So Tredyffrin has as their mouthpiece it seems the solicitor Vincent Donohue, who paints such a rosy picture of Tredyffrin and how the residents are treated that many can’t help but wonder has he actually been there? I also wonder why we have not heard from Tredyffrin resident/Radnor Township ex-pat/Tredyffrin Manager Bill Martin? Where is he on all of this or is he somewhere in the Tredyffrin Township Building hiding under his desk? (Don’t laugh, I heard a story once of someone in Tredyffrin hiding under their desk and why couldn’t it happen?)
Anyway, my eyes are popping because of this article I just finished reading in Main Line Media News:
It might appear that a majority of the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors did not see or approve a controversial letter that a Tredyffrin Township supervisor posted on the municipal website in September, according to an open records request made by a local media outlet.
In September, a letter to Tredyffrin residents was posted on the township’s website criticizing media and bloggers in what one blogger described as a personal attack on the First Amendment by a government official.
Because the letter was written by a Tredyffrin Township supervisor and posted on the township letterhead and posted on the township’s website, Main Line Media News filed an open records request under the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s open records law to find out more details about who authorized placing the letter on the township’s website. Among the documents sought were any e-mails or messages about the placing of the letter on the website.
But despite the efforts, it would appear that few such documents exist.
Under Pennsylvania’s open records law, the township had five days to respond to the request that was filed Sept. 10. On Friday, Sept. 14 a representative from the Tredyffrin solicitor’s office responded and invoked the 30-day extension in order to gather and review the material to determine what was public and what was not public under the law.
When the solicitor’s office responded Oct. 15 it was determined that any letters to or from the solicitor’s office was considered private attorney/client privilege and would not be released but any other material would be made public under the law.
However, when the information was reviewed by Main Line Media News, only one e-mail was produced. The one item produced by the township was e-mail from John DiBuonaventuro, the author of the letter, to Patricia Hoffman, executive assistant, and dated Sept. 6, 2012 at 7:18 a.m.
The subject line read, “Letter to Citizens.”
The one paragraph letter read, “Pat, this is a confidential email. This letter has been approved by Michelle and Vince. Please put it on the township letterhead and make three copies for Kristen, Michelle and I to review when we get in this morning. We will give you distribution directions once a final review is done. Thanks and see you around 8 or when you get in. JD.”
There is no indication that other members of the Board of Supervisors read the letter and approved it to be placed on the township’s website. Neither were any letters or messages from residents making comments to any township officials on the letter.
Crikey! They aren’t riding the train to a new station in Paoli, these people seem to be riding the un-sunshine friendly crazy train don’t they?
Posted on November 8th, 2012 5:32 PM by Pattye Benson
Did John DiBuonaventuro actually have approval from fellow supervisors before using government resources and government letterhead to post his personal letter of September 5 on the government’s website? The answer to that question is not entirely clear, and the answer also depends on whom you ask.
As the resident targeted in DiBuonaventuro’s diatribe to the citizens of Tredyffrin Township, I was very interested to read the Main Line Media News article, “Majority of Supervisors may not have approved DiBuonaventuro letter posted to website”. In the article, Rich Ilgenfritz explains that the newspaper filed an open records request with Tredyffrin Township asking for all information pertaining to DiBuonaventuro’s letter on the township website. However, it is interesting that MLMN only received one record; an email from DiBuonaventuro to Patricia Hoffman, executive secretary for Tredyffrin Township….
One of several troubling unanswered questions in regards to DiBuonaventuro’s personal use of the township website, is did he act alone? Or, … was there discussion (approval) from the other members of the Board of Supervisors. In her response to my question on this matter, Gleason stated the following in her email dated September 7:
“ … In answer to your question, it is unusual to post a statement from an individual Supervisor, but given the inaccurate and derogatory statements and innuendo publicly made about John DiBuonaventuro, I decided to approve the posting of the letter on the Township website. In this case, he was the subject of baseless public speculation simply because he is a Tredyffrin Supervisor. The circumstances justified the use of the website to publicly defend him, carrying with it the implicit endorsement of the Township to the accuracy of his statements. The Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and the Township Solicitor agreed that it was appropriate for the letter to go on the website.”
