Nothing like a good e-mail to get the juices flowing. I will leave this as it is. Y’all can decide if you will be Dumbocrats and sheeple and dig CCDC Chair Charlotte Valyo’s pretzel logic or will you stand up, look at your by-laws and ease your Grandma and her flying monkeys into party retirement?
What does the email say? I am including verbiage in case screen shot is not clear and Chesco Dems? “Bubble” well….:
I apologize for yet another email. I am receiving questions regarding retentions. Some information is being shared that is not complete nor necessarily factual.
1) Retention is not an election. Court of Common Pleas Judges are elected once, for a ten-year term. After ten years, they are placed on the ballot for retention. The purpose of retention rather than running again is to remove politics from the judiciary. Once elected, judges are to make decisions based on the law and facts, not on political affiliation or political views. There is no red or blue, they are to think black (robes). This process was written into the Pennsylvania Constitution to ensure the independence of our courts.
2) Judge Carmody and Judge Hall will both age out before their next term ends, which will open up two seats for us to elect our candidates. This also makes it unlikely either would run for a higher Court seat.
3) Judge Carmody and Judge Hall are not extremists but are moderates and have earned the respect of their fellow judges and the legal community. I have spoken with our Democratic Court of Common Pleas Judges, most of our judicial and county candidates, and Democratic attorneys in Chester County. All unanimously support both judges and have only positive things to say about both.
4) If these judges were not retained what would happen?
a. The Chester County Court of Common Pleas would lose 2 judges, burdening an already overburdened Court.
b. Governor Shapiro can appoint attorneys to fill judicial vacancies, but this requires approval by the Republican controlled State Senate. The likelihood that the Republican controlled Senate would vote to approve Democratic judges is very low. Therefore, we will either have no appointments or two Republican judges who could be and probably would be younger and much more conservative.
c. If two Republican judges were appointed, both would be running as incumbents in the next election.
5) Bubbling “No” for these moderate and respected judges diminishes the effect of our bubbling “No” in the future when more extreme judges are up for retention.
6) For statewide judicial retentions, the Pennsylvania State Committee is bubbling the Democrat up for retention as a “Yes” and the Republican blank.
7) Based on the information above and following the lead of the Pennsylvania State Committee, CCDC will not be bubbling in a recommendation for retention for the Court of Common Pleas.
Just a crazy idea, but perhaps people should tune in to this meeting, because apparently a lot of us across Southeastern PA have a similar issue, and the more people who object to these warehouses the better off, we will all be.
Location: Possum Hollow Road Review Phase: Preliminary Plan
CB Limerick LLC proposes to subdivide the 117.9 Acre tract fronting W. Lightcap Road into five lots and construct four storage facilities totaling 1 Mil SF and one 30,000 SF and one retail space with associated loading, parking and stormwater facilities. The project also proposes to construct private road connecting W. Lightcap Road (at the light at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets) to Sanatoga Road. Project will be serviced by public water and sewer.
This is being proposed by I think some people from New York. A subsidiary of the Iconic Group (whomever they are.) I will note as a related aside to Chester County residents that apparently the old Saint Gabriel’s Hall is something Audubon has their paws in.
And Limerick isn’t that far from the Chester County border and there is a lot of development being planned there. It’s pretty frightening but it’s also Montgomery County, which is where the head of Chester County Planning Commission hails from – and you know I think Brian O’Leary is a carpet bagger and too pro development.
So back to Limerick. What is so atrocious is once again a historic property is at risk because of a mega warehouse plan.
Hood Mansion located in Limerick, PA was built in 1834 by John M. Hood, an Irish immigrant. He built it as a summer home for his wife and his thirteen children.
The Hood’s son, Washington, was the 500th graduate of West Point in 1827. He then went on to become Captain of the Corps of Topographical Engineers in the US Army and mapped out most of the Oregon Territory and Northwest. After he died at the age of 32 of Yellow Fever, his father erected a monument in his honor. The monument is still located on the estate, as well as the original family crypt.
The Hood Mansion would be demolished. It would be replaced with mega warehouses. So this beautiful historic structure with ties to national, local, and cultural significance with a retaining pond would be lost forever along with more open space. Please note the Hood family also advocated and helped enslaved persons reach freedom during the Underground Railroad. So there is that too.
This is not a structure to just be bulldozed and forgotten…. this is just as horrible and egregious as what’s being proposed for Lionville Station Farm and Happy Days Farm in Chester County.
All of these pieces of land have historic import. And while we can’t save every old house, there are some we should just save. And the way Hood is being left at present to rot is just as bad as Lloyd Farm in Caln. Why can’t we ever have adaptive reuse in part with any of these proposals? It’s just demolish and build and it’s like mega warehouses have become the new apartment building plans. They’re all bad. They all suck. They’re not anything to do with our communities or the people that live there let alone our history.
In Southeastern, Pennsylvania is seems any open space with serious history that isn’t being turned into ugly ass apartment buildings and townhouse developments is being proposed for mega warehouses now.
I swear I used to think it was just Chester county where we had to band together. I think we have to band together in multiple counties.
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS PUBLIC MEETING 19 SEPTEMBER 2023, 7:00 P.M. – LIMERICK TOWNSHIP MUNICIPAL BUILDING
646 West Ridge Pike, Limerick, PA 19468
I don’t usually curse in my posts but this is bullsh🤬t. Just like Lionville Station Farm and Happy Days Farm.
