The October 15 meeting was truly noteworthy for several reasons. Pearson is jittery and nervous throughout the entire meeting, having trouble following the agenda, fumbling papers, losing his place. The reasons for this will soon become apparent.
Calci is not present for this meeting.
I don’t want to belabor the opening of this post with yet another snarky commentary about Pearson’s ridiculous opening “story,” but, believe it or not, this one is particularly relevant to the meeting. The story is called “The Post Turtle:”
While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old Texas rancher, whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.
Eventually the topic got around to politics and then they discussed some new guy who was far too big for his shoes as a politician.
The old rancher said, ‘Well, ya know, he is a post turtle’. Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a ‘post turtle’ was.
The old rancher said, ‘When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a ‘post turtle’.
The old rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he continued to explain. ‘You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he is up there, and you just wonder what kind of a dumb ass put him up there in the first place.’
Fear not, Gentle Reader: I’ll have some snarky comments about this story a bit later on in this post. For now, let’s dive in to the heart of this meeting.
John Pearson’s Ten Minutes of Hell
We’ll begin our examination of this meeting at the 12:48 mark. It is at this point that the Board is contemplating the appointment of representatives to the joint committee with Trappe Borough, tasked with exploring a regional solution for Fire and Emergency Services and moving the Trappe Fire Company into Upper Providence Township. This issue was discussed at length, and agreed to unanimously at the September 20 joint meeting with Trappe Borough, the fact of which Pearson needs to be repeatedly reminded over the next ten minutes. Recall as well, Pearson has already tabled this vote once, at the October 1 meeting, and now it appears that his two week reprieve is over. Pearson:
New Business. On n-new business this evening, we have…there are two items on tonight’s new business. One is to consider appointing Township representatives to serve on a joint Fire and EMS Services committee with representatives from Trappe Borough and the second one is to consider authorizing the appointment of representatives from Trappe Fire Company on the Emergency Services Facility Design Committee.
Pearson then takes a big breath, and reads from his prepared remarks, which translates to one, big, run-on sentence. The punctuation is mine, Gentle Reader, for ease of your comprehension:
I’m recommending that we table these two items, again, this evening, until we bring Mr. John Muir aboard, before we start making any decisions with Black Rock Volunteer Fire Company and then our regionalizing efforts with Trappe, regarding Fire and EMS, we need to re-read the several fire studies the township ordered and listen to what Mr. Muir has to offer, I welcome Mr. Muir’s expertise in guiding us through this process, I am not opposed to moving forward, I have very little knowledge in this area and have decided to walk cautiously through the process, this is a major endeavor and a costly one and I want to get it right the first time around and not second guess my decisions later on down the road, ummmmm, I am open to whatever comments the rest of this board would like to make on this, but my recommendation at this point in the game, is to table these two items.
Barker asks if Trappe Borough has not already established a committee.
Tieperman responds that they have appointed three members, consisting of Trappe Borough Council President, Vice President, and Borough manager.
Vagnozzi reminds everyone that there was a joint public meeting with Trappe Borough, where everyone present—including Pearson—agreed that both municipalities would move forward with a regional, combined fire company, to wit: Appoint council, share costs, and appoint representatives from each municipality, and explore moving the Trappe Volunteer Fire Company into Upper Providence Township. (Details on that meeting can be found HERE).
Vagnozzi goes on:
“Their seven members and our five, there was nobody at that meeting that had an issue with it. All were generally in favor of it, pending working out the details. During the meeting, we all spoke about the need for regionalization and improving the fire services in the northern part of town. No deference to the Black Rock Fire Company, they are in the southern part of town and we have an 18 square mile township. Trappe Fire Company is in need of a new building, and we all decided that it would be in our best interests for both communities to explore improving the building, which would improve the fire service to our Township.”
Vagnozzi then states that at this point, all that is left to do is appoint counsel and appoint two members from the Board to represent Upper Providence. This is not entirely correct, since counsel, John Muir, was appointed at the 10/1 meeting, for which Vagnozzi was not present. The confusion on this is wholly understandable since John Pearson’s desperation to avoid taking a vote on this will continue to hinge on his appeal to Muir’s authority. Everyone has forgotten he has already been appointed; a fact which Bresnan clears up later in the meeting.
Vagnozzi concludes, “Again, everybody discussed, and everybody agreed, that this was a good direction to go into.”
Ladies and gentlemen: It’s time to tap dance.
I’m not, I’m not against this, Al. I’m, I’m, I’m not opposed to, to us, you know, doing this. I’m opposed to doing it right at this moment until we get a little bit more information. Uhhhh, uhhh, I’m not, as I said, I’m not an expertise in this field, I have very little knowledge, all I, all I know is what I’ve read in some of the fire reports that we, that we’ve requested over the years. Uhhhhmmm, I wanna, I want, I want to see where Mr. Muir can take us on this, uhhhhm, I, I, I’m looking forward to somebody GUIDING us through this thing, I, I, I don’t wanna, uhhhh…..ehhhm…ahhhh,.I wanna make sure that it’s right, I don’t want, I don’t wannnaaaaahh….”
Joe Bresnan steps in and mercifully calls a halt to Pearson’s stammering before he hurts himself. But before we move on with the rest of this meeting, I just have to say:
This performance and pathetic excuse making must challenge even the most generous of those Regular Readers, who have, up to this point, still been willing to suspend disbelief and give John Pearson the benefit of the doubt where Fire and Emergency Services are concerned.
That John Pearson has “very little knowledge” about Fire and Emergency Services is a given. He was, after all, willing to hand the entire operation over to his bar buddies at the Black Rock Fire Company.
This has all been meticulously documented through numerous posts throughout the year and the post detailing the findings of the RTK I filed at the end of July. When questioned about the documents contained in the RTK on September 4, both John Pearson, and his automatic “yes” vote, Helene Calci, immediately disavowed the policy they had been pushing through behind the scenes for several months. As a reminder, this policy, which first surfaced through emails in March of 2018—before any vote on Fire and EMS Services had been taken on this matter at a public meeting—contained the following documented points, many of which were either enacted or well underway to implementation:
- The centrally located Township paid Engine 93 crew would cease to respond from the centrally located Township Municipal campus on Black Rock Road and instead be moved to the southeastern section of the Township, to BRVFC’s Oaks Firehouse.
- The Township’s paid crew would be merged into BRVFC’s organization (Station 99), instead of vice-versa, i.e. become a volunteer organization that is supplemented by career staff.
- BRVFC would have command at all scenes over the Township’s paid Fire Chief
- The Township’s paid Fire Chief would get demoted to Fire Marshall and his call number would not be 99, but 68. He would also have no ultimate authority over Fire operations.
- Mandates for equipment reductions were removed.
- Training standards and minimum qualifications were removed.
- A committee to redraw the “boxes,” the service areas for all of the responding fire companies, was formed with only Township and BRVFC members included.
- A committee to provide input on the design and specifications of the proposed, centrally located building was formed with only Township and BRVFC members.
- The proposed, centrally located Township fire house is referenced in “Draft” policy documents as “The Black Rock Fire Company Central Station.”
- BRVFC named the primary fire service provider of Upper Providence Townships through the sole authority of John Pearson.
Other critical points of development on Fire and EMS over the last year include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Throughout the fall of 2017, the three Democrats’ primary campaign plank was the previous Board’s “cut” in BRVFC’s funding. When the new Board took office in January of 2018, they did not re-open the budget (as was their right) to restore BRVFC’s previous funding levels, nor did BRVFC ever complain or hold them accountable for this failure to restore their funding.
- On March 20, 2018, when then-Fire Chief Overholt attempts to write a disciplinary letter to a member of BRVFC for repeated violations of Township guidelines, he first passes it by Township manager Tieperman for his blessing, citing the relationship between Pearson and BRVFC “being what it is.”
- On April 10, 2018, Bortnichak and Tieperman decide it’s time to take Overholt aside and explain “the Board’s stance on Black Rock, noting that he needs to “pivot” and “lead by helping them improve.” This email also noted that “The Board expressed a desire to have us work with BRVFC and help mold them into a more efficient organization.”
- On April 16, 2018, Pearson bar buddy Bill Kasper, who is an Upper Providence
FirstWorst Member, a one-time “Republican” Candidate for UPT Supervisor and BRVFC Assistant Chief, sends an unsolicited recommendation to Helene Calci and Laurie Higgins regarding the Township’s provision of ambulance services, this despite Kasper’s own acknowledgement that he is “not an expert” in EMS services.
