why no one should shop at sears…EVER

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Meet our giant white paperweight.  Sears delivered a BRAND NEW BROKEN, yes BROKEN refrigerator.  They refused to come back and pick it up even though we called within MINUTES of the truck leaving our driveway.

Today was just a day.

From hell.

Our pretty Samsung refrigerator went on life support and repairs would have been easily more than half of a new refrigerator so we opted to replace it.

We have always done the bulk of our appliance shopping over the past few years from the Sears Outlet online.  My husband liked dealing with them…I had no issues until today, either.

Let’s back up to we ordered the new refrigerator.  Nothing fancy, a Kenmore side by side with ice and water on the door.  We figured we would go with something we thought could get repaired in case of an issue.

Up until a few years ago, when you got a new appliance, they took the old appliance away. Not anymore.  So we had to hire our favorite movers (Lite Movers of Wayne, PA and they are awesome) to come move the dying fridge out of the house pending pick up from PECO who does appliance recycling (it has to run when it is plugged in still, which the old one does.)

Fast forward until today.  They came to deliver the Sears refrigerator.  What they will do now is unbox it and move it into place, the rest is on the customer. It was quite the ordeal to get everything moved and prepped and ready as ours is an older home.

The delivery guys couldn’t have been nicer.  They unboxed it and pointed out a scratch in the white door.  That was no biggie as it was nothing a little appliance touch up paint couldn’t cover.

The delivery guys plugged it in and were on their way.  Then I went to open the refrigerator door.  It would not open.  The freezer door opened fine, but the refrigerator side? BROKEN.  Son of a bitch we just paid to have a dying appliance replaced with a broken appliance.  Yes, I am cursing, it has been a very special day.

Immediately we are on the phone to Sears. Only you CANNOT get a person in the US on the phone. All people in offshore call centers reading from scripts that tell you that they “completely understand” how you are feeling.  Uhh no, you couldn’t possibly understand. Trust me.

After four frustrating calls where all I get is the Philippines and they can’t help and they want me to talk to the outlet store in Norristown, PA.  Norristown isn’t going to help me, I ordered ONLINE. Oh and they keep mispronouncing my name. Which is incredibly offensive after the 6th mispronounce in one conversation.

These helpful offshore call center employees of Sears may be fluent in English to a point, but they are not native speakers.  English is a second language and they just aren’t comprehending what is being said, and can’t go off script.  They also can’t (or maybe it’s won’t?) transfer your call BACK to the U.S. Every other cheap American company which utilizes offshore labor has the ability to transfer you BACK to a U.S. call center if that is what you want, even Comcast, which I think has some of the absolute worst customer service ever.

I go to trusty Google and Google the corporate offices of Sears. Aha! An actual address and phone number with a recognizable U.S. area code.

But no.  You dial and you get…the Philippines. So I keep dialing.  ONE time out of about two dozen calls I get someone in Illinois.  I think they were related to the Seinfeld Soup Nazi of days gone by they were so rude.  “You listen to me,” the operator says. “I am going to talk and then you can speak. You are going to listen to ME. I am not listening to you.”

(SAY WHAAAATTT?)

I try to explain to the operator I would like to speak with someone in the Executive Offices specifically having to do with serious customer service issues.  The operator told me that essentially those people would not speak with me. I can’t remember the exact phraseology but it was probably the rudest switchboard operator since they first were handling one ringy dingy. They were so bad I wished I had recorded the conversation. I ended the call and tried calling back to get someone, anyone to help me.

Yeah…. so….. no…. just more  Phillipines. (And you know why these call centers are in off shore and third world countries, right? It is so they can pay employees super duper low wages and get away with it.  Cheap labor.

So I started looking around for other people to speak with.  They say Eddie Lampert is the CEO or President or Chairman of the Board.   Only you can’t speak with him or anyone in his office, all you get is a voicemail in Illinois that never calls anyone back.  I have to wonder if anyone listens to it. There is also this chick, Leena Munjal
Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Integrated Retail.  She is unable to come to the phone as well. Very busy important people. Me the peon should just know better, right?

who to call

So I kept Googling.  Apparently Mr. Fast Eddie Lampert is just a hedge fund guy. Yep, just another hedge fund guy picking the carcass of a business clean for their own profits, right?

Here, I looked up Eddie Lampert and found this:

 

 

New York Times : Sears and Its Hedge Fund Owner, in Slow Decline Together By James B. Stewart
March 30, 2017

Hedge funds have been failing over the last year at the fastest rate since the financial crisis in 2008. Some crashed and burned after sudden reversals. Others quietly liquidated.

Then there’s Edward S. Lampert’s ESL Investments. It hasn’t failed, but may be setting a benchmark for slow, painful declines thanks to its outsize, long-term bet on two venerable retailers, Sears and Kmart.

