Like many local municipalities, Tredyffrin has an official Facebook page. I have no idea who is responsible for its content.
I posed a polite but rather simple question to the page, because I figure as a non-taxpayer and non-resident, it might be the most expedient way to get a response. Well, I got one. I thought nothing further could shock me about Tredyffrin Township, but well, it’s lettergate in full flower now I suppose.
I am posting the response. Really I had to suppress the urge to ask how Tredyffrin feels about the First Amendment. But should I bother given the response? Is it self-evident?
Is the letter attacking a private citizen and local media outlets currently posted on your site an official government sanctioned release? Also, you might want to read this editorial on the topic in Tredyffrin Patch. http://te.patch.com/articles/tredyffrin-website-used-for-political-attack
What happens the next time residents are on the other side of an issue from an elected official? I will note *again*, I have no idea who responds for Tredyffrin “officially” on their Facebook page as they do not identify themselves or their position within the Township.
I am just shocked. Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I am. How is any of this not an abuse of power and/or an abuse of a taxpayer-funded official government website? So am I to understand that they are publicly flogging a resident for blogging and asking questions? Is the Township website in Tredyffrin just a political bully pulpit? Do they care or even have a clue as to how this makes the entire township look? To residents? To people considering moving into the township? To businesses?
This lettergate is certainly shaping up to be a First Amendment conundrum among other things like a public relations nightmare.
I am now going to let my friend Pattye Benson speak for herself. Unbeknownst to me until a few moments ago, she wrote about exactly what I am writing about. I am cross-poting her most recent post. I will admit I am a bit surprised by Township Manager Mimi Gleason’s response. But she is retiring, right? I wouldn’t want this to follow me out the door, would you? That whole thing is confusing since Ray Hoffman wrote an article August 30th that is titled “Mimi Gleason to remain Tredyffrin manager for now” isn’t it?
Should I make a Note to Self? Along the lines of don’t ask anymore questions about Tredyffrin, it is not safe? Wonder what esteemed folks like Paul Alan Levy would think? I will tell you what, this baptism by fire into all things Tredyffrin makes posting recipes even more appealing. Recipes don’t attack.
“The dominant purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit the widespread practice of government suppression of embarrassing information.” ~ William Orville Douglas, US Supreme Court Justice
According to John DiBuonaventuro’s letter to the citizens, Community Matters posts are an “ongoing effort to discredit our government and its efforts to serve the citizens by creating and fostering an environment of conspiracy among its limited readership.” I received many emails and phone calls in regards to the inappropriateness of the letter but more importantly, the inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars to post the letter on township letterhead on the township website. The letter contains a personal attack on me, Community Matters and on those citizens who date to have an opinion. For some reason, DiBuonaventuro also feels compelled to mention my failed election in 2009 as a Board of Supervisors candidate … I guess that was contained in the letter, as a ‘just because’, he could … and he did.
I was hopeful that Michelle Kichline as the chair of the Board of Supervisors, the township solicitor Vince Donohue or the township manger Mimi Gleason would recognize the inappropriateness of DiBuronaventuro’s letter on our public website and that the letter would be removed quickly before any further damage was done to me or the other citizens of Tredyffrin Township.
I sent the following email this morning to Mimi Gleason, our township manager:
Who is responsible for Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s letter on the township website? Was placing the letter on the website sanctioned by you, the township manager?
I await your response.
I was extremely surprised by her immediate response below. Ms. Gleason states that she OK’d the letter on the website with approval from the chair of the Board of Supervisors, Michelle Kichline and township solicitor Vince Donohue. Folks, as a short-timer whose last day as township manager is Monday, September 17, 2012, Gleason has decided to make her true feelings known about me, Community Matters and for all those who dare to express an opinion. As sad as I was about the DiBuonaventuro letter, I wanted to believe in our government and the people we elected to serve. Bob Byrne, editor of TE Patch received a similar response from Gleason to his inquiry about the township website and DiBuonaventuro’s letter.
If the Board of Supervisors had been more forthcoming about the situation when the story first broke in the Main Line Media News, the outcome of the situation would have been very different. If the public had received any assurance from the Board of Supervisors that they were reviewing the internal investigation report of the Police Department, or if the public had known that the District Attorney’s office had reviewed the report, if, if, if, … no one said anything, there was no communication or explanation. Were it not that I went from the District Attorney, to the District Judge and then to the Police Chief, we would still have questions and no answers. The summary information I provided on Community Matters was not secret, the residents could have had, and should have had it.
So what is the bottom line? Gleason’s email says to me that to hold our government and its elected officials accountable by the citizenry is not acceptable in Tredyffrin Township. You read her response and be the judge.
I think it is interesting that you seek information from me now, but not before starting a storyline full of inaccuracies and innuendos that had the potential to harm people’s reputations. Correcting falsehoods well after the fact does not undo the damage from your original posts. You feed cynicism and assumptions of impropriety when there is absolutely no basis for it.
You have done the same thing with the assisted living facility. So much of what you have written on that topic is factually incorrect. Why don’t you make an effort to get accurate information before you write articles and leave impressions with your readers? You have to know that your so-called legal expert has no expertise, and therefore I can only conclude that you share his agenda to make the Township and the Board of Supervisors look bad, without any regard for the truth or ethics. That has been a disappointing conclusion to arrive at.
In answer to your question, it is unusual to post a statement from an individual Supervisor, but given the inaccurate and derogatory statements and innuendo publicly made about John DiBuonaventuro, I decided to approve the posting of the letter on the Township website. In this case, he was the subject of baseless public speculation simply because he is a Tredyffrin Supervisor. The circumstances justified the use of the website to publicly defend him, carrying with it the implicit endorsement of the Township to the accuracy of his statements. The Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and the Township Solicitor agreed that it was appropriate for the letter to go on the website.