Gleason’s email states that the use of the government’s website by DiBuonaventuro carried with it the “implicit endorsement of the Township”. She further states that the Chairman [Kichline] and the Township Solicitor [Vince Donohue] agreed the letter was appropriate for the website. But did Kichline really see the actual letter?…Subsequent to DiBuonaventuro’s letter going on the website, there has been no public statement from the other 6 supervisors on this matter, except by Kichline who said that the Board would work on a website policy. Why the silence from the other supervisors? Privately, some of the supervisors have told citizens that they never saw the letter and some have stated that they would not have approved of the letter on the government’s website. Why don’t the supervisors own these opinions in public?….Another interesting thing to note on this email is that there was a private meeting of 3 supervisors – DiBuonaventuro, Kristen Mayock and Kichline. Why was Mayock involved but none of the other supervisors? As chair of the BOS, I understand the rationale behind Kichline attending the meeting but it is unclear if she actually attended or not. Mayock and Kichline are the two attorneys on the Board – was that the reason behind their request to attend this meeting? And it should also be noted that DiBuonaventuro states in this email, that he has approval from the solicitor Vince Donohue for the letter on the website. Everyone seems to be in agreement that Donohue saw and approved the letter – DiBuonaventuro, Kichline and Gleason all state that Donohue approved the letter. Interesting that this short email is all that is contained in the files in regards to DiBuonaventuro’s letter. Just interesting…..Supervisor Mike Heaberg read a statement in regards to the website policy which suggested that there would be a policy presented at the November 19 Board of Supervisors meeting. It was unclear whether or not the public would be permitted input into the website policy. Public input could prove important when you read the response from the township solicitor Vince Donohue to my attorney Sam Stretton… (click here to read all of Pattye’s post)
This whole scenario still smells rotten. What else can you say except are the residents of Tredyffrin REALLY being served? Seems to me this twisted Chester County Kingdom needs an overhaul, doesn’t it? Darn good thing that Tredyffrin and West Vincent aren’t next to each other, right? (But if Tredyffrin was it would just be more opportunity for certain people to accuse more people of being “Chickenman”, right? After all, as I here told you aren’t anyone until you are accused of being Chickenman, huh?)
Pattye, keep on keeping on. Truth will out. Truth will out.
Tredyffrin has hired one of their hometown boys, Bill Martin, formerly of Radnor Township fame and the Bashore years. Not that Bill Martin was a particular fan of Bashore’s (I was told he wasn’t), he was just from that truly unfortunate era. An era which took the fortitude of some persistent residents, commissioners, and others who were on the up and up to correct. It was not, however, without blood shed.
Bill Martin went from assistant township manager (and vartious other positions) in Radnor to interim township manager in Radnor in early 2010 when Radnor was saved from the debacle of almost hiring problematic ex-Coatesville manager Paul G. Janssen Jr. as interim township manager. Martin, however, was ultimately passed over for the permanent manager position when Bob Zienkowski was bought in from Ohio.
I will tell you honestly I am of the Radnor Bob Zienkowski fan club and with good reason – he is amazing. He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. That man walked in to a hot mess, rolled up his sleeves, and got busy.
As an aside, some timely news about Radnor as it relates to Chester County is Bob Zienkowski suggested at the October 15th, 2012 public meeting that Radnor consider studying to leave Delaware County and to join either Chester or Montgomery County. Yes, municipal secession (see Radnor meeting on You Tube for 10/15/12 and start listening just before 9 minutes 42 seconds to catch this.) The irony is I have always felt Radnor Township had more in common with Chester County versus Delaware County, but I digress.
Ok back to Bill Martin. After Radnor, he went to Bridgeport – a very tiny municipality in Montgomery County. He has been there about a year as per newspaper article I found. Of course, Bill Martin joins another mid level Radnor refugee of the Bashore era, Matt Baumann, who is Tredyffrin’s current Director of Planning and Zoning. Matt helped me when I got the historical marker for the Wayne Natatorium. He’s a heck of a nice guy.
Bill Martin is also a nice guy from what I have always heard told. But truthfully, Tredyfrrin as I see it is a municipality in need of serious remediation ASAP. And choosing a manager who may or may not be a politically connected local resident may not be the way to go here. I am actually going to disagree somewhat with my esteemed blogging colleague Pattye Benson ever so slightly.
Pattye comments that this is the first time a Tredyffrin Township Manager is a Tredyffrin resident and lives in the township. Now I agree with the residency part, and I think the departing and in the end disappointing Mimi Gleason is actually a West Chester area resident. What I do not agree with is choosing someone who lives in Tredyffrin now as a manager. I think the best thing that could have happened to Tredyffrin would have been a new Township Manager coming in from waaaay outside Tredyffrin and the area, truthfully.
I hope I am wrong, but I wonder if Bill Martin will have the chops in the end to take on what needs doing in Tredyffrin. Tredyffrin has historically been subject to whispers – people are afraid of retribution. And before you poo poo me here, look what happened to Pattye Benson when she spoke up? That still does not sit right with me, and I still believe that troll of a supervisor John P. DiBuonaventuro as well as Tredyffrin Township’s administration owes her an apology, don’t you? In true lettergate fashion, I say a written apology.
Insular politics and politics of one party rule without much balance is bad for a community – just look at the snarl of tangled politics that is Lower Merion Township.
So I will be looking for Bill Martin to be an independent voice, beholden to no one. I hope he can accomplish that. I hope after what he saw and experienced at Radnor Township during the Bashore years that he can bring a different tone to Tredyffrin.
Congratulations Bill Martin, but my oh my you have a large job ahead of you.
Community Matters and TE Patch Blogger Pattye Benson reports that Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors has appointed a new Township Manager to replace Mimi Gleason, who left the position in September 17 after ten years with Tredyffrin Township…..What sets him apart from Gleason and others who have served as Tredyffrin Township Manager is that Martin is a resident of the township.
