ha! political upset sweeps malvern borough (but t.o.d still on the table)

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I would be remiss if I did not congratulate the residents of Malvern Borough for taking the first steps to take back their town from developers and council people who have forgotten why they serve in the first place.

***And before I get into more, let me remind Borough Residents that somewhat hidden on the Malvern Borough website is the flyer for the next Transit Oriented Development or TOD meeting (ToDflyer11-19-13 ).*** 

Anyway…while some will coo over political party nonsense of it all, that wasn’t what the write in was about.  It was about standing up for where you live and pay taxes and giving yourselves permission to say “NO”. This is democracy at its best.

Congratulations to David Bramwell, Todd Lexer and Matt Radano.  They are new councilmen-elect.  They crushed their competition on a write-in campaign that the existing regime obviously did not take seriously.  And of course next election you can replace the rest of them too. My top pick for replacement next would be Mr. Woody VanSciver.  The write-in three will have a real job ahead of them and I thank them in advance for taking on a largely thankless job.

Congratulations to the new mayor-elect David Burton.  He won by a huge margin for a small town.  He is a Democrat, but that is not what got him elected.  What got him elected was the desire for change.

And that is what is so truly cool about this latest Malvern political tale.  Much like when Betty Burke rallied the troops in the past, these people did it this time.  It remains to be seen how things progress, but Malvern Borough residents can help by going to public meetings and participating in their future. But much like  “back in the day”, this is a cautionary tale because Malvern Borough residents this journey is just starting.  As they say, you have won a major battle but not the war.

Winning the war means showing some developers the door and sending T.O.D. packing. I mean how can they even talk about T.O.D. now when no one knows what SEPTA is doing? SEPTA stopped service at Paoli before, and they can do it again.  And until that is all ironed out, why not just stop the emperor’s new clothes of it all?

I took a lot of flak as a borough outsider for expressing an opinion about Malvern Borough, but I think Malvern is a cool little town and I really hope it is preserved and not super-sized.

And I am really looking forward to my first Malvern Victorian Christmas as a Chester County resident this year – I have had conflicts on that Friday the past few years.  Malvern Victorian Christmas is Friday December 6th from 6 – 9 PM, and Saturday December 7th from 10 AM – 3 PM.

I will also note again that Malvern Borough pulled a lazy-sneaky and did NOT add a NEW post for the upcoming Transit Oriented Development Meeting but they have it listed as Tuesday, November 19th, 6 PM at Borough Hall.  Borough residents should join their new Mayor-elect and councilmen-elect there.  An old political trick is always to try to shove things in or set them up to get in as one administration prepares to partially or totally turn over. (Why do you think Washington DC is such a perpetual mess?)

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Here is some recent media attention on Malvern Borough – note I am only posting excerpts. Please go to Main Line Media News to read both articles in their entirety:

Main Line Suburban Life: Henry Briggs: Nov. 5, 2013: The day Malvern rebelled

Published: Tuesday, November 12, 2013

By Henry Briggs
Columnist, The Scribbler

Democracy can be messy. It can be inspiring. It can be dividing or uniting.

Many people distrust their elected officials. It’s very American, in a way. But usually, the distrust is localized around, as the old saying goes, those whose ox is gored.  If politicians can keep ox owners separate, they get away with it. If not, well…

Over the last few years, a number of ox in the little town of Malvern were being gored, but at first, residents on focused only on their own…..On election day, with T-shirts proclaiming “Do the ‘WRITE-IN’ thing,” Dave Burton and the ‘write-in’ candidates worked the polls all day. On a normal non-presidential election,  about 320 Malvern voters show up. For this election, 799 showed up.

Dave Burton, Dave Bramwell, Todd Lexer, and Matt Radano won by a landslide.

Democracy can be messy. It can be inspiring. It can be dividing or uniting. Or it can be all of the above

Meet Malvern’s new councilmen, mayor

Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013

By Linda Stein
lstein@mainlinemedianews.com

In an example of democracy in action the voters in Malvern turned out in record numbers in the Nov. 5 to sweep out the incumbent mayor and three councilmen.

The pace and character of development in the borough was evidently the issue that brought voters to the polls, resulting in the successful write-in candidacy of three residents for seats on the council.

David Burton, a Democrat who won the mayoral race 509 to 266 against long-time incumbent Gerald J. McGlone Jr., said development was the issue on people’s minds as he knocked on doors this fall…..A challenge to a large group of residents who opposed more development was issued at the July 16 meeting by council members, who told them to run for election if they did not believe that Malvern Council represented the will of the people. That brought a write-in campaign, said long-time resident Danny Fruchter.

David Bramwell, Todd Lexer and Matt Radano, who took 68 percent of the vote, according to unofficial totals from Chester County. Incumbents William Macaleer, Robert Coughlin and Zeyn Uzman received about 10 percent each…“They were all swept out of office in a landslide,” said Fruchter, who said that officials who had gotten cozy with developers and were ignoring the borough’s comprehensive plan.

do you live in zip code 19355? read this.

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Ahh yes, another post about Malvern Borough. I could post more photos of the tiny small town that it is, but I will stick with a photo of the town mural and a couple of photos containing well worded graffiti on overpasses from elsewhere in Chester County.

