being christian at christmas

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How some people define the spirit of the Christmas season in West Vincent baffles me.

Please see below as another one of those nasty and pathetic missives is making the rounds. I was told this was found on a Ludwig’s Village community bulletin board.

West Vincent is such a beautiful place, but it’s like it has a rotten core, doesn’t it? This is unfortunately still a place with a handful of pious hypocrites who claim to “love thy neighbor” yet do things like this and isn’t that terrible? These people give the really nice people who live in this Chester County community a bad name and I think that is truly awful don’t you?

Being a Christian isn’t faux piety, it’s actually living what you preach. A lot of these people preach a good game, but are some of them really good neighbors? My opinion is the answer is a resounding no. Normal, emotionally healthy people do not do things like this to other people.

One day those of you who do things like this to your neighbors will find yourselves in a time of trouble. Will people lift a hand to help you? Or will they say “we’ve had enough of those bullies” and turn their backs?

People who do things like this during the most holy season of the year are held in the highest contempt by me.

Also it may appear contradictory, but I do actually pity these people for their meanness. They are missing out on so much in life by hating.

This man who is being victimized has run good and honest businesses for years. He and his wife are the kind of people that would give you the shirt off their back no matter what you had done to them. They are truly good people. I am proud to call them friends. We have used him professionally in addition.

If I were in this gentleman’s shoes, I would take all these missives to law enforcement. And a TV station or two.

I don’t know why it is that some people are not content unless they make other people unhappy. They should be ashamed of themselves. The sad thing is, I know they are not. However I believe karma is a very, very real thing. Everything that goes around eventually comes back around.

To the rest of you I say it is Christmas, so if you see one of these missives floating around West Vincent pull it down and give it to the police and tell them where exactly you found it and what day and what time.

It is time for this to stop.

If you know the people who are doing these things, it’s time to stand up and tell them to stop. Or call them out publicly. (Cowards like this hate having a light shined on them even if they secretly crave the attention.)

Christmas is but a few days away. Let’s get back to the real reason for the season, shall we?

Thanks for stopping by today.

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contrasts

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Yesterday was a study in contrasts. Started out my morning in Chester County, and headed up to New York City for the day.

New York City in October is very alive and bustling. A cacophony of sights and sounds and smells. I worked in New York for a few years when I was younger and fall and spring were my favorite seasons. It is such a contrast now to go from the quiet of Chester County to the very definition of urban.

From the east side to the west side, New York City is a sea of constant motion…and taxi cabs. It’s beeping and honking and massive waves of people bustling across giant intersections.

It is one of my favorite places to take photos, but yesterday there wasn’t time for that. I appreciate the beauty and the urban canyons of Manhattan, but I truly am a Chester County person now….I love getting back to the trees and fields.

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From New York City it was back to Ardmore for the last First Friday Main Line. The event was the Happy Howl O’Ween dress up your dog contest.

Since 2006 First Friday Main Line has been there to bring art and music to every day life ; bringing local artists, musicians, and small businesses together. Inspired by the Old City (Philadelphia) First Friday, First Friday Main Line has had people discovering art in unexpected places.

Because Ardmore doesn’t really have gallery spaces, the art and music were tucked in alleys, store fronts, restaurants and on the street. All of this was done by Executive Director and Ardmore business owner and resident, Sherry Tillman. These were never Lower Merion Township as in municipal sponsored events. Many municipalities are deeply involved in the First Friday celebrations of their communities, but the extent of Lower Merion’s involvement was basically collecting permit fees.

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First Friday Main Line was something I was deeply involved in until the spring of 2013. I did the publicity and event photography and it was an amazing ride, including a Congressional Commendation in 2010 for our Operation Angel Wings initiative.

But change is inevitable. Sherry called me a couple of months ago to let me know she was putting First Friday on hiatus. I had stopped actively participating because of my move to Chester County and new life here. I was sad to hear her news, but understood. She wanted to focus on different kinds of art events and get back to creating on her own. Sherry is an artist in her own right.

Coming back to the last First Friday Main Line was a bittersweet, yet sentimental journey. I had spent so much time in Ardmore between First Friday Main Line and the community activism I was part of a few years ago. (Lower Merion Township had once to seize part of the historic business district via eminent domain for private gain.)

Coming back to the area I once called home is now like being a stranger in a strange land. What once was home, is now just a place I used to live. The contrast was very pronounced to me this visit. I loved seeing all the old and in many cases beloved familiar faces, but I see everything now through different eyes in a thanks for the memories kind of way. I no longer belong to these old places, I belong to Chester County.

Part of the contrast which was sad to see is just well, how grungy and almost worn around the edges Lower Merion Township seems to look. And that isn’t just the business districts. When I was a kid Lower Merion really was a beautiful place to live. Now it is just an expensive place to live, which is not the same thing.

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What I observed was a lot of the sense of community and neighborliness no longer seems to be self evident. A lot of strangers bustling by, and I wonder are there still people stepping up to foster a true sense of community? Or maybe it’s no longer that kind of place?

I have to be honest I do not miss the congestion and traffic of the Main Line nor do I miss the constant development. I felt really old passing by locations where I remember the house and the people who lived there, only now planted on those spots were condos and McMansions and such. All of what replaced what was in these spots are built out to the last possible inch with no real attempt at human scale let alone compatible style. In fact, no real style at all, these projects between Wayne and Ardmore scream nothing more than “new”. Sad.

Down the street from where my parents used to live, I read recently about a house which has a property which is now the subject of potential development. I knew it as the Woodruff House.. The super family which once lived there is long gone and sadly mostly passed away. Realistically, the development will probably happen. There is no zoning and planning to prevent it even if it is a ridiculous and vastly inappropriate spot for infill development.

But it has been almost 40 years at this point since Lower Merion Township had a comprehensive plan update, and the lack of planning is showing. What worries me about what is happening on the Main Line is the same developers snapping up whatever they can there are also in Chester County.

