Our Fire Companies Should Not be Political Pawns

Working together, the volunteer firefighters of Berwyn, Paoli and Radnor fire companies serve  Tredyffrin Township.  Many of our residents and their families are involved in the volunteer firefighting effort and proudly serve our community.  Firefighting is demanding. There are hours of training involved, requirements to be met, standards to uphold, and volunteer firefighters are not compensated in the traditional way. There is no big paycheck or large monetary bonus to work harder.

John DiBuonaventuro has served as a volunteer firefigher for the Paoli Fire Company for many years and is passionate in his support.  In his position as a member of the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor DiBuonaventuro also serves as the fire company liaison.  As an audience member in this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting,  I witnessed an uncomfortable exchange between Supervisors DiBuonaventuro and Warren Kampf in regards to the fire companies and their funding.  Understanding DiBuonaventuro’s long-standing support of the  fire companies vs. Kampf’s vote against full-funding of the fire companies in the township’s 2010 budget . . . one might question Supervisor Kampf’s sudden interest in our local fire companies and their funding. 

Our volunteer firefighters deserve our community’s support . . .  but I think we would all agree they should not be used as pawns in a political campaign. Today’s Main Line Suburban newspaper includes the following As I See It opinion article, The continual politicization of our fire services, which speaks directly to this topic.

    As I See It: The continual politicization of our fire services

By John V. Petersen

As if the big cardboard-check moment during the Dec. 12, 2009 Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors meeting wasn’t enough, we had another play at Monday night’s BOS meeting involving the fire service as a political football. As we all know, Warren Kampf, current Tredyffrin BOS member and previous chairman, is seeking to challenge Rep. Paul Drucker for the State Representative seat for the 157th Legislative District. At Monday night’s BOS meeting, Mr. Kampf stated that he met with members of the Berwyn Fire Company and the topic of a stable long-term firefighter-funding source was discussed. What Mr. Kampf failed to tell the public was his visit to Berwyn was in connection with his 157th candidacy, not in his capacity as a Tredyffrin supervisor. For the record Supervisor and Paoli firefighter John “J.D.” DiBuonaventuro serves as the fire liaison.

 In that capacity, Supervisor DiBuonaventuro has had such meetings concerning the fire task force and funding with Berwyn and Paoli FDs and updates on that progress have been shared with the public, most recently at the March 1, 2010 meeting. On that same day Mr. Kampf sought the Montgomery County endorsement for the 157th and therefore did not attend the March 1 meeting and clearly was not aware that the matter was already discussed during the previous meeting.

What I find disingenuous is Mr. Kampf on one hand stating the importance of finding a stable long-term funding source for the fire companies and on the other hand, most previously in his role as BOS Chairman, supporting cuts to the fire service and at the same time retaining funding for the annual July 4 fireworks display. These two viewpoints are completely irreconcilable. It should also be noted that earlier in his tenure on the BOS, Mr. Kampf served on fire task force. Accordingly Mr. Kampf has already had an opportunity to address the issues that are currently being addressed by Supervisor DiBuonaventuro. It is clear that the only motivation here is Mr. Kampf’s pursuit of higher political office. And to that end he is seeking to use the fire service as a pawn in his political chess game. Between the big cardboard-check event and last night’s meeting, it is clear Mr. Kampf is using a public forum dedicated to township business for his own political purposes. In a word it is inappropriate.

When the firefighters and EMTs perform their heroic work, they don’t ask about party registration. To be used as a political football of sorts is to denigrate that heroic work. Ultimately Mr. Kampf is free to run his campaign as he sees fit. As citizens we have forums like this to hold candidates and office-holders accountable. All I would ask is that Mr. Kampf campaign on his own time, not during the time when the business of Tredyffrin Township is to be addressed. Further, I would ask that all candidates leave the fire service out of their political calculus. There are plenty of other matters ripe for politics. The fire service is not one of them.

John V. Petersen lives in Paoli.

