politicians, election season, and blogging

Some of us blog all year round.  During election seasons, you will see candidates for public office “blog”.  To most politicians, blogs represent the devil. Yet during election season they seek to harnass the powers of citizen journalism.  It’s a love-hate relationship at best.

Only to me cutting and pasting press releases is not blogging, and is certainly not being done by the actual candidates. They probably don’t even know how to log onto their “blogs” let alone post.  Bet they would flunk a quiz on basic HTML code too.

West Chester Patch commented today on Facebook:

District 156 throw down on Patch.  Both Binder and Truitt are now blogging.  Truitt: http://patch.com/B-cxZt  Binder: http://patch.com/B-cxVF

Eternally curious with a few minutes to kill I went to take a peek.

Truitt Campaign: Posted on October 3, 2012 at 10:50 am



WEST CHESTER – State Representative Dan Truitt (R-156) today announced that he has received a letter of endorsement from the Chester County Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 11 in his bid for re-election.

Bret Binder (D) Applauds Commonwealth Court Ruling, Expresses Caution About Law’s Implementation Going Forward


Bret Binder reacted on Tuesday to the Commonwealth Court’s decision to prevent Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law from taking full effect.

“While I agree with Judge Simpson’s decision and it is indeed a victory for Pennsylvania voters, it does not change the fact that this law is a poorly designed attempt to disenfranchise a large portion of the electorate. Dan Truitt’s Republican friends in Harrisburg have made that very clear.”

Jumping Jehosaphats people!  That is NOT blogging in either case.  There is no first person recounting or any personal opinion whatsoever. Wow. I feel like I stepped into the fictional campaigns in the series “Boss” .

These are merely press releases written by other people .  If the candidates are going to blog, then really blog.  The campaigns of BOTH candidates are insulting the intellegence of Chester County voters.

And regarding the Presidential “debates”?  I am voting them a skip it.  They are completely scripted and they might as well have talking robots on stage tonight.

I respect candidates who can speak for themselves.  Let’s hope some of them learn to do that before election day.

Peace out.

pay to play lament: west chester area school district teachers picket

“Pay up!”

“The district has the money!”

Ah yes, the things that are heard on the picket line.  As in yesterday, in West Chester.

I have written about the ongoing issues between the teachers and the West Chester Area School District before.   And I am about to be the most unpopular girl at the dance again as far as these teachers and their supporters go. However, much like yesterday’s teachers who picketed and those who support them, I am also allowed to express my opinion on the topic.

One teacher heard hollering for the benefit of the television cameras who bore witness yesterday said it wasn’t about the money, it was about making a “living wage”.  I am sorry, did I hear her correctly?  Are teachers in the West Chester Area School District so grossly underpaid? Am I to envision the need for tip jars on every teacher’s desk throughout the district?

I truly don’t think so.

And whomever wants to can jump all over my back for having that opinion, but after following this story off and on for close to a year now, that is how I feel.

As I said before, I will say again:

Ok, here is what I think: Both sides will of course (to an extent) interpret the facts to suit their cause.  No one is perfect.  When the economy was better, I am sure everyone can agree this district spent like a drunken sailor on leave, correct?

So now times are tight.  Funding, grants, you name it are down. Which means both sides need to give as they get.

However, that being said, I think this teachers’ union and others need to wake up and smell reality.

They aren’t being asked to suffer a great injustice if they have to contribute towards their healthcare benefits!  Give me a break!  I am one of the millions of Americans who pays for their own healthcare out-of-pocket.  As in 100%.  And oh yes, I paid for breast cancer doing that and survived just fine.

Salaries.  My goodness, where else can you earn a fine salary and take off a few months a year on the taxpayers if you so choose? Wow.  Most of us in the private sector have considered ourselves lucky for years if we managed to get a cost of living salary increase!  Sorry, but between the salaries and the retirement benefits that enable teachers to not only retire early, but if they have been paying attention, retire rich, I do not feel the love in a need for an 18.3% bump up over three years.

Accountability.  Charter schools and private schools hold teachers accountable.  Heck most jobs in this country exist with a review process as part of the every day  dealio. Public school teachers should be equally accountable.  But if everyone is accountable than those who should have either chosen other career paths or been put out to pasture can’t slide by any longer, can they?