Take Downingtown, as in the borough. If they don’t watch it, they will make the same mistake that Malvern Borough did with Eli Kahn and Eastside Flats, which should really be seen from the rear too. An article appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer recently:

Archdiocese sells Delco property, 2 others for $56.2M By Harold Brubaker, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: October 04, 2014

…..In addition ……..the archdiocese said that it had an agreement to sell a 454-acre property in Northampton County for $5.5 million, and that it had sold 55 acres in Chester County for $3.7 million.

The $3.7 million from the sale of excess land at the St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, a behavioral-health center for clergy and women religious, was deposited into the archdiocesan priests’ pension fund. That fund previously had a $76.3 million deficit.

The buyer was Woodbine Partners L.P., a partnership of Chester County developers E. Kahn Development and J. Lowe & Associates.

Stephen Sullins, Downingtown’s borough manager, said the expected mixed-use development was significant for the town, which covers just two square miles.

“It looks like it is going to expand our tax base somewhat. We’re looking forward to some new jobs,” Sullins said.

Yep, Eli Kahn.again….Eastside Flats which still look vastly out of place in Malvern and unfinished although they are finished and the project is for sale (See Philadelphia Business Journal, July 2, 2014) .

And remember that very telling Patch article a couple years ago that told a very different tale of how much money Malvern Borough would actually make off of this project?

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$60,000: East King Revitalization’s Impact on the Borough The new apartments and businesses won’t be a windfall for the borough. By Pete Kennedy (Open Post) Updated June 29, 2012 at 1:38 am

During a discussion…at….Malvern Borough Council, resident Joan Yeager asked a related question:

“Once the King Street project is completed, how much additional money is going to come into the borough? In taxes and all,” she said.

“Something in the neighborhood of $60,000 a year,” council president Woody Van Sciver said, citing a financial feasibility study done before the project was approved.

“That’s it?” Yeager replied, expecting a bigger payoff from the several new businesses and hundreds of new residents that will be moving to the east end of the borough.

Downingtown can afford a development misstep even less than Malvern Borough. And I love Malvern, but if there is some benefit to having that Christ awful development once you get beyond having Christopher’s there and Kimberton Whole Foods moving in, I haven’t seen it. And the development looks like giant Lego buildings (with about as much finesse) plunked down in Lilliput.

There are a lot of empty store fronts in Eastside Flats and the borough itself, and last time I was there to have lunch at Christopher’s there were cigarette butts all over the sidewalk in front of the nail salon. Of course I also wondered why such “high end” and new real estate could only get a nail salon? And have you ever see Eastside Flats from the rear? It shows it’s backside to a lot of Malvern residents over the tracks and wow, a little landscaping might help. But do developers like this care about the existing residents?

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My travels yesterday merely reaffirmed the true contrast between urban, suburban, and Chester County. And suburban doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be the mini-me to urban, and well for us out here in Chester County, we shouldn’t want developers to spin their tales of the Emperor’s New Clothes out here and give us the awkward new urbanism fairy tale or hybrid cross of what they are shoe horning in everywhere else. Maybe that is NIMBY (not in my back yard) of me, but heck I have lived with bad projects and bad planning in my back yard–it’s one of the things I was happy to leave behind on the Main Line when I moved to Chester County.

I still believe Chester County is incredibly vulnerable to these projects, and these tiny towns and boroughs need to think carefully before jumping to the extremes of these very dense developments. Places grow and evolve and not all development is bad, but there is just way too much of it. The pace needs to slow.

The open space and gracious rolling farm lands,fields, and forests which make up Chester County are worth preserving. So is the way of life which accompanies it. Thanks for stopping by today. I know this post has rambled along, and when I started out with my original thought of contrast I wasn’t quite sure where this post would lead me.

Enjoy the beautiful day!

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heightened awareness

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This post has nothing to do with Chester County, per se.  It is just one of those things that makes me think. It made me think of a girl who once lived in Bryn Mawr. A girl who was raped and murdered in her dorm room at prestigious Lehigh University in 1986.  Jeanne Clery.

At the time, it shocked everyone who heard about this even if you had never met the girl. She was the same age give or take a year as my own sister who attended another not so far away prestigious Pennsylvania college. This girl was also but a few years younger than I was and was from the same area I grew up in: the Main Line. You just don’t think about nice Main Line girls from Main Line prep schools going away to college and getting raped and murdered do you? Especially at schools like Lehigh, right?

The story of Jeanne Clery galvanized the greater Philadelphia area and the country.  Eventually, on July 22, 1988, the murderer of Jeanne Clery was sentenced to death after being convicted of her murder.

In the years which have followed, Jeanne Clery’s parents Howard and Constance Clery have devoted their lives to campus safety. As People Magazine wrote at the time:

During the trial, he and his wife learned about the lapses in security at Lehigh, and shortly after the verdict was announced, they filed a $25 million suit against the college for negligence. It was to be the first round in a campaign that would touch state legislatures, colleges and concerned parents across the country. The Clerys had lost a daughter, but the loss ignited a cause.

The suit was settled out of court (the family is prohibited from disclosing the amount), but the Clerys were not ready to close the book. They used the cash, as well as their own money, to launch Security on Campus, Inc., a nonprofit clearing house for information and advice. They began lobbying state lawmakers for statutes requiring colleges to publicize their crime statistics—not a detail generally found in cheery recruitment brochures—and in May 1988, Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey signed the first such bill mandating that all state colleges and universities publish three-year campus-crime reports. In addition, schools are required to have clear policies regarding alcohol and drug consumption on campus. Three more states have followed Pennsylvania’s lead, 21 others have statutes in the works, and the Clerys have already begun campaigning for a federal bill as well.

 

It is because of the perseverance of the Clery family that the Jeanne Clery Act came to be. As per The Clery Center for Security on Campus: 

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (20 USC § 1092(f)) is the landmark federal law, originally known as the Campus Security Act, that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The law is tied to an institution’s participation in federal student financial aid programs and it applies to most institutions of higher education both public and private. The Act is enforced by the United States Department of Education.

The law was amended in 1992 to add a requirement that schools afford the victims of campus sexual assault certain basic rights, and was amended again in 1998 to expand the reporting requirements. The 1998 amendments also formally named the law in memory of Jeanne Clery. Subsequent amendments in 2000 and 2008 added provisions dealing with registered sex offender notification and campus emergency response. The 2008 amendments also added a provision to protect crime victims, “whistleblowers”, and others from retaliation.

