life pondering

This photo I am opening my post with. My friend Ashley took it. I just edited it and posted it.

This is one of those photos that just speaks to a person. Ashley says this man is always on a particular ramp of I-95 with his dog. The dog is loyal and faithful to this man. No leash, no collar. Wonder what their story is?

And this scene? Powerful. Poignant. Sad. Amazing. Speaks volumes without saying a word.

This past year of COVID19 has taught us all a lot if we take the time to listen, right? A friend of mine admitted to me today that she hasn’t completely minded the last year, even playing teacher to her kids. She made the point that we live in a constantly moving world, it was kind of nice to hit the pause button and have the gift of time with her family. I can’t disagree. This past year took a lot out of all of us, but it also gave us gifts.

This week I was reminded that life is precious and for all of the sad, crappy people we might meet, there are also good people out there. There are always those who would tear us down just because the pain of others makes them feel better. But those small minded angry, often mentally ill and toxic people will always exist. We can’t control their crazy, we can only live our own lives.

Ten years ago this month, I received my breast cancer diagnosis. I still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. Breast cancer was probably the worst thing to ever happen to me and in a weird way, one of the best things.

Why?

Simple. That diagnosis forced me to look at a lot of things. And breast cancer freed me to learn to become a better me. When you are staring at a potentially deadly thing, the minutia falls to the side and you value the gift life actually is. It’s pretty simple: do you want to live and how do you want life to be? Do you want to be happy and can you give yourself the permission to be happy? And don’t we all deserve to be happy even if sometimes happy seems like a lot of work?

Maybe we should look at the last year and realize how valuable the gift of life actually is? Look at all the people who have lost their lives to a global pandemic. And here we are.

Maybe now in our current world we need to value life more? Try a little harder to deal with the many things that tear our society apart?

Among the things I am pondering is has the last year happened to remind us all what is really important which is NOT the minutia and BS we need to filter out of our lives?

So should we all just pause and take a minute? Take a breath? Are we capable of doing that without crowdsourcing it on social media? I don’t know. There are good days and bad days in everyone’s life, but it’s what you do with them, right?

And I know this is a ramble without a real beginning, middle, or end. Sorry. It just flowed out that way.

A little life pondering is good for the soul.

Have a good evening all.

one year later: covid shot confusion

https://www.vaxxmax.com/

https://vaccinefinder.org/search/

https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Vaccine/Pages/Vaccine.aspx

https://vaccinatepa.org/counties/Chester_County

https://www.chesco.org/covidvaccine

PHASE 1 A:

Phase 1A is the first vaccine distribution step. The vaccine is currently being distributed to:

Long-term care facility residents
Health care personnel including, but not limited to:
Emergency medical service personnel
Nurses
Nursing assistants
Physicians
Dentists
Dental hygienists
Chiropractors
Therapists
Phlebotomists
Pharmacists
Technicians
Pharmacy technicians
Health professions students and trainees
Direct support professionals
Clinical personnel in school settings or correctional facilities
Contractual HCP not directly employed by the health care facility
Persons not directly involved in patient care but potentially exposed to infectious material that can transmit disease among or from health care personnel and patients
Persons ages 65 and older
Persons ages 16-64 with high-risk conditions:
Cancer
Chronic kidney disease
COPD
Down Syndrome
Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
Pregnancy
Sickle cell disease
Smoking
Type 2 diabetes mellitus

PHASE 1 B:

People in congregate settings not otherwise specified as long-term care facilities, and persons receiving home and community-based services
First responders
Correctional officers and other workers serving people in congregate care settings not included in Phase 1A
Food and agricultural workers
U.S. Postal Service workers
Manufacturing workers
Grocery store workers
Education workers
Clergy and other essential support for houses of worship
Public transit workers
Individuals caring for children or adults in early childhood and adult day programs

PHASE 1 C:

Essential workers in these sectors:
Transportation and logistics
Water and wastewater
Food service
Housing construction
Finance, including bank tellers
Information technology
Communications
Energy, including nuclear reactors
Legal services
Federal, state, county and local government workers, including county election workers, elected officials and members of the judiciary and their staff
Media
Public safety
Public health workers

PHASE 2:

All individuals not previously covered who are 16 and older and do not have a contraindication to the vaccine (note that at this time, only the Pfizer-BioNTech product is approved for those age 16 and 17)

-All data from https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Vaccine/Pages/Vaccine.aspx
A shot in the arm - ND Cartoons

It is still about as clear as mud and somewhat contradictory depending upon where you register. I had my first shot a week ago as a 1A active cancer patient. It was a total fluke that I got it, but it happened. And that is the biggest problem I see here is the fact that getting a shot IS a total fluke it feels like most of the time.

We registered our son. He is in the food service worker category because he works while he is in college locally. His classes are online and he’s here with us as opposed to a dorm right now. As a college student, living with parental units during a global pandemic is not so much fun, but we are grateful he is here and safe. I know of people who have kids in other states whose college students are supposed to stay on campus and abide by the rules set by their schools yet all they do is sneak off campus. And if they get caught it’s buh byes college student, yet they persist so it begs the question why did they go to school in the first place? If they didn’t want to be there, on campus, why not stay home and take classes online? I also see photos of college kids on spring break which completely blows my mind.

Like many families, we have a full complement of elderly relatives, and I live immunocompromised so our son has to be extra careful, and is. But common sense would dictate that he since lives with at least one 1A category person and he is exposed to the public as a food service worker, that one would think people in food service categories would be getting shots by now. But they aren’t. So he is kind of registered and signed up for when his eligibility arrives, but not yet vaccinated.

And then there is my husband who is phase 2, or who is left over in the world at that time. I am 1A, we have elderly relatives whom he helps with all sorts of things. So while not a traditional caregiver, he is still a caregiver. Yet he is literally the bottom of the barrel.

And then there are the people who jump the line. Like the 22 year old non-medical worker who founded Philly Fighting COVID, go a City of Philadelphia contract, and gave shots away to equally young friends like party favors. So what exactly will happen to Andrei Doroshin who is just part of the belly of corruption in Philadelphia as far as I am concerned?

Philly Fighting COVID as a scandal is a perfect example of how messed up the COVID shot distribution is in Pennsylvania. The City of Philadelphia flat out seemed to ignore red flags with Philly Fighting COVID yet look how far they got? Where is the Philadelphia City Council accountability because do we really think they would have gotten shoved up the food chain without the ever problematic Philadelphia City Council?

Listen to Scam Goddess: The Crazy Covid Caper

SPOTIFY Home of Scam Goddess Podcast.

MARCH 13, 2021

‘Scam Goddess’ podcast lampoons city’s Philly Fighting COVID scandal

Allie Miller Headshot

BY ALLIE MILLER
PhillyVoice Staff

Philly Fighting COVID, the company’s CEO Andrei Doroshin, and the city’s leadership all become comedic fodder in a recent episode of the podcast “Scam Goddess.”

Philly’s vaccine distribution scandal, which received national attention and resulted in the resignation of the city’s deputy health commissioner, gets roasted for about 25 minutes in the episode released Tuesday, and it probably deserved more given the embarrassment of the situation at all levels.

“So Andrei (Doroshin) is a 22-year-old Drexel graduate. He has a degree in psychology from Drexel. Can I just say, psychology, great scam tool. If you really wanna get into the fine art of chicanery … psychology,” Laci Mosley, host of “Scam Goddess,” tells the co-host of the episode, Jason Concepcion…..

Mosley and Concepcion crack up recounting the details of Doroshin laying out his plan to vaccinate Philadelphian’s against the coronavirus, a pitch that was made to about a dozen people on the rooftop of an apartment building near Temple University. The hosts indulge in Doroshin’s use of Powerpoint to deliver a presentation laden with tech-focused, entrepreneurial language – he even invoked Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX – that the company had no chance of living up to.

