bucolic but an ugliness lurks?

I used to think Willistown was one of the most beautiful places around. But as the years have gone by, I have found that beauty marred by ugliness within the actual community. We have all read about it when the issues have burbled over into local and regional news. The ugliness can be staggering.

The whole smear campaign against Willistown Supervisors Bill Shoemaker and Bob Lange does NOT sit right with me. A pied piper on a septic has it all wound into the sewer and other issues, and it’s not right in my opinion. So I thought I would de-bunk the myth of the mysterious campaign donation once and for all. It’s why I wrote when a gotcha is a big fat nothing. And I also went the extra mile and did my own verification of the facts of the matter, because the below bothered me.

So guess what? It is good that the assertion “Bill got $$$ from Aqua” bothered me. Why? Because it’s not true. It’s FALSE as in a LIE.

There is also a failed politician in Willistown desperately seeking relevance (for another run for something perhaps?) who wishes to essentially say I am a bad person etc, etc in her nonsensical passive aggressive manner. I am not having any of that, either. She made herself a public figure by running for public office and therefore becoming a politician, and espouses much publicly so I am in turn expressing my opinion here. I will start that she announces before she speaks at meetings that she ran against Bill Shoemaker for Supervisor. She of course, lost. It’s odd and she did it at the most recent meeting. ( See willistown needs a sedative.)

I block this person on social media who was a recent enough political candidate for elected office, so I don’t see the nonsense unless someone sends me a screen shot. Well several someones sent me a particular screenshot.

In this screenshot they were referring to a blog post I wrote about this topic. That’s fine, people have different opinions. BUT perhaps she needs clarity?

Shall we file this whole thing under we hold these untruths to be self-evident? Again, I block this failed politician so I’m not sure where it appeared, but it is in response to the post I wrote after watching the Willistown meeting earlier this week live.

She was right there at the meeting in front of the township cameras, and you can see her on the videos and meeting rocking back-and-forth on her feet in a blue pattern summer dress.

So I don’t know if she had listening issues that evening, or what the deal is but I did not hear supervisors say they were too busy to read/answer emails. I did hear supervisors say, including one of her political persuasion, who said that some of the emails received would have delayed responses because some of the emails sounded like they needed more involved responses. Is that actually unreasonable?

What I also heard is I don’t think all of the supervisors are even on social media, some of them who are don’t have time to read all the back-and-forth drivel on social media (which is reasonable as they work), and most importantly they don’t govern via social media. That reality seems to escape this politician without an elected office.

She seemed upset to be on camera although she was right there front and center of the camera’s range? What she also neglects to mention in her remarks is this was a public meeting and people have the right to record it. And the reason people recorded it was so what actually happened could be seen accurately. No interpolation, actually seeing it unfold as the events of the night occurred. The township records the meetings too. And if you watch her on the meeting video was she also recording / photographing at least parts of the meeting? Sure appeared that way, did it not?

And where she also needs to buy a clue is one reason a lot of municipalities need to sell sewer systems is because they can’t afford them in part because of the stresses development puts on infrastructure.

The sewers don’t cause development, but development causes infrastructure expenses all across the board to go up, and no one ever wants to talk about that cost of development because why? Oh yes the other thing that this failed politician doesn’t understand: zoning with regards to development. The Municpalities Planning Code (MPC) is the state bible which guides all local zoning in Pennsylvania. It needs to be comprehensively updated. That would require state elected officials who are state reps and state senators to actually enact an act of the state constitution to perform a comprehensive update the MPC, just like they are the very same folks who need to amend the laws that protect corporations like AQUA at expense of residents vis-à-vis rate hikes!

Large tracts of land are sold to developers because they are ponying up the coin to buy said land. They are developing because the current zoning as dictated by the MPC allows it. The development stresses infrastructure including sewers. Development is also causing overcrowding in school districts which is another conversation entirely.

Like me or dislike me, I am entitled to my opinions on a meeting where the behavior of the majority of residents was deplorable and inappropriate. You can feel passionate about a local issue without acting like a crazed mob of thugs.

I am sure this failed politician will next blame the lack of rain and climate change on the sewers. This is why you don’t allow failed politicians like this to actually make it into office. She is just as bad as a Marjorie Taylor Greene even if she sits on the other side of the political aisle.

And regarding the size of the board room in Willistown: I have no idea what the board room looked like before this. What I do know is townships out here seem to ALL mostly have small boardrooms. No one asked for a larger venue ahead of meeting advertising time, so a larger venue was not sought.

And also there’s another sad reality of local government and that’s usually nobody much shows up. This time people showed up because they were led to believe that a decision was happening on something that decision was not being made on that night.

Also, if I can find the sewer on agendas and minutes going back quite a ways, why can’t anyone else find it referenced? It’s time to also stop saying no one told the residents when the residents weren’t paying attention, isn’t it?