 

 

What made me think of Jeanne Clery and all her family has accomplished after all of these years? Two disturbing stories of sexual assault on college campuses.  One from May 2014 in Philadelphia Magazine about Swarthmore College and a recent front page story in The New York Times on Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Excerpts:

Rape Happens Here PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE

For 150 years, leafy, progressive Swarthmore College tried to resolve student conflicts in the best Quaker tradition — peacefully and constructively. Then came 91 complaints of sexual misconduct. In a single year.

BY SIMON VAN ZUYLEN-WOOD | APRIL 24, 2014

In the early 1980s, staff members in one of Swarthmore’s libraries began hanging reams of white computer paper in the bathroom stalls, which students would use to gossip about cute boys or gripe about homework. A few years ago, pieces of white paper of a different sort began appearing in campus bathrooms. They’re printed up by the administration and emblazoned with the words SEXUAL ASSAULT RESOURCES…

As the issue of campus assault gains national media traction, stories about incompetent or callous administrators have become bleakly — almost numbingly — familiar. ….The unrest that’s roiled the little U.S. News & World Report juggernaut 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia over the past year — including dozens of allegations of student-on-student sexual assault, two federal investigations, two student-filed federal lawsuits, and four (unprecedented) expulsions for sexual misconduct — nominally revolves around a campus rape problem and an administration accused of abetting it. But the conflict in fact runs deeper: Swarthmore’s 150-year-old Quaker-inspired governing philosophy has collided with the far less forgiving demands of contemporary campus life.

….ON APRIL 25, 2013, Swarthmore sophomores Hope Brinn and Mia Ferguson stood on Independence Mall in Philadelphia and told assembled media that the college had badly mishandled claims of sexual assault; in response, they were bringing a Title IX complaint to the federal government. This was just days after the duo filed a separate Clery Act complaint alleging that Swarthmore had systematically underreported such incidents. The complaints were part of a larger strategy — they later met with high-profile attorney Gloria Allred — in which Brinn, Ferguson and a couple dozen co-complainants aimed to use their personal stories to shame and ultimately reform their college.

Ferguson, from Brookline, Massachusetts, wrote an op-ed, “Raped and Betrayed,” for a student newspaper. Brinn, from Wilmington, Delaware, stood before the school’s board and told how she was sexually assaulted, stalked, and then met with “grave indifference” by the administration. Within a couple months, the Department of Education began investigating the school for Clery and Title IX violations. The controversy only increased when the New York Times ran a story in which Ferguson suggested that she had been denied a campus job in retaliation for her activism. By the end of the year, it seemed everyone was lobbing one accusation or another at Swarthmore. In 2012, 11 incidents of sexual assault were reported to the school’s public safety department. In 2013, that number — covering everything from harassment to rape — spiked to 91. (One-third of them concerned incidents from previous years.)….“Sally,” a 2012 graduate, said she was at a party in the fall of her freshman year when a fellow student cornered her, pushed her against a wall, and began to kiss her…Later that night, Sally awoke to find the same student had entered her room and climbed on top of her. She managed to push him off. When she told associate dean Myrt Westphal she wanted to pursue charges through the College Judiciary Committee (CJC), she says, Westphal asked her to say “harassment” rather than “assault,” and questioned whether she really wanted to “pit her two friends against each other.” Discouraged, Sally declined to pursue judiciary action. (Westphal, who retired last spring, declined to comment.)

Similar stories are legion. Jean Strout, a 2010 graduate now studying at Harvard Law School, says that after she was pinned to the ground by a naked, drunk rugby player, she spoke to a male administrator by phone, who told her it sounded like a “misunderstanding” and that she should ask the offender for an apology.

A recent graduate who now practices law in New York City says that when she told an administrator she had been raped, the administrator said, “You don’t sound as if you were raped,” and, noticing the cross hanging around her neck, asked if she wanted to see a priest…..However, after months of conversations she calls “frustrating” and “invalidating,” she ultimately declined to pursue it: “I was tired of fighting, and wanted to focus on healing.”

Another student, according to the Title IX complaint, was raped in her dorm room by a friend of a friend with alcohol on his breath. Before he left the room, he looked at her, smiled, and told her, “It’s your word against mine.” After she recounted the incident in a long email to a member of the administration, her complaint says, school officials never got in touch with her or did any investigation.

 

 

(in both publications, these are HUGE articles, click on the hyperlinks above each excerpt to read then in their entirety.)

 

The New York Times:

Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t
How One College Handled a Sexual Assault Complaint
By WALT BOGDANICHJULY 12, 2014

GENEVA, N.Y. — She was 18 years old, a freshman, and had been on campus for just two weeks when one Saturday night last September her friends grew worried because she had been drinking and suddenly disappeared.

Around midnight, the missing girl texted a friend, saying she was frightened by a student she had met that evening. “Idk what to do,” she wrote. “I’m scared.” When she did not answer a call, the friend began searching for her.

In the early-morning hours on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in central New York, the friend said, he found her — bent over a pool table as a football player appeared to be sexually assaulting her from behind in a darkened dance hall with six or seven people watching and laughing. Some had their cellphones out, apparently taking pictures, he said.

Later, records show, a sexual-assault nurse offered this preliminary assessment: blunt force trauma within the last 24 hours indicating “intercourse with either multiple partners, multiple times or that the intercourse was very forceful.”…It took the college just 12 days to investigate the rape report, hold a hearing and clear the football players. The football team went on to finish undefeated in its conference, while the woman was left, she said, to face the consequences — threats and harassment for accusing members of the most popular sports team on campus….

At a time of great emotional turmoil, students who say they were assaulted must make a choice: Seek help from their school, turn to the criminal justice system or simply remain silent. The great majority — including the student in this case — choose their school, because of the expectation of anonymity and the belief that administrators will offer the sort of support that the police will not.

Yet many students come to regret that decision, wishing they had never reported the assault in the first place.

 

For women to report sexual assault at any age is traumatizing.  Read articles about the topic and you learn the common denominator: victims are often victimized again through any judicial process. But what we are talking about here is on college and university campuses. Which in my mind is always geared first to protect the school and administration.