“These are buzzwords. The only thing that he left out was the black turtleneck,” Mosley says, a reference to the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

And the very Philly-flavored icing Doroshin’s want to spread to coverup all the imperfections of his overdone cake: a marketing plan that enlisted Meek Mill to encourage people to get their shots.

PhillyVoice https://www.phillyvoice.com/scam-goddess-podcast-andrei-doroshin-philly-fighting-covid/

How the world's political artists are depicting the covid-19 pandemic - The  Washington Post

Pennsylvania is definitely FUBAR on COVID shots. My mother, who is in her 80s and was 1A got a shot on a fluke. As in they showed up at their local hospital and just walked in….after wondering how they were going to get an appointment because they hadn’t been able to get an appointment. Another senior I know got a shot because they drove someone else to get a shot.

People are driving hours to places like Altoona, Carlile and Jim Thorpe to get shots. I even pulled up Erie as a shot location. All eligible but because Southeastern PA is like the Bermuda Triangle of COVID shots you either eventually get lucky or have to drive hours to get a shot. Other people are going deep into Lancaster and Lehigh Counties. I know people who don’t live in states like Delaware, yet drove there or NJ for a shot. It’s ridiculous.

I guess you can say this is government bureaucracy at work? Or is Governor Tom Wolf punishing Southeastern PA for something? And John Fetterman sends out he’s running for US Senate junk mail and actually expects people to vote for him when the state can’t even get sufficient shots to our area, yet underpopulated by comparison areas get more shots than they need?

I mean OH COME ON ALREADY!.

Do not misunderstand me, I am grateful that I lucked into getting my shot, but it should NOT have been so difficult. And so many who are 1A like me can’t get one. Random act of cursing here but it’s utter bullshit.

And people who should be essential aren’t essential so they can serve us our food, bake our cakes, deliver our food, deliver our mail, repair things in our homes, and so on are still hanging out there? People I know who moved to other states got a shot where they moved to almost immediately. And then there are the people with vacation homes in other states who hopped planes to go get COVID shots there….and didn’t exactly wait before hopping a return flight back to primary state of residence, AKA Pennsylvania the Bermuda Triangle of COVID shots.

Sign me befuddled by our government at work. And oh yeah, if Trump had taken this more seriously a YEAR ago, would we all be better and more safely positioned in our global pandemic universe. Love how he got his almost secret shot and is now suddenly encouraging people to get their shots….

Life with COVID19 one year later is irritating, infuriating, and fascinating.

Be safe out there. Wear a mask. Living in the Bermuda Triangle of COVID19 shots is like a giant constant game of dodgeball meets Russian Roulette

ghost houses of swedesford road: more photos

The other day I wrote another post about the ghost houses Swedesford Road and how they continue to deteriorate .

A reader sent me photos. Looks like late fall or winter before snow. And I thought I should be clear that these USED to be owned by Church Farms School but now? Some developer or commercial real estate entity. No clue who.

Is this demolition by neglect? Well what do you think? Sure isn’t preservation is it? Wouldn’t you think West Whiteland would want these structures secured?

It is a shame that they’ve been allowed to rot. Now what?

tales of bacton hill: elwood michael

Elwood’s greenhouse and tool shed. (1970s?)
Claude Bernardin photo

Today I received an e-mail from former East Whiteland/Bacton Hill resident, Mark Lanser. Today he has generously shared his recollections of Elwood Michael who was one of the local and beloved characters once upon a time.

These oral histories of everyday, ordinary folks are just as important to the fabric of the history of an area as our Revolutionary war heroes and the famous who passed through. The photos are from artist and former resident Claude Bernardin.

Enjoy!

🔏📍As I have a few moments I’ll share with you a bit about Elwood Michael. You have a picture that Claude supplied of his cabin on one of your past blogs.

Elwood told me he came to Bacton with his brother from Phoenixville along with his brother in a covered wagon in 1910.

All I know of Elwood was that he was basically a tenant farmer.

When I first met him as a little kid he was employed by Mary Cain to take care of the farm at the corner of Spring Valley & Bacton Hill Rd. I think he may have lived on the farm for a while. He also was farming a piece of ground at the top of Bacton Hill where Valley Hill Rd. intersects. That was on the left side as you went up the hill.

Elwood had a old Fordson tractor one of the gray & red ones. He had a sister who gave him a few cars over the years. A black 1941 Ford 2 door sedan (my dad bought it from him) a black Plymouth 4 door (1950 I think) and a light blue 1955 Ford 2 door sedan. Elwood would end up ruining them by driving them through the fields he plowed.

His cabin had two rooms. One had a large cook stove which was a wood burner. Besides cooking it was his only source of heat.

The other room was his bedroom/living room. It had one light bulb in the ceiling. No other lights in the place. He had 3 dressers stacked on top of each other. You needed a ladder to get to the top one.

He had a rooster named Pete who was an ornery cuss. You always had to be on the look out as he would come after you on your blind side.

He had two dogs. One was an Airedale named Jackie. Another smaller one was a black & white dog. I don’t remember it’s name. Elwood would tell us he kept a rattlesnake there but it got out of its cage so we better keep a look out.

Elwood had half his teeth missing, a few days of beard and smelled like smoke. At times he would show up at our house and others conveniently at dinner time. We knew he needed a meal and always asked him to stay. Often he would end up falling asleep. We would go to bed and he would be gone in the morning.

The next evening we would find a gallon of apple cider on the porch as a thank you. Sometimes when he needed a ride he would get on our school bus and he would get dropped off along out bus route. Can you imagine doing that now?

To help our neighbors he once drug old logs out of the woods from alongside the field he plowed at Valley Hill road. He drug them down Bacton Hill with his tractor and lined the one side of Kirby’s driveway as it had a steep bank on the one side.

Another time he took an old wood stove from the now abandoned green house on the Mary Cain farm and took it over to the Mannigsmith’s who lived just below Bacton Hill Rd. On Rt.401. He installed it in their spring house complete with a stove pipe chimney which of course he cut a hole in the roof to install it. Mr Manningsmith while appreciative of his thoughtfulness would have rather been asked first.

My brothers and I had gotten rides with Elwood over to a Baptist church in Charlestown Twp. He would stop along Rt. 29 at Mrs. Markley’s (KD Markley Elementary School) to get his water from her spring along side the road.

Sunday morning Elwood would put on his top hat and blow his bugle to get everyone up on the hill to go to church. He continued to farm and died on his old Fordson tractor while plowing the field along Valley Hill Road. He had a heart attack. I think he was 76 years old. I don’t know the exact date. My brother at some point is going to check into that. It was around 1966.

He was quite a character and helped make our childhood growing up on Bacton Hill unique and memorable. Hope you enjoy some of my memories.

~Mark Lanser🔏📍

Elwood’s two room shack. Claude Bernardin submitted photo. All of these old photos in this post are from his personal collection.

a column too far

I will start by saying that quite honestly, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is not my cup of tea most of the time. But I will be god damned and dead before I as a woman would judge a woman who was a victim of sexual assault and who also had a recent traumatic event trigger a past traumatic event. (See Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she is a sexual assault survivor in The Guardian and other media sources like the New York Times.) It is quite possible. And to essentially read a column written by a regional female writing voice essentially mansplain as a woman in her column just doesn’t sit right.

Of course the local papers collective mansplainers on the editorial board have some ‘splaining to do too, don’t they? I mean what is this saying? Being a bitch about someone else’s sexual assault makes great click bait???

(CLICK FOR ARTICLE: Christine Flowers: Some sex-abuse claims don’t deserve to be heard Feb 4, 2021 Updated Feb 4, 2021 and also featured in Delco Times and Pottstown Mercury.)

I feel strongly enough about this that I screenshot the article above. The Daily Local and most of the papers under the control of whatever hedge fund has eviscerated them has a hair trigger paywall. I also looked online at the digital capture of the physical paper and for the life of me can’t find this article in print so did they publish it online and run another column in print?