It actually doesn’t matter what the issue is in this particular township, it’s how everything is approached at public meetings on the part of the public. there are so many people that scream and shout first and think later. They make these offensive comments about the supervisors essentially being their employees. They are your elected officials. Yes they should be responsive to residents, but when residents are acting irrational nobody responds to that. But they aren’t your boys and girls and what they get as far as compensation is a pittance. It’s not a real salary, more like a really small stipend. And local elected officials no matter what residents think, spend almost a second full-time job as far as hours dealing with residents and township business every week

The same thing goes with the township staff. A lot of people are incredibly rude to a lot of the people in this township, a lot of whom are very nice and hard-working. I do have a caveat for that however, because in Willistown in the past they have had Township staff that I always thought literally “what were they thinking” because they had a lot of former Radnor Township employees who migrated west after the scandal years in Radnor. A former zoning officer who wasn’t very good immediately comes to mind.

The thing about choosing township staff anywhere is sometimes I don’t think you have a very big pool to choose from, and they all seem to migrate between municipalities. But I definitely think it would behoove municipalities in general to do a little more homework.

Willistown has a new township manager. I don’t even know what her name was she was announced at the meeting but there were so much hubbub you couldn’t hear it really watching the zoom. I do think she needs to step up and be visible and do things like help take control of the meetings and help the supervisors run the meetings more efficiently. in other words, a township manager literally has to manage. That is also a balancing act because her bosses are the elected officials.

Township managers and township employees work for the township as in the municipality, they don’t work for individual residents and that is often what residents assume. However, things like taxes that residents pay go towards salaries, so it’s not like there isn’t a connection there.

Every single time Willistown residents don’t get their own way these days a lot of them scream “corruption.” Trust me when I tell you, you don’t know from true municipal corruption. I have seen residents fight actual corruption. And then there is this whole thing about being offended by two supervisors because they are related by marriage, and their family has owned land for generations. So what? It’s neither immoral, unethical, or illegal. And that whole argument is

As I have said before, I’m not actually in favor of municipalities selling out their sewer systems to big corporations. But it’s often not as simple a conversation at times as “don’t sell.” I think that is the case here.

No matter what happens, if Willistown is to survive, the residents have to stop the baseless ad hominem attacks and stick to the actual issues and actual facts. And they have to be more proactive, less reactive. They need to consistently participate in where they call home, and that doesn’t just need to happen in Willistown, it sadly needs to happen most places.

Here’s hoping Willistown exorcises it’s ugliness. Start with public meetings.

Thanks for stopping by.

7 thoughts on “bucolic but an ugliness lurks?

  1. You have sooo many points in this thread, but I want to respond to the underlying concerns you have expressed. To my knowledge, as a resident of Willistown, the 3 supervisors, at the time, voted to approve a sale of our sewer system to Aqua. There was only 1 bid, and they went with it. The issue was not widely known by the residents, (someone said at the meeting that there was a postcard sent out, which I don’t remember). When some residents realized what happened, and understood the process, many of us spoke to the administrative judge who heard public comment. I participated. No one, on 2 separate calls spoke in favor of the sale. That judge ruled there was no benefit to the community and in fact would cause harm. The PUC ignored the judge’s ruling and ruled 3-0 to support the sale. 2 entities appealed that decision and that is the status right now. The current concern, while we wait for the appeals to go thru their process, is that the supervisors will vote to finalize the sale. They can do that any time. Aqua is pushing them to do it now. Supervisor Shoemaker said at the meeting that they don’t plan to sign now (good news) but, if the appeals go on too long, they might go ahead-NOT very comforting!!!. So any opportunity the residents have to express their dissatisfaction with the decisions of our Supervisors is fair game. They did this. They didn’t ask for public input. They knew not too many residents normally attend their meetings. An issue of this magnitude would warrant an outreach to the impacted residents (I am one!). (They are not on sewer so this decision will not impact them financially) There should have been more due diligence done on this decision. It’s not ad hominem to blame them for a bad decision. But now that they know how we feel, they are NOT stepping up to defend the residents they are supposed to represent. They are still defending their decision, and seem shocked that people are genuinely angry and upset. And this doesn’t even begin to consider how the proceeds from the sale will be distributed if this sale is not stopped. One step at a time. You better believe we are all paying attention now, and if they think this money will go into the general fund to preserve more farm land while they leave the rate payers ( I am one) holding the bag and paying twice (at least) for our sewer fees, well, I promise you will have plenty to write about then!!! Stay tuned is all I can say.

    • So they are just supposed to “hop to”? Life doesn’t work that way. Especially with the way people are acting.

      And as a related aside you live in a large development- that is one of the stresses on infrastructure FYI. There wouldn’t be nice people like you close by without the development BUT a big Toll Brothers development contributes to issues like this.

      They did their due diligence and there was only one bid because that was the bid with the money. Did you see where there are now out of state companies coming in? I find that very concerning (see https://www.inquirer.com/business/pennsylvania-water-privatization-nextera-aqua-towamencin-20220821.html )

      Do I think Willistown Supervisors are shocked people are upset? Honestly, no, it’s the meeting behavior that is shocking.