So as far as we have come in this country with things like the Clery Act and heightened awareness on the topic, it seems like many colleges and universities are still treating issues like this poorly if not sweeping them under the carpet? Remember the 2007 front page stories of the Villanova football players accused of raping a girl in her dorm room? Remember but a few days later the victim halted the rape case?

The Philadelphia Inquirer at the time reported on it and said in a July 27, 2007 article: 

A Villanova University student who told the school that she had been raped by three incoming freshman football players, who have since been kicked out of school, does not want to press charges, Radnor police said yesterday…..Villanova’s department of public safety does not have arrest powers, he said. Radnor police are working with the District Attorney’s Office to clarify Villanova’s obligation to report allegations of serious crimes, he said.

……For colleges, whose capital lies in their reputations, the only thing worse than a scandal is getting caught trying to hush one up.

At Eastern Michigan University, president John Fallon and two other senior officials were fired last week for covering up the rape and murder of a 22-year-old woman in her dorm room in December. The university denied knowledge of foul play for 10 weeks to protect the school’s image, according to a federal investigation.

Schools typically “keep as quiet as they can” about crime on campus, said Kathryn Reardon, senior lawyer at the Victim Rights Law Center in Boston, which provides legal aid to alleged sexual-assault victims.

Villanova’s handling of the matter “seems pretty speedy,” she said.

 

The Swarthmore College article by Philadelphia Magazine and the New York Times article on Hobart William Smith has ignited this topic once again.

In 1986 I was much younger and what happened to Jeanne Clery was seen from the scary perspective of that girl was my sister’s age and only a few years younger than me.  The recent Philadelphia Magazine article and New York Times article hits me as an adult who not only had friends that attended both of those schools but have friends who have kids of their own or nieces and nephews and even grand children at these schools today.

The Hobart and William Smith article in the New York Times was very hard for me to read. I remember going there back in the day to visit friends from high school and I remember how much my friends loved the school.  I remember how terrific I thought the school was and how pretty the campus was.  And now, decades later, these same friends, male and female are horrified by the New York Times article.

So is this a case of everything that is old is new again? Even as far as we have come with raising awareness on college campuses and laws on the books about how and what campuses must report and so on, are we still dealing in the murky waters of reality versus the veritable machines that are colleges and universities?  After all, negative little things like crime can really hurt the old ratings, rankings, grants, and donations right?

But as a newish parent person  now I have to ask, would you rather deal with a school that tells the truth and acknowledges issues or covers it up and makes everything seem all ivy walled and bucolic with Skip and Sissy walking down a brick lined path to class holding hands?

As someone who was a young adult when Jeanne Clery was murdered I think I would rather have the truth, please.  After all, for what parents fork over in tuition, don’t they deserve the truth? And our kids, don’t they deserve the truth and don’t you want them to feel and be safe, especially if they have to report something heinous like an assault?

Anyway, this made me think about this topic again, and I guess I just don’t get these schools.  I get they want to protect their hallowed halls but the truth shall set them free, right? It makes me wonder how honest schools around this country are with their Clery Act reporting.

Also worth reading? A great piece on the topic in Slate.

Excerpt:

Slate: New York Times Reports Another Campus Sexual Assault Horror Story. Now We Need the Data.
By Emily Bazelon

Can universities handle their role as independent investigators and adjudicators of sexual assault? You may conclude that the answer is no after you read Walt Bogdanich’s big story in the New York Times about the aftermath of an alleged assault at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York. It’s called “Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t” because from the point of view of Anna, the student who says she was victimized, her school did almost everything wrong….What a disappointing, dismaying mess. And yet, I’m not ready to give up on the whole university adjudication system. People ask me all the time why universities have any responsibility for dealing with rape accusations in the first place. These are serious allegations. Shouldn’t they be in the hands of police, prosecutors, and judges? The answer is that there are supposed to be two parallel tracks. It’s not either/or. In passing and enforcing Title IX, the federal law that’s a shield against sex discrimination in an educational setting, Congress gave schools an independent obligation to investigate allegations of sexual assault and harassment. That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t also be a police investigation.

 

Stories like Anna’s make the schools look at best bumbling and insensitive, and at worst like craven slaves to their own images and, too often, their athletic departments. I should also say that male students have complained of being falsely accused, railroaded by school judicial procedures, and unjustly expelled. Still, before we give up on colleges, Congress and the Department of Education, which oversees Title IX, should demand transparency. We hear horror stories about individual cases but we don’t have the data to know what’s happening across the board.

 

Then of course there is the rather predictable I-really-didn’t- beat-my-spouse response in the New York Times from Hobart and William Smith’s Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees:

Re “Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t” (front page, July 13):

The Hobart and William Smith Colleges community is heartbroken by our student’s experience, and we deeply regret the pain she has suffered. Her experience does not reflect the environment, values and traditions we have built and maintained for nearly two centuries at Hobart and William Smith. As an alumna, a proud mother of a daughter who graduated from HWS, and chairwoman of the board of trustees, I write with a heavy heart.

Like all colleges and universities, HWS is challenged to ensure that we are meeting the demands of a shifting legal landscape — especially in the area of sexual assault — as we also work to meet the needs of students while fostering a safer and more collegial learning environment.

We welcome the conversation about whether higher education should even have a role in adjudicating cases like this one. However, until federal law changes, we are required to carry out internal investigations and adjudicate cases based on the preponderance of evidence standard, as we did in this case.

 

….MAUREEN COLLINS ZUPAN
Chairwoman, Board of Trustees
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, N.Y., July 15, 2014

There are more letters underneath that one, but that was enough to share. I hate to say it but it seems that Maureen Collins Zupan has more empathy for a Somalian refugee that was cleaning her office ladies room in September 2011, than she does for women on the college campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges?

She wrote about that Somalian woman:

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In all fairness I wouldn’t want to be president of the board of trustees of this school right now for all the tea in China, and perhaps her response was in part crafted by the college’s spin doctors and image consultants?  It’s not as if all she was saying is wrong, to me it was kind of sort of HOW she said it. She calls herself a feminist, mother, daughter, and so on.  I have never met a true feminist yet who would sit still for something like this do you?

