RoosterGate discussion is back. On June 8th, I wrote about the irascible, irritable rooster, waking everyone up in a neighborhood any time from 4 AM forward, usually around 5 AM in Willistown. I will note I am not making this my raison d être, but I am following up.
Well shockingly, it’s now 11 days later and after all the grief I took and the crap I took via comments and private messages, etc. about I was being mean and bullying the person who owned the rooster, which, of course is completely ludicrous as I’m expressing my opinion, but hey whatever have another cocktail. (And yes, holy run on sentence Batman!) And anyway, anyway, would you believe that the owner of said rooster has not done anything to remedy the issue?
Call me crazy but instead of sending people to chastise and harangue me for writing about said rooster, wouldn’t you try to do something so it wasn’t waking your neighbors up every day?
Yup. Rooster still free crowing and waking up neighbors. I guess this person with the rooster really needs attention or something right?
So now we get to see if Willistown is going to be an ostrich again over this issue and for how long. I say bring the popcorn.
Now amusingly enough in 2017, a woman for Michigan on Facebook offered to give away her rooster because it was that loud and obnoxious. See screenshots below ⬇️
And by the way, just so rooster owner fans are clear, I have an opinion on this. And that’s why I wrote about it. And I think it’s being a crappy neighbor to do this to people. I don’t have a thing against chickens, goats, or donkeys, other than I will say, billy goats and donkeys smell.
I will say I don’t particularly like roosters. And I’ve seen people do things like dump a bunch of roosters in front of my friend’s barn door years ago and make it their problem to rehome them. They were absolutely gorgeous birds, but they didn’t belong at my friend’s farm.
I have another friend who adopted a rooster with a broken beak, found wandering the streets of a not so nice section of Philadelphia, whom I suspect was either a bait bird or somebody trying to make it a fighting bird. I think that showed great compassion, but sad friend knows how to keep a rooster and has enough land to keep a rooster. And this bird was pretty traumatized, so I don’t even know if it knows how to crow.
And I just think in Willistown it goes back to it’s really rude and inconsiderate to not try to deal with this especially when you now know that your neighbors are upset. The rooster owner isn’t getting woken up just the neighbors. I think if the rooster owner was getting woken up, there wouldn’t be a rooster there. But is there actually zoning to be a rooster there in the first place and of course that’s also a moving target because it’s Willistown.
One inconsiderate rooster owner can cause issues for every single person who want to keep chickens in a municipality. And I think that is wrong. I was thinking about that this morning as I was working in part of my garden where I could hear the laying songs of the hens that my neighbors through the woods keep. Whenever I hear the hens singing their laying songs it’s a very comforting sound because they’re so happy.
Here’s hoping said rooster owner figures it out. Cock-a-doodle-do y’all.
So does anyone recognize that broad side of a barn or the logo on that tractor thing?
Well, apparently, if it’s something weird that will happen, it will happen in Willistown Township.
A friend has come to me asking if I recognized anything about this tractor like the logo and she knows it’s grainy because it’s from a security camera. Here is the tiny video. The video was taken May 3, 2023 at 9:50 AM. This video was taken on their property on Creek Road. They think that this vehicle came from Wildwood Drive.
The homeowners here were not home. They were out of town. They had not contracted with anyone for any sort of work on the property. And as far as they have been able to ascertain neither have their neighbors.
They went to the Willistown Police Department via phone because they were out of town when the security camera went off. They filed a police report right then, but right or wrong, recounted to me that they didn’t feel taken seriously, or the person taking the report didn’t understand how bad this could actually be.
Not only was their lawn completely turfed, and I have photos to post next, there is this smell emanating from where whoever this was dumped whatever it was and people need to know what the chemicals are! And yes the smell is still there! And it’s now days later!!
Now my friend does appreciate that Willistown sent an officer to check it out, however, this is something that is kind of a big deal potentially. Like many of us they are on a well. Like many of us, they have pets that could be potentially fatally sickened from whatever was tossed on their property. The officer who responded did not seem to get out of their vehicle?
This dumping event is SO not OK. Not only does this person not know what chemicals were dumped, but whoever the company is and employee totally ruined her lawn. She and her husband feel utterly VIOLATED and environmentally conscious Willistown Township needs to get on the stick here.
If you have any information, leave a comment, and or message any other kind of proof to this blog’s Facebook page. I will pass it along to the homeowner. If you saw the truck carrying this weird little tractor thing and Bubba in his big blue suit, also helpful information.
Illegal dumping is actually a crime. And this counts is illegal because they didn’t authorize any work or anything.
If you are media, and you would like to be connected to this person, you can similarly contact me and I will pass your information along to them.
We have enough environmental hazards on a daily basis without some thing that is intentionally bad news like this.
Another Aqua/Willistown post to add two more video snippets courtesy of Ginny Kerslake featuring the actual Willistown unanimous vote to break up with Aqua over the sewer sale and comments from Chris Franklin of Aqua who is a Willistown resident. I will note I am sure this was hard for Aqua officials to hear, especially on the heels of Bucks County dumping them and the controversy in New Garden Township.
I have never been a fan of sewer sales because of the rate hikes which occur. Other than that I am somewhat ambivalent. But Act 12, which allows the rate jumping I think is wrong. It’s greedy.
From the Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board September, 2022:
The Bucks County commissioners were correct to cancel the proposed $1.1 billion sale of the county’s sewer system to a private company. Other local governments should follow suit and stop the sale of any public sewer or water systems to a for-profit company.
Better yet, lawmakers in Harrisburg should repeal Act 12, the reckless 2016 bill that opened the door for private companies to gobble up public water and sewer utilities.