- On May 6, Pearson’s bar buddy Bill Kasper emails only the Democrats on the Board, as well as Tieperman and Bortnichak, with the hyperbolic subject line of “Can we trust Josh Overholt?” Kasper, the BRVFC Assistant Chief, who is apparently completely nonplussed about his organization’s safety and operational violations of Township policy, emails Overholt’s employers questioning Overholt’s trustworthiness based on the great crime of a Facebook “like.” The post Overholt “liked” was a post by your Humble Blogress, linking to this post recounting accusations of staff being “bullied” into the Fire and EMS policy they eventually enacted.
- At the May 21, 2018, Board of Supervisors Meeting, Pearson attempts to increase the membership of the Fire and Emergency Services Steering Committee to Implement the Glorious Milestones on the Road to Fulfilling Campaign Promises made on Quizzo Night from three to four members, specifically to add a member from BRVFC, in response to an email demand from BRVFC.
- Also at the May 21 meeting, Pearson basically restates the BRVFC-written Policy document for the record that “The whole object is to set the, set the whole thing up there, and then, when we build the facility, we move what’s happening there up to the new facility so that everybody has a chance to integrate with each other, they’re uhhhm, all, all the career guys, the Black Rock, and, and the Public Works guys, they get a chance to integrate with each other, to work with each other and everything else in a real firehouse, uhhhhh setting, and then when this is, when the new facility is done, they will be moving the the, the whole concept up to the uhhhh new facility and that’s what, that’s what, basically, this is all about.”
- Also at the May 21 meeting, Barker questions unauthorized work being done at BRVFC’s Oaks Firehouse to construct a bunkhouse for implementing the new policy when it has not been discussed amongst the Board. When Barker asks where they are getting the authority, Pearson admits that he has been meeting with BRVFC on his “own personal time.” At this meeting, Pearson admits, on record, that he and he alone, has been meeting with an outside agency (BRVFC) and giving direction on the implementation of the Township’s Fire Policy.
- In July, Josh Overholt, the Township’s paid Fire and EMS Chief, resigned from the Township, with a severance package. Overholt’s position has thus far remained unfilled.
- Additional information on FEMS policy in Upper Providence Township can be found in the following posts:
- UPT Board Meeting Notes 2/5/18 Episode 1: American Grandstand,
- Fire Funding in Upper Providence,
- The Friendly Ghosts,
- UPT Board Meeting Notes Episode 5: Special Fire & Emergency Services Meeting
- UPT Board Meeting Notes 4/16/18 Episode 6: EMERGENCY!
- UPDATE: Emergency!
- UPT Board Meeting Notes 5/21/18 Episode 8: Dance into the Fire
- UPT Board Meeting Notes 6/18/18 Episode 10: Wreck Creation
- UPT Board Meeting Notes 9/4/18 Episode 13 Part 1: Between a Black Rock and a Hard Place
- UPT Board Meeting Notes 9/4/18 Episode 13, Part 2: Puppet Show
- UPT Board Meeting Notes 9/20/18 Episode 15: UPT Joint Meeting with Trappe Borough Council
- UPT Board Meeting Notes 9/20/18 Episode 15: UPT Joint Meeting with Trappe Borough Council
- Burning Down The House: A Timeline of the Devolution of Fire Services in Upper Providence Township
For a guy who “has very little knowledge” about fire and emergency services, John Pearson sure seemed to be the only Supervisor engaged in the development of the FEMS policy that has dominated a majority of the Board meetings in 2018. Indeed, of the eighteen meetings the Board has held this year, including the joint meeting with Trappe Borough Council, in-depth discussions on Fire and Emergency Services have taken place at twelve of them; and at some of those meetings, FEMS was the only topic of discussion.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled meeting.
Bresnan, bless his heart, seems to think that Pearson’s desperation in removing this item from the agenda is somehow procedurally related. (LOL. As if Pearson has any idea of what the procedure should be that he would recognize a deviation.) Bresnan, who is admittedly unclear as to what Pearson’s problem is on this, bottom-lines it for Pearson, stating that all legal and procedural hurdles have been cleared, so he is free to take a vote on this.
