slapp

19 July, 2017

Hello Dear Readers,

I am  writing today to let you know that I am at present a victim of what is known as a SLAPP suit (Strategic  Litigation Against Public Participation.)

 

Earlier this year, I was hit with a Cease and Desist in the form of something known in legal circles as a Writ of Summons.  It was issued on behalf of developer Brian O’Neill and Constitution Drive Partners over the Bishop Tube Site in Malvern/Frazer in East Whiteland Township.  It was sent to me by the West Chester and Chester County law firm of Lamb McErlane.

 

This whole thing also involves Maya van Rossum, who is The Delaware Riverkeeper , her non-profit The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and people thus far referrred to as “John Does 1 -10”

 

Yes I know Maya.  I used to live not too far away from her before I moved to Chester County.  She lives in Radnor Township and I once lived in Lower Merion Township. As I have previously stated, Maya van Rossum is one of the most ethical, dedicated, and smart women I have ever met.  I am honored to know her.

 

I actually had not seen Maya van Rossum in a few years in person before I turned around at that February 27, 2017 East Whiteland Zoning Hearing Board Meeting because I heard a familiar voice – hers.  Others (unknown as to precisely who) had contacted her about this site.  And I also think the folks from Trout Unlimited were there, and have also been at meetings (I never even knew what that non-profit was until all of this.)

 

Within a couple of days of that February 27 meeting, I injured my knee seriously enough to require surgery.  My injury was to my right knee which meant I did not drive  or even truly walk again until quite recently and even now the distances are brief.  As I sat on the sidelines (which included NOT attending public or other meetings), many more public meetings happened. The whole debate of the Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland raged on (and continues to do so seemingly.)  The DEP has been weighing in, along with State Representative Duane Milne, State Senator Andy Dinniman, even East Whiteland Township Supervisors.

 

The residents of General Warren Village also banded together and began to advocate for themselves as they live adjacent to this site.  People from neighboring areas seemed to have joined them based on replays of public meetings I have watched over the past few months.  And the Delaware Riverkeeper has persisted. (See this section on their website.)

 

This is democracy in action.  When people take an interest in where they live, it is a powerful force. It is not easy for the residents involved, and it does take great courage,  I applaud them.

 

As I have sat on the sidelines watching, this whole SLAPP thing has persisted.  At its most basic, things like this are an affront to our inalienable rights to protest and speak.  Our very rights are at risk, including that thing called the First Amendment:

 

First Amendment (As reprinted by the ACLU)

 

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.

 

I am not the only one experiencing this (even on this topic) but when you are faced with this it feels so very and truly personal.  Because in a way, it is.  It is a challenge to those aforementioned freedoms we as Americans (regardless of political and religious persuasion) hold dear and even at times…take for granted.

 

It is because of situations like this I believe municipalities need to do better by us as residents.  It is because of this that those we elect to the most basic of municipal levels, including the State House, State Senate, U.S. House and U.S. Senate need to do better by us.

 

As a perennial student of history, I have faith that the truth will indeed out.  And I do indeed have representation.  Mr. Samuel Stretton.  A gentleman whose career I have followed off and on for many years and now have the privilege of knowing.  Any questions may be directed to him.

 

I just thought it fair to let you my readers, neighbors, friends, and family know what was going on.

 

Thanks for stopping by

west goshen, west goshen, west goshen….

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A few weeks ago I wrote about the curious goings on in West Goshen Township. My curiosity grows.  Is there a reason for example that this is yet another story the Daily Local isn’t covering? Is it too much of a political hot potato for them?

Why?

Well, there is news. But before we get to news are West Goshen Township officials going to post law enforcement at every meeting to protect them from the public?  Are they going to pass their anti-free speech ordinance having to do with recording PUBLIC meetings even as they are discussing the recording of meetings by the township? How will that work exactly?

Oh, and about that right to know case pending, since they seem a-feared  of sunshine:

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Hmmmm Sam Stretton is representing the resident’s interests.

This is getting interesting….someone might have to give up some fitness classes at ACAC to deal with this, hmmm?

Pull up a chair at upcoming West Goshen meetings and bring the popcorn…..

in case you thought things couldn’t get more strange in tredyffrin….

So in the end will we discover that John DiBuonaventuro had the approval of all his fellow supervisors regarding his infamous September letter in Tredyffrin?  Will he write a personal note back to Sam Stretton who is representing Pattye and sent Tredyffrin a letter ?