The proposed $1.1 billion sale in Bucks County would have been the largest privatization of a public wastewater treatment system in the country. While the sale to Aqua Pennsylvania would have generated a one-time windfall for the county coffers, it also would have led to steep increases in sewer bills for consumers for years to come.
Other local governments have sold off their public water and sewer systems only to regret it as residents have seen their water bills increase by as much as 98%. The main argument from privatization supporters is that it leads to lower prices. But that has not been the case. An exhaustive study of the 500 largest water systems in the United States found that for-profit water systems charge an average of 58% more than publicly owned ones.
If you have paid attention to what I have written, what I also had a problem with all along with regard to Aqua buying Willistown’s sewer, was the way the residents were behaving. I understand upset, I was part of a group which successfully fought eminent domain in Ardmore years ago all the way to Washington, DC. So trust me, I get upset. But we were in on fighting our issue from jump, and in Willistown it seems like they only woke up after the deal was initially inked. Then there was an ocean of nastiness, vitriol and misinformation at times (even directed at me personally.) Along with repeated accusations that Willistown had done this essentially behind closed doors in secret, which wasn’t the truth, was it? People simply hadn’t been paying attention. And before everyone wants to jump on me (shocker, for a change), the agendas told a different story.
Last night? Willistown’s residents stood up and were the people I had hoped they could be. They were clear. They were well-spoken. They were marvelous. They weren’t imitating the storming of the Bastille.
Hindsight they say is 20/20, but Willistown residents? Remember this moment. Look at what you accomplished. I have been reading the comments on social media, and what some residents don’t realize is a lot of people played a part here. It stopped being an isolated Willistown issue. People from other communities also offered support. Like Ginny Kerslake and folks from New Garden, Bucks County, Norristown. Me? I just wrote about it and was lambasted most of the time by some factions in Willistown because I didn’t live there. No I don’t, but refer to blog title. I write about what interests me. And I live in a municipality where they did sell to Aqua. Right as the deal with East Whiteland was inked, the OCA in PA filed suit against the PUC about Aqua. That is still in court.
When East Whiteland announced they were selling the sewer, there really was no pushback, let alone much interest from residents. It was advertised, discussed at meetings, and voted on. Residents for the most part in East Whiteland didn’t object. It was very different from Willistown. BUT East Whiteland as far as I know can’t do anything much with the proceeds until the litigation is completed. They are in a holding pattern as in East Whiteland has the proceeds . For a while there was misinformation being disseminated by Willistown residents about East Whiteland’s sewer sale. I think Willistown residents thought East Whiteland may have changed their mind because nothing was happening. That wasn’t the case. It’s as simple as worlds colliding when East Whiteland had finalized the sale literally at the same time the Office of Consumer Advocate filed suit against the PUC. So big pause button until litigation is concluded. How will litigation potentially affect East Whiteland? I have no idea. (Here is the link to the East Whiteland page on their sale: https://eastwhiteland.org/434/Sewer-Sale )
Here is the letter Aqua sent to East Whiteland residents in August, 2022:
What concerns me will be potential rate hikes down the road?
This is also why the repeal of Act 12 is SO important. See below.
Aqua’s Chris Franklin (he is Chair of Essential Utilities) spoke about his company last evening in Willistown. He is a resident of Willistown. He refers to the history of Aqua and Essential Utilities back from when it was Philadelphia Suburban Water. With all due respect, they aren’t that same company from years ago.
I go far enough back now that I remember when Philadelphia Suburban Water acquired property in Bryn Mawr to grow their footprint back off of Lancaster Avenue and expand their corporate campus as it were. I remember the houses that once stood there, and I remember them empty before Philadelphia Suburban Water did their building.
A group of more than 100 Aqua Pennsylvania union workers marched from Polo Field in Bryn Mawr to the headquarters on Lancaster Avenue late Saturday morning to express their anger at what they say are unfair contracts.
“Does Aqua PA, whose parent company recorded almost $124 million in profit last year, really need to increase the rates of hard working customers like you?” reads a flyer union workers were handing out to passersby. “Aqua PA seems to think so!”
Members of 32BJ SEIU, in purple union T-shirts, marched together westbound on Lancaster Avenue/Route 30 from Penn Street to Aqua America headquarters at 762 W. Lancaster Ave. shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday. The large group marched in both lanes, backing up traffic. Once at headquarters, they crossed the street and stood in both eastbound lanes, saying “Corporate greed has got to go.”
I have actually known some Aqua workers over the years. The guys on the job, not the suits in the proverbial ivory tower in Bryn Mawr. Nice guys, hard workers. But no more does Aqua have the lovely gentleman named Tim Lloyd who once was business liaison/PR guy for years and years. He was an amazing man. He talked to everyone. Even me. He was always super helpful. And for years if you had an issue you just called the main switchboard in Bryn Mawr, PA and spoke to a real live customer service person who cared. I remember a guy named Bill Miller who was a manager or a VP at Aqua. Also super nice and I am sure retired by now. But that was then, and this is now.
Sadly Aqua is out of touch today with their former local business selves. They are too big to remmeber or truly care in my humble opinion. The corporate suits are always out of sink with their workforce. The guys whom you see on the street are nice, just like Chris Franklin said. But are they really known to the suits in the proverbial ivory tower? Nope. (When I was looking for history, I found this page on Philadelphia Suburban Water and also this one.)
Aqua has an opportunity to do better. It’s not just about rescuing old municipal sewer systems and making buckets of money. It’s about the people they are supposed to serve, not take advantage of with rate hikes. They can learn from citizen groups like NOPE and Keep Water Affordable. And they can learn from the Willistown residents. I think we all underestimated the Willistown residents.
What the Willistown residents accomplished that culminated last night was amazing. Seriously. They should take a big old victory lap. However, is it over? Will Aqua let it go or will they file some sort of legal action? Time will tell.