State Rep. Paul Drucker’s Bill to encourage ‘green’ building for schools passes House

News from Harrisburg . . . Our State Rep. Paul Drucker’s House Bill 689 to provide incentives for school districts to construct cleaner and more efficient schools has passed the House with a vote of 106-85.  My understanding is the roots of this legislative bill began in 2008 under former State Rep. Carole Rubley’s direction.  With some 2009/10 updating, Rep. Drucker was able to successfully move the bill through the House’s voting process.  The following is excerpted from Pennsylvania State House press release:

 Current law requires school boards to first receive voter approval before commencing any major construction plans over a certain dollar amount, including new buildings or significant renovations. That law, he said, inadvertently impedes the construction of environmentally friendly schools due to the high up-front cost, which may push the cost of green construction over the limit. House Bill 689 would exclude any costs incurred by a school district in the construction of a school building that meets the Green Building Standard from the calculation of construction costs when determining if voter approval is needed. At a minimum, Green Building Standard projects must include performance-based credits that will improve a building’s energy performance and promote the use of environmentally friendly building materials and technologies. Documentation to support the energy efficiency of the project is required. Green Building Standard projects must also employ third-party, post-construction review and have a performance record of certified green buildings in the United States.

The bill includes a requirement that Green Building Standard costs be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education at the same time that construction cost estimates are submitted for approval. Drucker said that inclusion of Green Building Standard costs with construction costs would allow districts to demonstrate any long-term savings produced by investment in green building technologies.

“Over time, green buildings save money by reducing energy costs and provide a healthier internal air quality for our children,” Drucker said. “My bill would allow school districts to realize these long-term benefits without being burdened by the up-front costs associated with green building.”

Rep. Drucker’s bill will now go to the Senate for consideration and here’s hoping for a successful outcome!

State Rep Paul Drucker to Host Job Fair on March 31 in Phoenixville

State Rep Paul Drucker’s March newsletter arrived in the mail yesterday and contained an important announcement for those in the community that are looking for a job.  Together with PA Department of Labor & Industry, Rep Drucker is hosting a Job Fair on Wednesday, March 31, 2-5 PM at the Phoenixville Civic Center, 123 Main Street, Phoenixville.  The job fair will include a resume writing workshop and job hunting seminars.  Job opportunities at all levels will be available. 

Rep Drucker is reporting that the following industries are confirmed to be on-hand: 

  • Human Services 
  • Retail/Restaurant 
  • Non-Profit 
  • Healthcare 
  • Insurance 
  • Financial Services 
  • Early Childhood Education 

Employers from various additional industries are also expected to be in attendance. The event will also feature job opportunities for veterans. Admission is free and business attire is encouraged.  This is good news for local job-seekers.  If you are in the job market, mark your calendar for March 31.  Thank you Rep Drucker  for offering this opportunity to the residents in your legislative district!

Public Invitation Includes Speakers Gerlach, Toomey and Kampf . . . but Where’s Buckwalter?

A friend gave me a public invitation she received in today’s mail.  Here was a part of the invitation:

Come and Hear:

Congressman
Jim Gerlach

Tredyffrin Supervisor and State Representative candidate
Warren Kampf

Plus a Surprise Speaker!

Sponsored by Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee http://www.ttgop.com

 I am puzzled and confused by this invitation.  On February 20th,  both the Democrats and the Republicans held their nominating conventions and I wrote about both of the conventions.   For the State House Representative 157, incumbent Paul Drucker was endorsed by the Democrat Party.  However, at the Chester County Republican Convention neither Warren Kampf nor Ken Buckwalter were endorsed by the party.  After three rounds of voting (Round #3, Kampf 29 – Buckwalter 27)  the decision was to recommend, not endorse either candidate.  To receive the party’s endorsement would have required one of the candidates to receive 60% of the votes.  To read about the Chester County Republican Committee vote which I posted, click here.

So then I look at this invitation and wonder to myself if the TTGOP is sponsoring this public event in a public place (the event will be at the Strafford Library, April 12, 7-9 PM) a couple of things jumped out at me.  First thing, I wondered was where was Ken Buckwalter’s name?  Warren Kampf is recommended (just like Ken) and this is sponsored by the local Republican party, so shouldn’t both of their names appear on the invitation? Shouldn’t Ken have the same opportunity as Warren to speak at this public forum?  Was this a simple oversight . . . a miss-step . . . or what?   The opportunity to participate in this forum should be open to both candidates.  If Warren had been endorsed by the party, this would be a different matter but he was recommended, just as was Ken.  I think that Ken should be included and given the same opportunity to participate; level the playing field.

Then the next question I have about the invitation is re Jim Gerlach.  Is this invitation intended to imply that Gerlach has endorsed Warren Kampf?  That’s the way it reads to me but I don’t recall seeing a press release to that effect. Has Gerlach endorsed Kampf?  Did Gerlach OK this invitation?  Does Gerlach know that Ken Buckwalter was not included?  For the sake of party unity, I would think that Gerlach would want to treat both candidates fairly until the primary.