And I have seen zero real media coverage of Hood Mansion. There was something on Patch and a rah rah on Montco Today.
Development in West Whiteland – Route 30 to Ship Road and down both sides of Ship Road. Bad, dense, not even particularly affordable- just another bunch of Tyvec wrapped cram plans.
The development from various predatory developers in this area heads east until it practically hits East Whiteland. Then you proceed to Easttown and Tredyffrin all the way down to Radnor Township.
Too much, too dense, cheap, fast build and rather pricey. Nothing affordable. This is stressing our infrastructure including the human variety, and squeezing our school districts to a breaking point.
Wherever you live get active in your community. Make elections have a focus on all this overdevelopment from local to state to federal elections. Start talking about the Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It hasn’t been updated comprehensively since 1969…and one of the things that first got built THEN was Chesterbrook.
I put together a small reel. Pictures speak louder than words. Be horrified because progress shouldn’t hurt our communities and that’s what is happening.
This won’t be a particularly long post and over the next couple of days I will be going through photos from the sign ceremony to post but today my heart was happy and full of joy.
I love this site, and I love the history it represents, and today I felt hopeful. Today I felt the old souls were pleased… and I could also feel more recent souls who loved Ebenezer whom I knew, Ann Christie and Al Terrell were smiling.
Also something unexpected happened. Today I got a thank you for my contributions to Ebenezer. That is a place that is so special to me, and the thank you was heartfelt. It came from Pastor April Martin and Bertha Jackmon. Coming from them that really meant something special to me. No one really has ever publicly recognized my efforts, and it’s one of those things where no brass band was ever needed, but a simple thank you today meant the world.
My relationship with the East Whiteland Historic Commission doesn’t really exist. I genuinely like a couple of the members and a few members past and present have always been truly really nice to me, and I enjoy speaking with them and knowing them a little bit, BUT I know most of those people do not like me, and a few do not go out of their way to make me feel welcome. And part of the things that have upset me about Ebenezer was trying to talk to them over the years. None of them are bad people, but they are quite cliquish, and not necessarily welcoming to someone like me, or anyone who isn’t their normal person.
Part of what I realized today is I don’t need their approval or permission to love local history. They honestly did a really nice job with the ceremony. Ebenezer’s graveyard is nicely cleaned up. A bunch of stones have fallen over but it’s partially the site itself, and there are new homes being dug around it. The plan is to restore the stones and cap the church ruin which is perfect.
There is a brand new website and fundraising will need to be done for the future and if there are folks who can set up a non profit to help Ebenezer live long into the future visit https://www.historicebenezerbactonhill.org/
It was really nice to visit Hiram and Joshua today too.
Many thanks to Chair of the East Whiteland Supervisors Scott Lambert and Manager Steve Brown for their support of preserving this historic site and for arranging all sorts of things today and East Whiteland PD for making a sometimes busy road behave today.
Again, I will post photos over the next few days. In the future I would like to plant daffodils and snowdrops by the grave stones after they are reset.
My goodness. It seems Immaculata is on the receiving end of a Civil Rights/Employment Discrimination suit from someone who appears to have (or have had) tenure and is (or was) a department head?
Oh yes, indeedy. Meet Grimes vs. Immaculata University (2:23-cv-03357 filed August, 2023)
Civil Rights. Employment. Federal.
I have been hearing rumblings about Immaculata for a couple of years. To be honest, it totally bums me out. I mean you don’t want them to become the next Cabrini, right?
Anywhooo I have a soft spot for artists and the woman who filed is an artist and professor. Diane Grimes. On LinkedIn is says she is (was?) chair of department unless I am misreading? But not on Immaculata’s website?
I also heard recently that Immaculata’s former head of nursing left for Gwynedd Mercy, so is there something going on? As the years have progressed, is it fair to say fewer Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are around and it’s more lay people in leadership? The nuns always ran a tight, happy ship, so perhaps the new world order at Immaculata is having growing pains? Considering the amount of acreage they own that could be sold off, sure hope not, right?
Diane Grimes is quite accomplished. I do not know her, but I know she exhibits her art, which is beautiful, and she is a published author.
Soooo I don’t know but it’s a thing waiting to happen I am sure. These suits aren’t easy and here is what is on PACER is below. Here’s wondering if the media will find this interesting and how long it will take for someone to say I am “bashing” Immaculata for posting this.
I have to giggle because Lady Dog Whistle is at it again. She is our fearless and full of forsooth Mistress of Downingtown area manners. And egads! Apparently she has a girl crush on the fake professor running for Downingtown school board, so she is here to be his erstwhile champion. (I also secretly think she wishes she could be me, but that’s a topic for another day!)
First of all, what makes this so funny is all these people that love to say I am so anonymous, etc. etc. have nothing to say when Lady Dog Whistle surfaces.
I wrote about her about a year ago and truthfully, don’t follow her because she’s somewhat predictable in her repertoire of passive aggressive slut shaming. She loves to lecture on what she perceives to be the ills of people basically objecting to any politician, or extremism, and politics, that she personally supports.
So Lady Dog Whistle of Downingtown, she’s doing her Lady Whistledown encore, and shockers I am the target. And super duper shockers I am a bad bad person:
Gosh! They wound me to the core! actually, they have provided a great deal of amusement on a Sunday for me. Let’s break it down.
First of all, this was not an inappropriate photo I posted it was a political lampoon/meme. It was directed at a politician, Chris Bressi, running for school board. Bressi as you know is the co-opt king of any local issue, buzz word, or trendy phrase that might get him a vote.