Also worth reading? A June 10th essay in The Atlantic.

All She Said Was No
A dangerous misunderstanding of sexual assault
JAMES HAMBLINJUN 10 2014, 1:35 PM

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will wrote in The Washington Post on Sunday that being sexually assaulted has become “a coveted status that confers privileges” such that “victims proliferate.” His remarks hit at the core of the misunderstanding and denial that condone sexual assault in its most common form:

Consider the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. “sexual assault.” Herewith, a Philadelphia magazine report about Swarthmore College, where in 2013 a student “was in her room with a guy with whom she’d been hooking up for three months”…Six weeks later, the woman reported that she had been raped.Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of “sexual assault” victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol, and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.

That Swarthmore vignette is sexual assault—not “sexual assault.” Most sexual assault is perpetrated by an acquaintance, not a masked man in the bushes with a knife, and its definition hinges not on physical force but absence of consent. This is a quintessential example of the shape sexual assault takes when it goes unreported and unpunished. Apart from editorial missteps like using skeptical quotes around sexual assault, and accusing an entire generation of faux sophistication while using “herewith” in a thoughtless take on a critical public-health issue, citing the Philadelphia rape story is fraught in that its resonating importance comes in the paragraphs just after Will stops quoting it.

….According to a report today from the U.S. Department of Education, the number of sexual assaults reported on college campuses increased by 50 percent between 2001 and 2011—from 2,200 to 3,300 cases. That’s actually more heartening than disconcerting, in that it’s unlikely that sexual assault increased by that much; rather, more victims are coming forward. They come forward when they don’t feel they’ll be blamed for being raped, dismissed as drunken sluts, and when there are appropriate outlets for reporting and justice. But it’s still underreported and underpunished, thus condoned.

 

 

James Hamblin makes a whole lot of sense.  The US Department of Education and US Department of Justice report can be found by clicking on this link here.

We can’t and shouldn’t helicopter parent  and can’t wrap them away from the world in cotton wool, but kids should not only learn quite clearly that no isn’t necessarily a negotiation and should mean NO, but they should be as safe as humanly possibly on college campuses.

Remember Jeanne Clery.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

so sunoco isn’t sleazy and sunoco isn’t sunoco?

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We just celebrated the 4th of July which celebrates our freedoms in this country and apparently Sunoco officials don’t care for free speech and freedom of opinion? And maybe they don’t like that eminent domain word but what did they expect when they went to the Public Utility Commission to try to get around local zoning? Seriously?

There is this new article in the Inquirer about SuNOco, and apparently SuNOco isn’t SuNOco and isn’t sleazy? So is this pipeline is a mirage then? Are we imagining all the road disruptions and closures and all the public meetings are really the meeting of the quilting society or something?

I am very confused.

A rose by any other name and all that?
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Apparently SuNOco’s public image is taking a beating? Does that mean their retail business is feeling a pipeline pinch?

It is up to personal choice if Chester County and other Pennsylvania residents choose to patronize other gas stations, right? We don’t live in a communist or otherwise single state run country where we have no choice as to where we buy gas, do we? Did they ever consider in addition to image issues that a good percentage of the time their gas is also just more expensive than other gas retailers?

So now will SuNOco that isn’t really SuNOco be buzzing around changing the corporate branding on their pipeline property sites like the sign seen every day at a crossroads in Upper Uwchlan? And what of the Sunoco Logistics website with the teeny tiny Sunoco logo we all know so well?

And while they are answering questions, what is it precisely they do with endangered wildlife when they find it (or more appropriately it is pointed out to them) ? Someone told me they were told the wildlife (like bog turtles and such) is moved someplace and then brought back to the habitat in which they were discovered? Is this true and how do they know which wildlife goes where down to the individual creature?

This Philadelphia Inquirer article today gives many the vision of a corporate shell game doesn’t it? And is the talking head of the split personality oil company the same guy who used to be an amazing reporter for the paper now making him the news?

So who is SuNOco? And if they want a better corporate image maybe they shouldn’t be trying to force feed Pennsylvania residents a pipeline? Could it be a lot of this petroleum posturing is that this just isn’t residents saying no? Could it be SuNOco is a little nervous that politicians from all over on both sides of the political aisle are starting to speak out too? Could they be nervous that the residents objecting are growing daily in numbers and esteemed environmentalists are taking their side?

Sorry SuNOco, sorry SuNOco PR team, people are unified about not wanting you in Chester County no matter what you call yourselves aren’t they? Welcome to a public relations hell of your own creation and seriously what did you think was going to happen? That everyone was just going to be o.k. with your taking people’s land and adding flare stacks in densely populated areas? Did you think a county that has a large percentage of residents on wells wouldn’t be concerned about pipelines and so on? Maybe you have a friend in Governor Corbett but not everyone else is feeling so chummy?

Great article Philadelphia Inquirer!

Philadelphia Inquirer: Sunoco fights connection to pipeline firm
By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: July 06, 2014

Sunoco’s good corporate name is taking a beating these days, as community activists and bloggers post snarky statements under headlines like “Sleazy Sunoco,” linking the company to fracking and eminent domain …..in the hands of careless journalists and picket-sign painters, the companies all just become “Sunoco.”

According to brand consultants and public-image experts, Sunoco the fuel retailer faces a big challenge disassociating itself from the actions of its corporate doppelgänger…..Sunoco Pipeline, a Sunoco Logistics subsidiary, has asked the PUC to declare it a public utility to bypass local zoning restrictions. ….”Sunoco, Sunoco Logistics, Sunoco Pipeline?” said Tom Casey, a leader of the community opposition. “There’s a lot of confusion about who’s doing this. Who are these people?”

Casey had heard company officials explain that Sunoco Inc. and Sunoco Logistics are two separate companies, with different missions. Then a public-affairs officer handed him a business card that identified him as a Sunoco Logistics employee. The other side of the card identified him with Sunoco Inc.

“He has the same job with both companies at two different addresses,” Casey said. “That’s confusing.”……..If this bothers Sunoco, its spokesman, Jeff Shields, is not letting on too much.