Www….well, well, there’s a whole, l-look, look: I, I, I keep saying, I’m, I’m, aaahhh—I’ve got very little knowledge in this area and it bothers me. And, and whenever I need legal advice, I go to my solicitor. Whenever I need engineering advice, I go to my engineer, okay? When I have, when I have questions or comments th-that, that I need answers from, I’m going to expect that I can go to this gentleman and, and he’s gonna give me the correct answer. So all I’m saying is at this point in the game, I’m, I’m asking that we table this, I mean it’s okay if, if, if ehhh, someone wants toooo make a motion and do this, that’s fine! And we’ll take a vote on this, I don’t have a problem with doing, you know, going through the process. Uhhhmmm, you can probably already figure out which way I’m gonna vote on this thing. My, my, my point is….I wanna get it right, I don’t want any, you know, ehhhhh, having marrying two fire companies is a very difficult process and I have never seen one that goes through without any hitches. And that’s my reason for this whole thing, it’s like, ehhhh…..”
It’s easy to understand Bresnan’s confusion in response to this stammering mess. Plus, Bresnan can remain cool since he is not the recipient of the unnerving glares from BRVFC President Joe LoCasale and completely non-affiliated, non-official non-spokesperson, the unshamable Lori Kasper, who have wisely chosen to sit outside of the Township camera angles for this meeting.
“Do you mean you want to speak to John [Muir] first, before the vote?” Bresnan asks.
And now Person is panicking and clearly agitated, as if being called upon to answer for this inexplicable stance is somehow everyone’s fault but his.
Indeed, Pearson is so worked up by the end of this stuttering diatribe that he’s practically choking on the words. In spite of his protestations to the contrary, it is abundantly clear that he does, indeed, have a problem with all of this.
“Well, no, I’m asking him to look into this information, to see, you know, uhhh, to give me uhh, an idea as to see, you know, where I am before we start taking steps forward on this. Ehhhh….I, I , I have nothing, I have no problem, I have no problem, I have no problem moving forward with this, but I’m waiting to get some more information from the expert here before I start moving forward on this thing. I have no problem with the, with the whole concept of, of, of ehhm…making one unified fire company, I have no problem with trying to regionalize with Trappe, I, I, I’m all for that. I’m just not ready to take the step now without having some expert (unintelligible) without ha–, without having some expert in here, guiding me along through this process, that’s all I’m saying.”
A couple of points here before we get to Phil Barker’s coolly laid out motion, which is now on the tracks and heading downhill without any brakes straight on for Pearson.
So is Muir supposed to “look into this information” without first being engaged by the Township? Pearson’s request/excuse here is ridiculous on its face since if Muir hasn’t been appointed, he would need to be appointed before he would be “looking in to any information,” and Pearson doesn’t even want to do that. Since he has been appointed, and Pearson himself cast a vote in favor of that at the 10/1 meeting, the whole appeal to authority is moot. What “information” is Muir going to “look into” without the fully populated committee who hired him? It’s the Joint Committee who is responsible for “looking into this information” and Muir was retained to advise them, not John Pearson individually.
And let’s not forget how important sticking to the sacred Timeline for Implementation of the Glorious Milestones has been since the April 16 meeting. As has been documented in numerous blog posts, as well as by the Township’s cameras, pushing through the Fire Services policy this year has been happening so quickly, most times Pearson isn’t even waiting for a vote to move the policy forward. He is on record at several meetings this year, pointing to the need to stay on the Timeline, the overall impression being one of getting Pearson’s and BRVFC’s policy in place before anyone figures out what’s happening.
In fact, once the light of day hit this policy direction, in the form of a confrontation by Vagnozzi at a public meeting on September 4, Pearson and Calci could not back pedal away from it fast enough, denying anything had been moved forward, denying knowledge of policy points, denying that the policies BRVFC had allegedly written were anything but “drafts.”
Now here we are, a mere six weeks later, and suddenly it’s time to slow down. Pearson needs to re-read studies that are at least four years old. He needs to proceed with caution, to make sure we get it right. This, after Pearson went on record as being 100% supportive of the regionalization efforts at the joint meeting with Trappe Borough on September 20. This, after Pearson has repeatedly shrugged off Township issues with the Black Rock Fire Company over the course of his three terms, wherein he has opined in my presence, more than once, that Fire and Emergency Services needs to be regionalized rather than work through any issues. As is still the case today, the heavy lifting on any problems with BRVFC was left for others to do.
Gentle Readers, I cannot abide this, and I cannot even give Pearson the slightest benefit of the doubt here. My theory based on careful observation throughout this year, and again, your mileage may vary, is that Pearson made promises to Black Rock Fire Company and Pearson made statements at public meetings as the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and he simply cannot follow through on one set of statements without completely betraying the other. He has very neatly painted himself into a corner.