Yesterday was the 225th anniversary of the United States Constitution. Truly, the bible of our freedoms was signed on September 17, 1787. Yesterday a friend of mine had to defend her honor as a free woman of the United States of America.
Why is it Tredyffrin feels it is above the very principles upon which this country was founded? How ironic is that considering as a municipality they hold within their borders part of one of the most sacred sites of the American Revolution and of our history? You know, Valley Forge?
What truths do we really hold to be self-evident? In Tredyffrin, quite frankly, I shudder to think.
I am astounded at the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors President Michelle Kichline. She danced around the subject of Vice President of the Board of Supervisors John P. DiBuonaventuro turning Tredyffrin’s taxpayer-funded website into TMZ.com. And I am still somewhat astounded that exiting Tredyffrin Township Manager Mimi Gleason went along with this whole enchilada, including a personal attack by an elected official on Pattye Benson who gives so much to her community. And as a blogger, I have been in Pattye’s position. I have been threatened, as have other bloggers I know. And time and again I ask for what? Having an opinion that runs contrary to the party line of some petty local government or selective government officials? Was People’s Republic of Tredyffrin Supervisor DiBuonaventuro channelling his inner Corbett? (Remember when Corbett went after bloggers before becoming governor? I wrote about that topic in *shock and horrors* Main Line Media News and it is reprinted below.)
I was thinking today about my balloon ride on 9/11, and how I was moved to tears by not only what the day represents (and it has extra meaning to me as someone who by happenstance walked out of the shopping concourse in the World Trade Center in 1993 just as the garage blew up), but moved by the beautiful green field dotted with a couple hundred first responders from all over Chester County who came together on 9/11. Then I thought about what my friend Pattye had to bravely do last night. She stood up and disclosed to all (see YouTube) that because of Lettergate she received a very odd phone call last week – from the departing Township Manager and Chief of Police. What was the point of that? Intimidation? I can’t help but wonder if I will also become a target because I have blogged about this? (This is not my first rodeo, and when horrible things like this happen it seems again that ordinary citizens have hit upon subjects government doesn’t want aired in public, right?)
When you think of what our founding fathers fought and died for, and what all those people (including first responders) died for on 9/11, I am so truly and deeply saddened and angered that Tredyffrin Township seems to think this is all o.k. and don’t you feel the same?
It’s not. Today, we as bloggers in the South Eastern PA blogosphere applaud Pattye Benson for rising above and speaking her piece in a dignified and forthright manner. She behaved far better than any in government (either elected official or township employee) deserve. Tredyffrin owes her, Main Line Media News, and anyone who exercises their First Amendment Rights an apology.
And as a municipality which is Republican dominated,
they are not exactly forwarding the cause of their party or their party’s political belief system. (As a Republican I am ashamed and embarrassed for them) I am so over bullying by government. (IMHO it doesn’t just happen in Tredyffrin either) I mean think about it people! Pattye Benson was in fact cyber-bullied by government officials and township officials. Cyber-bullied, the thing they worry about in schools and here it is adults in power not exactly practicing what they preach, right?
….The regular Board of Supervisor’s meeting ended with supervisor and citizen new matters. Chairman Michelle Kichline read a statement from the Board of Supervisors concerning the use of the township website for John DiBuonaventuro’s letter to the citizens. Although a personal attack on a private citizen, Kichline stood by the decision to post his letter on township letterhead on the website. She did say that the board will look into developing a policy for the use of the website going forward. As the private citizen who was the target of DiBuonaventuro’s venomous attack, Kichline and the Board of Supervisors response was far from satisfactory.
Following Kichline’s statement on the Suzy Pratowski matter and the use of the township website for a supervisor’s personal letter, Andrea Felkins, a former School Board director and longtime resident , presented a lengthy statement in opposition. Felkins was absolute in her conviction against DiBuonaventuro’s use of the township website for his personal attack on me and of Community Matters…Below is the transcript of my statement from last night’s September 17 Board of Supervisors meeting:
Pattye Benson Personal Statement September 17, 2012
Members of the Board of Supervisors and citizens of Tredyffrin Township – I had not intended to speak tonight, preferring to listen to other’s voices. But something happened this past Friday, that has shaken me to my very core. At approximately 9:40 AM on Friday, September 14, I received a joint phone call from township manager Mimi Gleason and Police Superintendent Tony Giaimo that has forever changed who I am. In life’s journey, this is my watershed moment and a feeling that I will never forget.
Unable to shake how I was feeling, after 24 hours, I wrote the following email to Mimi Gleason and copied Michelle Kichline, chair of the Board of Supervisors.
Let me share that September 15 email with you.
Dear Ms. Gleason,
There are two reasons that I am writing this email (1) to state that as a citizen of Tredyffrin Township, I now feel threatened and harassed by our government and (2) to request that you never contact me again, unless it is with a written apology for your actions.
