Main Line Suburban Reporter Blair Meadowcroft writes . . . “Tredyffrin Residents Blast Supervisors Over St. Davids Vote”

Main Line Suburban reporter Blair Meadowcroft’s account of Monday night’s Board of Supervisor Meeting is published today (article below).  Sometimes when you are in the midst of a situation, you can loose your objectivity . . . but after reading Blair’s account of the meeting, I am convinced that the residents were right in their united message.

I do need to recognize the ‘Citizen Supervisor’ of the night . . . John DiBuonaventuro.  Supervisor DiBuonaventuro heard the residents, agreed with them and stated, “I’d like to reverse the decision, start over and follow by the rules.”  The problem of course is that he could count on Supervisors Kichline and Donohue votes to reverse the decision, but we know that Supervisors Lamina, Kampf and Richter still don’t get it!  For the record, Paul Olson was not at the meeting but it is clear how he would not have supported a vote to reverse the decision (considering, he is the one who made the original motion). 

I still remain convinced that with help (and encouragement) from the public, township manager and township solicitor, we will see our elected officials back on track at the February 22 meeting.  I’m looking forward to seeing St. Davids Golf Club on the meeting agenda, and the re-institution of policy and procedure for Tredyffrin Township’s government.

   Tredyffrin residents blast supervisors over St. Davids vote

By Blair Meadowcroft

At the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors meeting Monday night, three of the board members took to the microphone in an effort to apologize for their previous actions.

Since last meeting’s whirlwind vote was approved in favor of releasing $25,000 from an escrow account to the St. Davids Golf Club, residents have been expressing their confusion and dislike. In response, and after discussion with various members of the community over the last two weeks, three of the four board members who voted in favor of the motion in question publicly apologized. The fourth board member who voted to pass the motion for St. Davids was Vice Chair Paul Olson, who was not at the Feb. 8 meeting.

“All here tonight acknowledge that the process utilized was less than perfect,” said Chairman Bob Lamina. “I could have done a better job; I could have insisted on more public comment, or agreed with Supervisor Michelle Kichline to table the issue. The board plans to learn from this and we plan to figure out a better way in the future of dealing with this sort of issue.”

Supervisors Evelyn Richter and Warren Kampf agreed, echoing Lamina’s sentiments and adding a few of their own.

“I should have agreed to a delay; there was no rush on this,” said Richter. “And this should have been put on the agenda. I’ll work towards not allowing this to happen again.”

“A lot of thought has gone into this and in hindsight the motion to table the issue should have been considered, and announcing this in advance should have been done,” said Kampf.

While their apologies were appreciated by those in attendance, the three board members quickly learned that an apology would not be enough. Member after member of the community came to the microphone during a public-comment session to express their disgust at what had been allowed to happen at the previous meeting, questioned what sort of example the board members were setting, and demanded an answer as to what would be done to fix the problem.

“I want to understand how the meeting and the vote made does not set precedent for the future,” said Pattye Benson. “Township Manager Mimi Gleason said that it does. What will stop another developer tomorrow from saying no to doing something they once agreed to do? What you did was absolutely outrageous. You made an apology but that does not right the wrong.”

Agreeing, Matthew Valocchi, vice president of the Berwyn Fire Company, said that while the apologies were nice, there is still a “big problem” that needs to be taken care of. “This has been a heated political issue and it is a problem when a vote like this gets rushed by,” said Valocchi. “The letter of credit was a guarantee that something was going to be done. There was no request from St. Davids for this exemption and the board did not refer the matter to the township engineer before taking the vote.”

As the night went on, regardless of the decision made previously by the board members, the residents in attendance continued to fight for the sidewalks in question. They explained how they were necessary, how they would not affect trees or add to storm- water issues and that if put in place they would not be “a sidewalk to nowhere.”

“When the Sidewalks, Trails and Paths Committee put together their plan it was to allow residents to walk carefully through the township,” said one resident. “That part of the path was put there specifically to help that purpose. The question is what do you want Tredyffrin to be like in the future? If you want it to be walkable, we need the sidewalks to be put in.”

Although various points were made in their defense Chairman Lamina explained that in his opinion the sidewalks weren’t necessary and that was why he voted the way he did. “Who are we to insist a sidewalk go somewhere that a community doesn’t want?” asked Lamina.

As the meeting unfolded, residents asked repeatedly in a variety of ways for the township supervisors to reverse their vote, put it on hold, discuss it more in depth, anything to undo what was done. One supervisor voiced his opinion and agreed with the residents. “Maybe there is a way to start over and do this the right way,” said Supervisor John DiBuonaventuro. “I’d like to reverse the decision, start over and follow by the rules.” While the residents’ comments were heard, along with DiBuonaventuro’s request for a reversal, by the end of the meeting no change had been made to the previous vote.

While those in attendance were disappointed, the conversations remained calm throughout the meeting until John Petersen, Tredyffrin resident and one-time supervisor, approached the microphone. After asking the board members a few questions, including one to Kampf, the response he got started a heated argument.

 “The audience in this room needs to know who this man is at the microphone,” said Kampf. “He sent an e-mail to each member of the board today saying, ‘You’ve asked for war, and war is what you will have. I’m going to get you. I am coming after you.’ I think his attacks are personal.”