Residents everywhere should pay attention to this as they organize to deal with issues in their own communities. Anything is possible if you come together and people put their egos and personal political beliefs aside. And you have to watch agendas and go to meetings, either in person or zoom.
The last word is the video of the Willistown Supervisors unanimously voting to break up with Aqua before prom. Willistown decided to have a date with her residents.
Well it’s over…for now. Willistown Supervisors actually voted unanimously to end the relationship with Aqua.
I have incomplete details, but I am told that there was an exit clause or sunset capability in the contract? The exit date was apparently today, expiring at midnight . The Board of Supervisors said they weren’t going to prom with Willistown just before 8 PM. It was further noted that some Aqua executive said something along the lines of Willistown needs to honor their contract which is confusing because wasn’t Willistown doing just that ?
People from New Garden and Norristown came to show solidarity with Willistown residents.
The following graphic is courtesy of New Garden resident, Bill Ferguson (KWA – Keep Water Affordable):
So oh what a night. That’s all I know. Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) is still in litigation against the PUC (Public Utility Commission). So although Willistown’s neighbor East Whiteland sold to Aqua, I am not sure that East Whiteland can use the proceeds until the litigation settles? I could be completely wrong, but I seem to remember something like that and also, it’s important to note that East Whiteland residents did not kick up a fuss about their sewer system selling to Aqua. As a matter of fact, sometimes you wondered if people had a pulse over this issue.
I have to wonder if Aqua will take this to court? The reason I wonder that is because Bucks County was a big kick in the teeth for them already. And just for gossip inquiries, someone also said that Willistown had their solicitor resign? Is that true?
This stopping the sale is quite the accomplishment on the part of the residents from Willistown and other communities.
Anyway, enjoy the following video snippets courtesy of Ginny Kerslake.
Please note that this is a developing story and I will have more video eventually. Stay tuned.
The hot news out here in Chester County is there is an unusual Friday evening Willistown meeting. it’s being held shortly at General Wayne Elementary at 7 PM sharp this evening.
It’s kind of unbelievable to think about it and realize it may happen, but in a little over two hours, Willistown Township could be breaking up with Aqua over the sewer sale?
Now interestingly enough today I have an afternoon reach out from Aqua. I don’t know why they reached out to me other than I write about this. But I’m not the media I’m a blogger. They sent me a document you can view HERE, but I am attaching screenshots of below. It has to do with Aqua and their rates.
I don’t have a horse in this race because it’s Willistown but we will see what happens. I do think Aqua needs to deal with what they do vis-à-vis rates, however.
I am told by my network of contacts that there are people in New Garden and elsewhere who rolled their eyes when they saw this document I was sent. They told me in their opinion it was truly propaganda, and they couldn’t understand why Aqua seemed like they were confessing about the New Garden rates going up like 90% and how this was so different from what residents there were told before the deal closed and that is kind of weird, right? They also asked where Aqua’s rate increase calculations were for Willistown?
Anyway, it’s looking like a pre-prom break up but who knows what will happen because this is Willistown we’re talking about…. also, this meeting will not be televised although for the life of me I can’t figure out why they can’t leave the Internet on a little better in this elementary school. Hopefully people record the meeting, but if you are interested, get to the meeting at 7 PM
Well I was talking to a very dear friend today. She lives in the New Garden area. She is one of the most diligent and practical people I know. Literally have known her since I was like maybe 12 or 13. Our parents were friends. And she quietly says to me today something about have I seen what is going on in New Garden Township about their AQUA issues. I said yes, a bit and I thought gosh I didn’t even send her my post on the extra special interim manager, but anyway….
Then my jaw hit the floor. My friend said her water bill under AQUA ownership went from $250 each billing cycle to $900!
That news made me go watch the recent New Garden meeting recordings that my friend and friend to all communities Ginny Kerslake had posted on Facebook.
So now I am wondering (aloud) if municipalities selling to AQUA is a mistake?
I don’t think we can un-ring the bell on inked deals, and things are still in court that would potentially stop the sales in East Whiteland and Willistown, although I find that unlikely, but who knows?
These municipalities can’t afford their sewer systems any longer, and I do believe that is true, BUT now I am wondering what part utility companies have in that?
And something else I am now wondering about might sound crazy BUT is there ANY way that AQUA could force those of us on septic and wells to hook up to them?
Oh and I think AQUA, or I should say I know AQUA watches this blog. But as a consumer and a resident where one of these sales is pending, I am actually allowed to have questions. Even now. And WHY do I have questions? Watching that whole crazy recent meeting that was held in New Garden. That and having a friend today tell me how much their bill increased (with kids in college and not there all of the time, no less.)
I also keep coming back to those lovely laws in Harrisburg that allow AQUA to increase their rates. So now I wonder aloud what so many others wonder: is AQUA just getting what they paid back via these increases so is that a good thing for consumers in the end?
Recently, rate increases for water and wastewater services provided by Aqua Pennsylvania Inc. (Aqua) went into effect for over 400,000 customers in 32 counties across the commonwealth. Many residents, including seniors on fixed incomes, have been surprised and frustrated to receive bills that have nearly doubled.
The current rules regarding rate regulations and water utility sales are not in the consumer’s best interest. It is imperative that reform is considered in Harrisburg to prevent future prioritization of corporate profits over residents’ access to a basic necessity, such as water.
I share the frustration of Aqua customers going through this current increase. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is the regulatory authority in Pennsylvania for utility rates. Utilities wishing to increase rates must submit a request to the commission for approval. The PUC is currently comprised of three commissioners, each appointed by the governor on a five-year term and confirmed by the State Senate.