I (generally speaking), don’t read most of what this columnist writes. Yes it’s all her First Amendment Right to express herself and all that, but I question local papers giving her a platform when the platform is so truly offensive at times. This is hardly the first time she has written something awful, but it’s definitely one of the most offensive pieces. Why doesn’t she just have her own website platform for things like this? Or there is always Twitter. She loves Twitter….and if you aren’t like her, you are against her, and that can be exhausting in a columnist can’t it just?

People, women especially, are outraged by this recent piece and I think rightfully so. It’s just nasty. Here are a smattering of comments:

Sadly (and again I must point out) I can’t say she doesn’t have the right to her opinion, even if I find it well, horrible. However, the flip side is I have my opinion right here and right now that she is truly despicable for doing this and I will go further to say maybe she wants to be more relevant and is just sounding desperate? See some of her Tweetabulous tweeting recently:

“White suburban mommies read it in print, and clutched many a pearl.” Gosh Christine, maybe you don’t know from pearls? Everyone who owns pearls knows you don’t clutch them because that is how you break them, even if they are individually knotted in between each pearl. Very different from pop beads….

“These are the empathetic ovary brigadiers.” Now, I am not going to say it’s acceptable behavior to send this woman (or any woman) emails saying they wish violence upon her. That accomplishes nothing, suborns violence, and just makes people part of the problem, not solution. But the bitterness of calling women “empathetic ovary brigadiers” also doesn’t escape me. I could never have my own children, as medically it was never possible. But I was never bitter about it or was fixated because I just figured God had another plan and he did. Now don’t get me wrong, I sat through many a comment from women over the years like “You don’t have children, so you couldn’t possibly understand” and I will admit sometimes I had the mental image of smacking the smugness off of someone’s face when they said something like that. Or when I was in Corporate America years ago and I always got last chance to pick on holiday time off because I was single and had no children. I called it the “single tax” (and worse) but whatever, there were bigger things in life to worry about. However, in this scenario not sure what women who have had kids has to do with them not liking an article that kind of mocks victims of sexual assault, so I will stick with bitter and non-related.

“#MirrorMirror” What does that even mean? How did she think women would react or perhaps that was the point? A file under all attention good, bad, or indifferent is good?

What she wrote was her opinion, but in MY opinion she was wrong. It is hideous to presume as a writer that you know exactly when and how a woman who has been a victim of a sexual assault will react or exactly when another traumatic event will trigger a memory of another traumatic event. And coming from a woman just makes this worse. Christine Flowers doesn’t get a fab virtual look here as being strong or witty, she gets a virtual look (in my opinion) of bitter and nasty postmenopausal mean girl.

At almost 57 I can honestly say that I know more women who were sexually assaulted in some form (as in not always rape) than those who have not been. And it isn’t a case of birds of a feather. Yes, I was a victim once upon a time. It didn’t define me, I worked hard to move past it. But did I ever forget it? Oh hell no. It happened in the dark ages when you didn’t tell after because somehow it was always a woman’s fault, like you stood with a sign on a street corner that said “Assault Me, Please.Somehow I thought we had moved past that whole blame the victim and victim shaming, but apparently not.

I can’t as a woman say that another woman doesn’t still have PTSD over her assault. I can’t say that she does definitively have PTSD, either. But as a female writer, I don’t think I would build a column shaming a woman who was a victim of sexual assault and I wouldn’t be able to so assertively say this woman was using it to make herself a center of attention in the midst of a national tragedy (assault on the Capitol.)

I can’t minimize or mock what Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has revealed or said on this topic, because I believe being in the middle or adjacent to the riots and siege of the US Capitol, or in the same city and even country could indeed trigger victims. Just like the sound of the cannon a local school years ago to start off certain football games used to trigger a Vietnam vet who lived close by. Just like a simple email about celebrating someone retiring triggered women I knew because the person that others wanted to celebrate should be anything but celebrated and with good reason. When I read Flowers’ Op Ed it made me remember again, decades later, why I never told.

We can’t say it isn’t possible for certain traumatic events to trigger past traumatic events, and we shouldn’t mock it. Christine Flowers was not right to do so. But she has to live in her own headspace with it, and judging from what I have seen, again in my opinion, she doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what any of us think and she is reveling in her negative spotlight. So bless her heart, she deserves people’s prayers for basically seeming just super hateful and uncaring.

But I do actually think it was a column too far. I do think the Daily Local was wrong publishing it.

Here is a rebuttal written by a woman in West Chester. I will share a large excerpt. Her name is Grace Nelson. Her words spoke to me:

Image result for thumbtack

Opening my local paper each morning, I am rarely without a sense of gratitude for the critical work news media does in upholding the basis of our democracy. Without exchange of ideals and ideas in this public square, our basis of governance would be rendered inert.

I consider the vulnerability and dedication of journalists and writers in these arenas to be acts of public service. It is in this context and with the above description of the heinous nature of sexual trauma in mind that I find myself so deeply disturbed by the disservice done by Christina. Flowers and the Daily Local News upon survivors of sexual assault and their allies…….Beyond this poorly disguised opportunity for political posturing conducted through a fallacy-laden line of argumentation, Ms. Flowers and those who allowed her words to be printed for mass consumption also finds themselves to be innately incorrect in their understanding of sexual abuse, the very subject matter at hand….survivors of sexual abuse know well that your identity as a survivor as well as the humanity you cling in your most difficult moments don’t only exist with convenience. You are always a survivor, regardless of who is watching and how that weight of trauma manifests itself in your moment to moment existence.

Whether Ms. Flowers finds it expedient that Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’s identity as a survivor manifested more strongly in the wake of the January 6th insurrection, the Congresswoman cannot and never will be able to peel away or compartmentalize her trauma….Neither was I able to shirk my reality as a survivor when I encountered this dangerous and hurtful column reading my morning paper over coffee.

I write to the Editor today not only in disgust of the words….but with an immense feeling of shame. I feel the familiar and occasional crush of shame of I carry in my life as survivor. I feel ashamed of the state of our national discourse surrounding sexual abuse knowing the pain words like Ms. Flower’s will carelessly inflict on a massive constituency of survivors.

I can’t imagine what The Daily Local, Delco Times, and Pottstown Mercury were thinking, and those people can live with their conscience on this. But if they thought they were being edgy and that would gain them additional readership, well I think all they have done is lose more readers, and possibly advertisers. And that in and of itself is a complete and utter disservice to local reporters who, in spite of the state of that paper, do their best to report the news.

When you read pure unadulterated bullshit like this, it just makes all of us no matter what our political or religious or racial persuasions to be better people. Last March she and the Philadelphia Inquirer went their different ways. (See Philadelphia Magazine article.) I didn’t actually know that until this all erupted, but her is her tweet from last year:

What Christine Flowers wrote is offensive but she also draws attention to the fact that sexual assault victims seem to be victim shamed still in 2021. It’s so last century….literally. And again, you just don’t expect the victim shaming of a woman to come from a woman.

Will she keep her job or just eventually go down with the sinking ship that is The Daily Local? Don’t know, and at the end of the day it is low on the scale of things that are important in life. Truthfully I suspect life will go on and Christine Flowers will continue to revel in negative attention.

The First Amendment comes in all shapes and sizes most sadly…..but newspapers don’t print all opinions and I am not sure why they printed this.

the billboard of it all: file under why governments don’t negotiate with terrorists?

I asked this question in 2018 when the billboard issue hit Tredyffrin.

I received a note today and like Alice down the Billboard hole I went, reading what is posted towards end of post which was sent with:

📌”East Whiteland Township is proposing to rezone the Township’s 19.45 acre open space and Ecology Park Land near Mill Lane and Route 401 to professional office. Also, the Township wants to adopt a new ordinance which would allow for the construction of large electronic billboards within the rezoned land. The Chester County Planning Commission has recommended that the township consider other areas that would be more appropriate for electronic billboards, such as the Route 29 corridor. ” 📌

Sigh….even the Chester County Planning Commission is saying BAD FREAKING IDEA to REZONE PARK SPACE and since East Whiteland shares the same solicitor as Upper Merion and didn’t Upper Merion just kill a similar plan there, why is it still alive in East Whiteland?