The discussion that followed involved Petersen criticizing Kampf on his leadership skills and on the board’s actions in general. “Instead of defending your actions you are attacking me,” said Petersen. “You have no defense; you broke the faith and all you can do is hide. You are held to a higher standard and it is about time you started acting like it.” In response to his comments, Lamina ended the discussion by telling Petersen “You will no longer be recognized here.”

In other news at the BOS meeting, the supervisors thanked the public-works team for their efforts put forth to handle the weekend’s snowfall as well as to prepare for the upcoming storm. “This was the second largest snowstorm in Tredyffrin Township’s history; we got 20 inches,” said public-works director Steve Norcini. “The public-works crew did a fantastic job. They worked nonstop from 5 p.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Sunday. And as soon as that ended, they started preparing for the next storm, which we are ready for.”

 Additionally, DiBuonaventuro commended the local fire companies for their courageous work done to fight a three-alarm fire that took place at Strafford Station Apartments Saturday, Jan. 30 at 9:25 a.m. The fire caused $1.2 million in damage and was determined to have been started by a fire in the utility closet at the complex. Along with thanking the firefighters, DiBuonaventuro thanked the local churches, the Red Cross and T&E Care for their efforts in helping and temporarily adopting the affected families.

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5 Responses

  1. Very important folks – in order to the word out – be sure to share the story. If you have facebook, twitter, etc – post the story to your profile. Just click the share this link at the top of the story.

  2. Here’s an example of what happens when a governmental entity gets out of control:

    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20100210_Pa__Turnpike_Commissioner_quits_over_DUIs.html

    Of course, this has MAJOR implications for our area given the proximity of the turnpike to several citizens’ homes.

  3. I watched the Board of Supervisors meeting, and I would encourage other residents to do the same. Thank you Blair for your article. Many residents (including myself) now have complete distrust in our elected officials (specifically Lamina, Kampf, Olson, Richter) based on their actions. But what about the behavior of Lamina and Kampf at the meeting! Supervisors are elected to serve ALL the people. They may not always agree with the residents but I did not see John Peteresen making personal attacks at that meeting. No what I saw was Kampf and Lamina prepared and ready to attack Petersen. Petersen has rights as a citizen. How come the township solicitor didn’t protect his clients (board of supervisors) by telling that they were breaking a law by taking away Petersen’s 5th Admendment rights?? How dare Lamina state to Petersen, ‘You will not longer be recognized here’. WOW!

    • Thanks Tredyffrin Resident..

      Actually, its our First Amendment Rights. But…if there does become issues on due process, then yes, the Fifth Amendment will come into play!!

      I think the attacks Kampf was referring to was the notion that I had forewarned them that I would be asking them tough questions at the meeting. Kampf took that as a personal attack. There is not much I can do about that. What it does tell you is that Kampf does not have the requisite demeanor and maturity to be a supervisor, let alone a state rep. Imagine the first time somebody in the General Assembly disagreed with him. Chances are good, you would see the same kind of behavior from him. For a lawyer, he really does not know how to argue and debate a point on the merits. I have say, EJ did a far better job than Kampf that night. What you are seeing is the peeling away of a carefully constructed fascade. For years, Kampf has worked to craft an image. For quite some time, I have known what lurked beneath the surface. On Monday, we all saw it. I am sure that Kampf’s defenders will attack me on the grounds that I simply have a beef with Kampf. He is an elected official – and one who is seeking higher office. He has placed himself in the political arena. All I can say is if the heat is too much for him, perhaps he needs to get out of the kitchen.

      As for Lamina’s statement that I would never be recognized at a meeting again – that is plain nonsense. You will see just how nonsensical it is when I pose a number of questions to Olson. So long as I am civil and respectful of the process, there is NOTHING the Lamina or Kampf can do to stop me from commenting. His comment was laughable.

      If they had any honor and integrity left and if they really cared about the community, they would resign immediately. Pride however, prevents them of doing that. That’s how you know it is about them…not the public. That’s how you know their “apology” was void of any meaning.

  4. A comment posted online at the Main Line Suburbans website, re Blair Meadowcroft’s article.

    Disgruntled in Tredyffrin wrote on Feb 10, 2010 11:22 AM:

    ” Blair,
    I attended and then watched Monday night’s BOS meeting. While you could have reported on many other worthwhile comments made by citizens against the supervisors’ St. David’s vote, I think you captured very well the overall sense of the evening.

    What stands out is the conduct of Mssrs Kampf and Lamina, the past and current chairs of the BOS. We should hold them to a higher standard, and they failed miserably. Their calculated, pre-planned attack on the character of John Peterson said more about them than even their hollow, lawyerly apologies.

    Did they not give any thought to how they would be perceived? As bullies and not responsible public officials? The public has every right to expect an explanation for why they voted as they did and what they will do to correct the errors they admitted to making. Lamina and Kampf showed terrible judgment!

    I hope LORK’s pride and political calcualtions will not prevent them from doing what is right and reversing this decision. It may not have been illegal from a procedural standpoint, but it surely eroded the public trust to the point where nothing they do for the next two years will go without intense scrutiny. “

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