Now my third comment on this invitation, I was curious who the ‘surprise speaker’ was?  I did some checking around — and was able to track down the surprise speaker — Pat Toomey.  Very interesting . . . I wonder if Gerlach was told about the surprise speaker?  Interesting trio of speakers – Gerlach, Toomey and Kampf.  Comments anyone?  Do you agree that Ken Buckwalter should be asked to join this group on April 12 and given an opportunity to speak?

Chester County Democrat Committee Nominating Convention Endorses Paul Drucker in his Reelection Bid for the 157th Legislative District

I spoke with Paul Drucker last evening and extended my congratulations on his 157th Legislative District endorsement at the Chester County Democrat Committee Nominating Convention held yesterday in West Chester. 

From what I understand from those in attendance, Paul delivered a rousing speech to the audience; a speech filled with passion and enthusiasm for the work that he is currently doing in Harrisburg and a desire to continue to represent our community.  A longtime Paoli resident and a former member of Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors, as our current State Representative, Paul understands first hand the challenges and concerns of our community. The best of luck to Paul in his reelection campaign.

Just In . . . No Endorsement from the Chester County Republican Committee for the State House 157 Race . . . There Will be a Primary!

This just in . . . Chester County Republican Committee has completed their voting for the Pennsylvania State House 157.  The committee voted not to endorse either Warren Kampf or Ken Buckwalter.  To receive an endorsement requires 60% of the votes; the voting went as follows:

  • Round 1: Kampf 32 votes; Buckwalter 26 votes
  • Round 2: Kampf 31 votes; Buckwalter 27 votes
  • Round 3: Kampf 29 votes; Buckwalter 27 votes *

* It is my understanding that 2 Tredyffrin committee people left before Round 3 vote.

As a result of the voting, the Republican Committee has made the decision to recommend both candidates (neither candidate receives an endorsement).  So there will be a Primary race between Kampf and Buckwalter; both candidates will appear on the ballot.  Paul Drucker’s Republican opponent for the State House race will be decided by the people on Primary Day, May 18, 2010. 

Interesting that we will have a Republican Primary between a Paoli candidate and a Phoenixville candidate . . . wonder when the last time that happened?  Has there ever been a non-Tredyffrin Township State House Representative?  Exciting local political news!

Chester County Democrat and Republican Nominating Conventions Being Held Today . . . Who Will Face Paul Drucker in the State House Race?

The Chester County Democrat Committee Nominating Convention is being held today in West Chester, 10 AM – 1 PM.  Petitions will be signed for senate, congressional, gubernatorial and legislative candidates. 

Also today is the endorsement process for the Chester County Republican Committee. The outcome of today’s vote will determine if there is a primary for the Republicans in the State House 157 race.  The was a straw poll held a couple of weeks ago between Warren Kampf, Judy DiFilippo and Ken Buckwalter.  As a result of the straw poll, Judy made the decision to leave the race, leaving committee people today to make a choice between Kampf and Buckwalter.  Although the outcome of the straw poll has historically given good indication of who will get the GOP endorsement, the results are unofficial and nonbinding. It will be curious to see if Kampf, the frontrunner after the straw poll receives the GOP endorsement or if Phoenixville resident Buckwalter receives it.  If a 60-40 margin is not reached among committee people, there will be no endorsement.  The next question will be whether the committee people decide to recommend one (or both) of the candidates.  If one of the candidates doesn’t receive an endorsement or recommendation, it would appear unlikely that the candidate would remain in the race.

Paul Drucker (D), the incumbent State House 157 Representative kicked off his reelection campaign this week with the opening of his Paoli Campaign office. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of this community over the past year, and I am proud of my work on issues important to residents here, from our successful efforts to increase education funding to progress on job creation and transportation, as well as the urgent need for reform in Harrisburg,” Drucker said. “While we have done some very good things together, there is much more to be done to make Harrisburg reflect the priorities of the people, and that is why I will ask the voters to give me the opportunity to continue to serve them.”

The Chester County Democrat and Republican committee process is important today for Tredyffrin residents.  By the end of the day we will know the opponent(s) for Paul Drucker in the State House 157 legislative race.  Just so everyone understands, the 157th legislative district encompasses Tredyffrin. Schuylkill, Phoenixville, and in Montgomery County – 4 precincts in Lower Providence and 1 precinct in West Norriton

Will the May Primary have both Warren Kampf and Ken Buckwalter on the ballot?  Will one of them be endorsed by the Republican Committee?  Look for an announcement later today; as soon as I know something, I will post.