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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, November 10, 2010

These are exciting times-Coatesville City Manager Ted Reed

At the Coatesville City Council Meeting, Monday, November 8, 2010. Ted Reed, City Manager's report:
"Talking about the Velodrome, that is a very exciting project. The staff has a conference call with the people from the Velodrome every Monday morning at nine o’clock.  We’ve had it this morning and we’ll continue to have it.  We’re working with the people for the Velodrome.
The RDA board has approved  geotech work to drill down 30 feet or to bedrock where the Velodrome is supposed to go to make sure that it can carry the weight. . So we’re moving along with the Velodrome and we really are trying to do everything we can with it.  It’s exciting for the staff. I know it’s exciting for the community.  And certainly it’s exciting for the RDA. So we’ll continue to work with that.
The Marriot Courtyard Hotel, we’re continuing to work with that, we had a conference call at ten o’clock this morning. And we will continue to have conference calls with them and contact throughout the week. So that project’s moving on. Hopefully from now to the first of December everything will be closed. Closed meaning; all of the loans will be approved, all the financing in place, all the construction ready to go and sometime in December hopefully we will have a ground breaking for the Marriot Hotel.
And you heard about Walgreens here this afternoon or this evening rather and that is exciting too. So I think that we’ll see Walgreens getting underway. And it’s going to be I think a tossup as to whether Walgreens breaks ground before the Marriot. So hopefully I’d like to see them done at the same time.
And one finial thing I just want to mention, that I have sent a memorandum to the City Council in response to the petition. That memorandum is available, has been available outside on the desk as well as at the counter in back. And I look forward to the opportunity in next month action items to discuss my response.
I would like to just respond to one item that was brought up. That Mr. Hamrick brought up about my presentation regarding the water and sewer rate increase and the conflict of interest. Just for everyone to know that, as I read that. I just wanted to mention that I offered when this first came up, I offered to City Council, to withdraw from this and have nothing to do with the rate increase. It was the City Council who said, no they wanted me involved. So I was involved at the direction of the City Council and I see where there is no conflict of interest what so ever because I received the direction from the City Council.
So I’ll address other issues later on; but these are exciting times, the Velodrome, the Marriot, the Walgreens and some other things that are going on that hopefully will be brought before the public in the next few months."
Council Comments:
Mr. Brazzle, “I really believe that Mr. Reed is a great leader right now. I think he’s really helping move this City forward.  And I said I would extend him for another year.”
Mr. Hamrick, “I don’t want anybody to give up their Fifth Amendment Rights. You have the freedom to speak out and if you do not like what is going on here then feel free to let us know any time with petitions or whatever because there’s no reprisals. We’re not going to picket you’re house, say that you’re no good; we’re not going to pay someone to do that, like in past practices… You have the freedom of speech; we’d like to hear from you.”
Ms. Jones, “We’ve been doing a lot of work and still have a lot more to do. Earlier when I mentioned negligence regarding all the confusion, I did not know myself what it called for in the Code, the conflict of interest was cause for dismissal not administrative leave. I didn’t know all of that. So it could be negligence on my part for not knowing. It could be negligence on anybody’s part that has not read that Code completely. So we all fall short.”
Mr. Marking, “The Halloween Parade occurred on the 30th. It went better than I think any of us expected the Great Pumpkin and Green Lantern included. I was disappointed that the Cities public relations officer wasn’t there to take any pictures. But it was a good crowd. It had a lot of costumers, we must of had at least 50 people in costumes and probably a solid couple of hundred on the sides. Which I think for a first year showing is fairly remarkable. So hopefully next year we’ll have our first annual Halloween Parade. I want to thank Ms. Bjorhus for her donation. I want to thank Mr. Molina for his donation, Ms. Jorgenson for donating her entire monthly site for October, Mr. Brazzle for his fine gifts, Mr. Hamrick, for his time. The firefighters really made that possible to walk down that street safely. The Police Athletic League was a huge help handing out actual trick or treat bags, Gore-Tex material filled with lots of goodies. And the Police Department was there as well to help us at the intersections to make sure it was safe. Officer Ollis in particular did a wonderful job. And I think we’re all very happy with how the parade went…
I recognize that Mr. Reed made an important contribution, in my mind, to the process of working with the attorneys to negotiate that settlement. I personally am of the mind that it was a conflict of interest, given his very long, soup to nuts, from the sale of the water authority to working for the company, drawing a pension from them. Intentional, unintentional I think that when you even close to the line of a conflict it is always the smartest thing to do to avoid it. And Mr. Reed states that he came to Council and that Council voted to recuse him of any concerns about a conflict of interest. I personally don’t remember that happening. I personally looked for it in the public record where votes are supposed to happen. I haven’t seen anything in there. And I think it’s that perception issue that fired up no less so than reality. And that’s why I think it’s important that we put it on the agenda for the next meeting so we can talk about it, resolve it and move forward in whatever way. We will want everyone involved.”