When Aqua submitted this request in 2021, I urged the PUC to hold in-person hearings for residents to voice concerns. When that request was denied, State Rep. John Lawrence and I hosted a telephonic public hearing and I joined many of you in testifying against the then-proposed additional charges. Despite these efforts, the PUC commissioners voted unanimously to approve the rate increase in May of 2022.
Recently, I wrote to the PUC providing examples of the negative impact the approved rates have had and requesting a review of current charges to ensure they align with the commission-approved rates. I encourage anyone who feels their bill does not properly reflect their usage or the approved rate to file a complaint with the PUC.
Today’s state laws allow for inflated valuations of financially solvent public water and wastewater utilities by private companies, enticing local municipalities and authorities to sell for a large return in the short term, only for those costs to be recouped through the ratepayer’s wallet. These processes are done with little transparency or direct input from those that it impacts most, ratepayers.
~ STATE REP CHRISTINA SAPPEY 9/30/22
I want to be abundantly clear here: I still do NOT approve the way Willistown residents have been treating Bob Lange and Bill Shoemaker. There is a THIRD supervisor, and there was the THIRD supervisor who was all for the sale and then resigned before she had been a supervisor very long, correct? What was her name? Oh yes, Barbara Handelin, right?
My other issue with this in Willistown is the inability for some residents to realize this is NOT a Democrat vs. Republican issue, it is a COMMUNITY issue that affects EVERYONE, i.e. it is non-partisan. I have NOT been a fan of the shenanigans to date and every meeting it is essentially the SAME people repeating themselves. Surely there are OTHER residents affected, yes? Well people, be polite and either zoom a meeting and comment or go in person. But the same people speaking pretty much every time? Umm, people tune that out after a while, even if they believe in the issue. And where were all of you while Willistown was deciding to sell or not? Why is it in Willistown it feels like people wake up only AFTER the horse has left the proverbial barn?
So yes, I am indeed wondering aloud in the final month of 2022 about this. It doesn’t mean I have been “won over”, it means for the first time I am articulating concerns I have always had. It’s like now that the 3 ring circus in Willistown has quieted some I have had time to think.
And when one of your more long term friends tells you HOW MUCH their bill jumped, well, it HAS to make you think. And of course how it all went down in New Garden also has to make you think. All those supervisors singing the chorus of hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil etc etc, right? Quid est veritas? What is truth?
I do know that Willistown and East Whiteland BOTH notified residents, held meetings, etc. COVID or not, meetings were zoomed if not in person and well, a lot of people did nothing. I even kept putting it out there. But New Garden? That place is rather odd, isn’t it?
And I also really want to know if those of us on wells and septic will be allowed to stay as we are? I have never heard that questioned answered. I also wonder aloud if AQUA could try to be more community minded? What if they supported measures in Harrisburg that might put the brakes on their rate jumping seemingly willy nilly?
It’s a recession. In my humble opinion we have been playing kick the can down the road with recession since circa 2008. Maybe it’s time to just stop and think on this a little longer?
Sign me, thinking out loud. Happy December, y’all.
For more than four hours at the New Garden Elementary School auditorium on Nov. 21, three factions sorted through the smoldering mass of information that lay at the creation of an agreement of sale that has been on the front burner of controversy in the township for the past several years.
In one corner of the room, the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors sat a table facing another table occupied by three executives from Aqua Pennsylvania (Aqua), including its president Marc Lucca. The most dominant presence at the meeting, however, were the more than 200 township residents who sat and stood in protest of the reason that drew them there: the massive increase they are seeing in their wastewater bills from Aqua – as much as a 140 percent increase over the past year – that are arriving in their mailboxes as part of the residue from the township’s sale of its wastewater system to the Big Water giant for $29.5 million in 2020….
Nearly from the start, the patience of those in the audience to sit through the complicated alphabet soup of agencies and legal and legislative delays was paper thin, particularly during an hour-long presentation by former township official and director of planning and projects Spence Andress, who painstakingly sifted through a two-inch high stack of documents that described the minutia of what led to the eventual sale of the township’s system.
He said that a major factor leading to the decision by the Board of Supervisors and the township’s Sewer Authority to sell off the system was influenced by the cost of mitigating the infrastructure problems of the township’s vastly outdated wastewater system, which would cost the township an estimated $1.5 million a year, as well as an additional $1.5 million for debt service.
‘Allow us to speak!’
Halfway through Andress’ presentation, Peter Mrosinski and Margo Woodacre, two of the most prominent voices of opposition, shared their argument that the nature of the meeting was designed to shut down the residents. Their argument reflected the contents of a flyer that was circulated by KWA before the meeting that said that a former agreement with board chairman Steve Allaband would allow the group to lead the discussion, but that the idea was rejected earlier that afternoon by the supervisors. “Unfortunately, our supervisors once again appear to be covering their tracks and doing the bidding of Aqua to silence any meaningful discussion,” the flyer read.
I have ZERO issue in residents fighting for what they believe to important. But I DO have a problem with sowing the seeds of misinformation in communities, especially for personal gain, whatever that may be, and can’t you agree with that?
This whole sewer system is a great mystery to me, along with the unsubstantiated claims that it will increase development and if you are on a septic or well, eventually you will have to change over to public sewer and water.
First the whole development claim. Good lord, are people so naïve and ill-informed? Development is controlled by local zoning. Local zoning is controlled by the Municipalities Planning Code (‘MPC”) of the Commonwealth of PA. The MPC has NOT been comprehensively updated since approximately circa 1969.
And the whole rate increases. Yes, AQUA does this and they are allowed to do it because of state laws which allow them to jump the rates. Those laws need to be changed in Harrisburg to protect residents and consumers.
Another reality, and not an alternate universe is development causes stresses on infrastructure, and sewer falls into that category. So pardon me while I do not necessarily shed a tear for those living in monster sized developments because ummm hello??? They helped creates the undue stresses on infrastructure.