Having spent most of his previous terms on the Board of Supervisors completely uninterested in fire matters, I don’t believe that Pearson’s interest in this subject has increased; rather I believe the intent here was to simply punt again, in typical Pearson fashion, but this time to punt to Black Rock Fire Company and let them act as the “expertise” Pearson so dearly needs to “guide” him through his responsibilities.
It was a good deal for BRVFC, who instead of having to fight for an increase in their share of Township funding, would have access to the whole pot of money, especially once the “boxes” had been redrawn. They would not only have ground floor access to decision makers and influencers at the Township, but their members would be first in line when the Township starts inevitably hiring full-time firefighters. Additionally, all of that pesky accountability those noodges at the Township were demanding, that would all go away once they were in charge. It was the smart move for an organization that saw the writing on the wall for the future of volunteer fire companies and was unwilling and/or unable to adapt to the increasing demands that come with the changing industry and accountability attached to tax dollars as a primary funding source. Unfortunately for them, they put their faith in a flawed leader.
Now, once again, back to our meeting:
“When we left that Trappe meeting, we all agreed that we would get a committee together to look into it. We’ve not made a commitment other than, develop a committee to investigate it and find a neutral person who has done this type of process before. His credentials have been forwarded to us, and I think are exactly that. So I’d like to make a motion on item number 4 to appoint Al Vagnozzi and Helene Calci, and Assistant Manager Bryan Bortnichak to our committee to represent Upper Providence Township in this joint Fire and EMS Services Committee. And along with that, to appoint Mr. Muir as the professional consultant to that committee.”
At this point, Bresnan interrupts and states that the appointment of Mr. Muir was handled at the previous Board meeting and his role clarified. Barker makes the motion, and Vagnozzi immediately seconds. Pearson calls for the vote.
Vagnozzi and Barker vote Aye
Pearson votes No.
Pearson then looks at Higgins and says, “I didn’t hear from you.”
Higgins: “I was hoping there would be a little more discussion, perhaps John instead of Helene, but since this is the vote….”
Barker explains that he nominated Helene because she was actively involved in all of the other fire policy discussions, and Pearson jumps in and tells her, “I have no problem not being on it.”
After which, Laurie Higgins votes Aye.
Pearson can’t move the agenda along fast enough, and when the next item, the item to appoint two Trappe Volunteer Fire Fighters to the Emergency Services Facility Design Committee, Barker throws Pearson a bone and magnanimously agrees to table that item. If Pearson wants to. Which he does. Absolutely.
But before he can just let it rest, Pearson feels compelled to address this issue one more time, and though his remarks are ostensibly addressed to the Board, I suspect these comments are really aimed at two members in the audience, who are strategically sitting off camera with their arms crossed, glaring at him (one of whom—to be clear— has nothing whatsoever to do with the BRVFC):
“Just to reiterate here, okay? I want everyone at the Board here to understand. I’m not opposed to us going forward with all of this. I’m opposed to us going forward at this particular time. I, I’ve already made my case on this thing and there’s not much else I can do about it, the Board has decided it, they are going to move forward with it. So be it.”
Translation: I tried the best I could guys, but I was outvoted. It’s totally not my fault that this all fell apart. See you at Quizzo next week?
The now infamous John Muir gives a presentation to the Board at the end of the meeting. Muir has an extensive and impressive background in Fire and Emergency Services. I met him last year when I first began meetings with Trappe, Royersford and Collegeville and he came in to give the group a presentation with background on regionalization and how it had been handled in other municipalities.
During Supervisor comments, both Higgins and Pearson make a point of thanking BRVFC for the use of their hall for Township meetings. Pearson however, has taken the time to compose a love letter and reads from prepared remarks:
I wrote a little something about that too. Sometimes we lose sight of the important things in life, our parents taught us to be polite and do the right things. But even as we mature, we forget the little things in life that are so meaningful and important no matter how small. Please and thank you are important, so to Black Rock Volunteer Fire Company, please forgive me for not showing my appreciation for the use of your hall. Secondly, I thank you for hosting us while we await the opening of our facility, like Laurie said, we appreciate, ehhh, we at the Township appreciate your generosity.
Bleh. “Please forgive me for not showing my appreciation for the use of your hall….?” What the heck is that supposed to mean? C’mon man. Now you’re just embarrassing yourself.
Before we cover the rest of this meeting, there are a few things here that cannot go unremarked upon.
