Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tidbits and Updates

There are a lot of things going on, none of which I have time to write a full article about – and it IS summer, so I’d much rather be outside hiking, horseback riding, gardening or down the Shore than inside researching and writing.  In that vein, this mashup of bits & pieces will have to do for now:

·         I am told that the Methacton School Board is ready to move forward with hiring a new superintendent and that it is highly likely the announcement will come this Tuesday night, August 20 at the regularly scheduled school board meeting.  There’s a bit of drama surrounding the pick, so it might be worth your while to come out and get a feel for the reasoning behind the Board’s selection and what went into finding and interviewing him (or her).

·         Speaking of Methacton, recently departed superintendent Dr. Timothy Quinn and paramour Diane Barrie have both found gainful employment elsewhere. Quinn landed as an Area Partnership Manager for Provo, Utah-based Imagine Learning, a language and literacy software solution provider, and Barrie is the new curriculum coordinator for Kutztown Area School District. Best wishes to both in their new endeavors, and thanks to both for their educational contributions at Methacton.

·         As feared and predicted, Montgomery County did have to shut down the Arcola Road Bridge this past Friday afternoon and, as residents feared, they didn’t necessarily know about it until they were on their way home from work and stuck in traffic. However, I give our elected officials credit for doing a great job of notifying everyone as soon as possible. I heard from Rep. Mike Vereb within 15 minutes after the decision was made, and the County and municipalities of Lower Providence and Upper Providence were very quick to get phone and email blasts out within the hour.

·         Regarding the bridge, the meeting this past Monday was widely reported upon, so I don’t have much to add (and I already wrote back in July about what was likely to happen, here). I do know that as I floated among the Q & A groups, the primary beef residents had was with the detour routes and the length of time it will take to get the bridge built and reopened.  What wasn’t made exactly clear, judging from comments I’ve seen and heard, is that people don’t understand the bridge will be closed for approximately 3 YEARS. 15-18 months are needed  to get through design, easement acquisition and bidding the work, but it’s also going to take another 15-18 months to actually build the thing.  I think people heard the ’15-18 months’ thing twice but didn’t understand it applied to two DIFFERENT things, things that run consecutively, not concurrently. Bottom line, plan extra time accordingly when traveling between Upper Providence, Collegeville and Lower Providence.

·   *      In an odd bit of ill-timed and misguided political sideshow, the LP Dems decided to politicize the bridge meeting/issue, presumably to elevate their candidate for supervisor, Jim Donahue. The weekend before they had gone through several neighborhoods, dropping literature on residents’  mailboxes posing  questions that seemed to lead one to believe they thought closing the bridge was a bad idea, and posting signs near the bridge that were clearly against closing it (they also handed out fundraiser flyers in the literature bags and at the meeting itself).  I’m sure Democrat County Commissioners Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards were utterly thrilled that their own party members were flaming up residents over something that is already a bit of a PR headache for them.  (And, not to be bitchy, but it IS illegal to place anything in or on mailboxes that is not actual US Mail...the fines for doing so can be substantial...get your message out by all means, but follow the law).

        Not only that, but really, Mr. Donahue, you are making being AGAINST  transportation safety improvements and the safety of our residents part of your platform? I bet that if the bridge had remained open and someone were injured or killed, you would be leading the charge to sue the County for wrongful death. Nice.

·         Regarding the same Mr. Donahue, there’s a fun bit of video out on YouTube where he’s attending a regional sewer authority meeting (LPVRSA) and calls out authority member Bob Fieo to ‘take it outside’ and presumably brawl over their disagreement on an issue. Donohue is clearly the instigator, yet the caption under the video posting attempts to make it appear as though Donohue were the victim and Fieo the instigator. Again, curious, since a picture is worth a thousand words. Watch it here at about 6 minutes in. Do we really want to elect a guy to the position of supervisor whose problem resolution skills rise to the level of a common bully??  

·     Regarding the ‘censored’ videotape I wrote about previously – I appealed LP’s denial of my Right to Know Request, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania agreed with my position (here). After asking for an extension of time to thoroughly research the issue, they ruled in my favor and ordered LP to release the unedited version of the video. I have a copy and in the deleted sections, Mr. Baird made some accusations about corruption, criminal activity and collusion. My opinion is that very likely, several individuals have grounds on which to sue for defamation if they so choose; evidently BOS was trying to protect him and themselves from any fallout resulting from Baird’s statements.

·         At the July 18, 2013 Board of Supervisors meeting, Colleen Eckman mentioned that she wanted to revisit the issue of a proposed ordinance for rental property inspections and fees, last discussed in late 2012 (here). Several options regarding frequency and fees have been discussed, and an annual inspection versus just an inspection at the time a property is resold or rerented has been considered. 
        Supervisor Don Thomas, who earlier this year was an applicant before the Zoning Hearing Board attempting to get approval to build rental apartments behind his home (see here),  weighed in that he was fine with whatever was decided upon, as long as “the focus was on the health and welfare of the community, and not revenue generation”.  Given that he and his family are landlords of numerous rental units in LP, is this an issue that Don should even be able to vote on? Is his concern really anti-revenue generation, or is it really about keeping it less expensive for him and his family to do business? Seems like a conflict of interest to me since he and his family would directly be impacted by costs of paying for such rental inspections on properties he and his family hold, including the apartments Don is building right behind his house.

Enjoy these last few weeks of summer!

No comments: