what does AOL Patch actually cover?

malvern patchChester County is a big place.  Not all areas of Chester County have much media coverage at all.  I am going to zoom into where news matters most to me: the areas of West Chester and Malvern.  I am also going to zoom in on one “media” outlet in particular: AOL Patch, the self-decried innovators of “hyper-local news”. (And FYI there are many all over the country critical of Patch.)

When I first started reading Malvern and West Chester Patch a couple of years ago I was impressed. They were actually living up to AOL Patch’s mission statement or whatever of covering local issues important to residents, in other words they were actually doing hyper-local news coverage. At that time they had a terrific regional editor and hard-working individual site editors.

What has evolved to present day is somewhat disappointing. Quite a few changes in individual site editors and a regional editor who sees big news as things like what the best diaper is. Not that diapers aren’t important to moms everywhere, but are they hyper- local newsworthy?

Malvern and West Chester is a fairly large area to cover with multiple municipalities representing zip codes 19380 and 19355. I want to acknowledge that up front. But it seems to me that news in West Chester and Malvern is not being covered and that is not good.

Many Municipalities out here in these two zip codes do not have any televised meetings even if they could if they wanted to. So we depend on local and hyper-local media for coverage. And I don’t see this gap coverage on Patch. What I see is a lot of fluff and things re-posted from other Patch sites that are not necessarily newsworthy.

What do you think of Malvern and West Chester Patch and the current editor who is covering both sites?

Are you disappointed in Malvern Patch and West Chester Patch?

I am.

There is a lot going on out here, and while no media outlet can cover everything, in my humble opinion they should be covering a fair representation of news in the communities under the “Malvern” and “West Chester” umbrellas.

What was the impetus of this post? Not just one thing, but a culmination of many things.

Take for example a recent article from Abington Patch cross-posted in Malvern Patch on September 16th titled Forty-Six Parishes Under Archdiocese Scrutiny. This article was basically a republication of a Philadelphia Inquirer report.  Furthermore, Patch references affected parishes in Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.  Not one word about CHESTER County, so what was the point of putting this on Malvern Patch?

And then there is the STILL uncorrected spelling error in an obituary headline.  I wrote about that on September 18th I found it so sloppy and disrespectful to whomever the deceased was.

There are many other examples I could cite as disappointing, but I won’t. You all get where I am going.

west chester patch

Do you think Patch has lost its way?

What do you want to see coverage of?

My list includes (but is not limited to) coverage of local meetings and issues facing residents, information on candidates for upcoming elections, real coverage of local businesses, meaningful profiles of residents doing terrific things, and coverage of local sports that is not borrowed or regurgitated from other sources.

It would also be helpful to see our local Patch editor out and about covering some things, because as it stands I do not see where this guy has actually visited our communities. And face it, if you are going to cover us in a hyper-local manner you have to get out and explore. And face it, Chester County has a lot of cool things to cover in addition to local government and other issues which may not be considered so positive.

At the end of the day, I would like to see Patch in Malvern and West Chester to once again cover where we live. They have employees being paid to do this, right?  Why can’t they cover the area like Radnor and Tredyffrin Patch sites do?  And if AOL Patch has changed and will no longer be covering where we live, it would helpful if they just said so.

Also to consider is what is the future of journalism? Once upon a time we thought it might be AOL Patch.

Thanks for listening.

chester county and development…not so perfect together?

Today when the news came that Brian O’Neill was continuing with Uptown Worthington’s next phase, I was not one of the ones cheering.  First I thought of my former township (Lower Merion) and the O’Neill projects in moth balls and sites looking shabby. Then I started to think about the development I have seen since I moved to Chester County, and I am concerned.

No one wants to turn their back on progress, but at what price comes progress?  For example, let us not forget Malvern Borough’s $60,000 mistake on East King Street. You know? Eli Kahn’s New Urbanism Fairy Tale?  In July, Kahn and his partners David Della Porta and Gary Toll did the old soft shoe and a rah-rah ground breaking.

With regard to Malvern, I will say again, You know what I think Eli Kahn and Jack Loew’s project is going to be like when it is done?  A super-sized Charleston Greene.  And over the years, how has Toll’s Charleston Greene worked for you ,Malvern?