This is slated for February 1st when East Whiteland has two public hearings, both related to the community scourge of billboards/electronic signs.

Oh and this is more on 202, where in West Whiteland there is one of these suckers being proposed. Off Dunwoody Drive, a sign would go up on some boggy kind of weird space in an office park, right? Wasn’t that the gist of the continued West Whiteland hearing that appeared in the paper on January 8th? But the weird thing is there are two LLCs kind of close together in I guess West Whiteland? See what someone sent:

Now the West Whiteland hearing on January 27th was continued. Until February 10, 2021. The West Whiteland Township billboard hearing meeting was a complete technological cluster F. The video kept freezing but it was interesting in parts especially this lawyer who is representing West Whiteland as special counsel on this. He’s very bright. His name is Ryan Jennings. Amazing to watch. There was some discussion about whether or not a billboard application is actually land development. And then West Whiteland was referring to some other kind of litigation involving the signs and I didn’t really understand what was going on it was very unclear if it was actually related and how were the LLCs related to the parent company or something?

Of course because West Whiteland has issues with being sunshine friendly they said they don’t keep the zoom recordings and only their notes or something become the record and what kind of crap is that?

Back to East Whiteland. Just can’t help thinking about say West Whiteland signs get approved and East Whiteland is foolish enough to allow open space/park land to get rezoned, wow what will 202 end up looking like? I-95? Las Vegas? And you can’t say that residents won’t be affected because these townships all allow these developments to be built to the edge of these highways don’t they?

So one of the East Whiteland hearings February 1st is for a settlement agreement, the other is for the re-zoning. So if the billboard company deals in individual LLCs per site, are both public hearings under E. Whiteland Outdoor, LLC, or are other LLCs involved?

How many LLCs for billboards and electronic signs from these folks over the entirety of Chester County? How much litigation is going on over these signs in Chester County alone?

These public hearings are on East Whiteland’s website. They are slated for Monday, February 1, 2021 at 7 PM. It’s a public zoom hearing and the residents of East Whiteland need help, just like the residents of West Whiteland need help. These signs do not benefit residents. Residents will also be watching for residents and businesses who seem suddenly billboard supportive, won’t they?

Open space means parks and trails and preserving the area the way it used to be before development ran it over. Open space means trying to maintain an environment that will last for all of us and future generations. Do none of you remember the whole situation at Downingtown’s Kardon Park a few years ago that went to PA Supreme Court? It was all about open space, park land becoming something else…via zoning tweaks etc wasn’t it? It’s not the exact scenario but legal precedent would mean any municipality could face potential litigation that could be quite costly which would affect residents/taxpayers, right? That not so in the past case essentially told Downingtown Borough that they could not sell or lease park land, right? But it also possibly sets a precedent for all open space, doesn’t it? For open space that has been set aside as such and parks there are these pesky things in PA like the Donated and Dedicated Property Act, the Public Trust Doctrine, and our own Pa Constitution Article I, Section 27.

For reading about the Kardon Park case, just hit up Google and see these two links as well:

https://law.justia.com/cases/pennsylvania/supreme-court/2017/12-23-map-2016.html

https://www.philadelphiabar.org/WebObjects/PBAReadOnly.woa/Contents/WebServerResources/CMSResources/PhillyLawyerSpr10_depts.pdf

Back to what started this which was outreach by residents. This to follow in screen shots is what was sent to me by concerned residents. Their thoughts and a community call to action, as well as the letter from the Chester County Planning Commission. These are their words, no prompted by me, they asked me to share.

Pack the Zoom meeting February 1st.

yesterday, was not o.k.

Yesterday was not O.K. Yesterday was a study in horror. Yesterday we could have lost democracy and what makes America well….America. Every American regardless of creed, color, political affiliation, and so on should NOT be O.K. with January 6, 2021.

Watch the ITV video. I can’t post it here because of the raw violence it shows. [CLICK HERE ITV VIDEO] Also check out this photo array from Vanity Fair. Here is an excerpt of the article that goes with it:

VANITY FAIR: POLITICS
THE UNBEARABLE WHITENESS OF STORMING THE CAPITOL
If the Trump-incited rioters had been people of color, troops would have been out in force. And yet, there are positive lessons in the events of 1/6/21.

BY JIMMIE BRIGGS

JANUARY 7, 2021

Watching the mob scene on Capitol Hill over the last several hours, I was numbed by the whiteness that blanketed the screen.

As I get older, and possibly wiser, I find myself increasingly thinking about whiteness and of the mind-boggling degree to which my life as a Black American man has been impacted by it lately. Some 400 years since my ancestors were forcibly brought to these shores, and more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed them and their immediate descendants from enslavement, whiteness has dominated their (and now my) imagination, dreams of their/my future, and alas, even their/my joy.

To be clear, when I refer to whiteness, I mean the privileges, expectations, and elevated humanity afforded those in American society whose skin happens to be white; who exist daily in varying degrees of proximity to white people; who actively seek the affirmation of and their raison d’être from white people—and/or those whose aspirations for themselves, their families, and their communities are modeled on some kind of reflection of whiteness.

Today, this theme struck me with massive force. Televised scenes showed thousands of Donald Trump–supporting rioters and criminals, largely white and typically mask-less, descending on the nation’s largely Black capital.

I know according to Trump I am just a lowly suburban housewife, but my thoughts?

This is not America. And the last time the Capitol was stormed by invaders? 1814. Yes, sit with that a while. The last time was 1814 during the War of 1812 when British forces set fire to the Capitol. (You know when Dolly Madison was trying to save things in the White House?) These folks muscled by law enforcement and I am fascinated by what I saw on TV including when officers moved barricades to let the marauders in. I don’t know if that was tactical because they were being overwhelmed but it begs the question of why there wasn’t more of a law enforcement presence from jump?

One of those at risk yesterday was my friends’ daughter. She is young, and a Senate Page. I can’t imagine what her parents were feeling as this unfolded. I know I kept wondering how my own Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan was. And friends who just live in Washington D.C.


A special note to the one on Facebook a lot of my friends and I know who thinks we didn’t see her post “1.6.21” as a standalone post on her timeline. We saw. And she can delete what she posted and try to back peddle with people, but it will not change the ugliness she has deliberately been projecting with her posting for quite a long time. I still wonder if her little plastic housing development will secede from the union? And this woman was full of fake indignation and moral outrage at anyone suggesting those who stormed the Capitol were Trump supporters. Yes, seriously. I think she even had her virtual smelling salts out.


And for another woman who posted it must have been Antifa dressed as Trump supporters? Then honey, I must be the tooth fairy, and that must have been a Trump impersonator with Rudy Giuliani.


I will also note I know people that I believe are true patriots and they don’t behave like what you saw yesterday. And it wasn’t just some small percentage who were at fault because they got into the Capitol building. As we saw it unfold live before our eyes on television screens, computers, and smart phones from coast to coast, and around the world, that was the intent of the entire crowd. And was that the actual intent of Trump who really isn’t fit to be president even if he only has what? Two weeks left?


Yesterday was a crap show and that was 100% orchestrated by Trump and he is responsible and knew exactly what he was doing, so I hope you all who have gone unmasked for him at all those events are proud, because that all played a part in events leading up to this. You all have a degree of culpability. I watched everything yesterday unfold I couldn’t believe I was once proud for decades to be a Republican.

Yesterday was not democracy in action. This is not the constitutional right to express yourself and protest. This was ugliness, suborning anarchy, and basically acting like domestic terrorists.

I thought Joe Biden was marvelous when he spoke yesterday. My Congresswoman, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan said in a release to her constituents:

“The attack on our Capitol yesterday was unconscionable, but it was not inevitable,” said Houlahan. “It was a direct product of four years of division and dissent that has emanated from the very highest office in this country and a horrifying culmination of months-long baseless and unsubstantiated attacks on the very heart of our democracy. Those who carried out this attack and those who inspired it, implicitly and explicitly, must be held accountable.