And the whole 4 acre lot thing? Are the sure that is completely legal and not exclusionary to begin with? And developers aren’t going to slow down until the MPC changes. Fear mongering and misinformation is wrong. Kind of like stating people on septic and wells would HAVE to switch to AQUA, and since when? People can choose to switch to AQUA hookups but last time I checked you don’t HAVE to unless you have an issue and can’t do a new septic or new well?
The whole email about the agenda for Willistown this evening. Willistown is not discouraging residents from attending meetings if they tell residents on the agenda that the sewer sale is not a discussion topic of theirs for the meeting. And they provided a link on their website about the sale, which is about time and a good thing, but that is not discouraging residents from attending meetings. The business of a municipality is more than being a one trick pony, so they are telling residents IN ADVANCE it is NOT an agenda item so there are NO MISCONCEPTIONS since so many Willistown’s residents are in fact, one trick ponies these days.
It is my personal opinion that the township should in fact address this campaign of misinformation and ad hominin attacks on the supervisors because I still feel it all has much less to do about sewer than some let on. When those who will not be affected by the sewer sale makes this whole thing their complete raison d’être, it does make you wonder, doesn’t it? The loudest voices in this argument in Willistown seem to have very personal agendas here, don’t they? And yes, I can ask that question.
Willistown residents need to have a care. Why? This really isn’t about the sewer sale. I am not actually a cheerleader for AQUA or Willistown, but I believe in right and wrong. I am not actually a huge fan of small sewer systems selling out to giant companies like AQUA, but I get why it happens. The problem I have with this issue in Willistown is how people are behaving and a sea of misinformation that people are swallowing like pablum.
Residents everywhere NEED to be involved where they live and attend meetings and care. BUT there is also the question of proper meeting decorum which includes not acting like freaks to try to make a point. Fight smart with the proper knowledge. Beware Pied Pipers.
The other day I wrote a post about Willistown. Tonight was mostly full psycho on display. A small group of people were polite and respectful even in their disagreement with Willistown Township Supervisors. Those individuals, I applaud because THAT is the way you do it.
The rest? Not so much.
My personal opinion is still *someone* is revving up a lot of these people with an ocean of misinformation. Like people thought they were acting on this tonight? What agenda item said that? Here was the official agenda for August 15, 2022:
Ahhh yes, don’t let reality get in the way of your delusion, right? And then there was the whole will they or won’t they sell if litigation is pending. So glad there is a recording.
Then there was all of the shouting something about sewer sewer sewer. Is that like Marcia Marcia Marcia? So yes screaming and cursing and yelling and chanting something about sewer was going to make them throw up their arms and say what exactly? That most of you were extra rude and some needed their mouths washed out with soap? O.K. we’ll go with that.
I have been to a LOT of contentious meetings. But this was something extra special this evening. It was like a super long Saturday Night Live skit of what their writers see when people go to local meetings.
One thing I loved is yelling at the Willistown Supervisors about why there wasn’t a bigger meeting room arranged for? Well, umm did your fearless creator of nasty lawn signs REQUEST a bigger venue? And as for those chastising elected officials for not governing via social media do you hear yourselves? On what planet does that occur?
I am not someone who routinely agrees with local government. I am not exactly a cheerleader of a lot of local governments, but I have to ask how is it so many people with more money than sense in Willistown have a distinct lack of knowledge of basic process?
It’s not so hard to see how government is run, right or wrong. But for starters, they don’t govern via social media. And the lack of civility and decorum was astounding.
I can NOT take credit for this comment but it was so true:
An engaged citizenship is a wonderful thing, but some showed a terrible lack of civility and decorum. Lets put away the pitchforks and work reasonably and rationally to get out of this mess.
~ willistown Resident 8/15/22
Pitchforks. Yup. Lots of verbal pitchforks and being rude as f***, including a failed politician who, well, resembles an alley cat with a bad attitude and a bargain basement dress she should have thought better of for on camera (but I digress, Glamour Don’ts aren’t part of this.)
And the person mailing out flyers, creating websites, lawn signs, and collecting email addresses doesn’t work for the township. He wants all of you residents of Willistown to dance to his tune, but instead of just telling all of you to essentially just show up, why didn’t he put on his big boy pants and suggest that he or a group of you contact the township BEFORE the meeting, BEFORE the meeting was to be advertised and ASK like adults if the meeting could be moved to a larger venue?
You want respect people? Give respect. There used to be this whole thing about the worthy opposition. Attack ratting and ankle biting doesn’t count.
And then you had the people who wanted the meeting to become a parking lot brawl and the hell with the people signed up on zoom? What were you planning? To tar and feather the people YOU elected? I mean come on already: YOU the residents of Willistown elected them to do a job, but you want to scream at them for doing a job? Crikey no wonder the last township manger beat tracks.
Again, you all don’t know process and this is a rare municipal case of the politicians elected as supervisors actually know more about Roberts Rules of Order than the Willistown Mob. Usually it’s residents educating elected officials.
And oh yes, and engaged citizenry is where it’s at, but this isn’t it. It’s disorder, rude behavior, cursing and lots of shouting. A mob is just a mob. So don’t go patting yourselves on the back since you mostly looked stupid. And oh yes I can indeed express that opinion. Please, you think you invented pack the meetings? It’s all about HOW you do it, and the only thing you almost accomplished tonight was getting the whole shibang shut down for the night because um meeting rooms can only LEGALLY hold so many people. Which is AGAIN, WHY someone should have gone to Willistown Township to request a large room ahead of time.
