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?
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.
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.
Sure, every area has issues. No local government is perfect, and yes, there is always something to complain about, but seriously? I moved out of a township that prided itself on being “first class”, yet it in essence required an act of Congress to accomplish something as basic as filling a pothole.
Yes, Lower Merion Township. The Magic Kingdom as it is known (sarcastically) in some circles, isn’t what she used to be. You have a political majority that believes they know better than everyone, and as a resident you feel as if you work to support the township.
Where do a lot of these negative feelings stem from? A lot of them have to do with all the crazy infill development plans and the fact that it has been over 30 years since Lower Merion had a completed Comprehensive Plan update. Some land planner told me once that as per the Municipalities Planning Code in PA municipalities are supposed to do this every couple of years.
When I used to wake up in Lower Merion, although a high rent district, the cacophony of sound that assaulted my senses on a daily basis was quite urban. Construction and other noises often way too early. Here when I wake up, I hear birds. You have NO idea how marvelous a sound that is unless you have experienced the other.
Development plans in Lower Merion, suit the developers, not the residents. For example, the development begun in my old neighborhood by a wannabe developer, architect Tom Hall, and then turned over to Cornell builders was shoe-horning in thirteen townhouses in barely over an acre. But the houses are “green” and you can spit at The Haverford School, which was perhaps the most uncaring neighbor in my neighborhood. You have no idea what it is like to live with an institution as a neighbor in close quarters. We existed to be their overflow parking lot and speed thru cell phone mommy/nanny zone. The nicest thing about that school are some of my friends’ sons.
In Ardmore, the neighboring town, mostly in Lower Merion, for years not so long ago, small business owners had to fight eminent domain for private gain. Ardmore residents and business owners are still suffering because although no one can spend money like Lower Merion Township, they still can’t get the Ardmore Redevelopment Plan off the ground. Of course, many feel, that those on township staff who put forth the infamous plans A & B that contained eminent domain for private gain for years should have just been removed from their jobs. But they stayed and the six million dollars that a couple of commissioners went to Washington DC many years ago to get has basically been frittered away, and while places like Malvern and Wayne have a new train station, all Lower Merion has are plans.
Also in Lower Merion, there is crazy zoning being planned for around City Avenue. So if you think it’s fun now when you get caught in traffic around there, just wait.
Lower Merion loves infill development plans. The more congested the better. When I was a child growing up there, like I do now here in Chester County, then I also heard birds and nature as my waking sounds. It is so much less stressful to hear birds versus construction.
Radnor is not so problematic since they got a new Township Manager and some new commissioners. Of course, their current president, Bill Spingler is more like old school Delco politics and we’ll leave it at that….hopefully he won’t be president too long. But Radnor’s new manager, Bob Zienkowski, as opposed to the old one who made headlines and got relieved of his duties (Dave Bashore), is an accessible advocate for his residents. It makes a huge difference. Which is why I am hopeful that Radnor residents will be heard fairly as Villanova attempts to supersize the university (read about Villanova’s expansion plans here ). It won’t be easy since one commissioner has had to recuse herself, and given Bill Spingler’s cozy personal relationship with the attorney on this project, should this in fact be the commissioner who recuses? After all sometimes isn’t it hard to feel secure around a career politician like Spingler, who offered once upon a time to write a reccomendation letter for the manager the township fired (Dave Bashore)?
One thing that bears watching in Radnor are residents taking up their proverbial pitch forks against storm water issues in North Wayne. (Check out this YouTube from a recent meeting.) What cracks me up here is the woman with dark hair and pony tail. She wants to sue, sue, sue and all the storm water issues stem from AT&T in Wayne and so on. While the storm water issues are indeed large and increasingly problematic, truthfully they don’t even realize how people have been working for years on this. She isn’t breaking new ground so to speak.
And this woman who did the presentation at the Radnor commissioners’ meeting (Channel 30 on FiOs FYI) and a neighbor who says she lives next to a field and the Gulph Creek (wonder if she’s the one who built an addition to a carriage house where the outside door in the rear basically looks like if you open it the creek can just come on in?) who are in this meeting tape, well I get why they are upset, as I have seen first hand the flooding in North Wayne, but as they rant and rail against Radnor, they also need to consider a neighboring municipality.
Ahhh, there is some Chester County of it all in this post, isn’t there?
I guess from the Church of the Savior’s perspective and Tredyffrin’s it is holier to flood your neighbors? Now granted, I find Church of the Savior to be in the category of religiously creepy, so some could say I have a bias, but Tredyffrin to me always seems a little kooky on the development front and in some other areas. And if they can’t see it from the township building windows in Tredyffrin, more the better. Just look at how long it took Tredyffrin to deal with things like off campus student housing. After all, they couldn’t see historic Mt. Pleasant from the Township Building, could they?
I guess what I am saying is, I have seen and lived what poor development and land planning causes communities (along with the politcs of political favoritism and one party rule run amok), so maybe once in a while, I might point them out. After all, would you rather listen to birds or bulldozers? Wouldn’t you rather hear about politicians and officials that care about their communities and not just during election cycles?