A friend said to me a little while ago “You can’t spend other people’s money and
generate prosperity. ” 

There is food for thought.  Also to think about quite seriously is what Tredyffrin did last night other than not apologize for cyber-bullying the delightful and devoted and hard working community champion Pattye Benson.   They approved the C-1 Zoning Change. Now, basically, a LARGE death farm, excuse me, senior assisted living facility will grow on a rather SMALL site on Lancaster Avenue.  You know, where Jimmy Duffy’s Catering Company used to reside?

Interestingly enough, this new development is from a Tredyffrin resident who put the residents of Bala Cynwyd through the ringer for another awkward site senior assisted living facility around 2009. Main Line Media News said at the time:

Further township discussion of a controversial Bala Cynwyd development plan has been postponed until next month.

Developer Ed Morris of Traditional Properties LP had hoped to take his new plan for an assisted-living facility at 27-33 Old Lancaster Road to Lower Merion commissioners this week….Morris got zoning-hearing board approval in late July of a special exception to build a “home for the aged” on the parcels, which today are occupied by two single-family homes. The stone colonial houses would be demolished.

The plan was a switch from development plans approved by the township in 2006 for a four-story, 21-unit condominium building. Morris has said that marketing efforts to sell units in the proposed building were not successful as the housing market stalled….A number of residents in surrounding neighborhoods in Bala Cynwyd and Merion objected to the change in direction, saying that the assisted-living facility is a more commercial use, out of character with the area.

Oh my goodness!  Is this not an eerie sense of déjà vu?  Don’t I remember original plans for the Jimmy Duffy site being different, albeit equally unwelcome to neighboring Daylesford residents? (And Ed Morris like Brian O’Neill was featured in an article a few years ago in Main Line Today called Condo Mania)

How many developments do we need?  Does Chester County want to end up a congested mess with limited open space like much of the Main Line?

I noticed on Malvern Patch that a lot of people are excited by the idea of MORE mall at Uptown Worthington based upon the comments.  I, on the other hand, am concerned.

It wasn’t too long ago that this developer was embroiled in nasty, nasty litigation over this site.  And how will this phase of construction affect people? Remember the first phase? And look at the 100 year PennDOT 202 project right there right now. It really isn’t a 100 year project, but given how PennDOT does business it might as well be.

Then there is the thought of how many malls and mall like places do we need?   Exton is but minutes away with the Exton Square Mall, Main Street at Exton and the countless other smaller strip malls in and around it.  King of Prussia is also fairly close with the giant King of Prussia Mall and all the other various and assorted strip malls and sub-developments in the vicinity. (And don’t forget that charming casino because you know nothing says U.S. history like a slots parlor next to where George Washington literally slept.)

In addition to these larger malls and newer strip malls are all the other strip malls and often funky shopping centers on Route 30, Paoli Pike, Route 3, pick a road.

Really Chester County, how much development do you want? How much development do we need as residents?  Are we actually getting new stores or are businesses just hop-scotching between retail developments, moving every few years to whatever the next sweetest deal is? And do you want a steady stream of fill-in-the-name-big-box-retailers and chains?  What of the independent local business where they know their customer base and might be your neighbors?

I saw the development of Chester County in a most unusual way on my 9/11 hot-air balloon ride.  I saw the development from the air.  From high up in the sky it looked like miles and miles of Legos – developments all cookie cutter.

Chester County on a county level needs to get a real grip on the future.  The economy is not recovering, and still these developments proceed.  Developers will say they bring jobs, but once you get beyond retail shift work and minimum wage, what is there?  And you need more than that to fill up the condos, town homes perched on formerly rural highways, and the communities of McMansions. (Don’t forget about the fact they are trying to supersize Birchrunville in West Vincent. And then there is other potential residential development in the future, right?)

Once the open space is gone, it is not coming back. Once the charming cross-roads towns are gone and the farms are gone, they are also not coming back.  That’s all. Just think about it.