Willistown residents need to decide who of the residents is leading them on this issue because right now quite frankly you all are being led astray by individuals with warped agendas. Do yourselves a favor and form a reasonable consortium of individuals who don’t think every meeting is either storm the Bastille with special information on hidden agendas , or failed politicians who have to preface statements every single time that they ran against Bill Shoemaker (and lost.)
The thing I found so sad was yes, a fair representation of Willistown citizenry turned out. And instead of harnessing your power even before the meeting, you all blew it. Most of you are lucky the police didn’t toss your asses out, and well they could have.
I have seen bad municipal governments. That’s not Willistown. You people need to get your crap together. Get your facts straight, get yourselves straight, learn about process, learn about state laws that need to be changed to protect residents from rate jumps by companies like Aqua. In other words, learn how to fight.
Everyone else? Enjoy the show. Definitely popcorn worthy. And where is Joan Rivers when you need her? Oy.
I almost titled this post “Hey Willistown don’t let reality get in the way of your delusion”, but then I decided that was just a little too rude. But it’s about these signs. We all keep seeing them and not all of them are actually in Willistown.
It makes you wonder why these signs have to be so nasty and where they originated from.
First of all, these are NOT non-profit organizations as there is a common misconception that you have to be a nonprofit to get a “.ORG” domain.
But let’s back up. I am sure this post will cause another Willistown Tempest in a Teapot. Sorry not sorry, it can’t be helped, and I am entitled to my opinion. And this is yet another issue in this particular township which is exhausting because it is again so nasty.
When I was growing up on the Main Line, Willistown to those of us on the eastern Main Line was this magical place of rolling hills, horses, Radnor hunt, farms. I can safely say I have been coming out to Willistown for decades longer than some residents have lived there or known how to spell Willistown.
No, I do not live in Willistown, but I have friends there. Quite a few friends. But Katie bar the door, they will be revoking my passport into Willistown. Again. You know because I have had a thing or two to say about things like the NOFIMBY neighbors of Castlebar Lane and WildFlower Farm? (No Farms In My Back Yard = NOFIMBY)
But sweet darling baby Jesus, and yes I am taking the Lord’s name in vain. This has seemed to stop really being about the sewer issue and more about destroying the good names of two men who have given a lot to their community named Bob Lange and Bill Shoemaker. Are they perfect? Are any of us? And these are people anyone can come to. They don’t see residents as political persuasions. Oh and speaking of that, are these signs somehow politically motivated? I ask because there is a third supervisor in Willistown. Her name is Molly Perrin. Why is Molly never mentioned? Molly why do you not ever say anything in defense of the other supervisors? Molly do you actually ever say anything at all?
(Oh is that too mean? She’s a politician so might as well ask her where she stands on this behavior in her township, right? Molly, do you have a voice? What does it sound like? )
And why are these signs targeting two individuals in Willistown all over as in also outside of Willistown? If y’all don’t want us non-Willistownians commenting, maybe don’t post the signs outside of the township for starters?
Ok, I am waiting. I know it is time to cue the refrain of “She doesn’t live in Willistown, she shouldn’t say anything!”
No I don’t live in Willistown. I wouldn’t want to at this rate because people are mean as snakes. There is this nasty edge meets a misplaced sense of entitlement no matter what the issue. And to me, this whole sewer issue has turned personal, which defeats the purpose of trying to win an argument in the first place. Next example? Here, this screenshot:
Campaign contributions being mentioned are rather interesting because first thing that caught my eye was Tom Hogan stepped down as D.A. in 2019. Before COVID. So what is the date on the small contribution to Bill Shoemaker? The reality is ALL of these corporations hedge their bets. They give to all candidates regardless of political party. I mean is this guy implying in his opinion that an honorable man sold out his municipality, an entire municipality, for $250? For real? My opinion is political candidates should not take donations from big old corporations. All of these corporations want something, even if it is just a certain perception. And then these donations will always do more harm than good, also because of perception at times.
And I go back now to these new street signs because they only target two supervisors. There have always been three supervisors, yet only two are ever targeted. I think that is done as a political motivation and personal animus, and just like the First Amendment may allow individuals to pay for street signs like this, I am also allowed to have that opinion. These are after all the same people who like to point out that Bill and Bob are related by marriage and the families are large landholders. Are they the largest landholders? I don’t know and I don’t care. What that says to anyone rational is they have a vested interest in the Willistown community. Family roots. Generational connections to the land. Why is that bad and they didn’t become supervisors to have a gateway to other things, did they? They have deep roots in the community, which doesn’t make them villains in some bad play or made for Lifetime TV movie. AND if they were NOT involved in the community the same folks would criticize them for that too.
But this is how all issues are approached in Willistown: lay siege and destroy the reputation of your neighbors. Don’t fight fair, act like gutter snipes. We’ve seen it over Wildflower Farm and other issues. Remember when M. Night Shyamalan wanted fences? That made regional papers and national entertainment news. Now it’s like “Oh he’s our wonderful neighbor”.
Let’s talk other issues for a moment like development. I am not a fan. No secret there. But I am a realist. The reason gets approved is simple: the Municipalities Planning Code of The Commonwealth of PA is woefully outdated by freaking DECADES. So it really doesn’t matter how local government officials might feel about development the reason above all others they can’t stop developments is zoning. Local zoning is guided by the Municipalities Planning Code so until it is changed to PROTECT our communities this is wash, rinse, repeat. It requires I think an act of the state constitution to update/overhaul the municipalities planning code comprehensively. There have been little things here and there, but not a comprehensive overhaul.
In Willistown, they talk about where developers already are, but not where they aren’t and what should also be saved. In Willistown they talk about land without conservation easements, but more so often than not when the horse is out of the barn and developers are already submitting plans. Willistown is not alone here. Most municipalities are like this. But where Willistown is different and should be better at conservation is the fact that Willistown is home to the Willistown Conservation Trust. So why isn’t more land in conservation?