Nor is the spokesman for Sunoco Logistics, the selfsame Jeff Shields, who said in an e-mail that the pipeline company “is proud of its roots with a company and a name that has represented good corporate citizenship and American prosperity for more than a century.”…Sunoco Logistics, which was spun off as a separate company, is still contractually obligated to support Sunoco’s retail operations. But its new ventures, such as the Mariner East project, are unrelated to its former parent company.

Both are now units of Energy Transfer Partners L.P., a Dallas company that bought Sunoco Inc. in 2012 and acquired the controlling interest in Sunoco Logistics……Sunoco Logistics could rename itself something else – say, SXL – to provide some cover for Sunoco. But image experts say crusader activists would see right through such a strategy.

“That would backfire on the company double time, because now the public’s suspicion of evil would be confirmed by the company’s efforts at deception,” said Rob Frankel, a Los Angeles branding expert…..Sunoco Inc. already has a long history of oil extraction, and so an association with a pipeline transporting hydraulically fractured Marcellus Shale gas liquids is not an image-altering event, said Oscar Yuan, a partner at New York brand consultant Millward Brown Vermeer.

20140707-110547-39947204.jpgSelect photos in this collage are courtesy of public photos of Just The Facts Please on Facebook of which this blog is not a spokesperson or representative, just a fan.

rose smoothie

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Bet the title got your attention, huh? Well this smoothie isn’t for people…it’s for rose bushes.

Yes, as in plants.

I have mentioned that banana peels are awesome junk food for roses. I told you I save my peels and just stash them in a plastic bag in the freezer until I need to feed the roses. Well, since my bushes have had their first blooms and one bush got beaten up by the roofers I decided today was the day.

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I used to dig the peels in around the base of each bush, but given the critter population living with woods and farmers’ fields I have developed a rose smoothie which I dig in around the base with a small spade I use to transplant seedlings.

The formula for the smoothie is I rough chop the peels and toss into the blender with whatever spent coffee grounds I have on hand and a couple of cups or so of very warm tap water. (I never drink flavored coffee and I would never recommend using artificially flavored coffee grounds. I don’t know how the artificial flavor chemicals would affect the plants.)

20140619-141544-51344382.jpgThe consistency of this smoothie for rose bushes should be on the thick side , but pourable. I don’t take my blended outside I pour the goop into a plastic pitcher. I then go around to each bush and dig a few ounces in around the base of each bush. I have a standard sized blender and only a few rose bushes right now, so one batch of rose smoothie is all I need every time I do this.

I will feed my roses this concoction every two weeks until Labor Day.

Now, I know people have this banana peel magic out on the Internet, but I want to tell you specifically how I first learned about this, which is easily twenty plus years ago thanks to a gardening article I read in the Wall Street Journal. Yes, the Wall Street Journal. Some of the best gardening articles I have ever read have been in the Wall Street Journal over the years.

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So in this article the writer was talking about caring for roses and mentioned banana peels. The writer cited as a source a book called Old Wives’ Lore for Gardeners by Maureen and Bridget Boland. The book was originally published in the 1970s in the United Kingdom but you can still find gently used copies on Amazon.com today. . I have the book and the companion book Gardeners’ Magic and Other Old Wives Lore by Bridget Boland.

Banana peels add calcium, magnesium, phosphates, silica, sulphur, and potassium. Spent (or used) coffee grounds are rich in similar nutrients (nitrogen, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium).

Anyway, if you grow roses, try this. And if you like fun vintage gardening books, find yourself a copy of Old Wives’ Lore for Gardeners.

Food for thought as I leave you for the day: do you miss the real gardening shows that used to be on television ? There used to be real gardening shows where hosts including Martha Stewart used to get out and dig flower beds, discuss plants, and so on. They would share tips. Today all it is all hardscaping , fake pre-cast pavers, and outdoor kitchens as far as the shows. No real horticulture. I miss the real gardening shows.

Thanks for stopping by!

they don’t make women like that anymore

20140415-153600.jpgSouth Philadelphia, July, 1935. My father is the little baby in everyone’s arms, and at that point less than a month old

Chester County is home to many cool artists, writers, filmmakers, and so on. One of my favorite contemporary authors is Lisa Scottoline. She calls Malvern home base.

I was drawn to Lisa’s books initially for the Philadelphia-area settings. But my affinity grew with the characters in her books who lived in the little neighborhoods in South Philadelphia like the one where my great aunts, Millie and Josie lived once upon a time. A lot of Lisa’s books had characters based in a way on her life experience and once she became a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, some of what she wrote was also based on her mother, Mary Scottoline.

I do not know Lisa Scottoline. I have met her at book signings over the years, including ones set up by my mother way back when she started to write. But her little nuggets of what can only be described as “growing-up Italian” have made me laugh, made me smile, and sometimes just shake my head over the years. Probably because I am half-Italian.

Lisa Scottoline fans learned via her author Facebook page that her mother, (known to readers as “Mother Mary”) passed away on April 13th, or Palm Sunday. I hate to say that is so Italian, but it’s so Italian. And I don’t mean that disrespectfully, it just to me, IS.

Here is an excerpt of Lisa Scottoline’s recent column:

Chick Wit: Mother Mary, down but never out By Lisa Scottoline, Inquirer Columnist POSTED: April 14, 2014

I am very sorry to have to tell you that Mother Mary’s health has taken a dramatic and unexpected turn for the worse, so this won’t be a funny column.

Except for the fact that she is at her funniest when times are darkest.

She’s been newly diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, has moved up north with me, and has entered hospice care at my house. Mercifully, Brother Frank, Daughter Francesca, and family and friends are all around her, and she is resting comfortably. So comfortably, in fact, that the hospice nurses, who are saints on wheels, cannot believe it. One nurse asked Mother Mary if she was having any pain – and she pointed to me……Please don’t think my tone herein is inappropriate. This has always been a column about family, the ups and downs, the laughter and the tears, and I think it’s appropriate to have both here, maybe even in the same sentence.

I would guess if you’re a fan of this column, and especially of Mother Mary, that you have a great sense of humor, and the Flying Scottolines have always handled disaster with humor. In fact, catastrophe is our middle name.

That’s why you pronounce the final E, to make it Italian.

