Sometimes it is just so nice to be like a bird flying above the trees and fields. You can watch and observe, and stay above the fray.
I called the Main Line home for most of my life. It was a fun place to grow up, and well the Main Line of the past is certainly not the Main Line of today. Ironically, a lot of people I grew up with and enjoyed as people now call Chester County home.
But yesterday was like fun x 2 = Main Line Problems.
And it makes me ever so grateful to not be there any longer.
First up let’s visit Radnor Township. Radnor almost became a true victim of back room Delco politics until former Township Manager Dave Bashore got his and Radnor’s dirty laundry aired in public. A lot of this public airing was because of a few brave individuals including a woman I respect a great deal named Christina Perrone.
When Bashore got fired as Radnor’s Township Manager a lot of things swirled into motion. Commissioners who were problematic ran away, Radnor’s solicitor at the time evaporated (and eventually resurfaced as innkeeper/owner of a bed and breakfast in the New York finger lakes district), a few supervisory and managerial types from the Bashore regime ended up as employees in some Chester County municipalities, and a few even ended up at other Chester County businesses. It was like a political bubble burst and they scattered like raindrops. (Or ants leaving the picnic, whichever you prefer.)
However, not all of the politicians of this era disappeared. There is one, who has been entrenched for easily 30 years. He is like a cat with nine lives and then some. His name is Bill Spingler, and he is the subject of the first ethics hearing in years on the Main Line this week in Radnor.
One would think Spingler would just retire. But people in Radnor say he is waiting for pet projects to go through. You might think his ethics hearing had to do with is 2013 campaign shenanigans ( see what got him into hot water here, here, here – all copied by Radnor employees on the taxpayer clock.)
Or maybe it would be the eternal question of where this guy really lives? After all the deeds don’t lie and this guy has purchased a new pad in Tredyffrin at Paoli Pointe, right? So that is a neat trick if he can be a Radnor commissioner by day and commute home whenever to Chester County, right?
But no, apparently it is his “work” at Villanova basketball games and something about pay to play at little league games. And once again, it is brave Christina Perrone who has stepped forward to do the right thing. Truly, you can’t make this stuff up:
Ethics complaint against Radnor Commissioner Spingler amended again; Hearing set for Thursday
By Linda Stein Main Line Media News
email@example.com Published: Monday, April 21, 2014
An ethics complaint filed against Radnor Township Commissioner John Spingler over his work at Villanova’s home basketball games has been amended again prior to a hearing set for April 24.
In the previously amended complaint Radnor resident Christina Perrone alleged that Spingler’s ushering work at the games for Event One constitutes a violation of the township’s code of ethics. In several interviews with Main Line Suburban Life, Spingler contended that since he’s donated his earnings to the Radnor-Wayne Little League, his work over several decades at the games is not a conflict of interest.
This issue arises in the context of Spingler casting one of the deciding votes on March 31 to approve the Comprehensive Integrated College Development (CICD) zoning, which will permit Villanova University to build ….That ordinance also affects Cabrini College and Eastern University.
Perrone obtained copies of a spreadsheet from the little league that shows that Spingler received various payments from that organization. When asked about those checks, Spingler said that he was required to bring 13 volunteers to the games and when he could not find that many who would work for free, he was forced to pay people to usher…..
“These admissions by Commissioner Spingler cannot be construed as anything other than business transactions,” Perrone wrote in her amended complaint. These “statements demonstrate that Commissioner Spingler is even more conflicted on Villanova University issues, including the CICD, than previously believed, due to the applicability of Radnor Code Section 39-5[A].”
That section states: “No elected or appointed official of the township…shall solicit or accept directly or indirectly any gift, favor, service, commission or other consideration that might reasonably tend to influence that official or employee in the discharge of the duties of office.”…
Of course where this gets even more interesting is now people have learned that the current township solicitor, John Rice, will be representing this politician? How is it the township solicitor is working for other than the good of the residents of Radnor? Does the solicitor in fact not work for the people, but just for the politicians? Doesn’t Commissioner Spingler know any more lawyers? (Asking a quasi- redundant question.)
And oh yes, this open meeting scheduled for April 24th at 6 pm (this Thursday) is now possibly going to be held as a secret, non-public meeting? I know the lawyer representing Christina Perrone. His name is Dan Sherry and he is very bright.
If this old politician had any style left he would simply resign and retire. but then again if the ethics charges stick, it could keep him from then retiring and moving onto Chester County politics, right? But the thing is this: is the whole system in Radnor rigged in a nice Main Line way?
And now for the news that really makes me glad I am off the Main Line: two graduates of The Haverford School for boys have been arrested for masterminding a drug ring that can only be described as “Breaking Bad” meets “Weeds”. One guy was living on Barrett Avenue in Haverford. That is a lovely street with lots of children. He is like 25 or 26. The other ringleader is just 18 years old and lives with his parents in Villanova. How do you put your family at risk like that?
These guys had a network and had minions working for them at Haverford School, Haverford College, Harriton High School, Lower Merion High School, Conestoga High School, Radnor High School, Lafayette College and I think even Gettysburg.