I have thought of little else since receiving your phone call yesterday, Friday, September 14. As a township resident, to be blindsided with a conference call from the township manager and the police superintendent was more than a little intimidating; I have to wonder how often you have taken a similar approach with other citizens in this community. The telephone conversation left me wondering exactly what was the purpose of the call and why did you involve Tony Giaimo except as a witness or possibly to record the phone conversation. Although there was no mention made of the call being recorded, Tony did state he was in his police vehicle, so am I to assume that the telephone conversation was recorded without my knowledge.
Between the historic house tour, the Paoli Blues Fest and personal health issues, I do not have the time or energy for your directives, missives or whatever else was the intention of your phone call or of your email dated September 7. On September 7, I emailed you the following simple question:
“Who is responsible for Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s letter on the township website? Was placing the letter on the website sanctioned by you, the township manager?”
The only response that my question required was a simple, yes or no, with the possible addition that the chair of the Board of Supervisors and the township solicitor had OK’d the letter for the township website. However, no, you decided on a different response, one that was not required, not needed and not necessary. Frankly, as a citizen and taxpayer in this township, your response was one that I believe you should never have sent. When I received your email, I made no response.
Your call yesterday revisited the opinion you stated in your September 7 email to me; again complaining that Community Matters contained misinformation and incorrect facts, specifically the assisted living project. However, never once in the conversation did you cite specifics as to what was incorrect. As a response to your complaints about the Suzy Pratowski matter, I stated that the Main Line Media News, TE Patch, Daily Local and the Philadelphia Inquirer had all written articles on the subject. I further stated that there was at least a week after the news articles appeared for the police department, the township or the Board of Supervisors to make a statement before I wrote anything on Community Matters. Residents were asking questions and no one seemed to be providing answers.
As a result of the situation, I did my own mini-investigation, speaking with District Attorney Tom Hogan, District Judge Tom Tartaglio, BOS Chair Michelle Kichline and Police Supt. Giaimo. After a thorough analysis, I presented my own summary statement on Community Matters. I clarified that John DiBuonaventuro was not the unidentified driver with Ms. Pratowski in the May 28 incident, as a photo in the newspapers may have implied. In my summary, I stated that DiBuonaventuro was interviewed by the police and that the police were satisfied that he was not in any way involved with the two police officers not appearing for the August 21 court date. I wrapped the summary up and tied a ribbon on it, stating that the two police officers missing the hearing was a human error, a mistake. I also thanked those involved (Hogan, Tartaglio, Kichline and Giaimo) for their help and used the words that I was ‘closing the chapter’. Little did I know, what was to happen … DiBuonaventuro’s letter, your involvement with the letter on the website, your September 7 email and most recently, your telephone call of September 14.
Feeling threatened by your phone call, I remarked at one point during the conversation that I should have an attorney on the call. I stated to you and Giaimo that as a resident of this township, I have rights, and as a citizen of the United States, I have rights, including 1st Amendment rights. I believe that our government does not have the right to harass and intimidate those citizens it serves to protect. I am not an attorney but I cannot imagine that your actions of yesterday (or your email) would be viewed favorably by the courts. Further, I cannot imagine that you would have considered making a similar phone call to Main Line Media News, TE Patch or the Philadelphia Inquirer nor would you have dare taken this approach with an attorney who might understand the legal implications of your actions far better than me.
Supt. Giaimo asked what I would like to see happen going forward – my response was a denouncement from the Board of Supervisors for the letter going on the website and an apology from the township manager. It should be noted that I quickly also stated that I did not expect either of those two things to happen.
It saddens me greatly that you were compelled to bring Tony into this matter. He and I have enjoyed a good working relationship over the last several years, including the blues festival and the house tour. Was your motive to damage my relationship with him, or was it to record the conversation? It is entirely unclear why you involved the police superintendent, except to further intimidate me.
In case you are not aware, your phone call was so upsetting, that I immediately called Michelle Kichline, chair of the Board of Supervisors to report the conversation. You suggested that I was ‘mistaken’ when I suggested that Ms. Kichline had not seen Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s letter before it was posted on the website. For the record, Ms. Kichline again confirmed that she had not seen the actual letter before it went on the website; I guess you are the one who is mistaken.
In closing, your intimidating actions have contributed to my feeling harassed and threatened by some in our local government. I ask that you not contact me again, unless it is with a written apology. For the record, I believe that John Petersen is also owed an apology from you, for the words, “so-called legal expert has no expertise …” contained in your Sept 7 email to me.
Sincerely, Pattye Benson
This is the end of my email to Ms. Gleason but I have a few closing remarks.
The great irony is that today is this country’s Constitution Day. Two hundred and twenty five years ago, on September 17, 1787, forty-two of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting. Only one item of business occupied the agenda that day, to sign the Constitution of the United States of America. Our founding fathers fought and died for our freedom, and I am left wondering if what is going on in this township is what they would have intended.
In closing, I am but one person, but I believe that I represent a far greater community.
Can we question our government?
Do we dare to have an opinion?
I believe that ALL our voices matter.
There is nothing subjective about the First Amendment and any of our other inalienable rights.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
Will Pennsylvanians soon be looking forward to a new slogan for the Commonwealth? How will “Welcome to the People’s Republic of Pennsylvania” roll off the tongue? I don’t think it will dance as nicely as “You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania” somehow. Nor should it.