Yes Chris Bressi, we see you. I will leave it to you to decide if it’s the Royal We or just we as in everyone in general.
This was an event that this politician went to two co-op for his own gain. I have nothing to say about the event, or the people who threw the event other than it was their event not Bressi’s event and he rolled up looking like he was ready for a Godfather or Goodfellas revival. I did not cover the other person’s face to mock their heritage or their celebration, I covered his face because it wasn’t this person‘s fault that a subpar slimy sleazeball of a politician rolled up for photo ops. It was a smiley face, not a “derogatory emoji.”
I still think that politician “professore” Bressi is a horse’s ass. And it doesn’t make me a racist and it doesn’t make me a proponent of micro aggression or whatever Trendy, Wendy term Lady Dog Whistle, and the “professor” care to toss at me.
And given my personal Italian heritage, I can mock him all I want since he’s choosing to conveniently play up his now. He’s a joke and he’s an embarrassment to Italian Americans everywhere. Yes, I did say that out loud and I will again I am sure.
Expressing opinions about a subpar politician desperately seeking relevance and attention in order to get on the school board after scrubbing, his original social media profiles is not exhibiting “hate.” It is in fact me using my first amendment rights which are not subjective.
So Bressi wishes to wax poetic about his Italian American heritage? That’s fine if he’s actually telling the truth, because you only have his word for it. So now, in order to gain sympathy, all of a sudden he’s going to say that his family members were targeted by mafioso? Dude, that is so early Sopranos.
But let’s talk about Lady Dog Whistle for a moment. Apparently, she had an interview with a good “professor”? So that means she is one of his contemporaries. People are always tossing about who she might or might not be, and truthfully, I’ve never cared because she doesn’t matter to me. She is a nut bag who surfaces for little hatchet job attempts and then evaporates into her beige, beige world.
Poor Lady Dog Whistle must be really hard up. I think she’s written about me three times now. And every time she does it just brings me more readers and that’s delightful. This is what the second or third election cycle where she’s tried to make me an election issue in Downingtown? It’s kind very amusing that they are so fearful of me that as a non-politician, just one woman with one voice is a threat to their well being. They really need to get out more.
Essentially, if you are a person who believes in book banning, have issues with anyone whose sexual identity doesn’t match your narrow view of the world, extremism in politics, etc. Lady Dog Whistle is your gal. Kind of like Bressi, but I don’t think he’s anyone’s gal and he is just an extremist tarting himself up as the second coming of Christ to get himself elected so he can fill the Downingtown Area School District with fake inspirational posters from Staples.
My last word on this for today is something that is just cracking me up right now. Chris Bressi loves to post when they go low, we go high. So I’m guessing that phrase is also very subjective or he just lets other people do his dirty work for him.
Published Aug. 31, 2023Updated Sept. 1, 2023, 12:41 p.m. ET
The police were searching early Friday for a Brazilian man they warned was “extremely dangerous” after he escaped from a prison near Philadelphia, days after he was sentenced to life in prison for the fatal stabbing of his former girlfriend.
The inmate, Danelo Cavalcante, escaped from the Chester County Prison on Thursday morning, the local district attorney’s office said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The prison’s acting warden, Howard Holland, declined to comment at a Thursday news conference on how or why the escape had occurred, saying only that it was under investigation.
Deb Ryan, the Chester County district attorney, said at the news conference that Mr. Cavalcante had been last seen walking southbound in the county’s Pocopson Township on Thursday morning wearing a white T-shirt, gray shorts and white sneakers.
Her office said the search extended to all of Chester County and that residents within a six-mile radius of the prison had been notified of the escape. The county lies just west of Philadelphia.
“If you see him, do not approach him,” Ms. Ryan said. “We’re asking you please to contact 911. He is considered extremely dangerous.”
Ms. Ryan’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Neither did the Pennsylvania State Police. Officials at Chester County Prison could not be reached for comment overnight.
Mr. Cavalcante, 34, is a Brazilian national who is wanted for homicide in Brazil, the United States Marshals Service said in a notice.
Last week, Mr. Cavalcante was sentenced to life in prison without parole after being convicted of first-degree murder. The district attorney’s office has said that in April 2021, he stabbed his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, to death in front of her children, ages 4 and 7. Mr. Cavalcante, who was living in Royersford, Pa., at the time, fled the murder scene and was arrested hours later in Virginia.
Before the attack, Ms. Brandao had learned of Mr. Cavalcante’s open warrant for murder in Brazil and threatened to tell the police, according to the district attorney’s office. “Detectives determined that this was the motive for the murder,” the office said in a Facebook post last week….It said he is 5 feet tall and speaks Portuguese and Spanish.
Mr. Cavalcante is a former gang member who is wanted in Brazil for the 2017 murder of a man who owed him money, Ms. Ryan, the Chester County district attorney, told the Media News Group, according to a report on Thursday in one of the company’s newspapers, The Daily Local News.
The report said Mr. Cavalcante had been held at the Chester County Prison since his arrest two years ago. It said he was being held there for an additional 30 days after his sentencing — before a planned transfer to the state prison system — while he and his lawyers decided whether to appeal his conviction.
The Daily Local News reported in early August that Mr. Holland, the prison’s acting warden, had taken over after the regular warden was placed on administrative leave. The prison “continues to grapple with some level of vacancies among correctional staff,” the newspaper’s report said.
So how does a murderer walk away from Chester County Prison? And what’s going on there with replace-a-warden-on-leave? Why was original warden placed on leave?