In Willistown there are lots of opinions on preserving open space. But someone politely pointed out the other day after a meeting that getting land into preservation requires money. And yes, you need to negotiate with a fat wallet if residents want more land conserved, especially when the developers have entered the ring. We as residents are NOT protected anywhere in PA because of the outdated, outmoded, skewed to developers and development Municipalities Planning Code. So basically communities have to BUY what they want to SAVE in order to actually save it. We might like how something looks, but if our communities don’t own it or us as individuals, does it matter in the end?
I am not saying that any of this is right, but it is reality. A very sad reality.
Another comment is those who are slamming two families over certain land parcels in Willistown isn’t going to get people where they want to be, either. With one family in particular, I find it egregious since they have literally given so much to Willistown. That is all I am saying on that topic.
People do not have to put their land into conservation. Some people don’t want to. I wish they did, but for some that was never the plan. And I still say that as someone who hates and despises all of this development. And I feel for Willistown residents over one huge parcel in particular. But I don’t see it stopping, sadly. But that doesn’t mean you all as residents can’t go look at all of the other parcels which you consider important that are not in play and work towards more conservation as a community, right?
But back to the verbal sewage over the sewer. A lot of municipalities can’t afford them long term now, so they are selling them to companies who are protected by state law when it comes to rate hikes. I have a problem with those rate hikes, but once again, it’s state law protecting what isn’t positive for Pennsylvania communities everywhere. So why aren’t people expressing outrage to State Reps and State Senators? Those are the people who can change this crap. Just like those state level elected officials are the people who can help communities worried about public water versus those on wells when it comes to all this new development….a lot of which doesn’t necessarily want to pay for public water and public sewer hook-ups and why shouldn’t they do that? Developers are adding all of these new people to communities and taking the profits and leaving? So why shouldn’t they have to do public sewer and public water hook-ups? Developers seem to be shielded from paying their fair share of anything, don’t they?
OK now a couple of articles about these sewer sales:
The frenzy of acquisitions in Pennsylvania is driven by a 2016 state law that encourages the consolidation of smaller water and wastewater systems under private ownership. The law, called Act 12, allows investor-owned utilities to pay an appraised fair-market value for an acquired system, rather than its lower depreciated cost or “book value,” and then to recoup the costs through higher rates.
Fair-value laws, enacted in about a dozen states, have triggered a land rush by private buyers to pay top dollar for systems. Some acquisitive public authorities have also increased their offering prices to compete with private companies — Conshohocken’s preferred bidder was the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority, which has acquired systems in Montgomery and Chester Counties. Under either public or private ownership, the higher price is passed on to customers through higher rates….. Officials from five states told the U.S. General Accountability Office that one potential disadvantage of fair-market value laws is their potential to increase a utility’s rates, according to a GAO report released Monday.
Five studies examined by the GAO found that average water rates charged by private for-profit utilities are about $15 to $21 higher per month than the rates charged by public water utilities. Private utilities have an incentive to generate a return for investors, the GAO said, while public utilities may need to respond to political pressures to keep rates low for all residents.
Every municipality has a different reason for approving or rejecting a privatization, and different circumstances — they may require significant infrastructure investments that would be better managed by a larger private entity, or already have high rates. Some towns just want to get out of the sewer business and focus on core public services
~ Philaddelphia Inquirer may 2021
And there is this article from NBC News for which you won’t hit a pay wall:
When Margo Woodacre opened her sewage bill in April, she did a double take. Her latest charges jumped 42 percent, to $37 per 1,000 gallons from $26 per 1,000 gallons. That was a major hit on the budget of the 71-year-old retired social worker who lives in Landenberg, Pennsylvania.
But she told NBC News she’s worried the rate hikes have just started. In 2017, her cash-strapped township of New Garden accepted a bid to sell off its sewer system for $29 million to a private investor-owned company called Aqua. But as part of the sale, Aqua could continue to increase rates by as much as 51 percent, with the utility commission’s approval, according to the agreement between Aqua and New Garden Township…. New Garden Township Solicitor Vince Pompo said in an email that the township had sold the sewer system because it “was aging infrastructure which was predicted to require fairly significant further rate increases of its own.” The township plans to use the sale profits to clean and develop public parks and improve streets in one of its villages….
~ NBC NEWS JUNE 2021
I understand why municipalities shed these sewer responsibilities, BUT Aqua is growing to be a bit of a monopoly and the state laws (fair market bill, etc) protecting their ability to jump the rates is disturbing. Privatizing water systems has become a contentious issue around here in Chester County, as well as across the state. I understand that improvements have to happen, and that is what causes a majority of these sales in the first place, but I have been doing research and where rates have been jumped it has been astronomical.
I feel as more and more of these sales are inevitable that the PA PUC should amend the laws and have staggered tiers of rates (as in they can only increase rates every so many years) and that rates should be capped and people on fixed or low incomes and seniors, they should pay less. State elected officials need to amend the laws so people aren’t so scalped with rate increases. It’s not the fault of the residents of PA when their municipalities decide to sell. If Harrisburg did something about the rates to protect residents, people wouldn’t object as much.
And if you paid attention to what I have said for years about OVER-development out here, you would realize that ALL along part of the problems with all of this development are the stresses placed on infrastructure. D’oh infrastructure in part are sewer systems.
Which is again why I have maintained all along you can’t just storm the local proverbial Bastille, y’all need to Git R’ Done in HARRISBURG and get the elected officials there to amend the laws that have sway on a local level.
In East Whiteland, the sewer sale has been approved it looks like based on a press release I found yesterday as a matter of fact.