What has my wanton blogging soul all a-twitter (pardon the pun)? News which went viral across Pennsylvania as well as the country: Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett, upholder of truth, justice and the American way in Pennsylvania as attorney general, issued a grand-jury subpoena to Twitter to unmask a couple of anonymous bloggers who weren’t part of his fan club.
Yes, that’s what I said, “Huh?” Apparently these two bloggers are known on Twitter by the handles of @bfbarbie and @CasaBlancaPA and they have been criticizing Mr. Corbett. OK, well, it’s 140 characters or less, right? He’s a tough-guy politician, right? So why the thin skin? Surely Mr. Corbett has faced tougher criticism from opposing candidate Dan Onorato? In today’s world, who hasn’t criticized a politician? Over dinner, in the editorial page, at the grocery store, in a public meeting, on a blog, on some other form of social media? It’s an American tradition as old as this great nation for goodness’ sake!
This is so confoundingly perplexing on so many levels that this issue has even prompted a comment from Paul Alan Levy, a litigator with the Public Citizen Litigation Group. Mr. Levy commented in part on Mr. Corbett’s decision to sue the federal government to try to block the new health-care bill as being too invasive in citizens’ lives. Like Mr. Levy, I have to wonder: what is so different about this?
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution was written to protect things like free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press. It says literally:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
So how does this work with politicians again? Are we as human beings supposed to blindly follow where all lead? Are we only supposed to agree with politicians, never disagree? I’m sorry; did I fall asleep and wake up down the rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland or something?
Is Tom Corbett the new Henry VIII of Pennsylvania? “Off with their heads” and all that? Instead of priest holes, will we all soon have blogger holes in our houses and an underground railroad to move bloggers from safe house to safe house to avoid the AG’s guards?
Are bloggers all now criminals and outlaws for expressing our opinions about elected officials and those seeking not only local but higher state and even federal-level office? If some of the most famous founding fathers were alive today would they be in jeopardy as well for scribbling broadsheets under pseudonyms? You know, like Benjamin Franklin or John Adams or Thomas Paine?
Seriously, what century are we living in? What’s next? Resurrection of the Scarlet Letter? Only this time it is a “B” for Blogger? Stocks? Pillories? Being paraded through the proverbial town square in chains?
This is a man who wants us to consider him for governor, right? So how many people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania blog or use some form of social media to express themselves? And should elected officials use their office as a bully pulpit to squash all critics like bugs? What is it about politicians? You can write about them as long as it’s good news or they can control the content? That is what their publicists are for, I thought.
If the First Amendment rights of these bloggers were or are in peril, can it be considered that so could be the First Amendment rights of every American from coast to coast?
Given the now undeniable symbiotic relationship between the media and bloggers, one would hope the media would pay close attention to this story as it unfolds and at its conclusion. After all, the media get a lot of information from blogs and bloggers (“citizen journalists”), they can’t deny it, and so in theory if the First Amendment rights of bloggers are challenged thusly, the press is next.
Media reports indicate that by Friday, May 21, 2010, Mr. Corbett was just having a bad day and is pulling his subpoena. It is a good thing that Mr. Corbett has done the right thing, but it still gives all of us pause for thought, doesn’t it?
Pennsylvanians of all political persuasions indeed have a lot to think of come November 2010.
I guess in November 2012 and every election going forward until Tredyffrin residents have more fairly representative government people will have something to think about, huh? They can try to quell our voices, but like our votes, they are our own, are they not?
A member of the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors this week injected himself into the recent dust up over why police officers failed to show up for a court hearing in a public intoxication and disorderly conduct case involving a township zoning and hearing board member.
The letter was in response to an issue that was first brought to light two weeks ago on Main Line Media News’ website. The article sought to find out why the police failed to show up to a summary court hearing regarding the arrest of a member of the Tredyffrin Township Zoning and Hearing Board.
Suzanne Pratowski had been arrested in May 2012 on public intoxication and disorderly conduct charges. The hearing date was scheduled for Aug. 21. However, the police failed to show up for the hearing and as a result the charges were essentially tossed out.
In the letter signed by DiBuonaventuro, the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors vice-chairman said that Main Line Media News suggested that he was the unnamed designated driver in the car when Pratowski was arrested. DiBuonaventuro’s name was never mentioned in the article.
An undated file photo showing Pratowski and DiBuonaventuro, along with six other people, was posted along with the article. The photo was taken by Main Line Media News at a social event in October 2011. DiBuonaventuro stated in his letter that “the MLSL internet-based story accompanied by the picture left the reader with the obvious implication that the driver was me. It was not.”
In his letter, DiBuonaventuro states that he had a relationship with Pratowski that lasted a little over a year and ended in November of 2011.
DiBuonaventuro also used the letter to suggest that a local blogger, Pattye Benson, has been trying to discredit the local government through her website, Community Matters. DiBuonaventuro said the site “[A]ppear[s] to be an on-going effort to discredit our government and its efforts to serve the citizens by creating and fostering an environment of conspiracy and mistrust among its limited readership,” the letter reads in part…..DiBuonaventuro went on to raise other questions about bloggers and what he calls “anonymous commentators.”