PUBLISHED: August 3, 2023 at 2:30 p.m. | UPDATED: August 4, 2023 at 10:50 a.m.
This story has been updated on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023.
WEST CHESTER — Officials in Chester County rejected reports that the warden of Chester County Prison had ended his term there unexpectedly, as the facility continues to grapple with some level of vacancies among correctional staff.
County Communications Officer Rebecca Brain said on Thursday that Warden Ronald M. Phillips had been placed on administrative leave and that Howard Holland, the former chief of police in Downingtown and a special liaison to the county Prison Board, had been placed in command at the facility in Pocopson.
Brain declined to discuss details of the move, referring to the county’s policy of not commenting on personnel matters. It was unclear from her comment what the terms of the administrative leave are or why the change was made.
Phillips’ leave reportedly began on Friday.
Reportedly well-liked in the county law enforcement community, Philips has been a fixture at the prison for decades. He began employment there in 1983, and served as deputy warden under former Warden Ed McFadden….
The move comes sometime after the completion of a report on the facility the Prison Board commissioned with the the National Institute for Jail Operations, to conduct an assessment. The organization did produce a report, but the county declined to provide a copy of it to the Media News Group. “Because the contents of the report relate to the operations of a secure facility, it is not public,” Brain said in an e-mail.
The prison holds inmates that have been arrested but cannot post bail prior to their trials; have been sentenced to a minimum period of incarceration less than one years in length; are awaiting a hearing on a probation violation accusation; or are serving a state prison sentence in the county or have been otherwise transferred to the prison from other jurisdictions.
As of June 30, there were 702 inmates at the prison, a slightly higher number than normal but far below the maximum bed capacity of 1,100 inmates.
The prison has for some time struggled with filling vacant positions, although county officials have noted that corrections officer positions regularly have high turnover rates. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a number of staff vacancies in the number of full time employees that are budgeted for in the 2023 county budget….He said that recently the staff had interviews six candidates and that there were five candidates in the prison academy. He estimated there were about 30 openings at the prison for beginning correction officers.
That number conflicts with the vacancies reported by Brain on Thursday, however. She said there are 76 vacancies out of 301 positions and that 55 of those vacancies are corrections officers. Brain said four new corrections officers are expected to start working on Monday, Aug. 7.
Ok so recently it was “warden on leave” now it’s “warden resigned” and as the article above says, it’s somewhat shrouded in mystery and why?
Howard Holland is now the interim or acting warden. Can’t imagine just being appointed and this happens, right? But if this murderer was planning an escape, would it have been in the works for a long time? Warden/Chief Holland has a long career in law enforcement and I think timing is everything, and he came in obviously because there were problems, and well is this escape part of the problems that need fixing? I mean didn’t they say this Cavalcante has been in this prison for a couple of years? I feel for this guy, because he gets to clean up the mess that obviously his predecessor left behind, right?
Investigators are still searching for Danelo Cavalcante, a convicted murderer, who escaped from the prison early Thursday.
by Vinny Vella Published Sep. 1, 2023, 12:33 p.m. ET Updated 2:57 p.m. ET
The prison that a convicted murderer escaped from Thursday in Chester County is being run by an interim warden whose predecessor retired the day before the escape, county officials said Friday.
Danelo Cavalcante, 34, is the subject of a massive manhunt in the county by local, state and federal authorities. Cavalcante was convicted of first-degree murder Aug. 16 for stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death, and was awaiting transfer to a state correctional facility to begin serving his life sentence when he slipped past guards early Thursday, according to District Attorney Deborah Ryan.
“We will not stop until he is in custody,” Ryan said Friday.
Cavalcante also has an active warrant in his native Brazil for a 2017 murder, in which he’s accused of killing a man who owed him money, prosecutors said.
Acting Warden Howard Holland declined Thursday to answer questions about how Cavalcante escaped, saying the matter was being investigated. Holland, the former chief of police in Downingtown, has overseen the jail since July 28, when Ronald Phillips was placed on administrative leave, according to Rebecca Brain, a spokesperson for county commissioners.
Phillips, who served as warden since October 2020 after decades as a deputy warden, filed his retirement paperwork at the county prison board’s regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday afternoon, Brain said.
Brain said she could not comment on why Phillips was placed on leave, nor say if he provided a reason for his retirement, saying both were personnel matters….
The agencies are paying special attention to railroads and the Brandywine Creek, which, they said, could be potential avenues for Cavalcante to leave Chester County.
In an update Friday afternoon, Ryan said that there was no indication that Cavalcante had left the area, but that investigators believe his ultimate goal is to head south. She urged residents to be vigilant during the upcoming Labor Day weekend, and said to especially take stock of cars, bicycles, and other means of transportation at their homes.
Brazilian authorities have been notified of Cavalcante’s escape, but it is up to them to decide if they will pursue their active warrant for his arrest, according to Robert Clark, a supervisory special agent for the U.S. Marshals.
A joint, $10,000 reward is being offered by state police and the marshals for information leading to Cavalcante’s arrest. As they search for the fugitive, they are warning residents to stay away from him and call 9-1-1 if he is spotted. As of Friday afternoon, more than 100 tips had been submitted, investigators said.
Cavalcante, who has a sister and friends living in the Phoenixville area, is likely desperate for help and seeking out those associates, according to Bill Latorre, a retired Pennsylvania State Police sergeant and security consultant who is not involved in the search for Cavalcante.