Last week, Sears Holdings, the parent company, said what was becoming increasingly obvious to most investors, not to mention anyone who’s been in a Sears store lately: “Substantial doubt exists related to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”….Mr. Lampert was a Wall Street wunderkind, a Goldman Sachs intern whose intellect, ingratiating personality and prodigious work ethic attracted the patronage of some of America’s most prominent and successful investors…founded ESL in 1988 with $28 million in seed money … 

Sears’ reclusive CEO explains why he rarely visits the office — and instead lives at his sprawling $38 million estate that’s 1,400 miles away
Business Insider Hayley Peterson Mar. 27, 2018, 10:55 AM

“THEY COULD HAVE MADE A DIFFERENT DECISION”: INSIDE THE STRANGE ODYSSEY OF HEDGE-FUND KING EDDIE LAMPERT
In 2003, many were skeptical when Lampert married Sears to Kmart. Now, with hundreds of stores closed and thousands thrown out of work, Lampert defends his strategies in his first in-depth interview in 15 years. The author also tracks down the man who kidnapped Lampert before the Kmart deal went through.

bloomberg

VANITY FAIR BY WILLIAM D. COHAN
APRIL 2018

Aug 20, 2018, 03:23pm
Fortune: Eddie Lampert Just Can’t Stop Picking At Sears’ Carcass
Steve Dennis

There are many, many articles. I am not posting more. They are all variations of the same theme.

So I also decided to call up the ESL hedge fund so I looked them up on Bloomberg.

Yes really, I called.  So what?

Did I expect to get anyone to speak with me? No, but it has been the day from hell with Sears so what did I have to lose? I was kind of curious as to what they would say.

Years ago, I worked for a couple of years for a now-defunct hedge fund. So I knew whomever answered the phone would be snotty pants the receptionist.  She did not disappoint. She was superior to little old me in every way…on the phone.

 

Whatevs.  I admit I was unpleasant and irritating.  But in my own defense, I have a dying refrigerator outside pending pick up for disposal, and a giant white albatross paperweight of a broken yet new refrigerator in my kitchen, which I now have to pay to have moved out of my kitchen so Sears can retrieve it.  I cook, I like a neat house and everything looks like hell in a hand basket.

Apparently it is too much to ask to have a WORKING REFRIGERATOR DELIVERED BY SEARS!!!

I now know no more Sears for anything. I understand why so many Sears and Kmart stores have closed.  I understand why people said to me we should have called Queen, or D & K, or Gerhard’s  or another local appliance store…or even Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Sears sucks. I hope the hedge fund prince of an owner enjoys his lovely estates. I hope someone involves them and Sears in a giant class action lawsuit some day.  For the crappy customer service alone and the inability to talk to anyone pleasant in the U.S. they deserve no less.

Don’t buy a paperclip from Sears.

Sign me disgusted by yet another U.S. business that is being killed by a hedge fund.

help uncork the cure to cancer by attending the 27th annual wine festival to crush cancer at the dilworthtown inn!

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Even grey fall skies couldn’t keep people away October, 2017!!

You know summer is reaching her end when you get the notification that it’s time to buy your tickets for the Dilworthtown Wine Festival!! We love this fall event. It’s fun, it’s outside, it’s just a fabulous day.

21583398254_bcbf40990e_zOn Sunday, October 14, 2018  more than 1,500 oenophiles will help uncork the cure to cancer as they celebrate the 27th Annual Wine Festival at the fabulous Dilworthtown Inn.

As Chester County’s favorite wine event, the festival features more than 100 wines, craft beers, sumptuous fare prepared by Dilworthtown Inn chefs and local food trucks, a silent auction, shopping opportunities in the Gallery of Artisan Vendors, live music, a Performance Car Show, and much more. Proceeds from the wine festival benefit patients of The Abramson Cancer Center at Chester County Hospital and Neighborhood Health.

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For friends and family members battling cancer, the cancer specialties at Chester County Hospital bring the world-class care of the Abramson Cancer Center close to home. As part of Penn Medicine, it offers the latest treatment protocols and cutting-edge technology.

22216477811_ade819d6b5_kThe outstanding medical staff, clinical team, nurse navigators and hospital volunteers are known for providing the highest level of care and attention to the needs of our patients. And, the hospital works to give every patient every edge in their battle with cancer, including assistance for patients who are uninsured and under-insured. Outside of the hospital, patients continue to have access to the highest level of care through the services of Neighborhood Health (home health, hospice, private duty, and Senior HealthLink services).

22019294339_c00b786512_oThe Wine Festival is organized by the Brandywine and Greystone Women’s Auxiliaries to the hospital. To attend, volunteer, sponsor or donate, visit www.2crushcancer.com     or call 610.431.5054.

 22018069570_647f54d94c_zAs a 7 year breast cancer survivor as of June 1st, I attend this event because I know what good  Chester County Hospital and Penn Medicine do.  I would not be alive if it wasn’t for Penn Medicine.  So I make it a point to attend this event and support it, for that very reason.  Hokey as it may sound, it is the truth.

I have friends who work so hard on this event from the volunteers to the wine brokers.  It is an absolutely glorious way to spend an afternoon, so I hope you will consider buying tickets and attending.

VISIT EVENTBRITE TO EASILY PURCHASE TICKETS TODAY!

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Event Details:

When: Sunday, October 14, 2018 – 12 noon to 4 pm (rain or shine)

Where: Dilworthtown Inn, 1390 Old Wilmingtown Pike, West Chester, PA 19382

Questions: Contact Kate Pergolini at 610.431.5054 or Kate.Pergolini@uphs.upenn.edu

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General Admission Tickets: $45 until October 6, 2018/ $50 starting October 7, 2018

Enjoy the Grand Tasting of more than 100 wines & Craft Beer, Performance Car Show, Live Entertainment, Silent Auction and Shopping Gallery. Food is available for purchase from local food trucks.

 

VIP Tickets: $110 until October 6, 2018/$115 starting October 7, 2018

Your VIP Ticket includes all of the above, plus it is also your pass to the VIP tent, where you can enjoy reserved seating, fruit and cheese, special wines, gourmet food and more.