“I also question if they (bloggers) would have the fortitude and stamina to engage in a one-on-one campaign for elected office let along serve in a position with little or no pay, full responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens they serve, and with appears to offer nothing more than continuous ridicule in return,” according to the letter.
Township supervisors have control over local taxes, development and a host of other issues that have a direct effect on the lives of residents, businesses and visitors to a particular municipality.
DiBuonaventuro did not return e-mails seeking comment and clarification of the issues he raised in the letter.
A posting on Tredyffrin Township’s official FaceBook page seems to agree with the assertion that DiBuonaventuro has been defamed in some way. The posting was in response to a question raised by [Chester County] resident and blogger Carla Zambelli when she asked “is this letter attacking a private citizen and local media outlets currently posted on your site an official government sanctioned release?”
The response to her question was posted by Tredyffrin Township Manager Mimi Gleason.
“It is unusual to post a statement from an individual Supervisor, but given the inaccurate and derogatory statements and innuendo publicly made about John DiBuonaventuro, the Township Manager approved the posting of Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s letter on the Township website. In this case, he was the subject of baseless public speculation simply because he is a Tredyffrin Supervisor. The circumstances justified the use of the website to publicly defend him, carrying with it the implicit endorsement of the Township to the accuracy of his statements. The Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and the Township Solicitor agreed that it was appropriate for the letter to go on the website,” the posting reads…However, Police Supt. Anthony Giaimo and Board President Michelle H. Kichline have not returned phone calls or e-mails this week regarding the issue.
For more on The Peoples Republic of Tredyffrin read Pattye Benson’s blog Community Matters. If you have FiOs and depending on where you live in Chester and Delaware counties, some of you may be able to watch Tredyffrin’s next Board of Supervisors meeting on Verizon Channel 24. If you live in Tredyffrin, get thee to a meeting!
The next Board of Supervisors Meeting as per Tredyffrin’s website appears to be Monday, September 17 in something called Keene Hall in Tredyffrin Township at 7:30 p.m. Show up and speak out for Pattye and for yourselves. If you are very good and very lucky, maybe they will post another letter on how horrible residents are?
Local governments like this only have the power you allow them to have. It is time for Tredyffrin to change. And your Board of Supervisors President Michelle H. Kichline has some explaining to do, does she not? And is her surly vice chair just supposed to keep on bullying residents and potentially anyone who disagrees with him?
Like many local municipalities, Tredyffrin has an official Facebook page. I have no idea who is responsible for its content.
I posed a polite but rather simple question to the page, because I figure as a non-taxpayer and non-resident, it might be the most expedient way to get a response. Well, I got one. I thought nothing further could shock me about Tredyffrin Township, but well, it’s lettergate in full flower now I suppose.
I am posting the response. Really I had to suppress the urge to ask how Tredyffrin feels about the First Amendment. But should I bother given the response? Is it self-evident?
What happens the next time residents are on the other side of an issue from an elected official? I will note *again*, I have no idea who responds for Tredyffrin “officially” on their Facebook page as they do not identify themselves or their position within the Township.
I am just shocked. Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I am. How is any of this not an abuse of power and/or an abuse of a taxpayer-funded official government website? So am I to understand that they are publicly flogging a resident for blogging and asking questions? Is the Township website in Tredyffrin just a political bully pulpit? Do they care or even have a clue as to how this makes the entire township look? To residents? To people considering moving into the township? To businesses?
This lettergate is certainly shaping up to be a First Amendment conundrum among other things like a public relations nightmare.
I am now going to let my friend Pattye Benson speak for herself. Unbeknownst to me until a few moments ago, she wrote about exactly what I am writing about. I am cross-poting her most recent post. I will admit I am a bit surprised by Township Manager Mimi Gleason’s response. But she is retiring, right? I wouldn’t want this to follow me out the door, would you? That whole thing is confusing since Ray Hoffman wrote an article August 30th that is titled “Mimi Gleason to remain Tredyffrin manager for now” isn’t it?
Should I make a Note to Self? Along the lines of don’t ask anymore questions about Tredyffrin, it is not safe? Wonder what esteemed folks like Paul Alan Levy would think? I will tell you what, this baptism by fire into all things Tredyffrin makes posting recipes even more appealing. Recipes don’t attack.
“The dominant purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit the widespread practice of government suppression of embarrassing information.” ~ William Orville Douglas, US Supreme Court Justice
According to John DiBuonaventuro’s letter to the citizens, Community Matters posts are an “ongoing effort to discredit our government and its efforts to serve the citizens by creating and fostering an environment of conspiracy among its limited readership.” I received many emails and phone calls in regards to the inappropriateness of the letter but more importantly, the inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars to post the letter on township letterhead on the township website. The letter contains a personal attack on me, Community Matters and on those citizens who date to have an opinion. For some reason, DiBuonaventuro also feels compelled to mention my failed election in 2009 as a Board of Supervisors candidate … I guess that was contained in the letter, as a ‘just because’, he could … and he did.
