Thursday, August 30, 2007

Barry really does have ‘magic powers’

September 17, 2002: Barry Cassidy purchased a townhome at 211 Cherry Street in Downingtown from Main Street Village, Inc. The purchase price was $150,047. The deed to Mr. Cassidy was signed by Anthony D’Agostino, President of Main Street Village, Inc.

The financing for the purchase was a $75,000 mortgage loan from WSFS and $75,000 in take-back financing from the developer.

Cassidy was Downingtown’s Main Street Manager from 1994 to 2002.

Now, Barry’s here in Phoenixville as Main Street Manager. Mr. D’Agostino, who was President of Main Street Village, is also the President of S&S Development, now building in Phoenixville.

So, if you’re looking to buy a townhome in Phoenixville and could use 100% financing with a 50% seller take-back, call Barry. Let him tell you how he did it in Downingtown.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The gang that couldn't meet straight

Council found itself unable to meet lawfully on August 29, since it didn't give proper public notice of the special meeting. The Borough was thus briefly rescued from the agenda, which had been packed on some seven hours notice, with a whole array of matters.

Undaunted, Council President Messina pressed ahead with the CDC Board, then adjourning immediately afterward. I suppose there is another 'memorandum of understanding' that gives them greater status than is accorded to other citizens.

Notably absent, in any event, were Barry Cassidy and Manny DeMutis, the real moving forces behind the CDC. Instead, those of us present were treated to the rest of the CDC Board, a group of well-meaning folks left to clean up the mess.

The real problem, I suggest, is not one of 'communication.' The question is whether the CDC, as an entity, is the right partner for the Borough.

Had the meeting proceeded, this would have been my public comment:

We are told to look forward–toward progress, not to back to assess blame.

That is good advice. But we need to look back, just a bit, not to blame, but to see what we did right or wrong in the past.

What other agents of ‘economic development’ has Council supported over the last 15 years?


What economic development have they achieved?

This Council and past councils have felt so pressed to do ‘something’ that they have failed to recognize that in a public-private ‘partnership’ you need partners who have capability, integrity, real commitment (i.e., their own money in the game), cooperation, acceptable conduct, and public accountability.

PAEDCO and PPG each were lacking in these factors.

The CDC is also lacking: it has, I believe, virtually no private funding of any significance and exists, instead, on its Borough contract. There is only lip service, no real commitment from the downtown business community that the CDC represents and which reaps the lion’s share of the redevelopment benefits. It has little depth of capability, since it depends on a single, unreliable individual. It is sorely deficient in its ability to cooperate with the Borough. Mr. Cassidy conducts himself in a vulgar, immature, and uncontrolled manner, completely contemptuous of everyone who does not agree with him, and completely contemptuous of the Borough, which albeit indirectly, pays his salary. The CDC Board, by its failure to control or condemn Cassidy’s conduct, condones it, or, even worse, through Mr. DeMutis, encourages it.

The deficiencies of the CDC do not minimize or excuse the failures of the Borough’s own staff.

Revitalization is not ripping up and replacing perfectly functioning sidewalks. Revitalization is not a two-block run of new streetlights, blue, black, or fuchsia.

The responsibility rests with you, the Council, to take the word “revitalization” and turn it from a shibboleth into a specific set of meaningful and measurable objectives. The responsibility rests with you, the Council, to marshal the resources of government and to associate with real private sector partners to accomplish those goals.

Beyond repugnance

First, the 'repugnant' back-room "memorandum of understanding" between the CDC and the Borough finally comes into the open, after months of obfuscation and chicanery.

In response, the Council sets a special meeting to discuss these issues in public, where they should have been handled in the first place.

Then, Council places that discussion on the agenda before any opportunity for public participation.

An excerpt from Council's draft agenda, distributed mid-day August 29th

I. Invocation/Pledge of Allegiance - Chair

II. Roll Call – Borough Secretary

III. Discussion regarding the Community Development Corporation

IV. Public Participation – 30 minutes

Sunday, August 26, 2007

It is the dawning of the age of nefarious

The 16-point "memorandum of understanding" between the Borough and the CDC had been the result of weeks of negotiations involving, at various times, Cassidy, CDC president Manny DeMutis and CDC board members, DiGirolomo, Council president John Messina (D-North) and a select group of members of Council, according to sources with knowledge of the negotiations.