After the meeting was over I spoke briefly to Mr. Reed after the City Council meeting. I mentioned that I respected the citizens reasoning and right to petition City Council to remove him. But I thought it was a great stretch to think that Mr. Reed did not represent the best interests of the citizens of Coatesville.
I talked to him about something that I think is now crucially important. Many if not most municipalities in Pennsylvania try their utmost to discourage development. For the most part those developments are on farmland. 
Property rights are very important in Pennsylvania law and a very large portion of the property in Pennsylvania is owned or controlled in some way by real estate investors. Most of the farms that you see in Pennsylvania are owned by some real estate investor who might live in Florida. 
However developers have to juggle investors needs, DEP approvals, TIFs, PennDOT approvals, property rights activists, grants, weather changes and unforeseen events.  Timing is often crucial to a development going to completion or just becoming an empty lot. If a township can delay a developer long enough he might give up or go bankrupt.  Being a real estate developer is possibly the riskiest business there is.
The thing is, here in Coatesville we want development, not development like Mr. Lehr and Mr. Walker’s power plant:
We want the Velodrome and the many business that will tag along with it. We want the Hotel and Walgreens. We want high rise downtown condos and apartments. We want people that want to live in a vibrant city walkable city close to rail lines, the not a lifeless suburbs that many people in Pennsylvania live in. Incidentally, the largest demographic for the next 20 or more years is people who want to live in a vibrant walkable city. Suburban trophy homes aren’t white elephants, they’re dinosaurs.
It’s so very easy for a developer to fail because of what might be called nit picking delays. Because a time clock begins running on municipal construction plans and multiple approvals by different parts of local government are sometimes needed before a development can proceed and each board or commission usually meets once a month; it can take months for a single part of a development plan to be approved.
Development in older cities and changing industrial land to restaurants and residential buildings is even more risky and specialized than growing homes on cornfields. It’s very easy for a municipal government to unintentionally kill a possibly much desired land development plan.
It is my very, very, very firm belief that have a community garden instead of a high rise condominium at Third Avenue and Lincoln Highway because the previous Coatesville City Council listened to the advice from Mr. Lehr and tabled Chetty Builders submission (and the Planning Commission’s recommendation) for Conditional and Final Approval. That one seemingly harmless action nearly bankrupted Mr. Chetty.
I told Mr. Reed that all the people at this bench, meaning the City Council bench, should read, “Last Harvest” and “Suburban Nation”. They probably know a lot of the people talked about in both those books.
Last Harvest” is about Chester County and New Daleville in Londonderry Township in particular. You will find Tom Comitta the City of Coatesville’s Town Planning Architect mentioned over and over in “Last Harvest”.  Architect Tim Cassidy also did some work for the City of Coatesville. Mr. Cassidy actually lives in Londonderry Township and is on the Planning Commission of Londonderry Township. Mr. Comitta is a member of the “Congress for the New Urbanism”.
One of the authors of “Suburban Nation” is Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk the Dean of the University of the Miami School of Architecture.  Ms. Plater-Zyberk is also one of the founders of the “Congress for the New Urbanism”.
The University of Miami School of Architecture’s Knight Program in Community Building chose the City of Coatesville for its 2003 Charrette. Most areas of the USA look the same.  You almost need a GPS unit to know where you are. But the City of Coatesville is bounded by hills on three sides. You can always tell that you are in Coatesville. Ms. Plater-Zyberk was the person who stood at one meeting and said that Coatesville has a “sense of place, it’s to die for”.

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