But is the school district itself with 100% clean hands here? Doubtful, never seen one that was.  School districts have all sorts of issues and skewed politics.

Now, do I believe there are people who are underpaid? Yes.  School District employees like teacher’s aides are often grossly underpaid.  But the teachers?  I am not so sympathetic.

And  I have a comment to the blond teacher who said on camera “we want fair wages for our work…we live in the district too.” My comment?  Simple.  If these teachers live in the district then they KNOW that there are a lot of people living on a LOT less than they have.  People without jobs, struggling to make ends meet.  People without benefits.

The day of the fatted calf is done.  These teachers have a LOT more than a lot of other people. Period.  This economy sucks for a lot of people, not just teachers.

If all of West Chester Area School District were so fabulous then they would not have kids being home schooled. Or in Charter Schools.  Or in private schools. Or in Catholic Schools.

I am sorry, but it truly upsets me to see people who have decent jobs and benefits most can only dream of  complain chronically that it is never enough.  If it isn’t enough, then they have options including going to work for other school districts and moving.

But to stand there and complain when so many more are going without right in their own district, well enough is enough. Grow up.

And think twice before you roll up on this blog and accuse me from hating teachers.  I don’t hate teachers. I know a lot of them.  And some of the teachers I know live with a LOT less all the way around than the teachers in the West Chester Area School District.

Overall, I think a lot of school districts spent a lot of years being bloated and neither teachers nor administrations planned adequately for “rainy days”.  Furthermore, yes times are tough, but in my mind that doesn’t mean you just shell out more to some, while so many others go wanting.  And there are a lot of people in Chester County, let alone West Chester who are seriously wanting and in need.  Maybe these teachers need to go volunteer at local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food banks – see what real need is. Right in Chester County.  Right in West Chester.

I apologize again for those who feel I am being strident.  It’s just the simple fact that SO many are detrimentally affected by the current state of affairs as far as the economy in Pennsylvania and the US as a whole.  These teachers aren’t by themselves suffering on a little deserted island.

West Chester Teachers Rally For New Contract By David Kinchen, Reporter

FOX 29 News September 25, 2012

West Chester teachers say they have been working without a contract since June 30th and want the West Chester Area School District to pay up.

“We happen to know that the school district (is) finding money and has the money to settle these contracts,” said Debbie Fell, president of the West Chester Area Education Association. …

District leaders say the school budget is fine for this year.  However they are worried about deficit projections up to $18 million two years from now and want to be careful about future financial agreements.

Union leaders say they have already saved the district nearly $3 million by agreeing to pay a pay freeze last year.

Both sides will continue negotiations on October 10th

West Chester Patch: West Chester Teachers Rally for a New Contract

Members of the West Chester Education Association gathered outside the district’s administration office to rally support for a new contract.

ByJake Speicher Email the author  5:45 am

The West Chester Education Association held a rally in front of the district’s administration building before Monday night’s school board meeting.

“We didn’t get in this for the money,” said teachers’ association president Deb Fell in front of a crowd of district teachers.  “All we want is a fair wage.”

Didn’t get into it for the money?  Really?  Good to know, from an outsider’s perspective it is hard to tell. Seems to me the teachers are telling us ordinary lay people that we are just supposed to work our tail feathers off to support them? At the expense of what we can afford? Do they think that the WCASD administration is just going to pull the money out of thin air? Or knock over a leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of a rainbow?

in the news in chester county

Last night at dinner time came the gruesome and sad news of an apparent suicide by car burning in Chester County (specifically Charlestown Township/Malvern):

NBC10: Body Found Inside Burned Out Car: Emergency crews responding to a car fire report in Chester County discovered a body inside the burned out vehicle.

I find that horribly sad and tragic.  It happened at Haverford College in 2009 – not a student, but someone who came in from the outside and ended their life in a remote parking lot.

There are so many people who are so deeply troubled.

In other news, let’s talk radioactive trash:

Radioactive material came from West Chester trash

Published: Thursday, February 02, 2012

NORRISTOWN — The Department of Environmental Protection is asking anyone who knows the history of an antique medical kit found in a West Chester trash bin to contact the agency’s Bureau of Radiation Protection…..The material was found Jan. 19, when a load of construction debris set off radiation alarms at Waste Management Inc.’s Norristown transfer station. The company deployed a health physicist to recover the radioactive material, identified as approximately one curie of radium-226. Exposure to one curie of radium-226 is equivalent to having more than 100 CT scans at once, and it has the potential to create skin burns within a few hours of contact.
DEP health physicists worked with Waste Management to properly evaluate and store the radium, and traced its source to a roll-off container that had come from the Hershey’s Mill retirement community in West Chester. 