It even made the national network news and Wall Street Journal this morning:
Wall Street Journal: US News: Eleven Charged in Drug Ring on Philadelphia’s Main Line
By SCOTT CALVERT
April 21, 2014 7:29 p.m. ET
Prosecutors said Monday they had broken up a marijuana and cocaine trafficking ring allegedly run by two graduates of a suburban Philadelphia prep school and centered on the affluent area known as the Main Line.
Authorities announced charges against nine adults and two juveniles as part of an investigation that resulted in the seizure of drugs and three guns.
The two alleged leaders referred to the distribution ring as the “Main Line take over project,” according to court records, which quoted text messages in which they discussed plans to dominate marijuana sales at schools in the Philadelphia suburbs.
“They tried to infiltrate our schools, not for educational purposes, but to make money and to drag others into the downward spiral that their lives had become,” Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman said in a statement. The seizure of guns and a variety of drugs showed that the operation posed a “significant danger” to the community, she said.
The two alleged leaders—25-year-old Neil Scott of Haverford, Pa., and 18-year-old Timothy Brooks of Villanova—are graduates of the private Haverford School, where both played lacrosse, according to an affidavit of probable cause. This year’s upper school tuition is $34,800.
“We’re appalled and shocked and horrified,” said Haverford School Headmaster John Nagl, adding that the all-boys school was “determined to learn from this and build a better school and a better community that understands the risks to boys and helps them make better choices.”
I have to feel sorry for the headmaster quoted above. John Nagl is the new headmaster and these guys arrested came up through this elite private school under the former headmaster Joseph Cox.
To be honest, I have not much positive to say about the Haverford School of today. I lived for years in one of the neighborhoods that had the misfortune to call this school a neighbor. They treated their neighbors poorly and it was a top down approach starting with the now former headmaster. I found him to be a huge jerk.
Throughout the years I have had many friends who graduated from Haverford School. As did their fathers and uncles and brothers. They weren’t this kind of graduate. I also know people who have kids in lower school, middle school, upper school, and those who have graduated. A lot of these people basically indenture themselves so their boys can have the advantages of going to a school like that. It’s just crazy.
These dealers are young. They have tanked their lives, and to what end? A misplaced sense of entitlement and easy cash? And the effect their selfish actions will have on all of their families is another sad thing to comprehend. After all, it’s the Main Line so people might stop talking to your face about what your kid did, but the whispers will never go away.
I keep thinking how bright these young men must be and how different their lives could have been if they just worked for things legitimately. It is a sad commentary on the culture of the Main Line today. The whole culture of misplaced sense of entitlement.
I sound like an old fart, and I don’t mean to. This just is blowing the mind of everyone I know who not only grew up on the Main Line but who went to one of these schools. Not that drugs and the Main Line have never been uttered in the same sentence. As one friend of mine said : “Both public and private schools are involved in this. And it’s not like this situation is new, it’s been happening in these schools for decades. Choose your decade, choose your drug of choice.”
This however, is pretty big. And it is scary. We can educate our children and try to steer them to make the right choices, yet things can go wrong, majorly wrong.
Makes me glad I am not on the Main Line any longer. These problems are everywhere, don’t misunderstand me, its just that this is the situation which will destroy lives and families. And for what? Being able to keep up with the Main Line Jones more easily? Sad.
Main Line Media News/Pottstown Mercury: Prep school drug ring busted; 11 arrested (photos)
By Richard Ilgenfritz, firstname.lastname@example.org
POSTED: 04/21/14, 12:45 PM EDT | UPDATED: 10 HRS AGO
Prosecutors say two former Main Line students at the Haverford School set up an elaborate drug ring in an attempt to take over the Main Line drug trade at several area schools and colleges. The schools included some of the most privileged public and private schools in the region.
Authorities announced Monday the arrests of Neil K. Scott, 25, of Barrett Avenue in Haverford and Timothy Brooks, 18, of Cedar Lane in Villanova as the main suppliers.
Daniel McGrath, 18, of Glenolden; John Rosemann, 20, of Weston, Conn.; Christian Euler, 23, of Villanova; Garrett Johnson, 18, of New York; Reid Cohen, 18, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey; Willow Lynn Ore, 22, of Philadelphia; Domenic Curcio, 29 of Philadelphia and the two juveniles have been identified as the sub-dealers.
The ring was dubbed the “Main Line take over project,” because, authorities say, the group was trying to take over the drug trade at several area schools.
Schools including Lower Merion High School, The Haverford School, Harriton High School, Conestoga High School, Radnor Township High School, Gettysburg College, Lafayette College and Haverford College have all been identified as the target schools.
So far eight adults have been taken into custody while another adult is being sought for arrest. Two juveniles, one a student at Lower Merion and the other a student at Radnor, have also been charged….Information from the Main Line Times, www.mainlinemedianews.com
Note to the Main Line of today: you reap what you so and how sad is that? You see it’s not all grand houses, fancy cars, and designer clothes. With affluence (or an affluent society) there should come a sense of greater good and doing the right thing. But unfortunately, that was the Main Line of years ago, wasn’t it?