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, www.tredyffrin.org.    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.

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11 Responses

  1. The problem is that we have had a bad set of recent facts that colors the situation. Using Warren Kampf as a prime example, it is clear that everything he does is POLITICALLY driven. From the fire funding to the vote on sew fees, everything Warren does is borne out of nurturing a political system that he needs to feed off of. For the record, I believe EJ Richter will be no different. I don’t believe Michelle Kichline’s actions will be driven by the same political ideology. And that gets to the unfortunate aspect of this.

    The problem is – a few bad apples requires the community to give serious thought to whether political committee members should serve on boards. On one hand, you have the Warren Kampf’s and EJ Richters of the world. On the other, you have Michelle Kichline on the BOS, Kristen Mayock and Suzy Ciccerone on the ZHB, and you have Libby Brinton (former TTRC Member) on the planning commission. This latter group of folks have done a good job of separating the spheres of public service and political committee involvement. JD for a while was TTRC member while on the BOS. He didn’t let political activity get in the way.

    Then, you have people like Paul Olson and Bob Lamina, who are not a TTRC members – but might as well be. They, as much as any formal member, are carrying water for the TTRC.

    So with that, it is not a black and white issue. You have to look at the conduct of individuals. It really boils down to ethics. Folks like Kampf, Lamina and Olson don’t have them. That has more to do with their make up and character. In other words, the risk here is confusing causation with correlation.

    Should there be a per se ban on political committee membership for elected officials and board members? If it reduces the problems that we have seen over the past 3 months, then yes, I would be in favor of that. However, you still have the core problem . You still have the same cast of characters doing bad things. My only reservation about such a rule is that it may prevent good people from serving. But – if it could reduce or eliminate problems like the St. David’s deal or the fire funding issue – then perhaps it is something we should look at.

  2. It’s not clear whether anything would change in Tredyffrin if our supervisors were required to resign from their positions as voting members of their local political parties (Committeepersons are the only voting members) .

    Nothing can stop supervisors from affiliating with a politcal part.y

    No provisions in a Home Rule Charter can stop them from being influenced by party officials.

    The responsibility they have to represent all residents in the community will not prevent individual supervisors from making decisions and voting based on their own ideological leanings.

    And what constitutes ethical conduct will always be open to interpretation.

    Even so, I think it makes sense to require supervisors once elected, to resign from their positions as committeepeople.

    I’m thinking about the motivations of one in particular who has higher political aspirations of his own and is carrying water for the local, county and state Republican parties. To stand at the polls and promote oneself for one office while holding at least two others is in conflict with the job of a committeeperson and vice versa.

    As John suggests, requiring supervisors to resign their posts as committeepeople will not put an end to the backroom shenanigans, improper use of influence or partisan activity that ignores the community’s best interests.

    But it’s a start.

  3. John
    Aren’t members of the local “committees” elected? If so, then voters surely have the right to remove them, or not elect them subsequently to other jobs?
    I think it’s dangerous to presume any actions on the part of the new supervisors — and am offended that you would mention the two women new to the BOS, along with several other women on boards as your concern. (Yes you talk about the KOL, but that’s based on your assessment of them in the job).
    One thing that will reduce or eliminate problems is for voters to pay attention to the issues of government, not just to the scandals. The power of incumbency here is somewhat overwhelming, but that’s mostly because no one wants the job, and if you are willing to step up for it, you encounter countless personal attacks and citizen journalists like all of us second guessing your motives and political ideology. Shouldn’t we give voters credit (or blame) for understanding ideologies before they vote? Your comments about what you think about EJR and MK are really a step over a line. Those two women and PD were elected to the job. They ran campaigns just like their opponents, and in a time when our area had most recently turned in favor of the Democratic party in some other elections. ??
    As to your conclusion that KOL do not have any ethics — that is hyperbole at its extreme, since ethics are nothing more than a system of moral principles, and you do not have to agree with their ethics for them to exist. I think their ethical principles are patriarchal in nature — they believe Tredyffrin township is theirs to take care of and to run. They know best.
    I know that you have a long history of commenting on the townshi and have been a good citizen journalist. To simply take shots at the efforts of or to project values onto those you don’t know or prefer is simply the other side of a presumptuous BOS majority — it’s caustic without being constructive. If the TTRC and all its appointees are inbread, then we need to change it, not undermine it.

    • Not sure how you could take offense re: MK. I know her and put her in the category of those that could separate party politics and governing. I think you need to take more care in reading what I wrote…

    • I should have given a more complete response.