My colleagues and I owe a debt of gratitude to those who worked to secure the Capitol, allowing the business of the people to continue. I was unequivocal last night and remain steadfast today that the work of this body, the work of the American people, cannot nor will not be halted, no matter the attacks levied against it.

We gathered yesterday in the tradition of the joint session of Congress to count the results of the Electoral College and to certify the victory of President elect Joe Biden and Vice President elect Kamala Harris. And despite the efforts of insurrectionists, we carried out our oath-bound duty.

I’ve heard many references recently to the War of 1812 and the attack on the U.S. Capitol but, as a Pennsylvanian, I am reminded of a particular different piece of our community’s history.

Many Americans have visited Philadelphia and the historic sites that are the cradle of our nation. Fewer people make it out to my community, which is home to Valley Forge. Here, General George Washington led the Continental Army to winter quarters. The Revolutionary War had not been going well for our young soldiers, and the winter of 1777-1778 was harder still. It was bitterly cold, there were food shortages and a smallpox outbreak. Many brave patriots died.

We remember what happened there because it was a test of endurance, a demonstration of devotion to mission and to country over self. Coming out of that awful winter and experience, our troops emerged better trained, united and ultimately victorious. In harsh, dark times, they found their common ground and their fortitude. The success was not by chance, General Washington led by putting service above self.

Just like then, it is in these trying moments where we learn who our leaders are. They are the ones who don’t just ‘represent’ or give orders, or ready us for a fight. They are the ones who also educate. Who speak the truth. They inspire confidence and unity rather than sowing division and strife.

There is a striking parallel between what our nascent country endured then in Valley Forge and what we are enduring now. A hard winter of division, with illness running rampant. And an uncertain future after yesterday’s attack.

Our country’s resolve is being tested. I believe we will pass this test together and we will be made stronger.

We owe it to the people of this country to move forward from this election with a focus on healing the divisions that have been created and on ensuring our communities build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. We must be a government that works for all people, a body politic that stands on the side of truth and justice.

We must move forward with a servant heart and a common resolve to preserve this great experiment that is the United States of America.”

These people yesterday are the ones who have listened to Trump since the election. Since he lost the election. They listened to his his repeated lies of election fraud. (Guess they all missed the part where he disemboweled the United States Postal Service so no one could vote successfully by mail?) Trump has undermined this country’s confidence in itself, and ourselves as Americans. It has been unconscionable and yesterday it turned violent. And yesterday they vandalized our Capitol. OUR Capitol. As a lover of history, I just do not get it.

And what else don’t I get is the double standard of treatment. If yesterday had been a women’s march, or a Black Lives Matter march, or anything else than what it was, how would the response have been? Hell they arrested Jane Fonda now a senior citizen again in December, 2020 at a climate change demonstration. The response disparity of yesterday is truly quite remarkable.

I have said it before, and will say it again, protesting is an American right by our very United States Constitution. I have done it. But not like that display of yesterday. But yesterday? That was destruction. That was an attempt to overthrow the government. Elections are won and lost, we don’t need to die over it. If these patriots would kindly remember this is why our forefathers fought so hard for us to have our lives today, it would be helpful.

It’s time for Trump to go away. Is their a straightjacket somewhere in his size? He does not get to destroy this country any longer like he has destroyed his businesses over the years. The true “art of the deal” is knowing when to fold ’em and leave…and please take your lovely family along with you, Donnie.

We have had four years of a nightmare reality TV show come to life. Trump, you’re fired. Now run along.

Thank you Twitter and Facebook for giving him a mute.

America the Beautiful? Let’s get back to that shall we? Thanks for stopping by and oh my oh my how many COVID19 cases will result in yesterday?.

ciao 2020. may you be a year not to be repeated.

I can’t take credit for that funny cartoon above as it is circling the Internet. But it is too perfect to ignore and just sums up this strange year we’ve survived.

Yes I thought about a week ago I had written my last post for 2020 and then things happened. I learned those who claim to be Christian and pious aren’t always pleasant on social media. And while I really appreciate the pastoral leadership at Covenant Presbyterian Church sending me an email to acknowledge my concerns, well, some of us discovered that we got word for word as in yes verbatim the same email. That made me a little disappointed in them, but it also made me realize that they just don’t get it (or don’t want to.) I still hope they abandon the fakakta idea for a 12 foot high LED sign in front of a historically charming church on Lancaster Avenue in Frazer. (And isn’t fakata just the most perfect word to describe so many things in 2020?)

And if we’re going to talk about giant electronics signs that look like movie screens and giant TVs come to life, it is worth remarking that West Whiteland has a planning commission meeting next week where yet another one of these giant digital billboards is being proposed. Yes, January 5th. And I predict much like East Whiteland and their “settlement agreement” which will face East Whiteland with a Sophie’s choice of where to put signs residents don’t want. And then there is Upper Merion Township. They have their own giant digital billboards issues. Same billboard company and same solicitor as East Whiteland. There is still a petition circling for them if you agree with all of the residents who don’t want zoning changed in parks to accommodate billboards. And in West Whiteland what is with the other billboard related LLC very close by to the one being discussed January 5th?

Other things on the hit parade of 2020 include another year of unending issues with the pipelines. Energy Transfer, Sunoco Logistics, pick a name they spent another year making a mess, putting residents at risk. One of my late fall favorites? Was seeing photos on social media of workers’ trucks parked in fire lanes at local shopping centers like they were big important people that couldn’t park in a spot, and what’s up with that FU to the community?

As we head into 2021 there is a story out of Lower Merion that no one’s talking about. It’s about that property adjacent to Stonleigh that Lower Merion School District “acquired” for playing fields after they bought the property on Montgomery Avenue (what once was the Clothier Estate) for the new school. OK so everybody knew that the County Line Road property was going to become playing fields. That’s not news at this point. But what bears pondering is exactly how many hundreds of trees is the Lower Merion School District going to take down in the end for these fields? This is a sizable property and it has heritage trees doesn’t it? It’s over 10 acres isn’t it? So that is a big chunk of property to deforest isn’t it?

Now I’ve heard neighbors over there in both Lower Merion and Radnor Township are very concerned about the trees of it all because this road straddles both municipalities in spots. Lower Merion School District’s Superintendent should give a rat’s fanny about the environment as involves the future of his students, right? One thing I have always wondered about this set of projects both for the school and the playing field is how is this going to affect skinny hilly windy County Line Road and some of the surrounding small streets near these projects? And aren’t first responders a little far away from both of these new education locations? So what does that mean in the future? Once again I reiterate how glad I am no longer on the Main Line and feel for my many friends who are still there.

Other things I won’t miss in 2020 is the conflicting ways people treat each other online in the same communities. Maybe it was because so many people were home and they spent way too much time on social media, but I think people have spent a lot of 2020 being miserable to each other in as much as others also have tried to lift each other up. I can tell you personally I am closing out 2020 feeling completely less patient with people. It is something I am going to work on for 2021, but I’m telling you right now it might be a struggle at times.

So how about the mask of it all? I am not going to get into the argument that has been almost the totality of the year of what stays open and what closes due to COVID-19 (including schools), but I am going to comment about what crap it is I think the people complain they have to wear a mask. I live an immunocompromised life. Elderly relatives live immunocompromised lives. I know so many people at this point personally and indirectly from all over the place (as in just not this area) who have gotten COVID-19 in 2020. And these were all people who were careful and wore masks.

I also think it’s crap with regard to the people who can’t keep their kids at home who then turn into super-spreaders of coronavirus at all ages and stages of life. No one has liked feeling as confined as we all have during the year 2020. No one has liked how it has affected our economy, our personal psychology, our sense of freedom. It has been a difficult year emotionally for everyone. Some people feel so isolated and alone. Even those of us who live with our families can have different times during the year where they could pinpoint feelings of loneliness and isolation.

