You might want to arrive early if you want to find a good place to park for Monday night's Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors.
The board is taking a final vote on a commercial zoning change. It's hot issue for the Daylesford Neighborhood Association and others throughout the township opposed to not only an assisted living facility that they feel is too big for its proposed location, but also to the proposed zoming change that would affect commercial development all over Tredyffrin Township.
But it's the First Amendment right to free speech that could provide the biggest fireworks Monday night at Tredyffrin Township Building.
A letter posted last week on township letterhead on the publicly-funded township website has many township residents up in arms.
In the letter Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman John "JD" DiBuonaventuro offers his side of a story published by and a (which was also re-posted here on TE Patch) before turning to a scathing political attack on blogger Pattye Benson, a private citizen whose non-commercial, privately-published blog offers commentary on matters regarding many issues and events in the community.
In a "Letter to Tredyffrin Citizens from Vice Chair DiBuonaventuro" written on official township letterhead (under the names of every member of the Board of Supervisors as well as the township Manager and Township Solicitor) posted on the Tredyffrin Township official website last week and over the weekend, The Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman writes:
"..What is more important for our community to realize from this example is the disturbing trend which has developed with most of the internet elements of legitimate newspapers and the tabloid formatted blogs like "Community Matters." That trend is that there is apparently no accountability for those that feed on the topic or person of the week that happens to get thrown into the "chum tank" of anonymous commentators. Additionally the "Community Matters" posts about Tredyffrin Township Government appear to be an on-going effort to discredit our government and its efforts to serve the citizens by creating and fostering an environment of conspiracy and misrust among its limited readership. The irony is that some who continue this campaign are the same who at one time, so eagerly aspired to be your elected representatives in that same government, only to fail in absolute defeat."
The posting on the township website was approved by outgoing Township Manager Mimi Gleason whose last day on the job is Monday (a date she announced over the summer, long before this matter arose). In an email responding to TE Patch's request for a comment last week, Gleason explained the decision to post the Vice Chairman's screed on the site this way:
The Manager has final say on what is posted to the website. In the past, there have been statements from the Board of Supervisors on the website, . (Editor's note: the referenced announcement is attached to this article as a pdf) There will be a similar statement when they select the next manager.
It is unusual to post a statement from an individual Supervisor, but given the inaccurate and derogatory statements and innuendo publicly made about John DiBuonaventuro, I decided to approve the posting of Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s letter on the Township website. In this case, he was the subject of baseless public speculation simply because he is a Tredyffrin Supervisor. The circumstances justified the use of the website to publicly defend him, carrying with it the implicit endorsement of the Township to the accuracy of his statements. It is important to note that the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and the Township Solicitor agreed that it was appropriate for the letter to go on the website.
The letter will remain on the website through the weekend to give residents and the press an opportunity to see it. We will take it down on Monday. If anyone would like a copy after that, they can contact me.
It's not known how many people have contacted the Township Manager. Several outraged township residents and several more have contacted Patch by phone and email indicating they plan to voice objections to the use of the township's website for what many see as a personal, political attack on a private citizen of the township and on a much broader scale on anyone who DiBuonaventuro and the rest of the all-Republican Board of Supervisors (by association of township letterhead on the township website) perceive has opposing "Tredyffrin Township Government."
TE Patch sent an email to every members of the Board of Supervisors earlier this week seeking comment on this story. As of Friday morning, none of the seven members of the board had responded.
Whether or not the board members will comment at Monday night's public meeting remains to be seen. The Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Monday night at 7:30 p.m. at the . The agenda had not been posted on the Township wesbite as of 7 a.m. Friday. The issue of the letter will most likely not be part of the official agenda, but is expected to be discussed by the public during the public comments period of the meeting.