Political “girl power” seems to be all the hot buzz in Montgomery County lately and most of it has all the authenticity of a Jussie Smollett hate crime report. Nowhere is that more aptly illustrated than in this video, in which our illustrious Attorney General “partners” with Alyssa Milano on preventing sexual assault. Gentle Readers, sexual assault is a serious issue, but Shapiro’s cynical embrace of this issue just looks like another rung on his political ladder. Follow the link, if you dare, but I’m not posting a product of Josh’s press machine here. Besides, it made me throw up a little in my mouth.
But as far as fake feminism goes, Upper Providence is giving Shapiro a run for his money, they just don’t have the press. The day after the announcement of male Democrat Bill Starling’s candidacy for Township Supervisor, the Democrats of Upper Providence Facebook page congratulated Laurie Higgins and Helene Calci for “taking” Chair (sic) and Vice Chair (sic) on the Board of Supervisors, followed by the hashtag #womenlead.
Sure, these women lead—they lead the way in following John Pearson. At the second meeting of the year, Laurie Higgins offered virtually no input on Township public safety policy and, when she neglected to cast a vote on this issue, found herself in the regrettable position of having to cast the deciding vote with all eyes on her, which she did in favor of John Pearson’s agenda. Higgins offered no explanation as to why she voted against a measure that would improve the safety of the residents she is charged with representing. You, Gentle Reader, can re-live this fiasco through the magic of the internet by clicking HERE.
In many cases, titles, such as Chairman and Vice Chairman, are simply patronizing window dressing on fake feminism. The title means nothing unless that Chairman or Vice Chairman is actually pushing forth a policy vision of her own, which neither of Pearson’s Girls® are doing in Upper Providence. The title must first be earned, and then earned every day thereafter. Because if you have to throw around a title–legitimately earned or illegitimately co-opted–to get people to listen to you, you aren’t really leading.
Of course, there are many people on both sides of aisle who are happy to call this window dressing “women’s leadership” and they get quite irritated indeed when someone like your Humble Blogress calls attention to the ersatz nature of it.
Sticking women in positions of authority in which they are either unable or unwilling to do what the job requires is NOT leadership. Leadership is not a title; people don’t follow titles. It’s not “deferring to experts” or relying on your kindly dive bar owner to give you the political lay of the land and set your agenda (no matter how much his somewhat inappropriately flirty mannerisms set you all a-giggle). It’s evaluating the facts on the ground for yourself, thinking for yourself, and sometimes—most times—being the tip of the spear on an issue with literally no one by your side, but many people standing behind you, ready to follow.
So go ahead and get your knickers in a twist, because I demand more of the patriarchy. I demand real women’s leadership where women lead and men are actually willing and happy to follow. It is happening out there–rarely–but I guaranty it’s not on either political parties’ facebook pages punctuated with #womenlead.
Because real women leaders give political party chairmen ajita.
In Upper Providence, however….
Helene Calci, our newly-minted Vice Chairman, takes the gavel this week in Chairman Higgins’ absence and Pearson seems to think that she’s still a little wobbly, even with the training wheels and his reassuring presence by her side. The first thing the microphone pics up is his grandfatherly advice to “Make sure you turn the mic on,” and from then on, the meeting becomes a series of opportunities for Pearson to assert his patriarchal privilege over the hapless Calci. For those of you who have thirsted for Pearson’s trademark grandstanding since he relinquished the Chairman’s gavel, the February 4 meeting will satisfy much of your craving.
Though he stopped short of co-opting the floor for one of his insipid little stories, the first item of business on the agenda is a moment of silence, followed by a resolution, to commemorate Neal Thorpe for her years of service to the Schuylkill Canal Association. Pearson, who has no problem at all with a woman calling for silence, then commandeers the floor to read what is possibly one of the longest commemorative resolutions in Township memory, which was obviously written by Pearson to honor his friend.
Now, I’m not here to make light of Neal Thorpe’s contribution to the Schuylkill Canal Association or the community at large; on the contrary, I believe that all residents who make a significant contribution to the Township should be recognized by the Board (preferably before they pass away.)
I do, however, disagree with Pearson’s reading of this resolution into the record for two reasons: First of all, Calci has the gavel; she should be the one to read any resolutions of the Board, yet it is clear that her bowing to Pearson for this duty was planned well ahead of time; Pearson does not even thank her for relinquishing the floor to him. Second of all, Sergeant Bill Dixon just retired from the Upper Providence Police Department after 37 years of service to this Township, and not only was the resolution commemorating his retirement NOT read into the record by Chairman Higgins, but Sgt. Dixon has yet to be recognized by the Board at public meeting for his decades of service to this community.
At the end of this reading, Pearson, still in full Chairman mode, notes that he sees several Schuylkill Canal Association members in the audience and asks them to come forward to speak, essentially attempting to turn the meeting into a memorial service.
Neal Thorpe’s son then graciously thanks the Board for recognizing his mother.
In a surprising move, Spring-Ford School Board President Tom DiBello approached the podium during public comment. DiBello is concerned about what he calls “reaching out” from the Township’s Planning Commission and a State Representative to create an “Emergency Service Road” from Oaks Elementary to Black Rock Road. Apparently, a Planning Commission member has been representing herself as having some sort of authority granted by Upper Providence Township for at least a couple of months. DiBello wants to know why the Board of Supervisors didn’t reach out to the School Board directly, since the issue has now “taken on a life of its own.” As DiBello continues, three things become rather glaringly obvious:
One, as there is only one female Planning Commission member, the Planning Commission member in question must be new Upper Providence resident, Sarah Glenn. Ms. Glenn apparently either mistakenly believes that her appointed position to the Township’s Planning Commission vests her with some sort of authority, or she has no problem falsely representing that she has some sort of authority in order to move forward her own agenda.
Two: that the State Representative involved must be the newly elected Melissa Schusterman, who was just at a Board meeting a couple of weeks prior and felt no need to inform the Board of her involvement in what is clearly a Township/School District matter.
Three: that the Board of Supervisors has absolutely no clue as to what DiBello is talking about.
What ensues is a lot of blah blah blah from the Board and the Township’s planner which somewhat explains where this confusion originated
. But what it doesn’t explain is why an appointed Planning Commission member is throwing around a title and implying authority she does not have with the Spring-Ford School Board and a State Rep.
Regular readers and Skippack residents may recall the name Sarah Glenn. Glenn was appointed to the Upper Providence Planning Commission a mere two months after moving to Upper Providence from Skippack, where, immediately prior to her move here, had run, and abandoned, a campaign for Township Supervisor in that municipality. Your Humble Blogress speculated at the time that Glenn’s appointment to this Board was an attempt to pad her resume for a future run for office. Apparently, Glenn was unwilling to run for, and win, an actual elected office before she started asserting some made up authority in order to pad her resume further with some sort of accomplishment.
As mentioned previously, the patriarchy has asserted itself over the Upper Providence Democrats this year and Bill Starling, the municipal chairman of the Upper Providence Democratic committee, has decided to run for the seat on the Board of Supervisors himself. There are, however, two spots open on School Board and petitions start this week. Stay tuned.
Schusterman’s involvement in this fiasco can best be attributed to rookie error. Because a significant portion of Upper Providence lies within the notorious 150th district, this is, by no means, the first time a State Representative has stepped on township authority. Given that the current Rep from the 150th, Joe Something-or-Other, is so sleepy, boring and forgettable that Harrisburg Democrats felt he needed two offices on the same road only five miles apart in the hopes that people would see his office signs and remember his name next year, it’s no surprise that the #metoo Rep from the formerly cooperative 157th District would be the first to overstep in Upper Providence.
In spite of Concern Tears, Free Public Water for the Fitzwater Station is Denied
Pearson made his best effort to shake down the developer of this six lot sub-division to get public water run down to his bar, the Fitzwater Station, but the development is going in without it.
But that doesn’t stop him from shedding buckets of “concern tears” over storm water. Yet,, for some reason, he cannot manage to articulate what, exactly those “concerns” are. He does, however, manage to demonstrate that he has no grasp of storm water engineering, no understanding of how the water problems originate in that area, and that he really doesn’t understand the very nature of how water flows.
Perhaps a little bit of research on this subject should be required for someone whose kayak rental customers regularly require rescuing when the Schuylkill is in flood stage.
In the end, its Barker, as usual, who asks the meaningful development question, which is: who is responsible for the storm water basins to be constructed correctly.
What’s UP! With this Music Festival?
The confusion continues over the genesis of the UP! Music Fest. That a resident approached the Township with this proposal is obvious, but what is it? Is it a charity event? A musical showcase? A kickoff for the summer concert series?
It’s actually whatever they need it to be.
For some reason—perhaps as a result of those new, semi-secret, Democrat hand-holding and vote coordinating weekly 3:00 meetings–Pearson and Calci seem to have way more information and comfort regarding this event. The only thing that is for certain is that it’s going to cost the Township $5,000, but it’s even unclear as to what that money will be paying for. At first, the Board is told that it will offset the Township’s costs for putting on the concert, which will be free to the public. But later on, that is contradicted.
Barker, reading from the flyer that he has been provided, notes that the event is benefitting a charity and wants to know how money is going to be generated. Pearson replies that they weren’t looking to make money and it would be an event similar to the concerts that the Township put on in the past, to which Barker correctly replies, “But money was donated for that.”
Calci then jumps in to note that the Township will be getting a 10% cut of the liquor sales.
But Barker is wondering about the charitable nature of this—how is the charity making money?—and I get his concerns: If this is, in fact, a charity event, the Township is setting a precedent in supporting a single resident’s preferred charity. Given the virtually bottomless supply of charitable organizations, going forward, how does the Township pick and choose which charitable events they will support with taxpayer money and allow taxpayer resources to be used for and on which they will take a pass?
Gentle Readers, your Humble Blogress sees problems inherent in this precedent, which appears to be driven by dollars: Pearson’s agenda of gutting the budget of Parks and Recreation has forced the department to look to private residents to provide the programming the public expects.