We close the year with vaccines….finally. That will start up all the anti-vaxxers I’m sure, but I would remind them gently that this is no ordinary virus. And we have already seen in the past few years what an uptick of measles and other childhood diseases has done across the country. All I’m saying is, people please try to keep it together so we can get out of these various stages of quarantine and get back to life. It won’t be life as we once knew it as we are forever changed by 2020, but hopefully we can get there.

Another thing I will be glad to see in the rearview mirror is the ugliness of politics in the United States of America during the calendar year 2020. We have a new president to look forward to and that serial narcissistic sociopath who’s been living in the White House the past few years? I guess he’s going to be Florida’s problem isn’t he? He has continued throughout the holidays (including today) to try to make his case for anarchy and civil war while he discusses his imaginary voter fraud and “rigged elections”. Dude doesn’t get it that he was FIRED by the American people. FIRED. Here’s hoping that America’s political parties get their crap together so we don’t come this close to a dictator ever again, especially the Republican Party because they ALLOWED this to happen.

2020 was also the time of no longer tolerating racial injustice in this country and great sadness and anger as a result from coast to coast. People came together in the midst of a global pandemic over it. We should all offer up a prayer for a peaceful 2021 and meaningful resolution to some of these weighty issues. We the people as in all the people deserve as much.

2020 was a year of personal sadness for me. I said goodbye to people I really didn’t want to say goodbye to. And they didn’t lose their lives to COVID-19, but because of COVID-19 you couldn’t see anyone to say goodbye to those who were dying.

Other friends of mine faced heath crises that had to have been extra stressful every time they had to go in and out of a hospital setting. I know the two skin cancer procedures I dealt with had me holding my breath in and out and through the COVID tests before each procedure.

Now 2020 wasn’t all bad. I got to garden a lot and work on restoring my old quilts and that makes me happy. Fortunately for me I am more of a homebody than not so I have gotten through not seeing a ton of anyone at all but I do miss my friends and my family. FaceTime and Zoom just isn’t the same, but I will say I am grateful for the technology because being able to see someone when you’re catching up is a wonderful thing.

In 2020 we saw extremes all year long. Exhausting extremes at times. But hey, you know what? We are still standing. And that’s a good thing. We can do this. We can survive and get past this. We can see 2021.

For most this year, it will be a quiet New Year’s Eve. For us, pretty normal as we generally stay in. I keep seeing reality TV stars like Sonja Morgan flitting across Twitter and Instagram asking what we’re wearing for New Year’s at home. Not sequins. But I live in Chester County so I don’t think it would be sequins ever…haven’t really seen any live sequins since I moved here.

In my final reflection of 2020, I will freely admit that if we are honest with ourselves, 2020 taught us all things about ourselves and others. Some good things, some unflattering things. It’s all about human nature.

As we bid adieu to 2020 for sure it won’t be a fond, lingering goodbye. It will be an enough already move along nothing more to see here kind of goodbye.

Pope Francis said something this afternoon which has stayed with me: “We thank Good for the good things that have taken place during the pandemic, for the many people who, without making noise, have tried to make the weight of this trial more bearable.”

And for something else fun, click HERE for a lovely rendition of Auld Lang Syne from my lovely friend, Mindy Rhodes.

Wishing all of you a peaceful and happy New Year’s Eve as my 8th year writing this blog draws to a close. Cheers to 2021 and new and healthier beginnings for this country and around the world.

fire and brimstone

Well it turns out I have another post in me for 2020. And it’s about a 12 foot high sign for a church that contains LED. The church keeps saying the entire sign is not LED, so I will add that slight clarification although to me a 12 foot high sign with LED is a 12 foot high LED sign and the rest is a game of captain semantic.

A while back, Covenant Presbyterian Church on Lancaster Avenue or Route 30 in Frazer decided they wanted a new sign. They filed an application with East Whiteland Township:

I knew about this application because I had seen it somewhere on the East Whiteland Township website. I don’t recall exactly what it was but I think it was a meeting agenda or something. Digital billboards and electronic signs are a hot button topic in East Whiteland, and the township is currently in some settlement agreement with a shall remain nameless billboard company that will involve a true Sophie’s Choice of where do the ugly signs go to make this issue go away. Whatever happens it won’t truly be a win for the residents.Maybe the township solicitor will think it’s a win because it’s easier to push settlement conferences than to fight? Yes that is an actual question in my mind because I think the solicitor is just tired.

Regarding that find entire saga on the East Whiteland website HERE and see:

But back to Covenant Presbyterian. They want this sign. But it requires a zoning variance. So a hearing notice went out to a small amount of folks within the legal zoning notice defined area, and one local businesswoman posted about it in community Facebook groups. Word spread like wildfire. Some, like myself, had told the township prior to the hearing (which occurred last evening) how we felt about the proposed sign Covenant Presbyterian wants, and did so again, both by email and public comment before the zoning meeting was continued to January 25th at 7:15 PM (another zoom meeting.)

In the spirit of full disclosure I let the church elders/pastors know how I felt along with the township and community members.

What I said was:

Covenant Presbyterian Church does not NEED a 12’ high LED sign, they WANT one. Why is it a church of all things wishes to have a sign more appropriate for something on the Las Vegas strip or NYC’s Times Square?


Not to be irreverent, but God already knows they are there, as do all residents of East Whiteland. We can read their existing signage just fine and it is size and style appropriate for a church.


Let’s not forget the small LED sign of ridiculous brightness at Lincoln Court that no one controls and the numerous complaints to the township. Or the Gerhard’s sign that is also garish and too bright.


Also to be considered are the electronic billboard issues that the township is already embroiled in, which no one wants. If you approve this monstrosity of a sign at a church how does it affect other sign issues?


Other factors to be considered are light pollution and that is a very real worry. That is a proven environmental concern, just like it is indeed a distraction to drivers. And some drivers are blinded by these signs and I know people with medically documented neurological and health issues who can’t drive into the front of Lincoln Court because that sign which is lit 24/7/365.


Also shouldn’t we remember East Whiteland’s overpriced Route 30 corridor plan? Do you all really think people are going to want to live adjacent, next to, across, or down the road from this sign or any other electronic billboard? How is a sign like that in keeping with revitalization plans?


Does anyone care how this will affect existing residents who live close by?


This church wants to what amounts to an electronic billboard. It is out of character for a sweet looking church. It is an ugly and unnecessary concept.


The community deserves better.

Needless to say, my thoughts on the sign were not well received by the congregants. It became a full fledged digital online Salem Witch Hunt meets the Scarlet Letter. God help you quite literally if you dared said you were opposed to the sign. Most of the knitting needle-like prods were done by church ladies, and wow, right? Nothing like that cozy feeling of community fellowship, right?

All day these folks went at it in various community groups. Anyone who opposed the sign was anti-church and anti-christian. And then there were the ones who specifically did not like me because of what I said. I needed to be “reined” in. They said I did not understand what I was saying when I said “bless your heart.” That just made me laugh out loud when I read that. I actually do understand and I had actual southern ladies explain proper usage to me, bless their hearts. Yes I was deliberately sarcastic with some of them because their ridiculousness and fake piety deserved it. It was a day of God wants us to love our neighbors unless they are against a 12′ LED sign in front of the church.

We are all bad people if we don’t want this sign because their church wants this sign. Want being the operative term here. They don’t understand the difference between want and need, which is a somewhat important concept when it comes to zoning matters and proving hardship if denied or to avoid denial.

So then there was the meeting. 30 square feet overall to 49.8 square feet overall is what they want as per the Zoning Hearing Board that we heard on the meeting. That is not an insignificant difference is it?

And a want at the end of the day is not a hardship. The man presenting the church plan also essentially said they want a bigger sign because others have big signs. Not churches, businesses. And then there was that question they raised of a different zoning classification and to that a resident asked the simple question if they wish to reclassify, will they also pay taxes since non-profits generally escape them on real estate? (That was met like the proverbial fart in church as a comment.)