The terms of the agreement, according to those same sources, were proposed by Messina, transcribed by DeMutis, and then circulated among Council members Henry Wagner (D-Middle), Carlos Ciruelos (D-East), Tim Daly (D-Middle), Rich Kirkner (D-North) and Dave Gill (D-West). With a single last-minute clarification, the agreement as transcribed stood.

—G. E. Lawrence in The Phoenix, May 12, 2007

Fast Forward to August 2007--

Now, all of a sudden, the Council and CDC Board are meeting in public to discuss this issue because the 'agreement' either didn't exist (Messina) or was 'repugnant' (Kirkner). Only Daly actually cops a plea: he thought 'we had this handled.'

What is really repugnant are the flat-out lies by those other Council Members involved in this travesty, coupled with the complicity of the CDC in a back-room deal that everyone should have known was plainly illegal.

It's the Sunshine Law, stupid!

MacPhee, MacPhi, MacPho, MacPhum

"French Creek Center is going to have a core commercial piece," says John MacPhee, Project Manager for the Delta Organization. "It's going to reestablish a strong tax base, as well as provide offices for companies and jobs. It will also include residential components, some of which have already been built."

--"The Phoenixville's Renaissance" by Bert Wylen (in 2005) at

Fast Forward to 2007

Judgments entered against PPG, Delta Organization, Walter J. Logan, etc. in Chester County Court for $1,002,695.57 (docket no. 07-06153) and for $7,655,320.54 (docket nos. 07-06345 and 06347).

Phiction in Phoenixville

The Point, a Bryn Mawr coffeehouse that offers live music, and Kildare's, an Irish-themed pub and restaurant, formed a joint venture to put in a Kildare's restaurant and a 350-seat entertainment venue that many liken to the old Valley Forge Music Fair in the Foundry.

--Philadelphia Business Journal - June 3, 2005 by Natalie Kostelni, Staff Writer

Anyone remember the local charlatan who was touting this delusion two years ago?

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
–George Santayana

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Are you a Cassidy supporter?

i am working with a bunch of yahoo administrators who “can’t carry my jock strap”

--–Barry Cassidy, in an email to Councilman Kirkner, June 6, 2007

Don't miss a shot at this desirable local job.

Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons)

(with apologies to Pierre Choderlos de Laclos)

In his August 15, 2007 letter to The Phoenix, Councilman Kirkner, writing as the “now former liaison to the Community Development Corp.,” responds to Mr. Cassidy’s earlier broadside.

Councilman Kirkner calls the so-called ‘memorandum of understanding’ between the Borough and the CDC a ‘repugnant document.’ He concedes that this document, which he had since May and which became public only Tuesday night, was not even shared with all of Council.

When did the document become ‘repugnant’ to Mr. Kirkner?

Did it became repugnant only when his role as liaison, created by the now-‘repugnant’ document, unraveled in public? How perfectly satisfied was Mr. Kirkner to serve as a cog in the back-room deal which he now denigrates? Just look at Mr. Kirkner’s reaction when Mr. Cassidy distributed his email exchanges with Mr. Kirkner; emails that Kirkner wrote in his official role, but sought to conceal not only from the public, but also from many of his council ‘colleagues.’

According to Kirkner, the CDC Chair told him the document was for ‘his back pocket.’

"For your back pocket" -- a really fascinating choice of phrase, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cassidy the (Un)Quotable

How Barry Cassidy works with us ... in his own words (for $111,000 a year):


anthony requested to attend the PABA business association meeting to tell his side of the story ...what’s up with that? see he is fighting no matter what...doesn’t get leave me alone

---May 31, 2007 email to Councilman Kirkner

it di not predate steve. I just gave them every contract; this is exactly what they do...fuckin exactly. need more information...don’t know...i have been after him for a year on this 5k...they don’t want to work with me. tell them to fuckin find it...I HATE WORKING HERE.