I was hopeful that Michelle Kichline as the chair of the Board of Supervisors, the township solicitor Vince Donohue or the township manger Mimi Gleason would recognize the inappropriateness of DiBuronaventuro’s letter on our public website and that the letter would be removed quickly before any further damage was done to me or the other citizens of Tredyffrin Township.
I sent the following email this morning to Mimi Gleason, our township manager:
Who is responsible for Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s letter on the township website? Was placing the letter on the website sanctioned by you, the township manager?
I await your response.
I was extremely surprised by her immediate response below. Ms. Gleason states that she OK’d the letter on the website with approval from the chair of the Board of Supervisors, Michelle Kichline and township solicitor Vince Donohue. Folks, as a short-timer whose last day as township manager is Monday, September 17, 2012, Gleason has decided to make her true feelings known about me, Community Matters and for all those who dare to express an opinion. As sad as I was about the DiBuonaventuro letter, I wanted to believe in our government and the people we elected to serve. Bob Byrne, editor of TE Patch received a similar response from Gleason to his inquiry about the township website and DiBuonaventuro’s letter.
If the Board of Supervisors had been more forthcoming about the situation when the story first broke in the Main Line Media News, the outcome of the situation would have been very different. If the public had received any assurance from the Board of Supervisors that they were reviewing the internal investigation report of the Police Department, or if the public had known that the District Attorney’s office had reviewed the report, if, if, if, … no one said anything, there was no communication or explanation. Were it not that I went from the District Attorney, to the District Judge and then to the Police Chief, we would still have questions and no answers. The summary information I provided on Community Matters was not secret, the residents could have had, and should have had it.
So what is the bottom line? Gleason’s email says to me that to hold our government and its elected officials accountable by the citizenry is not acceptable in Tredyffrin Township. You read her response and be the judge.
I think it is interesting that you seek information from me now, but not before starting a storyline full of inaccuracies and innuendos that had the potential to harm people’s reputations. Correcting falsehoods well after the fact does not undo the damage from your original posts. You feed cynicism and assumptions of impropriety when there is absolutely no basis for it.
You have done the same thing with the assisted living facility. So much of what you have written on that topic is factually incorrect. Why don’t you make an effort to get accurate information before you write articles and leave impressions with your readers? You have to know that your so-called legal expert has no expertise, and therefore I can only conclude that you share his agenda to make the Township and the Board of Supervisors look bad, without any regard for the truth or ethics. That has been a disappointing conclusion to arrive at.
In answer to your question, it is unusual to post a statement from an individual Supervisor, but given the inaccurate and derogatory statements and innuendo publicly made about John DiBuonaventuro, I decided to approve the posting of the letter on the Township website. In this case, he was the subject of baseless public speculation simply because he is a Tredyffrin Supervisor. The circumstances justified the use of the website to publicly defend him, carrying with it the implicit endorsement of the Township to the accuracy of his statements. The Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and the Township Solicitor agreed that it was appropriate for the letter to go on the website.
UPDATE 9:31 a.m.At 8:22 a.m. on 9/7/12 the letter posted on Tredyffrin’s official government website was taken down. At 9:24 a.m. the letter is back up.
So unfortunately for all concerned who tried to do good, it is somewhat disturbing to think a local government website paid for with Tredyffrin taxpayer monies is being used somehow like a private website for personal gain?
The uncomfortable question must be asked: are people to assume that this is now officially an official letter? Sanctioned by Tredyffrin Government and every elected and appointed official and township employee? What happens the next time a resident questions something? Another letter from another supervisor on official letterhead? Or something worse?
This municipality has part of Valley Forge in their borders, correct? Are the freedoms our founding fathers so long ago that they are forgotten and ironically this whole scenario is in essence a modern version of what the people who founded the United States fought to escape in Europe in the first place?
The Vice Chairman of the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors is on the warpath and he’s launched a savage political attack on the media and a private citizen on Tredyffrin Township’s official, taxpayer funded, website.
In a page-and-a-half screed that reads like a vicious political campaign hit piece, Republican Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman John “JD” DiBuonaventuro offers his explanation of his romantic involvement with a township Zoning Hearing Board member who is at the center of a “drunk and disorderly conduct” criminal case….The letter then turns blatantly political as DiBuonaventuro launches an attack on Main Line Media News which ran the original story (Patch linked to the story on the MLM website) and goes after Community Matters Blogger Pattye Benson, who also posts many of of her blogs here on TE Patch.
Truthfully, I am somewhat scandalized by that. Because in addition to everything else, for someone who did not like this entire topic, they just blew the topic larger than life in a more tawdry manner than any blog post and attacked a resident in Tredyffrin who happens yes, to blog on her blog at Community Matters, but who also happens to give hours and hours of herself to the residents with items involving historic preservation and fun things like the Paoli Blues Festival. This woman doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk.