Throughout, East Whiteland’s Zoning Hearing Board lawyer gave both helpful and unhelpful commentary. This attorney’s law firm also does some work for Easttown I am told? Like East Whiteland’s solicitor is also the solicitor of Upper Merion? So many municipalities are related by these relationships and don’t even realize it, do they? (But I digress.)

My comment shortly after they determined party status and before they continued the meeting until January 25th at 7:15 PM (and I keep reminding you because East Whiteland’s Zoning Hearing Board attorney kept reminding people there would be no other notice and heck they didn’t even post last night’s meeting notice until this morning) was simple:

I am struggling after listening to the church’s presentation and what amounts to me as a sort of straw man argument on the part of the church. And I mean the church no disrespect saying that, because the good work and good deeds of the church have never been in question, and truly and sadly can’t really be justification for a sign change like this. No hardship has been proven, and again need vs. want are two very different conversations.

I also remarked as a breast cancer survivor of several years still on cancer meds, one of the side effects is the fact the meds affect my vision. I am growing cataracts. Not huge ones at this point, not at a medical point to be removed, but it means that super bright lights have a very negative effect and some of those LED signs (like the one at Lincoln Court) almost have a temporary blinding effect or I see lots and lots of spots. I also remarked how people with know neurological defects that are medically documented go out of their way to avoid these signs, including in our own community.

Why is it that these signs seem to be more important than how the residents feel about them and how they affect residents?

Here is a summation from someone who was on the call. Their words, not mine:

Last evening’s meeting was instructive and illustrates, yet again, how Zoning Hearing Board’s are not staying true to their mandate.


The Covenant Presbyterian Church applied for a variance in regards to a new sign they wish to erect on Church Road and Route 30 where the currently have a 30 square foot, old fashioned sign. The regulation in East Whiteland states that signs should be no more than 20 square feet in that zoning district and 8 feet tall. I presume the applicant was grandfathered in under older rules.

Fine.


The applicant wishes to erect a 50 square sign that is 12 feet high. They provided no real hardship but one of the individuals did recite all the good work they do in the community. I am certain that is true and people I know, who are against the placement of the sign, tell me that is case. That has ZERO bearing on this matter. The fact is that the applicant needs to illustrate a true hardship.


This is a “dimensional” variance which carries less of a standard than a “use” variance. Still, this is the benchmark the applicant must meet – “the standard approval for a dimensional variance is “practical difficulty”, which courts have defined to mean that strict compliance is “unnecessarily burdensome” and granting the variance would “do substantial justice to the owner”.


The applicant came nowhere near this in their presentation. Frankly, I was embarrassed for them. The reason they want to do this is because they want the sign. Even one of the Board members (I believe it was the Chair) said, “I am having a hard time finding a hardship here”.

Precisely.


This should have been a clear denial. Many residents spoke on this matter, the majority in opposition. This includes at least 2 members of this group. They were spot on with their remarks. Additionally, a business owner across the street who opposed the sign stated, “if you make this exception, I will be back for mine next”.

Exactly.

The slippery slope. Did I mention that half of the sign will be a bright, LED with changing messages? Yes, the same type of nonsense we see at the Giant with the light that is blinding.


A denial did NOT happen. Instead, the Zoning Hearing Board decided to enter into public negotiations with the applicant. It was like an episode of “Pawn Stars”. How about 40 feet? Well, we need it a bit lower. Oh gosh, maybe a little bit but we are not sure how much lower we can go. Yes, that is a paraphrase but it is what happened.


The role of the Zoning Hearing Board is to adjudicate on the matter at hand. They were to rule on whether or not there was sufficient hardship for the applicant to receive relief on a 50 square foot, 12 foot tall sign. That is it. Yes or no. It is NOT their role to negotiate. That should happen with Planning Commission. Then, the PC can provide a positive or negative recommendation to the ZHB who should still apply the same hardship standard for a dimensional variance as detailed above. What occurred last night was a complete joke. The applicant needs to meet that standard as long as they are proposing to erect a statue that is not within the zoning regulations. I could see relief for a 30 square foot sign since that is what they have currently. If there is no hardship at 50 feet, there is still no hardship at 40 or 35 feet. Essentially the ZHB is shifting the burden off of the applicant which goes against the Municipal Planning Code of PA. But hey, does that really matter anymore?


Contrary to the opinion of some, the burden is NOT on the public to first prove harm in this case. The first hurdle is for the applicant to show a true hardship. Incredibly one of the applicants stated that a smaller sign would not be a hardship and a member of the board basically agreed.


Yet, the matter was continued until January 25th so the applicant could make another proposal. This relief should have been denied. Then, the applicant could reapply with a smaller sign if they chose to go that route. The way Zoning Hearing Boards are acting now (and we have seen this in Easttown and Tredyffrin) is NOT in the interest of the community at large.


Regrettably, it is extremely difficult to remove members of a Zoning Hearing Board before their terms are up even if there is justification. I won’t go as far as to say that is necessary here but I know in another township a board member should have been removed already but is still serving due to the reluctance of the township to do what is necessary.


It is up to US to be a check on the Zoning Hearing Boards. We need to hold elected politicians (and those running) accountable for their appointments. Automatic renewals (like those that occur in Easttown for example) for members of Planning Commissions and Zoning Hearing Board must end!

This Zoning Hearing Board meeting last night made me remember the first one I ever attended as a then brand new resident. I went because of a proposed land subdivision that would directly affect our next door neighbors and us via potential stormwater management and I wanted to make sure I knew where the septic was going (which incidentally didn’t end up exactly where it was supposed to for whatever reason.)

At this very first Zoning Hearing Board meeting now years ago, I literally knew no one except the neighbors and them barely. Ironically I knew who the then Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor was because they were politically active with the Radnor Township Republicans way back when or something along those lines. A lot of the Zoning Hearing Board Members back then were elderly and I swear one gentleman in particular kept nodding off. He looked like central casting for the cute grandfather and in fairness, zoning meetings are not always exciting.

At this meeting I met some General Warren Villagers for the first time. They were there because of the then Cube Smart proposal (which is now built.) I remember feeling like they weren’t treated very well as residents which to me was surprising because Lower Merion Township Zoning Hearing Board was always decent to residents even if they had to reprimand them during a meeting.

The way meetings were run where I was from versus moving out to Chester County were and are vastly different. We had a literal timer on public comment (3 minutes individuals, 5 minutes groups), but at Lower Merion Commissioners meetings, public comment wasn’t always the last thing. And the zoning and planning were vastly different and so were the lawyers representing the municipalities. Zoning decisions were never instantaneous and the lawyers on the zoning hearing board in Lower Merion ran a tight ship and treated it like court proceedings. Everyone understood the boundaries and the procedure. Out here I am still trying to figure it out at times, and we’ll leave it at that.

I personally feel that the LED sign issue with Covenant Presbyterian should not have proceeded last night. I kind of think it should have been pulled from their agenda. I do not believe I will change my mind between now and the Zoning Hearing Board continuation meeting on January 25th at 7:15 PM.

However at the end of the day what I find the most troubling about the issue is the way residents who are supporting the church and are even members of the church or are possibly even related to people in the church are behaving and how can you blame anyone for having concerns? And this doesn’t just happen with these particular people over this issue. It’s the behavior patterns that some groups or even communities of people are seemingly oblivious to.

Yesterday in addition to the flame wars on community Facebook groups, there were the private messages people received. Some annoying, some borderline threatening, all inappropriate. They are just as bad as what happens if you dare criticize a school board or school district out here. And the messages and comments on the sign issue resumed after the meeting had concluded.

If you are against the sign, you are an enemy of the church community as far as these people are concerned. One guy also complained about those of us who protested the sign and participated in the meeting because there were very few people who showed up to the meeting in support of the sign and spoke. I mean HUH??? That is such a head scratcher because how are we responsible for the church supporters not showing up and publicly stating they support what their church is doing? Then there were the people who said all people online do is whine to the people who actually tuned into the virtual meeting if not participated with public or written comment. Again …..HUH?????