---June 6, 2007 email to Councilman Kirkner

Rich; yeah your right...but they do this all the time. I am sorry. I want to discontinue our meetings. I think that it is a waste of both our time. I heard that same question over and over and provided the information...they suck...your just a guy that really wants to do the right things...I realize that. I am frustrated and really I want out...I can go somewhere where they have someone who can process a simple invoice and tell me what is happening not me have to make them work. these are very dark days for me...i do not want to ruin your revitalization but i am not prepared to work like this much longer...a revitalization is not one guys should be happy i got you this far and move on. anthony is not welcome at the merchant meeting. ellie is calling him and telling him to stay home. if he comes i eat him alive in front of everyone...the press attends that there. attached is the grant list. Just get me my 5000 and we can call it a day. If there are any requests just e mail me and i will comply. let me know when you want me to show up at a council meeting. I really have lost the spirit to work here. I do hate working here, from the most fun job to dreading to come to work because i am working with a bunch of yahoo administrators who “can’t carry my jock strap” to quote larry holmes and really why should i care if you have lots of money out there? no skin off my is your cash flow not mine. I met with manny today and he talked me into staying for a little while longer. I cut out our previous conversation on this e mail and am sending you my response with a cc to manny because even after the pep talk...i just can’t do this much longer and he should know where i am.

---June 6, 2007 email to Councilman Kirkner

it does not really matter anymore i am applying for other jobs and i will be gone soon. that day at the foundry showed me that this will not work. we came up with 16 points and he did not follow need to come up with any more. i had a pretty successful interview with west hollywood arts and entertainment district and i am waiting to see if i made it to the second round. i spoke with greensboro NC and pensacola. I am preparing to list my house for guys already lost me. I am at peace with myself now...knowing this will never work and i have stopped trying.

---June 19, 2007 email to Councilman Kirkner

One Flew Into the Cuckoo's Nest

(with apologies to Ken Kesey)

This document was distributed by Barry Cassidy at the August 14, 2007 Phoenixville Borough Council Meeting. It has never been discussed by Council at a public meeting. It has never been voted on by Council. Ask your Council Member who wrote this and if it’s real. Ask a member of the CDC Board whether it’s real.

Is this what the public pays $111,000 a year to get? Is this the CDC's idea of a public-private partnership?

Or is it just another piece of back room sleaze that has finally made it into the light?

Memorandum of Understanding

This letter of understanding between the Borough of Phoenixville and the Main Street Community Development Corporation will define the parameters by which each entity shall operate and conduct business. This document will define how each entity will interrelate. SO that the inherent nature of each entity can work in harmony and accomplish their individual and common goals.


1. The Borough council will appoint a Rich or Henry as liaison to the Main Street CDC.
2. The liaison will in effect deliver to the borough council and staff all appropriate information and material necessary to complete the mandates of council.
3. The liaison will likewise be the conduit between the Borough Manager and Barry Cassidy.
4. The Borough Manager will at no time contact Barry Cassidy either by mail or phone.
5. The Borough Manager will limit his responsibilities to the administration of the Borough outside the down town Business district.
6. Barry Cassidy will have separate contact with the Borough Solicitor, engineer, planner and any consultants, on any matter pertaining to the Downtown Business District. Or mission that pertain to the work of the CDC.
7. The Borough Manager at no time will lobby, interfere, and impede the work and mandates of the CDC as given by council.
8. Barry Cassidy will be the contact for all public finance.
9. Signing authority will be the responsibility of the liaison and the responsibility of the Borough Council President.
10. It is the responsibility of Barry Cassidy to promote , retain, and expand the mission of the CDC and the Downtown Business District.
11. The Downtown Business District for purposes of this Letter will include but not be limited to the areas south of the bluffs to Hall Street and from the Mont Clare Bridge at route 29 to the intersection of East Bridge Street and route 23, including both north and south side elm streets. Including the area of the former Steel property. And may be expanded by Borough Council.
12. Effective immediately, Barry with the liaison will create a program for parking.
13. In the event that the Borough Manager supersedes his responsibilities he will then be asked to resign or be removed. Let this serve as his notice.
14. A council representative will meet with Barry Cassidy to confirm this letter represents the feelings of a majority of council.
15. A council representative will meet with the Borough Manager to confirm that is letter represents the feeling of the majority of council.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Bit of Borough BureaucraZy

The state statute authorizing the Borough to create a HARB (53 P.S. §8003) sets certain criteria for the membership of that board:

"The board shall be composed of not less than five members. One member of the board shall be a registered architect, one member shall be a licensed real estate broker, one member shall be a building inspector, ..."

The present members of Phoenixville’s HARB are Joseph Puleo (who has submitted his resignation effective the end of August), Dana Dugan, Frank Tallarico, and Brian Ayers.

So, we have four members of a board that must have five, no architect, although one is required by law, and a real estate broker who will be gone in a month.

Is the Borough serious about having a HARB? Has anyone bothered to think about whether it is proper to require applicants to appear before a board that is not even properly constituted?