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Designated Driver Packages: $225

We want you to enjoy the day responsibly. The designated driver package includes 5 General Admission Tickets and One Free Designated Driver Ticket. The Designated Driver Ticket allows you to enjoy the Performance Car Show, Shopping Gallery, Live Entertainment, Silent Auction and also includes lunch and a non-alcoholic beverage.

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are you ready for the best tredyffrin historic preservation trust house tour yet?

I love old and historic house tours almost as much as I love garden tours. And my friend Pattye Benson, proprietress of the Great Valley House of Valley Forge  is also President of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust.   She also is the woman who makes the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust  Historic House Tour come to life year after year. Every year is better than the year before, and not one year has disappointed.  My husband and I are Patron Sponsors of the tour, and proudly so.

The Jones Log Barn. July, 2018 photo courtesy of Pattye Benson

Travel back in time this year on Saturday September 29, 2018 from 10 AM to 5 PM.  If you love history and architecture, you will not want to miss the much-anticipated 14th Annual Historic House Tour.

‘The Culver House’, c.1860 ~Pattye Benson photo

To celebrate historic preservation, the public is invited to attend ’Jazz it Up’ the 14th Annual Historic House Tour Preview Party on Sunday, September 16, 6 PM – 9 PM  at the historic Duportail House in Chesterbrook.  An evening of fun with live music, food and drinks, join us to celebrate the homeowners and the homes featured on the tour.  Classical jazz music provided by the award-winning ’Jazz Mavericks’ from the Center for Performing & Fine Arts of West Chester. In addition to the historic homeowners, the preview party is a lovely thank you thank the generous individual and corporate sponsors who make the annual tour possible. Attendees also get a sneak preview of the beautiful homes featured on the 14th Annual Historic House Tour!

Wayne Bed & Breakfast, c.1885
~Pattye Benson photo

The annual historic house tour would not be possible without the generosity of individual and corporate sponsors.  Click 2018 House Tour Sponsor Packet for information about how you can be a sponsor and receive complimentary tickets to the house tour and the preview party.

To Purchase Tickets for 14th Annual Historic House Tour & ‘Party for Preservation’ Preview Party CLICK HERE 

NOTE:  Tickets for the Preview Party and/or the 14th Annual Historic House Tour are nonrefundable.

The Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust is a small nonprofit 501c3 organization and your ticket purchase is tax-deductible as the government allows.

  • You will receive a confirmation (via email) of your house tour ticket(s) purchase prior to the house tour day.
  • The house tour ticket pick-up location for 2017 is Tredyffrin Library, 582 Upper Gulph Road, Strafford, PA, starting at 11 AM on Saturday, Sept. 23.

‘Foxmead’,Strafford, c.1911
~Pattye Benson photo

step back in time this fall for chester county day 2018

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Photo Credit East Whiteland Township from their website.  From US Library of Congress: Michael Gunkle Spring Mill, Moore Road (East Whiteland Township), Bacton, Chester County, PA

Now I make no secret of the fall house tour events I hold dear in Chester County which are the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust House Tour (I am a sponsor and this year it’s Saturday September 29th) and the tour that started it all for me many moons ago (used to go with my parents long before calling Chester County home) — Chester County Day!

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My books 🙂 

Today I am writing about Chester County Day which began in 1936. I love this event so much, I even have the following books: Forty Years of Days, Chester County & Its Day, and Barns of Chester County Pennsylvania which were  all written by a Chester County treasure named Berenice M. Ball.

The Women’s Auxiliary to Chester County Hospital has been supporting the hospital for 125 years through numerous fundraising activities and events. One of the beloved fundraisers that has stood the test of time is Chester County Day, the longest running house tour in the United States. This year’s tour will be held Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 10 am to 5 pm. Since its founding in 1936, “The Day,” as it is affectionately called, has raised more than $5 million for the hospital, earning $132,000 last year alone.

This year The Day includes tours of 16 homes and six public structures/historic sites in the northeast quadrant, including Exton, Frazer, Chester Springs, Kimberton, and Phoenixville.

The Day will kick off with the pageantry and excitement of a traditional fox hunt. The hunt will set off promptly at 9 am from Birchrunville. At 10 am guests can begin their tour of this year’s selected properties.

The 2018 tour celebrates the traditional, distinctive architecture of Chester County with some twists. There is a beautifully restored home in West Vincent Township which is believed to have been deeded to a Revolutionary War soldier in payment for his service. Also on the tour is a meticulously kept stone home with great antiques, rugs and a lovingly-cared for garden.

A spectacularly restored Queen Ann-style home is one of the stops in West Whiteland Township. The home was designed and built in 1851 by Andrew Jackson Downing, a prominent advocate of the Gothic Revival in the United States. The fountains, gardens, mahogany-lined rooms and diamond lead-paned windows of this house are remarkable. When the owner first purchased this property, oil had seeped into the basement and water leaked from the attic down to the first floor. The renovation of the home has returned it to its original, unforgettable state.  Around the corner is a pristine stone R. Brognard Okie house set on a hill with a beautiful stone-banked garage.

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Loch Aerie pre-renovation. My photo.

