Thursday, November 10, 2011

The View From The Edge

"I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center". ~ Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

No question, running for public office requires putting yourself out there. This year, I did just that.

I called Jason Sorgini Tuesday evening and conceded the supervisor's race, congratulating him and wishing him well. We had a good and productive conversation and I sincerely offered my help if there was ever anything he wanted to know more about or way I can be of service.

While our efforts fell short yesterday (due to all kinds of things which I will write about in the coming  days) it certainly was a learning experience on several fronts. Yesterday, I saw things from my fellow Republican committeepeople and some of our elected officials that I thought I'd never see...that I was very disappointed to see. Bottom line, it left many of my fellow Republican voters ashamed, disgusted and embarrassed.

But, I'll save that for another day. And for those of you who may be worried (or hopeful), no, I haven't jumped off a ledge either. I'll instead use this space for thank-you's.

  • Thanks to all my dedicated and fierce pollworkers who had to spot and fight dirty tactics used on the front lines yesterday and deal with numerous conflicts and confrontations. Each of you had the same grit that I do, and for that, I'm grateful.
  • Thanks to MCRC for having my back when our own local party thumbed their nose at the voice of our voters, and largely wasn't there for one of its own candidates.
  • To the drivers who drove me and my running mate as we knocked on hundreds of doors to meet voters. You helped us cover a lot of ground despite weather that didn't always cooperate and kept us pumped up. It can be a boring and tedious task for drivers, but you made it fun. Thanks for your time, knowledge of where every road and house is, and details about each voter that made it easier to do our job.
  • To the sign crews who distributed a combined 500+ yard signs in public areas and to private homes that requested them, and by the time this is posted, will have picked up most of them.
  • To my campaign staff, for all the wisdom of their experience, phone calls, conversations, looking up people on lists, emails, guidance, advice, fundraiser planning and the miscellanous minutiae of running a campaign. It's a huge task, but we got a lot done, and I'm so proud of the innovation, creativity and work ethic that you all brought to the table. I know we had the best team out there and it gives me great personal satisfaction to know that because they couldn't win on the issues, we made our opponents' backers get their rear ends off the sofa and work hard to beat us.
  • To my employer, my boss and my coworkers: thank you for believing in me and supporting my efforts. The flowers and card you sent today really touched my heart (and thanks to everyone who sent me flowers and dropped off tokens of appreciation).
  • To my running mate, Jill Zimmerman. Congratulations and best of luck. You will need it.
  • To the voters who supported me. Over 2400 of you believed in me and my message, and I'll continue to fight for your interests. I'm not going anywhere. I will continue to do what I do best, which is try to hold those in office accountable and expose any shady things they do. 
  • Last, but certainly not least, thank you to my children. It was tough having mom away so much or having people dropping in at our house all the time, but your belief in me, the roles you took on, and pride in what we were doing kept me going. It all meant so very much to me to have your support, and I am so blessed and proud to call such terrific people my kids. You inspire me more than you'll ever know.

Monday, November 7, 2011

As The Township Turns

In the latest episode of the soap opera known as 'As the Township Turns", I got another piece of smear mail today ... the one I had heard last week was coming, and to which I've already responded in a mailer that dropped over the weekend.  Honestly, people, I didn't start this nonsense, but when attacked I will finish it. One only gets one reputation, and over the years I have been diligent in defending myself. This race has been no exception.

While it claims that I am saying anything to scare voters, this piece from opponent Sorgini claims all kinds of outrageous things, many of which were raised and responded to in the Spring before I won the primary.

To me, the most ridiculous ones - again ,from someone who never attended so much as one meeting or hearing that I participated in during all my years of service, so he has no personal knowledge as to whether what he's being told is true - were Sorgini's claims regarding the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB), including that 'she exceeded her budget'.

While I served 5 years, and chaired for two, the ZHB has no budget to exceed (in any municipality). The ZHB cannot control who files challenges to ordinances passed by the supervisors, nor can it control who appeals their decisions. The Township is obligated to pay the ZHB's legal bills, whatever they are, and the individual zoning members have absolutely no control over nor say in how much is allocated or spent on conducting its business. It didn't help that our current supervisors' chairman saw fit to cause the Township to sue his own ZHB several times to help his political friends. We can't control that either.

There was also never a time I "voted" not to allow residents to speak. Questions from the public, and public comment periods, are by law a part of every public hearing conducted by any municipal board. The mailer doesn't even reference with any specificity within which  of dozens of hearings this allegedly occured. 

The rest is pure nonsense, again put forth by someone with no personal knowledge and who either doesn't understand legal process, evidentiary rules, when a party is considered to have standing or not,  or how municipal meetings and hearings are conducted, or is intentionally bending the facts to mislead voters. Either way, they're not qualities you want in your leaders.

The information we put forth about the landfill was fact checked by an MCRC attorney, appeared on the supervisors' most recent agenda  (for Nov. 3), and I stand by what it said. 

Curiously, that same meeting on which the landfill topic appeared was inexplicably canceled at the last minute. I can't remember the last time that happened, if ever, and it couldn't have been because they didn't have a quorum, because three of the five supervisors were seen by me and my family having dinner at a restaurant we were at, that same evening, during the time the meeting would have been in session. Things that make you go "hmmm"... perhaps they wanted to wait until after the election?