You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby
First and foremost: Kudos to Laurie Higgins. Sincerely.
I am fully aware of how relentless I have been with Pearson’s Girls® this year, and there is a reason for that.
Making decisions as a Township Supervisor is both difficult and easy. It’s difficult in that, as a Supervisor, you are tasked with learning about all manner of dry subject matter: land development, sewer, planning, zoning, roads, budgeting, finance, public safety, recreation, etc. Add to that, time spent dealing with issues brought forth by the public and solving problems for your constituency. Anyone who thinks this is simply a part-time job is fooling themselves.
So it naturally angered me when, after John Pearson’s Upper Providence
First Worst PAC successfully campaigned 2016 to expand the Upper Providence Board of Supervisors from three to five members on the premise of having “two more sets of eyes” on the issues, those two other sets of eyes opted to be willfully blind. For the better part of the year, the two Democrat women seemed more interested in providing backup for Pearson’s Agenda of Petty Retribution and Crony Favor Granting than actually even learning basic procedure, let alone getting up to speed on the issues in front of the Board. This is doubly offensive to me when local and national Democrats are embracing identity politics and putting forward candidates whose only qualifications are their two X chromosomes.
In recent weeks, however, Higgins, at least, has been showing signs of life. She has been engaged in development projects that have come before the board, and has obviously taken the time to read the review letters and come up with relevant pointed questions.
She was on record as early as February as being interested in a regionalized solution for Fire and EMS. Yet it is abundantly clear to any outside observer of this meeting that the vote she threw in favor of the appointments to the Joint Committee with Trappe was a difficult one for her to cast: continue to provide cover for your inept political ally or do what you think is best for the Township.
Which brings us to the easy part of making decisions as a Township Supervisor: always do what’s in the best interest of the Township. I have often said that if the Board members are acting with this axiom at heart, there would be far more agreement amongst them. That judgment can only be clouded if Board members are putting their trust in others for doing the research they should be doing themselves and letting others make their decisions, which is why I harp on the homework aspect of the job so much.
To be clear, I’m not giving kudos to Higgins for voting the way I wanted her to vote, though I am pleased that she did; I’m giving kudos to Higgins for voting independently, for the good of the Township. I don’t expect that Higgins will always vote the way I’d like her to, but as long as her vote is HER OWN, and she arrived at it independently, through her own research, and in good conscience, to paraphrase another Supervisor, “I have no problem with it.”
The Post Turtle
To revisit our little fable from the beginning of the meeting, courtesy of John Pearson’s ego, let’s skip to the punchline: What is a Post Turtle?
You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he is up there, and you just wonder what kind of a dumb ass put him up there in the first place.
Coincidentally, a friend sent me this fable referring to Pearson sometime back in February after I started up this Blog. I actually got quite a chuckle out of the fact that Pearson used this tale as his insufferable little “story” at the beginning of this meeting.
But it raises really good questions: Pearson didn’t get up on that post by himself. He clearly enlisted the help of Black Rock Volunteer Fire Company, Republicans members of Upper Providence
First Worst and Area 4 Democrats, among others, to get him up there. The Fire and Emergency Services Policy that was so rapidly being implemented between March and September of this year was very obviously payback to BRVFC for services rendered in service to his election.
The Area 4 Democrats have some skin in this game as well. Not only did they wholeheartedly support the Democrat ticket in Upper Providence, but they actually endorsed Upper Providence
First Worst member and proud Quizzo participant, Republican Tax Collector, Julie Mullin. Further, they didn’t even put up a Democratic challenger against her last year for her “very lucrative part time job.” They also, for some reason, endorsed a Republican candidate for School Board, who beat Laurie Higgins’ sometime canvassing partner, Democrat Kathleen Drennan. Drennan was the only Democrat on the Upper Providence ballot to lose in a year when most folks were voting straight Democrat.
What have the Area 4 Democrats gotten in return for their investment in John Pearson’s leadership?
Not a single municipal appointment or contract. Upper Providence was a ripe, rich, juicy plum ready to be plucked for Montgomery County Democrats and, almost a year later, they have absolutely nothing to show for their efforts.
The question I have is: Why?
Why did Pearson enlist so much help and make so many deals and tell so many lies to get himself elected?