Loch Aerie Mansion in Frazer will also open its newly revamped doors to the tour this year.  Also featured in East Whiteland? Gunkle Spring Mill!  Gunkle Mill is a nationally registered historical resource. Michael Gunkle built  this his first mill, in 1793. The structure represents post-Revolutionary development in the Great Valley.  By 1872 the mill processed 1,800 tons of flour, feed, corn and oats yearly. At the peak of its productivity, the mill ran 18 hours a day. Gunkle Mill is now owned and cared for by East Whiteland Township. The Mill was placed on the Historic Register in 1978. (Check it out on Library of Congress website HERE.)

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Attendees will also have the opportunity to tour a nearly 200-year-old farmhouse/manor house in Chester Springs that has been lovingly repurposed as a business office. The structure has retained much of its original woodwork, pocket doors, cabinetry, stair railings, fireplaces and a beautiful English knot garden. Tour-goers can also explore the largest three-story bank barn in the county located in Charlestown Township. The home boasts hand-hewn, scored beams.

Phoenixville is represented by a restored farmhouse with a pool house that was once the residence of farmhands. Eighteenth and 20th century homes on the grounds of the former Pickering Hunt are optional next stops for attendees. Two houses will be open in Rapps Corner, with the convenience of parking at one home to tour both. Each of the stone houses has been maintained and updated in very individual styles, while respecting the historic bones of each building.

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Chester Springs will serve as a lunch stop, where pre-ordered boxed lunches by Arianna’s Gourmet Café will be available.

The Day offers two ticket options, a regular priced $50 ticket or a $100 VIP ticket.  The VIP package includes an invitation to the preview party in September, as well as a gourmet boxed lunch provided by Montesano Bros Italian Market & Catering at an exclusive house tour open only to VIP ticket holders.

With a GPS and a Chester County Day map (that you will receive when you purchase your ticket) the beautiful architecture and bucolic roads of the county are yours to explore!

Event Details:

When: Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 10 am to 5 pm

Where: Northeast Quadrant of Chester County

Tickets: On sale from July 1, 2018 online; September 4th by mail or at the satellite locations listed on their website.

  • $50 purchased via web, phone or in person
  • $100 VIP tickets, which includes a VIP Reception and Preview Cocktail party at Historic Yellow Springs, Sunday, September 23; Otto’s Mini of Exton, PA will provide a Mini Cooper for qualified guests with purchased VIP tickets, while supplies last and a private tour of a special VIP house with a gourmet boxed lunch served by Montesano Bros Italian Market & Catering. VIP tickets are also available at all satellite locations, as well as via web and phone. (See ChesterCountyDay.com for details.)

Contact: 610-431-5054

More Information: Want to know more about the tour? Attend one of the free public preview lectures throughout the county. For a list of dates and locations, or to download a podcast visit: www.ChesterCountyDay.com

ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE:  I am writing this post because I want to and because I attend this event.  I purchase my own tickets and am a grateful supporter of The Women’s Auxiliary to Chester County Hospital. 

 

 

 

lower merion school district superintendent copeland says YES to eminent domain of natural lands’ stoneleigh in villanova ON CAMERA?

Is it polite to call Lower Merion’s School Superintendent Robert Copeland a scum sucking pig?  Probably not. But I am.

This is PROOF that the Lower Merion School District does indeed intend to try to seize Stoneleigh via eminent domain, isn’t it?   Do we think they will try to only take only 6 or 7 acres? In my opinion, which I am entitled to, that would not be cost effective for the school district, so instead I ask will Lower Merion School District instead try to seize the  entire 42 acres?

Copeland responded to an audience question on eminent domain ON CAMERA with an “absolutely”, so will they claim this is “fake news”? It’s been in the media.  Click HERE for one article. Click HERE for another article.

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Photo Courtesy Natural Lands.   “In 1996, John and Chara Haas placed their beloved #Stoneleigh under conservation easement with Natural Lands, ensuring this special place—the home where they’d raised their five children—would be preserved forever. We hope you’ll join us for opening weekend May 12 & 13 to see this special place the Haas family so generously donated to Natural Lands in 2016.”

 

Stoneleigh was donated by the Haas family to Natural Lands to be preserved in perpetuity.  Not to be selected and stolen like a juicy plum so Lower Merion School District could take it. And I think Lower Merion School District wants more than a few turf fields, don’t you?

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I have it on good authority that Natural Lands will OPPOSE any attempt by Lower Merion School District of an eminent domain taking.  I and many of my friends from Lower Merion and elsewhere will stand with Natural Lands to #SaveStoneleigh .

This is a cautionary tale for every township approving development after development with little thought (or caring) about how this all affects school districts and school enrollments.

This serenely amazing and naturally beautiful 42 acres  was donated by the Haas family so it would be protected. This is the terrifying reality of over development and communities. This is the terrifying reality that no municipality, no elected officials, no developers want you to know about.

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Natural Lands Facebook photo.  Carving by Marty Long of Phoenixville, PA

These developers do not give a crap about where we call home. We are just an area to make a quick development buck off of. They aren’t invested in our communities it’s all about what they can make and what the municipalities can get for the short term high of what they call “ratables.”

I lived in Lower Merion Township for over 30 years.  I never once as an adult attending Lower Merion Township meetings (and given the eminent domain for private gain attempt in Ardmore circa 2005 I can tell you I attended a LOT of meetings), do I ever remember ANYONE from the school board or the school district coming to a township commissioners meeting and expressing concerns about the effect of all the development and proposed development on the school district.

And it does happen. School districts will go to land development and related meetings and express concern.  As a matter of fact, West Chester Area School District a year ago, appeared at a Westtown meeting on Crebilly, expressing more that a little bit of concern of what that proposed development would do to the school district.

