan out and visit the locals. Over and over they will tell you their Boss Tweed is a paragon of virtue and has slayed more dragons than St. George.  You know, The Tall Tales of Election Season.

But have they? Or is it all a big illusion and they have instead profited from the naïveté of their constituents ? 

Who really loses when Boss Tweeds are voted out of office? The answer is no one but those who profited in some way from their association with the particular Boss.

Now is when you will hear how new faces are “bad” and you need to hold the course. Hold the course for whom exactly? Ah yes, the particular Boss Tweed and their friends. 

You are ok as long as you vote “how you are told”. Why? Because there is no place for individuality with pack mentality, is there?

And the pack can make your life a living hell, can’t they? But the thing is this: you can take away their power. How? Vote their Boss Tweed out of office.

So now is the time wherever you live. Step out of the shadows of political complacency and vote Boss Tweeds out of office. If you don’t you do lose one thing: your right to complain. 

In each of you is the power to enact change to better your community. You just have to vote. 

Thanks for stopping by.


ask not for whom the bell “tolls” west vincent….

toll brothers

So, what a difference a couple of years makes, right? A friend sent me this photo the other day.  Toll Brothers at their finest. Guess this is the next phase of Byers station or whatever, right? Because nothing says Chester County like the smell of plastic siding roasting in a treeless sky, right?

I know you can’t save every old house, but what is being done in places like West Vincent is almost criminal. Can you imagine if THIS above is what happens to Bryn Coed which sits not only in West Vincent but a neighboring township? That estate is like what? One and a half times the size of Chesterbrook when it was created? Can you imagine what Bryn Coed land would resemble if stripped bare like this?

Here is a photo of the same house that I took in June of 2013:

June 2013

Now for those who live in West Vincent, the thing to remember is when KenOCrat Supervisor Roadmaster Farmer Miller sends his ladies in waiting forth to invite themselves into your homes to say what a fabulous job he has one, how he is all about preservation, the environment and so on, remember these photos or the next one….which is another for whom the bell “Tolls” over at Eagle Farms/Chester Springs Road (also sent to me ):

toll brothers1

Now they naysayers and cheerleaders will try to tell you how Mike Schneider who is running for Supervisor against Ken Miller is not the guy for the job and heck come on it is all the same tired rhetoric from when John Jacobs won and well John is doing an awesome job isn’t he?   The bottom line is Ken Miller got booted by his own political party so in desperation he was a write-in fake Democrat. (How embarrassing that the Chester County Democrats have a horse in this race and it is a veritable Trojan Horse, right?)

Ken Miller’s supporters (because you NEVER hear from Ken personally do you?) will tell you how Ken is “fiscally conservative” into “conservation and environmental protection” and oh yes “good planning” and “road maintenance”.   If he was Pinocchio he would be using a Toll Brothers wielded chain saw to slice off his ever growing nose.

This man voted in favor of eminent domain for private gain when they tried and failed to take Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show. His supporters will try to explain that away “It was for the good of the horse show”, “it was to protect the land” , “it really wasn’t eminent domain for private gain.”

Yes. It. Was.

That crappy Ludwig’s Corner Overlay Plan? What do you think that was about? Tea and scones? Moving pony club? And they could have seized the land, sort of twiddled their thumbs for a couple of years, sold some to a developer to build that crappy overlay plan and what would that be? Tea and scones?  moving pony club? The answer is still eminent domain and it is private gain because well these overlay plans aren’t public purpose and a municipality as tiny as West Vincent isn’t going to develop these big honking plans themselves are they? Miller can barely take care of the roads, and not very well, correct? So that all leads back to what class? Eminent domain for private gain.

And then there are the current developments. Aren’t there enough? And what about Fawlty Towers over there behind the horse show? Remember how bitterly disputed they were?  Ken Miller didn’t exactly fight to preserve the land over there did he? The Daily Local described him basically as akin to a mute during the process, didn’t they?  And FYI the nickname preferred for Stone Rise is what? Miller Towers. (It’s a shame Malvern Borough wasn’t paying attention before Eastside Flats went up, right?)

Basically it is the same pool of developers all over.  In every community they tell the same tale as how they want to “help” the communities they wish to destroy with new development. But God only loves those developers who help themselves (to higher profit margins) and the occasional politician, right? (Sorry it’s called opinion and I am entitled to it.)

At the end of the day people, local elections matter. And if West Vincent residents don’t wake up in November or are afraid to vote intelligently, well scarred naked landscapes is what will replace the beautiful fields and forest and winding country roads.