I also know that many of you have gone through this heartbreaking journey yourselves. If you have, you already know that hospice plunges you into a world different from any other, filled with irony and incongruities.

I laughed and I cried when I read this column. It made me think once again of my great aunts who lived at 11th and Ritner. It also made me think of my father whom we saw through hospice at home too. It is a very intense time when a family member goes on hospice, but it isn’t all sad. It gives you some final and very lucky times with those you love.

Please read the entire column….especially if you come from peasant stock like me.

Today my friend Bonnie Cook wrote the obituary article on Mary Scottoline and here is an excerpt:

Mary Scottoline, 90, ‘Mother Mary’ to author Lisa Scottoline BONNIE L. COOK, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER POSTED: Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 1:08 AM

Mary Scottoline, 90, formerly of Bala Cynwyd, the hilarious, sometimes profane, larger-than-life maternal figure known to readers as “Mother Mary,” died Sunday, April 13, of lung cancer at the home of her daughter, Lisa, the author and Inquirer columnist.

“We are heartbroken to report that Mother Mary passed away at home this morning, though she was at peace and in the embrace of our love. We choose to remember her as here, making us laugh,” Lisa Scottoline said Monday on her Facebook page.

Mrs. Scottoline dealt with her final two weeks the way she did everything; she was cheerful, unfazed and funny.

Near the end, when she couldn’t speak, she communicated with family and caregivers by means of a whiteboard. How are you, they wanted to know.

“Aside from this crap, I’m doing fine,” her son Frank said she wrote.

The youngest of 19 children, Mrs. Scottoline grew up in a strict family in South Philadelphia. More or less ignored, she had to fight for attention….When daughter Lisa and Serritella wrote about the rough air between mothers and daughters in their Inquirer column, “Chick Wit,” and books including Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, they found that Mrs. Scottoline’s persona flowed seamlessly onto the pages.

“She loved being in the book,” said Lisa Scottoline. “Her personality and spirit was big enough for any room twice over. She stood for a good, strong, funny woman.”

The stories resonated with readers, who found elements of Mrs. Scottoline in their own mothers.

Fifteen years ago, Mrs. Scottoline (pronounced Scott-a-LEE-nee) went south to Miami Beach to live with her son, Frank. She was very well-liked, he said. She enjoyed cooking Italian meals and pampering her pets.

She always said exactly what she felt. “Thank you for today,” she once told her son.

I took a large excerpt, I know, but this is a very cool piece about a woman I wish I had known, but at the same time over the years I felt I knew on some level because I had a couple of these no nonsense yet completely amazing little old Italian ladies in my life, my great aunts.

Mary Scottoline, like my great aunts was a force of nature. She leapt off the pages written by her daughter and granddaughter. And every single time I smiled and thought of my great aunts.

My great aunts were also very opinionated and matter of fact. My Aunt Josie had been the working girl while her sister, my Aunt Millie kept house. Josie was the most direct of the two. She was the strong one, and my Aunt Millie was the softer of the two, more ladylike. Aunt Millie always had one small bottle of Coca Cola at 4p.m. every day unless she was watching her figure, and at those times she would skip it.

The aunts never married and as was the tradition, the unmarried siblings lived in the house they were born in. The other character in their life play on Ritner Street (who also never married but had a girlfriend) was PJ, my Uncle Pat (Pasquale). PJ was a gruff and lovable guy who sometimes terrified me as a little kid. He did not have a mean bone in his body, but he liked to tease his little great nieces in his big gruff voice. He also did cool stuff like make wine in the basement. PJ died when I was pretty little. I think it would have been neat to know him as I got older.

The great aunts would say things like “you kids”. As I got older I realized that meant everyone under about 60 years old.

When we stayed with them as little girls we went to early mass. As in it was still dark outside. Hence the famous family joke “it’s holier when it’s earlier.”

Millie and Josie taught me to make pasta. By feel, basically. A little of this, a little of that, and rolled out by hand on the huge ceramic topped kitchen table. (I often wonder if that table is still in my father’s sister’s garage. It was such a big table that no one has had a kitchen big enough to hold it as far as I know.) Millie and Josie’s kitchen always smelled of a combination of tomato sauce and coffee. I loved that table and all it’s drawers.

Oh and speaking of that kitchen table? Did any of you out there love the movie “Moonstruck“? Remember the scenes when they hustled everyone into the kitchen to talk at the kitchen table over coffee? I am sorry but those kitchen table scenes to me are hysterical because as a kid I remember all the grown-ups sitting around the kitchen table solving weighty world issues….over coffee. You could never have enough coffee no matter what time of day or night. And Lordy, it was all high octane strong coffee. No decaf there.

They also had a canning kitchen in the basement and I remember my aunts putting up tomatoes and pickling hot peppers and cucumbers and things when I was little. The produce came from my Aunt Rose and Uncle Carl’s garden in Collegeville. Collegeville was referred to as “the country” in those days. No developments back then, and they originally backed up to a farm with horses. (Of course today Collegeville is like one big development, but it didn’t use to be.) Aunt Rose was one of their two sisters who married. The other sister was my grandmother, Beatrice.

When we were really little girls, my sister and I often spent New Year’s Eve with our great aunts and their other little old Italian lady friends. I remember one’s name was Tomasina. We got to stay up with them as they watched Dick Clark and whomever on the little black and white television in the kitchen. They would all be clustered around the kitchen table. I think they played cards sometimes. And they gave us watered down anisette at midnight to toast the New Year with them. And did I remember to say the kids weren’t allowed to touch the television sets? We weren’t.

In the summers, the great aunts would sit on the front stoop with folding lawn chairs, and all the other ladies and their families up and down the block would come out as well to escape the heat of the large, but not air-conditioned at the time South Philadelphia row houses. The street was alive with the music of voices in Italian and English, a cacophony of sound.

All of these Italian ladies were opinionated. They said it as they felt it, and it just was. But they were also the most compassionate, smart, and loving women.

They don’t make ladies like this anymore. I am very lucky I had a few in my life, even for a while.

