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Tredyffrin Headed for Major Battles Monday?

The battle lines are drawn as members of the public and the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors appear headed for two big showdowns on Monday.

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.

Interested Observer September 14, 2012 at 12:13 PM
"before turning to a scathing political attack on blogger Pattye Benson" ------ I don't consider JD's letter a "scathing attack." The fact is, Benson is in charge of the blog and allowed many, many comments to be made that were little more than innuendo or supposition. And, if you read the blog, there do tend to be quite a lot of posts re: township government that have a conspiracy theory edge. Pattye Benson is allowed her opinion and to be the loyal opposition, but in many cases there is more innuendo than fact, more "how I see it" than "this is what the research shows" - and that is what Supervisor DiBuonaventuro said. Should it have been on the township website? Probably not. Was it a "scathing attack" - not even close. Read the comments Ms. Benson allows on her blogs and you will see scathing, personal attacks.
Sharpie September 14, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Bring back town hall meetings where residents can speak to one another directly, not necessarily to township officials. America would benefit tremendously by revitalizing a vital link to community-building w a safe setting to voice citizen concerns about issues in their own town or township. Township officials are chosen or elected to represent citizens, not impose or enforce a view or plan. Town hall meetings would help, not only build beneficial community ties, but aid in identifying concerns and uniting citizens in a vision for their own future.
Kirsten Luckock Pastor September 14, 2012 at 12:51 PM
@Interested Observer: Thank you! Well said. Blog or not journalistic integrity should apply, particarly whenever leveling such serious allegations. Sorry, Pattye, but you kinda asked for that tongue-lashing. And if it hadn't hit Patch as a "news" item I never would've even known about it.
Greg Whiteman September 14, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Hey great comments ZootsuitLarry.I bet you will be in the FRONT ROW to confront the township officials.Oh wait i bet ZootsuitLarry has a tiny little package to.See you monday Larry.
Version September 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Your post makes you just as bad as JD's letter, way to add a little more fuel to the fire! What is wrong with you people, this is so High School!!!!
Linda Smith September 14, 2012 at 02:43 PM
If others throughout the township are opposed to not only an assisted living facility that they feel is too big for its proposed location and concerned this proposed zoning change would affect commercial development all over Treddyfrin township---what are the benefits of doing this?
Berwyn Neighbor September 15, 2012 at 12:27 AM
How interesting that you hold a blog on par with the township website. IF our community had town hall meetings, they would be very much like the purpose of the blog. IF you read the blog regularly, you would know that people speculate and joke and declare and question and complain and praise and about every other vowel used in communications. Had JD's letter been sent to Pattye, he would have been addressing his intended audience. What he did was meant to intimidate any future questioning. And I'll say now for the 20th time -- when this incident that started the whole thing first came to light, the Tredyffrin Polie questioned JD on the topic. So the speculation and innuendo was nothing more than people wondering what no one would tell them. And if there wasn't such a sense of one party rule, and lack of trust, it would have ended. And indeed, as the person in charge of the blog, Ms. Benson does not censor, and she went far beyond simply faciliating conversation to speaking with the available parties and assuring the readership that she felt there was no conspiracy in play. Anytime a political official uses a limited access tool (the township website) to berate a constituent is a threat. It was wrong. And those scathing personal attacks on Pattye's website -- not personal. If you do not understand the vagaries of social media, we would be better of if you didn't try to judge them.
Berwyn Neighbor September 15, 2012 at 12:29 AM
The CM blog does not make the news. She just comments on it. And in this case, CM was the ONLY source that addresses the allegations and made any effort to understand them. In fact, it was CM that clearly repudiated JD as the possible "unnamed driver" which MLMN was obviously attempting to infer.
Sharpie September 15, 2012 at 10:29 AM
Blogging is not the same as town hall meetings. When did America lose the understanding that communications face-to-face hold their own vitality, and create community in a way never possible without meeting each other. It is a deception to believe that community can be as genuine without it.
Pat Campbell September 16, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Note that the public comments of the meeting on the agenda are DEAD LAST following the regular meeting and the public hearing. Likewise the consulting agreement with the outgoing township manager is the last item on the agenda before the public comments. Midnight anyone?
Bob Byrne (Editor) September 16, 2012 at 04:43 AM
I suspect that midnight would be a miracle on Monday.
Pattye Benson September 16, 2012 at 11:29 AM
If you dare to have an opinion in Tredyffrin, I encourage you to attend this Board of Supervisors meeting and ... stay to the end. The tagline for Community Matters - Your Voice Matters ... Join the Conversation! I stand behind those words, believing that all of us have a right to question and have an opinion. Pattye Benson Community Matters www.pattyebenson.org
Uncle Floyd September 16, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Here are a couple of links that show what our blogging neighbors think, rather intresting? Remember, this is a blog. "chestercountyramblings, meandering through, writing about whatever strikes my fancy" http://chestercountyramblings.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/tredyffrin-has-blogging-issues/ http://chestercountyramblings.wordpress.com/tag/welcome-to-the-peoples-republic-of-tredyffrin/,
Berwyn Neighbor September 16, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Kirsten: "sorry Pattye, but you kinda asked for that tongue lashing." After all Pattye, you 1.educated readers about the facts behind a story in the MLMN, Patch and the Inquirer. 2. Clarified speculation that JDB might be the unnamed driver 3. Didn't censure the comments (was there profanity?) 4. Wasted your time talking to the DA, the Judge, the Chief, the BOS Chair 5. Wasted your time clarifying and subduing the need to speculate 6. dared to question the wisdom of a lame duck manager on using the township website to intimidate a citizen And apparently the greatest sin of all: You have given the Daylesford Neighbors a place they can share their sense of frustration about why a simple 2 acre site is generating a township wide zoning ordinance change originally championed by JDB ...because apparently, based on her response, Ms. Gleason is irate that you are obstructing the government plans that no one has publicly explained or endorsed. But Ms. Gleason wants. Sorry Pattye--this is Tredyffrin. Agree with the power or shut up. And certainly do not give anyone a forum to express concern, suspicion, confusion, anger, skepticism, and worst of all, helplessness.

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