My wish for Chester County is a revolution of common sense.

very curious indeed, tredyffrin

Suzanne Pratowski is blonde in black and white outfit in center – very petite – original caption to photo was “John Dibuonaventuro of Berwyn and Suzy Pratowski of Wayne center in white at a 2011 Devereux charity event. File photo Joan Bang” John Dibuonaventuro is a Supervisor in Tredyffrin, correct? Ok, public officials have personal lives, but how does this play in here?

Tredyffrin zoning hearing board member not guilty after police are a no-show at her trial

Published: Sunday, August 26, 2012

By Richard Ilgenfritz
rilgenfritz@mainlinemedianews.com

A member of Tredyffrin’s Zoning Hearing Board appears to have caught a lucky break in court this week following her arrest in May on charges of public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.

And just what was the lucky break?

A police officer failed to appear on the day of her scheduled summary trial. As a result, she was found not guilty, records show.

According to the citations, Suzanne Pratowski, 37, of Wayne was arrested and charged with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct following incidents May 29.

Messages left for Pratowski Thursday and Friday seeking comment were not returned.

Police officials Thursday describe the absence of the officer at the hearing as an oversight….But another question is whether or not someone from outside of the department could have influenced a member of the police department since Pratowski would be considered a township official in a position that is appointed by the Board of Supervisors.

“Oh no. That does not happen,” Landis said emphatically. “We are equal opportunity arresters. Missing a hearing, that can happen. But influence from someone outside – we can’t tell officers that and we wouldn’t. More than likely, if a police administrator told an officer [not to go to a hearing] he would go anyway.”

The public drunkenness and disorderly conduct charges date back to May when, police say, Pratowski was supposed to pick up her kids at her ex-husband’s house on Franklin Lane….The ex-husband then showed police a custody agreement that indicated Pratowski was not allowed to drink alcohol 10 hours before driving and picking up the children. Pratowski had previously been arrested and charged with DUI in 2010. In that case, she was initially charged with endangering the welfare of children.

According to records, the endangering charges were later withdrawn but she did plead guilty to the DUI charges from that incident….Later that night, police say Pratowski rode her bike to the area near her ex-husband’s house. After being stopped by police, an officer reported getting a .18 blood alcohol level on her by using a portable breath test. That was when the officer wrote that he Pratowski would be cited for public drunkenness and criminal mischief.

Is it just me or is this just a little funky?  Suzanne Pratowski, Zoning Hearing Board member in Tredyffrin gets picked up and pulled over for public drunkeness and related offenses like disorderly conduct in May (see dockets below – follow hyperlinks), and well isn’t it just so cute and magical that the Tredyffrin police officers failed to show in court the other day which means she goes free.

Wow.

I am so sorry, but really, is that a “lucky” break?  No show or failed to show?  I mean seriously?  I have yes heard of police officers having conflicts, but then often another officer is sent for a stand-in or there is a rescheduling.

What else struck me as odd when I pulled up the dockets? If I am reading them correctly the cases were also transferred to another judge?  Why the case transfers in between Magisterial District Judge Thomas W. Tartaglio and Magisterial District Judge Analisa Sondergaard?

I found that I believe  Suzanne Pratowski works for Kuranda Mortgage?  Would that be the place next to the thankfully defunct Cooz’s Corner in Wayne?

Here is what her business profile on the Kuranda site says:

Suzanne Pratowski started her insurance career as a Surety underwriter in 2000 with Chubb Group of Insurance Companies in Philadelphia. After two and a half years there, she moved on to a more senior position as a Contract Surety  underwriter at The Hartford in King of Prussia. Suzy made the difficult decision to leave The Hartford after 3 years to spend more time at home with her two small children….Suzy grew up in Montgomery County and has been living on the Main Line since 1995. She graduated from Villanova University and lives in Wayne, PA. Suzy is an active member in the community, volunteers at her children’s schools, and sits on the Zoning Hearing Board for Tredyffrin Township. When she is not busy with all of her volunteer activities, Suzy enjoys spending time with her two boys, cooking, and playing golf.