And that ladies and gentleman is what I will never get about Farmer Supervisor Roadmaster KenOCrat Miller. He’s a farmer. Farmers are supposed to love the land right? So how is all the bad development out there loving the land?

Be wary Chester County. Ask not for whom the bell “Tolls”. It “Tolls” for all of us if we don’t slow down development everywhere.

Thanks for stopping by (and keep those bad development photos coming.)

rotting in downingtown

  These photos were sent to me by a reader named Kathy. They came with this message:

“This eyesore in Downingtown at Boot Rd & 322 lingers on. Will it ever be cleaned up and developed or is it forever stuck in the cycle of red tape and paperwork? I thought the bicycle trail was supposed to continue on through this area but who knows if it will happen. All of the first floor windows and doors of these homes have been boarded up and an endless number of No Trespassing/Danger signs have been posted.”

So when we last spoke of the Borough of Downingtown, the rather young mayor was all gung ho over a giant development project where an RFP was put out for a garage on borough owned land, correct? Does he not see these rotting houses? And developer Eli Kahn bought HOW many acres in Downingtown from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia?

  So, I have to ask: if they did not let homes like pictured in this post rot, maybe a lot of country towns would have housing that more fit the history and flavor of the area?

  This is yet another reason why people in Chester County need to hold local governments and state level elected officials accountable for all the crazy development carving up communities one land parcel at a time.


bird in a twisted, gilded cage.

millbrook lane

When we were growing up, she was one of my sister’s friends. She lived over on Millbrook Lane (number 773 if memory serves) on the Haverford College and Delaware County side of Haverford. In 1973 her father committed suicide.

As kids you are sort of aware and sort of oblivious at the same time to the tragedies of other kids. It was before the age of the Internet and adults still spoke in hushed tones of “certain things”. Her name was Amy Whittlesey, and perhaps the subtitle of this post should be Defending Amy (once a newspaper headline read Judging Amy and it never sat well with me.)

I remember her as a teenager only a little because there were three years between my sister and I ….and once you hit high school, that’s an ocean. I remember her as soft spoken with an almost shy smile. I remembered at the time that her mother was a politician. I wasn’t even sure what that really entailed at the time and well, it was someone unimportant to a teenage girl. When I first met her we were all at Shipley.

Her mother was indeed quite the politician. A State Representative, Delaware County Council, and she ran in the Late 1970s for Lieutenant Governor (but lost). Then Ronald Reagan became president, and her mother, Faith Ryan Whittlesey, became Ambassador to Switzerland.

Her mother, Ambassador Whittlesey, is more than a little bit terrifying on paper. Like a modern Catherine de’ Medici sort of, if I can say that out loud without a case of “off with her head” , that is?  I can’t recall ever meeting her, I just remember Amy. Her mother is perhaps in some senses more driven and disciplined than Hillary Clinton ever will be.  Hillary truthfully could take a page or two out of Ambassador Whittlesey’s  book.  She has always to me represented the ultimate female politician and political survivor meets public saint. So yes, scary. She came up in a political climate of more subterfuge and in many senses, more brutal because women just weren’t doing much of  politics, then. So it was an era of politics that were rather medieval. And it was Delaware County where she got her start. Very tough. Crazily so.


PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 3— For Faith Ryan Whittlesey, who is often described here as the most powerful woman in Pennsylvania politics, life has become a little more hectic than usual since her nomination early last month as Ambassador to Switzerland.

There was, of course, her swearing-in last Wednesday at the State Department in Washington, but that was only one of the many details to be handled by the new Ambassador, a widow with three children, who has a law office to close, a local political career to pack away in mothballs, a household to move and shopping to do….Mrs. Whittlesey, who has been a supporter of President Reagan since 1976, was co-chairman of his defense and foreign policy committee in 1980 and presented the defense plank at the Republican National Convention.

Two of Mrs. Wittlesey’s children, Amy, 14, and William, 8, will accompany her to Switzerland, but her eldest son, Henry, 15, will continue at St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H.

But you have to wonder about those saints, right?

When her mom became ambassador, Amy appeared to be thrust into this whirlwind jet set glamorous kind of life. But was it? As an adult, in retrospect, maybe not so much. I kind of think she was like a bird in a gilded cage…a twisted, gilded cage. In retrospect, she lived a Victorian girl’s life in a modern world. It was modern all around her, but she wasn’t really ever free. Ever.

