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Public Corruption in Chester County, PA

I believe an unlikely mix of alleged drug trafficking related politicos and alleged white nationalist related politicos united to elect the infamous “Bloc of Four” in the abysmal voter turnout election of 2005. During their four year term the drug business was good again and white nationalists used Coatesville as an example on white supremacist websites like “Stormfront”. Strong community organization and support from law enforcement, in particular Chester County District Attorney Joseph W. Carroll has begun to turn our community around. The Chester County drug trafficking that I believe centers on Coatesville continues and I believe we still have public officials in place that profit from the drug sales. But the people here are amazing and continue to work against the odds to make Coatesville a good place to live.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Transparency-Accountability- Quality of Life -A Strategic Plan for the City of Coatesville, Chester County, PA: 2010

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A presentation of “A Strategic Plan for the City of Coatesville” by Tom Comitta of Thomas Comitta Associates, Inc at the Coatesville City Council Meeting Monday, August 23, 2010.
Mr. Comitta:
“I had promised Council on the occasion of the July 22nd (session) that I would put all of the ideas that were expressed on one page. Mrs. Jones kind of smiled at me, wondering if I could actually put it all on one page and I was sweating it out a little bit.  And then though what I’d like to do, even though Ted Reed (Coatesville City Manager) had mentioned, clearly what I just handed out is like the baby steps of what we were talking about.  The fun part of doing the one page, which in the larger packet follows the cover memo, is:
We tried to put on one page all of the ideas that were expressed over about an eight or nine hour set of sessions.  Essentially ‘together we could make the difference’ was the winning selection for what we thought the whole strategic planning initiative was all about.  As captioned beneath the Council photos, ‘A Strategic Plan for the City of Coatesville’.
Around the perimeter we did what Ted had called ‘catch phrases’.  It was Council’s intent at the beginning of this year to bring transparency to the table and you’ve done well at that. 
During the strategic planning sessions Council was not bashful and kept on pressing in the discussion, a whirlwind discussion, about accountability and at the end of that session we tried to drill down and try to say, ‘Well, what does that mean?’ And at the end of the day what we kept coming into like, ‘Is there anything  else that we forgot?’, ‘quality of life’ emerged as being an important topic. So the transparency, accountability, quality of life kind of repeats itself because we’re trying to say, ‘We really mean it!” type of idea.
But in order to make it short and sweet what we did is, we selected from the second round of questions those items that ‘won the contest’ so to speak on what we collectively thought were the Cities strengths, what opportunities we thought were out there that deserved careful attention, the places that we considered the strongest places and then down toward the bottom, certain weak places. We admitted that there were various impediments, that there were weaknesses that we need to overcome.  But at the end of the day we kind of felt that there were top initiatives that that are listed there, the center on the right and then a group of outreach initiatives that needed to get tapped and pursued. 
So, the idea of placing the stars in effective alignment based on the list of the ten that are highlighted in red was just kind of like a to do list to say, once we get clarity and clearness on the path forward how do we basically spread the word. And, so the notion was that City Council would engage in more detailed discussions with City staff and then as listed, their County adjoining municipalities and so forth…
In most creative problem solving initiatives as you know, you don’t get into critical evaluation. You don’t say ‘That’s a bad idea’. Or my idea is better than yours. So we just write down all of the ideas. The first meeting, but then went back the second meeting and said, ‘Well, which ones really deserve more attention and more weight.  And the strength of those, that highlighted set of summary pages that led to the grand summary the colored page in yellow.
What Council should now do over the next few months, with the City Manager and staff is to affirm that’s what’s listed here is really what you said and how you said it and, perhaps with the kind of emphasis that you intended.  
The fun part for me was that I was just serving as the facilitator, listening to what you said.  If I couldn’t understand a point, I would ask you to clarify. And then, it kind of went around and around each time to see if we were all pretty much on the same page.
And I think the most refreshing part of the whole two evening sessions was that we all left ‘happy campers’ on both meetings.  And, I said to you at the end of the June 22 session, that compared to many other city councils with whom I’ve worked since 1981 it was the most fun, to actually get into the discussion where you were very unified and congealed in a lot of the things that you had to say. As a matter of fact, in many cases where one person had a particularly strong view, someone else said, ‘Well how about, such and so?’ and then the Council colleagues said, ‘Well maybe you’re right.” And it was very refreshing to see how that discussion took place.
So as you mentioned, It’s kind of a baby step, but what’s important, I believe, is that because life is so complex in order to have it on one page; it just kind of puts it right out there and gives you a chance now to actually then say well on that one page, what’s most important..  Realizing on the top initiatives we did sort of, re-re-re-prioritize them to say that these initiatives can help inform the 2011 budget. We brought about an idea of having City Council Committees to kind of bolster the energy and focus on certain key areas.  That there would need to be some type of capital improvement strategy.  That from our discussions there were some amendments to the Zoning Ordinance that we could identify.  That the five year financial plant needed to be reviewed studied and refined.  That really we all agreed that the train station was an important cog in the wheel. That there would be certain land development amendments that would be on our radar screen. And that hopefully in 2011 or 12 when the County Commissioners renew the funding for the “Vision Partnership Program’ an opportunity to amend and update the City Revitalization Plan.
So, It’s an exhaustive list and it may well take several years before you could all accomplish these items but at least we have a ‘wish list’ and a ‘to do list’ that can now be prioritized.
City Council President, Ed Simpson; “I don’t have a question but I would like to make a comment that I think the time that we spent with Mr. Comitta, I personally thought was very enjoyable, well spent. I wasn’t bored or frustrated. Just to let everyone know that, as a moderator Mr. Comitta was probably one of the better moderators I’ve ever been around.  He kept everybody involved, ideas flowing the whole time and I want to thank you for it. It was time well spent, very good.” 

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