Her name is Pattye Benson, and she is a magnificent human being. I am sticking up for her here because I know her and she has integrity and personal values. She is kind and pleasant and will always lend a helping hand. She is also a rather thoughtful blogger and I know for a fact she mulled over posting the latest Tredyffrin tackiness for a while because she just did not know what to think. Now apparently in Tredyffrin over this issue, you are damned if you don’t and damned if you do anyway?
I hope that all who read the above narrative, come away with a positive feeling about these four individuals (Tom Hogan, Michelle Kichline, Tom Tartaglio and Tony Giaimo) and the parts of our local government that they represent – I believe that these individuals respect the citizens of Tredyffrin and are trying to do ‘what’s right’ by us.
Unfortunately, as I was completing this exhaustive summary, I was told of an open letter to the citizens, penned by BOS supervisor John DiBuonaventuro. Apparently, DiBuonaventuro does not support Main Line Media News, Community Matters or the civil rights of citizens to express their opinions on this topic. Below is the last paragraph of DiBuonaventuro’s letter, click here for the full text. The tag line for Community Matters is “Your Voice Matters, Join the Conversation” and I stand behind it … we, as the community do matter and your voice does count!
Pattye has style. Now the whole world knows that a sitting elected official did date a current appointed official in Tredyffrin. This is by this elected official’s own hand, and very Ed Rendell of him. Me thinketh the supervisor doth protesteth too much???
However his attack on a private citizen named Pattye Benson that was in a sense condoned (supported? I mean what adjective does one use?) by ALL in Tredyffrin Township because this was published on seemingly letterhead on the official Tredyffrin Township Website is a sad state of affairs. It sends a message to the citizenry that you are o.k. as long as you do not question your government, let alone criticize anything. Does it also imply the First Amendment doesn’t matter when it comes to politics? It is also very revisionist history because people concerned about this issue, who have commented on this issue, who have reported on this issue did not ever create this issue.
And while we are talking about this, someone whom I guess must be a supporter of this Supervisor DiBuonaventuro wrote a comment. I imagine he also wrote Pattye’s blog, but I have not checked yet. Here is this guy and what he had to say:
Wow indeed. JDB is right on the money. These blogs are a haven for cowards, namely the anonymous posters and you bloggers who allow the postings without any verification.The National Enquirer has higher standards than chester county ramblings or community matters.
I am sorry that this dear man feels this way about two female bloggers. We’re just regular gals. And my goodness he is all in a lather. Truly he can kiss my grits on this one. I am entitled to my perspective and allowed his opinion to post. I am not hiding who I am, and I am also a writer. If he or anyone else does not like this blog then don’t read it. He takes a jab at anonymous bloggers, and Pattye and I aren’t so anonymous. But some do blog anonymously for any number of reasons.
A pen name, nom de plume, is as old a tradition as the United States itself. Ben Franklin and Thomas Paine and John Adams all wrote with pen names. And in their time, they were heroes.
Ironically, I wrote an editorial in 2009 about blogging for Main Line Media News. Here is part of what I said then:
So let’s talk about being a blogger, or “citizen journalist.” Sometimes we write about what we had for dinner, and sometimes we write about who that politician had dinner with. Sometimes we are just giggling over political shenanigans and a political-blog lampoon is born.
Do politicians like blogs and bloggers? Heck no. Ending up on a blog is like being caught outside in your underwear. Politicians are all about the image, and when the emperor has no clothes, the image can get tarnished, can’t it? I think blogging is a way for the common man to level the playing field. I like to think bloggers can make a difference. After all, look at what blogging has done for the billboard issue in Haverford. Look at eminent domain in Ardmore.
Politicians, despite protestations to the contrary, know that blogs can be good for them. Sometimes they will release a statement or will even create a blog during an election cycle. Simply put: they like it when they can control the output; they don’t like it when they can’t….Why is blogging on the Main Line such a big deal? Is being a blogger like having chronic halitosis? Or do people who complain about blogs complain about them because they have not figured a way to use them to their own advantage yet?
OK, I will admit I have a lot of opinions and am as politically inconvenient as the next local blogger. But so what? …I am amused by the festering Petri dish that is Main Line politics and other local issues….Bloggers blog under catchy “handles,” as well as under their own names with or without a fun handle. People love to make a big hairy deal out of blogger anonymity. But pen names are definitely as American a tradition as apple pie.
Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison were among our founding fathers who wrote under aliases. If alive today I bet they would embrace blogging as a communicative medium….To wind this up I think blogging is here to stay, and people should just get used to it. Blogging is another way for people to have a voice in what matters to them. Much like this editorial page, I don’t see anything wrong with that.
At the end of the day, am I really surprised this guy Brian above left a nasty comment? Nope. Is it the first nasty comment I have received as a regular writer or a blogger? Nope and it won’t be the last.
Truthfully, dear readers and blog followers when I wrote my original post on this sorry arsed topic I had truthfully no idea it would mushroom into “As The Tredyffrin Turns.” Didn’t know this woman. Did not know this Supervisor. Did not know any of it. I merely read an article I found profoundly disturbing on the Main Line Media News website written by a reporter.