In 1989 on a Sunday in the New York Times there was a wedding announcement:


I remember it because at that point in time I had a few friends who had married and I thought they were nuts because everyone was so young, and she was like at least 3 years younger than I. And I also remembered wondering because her husband was so old was she like some sacrificial virgin married off in some Elizabethan drama? How many goats, horses, casks of wine,  and estates was she worth?

Then she faded from many of our memories as she went on living her married life.  If you did not swim in those social oceans, and it was quite the stratosphere with rarified air, well, you are young, people fade from memory and life goes on.

Then BAM! It’s the millennium and in January 2000 this shocking article appears in Vanity Fair by writer Lisa DePaulo hits the newsstands.  It’s called Irreconcilable Rockefellers .  I re-read it again recently and it is still quite the stunning tale of how rotten a fairy tale can get. It was quite the talk of the Main Line and beyond when it was published and all those pretending it was so awful a series of events to be aired in public, were pouring through the many pages of the article in private.

And that is the thing of it, isn’t it? We sit here with our ordinary lives sometimes envying what appears to be a rather fancy life of someone we know or have known. You wonder what would it be like? Would we do fabulous things, meet fabulous people, and would life sparkle more? Well after reading about the life of someone who was a contemporary of my younger sister and seeing it splashed across media outlets in one headline after the other, wow, be grateful for the magic of more ordinary days.

When I would read the articles, and even today as I re-read them again I am still struck with the same thought: why the hell did her mother sacrifice her? Power? Politics? Social ambition? Money? Mothers can be ambitious for their daughters, yes, but wow, right?

So the media dies off as Amy gets divorced and once again people go about their lives. In 2012 her mother makes local papers about her biography (she moved years ago and I assume still lives in Florida) . (Reference Main Line Media News October, 2012)

Keeping Faith: Former Haverford politician is the focus of new biography

From the time the former Haverford resident entered the political arena as state representative for the 166th District in 1973 until she entered the West Wing of the White House as President Ronald Reagan’s public liaison in 1983, the “Kennedy Democrat”-turned-Republican made headlines in her old hometown.

Along the way, the mother of three suffered the loss of her husband to an apparent suicide, became Delaware County’s first female county council chairman, was appointed ambassador to Switzerland and survived a congressional investigation into her management of the embassy and its link to the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages deal supervised by fired National Security Council aide Oliver North.

I became reconnected to Amy via social media and have been enjoying getting to know the adult I only knew in the most peripheral of ways as a kid.  (Face it our lives are all filled with people who are friends of other people, that touch our lives in different stages, and then the scene shifts and there are other people.)

mother and son

Amy as an adult is amazingly creative and writes this achingly beautiful poetry. She lost her beloved brother Henry in 2012 and wrote about him so lovingly and eloquently. She is incredibly kind and sensitive.

She loves her kids, she lives for her kids. Her youngest child, a boy whom she had post-divorce drama, is with her in Cambridge MA. Or should I say was because as I write this post, he has been removed from her quite literally.

And yes, I told Amy I was writing this post. I felt almost compelled to because since I have come to be a small part of her circle I have not been able to escape the horrible thought that this woman, this nice gracious and gentle woman is still a pawn in the chess games of life of others.

You don’t reach the age of 50 and beyond without hearing the horror stories of divorce and child custody…and the explosions when those related to the affluent and powerful step away from the shadows of control and into the light on their own. And I am sorry, but Grace Metalious and her fictitious Peyton Place have nothing on things rooted in the Philadelphia area. It’s no wonder Agnes Nixon had decades of things to write about , right?

I think Amy deserves to be free and happy. She is a good woman. The rest can be told in these screen shots I am posting. They are public, and again, I told her I was writing this.  My heart breaks for her right now.  People we love can often be quite cruel. It is a lesson you wish on no one.

Amy, stay strong. People care.















john boehner is quitting


So news broke today that John Boehner, Republican House Speaker is calling it quits, pretty much effective immediately. Even he who has survived the cesspool of politics in Washington DC since 1990, has had enough.

And who can blame him? Look at the trickledown effect as we feel it on the most local of levels. American Politics is in a shambles of lying, cheating, stealing, back-stabbing extremism. Our country is living the fallout of extremism in politics. It’s embarrassing. (Even that fool Ted Cruz managed to embarrass the US during the Papal visit which is happening now. But Cruz is a curious fool who notices the preciousness of human life when it is about a woman’s right to choose, but very amusingly not so much when it comes to the death penalty. And he has made an ass out of himself ever since Pope Francis, mentioned his objections to the death penalty when he addressed Congress.)