So Mother Mary Scottoline, I did not know you in the traditional sense, but did know you in another sense through my own personal experiences with my great aunts and their friends. If I had any anisette in the house, I would raise a toast to you, as reading about you over the years has helped me keep my memories of my great aunts alive.

To my readers, thanks for stopping by on this rainy day. Always remember what you are from, it is a part of who you are.

sleazy sunoco

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So the photo above comes from a website called Protecting our Waters. It was taken after a Philadelphia protest in December, 2013. The protest was against Sunoco and the Mariner East pipeline, so I thought it was apropos.

Of course it makes me think if the pro-military and pro- peace folks can protest all the time unmolested in front of what I assume is the old courthouse in downtown West Chester, I don’t see why these folks rising up in East and West Goshen can’t do the same thing some day soon and invite the media.

Good old fashioned peaceful protests can accomplish a lot of attention grabbing.

My recent post on Sunoco and their little project has gotten me a lot of e-mail and even comments from folks fighting this in Dauphin County.

I have learned from Chester County residents who already have the older version of the pipeline a couple of interesting things: I thought (mistakenly and incorrectly) that if Sunoco used someone’s property that they paid rent annually to the property owner. I am told they don’t. I also wondered what happened when real estate changed hands. Apparently Sunoco doesn’t pay homeowners who inherit them in their backyards anything.

So basically, letting Sunoco in is like allowing cockroaches?

I wasn’t going to do anymore posting on this until I realized where some of the pipelines are actually supposedly going: right through the back yards of people in Marydell Farms in East Goshen who have properties that run to Boot Road. Those people don’t have backyards that are THAT deep.

Which brings me to something I didn’t want to point out: shame on East Goshen Township. All the environmental and safety issues aside, how can East Goshen officials just sit on their rear ends while residents have their property rights violated and property values potentially affected?

I go back to the thing about living out here and NOT being able to have natural gas lines for residential use leaving us with other energy choices like propane, pellet stoves, coal, oil, electric heat, but we can’t have natural gas to heat or cook with YET Sunoco can crisscross our county with pipelines that only THEY profit from? Residents HERE assume the risks to health, safety, and welfare. Residents here worry about environmental effects like will what Sunoco is doing affect those on wells and could it ever affect even public water supply? How does what they are doing affect our natural waterways like streams, creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes? How does what they do affect our wildlife?

And why is it Sunoco or other big oil companies doesn’t even seem to pay taxes on natural gas production in Pennsylvania? (Think of all the roads and schools that could get fixed as well as other things in Pennsylvania if stupid Harrisburg actually made these companies pay their way, right?)

Sunoco Pipeline plan draws political resistance Philadelphia Inquirer By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer April 5, 2014

An elaborate plan by Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. to transport Marcellus Shale natural gas liquids by pipeline across Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook is running into resistance.

The company’s subsidiary, Sunoco Pipeline L.P., last month filed an application with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to sidestep local zoning restrictions to build pump and valve control stations in 31 municipalities crossed by the pipeline.

Sunoco Pipeline argues that it is a “public utility corporation,” and that the PUC can exempt the construction of the above-ground structure from local zoning if it determines the buildings are “reasonably necessary for the convenience or welfare of the public.”….Two suburban Philadelphia state senators on Wednesday wrote to the PUC, contending that the exemptions would conflict with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in December upholding local zoning rights over oil and gas activity….Sunoco has asked the PUC for an expedited decision. Formal protests and petitions to intervene are due by April 21…..The Mariner project involves converting an existing eight-inch pipeline that carried fuel from Philadelphia refineries to Western Pennsylvania. The project requires about 45 miles of new pipeline in Western Pennsylvania. Sunoco’s efforts to acquire rights of way by eminent domain have run into resistance.

And the thing is this: this issue is way bigger than East Goshen, West Goshen, or just Chester County. This pipeline is coming from where? Ohio through to Marcus Hook? And what about the huge issue of those flare towers? Like the one they want to build in a residential neighborhood in West Goshen on Mary Jane Lane???

And then there are all those eminent domain whispers. Ugly, truly ugly.

I never thought I would say I am glad I no longer live in East Goshen, but given all the people who might be affected by this there (including friends) and in West Goshen, I am glad I no longer live in East Goshen.

The reality is those of us NOT in those municipalities are watching this, because this affects all of us potentially. And what do residents around here get as a benefit or upside? I am beginning to think not much.

I guess at the end of the day I am thinking Sunoco is just be sleazy at the expense of Chester County residents and residents all across Pennsylvania.

People should be able to say no.

West Goshen crowd boos Sunoco plan By Kendal Gapinski Daily Local Posted 4/04/2014

WEST GOSHEN – Sunoco Logistics Partners L.L.C. was granted a continuance Thursday night of its zoning hearing regarding a pump station it wants to put in at the corner of Boot Road and Route 202, much to the objection of hundreds of residents.

According to zoning board solicitor Mark Thompson, Sunoco originally appeared before the zoning hearing board three weeks ago and asked for the hearing to be continued to Thursday night. Between the last zoning hearing and Thursday, Sunoco submitted a request for continuance of the hearing. Thompson said he believed the reason for the request was to allow Sunoco time to find out answers to questions raised during the last hearing.

The project in the township, part of Sunoco’s Mariner East pipeline, includes the development of a pump enclosure, piping, valves and a vapor combustion system to be 34-feet high, according to the zoners….The pipelines would be repurposed to deliver natural gas liquids from Marcellus Shale areas in western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery in Delaware County, Pennsylvania and New Castle County, Delaware….Resident Chris Pielli spoke out after the decision was made, saying the board should have rejected Sunoco’s request for a continuance, forcing Sunoco to start the zoning special exception process all over again.

“Let them reapply,” Pielli said.

The board granted Sunoco’s request for continuance, and the hearing will be continued on May 1 at 7 p.m. at the township building. The board said that Sunoco will be there to provide additional testimony and witnesses for the record, as well as give others who have been made party to the hearing a chance to present their case for the record.

Residents fighting this you need to write every elected official (and I would include all the gubernatorial candidates as there is a primary coming up) you can think of and also contact multiple media outlets. Give this issue the high profile it deserves. Check out the Castle Coalition.

Chester County deserves better than this, doesn’t it?

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