“In this particular case, if he didn’t have outside help, he’s pretty much winging it,” said Latorre, who worked on similar cases during his tenure with the state police. “He didn’t escape from the prison with a cellphone, so he’s going to need to somehow to borrow or steal means of communication and reach out to whoever can help.”
This Cavalcante would have probably have had to make his move before being transferred to a state prison, right? How many prisoners have escaped from Chester County Prison? Anyway, if you see him, or you think you see him…call 911!
What started me down this twisted path this morning was opening my email and opening up the email from our local paper, The Daily Local News to see what the local headlines were. And the headline had nothing to do with Chester County news this morning. It was basically a glorified press release of a tobacco based business opening in West Reading, which is in Berks County.
I will state for the record I have nothing against this business and Berks County I wish them luck, but I live in Chester County and when I opened my email that’s supposed to hold local news headlines it was a glorified press release from a business in Berks County somebody had turned into an article and the reason it was turned into an article is because there are so few reporters left for any of these local papers and they are supposed to just churn things out. Yes churn.
In 2011, Journal Register Company was bought by Alden Global Capital after coming out of bankruptcy. Alden is a hedge fund that specializes in distressed debt assets. The journal register was based in Yardley and owned lots of newspapers, including in our area like the Daily Local, Main Line Media News, Morning Call, Delco Times, etc.
See snippet from 2021 when they bought Morning Call up in Allentown, which was another terrific paper:
Have you heard of the hedge fund Alden Global Capital?
If you’re a reader of local newspapers — particularly the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun or New York Daily News — you’re going to want to make sure the answer is yes. That’s because the fund is stepping in to buy — and then gut — newsrooms across the country.
And that has consequences for democracy, as journalist McKay Coppins writes in The Atlantic. Below are highlights from his conversation with Morning Edition‘s A Martínez.
NPR reached out to Alden for a response. A spokesman took issue with the entirety of the story, and laid out a long list of questions attacking the integrity of the reporter, The Atlantic and some of his sources without addressing some of the more specific claims within the report.
Research shows that when local newspapers disappear or are dramatically gutted, communities tend to see lower voter turnout, increased polarization, a general erosion of civic engagement and an environment in which misinformation and conspiracy theories can spread more easily.
Coppins notes that there’s even some research indicating that city budgets increase as a result, because corruption and dysfunction can take hold without a newspaper to hold powerful people to account….Coppins describes Alden as a specific type of firm: a “vulture hedge fund.” It has figured out how to make a profit by driving newspapers into the ground, he says, since Alden’s aim is not to make them into long-term sustainable businesses but rather maximize profits quickly to show it has made a winning investment.
Some of these papers likely would have been liquidated if the fund had not stepped in to buy them, as Alden’s president told Coppins. But that’s not true for all of them.
The Tribune Company (which owns the newspapers mentioned above) was still turning a profit when Alden bought it, but the hedge fund immediately offered aggressive rounds of buyouts and shrunk its newsrooms in the name of increasing profit margins….A recent Financial Times analysis found that half of all daily newspapers in the U.S. are controlled by financial firms, and Coppins says that number is all but certain to keep growing.
“The question is, will local communities decide that this is an important issue, that it’s worth saving these newspapers, protecting them from firms like Alden, or will they decide that they don’t really care?” he asks.
The tribune tower rises above the streets of downtown Chicago in a majestic snarl of Gothic spires and flying buttresses that were designed to exude power and prestige. When plans for the building were announced in 1922, Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime owner of the Chicago Tribune, said he wanted to erect “the world’s most beautiful office building” for his beloved newspaper. The best architects of the era were invited to submit designs; lofty quotes about the Fourth Estate were selected to adorn the lobby. Prior to the building’s completion, McCormick directed his foreign correspondents to collect “fragments” of various historical sites—a brick from the Great Wall of China, an emblem from St. Peter’s Basilica—and send them back to be embedded in the tower’s facade. The final product, completed in 1925, was an architectural spectacle unlike anything the city had seen before—“romance in stone and steel,” as one writer described it. A century later, the Tribune Tower has retained its grandeur. It has not, however, retained the Chicago Tribune.
To find the paper’s current headquarters one afternoon in late June, I took a cab across town to an industrial block west of the river. After a long walk down a windowless hallway lined with cinder-block walls, I got in an elevator, which deposited me near a modest bank of desks near the printing press. The scene was somehow even grimmer than I’d imagined. Here was one of America’s most storied newspapers—a publication that had endorsed Abraham Lincoln and scooped the Treaty of Versailles, that had toppled political bosses and tangled with crooked mayors and collected dozens of Pulitzer Prizes—reduced to a newsroom the size of a Chipotle….In May, the Tribune was acquired by Alden Global Capital, a secretive hedge fund that has quickly, and with remarkable ease, become one of the largest newspaper operators in the country. The new owners did not fly to Chicago to address the staff, nor did they bother with paeans to the vital civic role of journalism. Instead, they gutted the place.
Two days after the deal was finalized, Alden announced an aggressive round of buyouts. In the ensuing exodus, the paper lost the Metro columnist who had championed the occupants of a troubled public-housing complex, and the editor who maintained a homicide database that the police couldn’t manipulate, and the photographer who had produced beautiful portraits of the state’s undocumented immigrants, and the investigative reporter who’d helped expose the governor’s offshore shell companies. When it was over, a quarter of the newsroom was gone.