Before I get to the crux of this post, as far as background check out  article by Rich Ilgenfritz of Main Line Media News on November 5, 2012, and post by Pattye on November 2nd.  Also check out post by Pattye on November 4th.

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:

Majority of Tredyffrin supervisors may not have approved DiBuonaventuro letter posted to website

Published: Thursday, November 08, 2012

By Richard Ilgenfritz
rilgenfritz@mainlinemedianews.com

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?

So what does that mean if this was not in fact approved by a legal quorum/majority of supervisors?  What are any additional implications involving the former Tredyffrin Township Manager ?

How does John DiBuonaventuro get away with something like this?

Sign me confused.

Here is Pattye’s post on the topic.  She continues to be a lady about this.  I bet Tredyffrin wishes this would go away, but what is that phrase? Truth will out?

Re Personal Letter on Government Website — Did Tredyffrin Supervisor DiBuonaventuro receive approval from his fellow supervisors?

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.

well john dibuonaventuro & tredyffrin, guess that other shoe just dropped, huh?

It ain’t over and I do not blame Pattye Benson one little bit.  She is RIGHT, John DiBuonaventuro and those Tredyffrin Supervisors (who in my opinion are complacent and accepting of his unacceptable behavior by their silence and lack of action), need to be held accountable for what they did. It will be interesting to see what new mananger and Radnor ex-officio Bill Martin will do.  It will interesting to see if he leads in the right direction on this, won’t it?

It has long been whispered that the political culture in Tredyffrin has not been healthy for decades.  After what happened to Pattye, I don’t even want to patronize businesses in the township. I want to avoid the township.  After all, I am a blogger, and who says they won’t try to intimidate more bloggers and residents?  A Septa official I had contacted about my input on the Paoli  Transit Project wanted me to go to the recent public meeting in Tredyffrin.  I told them it was not possible and why.

The culture in Tredyffrin politically and governmentally has to change.  I don’t view it as either safe or sustainable.  And John DiBuonaventuro needs to realize it’s not the wild, wild west and he can’t just do as he pleases at the expense of others.  He was elected to do a job, hold a position, not pick on residents, correct? I mean the First Amendment isn’t subjective is it? It is what it is, is it not? And since when should elected officials tell us how to think?  Correct me if I am wrong, the plurality as a collective are their bosses, right?

So Pattye has apparently retained Sam StrettonSam Stretton is probably one of the few lawyers in Chester County not afraid on some level of bully governments.

Sam wrote a letter:

Here is Pattye in her own words:

It has been 8+  weeks, since Tredyffrin Township Supervisor John DiBuonaventuro wrote and posted his September 5, 2012 letter to the citizens on the township website. (click here to read the letter). Over the last 2 months, I continue to receive phone calls, emails and have had many discussions with residents that are troubled and concerned about DiBuonaventuro’s letter and use of government letterhead, government website and government resources for his personal attack of traditional news sources as well a private citizen, who dare to question our government. Subsequent to September 5th, we have learned that DiBuonaventuro’s personal letter and use of government resources, was apparently sanctioned and approved by former township manager Mimi Gleason, township solicitor Vince Donahue and the other six members of the Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors.

At the September 17, 2012 Board of Supervisors meeting, I read a personal statement (click here for Community Matters post and links to BOS meeting and statement) which addressed DiBuonaventuro’s letter and subsequent email and joint phone call from the township manager and police chief on this topic.

When the framers of our Constitution insisted on Freedom of Speech rights, one of their aims was so that all Americans – no matter their social class or position in our society – could vigorously examine and criticize our government. These rights have throughout our history nurtured our democracy and made us a beacon to the whole world. However, as history has played out, the battle for these rights has proven at times to be hard-won rights that we have to continually fight for and renew.  First Amendment rights are a cornerstone to this nation’s government and citizens have a right to discuss issues that are of importance.  The freedom is speech is in place for all of us – including the citizens of Tredyffrin Township.  Further, freedom of speech includes ‘me’ as a citizen and Community Matters.

 

Brava Pattye!  Brava!  I know this must be incredibly hard to do.  I suggest everyone take the time to read Pattye’s entire post. And next time any of these supervisors in Tredyffrin come up for re-election vote ’em out of office.

Pattye does a lot for Tredyffrin.  She is also a business owner and resident who pays taxes.  She is a thoughtful, intelligent, and caring woman.  She is also a friend, and nothing cheeses me off more when good people are upset by idiots.