Anyway, I have actually met and spoken to the tan man from Ohio. August 12, 2010 I was invited to a high rollers reception for then Congressman Jim Gerlach in Conshohocken at the Marriott (interesting to note that somehow KenOCrat Miller was not there, guess he really wasn’t so important even back then, but I digress.)

So anyway, I was taking a few photos and had gone outside for some air.  High Roller political events are all about a select set jockeying for position and favor with the politicians there.  It’s exhausting to be around these people seeking to curry political favor with a large check. Outside was John Boehner with his security detail and staff. He also had needed air.  It was me, the car park guy, Boehner, his staff, and security detail.

Boehner asked me not to take his photo while outside. You see, much like many others in the courtyard he was enjoying a  glass of wine…and a cigarette.

If I had taken his photo holding a glass of red wine and a cigarette it probably would not have been the best thing. So I said sure and we had a couple minute conversation.  Not about politics. About how he was enjoying his visit and where he lived in Ohio. I was struck at that point of time how he essentially was a small town Midwestern guy from the state of small towns. He was a truthfully very pleasant person to speak to. I have met enough politicians who play on the national stage. (Some of my friends and I also spent the afternoon with James Sensenbrenner when he met with myself and others in Ardmore PA in February 2006 after he had proposed H.B. 4128 in Washington, DC to protect private property rights against eminent domain. I was also a media relations volunteer during the RNC2000 which was an amazing experience.)

But nice Midwestern guy or not, John Boehner is a seasoned politician and if he is calling it quits that says something indeed about the American political process.

NBC/MSNBC House Speaker Boehner on His Resignation: ‘This Isn’t About Me’

Washington Post: What John Boehner told me the night before he said he was quitting The Debrief: An occasional series offering a reporter’s insights

Philadelphia Inquirer: Why Boehner is quitting



this is development reality, chester county

Sometimes you can’t just look up, you have to look down from up. These are aerial shots taken this August in Chester County.  Sorry to say they were taken over West Vincent Township, but they were.  Can you say raped and pillaged when referring to the land?

Think about this when you vote in November because what we all love about West Vincent even if we don’t live there, is rapidly disappearing.  And further food for thought is if West Vincent lets Bryn Coed get developed densely it will be a horror show because in totality of acreage, the Bryn Coed is actually LARGER than Chesterbrook in Tredyffrin Township.

These photos clearly demonstrate why in Chester County we have to fight to save the land and open spaces we love.


This is the Courtyard by Pulte, located on Birchrun Rd. It was originally an over 55 community of 300 homes. West Vincent Township changed it to a 185 home community and removed the over 55 restriction. Now there will be 185 additional children in their school system. This is neither land conservation or preservation.


This is the Orleans/Toll development on Eagle Farms Rd in West Vincent Township



why I can’t support the sierra club for quite a while


I did not use to have a problem with the Sierra Club, other than some of their fundraising campaigns can be irritating. But now I am going to take a close look at them and groups like them in the future because of something astounding I discovered by accident today.

What am I talking about? Their political endorsements. Who the Sierra Club endorses makes me question everything about them. And I think in a lot of cases non-profits should refrain from endorsing political candidates because eventually their poor judgment is noticed and noted. I respect and prefer non-advocacy or non-political endorsing non-profits.

I was told today that the Sierra Club endorsed Ken Miller for re-election for supervisor. And there it was on his website. And there it was on the Sierra Club Southeastern PA website.  Technically it was for the spring when he was still a Republican and not a KenOcrat.  Here is what it said:

Sierra ooof 1

My goodness one would think the man was a saint . I like the part where they left out his part (and vote) as a West Vincent Township Supervisor in the whole failed eminent domain for private gain land grab of Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show in December, 2011. This was the debacle that cost then Executive Director of the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust Clare Quinn her job. They did not like it when she as a then West Vincent Township Supervisor voted in favor of an eminent domain for private gain land taking.  She did not seem to get that when her day job was land preservation/conservation it was a bad idea to vote for a land grab as an elected official with her night job, I guess? Here is an excerpt from the article:

….The board of the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust voted unanimously to end its more-than-five-year relationship with West Vincent Township Supervisor Clare Quinn, said Cary Leptuck, the trust’s board president.

“The board believes that Ms. Quinn’s actions as a West Vincent Township supervisor in condemning the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show grounds represent a fundamental conflict with the trust’s long-standing mission of voluntary land conservation,” he said….This month, Quinn was among the West Vincent supervisors who voted to seize the 33-acre horse show tract by eminent domain, a decision that prompted a widespread outcry that included two politicians, State Sen. Andrew E. Dinniman (D., Chester) and Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello.