I have always been diligent about making my personal phone numbers available. Residents with legitimate questions are always welcome to contact me to get all sides of an issue. Otherwise, the nonsense on this mailer belongs in the circular file.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Notes from the campaign trail

You might have noticed I haven't posted anything in about six weeks, and there's a good reason for that. Running for elected office of any kind is, if done correctly, time consuming. Let me just say that my home needs a thorough cleaning, the laundry pile needs tackling, and my grocery list is approaching the size of the federal tax code, so you know I have been focused on the race!

One thing my running mate, Jill Zimmerman and I did was sit for interviews with the Times Herald. While I was misquoted and/or quoted out of context in a couple places, overall I was happy with how it went. I believe the print version is available today.

Just knocking on hundreds of doors to introduce yourself to voters and ask for their support takes every spare hour you have, but it's so important. How else do you have any idea what is on people's minds? Jill and I have spent the last 8 weeks or so traversing the ten voting districts that comprise Lower Providence. We believe that elected officials should listen to, not dictate to, its residents.

My understanding is that during the primary, one of our opponents, Jason Sorgini considered this a 'waste of time' and that he 'doesn't see the value in it'. Even though he claims he’s knocking, not one home out of the hundreds we've visited has ever mentioned that he had been by, which is unheard of in a contested race. We've not seen so much as one of his door cards. We have actually crossed paths with the other candidate, Kelbin Carolina, however and seen evidence that HE’S been hitting the pavement. I have to wonder why Sorgini doesn't want to hear what issues are of concern to ALL our residents, not just those he surrounds himself with.

Anyway, some miscellaneous observations from the campaign trail:
  • If I and Jill are elected, it will be the first time in Lower Providence’s 200+ year history that we’ve had a three women to two men majority on the Board. Not that this is a reason to vote for us, but I have a funny feeling that we ladies can get a lot more positive things done than the guys have.

  • I’m aware of emails going around to voters from sitting supervisor Rick Brown, encouraging voters to support his candidate by bullet voting for him and claiming that I have ‘duped voters once again’. Rick, if anyone is duping voters, it’s you with your never-heard-from-before-2011 candidate trying to dupe voters into thinking he’s ‘dedicated’ and ‘committed’ (yes this is the same guy who’s so dedicated and committed he can’t manage to find time to attend township meetings or knock on doors). Heck, half of what comes out of his mouth came off my campaign literature or website. Why buy the copy when you can have the original?

  • Several contested races have generated a ton of mail, and this one is no exception. If the stakes weren't so high, some of it would be laughable. Sorgini attempted to frame legal opinions rendered after hearings he did not attend & has no personal knowledge of as somehow faulty, and it's clear to me he has no idea what he's talking about. Perhaps he needs to add one more degree to the three he already has – a law degree.
For example, one case he referenced in his latest mailer hinged on several legal issues, one of which was the legal definition of abandonment. Even though he attended none of the public hearings and heard no testimony upon which to arrive at a conclusion, he attempts to blame me alone for a decision arrived at by a board of five after hours of painstaking hearings, mountains of evidence and oral argument, and exhaustive review of applicable case law. Mr. Baird and his buddy Rick, at taxpayer expense, appealed this decision twice; it was denied twice and is now on appellate review that is substantially narrower in scope on only one of the several issues initially raised.

 Try asking Sorgini what any of the other complex legal issues raised in this particular case were. I bet he can't name one without first getting it, and regurgitating it, from someone else.

 In another case regarding billboards, it’s important to note that state law prohibits a municipality from legislating against specific uses such as billboards, adult entertainment, cell towers or mobile home parks. Bottom line, our zoning must accommodate these things.

The case we were presented with raised the issue that our ordinance was defective because it constructively did not provide for billboards at all. We had to cure the ordinance and rule on the application. We elected to allow them on the outskirts of the township along 422 where the least number of our residents would be subjected to them, rather than adding more along Egypt road, where a larger number of our residents WOULD have to look at them.

We have a duty on our boards and commissions to be fair to the applicant property owner and surrounding residents, and, in the instance of the Zoning Hearing Board, can only render decisions that comply with state and municipal law and case law, based on what's entered onto the record, or we risk being overturned on appeal. The resident who was on the losing end of this particular decision, Ted Baird, has (besides sour grapes) a powerful friend – Rick Brown – who’s arguably backing Mr. Sorgini for his own political survival – and Baird and Brown are undoubtedly where this version came from, since Sorgini himself was never there. No decision I was a part of rendering was ever overturned.

Sorgini’s arguments about the rest of the cases he mentioned – including the sewer lawsuit – is similarly defective. Yes LP was sued by the regional sewer authority, but it sued the sewer authority first. The regional sewer authority countersued.

  • Some may wonder why my running mate and I declined to attend the candidate forum held on Oct. 24. From my perspective, any event sponsored by a group started in the early 80's by supervisor Rick Brown, (who has come out publicly in support of Sorgini), and which is a group populated by Mr. Brown's cronies (some of whom were on the losing end of the above-referenced case, among others), cannot possibly be UNbiased.
Instead of asking the League of Women Voters to sponsor such an event, this group clearly only held the event to turn it into the Jason Sorgini show, and when you also consider:
    • it was held on township property (when the township has historically been apolitical)
    •  that long-standing policy against political broadcasts was thrown out the window to allow for rebroadcast of the forum on our cable channel
    •  AND that it was all paid for using taxpayer funds

               it was definitely something we did not want any part of.

Anyway, win or lose, it’s been an adventure that’s been both rewarding and trying at times. There are other aspects I’ll write about after Tuesday. Either way the best part for me has been getting to know our residents and our community better, and I’ve made some terrific new friends as a result.

Whoever you support, wherever you are, whichever party you identify with, come out and vote on Tuesday.