At this point, Tieperman calls someone named “Sarah” to the podium to explain the event. “Sarah” is never introduced, nor is her title given. We can assume she works for the Parks and Rec department, but there is no hint as to her position within the department.
“Sarah” explains that the charitable foundation is working with sponsors and selling raffle tickets to raise money for the charity.
So now it sounds like the Township is providing a free venue for a charity event.
Vagnozzi then asks what the $5,000 is to be used for, and Staff explains that the money will be paid to “Part-Time Local Productions, LLC” which is event organizer Tim Williams’ company. The money will be paid to the bands, the sound guys, and for advertising.
So the $5,000 is not going to pay the Township employees who will have to staff the event and clean up after the event. Who is paying for that? (Rhetorical question, folks. You know who’s paying for that).
When Vagnozzi again questions the nature of this charitable event, “Sarah” replies that it’s not a charitable event, it just has a charitable aspect to it and that it’s really a special event put on by the Township for the community. Staff notes that the organizer, Tim Williams, is donating a lot of his time for this event.
Barker: “But the last band on here is the ‘Tim Williams Band.’ And we’re paying him. So it’s not like he’s ‘donating’ his time.”
Pearson asks if Barker or Vagnozzi has seen Williams’ “vision statement” which Tieperman then reads, stating that Tim Williams’ goal is to establish an annual, hometown music fest and that the Upper Providence Amphitheater is an “amazing space” and a perfect venue from which to start such a project.
When Vagnozzi questions how the event will be advertised, “Sarah” states that a free website is being built for the event and that Williams is doing social media. Tieperman says that Williams will be targeting the businesses on Bridge Street in Phoenixville. “Sarah” then says, “We are also going to be reaching out to local businesses to put up flyers and posters.”
So does this mean Township employees are going to be marketing this event on Township time? If so, is this time and materials included in the advertising portion of the $5,000 price tag?
Pearson jumps in to reassure everyone:
“And just so you guys know, we’re not handin’ this guy $5,000, he’s not making $5,000 off this event. He has it figured out per man, so, you know, if he has, uhhhh, I forget how he had it figured out, they were supposed to get like $150 a man or something like that…?”
After “Sarah” confirms this, and states that the money is to allow the band members to reserve two dates, the date of the event and the rain date, Pearson continues:
“Cuz I originally had concerns about uhhh, us, uhh, you know, a guy comin’ to us and we’re giving him a venue where he’s going to make $5,000 off of this, and I go, ‘I’m not doing this!’ Then when he said no, all that money goes tehhhh, he’s got it divvied up and everybody gets uhhh a hundred and fifty dollars or whatever it comes out to be…
An, an, and I think it could be expanded on next year, maybe uhhhhm, y-you’re gonna get a lot more people who wanna put tents up and uhhhh, spend a coupla bucks ehhh, promote their businesses and products and whatnot.”
Calci then confirms what this is all about,
“I think for the cost this is a great thing to try. See how it goes. For a full day of entertainment, it’s not a lot to put out.”
The Board votes unanimously to allow beer at this event.
Please note well, Gentle Readers: The actual go ahead for this event was never an item up for a vote for this Board. Going forward with this event was already deliberated and decided upon, and not at a public meeting.
Look, who am I to deny anyone’s vision? But now that the Board has established this precedent, as stated earlier, how do they decide which residents get access to Township resources to fulfill their “visions” and which residents don’t quite merit that privilege?
Other Board Business
- The Board swears in the third member of the Police Chaplain program, Pastor Lamar Eiffert, of Valley Forge Baptist Church.
- A number of residents approach the podium during public comment to ask the Supervisors to do something to fix the intersection of Lewis and Vaughn Road, which has been the site of many accidents, two recently where the car went into the same resident’s house.
- The Board’s by-laws get kicked around and kicked down the road. Bresnan, whose seat has moved down with the rest of the consultants this week, notes in anticipation of Barker’s continuing objections, that the by-laws were intended as a supplement to the administrative code and were written to provide guidelines for how the Board interacts with each other. Calci asks for questions and Barker renews his objections.
- The Board kicks the pay-to-play ordinance down the road.
- Sue Lipinski fills Walter Lipinski’s spot on the Board of Auditors
- The Board voted to advertise the 2019 road repaving schedule for bid. The road paving will be billed in two tranches, Project A and Project B, with Project A being funded by liquid fuels money from the State. Project B will be funded from the Township’s line of credit in the amount of $814,000. Vagnozzi wants a deadline to be placed on the bidders to complete the projects. Motion passes with Barker voting against.
- The Board approves a grant application to connect the Township campus through Rivercrest down to the Schuylkill River. The application is for a Montgomery County 2040 Implementation Grant.
- The solicitor prepared a repealer for the Township’s fireworks law so that the Township can be in compliance with state law.
- The Board announces that there will be an informational meeting for the Old State Road Sewer project on Thursday, February 28 at 7pm at the Township meeting hall.