He’s not good at this and he doesn’t even seem to enjoy it. He truly doesn’t belong up there and he clearly doesn’t know what he is doing. He’s demonstrated little to no interest in subjects he can’t easily politicize. The subjects he can politicize, he does so ineptly. He hardly canvassed at all last year, preferring instead to let Higgins handle the door knocking while he stayed back at the Fitz, “holding down the fort.” His big contribution to the “Fresh Perspectives” campaign was the Port Providence Paddle school bus, on which he hung his obnoxious campaign banner and then parked illegally all around town, notably at Wegmans and at the Rec Center during Upper Providence Community Day.
Nobody enlists this many favors in service to their election, while exerting this little personal effort, for a job they don’t seem to have that much interest in, just to spend their entire term paying back those favors.
There is a reason that Pearson needed to win election last year.
It’s really worth pondering on a serious level: What kind of a dumb ass put Pearson up there and what is it that they want?
Meet me in the Middle
After many years, the Lower Perkiomen Valley Regional Sewer Authority (“LPVRSA”) is finally ready to move forward with the middle interceptor. This 3,000 foot section of pipe has been the source of a years’ long protracted battle between LPVRSA and Lower Providence Township, whose residents fought the placement of the pipe on their properties. The drama and histrionics of this battle have been covered in-depth elsewhere (see here for an excellent summary of the issue) and will not be rehashed here.
LPVRSA is seeking a zoning variance for the impact of the steep slopes on the Upper Providence side of the creek. Barker, familiar with the history of this issue, says there is no reason to send the solicitor to oppose the application, since it no longer impacts any structures on the Upper Providence side of the creek. After years of taking their property piecemeal for the Arcola Road Bridge, the Perkiomen Trail Bike Path, and the sewer, the home that was being impacted the most by the Middle Interceptor was finally purchased and demolished by the sewer authority.
Barker remarks that, “It’s not where we want it, but there is nowhere else for it to go.” Even though a motion opposed to sending the Solicitor to the ZHB on this matter is not required, Barker wants the record to reflect that the Township supports the project.
Twilight Zone, Again
There is another prolonged discussion regarding an item before the zoning hearing board and whether or not the Board wants to send the solicitor to oppose it. Again, general confusion
is demonstrated by Pearson as to what it is that they are discussing and asked to decide upon. The application is from an individual who wants to build an oversized house on an undersized lot on the north side of 422 at the end of Yeager Road across from the entrance to the school. This is his second time before the ZHB and the ZHB denied him the first time. Barker, who agreed with the ZHB’s original decision, would like the applicant to come before the Board and explain what, exactly, his hardship is. Pearson, of course, is willing to punt to the ZHB as usual.
Barker’s concern, which I share, is if the variance is granted, that there are a lot of these small, undersized lots all around the Township and if one gets approved, they will all seek approval of this. Perhaps if the applicant comes before the Board, they can understand what it is the applicant is trying to do and maybe work with him to put something more favorable there.
Bresnan suggests that since the ZHB is scheduled to hear this on November 1, that they vote to send the solicitor, contingent upon the applicant granting a continuance, when he can come in to make a case before the Board.
Barker makes the motion and successfully makes his case, and the motion passes unanimously.
Other Board Business
- There is a bit of confusion and discussion at the beginning of the meeting on the approval of the previous meeting’s minutes, of all things, primarily due to Calci making a motion for the wrong dollar amount.
- The Board approves budget workshop meetings to take place on October 29, October 30 and November 1.
- After three tries, the Township was successful in getting a $927,000 multi-modal grant to realign the intersection at 29, Jacob and Walnut Streets in Mont Clare.
- The Township was awarded a $196,000 grant for Lot 60 Upper Schuylkill Valley Park trail.
- Township got a 50% cost share grant for the purchase of body cameras for the Upper Providence Police.
- Holly Brinton is introduced as the new Rec Center Manager.
- The Recreational Needs Assessment Survey, which will determine the future of the Rec Center, should be going out to residents in November.
- The Board approves sending a letter drafted by the Township Planner to the Limerick Board of Supervisors asking for traffic concessions for the proposed Restaurant Depot. This was a result of a resident’s concerns voiced during public comment at the October 1 meeting.
- The Board approves to apply for a grant to improve the intersection at Black Rock Road and 113.
- The Board approves an amendment for the contract to complete the Lock 60 trail design costs in the amount of $26,529.
- Bresnan reports that all of Barker’s requested changes have been made to the administrative code. Barker requests that the motion to approve the code be tabled, since he only got it the Friday before and has not had an opportunity to thoroughly review.