Of course, after a little research, I realized that Alden Capital doesn’t own just a lot of our local newspapers. They are also into mobile home parks according to the Columbia Journalism Review:
It’s late November, and nighttime temperatures have dropped below freezing in Christiansburg, Virginia, a town tucked in a valley between Blacksburg and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sarah Rupp, an aide at Belview Elementary School, learned from a kindergartner’s grandparent that eviction notices were being posted at Massie’s Mobile Home Park, the only low-income housing in town. The modest manufactured homes, arranged in neat rows, are tidy but mostly aging. Some are sided with corrugated metal. Some—though they’re called mobile—appear nearly impossible to move.
Rents at Massie’s have shot up some 40 percent after new owners bought the park last spring. Since then, Rupp says, some renters have moved, leaving the park around 20 percent vacant. A few fled in the night, leaving possessions behind, she said. Rupp shows me a photo of abandoned children’s toys in a vacant mobile home. She worries that her school may lose as many as 15 percent of its students to homelessness.
Other tenants at Massie’s have been given eviction notices or “pay or quit” letters. Some were posted on doors of people who’ve already paid their rent, while phones at the numbers provided by the new owners go unanswered.
An hour’s drive northeast of Massie’s is Princeton, West Virginia, where Valeria Steele owns her mobile home. A single mother of a special-needs child, Steele pays rent for the land beneath her house at Elk View Estates. Unlike Massie’s, where the tenants rent their trailers, at Elk View many of the tenants rent the land but own their homes, or have a rent-to-own contract. Though she hasn’t been given a new lease, Steele’s monthly lot rent shot up to $525—$300 more than she previously paid—after new owners took over the park last fall.
Tenants at both parks send their rent checks to a post office box in Englewood, New Jersey, that is associated with Smith Management, the parent company and deeply intertwined affiliate of Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund famously described by Bloomberg’s Joe Nocera as the “destroyer of newspapers.”
Massie’s and Elk View are among the more than one hundred such parks owned by limited liability corporations that in turn are owned by Homes of America LLC, a Delaware corporation that’s part of Smith Management. Across the country, Homes of America tenants are raising similar complaints: rent hikes of 40 to 60 percent, lack of basic maintenance, and unreachable managers. The parks’ owners have also become the targets of tenant lawsuits and legislation calling for tighter regulation.
Alden has become infamous for swallowing local newspaper chains and extracting their real estate and cash. Cofounders Randall Smith and Heath Freeman and their colleagues have been investing more than $150 million in mobile-home parks around the county since 2021, financing them through an entity called Tribune II MHP Finance One LLC.
Alden’s mobile-home-park strategy reminded me of what the hedge fund has already done to newsrooms. When Alden took over theMonterey County Herald in California (where I worked for ten years, the last three under Alden), the hot water stopped working and was never fixed. Staff had to place plants under a leaking roof. Several of Alden’s newspapers in the Philadelphia area suffered leaking toilets and other infrastructure problems before the buildings were sold.
Well, here we are. Psychologically there has to be something that can be said about a hedge fund that seems to deal in human discomfort, correct? Depriving us of the news and depriving some people of the only affordable housing they’ve ever been able to find and aren’t they just princes among men, these hedge fund guys at Alden?
They are creating a modern feudal society.
Back here in Chester County our local paper has been eviscerated and disemboweled by Alden. The same thing has happened in surrounding counties. When the last editor of The Daily Local retired, I figured it would only get worse and it has. It’s a woman who I think was from the Times Herald which is Montgomery County and Norristown.
A woman is more than capable of being an editor of a newspaper, but my point is now the editor for our local paper is pretty far removed from us even regionally. And who knows how many newspapers she is now responsible for? She just trying to make a living, but she doesn’t know our area, and to the hedge fund overlords that doesn’t matter anyway where we are. It never has.
All I know is our local newspaper, which used to have a bustling newsroom has two reporters. And they can’t even actually cover a lot of the news which occurs part of that is because they are only two people, and the other part of it is, I think they are seriously micro managed from doing their jobs. As in most of the real news is soft-pedaled, if it makes it to the paper at all, and that’s an ownership top-down decision. This, of course makes me wonder what kind of insurance these newspapers now carry under vulture, hedge fund ownership?
I used to be familiar with quite a few of these newsrooms. And the reason was I knew a lot of people that worked for these papers, including the editors, and some of the editors of these local papers were writing mentors, like the late Tom Murray, whom I still miss. I met Tom when he came in to run Main Line Life/Main Line Media News. His last paper before his death was for a short time, The Daily Local News.
The sale includes four local daily papers and several weekly and periodic publications. Author: WNEP Web Staff Published: 12:36 PM EDT August 31, 2023 Updated: 1:47 PM EDT August 31, 2023
SCRANTON, Pa. — The company that owns several local newspapers is selling off its newspaper group, according to a story published on Thursday.
Times-Shamrock Communications is selling the company’s four daily papers — The (Scranton) Times-Tribune, The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens’ Voice, The (Pottsville) Republican Herald, and The (Hazleton) Standard-Speaker.
The sale includes weekly and periodic newspapers and commercial printing operations—Absolute Distribution Inc. and Times-Shamrock Creative Services.
The buyer, Colorado-based MediaNews Group, is owned by Alden Global Capital.
The sale does not include the Times-Shamrock’s radio or billboard operations, or the Scranton Times Building.
In April, Times-Shamrock no longer offered a print edition of its newspapers on Mondays, instead releasing a digital version on that one day of the week.
The decision was based on rising costs and changing demand from younger readers for electronic publications.