BRYN MAWR, Pa.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Essential Utilities Inc. (NYSE: WTRG) announced today that its Pennsylvania wastewater subsidiary has acquired the municipal wastewater assets of East Whiteland Township, Chester County for approximately $55 million.
East Whiteland Township’s wastewater system serves approximately 8,200 customer-equivalents including residential and commercial connections. The system is comprised of 57 miles of collection mains and 12 pump stations. The collection system accepts waste from the neighboring municipalities of Malvern Borough and Charlestown Township. Its waste passes through Aqua’s Valley Creek Trunk Sewer system to the Valley Forge Sewer Authority for treatment. Essential’s unregulated subsidiary, Aqua Resources, purchased the 9-mile Valley Creek trunk system in December 2018, which consists of gravity sewers, force mains and two pump stations, from the Tredyffrin Municipal Township Authority.
“It’s particularly pleasing to be entrusted with the wastewater assets of East Whiteland Township, a municipality for which we’ve provided water service for years,” said Essential Chairman and CEO Chris Franklin. “Our excellent water service in the East Whiteland community brought important credibility to our offer to handle wastewater service in the township. We look forward to serving both water and wastewater customers throughout the township in the future.”
Aqua Pennsylvania President Marc Lucca said, “We look forward to providing excellent service to the East Whiteland community and have already identified the need for $17 million in infrastructure improvements over the next decade including two major sewer extensions. That work will likely begin with the Planebrook and Bacton Hill roads’ sewer extensions,” said Lucca.
East Whiteland is the second acquisition completed by Essential’s Aqua companies in 2022. The company currently has six additional signed purchase agreements to acquire water and wastewater systems in three of our existing states, which have a total purchase price of more than $363 million and represent approximately 216,000 equivalent retail customers or equivalent dwelling units.
Essential is one of the largest publicly traded water, wastewater and natural gas providers in the U.S., serving approximately 5.5 million people across 10 states under the Aqua and Peoples brands. Essential is committed to excellence in proactive infrastructure investment, regulatory expertise, operational efficiency and environmental stewardship. The company recognizes the importance water and natural gas play in everyday life and is proud to deliver safe, reliable services that contribute to the quality of life in the communities it serves. For more information, visit http://www.essential.co.
Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater is a subsidiary of Aqua Pennsylvania and serves approximately 43,000 connections in 16 counties throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Visit AquaAmerica.com for more information or follow Aqua on Facebook at facebook.com/MyAquaAmerica and on Twitter at @MyAquaAmerica.
I have to be honest, I don’t even know if this registered with East Whiteland residents. And again, I am not saying communities should NOT object to these sewer sales. I have not actually ever said that. It’s the misinformation and attacks lobbed at two good men in Willisotwn which bothers me. So yo’ Willistown, you wonder why your last township manager decided to leave? You wonder why we looking at you from different parts of the county ask if there is literally something in the water?
Another sewer issue related article from August 9th to note:
The Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate has sued to block Aqua Pennsylvania’s takeover of a Chester County town’s sewer system, saying the $17.5 million sale will fail to deliver “affirmative public benefits” and would instead harm all Aqua customers with higher rates.
The Office of Consumer Advocate, headed by Patrick M. Cicero, asked the Commonwealth Court on Friday to overturn a Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) decision last month that allowed Aqua to buy the wastewater system in Willistown Township, the latest acquisition of a public water and sewer system with the help of a 2016 state law that encourages the consolidation of utility ownership.
The Consumer Advocate’s Office, which reports to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, says the PUC erred by disregarding an administrative law judge’s recommendation to reject the sale, which the hearing examiner said would cause greater harms than benefits. The PUC voted 3-0 on June 8 to approve the sale to the Aqua, a subsidiary of Essential Utilities Inc., based in Bryn Mawr….But the consumer advocate said the case could have implications far beyond Willistown, a relatively small system serving nearly 2,300 customers in the affluent town near Malvern. The practical effect of the PUC’s ruling is that any acquisition by a “fit” buyer in the future will be approved if it can be shown it will promote regionalization of utility systems.
“This ruling, if allowed to stand, would eliminate the statutory requirement to conduct a fact-based weighing of harms and benefits to determine if a specific transaction will affirmatively promote the interest of the public in some substantial way,” wrote Erin L. Gannon, a senior assistant consumer advocate….
Robert A. Swift, a Willistown resident and private attorney, filed a separate Commonwealth Court lawsuit on Friday, seeking to block the sale.
The consumer advocate’s legal challenge could also be expanded to include Aqua’s $54.9 million purchase of the East Whiteland sewer system, which is adjacent to Willistown. A different administrative law judge had recommended that the PUC reject the East Whiteland transaction, saying that Aqua had not demonstrated any cost reductions or efficiencies from deal. Despite the recommendation, the PUC voted 3-0 on July 29 to approve the sale.
~ philadelphia inquirer auguest 9th, 2022
Another thing to read is a WHYY article on this Act 12 from 2017.
Now of course we go back to the PUC Public Utilities Commission which is SUPPOSED to act to ensure the safety and well-being of Pennsylvania residents, but all you have to do is look at the pipelines issue to see how much they “care.”
Pennsylvania is kind of a cesspool. It doesn’t mean our local communities have to be. But lots of local communities cannot see the forest for the trees.
Nasty signs now aimed at two good men accomplish nothing. They are just nasty signs. We all know I am an equal opportunity offender when it comes to politics and politicians. But Bob Lange and Bill Shoemaker are good guys. They care about their communities. You don’t have to like them or agree with them, but remember these are two people who will actually have a conversation with residents.
But these signs? They literally accomplish nothing and are abhorrent. You want to fight to save your sewer system although your municipality is saying they can’t afford to keep it? That’s fine, fight for what you believe in…but do it without these nasty signs.