The supervisors said they wanted to use the land for a park and ball fields. The horse show could use it as well, they said, but those affiliated with the show questioned the feasibility of that arrangement.

The conservation trust passed a resolution on Dec. 3, “opposing condemnation as a means of land preservation and community access.”


Here is hoping the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust remembers all this and doesn’t endorse Miller this fall…or they will become a land conservation/preservation hyprocrite non-profit too.

So…the Sierra Club. How could they endorse an elected official who every voted for eminent domain? Seriously?

If the Sierra Club can’t do it’s homework, why should people support them? Eminent domain is not exactly beneficial for the planet now is it? (Of course how they tell the tall tale of eminent domain around West Vincent Township today is it was all misunderstood. They were just going to take the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show to “protect it”, they wanted to put a CONSERVATION EASEMENT on it.  Yeah sure and I have a bridge they can buy…in Brooklyn.

They can try to dress it up and perfume it and tart it out a few years later, but eminent domain is eminent domain and politicians who vote in favor of such land grabs shouldn’t be endorsed by non-profits that preach a better planet, land conservation and land preservation.

Of course this isn’t the only questionable Sierra Club 2015 political endorsement. Take where I used to live in Lower Merion Township. They endorsed two candidates that are so PRO as in EXCESSIVE development they can’t possibly be green (unless they are nauseous).

sierra club oof 2

Oh ok because she could afford geothermal heating it’s ok to endorse her?  As for Manos, he’s done what exactly? Oh yes….like Liz Rogan (because face it they both got placed into office by the same people but that is a longer tale for another time) he has voted for so much development and so many bad pro-developer zoning overlays it is terrifying.

Residents were SO outraged by Liz Rogan being endorsed by The Sierra Club that a flyer went out in the spring:

Sierra club rogan

Here is an excerpt from the BACK of the flyer:

Let’s look at Ms. Rogan’s “green” record as a commissioner and as president of the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners. How has she impacted the LOCAL environment? First, consider her policy of encouraging development in inappropriate places from an environmental perspective. She’s enthusiastically endorsed huge development projects on Rock Hill Road (600 units – 330 being built now and 270 later on) and in the “M” District on the Schuylkill River in a FLOODPLAIN (about 600 units). Neither area is effectively served by public transit. This will bring many more cars, more air pollution and more urban runoff into the waterways. Is this green and environmentally sensitive? Hardly.

….Environmentally alert residents have worried about the continuing degradation of our creeks and streams in both the Mill Creek and Cobbs Creek watersheds. Storm water runoff from impervious surfaces, including roads and parking lots, is a major culprit. Ms. Rogan’s penchant for more impervious

surface through very dense development, in most cases, leads to more blacktop or asphalt parking lots. Is this green? We don’t think so…..

For years, residents have been asking the Township for stronger storm water management regulations and better remediation measures. Efforts to focus Ms. Rogan’s attention on this issue for years have been met with inaction. Now the threat of sanctions from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – starting in 2018 – has brought about the creation of a storm water advisory “committee” probably too late to save these important waterways as viable streams. This is most definitely not green….


So.  Reading all this and knowing about these candidates PRIOR to knowing the Sierra Club endorsed them makes me question the efficacy of the Sierra Club and their moral compass as an organization. After all an endorsement should be made with careful consideration. Not with fluff and nonsense and who do you know and maybe they will get a pretty donation out of it, right?

If you are as incredulous and astounded as I was, here is how you contact the Sierra Club. These are national organization contacts. Obviously there is something wrong with the Southeastern PA Group since they obviously didn’t do their homework.

Anyway here are the contacts:

Contact Us

Sierra Club
National Headquarters

85 Second Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: 415-977-5500
Fax: 415-977-5797
Sierra Club
Legislative Office

50 F Street, NW, Eighth Floor
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-547-1141
Fax: 202-547-6009

General information: information@sierraclub.org

Membership questions: membership.services@sierraclub.org


So the moral of this story is to do the research….you know, like the Sierra Club should have prior to endorsing.

Development isn’t land conservation/preservation. It’s development, a for profit enterprise that gains municipalities a short time high of new ratables.

TDRs (Transferrable Development Rights) are not land conservation/preservation.

Zoning overlays partially designed by and for developers are not land conservation/preservation. They are just another way to shove in development.

True conservation easements don’t need to occur by using eminent domain as a “tool”. Remember, eminent domain is not a helpful tool, but those who utilize it are tools…..

Vote smart no matter where you live this November.

And look for other non-profits to give your money to in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Save your local environment by changing the face of who governs you.