In 2021, the Times-Tribune turned over delivery of the daily paper to the postal service while it looked for new carriers in some locations.
The family that started Times-Shamrock—the Lynetts—have been producing newspapers since 1895 in Scranton. The sale marks the end of local control for the papers, a rarity in the newspaper business in recent years.
Members of the family issued a statement about their view of the sale:
Newspapers have been our family business for nearly 128 years. Since 1895, we have had the privilege of serving this community with local news, events and happenings. Today marks a very sad end to that legacy. Our family would like to express our gratitude to the loyal employees, readers and advertisers who have been with us all these years.
We feel it is important to express our personal dissatisfaction with the sale of Times-Shamrock newspapers to MediaNews Group, a subsidiary of Alden Capital. This was a transaction that we do not support or endorse. Alden does not reflect the business principles we feel are consistent with the stewardship of any newspaper.
The sale was driven by a majority of our shareholders. We understand the fears about our ability to remain competitive. We recognize the underlying concerns about the newspaper industry’s revenue and audience declines, and the desire of many of the shareholders to leave the painful decisions to cut costs, coverage and employees in someone else’s hands.
We have watched all of our beloved local newspapers in this region shrivel up and all but blow away. There used to be three local newspapers on the Main Line alone. they have gotten shriveled up into one which is also combined with a King of Prussia newspaper. It was originally the Suburban and Wayne Times and Main Line Times. Then came a 3rd paper, Main Line Life. Now that is one big homogenized ball of goo, and mostly press releases, passing as articles. I think there’s like one reporter now.
Now called the Main Line Times and Suburban, one of its lead local news stories was also the tarted up press release passing us a story out of West Reading. Somehow, I also don’t see the connection between Lower Merion and Radnor Township and Berks County.
I used to subscribe to both Main Line Media News and Daily Local. When I moved to Chester County, I let my subscription go for Main Line Media News and I used to read the paper online. The Daily Local like The Delco Times always seemed to have some sort of a pay wall – not at first, but that’s what it evolved into. So I wanted to support my local newspaper living in Chester County, which made me get a digital only subscriber to The Daily Local.
I had my Daily Local subscription for a few years. And then sometime around Covid, I had a bank card kited and I had to update 1 million things, including my newspaper subscription. I went into my Daily Local account and tried to update my information. It let me into my account, but it would not let me save my updated information and there was no one to call any longer because the hedge fund owners had also eviscerated like the local billing and subscription department. So I let my subscription lapse.
Since I let my subscription lapse, I just try to read the local articles I can catch on different browsers or an internet cache.
But fairly recently again, I’ve been getting solicitation calls. I have screen captured the number that called me twice recently within a couple of hours:
I remembered such calls a while back, and my spam call blocker knocked them off. But then I decided today that they were probably calling about the Daily Local so I called them back.
The first call was an obnoxious offshore woman on the phone who said she was from Minnesota. She didn’t like that I wasn’t giving her the information she needed so she could try to sell me my local newspaper, so eventually she grew frustrated and hung up. But since they had called me twice on August 21, I decided to call back a second time.
Miraculously, this phone call landed me in a call center actually contained within the boundaries of the United States of America. I had a very pleasant and normal woman to speak with and from her I learned that although this hedge fund can’t seem to pay to have more reporters covering local news, they apparently CAN pay for professional solicitation firms to solicit for them to get new subscribers or to gain back old subscribers. And sometimes I think maybe they do debt collection too but I’m not sure.
If you’ve ever looked at a nonprofit form 990 and checked out the expenses, when nonprofits employ “professional” or paid solicitation firms, you will see how expensive it is to actually have these people doing your business for you. I find it astounding that we no longer have newspapers with actual newsrooms let alone reporters and staff to run them, but they pay for this?
Alden Capital is killing our newspapers. Why are they killing our news sources really? I mean, I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I just don’t understand why these particular vultures started in on journalism?
Bear Stearns was an investment bank in NYC that kind of specialized in sleazy and Ace Greenberg’s paper clip memos. Once upon a time decades ago, I actually met Ace and his vice chairman. At that time I had been hired as an admin on one of the Bear Stearns trading desks. I was commuting from Philadelphia, like surprisingly many people do commute to New York from Philadelphia. I used to talk to these two little older guys on the elevator every morning and it ended up one was Ace, and the other was his vice chairman. Now I really liked talking to both of them. They were interesting, and I met some people at Bear Stearns who were wonderful, but overall the place was sleazy and if you wonder where they get the inspiration for investment bankers like you saw in the Wall Street movies or even the TV show Billions, look no further. Art does often imitate life.
I will note we all used to get these memos. They were distributed to everyone, and eventually ended up in a book called Memos From the Chairman. I actually used to own a copy. I actually used to have some of the original memos, but they got lost on a move. I lasted a little over a year at Bear Stearns. If you could last year at Bear Stearns, you could work anywhere. I was fascinated by how Bear Stearns worked, but seriously hated that job. The hours sucked, the majority of people were miserable, they had a wonderful cafeteria, because you could never leave for lunch, and mice would run over your feet on the trading room floors.
OK sorry I got off on a total tangent there. It was just a weird little trip down memory lane when I realized the guy that owns the hedge fun that is eviscerating all our local newspapers across the country came from Bear Stearns and all of a sudden that was like an epiphany or an Aha moment and it now makes perfect sense.