The only thing I have seen Lower Merion School District do over the years is raise taxes and have their hands out. And well, Lower Merion School District seems to always have something not necessarily good going on.  Here is some of the not so distant past:

Doe v. Lower Merion School District

Amicus Brief Pacific Legal Foundation STUDENT DOE 1, et al.,
Petitioners, v. LOWER MERION SCHOOL DISTRICT, Respondent.

Parents file civil rights suit against Lower Merion School District (MLMN Richard Ilgenfritz May 2009)

Doe v. Lower Merion School Dist., 689 F. Supp. 2d 742 (E.D. Pa. 2010)

New lawsuit by tax activist seeks to have entire Lower Merion School Board removed
By Richard Ilgenfritz, rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com, @rpilgenfritz on Twitter (Delco Times/MLMN October, 2017)

High School Redistricting Will Sting For a Long Time
The school district gets rewarded for racist policies but the little guys learn some lessons.
By Kate Galer, Patch Poster | Jun 19, 2012 2:14 am ET

Huffington Post: TECH 12/11/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011
Lower Merion School District Settles Webcam Spying Lawsuits For $610,000

NBC10 Philadelphia: 56,000 Photos Taken in Student-Laptop Scandal
Parents of other students will get to view the webcam images of their children.
By Vince Lattanzio

Appeal in Lower Merion tax lawsuit tossed out, original Montco judge’s order stands
Cites district’s failure to file post-trial motions; original Montco judge’s order stands
By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter Apr 24, 2017

Sued once over school tax increases, Lower Merion calls for another hike above state cap
Updated: APRIL 25, 2017 — 1:06 PM EDT 
by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer @Kathy_Boccella | kboccella@phillynews.com

Lower Merion School District: Battle over taxes, spending on lawyers and sushi continues By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com
@rpilgenfritz on Twitter Nov 4, 2016

Philadelphia Magazine: Lower Merion Parents Outraged Over “Mega School” Plans
Some schools in the elite school district are bursting at the seams, and there are big concerns over proposed solutions.
by CLAIRE SASKO· 9/28/2017, 12:12 p.m

Philadelphia Magazine: Lower Merion Teachers Are Highest Paid In State, But They Want More
The average salary for Lower Merion School District educators is just shy of $100,000 – but that’s not enough, the teachers’ union says.
by JOE TRINACRIA· 9/5/2017, 4:23 p.m.

 Philadelphia Magazine: Adderall Abuse at Lower Merion High School Is the Focus of a New York Times Piece
by MIKE BERTHA· 6/12/2012, 12:02 p.m.

 Philadelphia Magazine: Accused of Sex With Student, Fired Lower Merion Teacher Sues District
Yes, another lawsuit for the Main Line school
by VICTOR FIORILLO· 12/20/2011, 10:50 a.m.

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Natural Lands Facebook Photo. “Stoneleigh: a natural garden, is home to several PA state champion trees, including this Ironwood tree, which is number one in the state!
Located near the Montgomery Ave side of Stoneleigh, it’s a tree with grown-over scars and hollow places and yet the branches are still growing strong. It’s an old tree, likely over a century, and it’s rare to get old without taking on a few scars.
This tree is a survivor, one that’s been cared for by the families who took care of this beautiful place for generations. Maybe not every piece of it is pretty, but it’s still our champion. “

There are so many articles about Lower Merion School District issues that it’s hard to choose a select list.

Ironically, the people mentioned in the article Philadelphia Magazine from the Penn Wynne area about stopping mega schools seem sadly o.k. with eminent domain at Stoneleigh.  I find that disturbing. They weren’t overly fond of me when I suggested they offer their houses to the school district if they were o.k. with eminent domain. Sorry not sorry, but I do not get people like that.

Lower Merion School District also is eye-balling another site in Villanova….also owned by someone else other than them – 1860 Montgomery Avenue. The former Clothier Estate and now the Foundation of Islamic Education.  That estate used to have some sort of service driveway if I remember right that was somewhere through those interior neighborhoods off County Line Road in Villanova, wasn’t it? So this whole debacle will undoubtedly concern Radnor Township in Delaware County because THEIR residents are right across County Line Road, aren’t they?

It is the sheer audacity of this school district which boggles my mind.  This is not the first bad faith attempt at a land grab. There was the whole uproar in the fall with Ashbridge Park.

Here is a snippet from the Philadelphia Inquirer article from October 2017 by writer Kathy Boccella: 

That Lower Merion is considering the popular park – even raising the possibility of using eminent domain – shows the seriousness of the classroom crunch in a district that, by raw numbers, is the fastest growing in Pennsylvania. While enrollment in the Main Line district had plunged to about 5,000 amid the “baby bust” years of the 1980s, parents lured by Lower Merion’s top academic rankings and a recent development boom have brought the student population back to nearly 8,600, and it’s expected to hit 9,300 in the next decade.

With the affluent Montgomery County district racing to make a decision on building a new school or adding to several existing ones by the end of the year, officials are sending mixed signals about the seriousness of the proposal to buy the 21-acre Foundation for Islamic Education for a new school and use Ashbridge Park for a track and athletic fields.

So like fleas on a hot brick they move right from Ashbridge Park to Stoneleigh?  I am not sure what the end game is with Lower Merion School District, but I encourage people to take a stand for Stoneleigh and open space.  It’s not the school district’s to take.