      Re: voting, yes, its true. Committee people are elected. That said, 90% of people don’t care and are not interested in who runs for the political committee – whether it is state or local. In fact, it may be that only 1 out of 100 cares. In W2, where I live, Warren Kampf is both the local GOP committee man and is also a member of the state committee. Very few people know that fact. You have to be somewhat politically engaged to know stuff like this. Nevertheless, these committee people can have a large impact on your life. Warren Kampf certain has an impact.

      When it comes to policy, tax and otherwise, both parties have done a dis-service to us all. The GOP has been about as intellectually dishonest as you can get. And yes, I am talking about the BAWG, Tax Study Commission, etc. It is all GOP controlled to one degree or another.

      How intellectually dishonest does it get? Take Warren Kampf for example. On one hand, he is happy to vote no on a sewer fee increase for reasons of political cover. He stacked the voting so that Judy would vote Yes – and that there would be votes down the line to make the measure pass. Keep in mind that there are general fund expenses in the sewer fund. So on the other hand, Kampf is fine with paying for things out of the sewer fund but was not OK with to increase fees to fund the expenses. I guarantee you that if Kampf was not running for the 157th., he would have voted yes to increase the fee. There would not have been an upside for him in that case to vote no. That is but one example of how political notification is right there in the governing of our township.

      As far as Michelle, EJ, Phil and other folks I mentioned, I stand by those comments. I think I was very complementary of Michelle and others. EJ, like it or not, is the guaranteed 4th vote for the GOP. She is a pawn in this chess game. She will seek Bob and Paul’s permission to do anything. Tell you what, if she votes against them at least 25% of the time, I will recant my comment. She owes Paul too much for the campaign contributions she received. Heck ,she is sitting next to Paul. If you don’t think that was planned, you are very naive.

      I see things as they are and I have the wherewithal to voice those opinions. If you don’t think there are many people who think the same way, you are fooling yourself. I am 100% correct on all of this. You may not like the colorful way I express it – but that does not change the veracity and accuracy of my comments.

      As for KOL (as you call the troika) – they don’t have ethics. All I need to do is point to one example and my point is made. St. Davids… Done….period…end of story. That move was ethically and morally bankrupt. And – when they try to put lipstick on that pig via letters to the editor and speeches, they are simply lying through their collective teeth. They know it, we know it, the whole damn place kows it. Yet – we go through the kabuki dance anyway.

      As for voters paying attention to the government – the biggest mistake poltiicos can make is over-estimating the level to which voters really care about the issues. If voters really cared and where motivated, we would have had different results in Nov., 2009. As for those campaigns, the negative piece on Eamon was simply below the belt .

      End of rant…

  4. Thanks for this posting. I moved here from Boston a few years ago and I am just starting to really understand how local politics work in this township.The public can see what is happening, they could have made better choices in the last election but no its same old, same old. So disappointing. Why don’t people do something? John, you have it right on this one.

  5. If you’re unhappy with your committee member, run against him/her. It only takes 10 signatures on a petition to file it and run in the primary. Check w/voter services in West Chester to find out the filing dates. Granted you may have an uphill battle, but stranger things have happened. And once elected you may find the balance of the committee doesn’t share your views & you’re in the minority.

    P.S. The Tredyffrin Supervisors are elected; the commission members are appointed.

  6. John Why don’t you give E.J. And Phil a chance before you start putting labels on them? For better or worse, (I think better) the voters gave them the nod last November to represent us on the BOS. I happen to know E.J. personally and I can tell you she will be nobody’s puppet. The fact that she may vote right on most issues is what she told the voters when she campaigned AND it is what they generally will expect from her. Whether or not she is a committee member of the TTRC won’t and shouldn’t change a thing. If it were democrats in this same position, I suspect that we wouldn’t be having this discussion. That being said, I think some on this blog should just come clean and admit that they are just unhappy with the election results from November. Lastly, I cringe with the thought of what these boards will look like come the end of this November. Jim Bailey. Committeeman M-4

  7. Jim…

    First off, thanks for id’ing yourself as a committee man. Being from the Middle, I would expect you to have these viewpoints. My comments are limited to EJ – based on her public comments. She didn’t sign the petition for fire funding. She was against the idea of a citizens budget advisory group when first suggested in 2009. She gave a pretty weak performance during the debate. About the only thing she could manage to say during the election was that she will never raise taxes. When you put on top of that – the amount of $’s she received from specific BOS members, you have to wonder how independent she can be. Substantively, there is no real depth there. When it comes to complex problems, she is not bringing much to the table.

