Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors – Some are Political Party Committee Members – is this OK? Radnor Township Says No for their Commissioners

Tredyffrin Township is governed by Home Rule Charter, and you can find a copy on the township website,    With a new year, and 3 new supervisors on Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors, I was curious about something.  When someone is a committee person for a political party and is elected to serve their community, I wondered how this subject was handled under Home Rule Charter (or was it even addressed).  From my vantage point, supervisors are elected to serve all the residents, and by remaining a committee person for a particular party, I would think that there is an appearance that a political committee person would ‘lean’ in the direction of their party.  Of the 7 members of Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors, we now have 3 supervisors who are also Tredyffrin Township GOP committee members (Kampf, Kichline, Richter).  I think that Supervisor Kampf is also a PA State GOP committee member – but I’m not 100%.

I checked Tredyffrin Township’s Home Rule Charter and this subject is not addressed.  So I looked to our neighbor, Radnor Township who also uses Home Rule Charter for their local government.  I guess the residents of Radnor Township share my concern with political party committee people serving in elected positions, as they are very clear in their Home Rule Charter. Radnor Commissioners are prohibited from holding an elected or appointed political office.  The information below is cut and pasted directly from Radnor’s Home Rule Charter.  Reviewing Radnor’s regulations on elected officials holding political party office, I was also interested in their ‘Conflict of Interest’ section (also included below).  Reading this,  I am wondering if Radnor Township’s Commissioners would have been permitted (under their ‘Home Rule Charter’) to solicit to businesses on behalf of Radnor Fire Company?  Interesting question, don’t you think?

From Radnor Township’s Home Rule Charter

§ 21.9-904. Prohibitions.

 A. The activities which follow shall be prohibited in the operation of the Township government.

   1. Discrimination. No person shall, in his employment by the Township in any capacity, appointment to any Board, Commission, or Authority, or removal therefrom, be favored or discriminated against because of age, race, national origin, sex, handicap, or political or religious opinions or affiliations in violation of applicable Federal or State laws. No person shall be accorded favored treatment in employment or appointment because of family relationship.

   2. Improper Gifts. No person who seeks appointment on any Township Board, Commission, or Authority, or employment by the Township in any capacity shall, directly or indirectly, give or pay any money, service, or other consideration to any person in connection with such appointment or employment. In addition, no elected or appointed Township official or employee shall receive any money, service or other consideration in connection with such appointment or employment.

   3. Political Party Office. No Township official elected under this Charter, no appointed official, and no full-time Township employee shall hold any elected or appointed political party office.

   4. Improper Political Influence. No elected or appointed Township official and no employee of the Township shall request any Township employee to make a political contribution or engage in political activity.

   5. Other Government Service. No Township official elected or appointed to an elective office under this Charter and no full-time Township employee shall hold any other Township employment or any other elective or appointive Township position. No Township official elected or appointed to an elective office under this Charter and no full-time Township employee shall hold any full-time employment, or any other elective position, with Delaware County or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This provision shall not apply to employees of School Districts or of other educational institutions.

 B. Violation of any provision of this Section shall constitute grounds for forfeiture of office, termination of appointment, or dismissal.

§ 21.9-905. Conflict of Interest.

 A. No elected or appointed official of the Township and no Township employee, shall engage in any activity which follows.

   l. Take any action as a result of information acquired as a Township official from which action the Township official or employee or any other person or entity in whose welfare the official is interested, shall realize a gain or advantage. Such action shall not, however, be construed to be prohibited if the gain or advantage were realized generally by a group or class of citizens as the purposeful result of such action.

   2. Solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, favor, service commission, or other consideration that might reasonably tend to influence that official or employee in the discharge of the duties of office.

   3. Seek to influence, directly or indirectly, the awarding of any contract where such Township official or employee, or other person or entity in whose welfare the official or employee is interested would benefit directly or indirectly, financially or otherwise, from said contract.

 B. Disqualification from Action. Any elected or appointed official and any employee of the Township, having a direct or indirect financial interest with any person or business entity proposing to contract with the Township for the purchase or sale of land, materials, supplies, or services of any kind, or seeking formal action of the Board or any petition application, request, or appeal, whether that interest be as an employee, a party, a partner, or a stockholder, shall disclose fully said interest and except where stock holdings in a public corporation shall be minimal, shall not participate in the discussion or formal action relating thereto. Violation of the provisions of this Section shall render the contract of such actions voidable by the Township.

PA Gives Final Nod to High School Exam Requirements

Pennsylvania has given its final nod to high school graduation exam requirements.  A couple of weeks ago Attorney General Tom Corbett signed off on the paperwork to create Keystone Exams.  I knew that this subject had been bantered about over the last couple of years with much back-and-forth over the merits of graduation test requirements for all high school students – didn’t know that it had received final approval.  Keystone Exams had received the support of the Senate education committee, the state Board of Education and the Department of Education and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and was just waiting on final approval from the Attorney General.  The Keystone Exam plan will be a series of 10 end-of-course exams in a variety of subjects.  I guess the thought is to create an insurance policy for the school districts and a way to gauge all the students.  The Keystone Exams could replace the 11th grade School Assessment test, and would count for at least 1/3 of a student’s final grade in that particular subject.  With Corbett’s signature, the only remaining hurdle is getting the new regulation published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.  The tests would be introduced for the class of 2015.  Some of the exams will be available for district review in the 2010-11 school year.

Looking at the cost of the Keystone Exams which is estimated at to be $160 million overall, spread over seven years, how does this affect our local school district budget  Pennsylvania is grappling with budgets, how does this hefty price tag effect local budgeting requirements?  Or does it?  It would seem that the Keystone Exam is a done deal, so we live with the spending of the money; I’m just wondering how we pay for it.  I have some doubts on the overall effectiveness of this exam; I would like further validation that speaks to that topic.  But regardless of my thoughts on the effectiveness of the exam, this new legislature appears to now be in place.

The Power of a Name . . . Curt Shroder Closes Campaign

The power of a name. Just days after announcing that he will run for reelection in the 6th District, Republican US Rep Jim Gerlach’s news has State Rep Curt Shroder ending his congressional campaign. Considered a frontrunner and favorite by some, Shroder is said to be bitterly disappointed about quitting the race. With Gerlach’s sudden and unexpected news, Shroder did not think that he had the ability to raise the kind of money that would be required to compete against an incumbent. Shroder had been campaigning for 6 months and was making steady progress both in support by Chester County GOP committee members and his fundraising had been going well.

Howard Cohen, former state revenue treasurer and Lower Merion Commissioner Scott Zelov both have already closed down their campaigns to defer to Gerlach. Next in line from a support standpoint in the 6th District race, Steve Welch, a local biotech entrepreneur is said to be on the fence about whether to quite the race.

Watching one campaign after another fold in the 6th District race, certainly gives pause to the power of a name . . . Jim Gerlach. (At least from the Republican side).