Malvern Borough is a small town.  It is surrounded, by rural, industrial, commercial and residential in the genre of exubrbia. Malvern is not and never will be the Main Line.  Malvern shouldn’t want to be the Main Line, either.  If Malvern wants to be like anyone, how about St. Peter’s Village or Narberth? Those are cute places who aren’t afraid to be the little home towns that they are.

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Malvern historically has always had an identity crisis. Settled originally by Welsh immigrants in the 17th century, it was the site of the Paoli Massacre in 1777, it was a tiny little area that never had a name until 1873 and wasn’t even incorporated as a borough until 1889. It has always been small with King as the main road off the beaten path.

Malvern should be fine with who it is, but it seems part of the history of Malvern is a history of government issues.  You might say it is one of Malvern’s long-standing traditions.

Malvern said yes to a relationship with Eli Kahn and gave birth to the yet unoccupied behemoth of a mixed use building.  You know, because Malvern needs to be so urban.  That building is perched unattractively right on the road with no care or thought to human scale let alone a design compatible to the SMALL TOWN surroundings.  You can’t unring the bell on that project.

But Malvern and people around Malvern need to wake up to what is coming down the pike if they are not careful. T.O.D. or transit oriented development.  Clever speak for cram those units in developers!

I have written about T.O.D. twice in 2013:

the emperor may have no clothes on when it comes to t.o.d. in Malvern

if septa is considering cutting service past paoli, why does malvern need T.O.D.?

T.O.D. is no joke and at the most simplest of explanations won’t fit in Malvern Borough.  We’re talking at least 600 residential units. I used to say that T.O.D. stood for Total Of Dumbasses. I still do.  If Malvern Borough, as in the Mayor and Borough council are not stopped, it is not just the residents of the borough who will be impacted.  Any other municipality that has borders will be impacted.  I think East Whiteland will be impacted the most.  And her residents will have no choice in the matter as this is Malvern Borough’s proposed stupidity.

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What has provoked me to write again about this?  Henry Brigg’s brilliant and ever so sad column in Main Line Media news today.  It should be required reading it is that good.

He mentions a lady named Betty Burke who staged an uprising via a sit in on Christmas Eve in the 1970s to get rid of a corrupt local government.  Well that fascinated me so I did a little research.  Betty Burke died in 2011.  I just read two things about her and it brought tears to my eyes. Now there was a woman I would have liked to have known.

Here, refresh your memories:

betty burkeRemembering Betty Burke By Henry Briggs

Published: Wednesday, March 09, 2011

M. Elizabeth Burke, 91, a Malvern activist

By Sally A. Downey, Inquirer Staff Writer

Posted: March 17, 2011

Burke Park is named for Betty and her husband Sam. A lot of what has made Malvern a cool place in the past 3 or 4 decades is because of this woman’s persistence.

So are there enough people who knew Betty and her husband Sam still around that they might stop and think about what is lurking for Malvern “is this what Betty would have wanted?” Or would Betty have told people to toss the elected officials out again?

Again, I never knew Betty. But wow, what I have read about her is amazing so I think she would be very sad for Malvern right now if she was alive.

Of course it is not too late if people wake up now.  And don’t depend on local media to keep you abreast of things. Residents are going to have to do it the old-fashioned/old school way: pay attention and go to meetings. Use your power of the vote and change the faces of who govern you.

Stop the craziness in Malvern.  Read Henry Briggs column:

Main Line Suburban Life > Opinion

Henry Briggs: Say goodbye to Malvern, RFD

Published: Wednesday, October 02, 2013

This is a story about a storybook small town, one that could exist anywhere in the country, one that is being left open to attack by the very people who should be defending it.

It is 1.3 square miles with tree-lined streets…..lying between bucolic expanses of gentleman horse farms in Willistown and the corporate parks and exurban sprawl of East Whiteland.

Originally, when the whole area was working farm land, Malvern was a commercial hub, a place to buy supplies and sell the fruit of their labors…….Malvern has one traffic light, three little league fields, five churches, and, until a couple of years ago, one bar. The administrative office and police department are in the repurposed school house…..Traditionally, residents of small towns are quick to defend them.

When the town council turned corrupt in the early ’70s, Betty Burke, a nurse, mother, and political novice, led a bunch of other mothers in a Christmas Eve sit-in and coup that threw the bums out. Frank Capra would have loved it.

Traditionally, residents of small towns understand and cherish their unique qualities…..Malvern is at the bottom of a hefty political pyramid.

In recent years, special interests from that pyramid – with cooperation from leaders of the Malvern Council – decided that Malvern is just too small for the 21st century. They have been joined by developers who, like hawks in a summer sky, spot vulnerabilities that those on the ground never suspect.

Henry Briggs has written many a column that was like a love letter to Malvern.  This is one of those letters. Except it is so achingly sad because it is like he is saying good-bye to an old, dear friend.

Malvern Borough residents old and new, will you save your town? Please?

Post Script: Thanks to local columnist and former Malvern Borough Council President Henry Briggs, I have two more columns about Betty and Sam Burke to share…in the hopes that remembering these simple people who worked so hard will inspire Malvern residents to shake off the cobwebs and save their small town before it becomes another Eagle or some plastic coated Toll Brothers-esque mess wrapped in Tyvec.

The Scribbler Proud member of the Betty Burke Party

The Scribbler My Best To You