I am SO glad I no longer live in the hot mess known as Lower Merion Township. But as a member and supporter of Natural Lands, I am appalled that the school district would think they are so omnipotent that they can just steal dedicated and conserved open space.

Want to tell Lower Merion School District how you feel? This is what I was able to rustle up:

Comments for the Board?
Your email will be distributed to the School Directors: communitycomments@lmsd.org

Comments for the former 6 ABC reporter turned LMSD talking head? Amy Buckman
Director of Community Relations Lower Merion School District
301 E. Montgomery Ave. Ardmore, PA 19003 Main Office: (610) 645-1800
Direct Line: (610) 645-1978   Email: buckmaa@lmsd.org

Mr. Robert Copeland Superintendent of Schools     copeland@lmsd.org  (also this e-mail shows up on the Internet copelar@lmsd.org )

Denise LaPera Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
Phone: 610-645-1930  Fax: 610-645-0703
Email: laperad@lmsd.org
301 E. Montgomery Ave., Ardmore, PA 19003

#SaveStoneleigh

little pink house is coming to town, and why you need to see this movie

Little Pink House is coming to town. I got this e-mail today inviting me to a screening.

April 27 – May 3:  Philadelphia, PA: Landmark Ritz East

Based on a true story, Little Pink House is about a small-town paramedic named Susette Kelo leaves a bad marriage, and starts over in a new town. She buys a rundown cottage with a gorgeous water view. She fixes it up and paints it pink. Then she discovers powerful politicians want to bulldoze her blue-collar neighborhood for the benefit of a multi-billion dollar corporation. 

With the help of a young lawyer named Scott Bullock, Susette emerges as the reluctant leader of her neighbors in an epic battle that goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, inspires a nation, and helps millions of Americans protect their homes.

Most of you probably have no idea what this means. Or care. But I think you should.  It is the movie about the 2005 United States Supreme Court Case Kelo vs. New London, and what Susette Kelo and her Fort Trumbull neighbors endured at the hands of Pfizer and New London, Connecticut.

Susette Kelo taken in front of her little pink house around 2008 (I think) – It has been a long time since I looked at these photos. Scott Mahan photo.

And all of a sudden, I am taken back years.  I see faces I haven’t thought of in years; hear voices and snippets of long gone conversations.  Ardmore, PA to Washington, DC and Virginia.  What a long strange trip it was.

Dick Saha of Coatesville (left), Scott Mahan (center), Nancy Saha of Coatesville (right). I took this photo in June of 2006 down in DC/VA at an Institute for Justice/Castle Coalition conference on Eminent Domain.

My friends and I were ordinary people who became accidental activists via the Save Ardmore Coalition.  I resigned my position at Save Ardmore Coalition (“SAC”) in 2011 when diagnosed with breast cancer. I do not know if the organization still exists at all or not, truthfully. I am not there any more. My friends and I have all moved forward into our lives, and now we are mostly like local folklore.  Normal people who went to Washington to fight eminent domain and hang out with people like Susette Kelo.  But it’s not folklore, or urban legend as we did all that and lived through all of that.

Scott Mahan (left), Susette Kelo (center), Ken Haskin (right). Scott Mahan photo (again circa 2008 or thereabouts)

It was a long road for those of us who were the original SAC and we paid heavy prices for our activism at times (it was not pretty), but I would do it all over again as it was the right thing to do. We were part of the Institute for Justice/Castle Coalition’s eminent domain fighting communities.

My friends from Ardmore and I (the original Save Ardmore Coalition)  went to Washington once upon a time as I mentioned when Susette Kelo and others (like Long Branch NJ and the Sahas of Coatesville, PA and the other New London, CT /Fort Trumbull folks) were fighting eminent domain for private gain. We lived this with the Institute for Justice as we fought (and won) Ardmore’s battle.

They were crazy times and I am proud of what we did in Ardmore back then. I am honored I got to spend time with Susette Kelo and the other amazing folks from other cities and states along with the people from the Institute for Justice.

Here is the Institute for Justice Press Release:

Little Pink House Movie Hits the Big Screen, Seeks to End Eminent Domain Abuse

Biopic on Supreme Court’s Landmark Kelo Ruling Shows How Eminent Domain for Private Gain Destroyed Lives and an Entire Community

  • Eminent domain creates strange political bedfellows: Once-developer and now-President Donald Trump, along with liberal justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, came out against ordinary homeowners and in favor of the government and private developers.
  • But for the government’s use of eminent domain, corporations would be powerless to take someone else’s home.
  • The release of Little Pink House provides a rare opportunity for political unity. It should unite the Left, which wants to limit corporate influence on government, and the Right, which wants to limit government power over property.

Little Pink House is both a major motion picture and a cautionary tale that shows what happens when the government teams up with powerful private interests to take an entire working-class neighborhood for a glitzy development—a project that 13 years later is nothing but barren fields.