Ok so based on the article she’s a divorcee.  Logic would dictate she probably has primary custody of her kids, which means she might need a night out once in a while to let off steam.  But I am sorry, she is a PUBLIC official as well as a MOTHER and she isn’t 18.  She should be embarrassed, I would question her fitness to serve on the zoning board in Tredyffrin because maybe she has some unfortunate *stress* issues, and who doesn’t  question the mysteriously disappearing Tredyffrin police officers when it came to court? And doesn’t THAT bite the big one to put officers of the law in a position like this?

Not trying to be a hard ass with this woman if she is having issues, but seriously, she is old enough not to act like an alley cat when she goes out. And she is very lucky because a lot of employers do not smile favorably on behavior like this.

The Main Line Media News article says she had a DUI in 2010.  I could not find that court docket, so the record may be expunged.

I don’t know people this who thing just smells funky. REALLY, REALLY FUNKY. Do I file this under “how embarrassing to be a Republican in Chester County?”

Am I missing something?  Or is this just Tredyffrin being Tredyffrin?

This woman sounds like she needs a come to Jesus talk and a 12 step program at a minimum. And once again I question her fitness to serve on any board in Tredyffrin at this time.  And the hall pass she in effect got needs a LOT more explaining.  Things that seem too cute in politics, generally are.

MDJReport Suzanne 1

MDJReport Suzanne 2

MDJReport Suzanne 3

MDJReport Suzanne 4

At the end of the day, I have to still wonder who was in the car with Ms. Pratowski?  No one ever said and don’t you wonder given the cozy society photo the MEDIA (not me, not any blogger) put out there?

What is Suzanne Pratowski’s relationship with Tredyffrin Township Supervisor John “J.D”. DiBuonaventuro?  I think whatever it is, maybe that needs to be cleared up, don’t you? Public officials do indeed deserve private lives, but unfortunately for Mr. DiBuonaventuro as per Tredyffrin’s website he is Vice Chair of the Board of Supervisors.  And Suzanne Pratowski is on the Zoning Hearing Board.  So whether they like it or not, people are going to talk.  Best to clear it up now so there is no misperception, right?

Oh Tredyffrin, the way the tongues are way wagging on this one (I had NO idea until I put up this post), it might get really ugly.  For Suzanne Pratowski’s sake I hope not…..she obviously needs help, not more weird pressure.

And why is it we did not hear about this incident which happened in May until August?  Has anyone found this in the police briefs? Usually when a public official does something like this some paper or media source will pick it up ASAP?  Like remember when the former police chief let his kid drive an official vehicle? That was EVERYWHERE so fast, yet this? Was this incident covered up and only got out with the whole court thing by accident?

End Note: I took down the photo with the kids in it. I did NOT have to take it down, as it was Suzanne Pratowski herself who must have provided the photo to Kuranda Mortgage.  I have received a lot of feedback on and off the blog for this post, and as someone sagely said to me today:

…..And, she most certainly could have been arrested for DUI for riding the bike drunk. It happens all the time. People have even gotten DUI’s on horses. So that is ANOTHER break she got.
Obviously this woman has a drinking problem, is most likely an alcoholic and should be at the very least attending AA to discover the extent of her problem and address it – if not immediate detox/rehab depending on the severity.
I don’t like to judge those with drinking problems as I consider it a disease. At the same time, you are responsible for your actions regardless and she is a public figure and has obviously gotten preferential treatment so I see what has happened along those lines as an issue of public concern
And let me be clear, I am not judging her for having issues with alcohol, but I think she needs to quite playing Party Barbie and get some help.  Anyone, yes anyone who encourages this woman to drink is not her friend.  Comments on media sites keep pointing to the preferential treatment calling for people involved to step down.  I personally do not feel that the cop who did not show up should be punished, because if conspiracy theorists are right, can it be construed he received serious pressure to do so from above?   I do think Suzanne Pratowski needs to come off the zoning hearing board, and depending on what his role is in this is that Supervisor John “J.D”. DiBuonaventuro ethically sound to continue to serve the residents of Tredyffrin?
There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, and I just think at a minimum Suzanne Pratowski needs to deal with her issues.  She would be best served doing that as a completely private citizen, which means getting off the zoning board ASAP.
Sorry but this whole thing is give you the shivers creepy.