      The sale is not settled so why discuss proceeds being sent? And again, given meeting behavior who can discuss anything?

      Do rate payers think sewer should be free? And as someone who actually knows how things work, are residents lobbying state reps and state senators about the laws which protect these corporations and allow them to just jump rates with no regard to residents? That is a worthy battle AND truthfully should be part of this. And then there is getting the MPC comprehensively updated?

      You didn’t respond to the fact that I proved there was no donation money taken from Aqua. Thanks for a civil conversation.

  2. Hi Carla,
    I said I was responding to the underlying concerns about the sale. Not the nuances of the criticism of the supervisors. I am well aware of campaign finance reporting. Aqua donated the money which is why it is on their report. Apparently Shoemaker never cashed the check, effectively not accepting it, which is why it is not on his report. That is proper. Shoemaker did say at the meeting that he would look further into it, but acknowledged that Aqua did offer him a donation. Is that their SOP? I don’t know?? There might have been some in-kind donation like purchasing tickets for Shoemaker, but really I am not interested in any of that controversy. I am interested in WHY the supervisors thought, and apparently still think, this was a good idea in the first place. It was mentioned that they used the financial analysis of a consultant, who I am told is aligned with Aqua, for it’s recommendation to go along with the sale. At the meeting Shoemaker patronized the “numbers” presented by Henry Yordan. Shoemaker admitted there were assumptions made by the consultant so we won’t know who is right until the proof comes in. What we do know, now, is that 5 townships who recently sold their system have had very high rate increases for their sewer users. This is why we are so angry. We knew it. They denied it. We will be proven correct. And stuck with the bill. And Shoemaker told one of my neighbors that he underestimated the reaction from the township residents, so he was caught off guard, but he hasn’t adjusted his position either, so I don’t know what to think about his judgement on this, and any future decisions he and the others might make on our behalf. And we don’t need a monopoly corporation buying up our assets. This has to stop. Unfortunately, with the money Aqua has given to legislators on both sides of the aisle, there won’t be any changes anytime soon to our laws as you have suggested. Hopefully, our next Governor, will appoint better members of the PUC. Let’s get the Public back into the Public Utility Commission!!!

    • Sometimes less is more when commenting and sometimes Republicans aren’t bad people. And *really* you don’t know how big companies do donations? I do. And how it works is they spread the money out among candidates from both parties usually equal dollar amounts. You will see them give to many campaigns from both sides of the aisle. So yeah it’s pretty common that they did that there’s no gotcha moment and y’all can say you were wrong now about that, because you were.

      Yes 5 municipalities recently sold their systems. And until people start demanding state reps and state senators do a comprehensive update of the MCP and amend the state laws that allow companies like Aqua to do rate hikes overdevelopment that stresses infrastructure and sewer rate hikes continually will continue. And y’all in Willistown need to get busy with that and make it an election issue.

      As for what your neighbor may or may not have discussed with Bill Shoemaker is hearsay unless you were right there.

      Try to see Bill and Bob as people.

  3. The anger seems misplaced.

    Shouldn’t residents be more upset with the developers who are creating these problems with their infrastructure but aren’t required to pay for the infrastructure improvements necessary due to the additional stress put on it by their developments?

    Upgrades to schools, water treatment facilities, trash disposal, sewers, electric grids, roads, highways, etc. have to be paid by someone…why not by those who are profiting from them?

    P.S. nice discussion

    • Thx Carla,
      Sue, in general you are correct about developers coming in and putting stress on our infrastructure but the laws in pa make it hard to stop new development if the developers follow the requirements. Townships can require givebacks when applying for waivers but the supervisor control those decisions. I’m only in the township 7 years so I’m not the best person to discuss that but I know many are fighting the Rock Hill Farm proposal.
      But our anger on the sale of this system is not misplaced. It only impacts half the township who have been paying into the system to maintain it. But the deal the supervisors made will hurt us and benefit the general fund to preserve open space which feels very unfair to me. But we haven’t even started that fight yet. The laws in Pa benefit the corporations and Aqua is using that to its advantage. Many neighboring townships are saying No to Aqua but our supervisors didn’t reach out to the rate payers to get their approval. I think they misread the community and are now between a rock and a hard place. To get out of the deal now will be costly. The best solution would be for the PUC to reverse their decision and stop the sale. It would be helpful if the supervisors supported the community and helped to stop it. They could have some influence but Shoemaker said he still supports it. Lang too. Molly doesn’t want to fight this in a lawsuit which would cost the township money. I appreciate it is a big problem now but we need to see where the appeals go and keep fighting. It’s not clear WHY they decided to sell in the first place. Our system is in decent shape and the township doesn’t need the money. Maybe they should explain their reasoning which would go a long way to mutual understanding and maybe find a way to common ground.

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