Starring two-time Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener and Emmy nominee Jeanne Tripplehorn, Little Pink House opens on April 20 and will be screened in theaters across the nation.  It tells the true story of Susette Kelo (played by Keener), a small-town paramedic from New London, Connecticut, who buys her first home—a cottage—and paints it pink.  When the governor and his allies plan to bulldoze her little pink house to make way for a development benefitting the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Kelo fights back, taking her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Although national polls at the time of the Kelo ruling consistently showed that the public overwhelmingly rejects the use of eminent domain for private gain, the issue made for strange political bedfellows.  It was the U.S. Supreme Court’s liberal justices who made up the majority that ruled against Kelo and in favor of the government, and when the Kelo ruling was handed down, developer Trump said, “I happen to agree with it 100%.”  Trump had earlier sought to employ eminent domain to take a widow’s property in Atlantic City for his private use.  After becoming President of the United States, he said, “I think eminent domain is wonderful.”“As the Atlantic City eminent domain battle showed, unless the government abuses its power of eminent domain, private corporations are powerless to take someone’s property; they must negotiate because they cannot use force,” said Institute for Justice Litigation Director Dana Berliner, who successfully represented the widow at the heart of the Atlantic City lawsuit and who argued Kelo’s case before the Connecticut Supreme Court.

As documented in the film, after Kelo lost her U.S. Supreme Court case, her struggle sparked a nationwide backlash against eminent domain abuse that today helps millions of Americans better protect what is rightfully theirs.  The Supreme Court used the Keloruling to radically expand this government power—allowing eminent domain for the mere promise from a developer that it might pay more taxes if given someone else’s land, rather than for an actual public use, as required by the U.S. Constitution.  Because of the grassroots backlash at the state level against eminent domain abuse, however, the Kelo case is justifiably seen as a situation in which the government won the battle, but lost the war.  Still, the Institute for Justice, which represented Kelo, stated that more reforms are still needed if the abuse of this government power is to be ended once and for all.

Little Pink House wonderfully captures what the fight for property rights is all about,” said Institute for Justice President Scott Bullock, who argued the Kelo case before the U.S. Supreme Court.  “A house is typically someone’s most valuable asset, but the value of a home goes well beyond its mere monetary worth.  For so many, it is an extension of who they are and what they value.  It is where a person might raise a family, grow a small business, celebrate, mourn and grow old.  Eminent domain abuse, as depicted in this film, is not only unconstitutional, it is profoundly wrong.  Little Pink House vividly documents the heroic struggle of Susette and her neighbors to not only fight for their homes but for the constitutional rights of millions of others in America and throughout the world.”

Little Pink House should unite those on the Left who want to limit corporate influence on government, and those on the Right, who want to limit government power over property, said Bullock.  Eminent domain abuse disproportionately strikes poor and minority communities, and there is often a giant gap between the promises made by redevelopment supporters and the promises such plans actually deliver.  In just a five-year period, there were more than 10,000 instances nationwide where eminent domain for private development was either used or threatened by the government.

Government officials and the developer promised that the project that replaced Susette Kelo’s tight-knit blue-collar neighborhood would thrive and would make New London tax-rich.  Now, 13 years after the landmark Kelo ruling, all that remains there are barren fields; nothing lives there now but weeds and feral cats.

“It was all for nothing,” said Susette Kelo.  “The government put us through all that torture and now, more than a dozen years later, they have literally nothing to show for it.  But even if they turned what was my home into an emerald city, that still wouldn’t have made it right.  The government and their corporate confidants destroyed our neighborhood and our constitutional rights.  We need to keep fighting this until we end eminent domain abuse once and for all.”

Eminent domain hot spots remain around the country.  For example:
In Garfield, New Jersey, the town’s redevelopment agency is using a bogus blight designation to take a zipper manufacturing warehouse, along with its neighbors’ homes, for a private developer to build private retail and housing.
Cumberland, Maryland, is trying to bulldoze a number of homes to make way for a chain restaurant.
The Bae family left Korea and built a successful dry cleaning business in East Harlem, New York. But city officials want to demolish it so a developer can build an entertainment complex.

Little Pink House has been lauded by The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood, among others.  In addition to attracting stars Keener and Tripplehorn, Little Pink House features the original song “Home Free,” written and performed for the movie by rock legend David Crosby.

The independent film was directed by Courtney Balaker and produced by her husband, Ted Balaker.  It will open on screens across the nation with more screenings being added each week.  In those markets where Little Pink House is not being shown in theaters, the public can follow a simple process to bring the movie to their hometown theater or enter an email address at littlepinkarmy.com and a representative from the film will walk them through the process.

Courtney Balaker said, “Eminent domain abuse is a fancy term for legalized bullying.  It happens when insiders take advantage of outsiders.  Developers and politicians promise more jobs and more tax revenue, so it sounds appealing to lots of people.  But all the high-minded talk obscures what’s really going on—they’re forcing people out of their homes.  If you own your home and you want to keep living in your home, you should be able to stay in your home.  Eminent domain abuse happens far more often than most people realize, and it rarely brings the kind of economic development its supporters promise.  It should come as no surprise that poor and minority communities are especially likely to be targeted.”

Eminent Domain for private gain is legal stealing, economic segregation, and more often than not, class warfare. When you receive a notice of a taking, your world turns inside out, not just upside down. At first you feel like you are in the battle completely and utterly alone. But you aren’t alone. There are a lot of us out there.

I didn’t set out in life to become a grassroots activist on any level, but eminent domain is an issue that, as an American, I found I simply could not ignore. I loved Ardmore, where eminent domain threatened a block of small businesses in a local historic business district. Ardmore to me was a quintessential old fashioned main street-oriented town. It represents the bygone days of small town America.

The township (Lower Merion)  had declared this block “blighted,” and it intended to acquire these properties in a certified historic district for inclusion in a mixed-use development project to be owned by a private party.

One of the first lessons we learned as SAC was that when you are fighting a battle like this, you become an instant pariah. SAC next contacted the Institute for Justice and newly formed Castle Coalition, who gave us a crash course in grassroots activism.