I actually had a very nice email from Rev. Dr. Moyer of Covenant Presbyterian today. He is a nice and thoughtful man by my estimation, but sadly that is not enough to mean they will get oe should get their variance on a sign they want but don’t really need. It’s great they want to get their message out, but the world is their oyster and an LED sign 12′ tall is not the only avenue of communication in this big wide world in which we live. I did write back to him my thoughts. I am happy to share them here:

Dear Rev. Dr. Moyer,

I truly thank you most kindly for taking the time to respond to me. It speaks volumes as to your personal character.

I will be honest that I still am against a sign that is LED and whether it is all LED or partially LED is somewhat of a conversation of semantics. I would like to think you can get your word out most effectively without having to do it with LED at all. And that is really what the community wants.

However, a bigger (and hopefully short term problem) there are many of us in the community, now myself included, who don’t know that they will ever truly feel comfortable or welcome for at least a while in the presence of anyone from your church community given the way people who are against the sign were treated by church members on social media.

Perhaps you and your fellow pastors do not feel responsible for how your flock behaves on social media and outside the four walls of the church itself, but it certainly bears reminding to all that they are the larger face of your church. After all, that is often what draws us as human beings to houses of worship: the people we know or have met who are already there.

I was not happy to have to deal with these people from Covenant yesterday and I was disturbed at the woman who suggested local businesses who were concerned about the sign should be boycotted. I don’t find that to be particularly Christian.

And the suggestion to not patronize any local businesses in a year where so many have gone wanting made it just wrong. Maybe I see this a little more personally than others because I have friends in other areas who are out of work, have lost family members to COVID-19, and or have had to make the sad decision to close a small business because COVID-19 made it impossible for them to stay open.

I realize because some of the people defending the church sign are literally family, and also because a lot of your membership feels like family they feel more strongly even than us on the outside over this issue. But to verbally barrage fellow community members like that gives me pause. Not wanting the sign is most certainly NOT an attack on your church or being Christian, it’s simply NOT wanting the sign for whatever reason.

In the past, I am one of those people that used my position in the community as well as my social media abilities to get the word out when your church needed donations for things like the food bank. There are times when God didn’t necessarily give me the bank account to write hefty checks, but he gave me a voice for a reason. And I always try to use it for good.

After yesterday, I’m going to have to hit the pause button before I’m supportive again, and that actually is a crisis of conscience for me because you’re a church. But community people who belong to your church need to act like it. And I say that as someone who was raised Catholic and knew wonderful priests and nuns growing up, and have also had friends for years who are among the truest Christians that I have ever met, as well as those who are Protestant ministers and pastors elsewhere.

But to throw verbal stones at people because they are not mirror images of who you are and what you believe is something that always troubles me – and I’m not just saying this is a fault of the members of your church because it’s most certainly not. It’s a negative aspect of human nature that I sometimes ponder. It’s also sort of like a community-wide disease around here sometimes. And as a man of God, I think you can understand that. Except because you have been a pastor for so many years, you can look past this more easily than a lot of us regular folk.

Again, I am happy that you took the time to respond to me. You seem like such a nice person and I wish we could be on the same side of this sign issue. But sadly this is an issue greater than your church and one which weighs heavily on the community at large.

I am sure I will see you virtually at the next meeting, and maybe sometime when COVID-19 is behind us we could have coffee or tea and meet in person.

Thank you also kindly for the blessings, after 2020 we all can use them no doubt.

Next is how this post got the title it did. It is because of these people who want the sign and belong to or support the church being so unpleasant that I titled this post fire and brimstone. It’s the way it made me feel. That whole Salem Witch Trial Scarlet Letter effect.

Something however I read that gave me hope was a nice way a local women said her “no” to the LED sign:

Please reconsider. Mary and Joseph didn’t need anything but a star to guide them. The Lord himself knows you don’t need a lit up sign to gain parishioners or to share messages

Next up is the January meeting. In between I am sure lots of community discussion. Or what I hope will be actual discussion versus social media flame wards and gang mentality.

Here is hoping in 2021 people learn to behave a little differently towards different opinions.

Here’s hoping in 2021 people more locally can actually learn to appreciate the differences in other human beings for whatever reason. People talk a good game about inclusion and understanding but it’s time to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Peace out.

No photo description available.
Flat Hal the plot plan man is 5′ 8″ tall. Him next to the sign is an idea of human scale.

gather wisely. give thanks.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A very beloved national holiday. And yes it is the year 2020, or the year of COVID19 and ugly politics.

However, it’s also the year that as a country we have started to come together and say enough to the specter of racism which has haunted our country for a very long time.

It’s definitely a year where more seems broken than fixable. Yet here we are. And we’re still standing. So we should indeed come together and give thanks.

Our first Thanksgiving in this country was basically people coming together to give thanks that they survived. I think that should resonate with all of us after the way 2020 has treated us.

In Pennsylvania, people are fixated on the fact that a lot of people won’t be able to go out to bars tonight. That they’re shutting down the sales of alcohol after a certain time. I was somewhat disgusted last night to see on the news a bar that was opening at 6 AM so they could make sure they serve all their drinks. In my humble opinion that’s playing Russian Roulette with their lives and the lives of others and is morally questionable.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of friends in the service/hospitality industry. Businesses are suffering terribly. But we’re talking about a global pandemic which is already spiking again way past our wildest imaginings. I know people whose restaurants have closed and will never reopen which makes me really sad. But I think wanting to keep people from gathering in large numbers right now isn’t a bad thing. It’s more like common sense. I have said it before to let history be your guide. Look at the last time a global pandemic gripped this country in 1918. In the Philadelphia area alone, it’s spread like wild fire because the parade wasn’t canceled.

If you want to support your local restaurants and businesses, and want to be safe, contact them and find out what kind of gift cards or gift certificates they offer. That will keep money coming into them and keep everyone safe until people feel more comfortable. Maybe it won’t be the monetary bonanza that everyone seeks this time of year, but if enough of us do that a lot of these places might be able to squeak by until 2021 when hopefully life will return if not to the old normal, a new normal.

Like it or not, and again let history be your guide, life will be a new normal. It won’t be the same old same old. And maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe this life reset we have experienced in 2020 has a larger meaning. Maybe it’s wanting us as Americans to get back to basics and appreciate what we already have and not be spoiled about what we don’t have right now.

Someone said to me yesterday that they weren’t going to really decorate for the holidays and even set a pretty table for Thanksgiving. I disagree wholeheartedly. I think if ever there was a year where we should deck the halls and use our good dishes, it’s this year. What are we waiting for? Maybe our pods will be smaller and our holiday tables won’t be bursting at the seams, but we’re alive. And we have survived 2020 thus far.

Instead of the glass half empty, maybe it’s the glass half full. It’s not what we thought the year would be when we rang it in on January 1, but it’s the hand fate has dealt us.

Give thanks tomorrow for what you still have and the people you still have in your life. Give thanks to the memories and the good times of the people who are no longer with us. Remember them fondly and with laughter. Just try to put aside the negative energy that has had us in the grip of stress all year long. And I really wish that the news would stop interviewing fools not wearing masks at places like major train stations complaining that their personal liberties are being impinged upon as they’re getting ready to board a train to go visit family. How about all of those complaining stop being selfish for five minutes? Maybe it’s not all about these lovers of purportedly missed freedoms, maybe it’s respecting and loving your family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers enough that everyone does things differently this year. It’s one year. And maybe you don’t believe that there is a virus, but given all of the millions of people who have died worldwide? Their families might beg to differ. We’re all a long time dead, right?

So tomorrow parades, football, and our Thanksgiving tables themselves will look much different. But we should still celebrate and give thanks for still standing at this point in this crazy ass year.

Gather wisely. Give thanks hugely.

Wishing all of my readers a happy and safe Thanksgiving.