Nice.  A retirement community.

Punxscutawney Phil, meanwhile, is predicting six more weeks of winter.

Now, previously, I had posted about  local food banks, and in today’s Malvern Patch there is a story about the People’s Pantry, formerly known as the Deacon’s Pantry in Frazer.  They are raising funds for a new building and have been approved as a 501(c)(3), making deductions tax-deductible.  They serve close to 2500 people- at least 500 households.  They have a website. In other food bank news, West Chester Patch announced that Chester County Food Bank has been named 2012 Business of the Year by the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce.  Read about it here.

We live in horrible economic times at present, and many are struggling.  If you can contribute to a local food bank, that is to paraphrase Martha Stewart, a good thing.

West Chester Patch has announced lane closures (for a change, right?) on Route 202:

Nighttime  lane closures are scheduled on northbound and southbound Route 202  between the Westtown Road and Route 100 interchanges in West Goshen  Township, Chester County on Monday through Friday (Feb. 6-10) from 8  p.m. to 5 a.m. …PennDOT reminds motorists they can log on to 511pa.com

The condition of 202 and how long this has taken is a personal pet peeve of mine.  That road is dangerous and deplorable. And the projects are like bad Brooklyn Bridge jokes. Construction never stops, never really completes, and work doesn’t seem to last very long.  They also do a crappy job of clearing debris from accidents, etc. from the roadway.

My last thing for this particular post is an outbreak of Whooping Cough in West Chester:

Whooping Cough Outbreak Declared for West Chester School

NBC10: Cases of pertussis at a West Chester school have officials shutting off classes to those who have not been vaccinated against the disease

By  Teresa Masterson
|  Thursday, Feb 2, 2012  |  Updated 8:32 AM EST

There is an outbreak of Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, at the Hillsdale Elementary School in West Chester, officials say.

Only days after a case of whooping cough was confirmed at another Chester County school– Great Valley High School – the superintendent of West Chester Area School District announced Tuesday that its elementary school has an “outbreak” of the highly contagious disease….

Scanlon said that any student or employee who does not have all of the necessary vaccines will not be allowed into school.

According to the Chester County Health Department, pertussis is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. It begins with cold symptoms and a cough that becomes much worse over one to two weeks.

Symptoms usually include a long series of coughs (coughing fits) followed by a whooping noise.  However, older children, adults and very young infants may not develop the whoop.  There is generally no fever, officials say.

People with pertussis may have a series of coughs followed by vomiting, turning blue, or difficulty catching their breath….The disease can be very severe…For any parent who wants to have a child vaccinated, the Chester County Health Department offers free vaccinations for children under the age of 18 on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The vaccine is also available free of charge for adults

the road too traveled…route 352

Route 352, A/K/A North Chester Road  is too damn busy.  Last night, there was another fatal accident. 

This road winds and meanders through multiple municipalities and I am told the police do try, but still the crashes keep on coming.  Probably because people think it’s a country road you can fly down, but it is very deceptive.  It has many twists and turns, and dips.  And oh yes, there are the deer, and the people who pop out of side streets near Immaculata without looking.

But can anything more be done?  Maybe now it’s time to look at the road again? People just fly up and down it no matter what time of day or night.

I have seen some of the accidents in the last year.

I have seen a car jammed up an embankment that threaded trees on Hershey’s Mill’s property.

I have driven the speed limit on this road with giant SUVs jammed up my ass because the speed limit isn’t fast enough.

For a problematic road, it just doesn’t seem to me that enough attention is paid to it.

How many people have to die on it ?

Update: Willistown woman killed in East Goshen Crash (VIDEO)

Published: Monday, January 09, 2012   Woman, Cats Killed After Car Slams Into Home

The accident happened Sunday night in Chester County. And it’s not just me thinkng about how fast people go on roads in Chester County.  Just read this column by a woman named Regina Fried in Malvern Patch. It orginally appeared on her own stand alone blog, January 2nd.