We held rallies, protests and community meetings. We wrote letters to the newspapers until we had writer’s cramp. We took every opportunity to speak at public meetings. We lobbied government officials on a state and national level.

My friend Si Simons with Susette Kelo, June, 2006. My photo.

And we hit roadblocks. Although eminent domain had become a national issue when Susette Kelo took her case to the U.S. Supreme Court, in the Philadelphia area we discovered it was hard to get media attention from anyone other than the local papers. Eminent domain wasn’t sexy enough—it was just “a local issue”. We were called NIMBY and castigated publicly by certain local elected officials at public meetings, who referred to us as “a small group of mean spirited individuals.”

When someone told us in a letter if we didn’t like how government was run we should “change the face of who governs us,” our resolve as a group was strengthened. We decided to change literally the faces of those who were governing us. We had an upcoming election. We didn’t back one candidate in particular but decided they should all adopt our position and take IJ’s pledge against the use of eminent domain for private gain.

We were successful. In November 2005, we watched as five new faces against eminent domain were elected to the 14-member Board of Commissioners.

During this whole time before and after the election, we had the good fortune to finally get some national and even international media publicity. We networked further with other eminent domain fighting citizens locally and nationally.  Members also gave testimony before both the Pennsylvania Senate and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. We submitted written testimony to the U.S. Congress and became part of the record on HR 4128.

February, 2006 walking Congressman Sensenbrenner (left) around Ardmore. Scott Mahan (right). I am behind them on the left with then Congressman Jim Gerlach on the right)

In February 2006, then Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner came to town with Congressman Jim Gerlach to discuss eminent domain. In March 2006, the five new commissioners who came to office promising to end the specter of eminent domain did just that: they proposed and passed a resolution to end eminent domain. The businesses were free.

I will not lie. It was an exhausting process fighting eminent domain.  I went to so many municipal and other meetings during this time, that even today I have a hard time going to meetings.

For me, there was also the fact that I hid my activism from my employers.  I was working for then Wachovia Securities (now Wells Fargo), and while not officially forbidden, such outside activities were seriously frowned upon.  We were supposed to be good little examples of Corporate America at all times, no matter what our position.

Susette Kelo is and always will be one of the most courageous people I have ever met. I have been waiting for this movie to be finished. (See Little Pink House Movie website too!!)

This is a story that still resonates.  See:

The Volokh Conspiracy    The story behind Kelo v. City of New London – how an obscure takings case got to the Supreme Court and shocked the nation
By Ilya Somin May 29, 2015

LAWNEWS
Dreams Demolished: 10 Years After the Government Took Their Homes, All That’s Left Is an Empty Field
Alex Anderson / @alexanderJander / Melissa Quinn / @MelissaQuinn97 / June 23, 2015

Eminent domain still under fire

June 23, 2017 by NCC Staff

POWER PLAY
Seized property sits vacant nine years after landmark Kelo eminent domain case
Published March 20, 2014 Fox News

The Kelo House (1890)

March 20th, 2009 Posted in Folk VictorianHousesNew LondonVernacular

Visit The Institute for Justice website. There is a Kelo vs. New London timeline.

Seriously….see this movie.  This can happen to anyone.  It happened to people I know and people I met.  And if you follow the current pipeline debacle, how do you think Sunoco has gotten land from Chester County residents? It certainly wasn’t candy and chocolates, it was the threat of eminent domain, wasn’t it?

And you can try to get Little Pink House played where you live by contacting the filmmakers HERE.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

new restaurant rave: dalia’s authentic mexican food in malvern, pa

Earlier today a young guy from a new restaurant stopped by my husband’s office. A new authentic Mexican Restaurant has opened in the old Verona spot at 288 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern (East Whiteland).

It’s called Dalia’s Authentic Mexican Food.

And just so there is no confusion: I am a new customer. I received nothing for this post. I was not compensated in any way whatsoever.

Dalia’s is a delight. A total delight. The food is amazing. Delicious. Fresh.

The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and the restaurant is bright and cheerful and so incredibly clean.

These folks worked hard to rejuvenate the old Verona space because it was rather run down and dirty when Verona made their exit.

That delicious looking sandwich you see is their Torta Azada.

We ordered for takeout (and the food was gone before I could photograph it!) Chicken Enchiladas, Shredded Beef Enchiladas, Azada Burrito, and a Tinga Quesadilla (chicken mixed with Chipotle and onion.)

Did I mention it was like the food evaporated it was so good?

Everything was fresh and the flavors balanced.

I am a guacamole snob and their’s passed the test. And I treated myself to a Mexican Coca Cola.

Dalia’s will be dine in, take out, and delivery.

Their hours will be:
Monday – Thursday 6:00 am to 10pm

Friday 6:00 am – 5:00 pm

Saturday CLOSED

Sunday 6:00 am – 10:00 pm

Oh!!! And they make breakfast!!!!

Their menu is just the right size I think and not too large and overwhelming- which is a mistake a lot of restaurants make.

They do NOT have a liquor license. I am NOT sure if they will be BYOB, so call and ask if you go in – don’t presume.

Their phone number is (484)- 320-8446.

Their address is 288 Lancaster Avenue Malvern, PA 19355

Their website is daliasauthenticmexicanfood.com

Please go check them out and I hope you enjoy their food as much as we did !

Ample free parking and easy access from Lancaster Avenue.