    All of that said, when you break the #’s down, it was clear that those inside the party were uncomfortable with her. In almost every case, she received less votes than Michelle. The Democratic Party is the group that really made it possible for somebody like EJ to win. Out of 4 candidates, she was clearly the least qualified. Michelle and Pattye were the two best qualified people for the post. But – the D’s decided to stay home. That had the effect of making the R vote that much more powerful. And as we know all to often, the best qualified don’t always win.

    And Jim…let’s face it.. On an intellectual level, the fringes at either side don’t look at things with too much scrutiny. Hardcore R’s will simply vote for the R, the same is true for the hardcore D’s. Take somebody like Ed Sweeney or Mike Broadhust for example… When he speaks in public, what does they really say? At best, the parrot GOP talking points. How about CT’s little speech. Intellectually, these folks bring little to nothing to the table because they cannot see past their poltiically ideology. Then, you have people like Rob Betts, who served on the BAWG. Do I really need to go down St. David’s Golf Club road with you? How about the fire funding business? Jim – be careful when you chide others for what you think is “not coming clean”.

    If you asked these people why they believe what they believe, I don’t think you would get a coherent answer. And yet, these same people say that Tredyffrin is the “Gold Standard” – reality belies that conclusion.

    When they open their mouth, it simply validates that belief. If there were more committee people like Kristen Mayock, Michelle Kichline, Suzy Cicerone, Gio D’Amato, John Bravacos, JD, etc – it would be a better party. I wanted to to throw that out there lest anybody think there are no R’s I respect. At heart, I am still a Reaganite. Most folks in the committee either don’t know or forgot what that means.

    As far as EJ goes, she’s a follower, somebody glad to be where she is. At some point, she is going to have to be an active part of the government. She represents 1/7th of the BOS vote. We are going to find out really fast what she is made of. Based on what she has said and done thus far, I have a pretty good idea of what that is.

    Happy to have the discussion with you. That said, I can assure you that my thoughts are borne out of something more substantial than me being pissed off at the way the 2009 election turned. out.

    Let me ask you this Jim – are you one of the people that supported the negative mailer re: Eamon? If you are, then you are most definitely part of the problem.

    Again, happy to have the discussion with you.

  8. John, I consider Eamon and his family friends. I personally think he would do a great job on the board and I hope he considers another run. So , from that, I hope your question is answered. There are a lot of good republicans on the TTRC and we all are doing what we think is best for our community. We are passionate, like you. I am new to local politics and the TTRC and have a lot to learn. I believe I am open minded and hope never to be “part of the problem”. John, if I ever am, I hope you will let me know. Anyway, whether or not our township is the “Gold standard” is not the point. The truth is that T/E with it’s schools, culture, people and government is a pretty nice place to call home. I hope you agree…………..

    • Jim…

      >>
      John, I consider Eamon and his family friends. I personally think he would do a great job on the board and I hope he considers another run.
      <<

      I guess one question I have is where were you when the negative mailer ran. Did you defend your friend then? I'm sorry Jim, but nearly 3 months hence, those words ring a little hollow. Obviously, I can't speak for Eamon. This is all just my opinion.

      TTRC Committee people that have stood by, allowing the party to be hijacked by the likes of CT Alexander and Warren Kampf – are part of the problem. Those problems have spilled out into the community as a whole. In other words, we are not talking just about back room politics.

      In terms of the Gold Standard, that is entirely the point because since 2007, that has been CT's mantra. It is all BS. The facts prove that.

      Between Easttown for 5 years and Tredyffrin for 15, I have 20 years in this community. One son has been though the TESD and the other has 3.5 years to go. The schools are good…but the quality has decreased. So in that regard, I speak with some authority. But again, it is my opinion…but it is an informed opinon. The difference with me is that I am not some TTRC pawn trying to rub lipstick on the pig. I would say for the last 10 years, the TESD Board has done a poor job. The BOS is no different. Like crack addicts, they were addicted to the real estate transfer tax. Big bucks rolling in tends to cover up the the in-competencies. It makes the mediocre look geniuses. I have said often that it is times like these when you find out who is really good.

      The current and previous TESD boards were in the back pocket of the teacher union. And all the while, the TTRC has remained quite – perpetuating the myth they have done a good job. There lies the problem…

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