However, hedge funds and investment bankers shouldn’t be running our newspapers. They are only ever interested in news that makes them look good, so I guess it makes sense that they’re collecting them and destroying them since often newspapers and media don’t make hedge fun owners, and investment bankers look good.
And since investment bankers and hedge fund owners prop up political candidates and politicians on all sorts of stages, you can’t expect politicians to want to actually save our newspapers can you?
I hate to sound like a giant conspiracy theorist, but this is actually I think I conspiracy theory that has legs.
Is this all actually a ploy to get rid of the fourth estate?
The term “Fourth Estate” refers to the press and news media both in explicit capacity of advocacy and implicit ability to frame political issues, correct? So if hedge fund owners own newspapers and probably a bunch of politicians too after a donation kind of fashion, doesn’t this make perfect sense?
Maybe if we had more meaningful campaign finance reform, we’d also save more of our newspapers?
Well, that’s as far as this ramble is going for today. I would honestly love to be able to support local newspapers, but at this point if you do, it’s a catch 22 because you’re also supporting corporate raiders and investment bankers by lining their pockets because it’s not like they’re actually putting money into the newspapers is it?
Clark Kent and Lois Lane have left the building. At least definitely in West Chester, because why are the newspaper building once stood are ugly condos.
As long as hedge funds own local newspapers, the future of journalism is grim.
On Tuesday, September 12, 2023, DEP will host an in person public meeting to discuss the Site and the implementation of the response action. Location: General Wayne Elementary School – Auditorium 20 Devon Road, Malvern, PA 19355 Time: 6:30 pm -8:30 pm
Planning for additional pre-design investigation activities.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you should have heard of Bishop Tube, that delightful toxic playground on Malin Road in East Whiteland. It is remarkably still up for residential development. Same guy as Rock Hill Farm proposed development in Willistown for you all new to this.
Sadly it’s about the email trail. I wrote about this awkward topic in June:
Sadly, this is still giving me major pause. And I don’t want to be that person, but this person running for school board in Octorara, where he is a current school board member. His name is Anthony Falgiatore, and he is also a Sergeant in the East Whiteland Police Department. I do respect people that follow their passions, but while many members of law enforcement might have side gigs and second jobs, for most people that is not a job as an elected official in the same county, but different municipality from where they work.
For those who are not familiar with Octorara School District it was founded in the 1950’s and is serving a still fairly rural area of Chester and Lancaster counties.
So allow me to share two snippets of the August 21, 2023 Octorara School Board Meeting:
Here is the entire meeting:
Here is the verbiage of what Mr. Fox said:
For anyone unaware, the District is involved in two legal actions concerning Mr. John Ryan Miller: a federal civil suit, and he was arrested on our campus in September for criminal trespass and possession of a weapon on school grounds.
I’m presenting an email to the board and the public. Miller provides this email, and its string of forwarding actions, amongst his filings in the federal civil suit.
It shows Mr. Falgiatore, in a breach of confidentiality, forwarded an email sent by former Superintendent, Dr. Orner. The email was on the topic of school safety and security.
Mr. Falgiatore forwarded this email from his Octorara email account to his personal email account. Within 3 minutes, through another intermediary email account, it was in Miller’s hands.Mr. Falgiatore forwarded this email knowing Miller had been arrested on our campus and awaiting trial for the criminal trespass and weapon charges.
The public handout is 1 page as the body of Dr. Orner’s email isn’t included because of its sensitive content. Start near the bottom, you see the original email header from Dr. Orner to only the board from March 2022. For the board handout, look to the bottom left for Dr. Orner’s email header. The board copy has the pages side-by-side.
Reading up the page, on Feb 8, 2023, Mr. Falgiatore forwarded this email twice. First to his personal account, then within 1 minute he forwarded it from his personal account to an email address of Whizwit. The unknown Whizwit then forwarded to Miller. All of this in 3 minutes.
You’ve breached confidentiality.
You’ve done so with sensitive information on the safety and security of our school.
Through your action, the person arrested on our campus and awaiting trial, received this information – all in a matter of minutes.
This is kind of a big deal, which leaves me even more uncomfortable. See a video about testimony in this case:
Anthony Falgiatore’s testimony begins at about the 1hr:14min point in the recording.
It’s because of Sgt. Falgiatore’s position as a police officer, his external sharing of confidential information related to safety and security entrusted to him, his statements during his testimony, and uncertainty of how he would respond to a call at a local school in his jurisdiction that causes concern, and is that over reaction and unreasonable or reasonable?
So Sgt. Falgiatore, I find myself torn and a bit stuck here. I applaud you living your passions, but this has been a very strange case and your own boss is among the people this Mr. Miller is trying to sue so how does this work? Our first loyalties are to ourselves and our family for sure, but you are an officer of the law and also a politician so don’t you ever feel conflicted by this? How can you compartmentalize? How can you be proud to be endorsed by Klanned Karenhood?
And then there is this from April:
Sir, I guess I am asking which do you wish to do more? Because this dual work life/political life thing is possibly not working? And why would you forward emails, internal emails to a person suing your school board, your boss, and who knows whom all else in Chester County?
I think gob smacked applies here as a term of expression. Maybe you need to choose what matters to you most in an effort to pay forward the greater good? Do you want to be a politician or in law enforcement? No offense, I don’t think you can do both.
Maybe it’s time to choose? If you were retired from law enforcement and then chose to be a politician, no one would have a problem with that. But this whole have your cake and eat it too is not working so well, is it? Or maybe you think it’s fine. Have a ponder on it.