Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lots of heads are better than none

The Manager's own schedule calls for having a first draft ready for the Council President and Finance Chair during the week of October 15.

Just distribute that material to the remaining six council members. (Hint: you just add the six addresses to your email.)

Indeed, why not put the draft on the Borough's official/semi-official/unofficial (your choice) website? (Hint: you just add one more address, the webmaster, to your email and ask him to put it up.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sooner or later trash is gonna getcha

The quarterly trash fee will revert to $55.25 for the fourth quarter, due to Council's failure to address this issue properly in June (or earlier).

That will result in a shortfall of about $90K from what the Borough needed to collect.

Where's the cash going to come from?

What will the Council need to do in January to fix the problem?

Call your Council Member and ask him or her to explain it to you. Contact information for the Council Members can be found at the Borough's unofficial site.

In the market for a corrupt, nightmare budget?

“Last year’s budget sheets are corrupt,” [Borough Finance Director Nease] said. “We’re in the process of reconstructing all of it. It has been kind of a nightmare.”

By the new schedule, Borough administration budget recommendations would not be submitted for final review by finance committee chair Rich Kirkner (D-North) and Council president John Messina (D-North) until November 5.

All Council members would not see the results until November 13.
[Borough Manager DiGirolomo] said further that Council “will have a ‘Chinese menu’” of policy and budget alternatives before them at the November 13 meeting. Besides, he said, he expected that Kirkner and Messina would “be working with you guys behind the scenes” well before that meeting.

–The Phoenix, September 26, 2007

It’s been a nightmare, all right. And the new budget process seems to guarantee that the nightmare will only continue.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stand up and be counted

Last year, public meetings for discussion of Phoenixville’s budget started at the end of August. In response to the obvious success of that undertaking, the Council President has decided to prepare the first drafts in secret, not only outside the public eye, but hidden even from the other Council Members.

Council Members do not have to accept this. The Council can direct that the budget be taken up in public and can direct the Manager to furnish the draft budget to all Members.

Council does not have to wait until the October 9th council meeting to press the point. The written request of one third of the council is all that is needed to convene a special meeting (53 P.S. §46006).

Are there three Council Members who will stand up for the public they have been elected to serve?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

If ignoring the solution once is good, ignoring it twice must be better

Back in June, Borough Council finally realized that a trash fee increase would be required. Based on the adopted budget, the trash department was running a deficit in excess of $80,000 in the first half of the year. The information in June indicated that an increase to around $73 per quarter for the balance of the year would be needed to balance the trash budget.

Faced with that information, what did Council do? It voted to increase the trash fee to $73 for the third quarter only.

Guess what: the fourth quarter starts on October 1. The next scheduled Council meeting is October 9. Absent Council action, the trash fee will drop back to $55.25 for the fourth quarter.

The reduction would be nice, if it were not for the red ink it will likely spill.

What were Council Members Ciruelos (Chair of Utilities Health and Sanitation) and Kirkner (Chair of Finance) thinking? Where were the Manager and the Finance Director?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Remediation reading

In connection with the sale of the Foundry, PAEDCO and Hankin Phoenixville Foundry Partners, LP, agreed to a consent order with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Under that consent order, PAEDCO and Hankin agreed that there were hazardous substances on the Foundry tract. PAEDCO agreed to remediate the property to a site-specific standard by January 1, 2009.

The consent order and agreement are matters of public record in the Chester County Recorder’s Office, part of the deed at Book 7051, Page 1916, or click this link. The documents reveal that the property has excessive levels of arsenic, chromium, and lead.

Before we are dragged into another multi-million dollar fit of public spending to make the Foundry “succeed,” maybe it’s time for PAEDCO to show that it is on target to “attain and demonstrate compliance” with the clean-up plan.

What is much more likely to happen is that PAEDCO, which failed to remediate the site while it owned it (sculpture being much more important) will continue to do nothing. After the remediation deadline passes, the Hankin group will assess the risk as acceptable and the DEP will walk away with a wink and a nod.

Phoenixville’s getting a gift, just like a child’s toy from China.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mural, mural on the wall--UPDATED

Dear Ms. Cohen:

PAEDCO’s easement on the Fazzini building is a private issue between PAEDCO and the Fazzinis.

The Borough is not responsible for enforcing such arrangements. The Borough’s only concern with building and demolition permits is whether the standards for permit issuance have been met.

Please go have your hissy-fit with the Fazzinis, not with the Borough government. The Borough is too busy messing up things that they actually should be doing without getting involved taking care of PAEDCO’s foibles. By the way, doesn’t PAEDCO have a million dollars or so left over from the Foundry sale that it could use to repair the mural and remove the oh-so-attractive fence around Renaissance Park? Why doesn’t PAEDCO just buy the Fazzinis’ building, so it can then own both sides of the mural?

As a new Schulykill Township Supervisor, are you now going to advocate your Township’s involvement in all private arrangements between adjoining property owners?

If the easement protects PAEDCO's rights in the mural or creates obligations of the Fazzinis, why doesn't PAEDCO just enforce those rights against the Fazzinis? The Fazzinis did agree in paragraph 3 of the easement that they would "...maintain the Wall in its current condition or better and not to demolsih or allow the Wall to fall into disrepair, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of Grantee."

Even if it were the Borough's responsibility to enforce the easement, which it isn't, PAEDCO made it nearly impossible to find the recorded easement unless one already knew it existed. The easement was granted to the "Greater Phoenixville Area Chamber of Commerce," while the record owner (at the time) of Renaissance Park was the "Phoenixville Area Chamber of Commerce." The Chamber actually remained the record owner of the park site until August 9, 2007. I suppose after the Mural started to collapse, the Chamber recognized that it had a liability on its hands and finally deeded the problem to PAEDCO, which created the problem in the first place.

FLASH UPDATE: According to Doug Murray, as quoted in The Phoenix, Ms. Cohen wasn't even whining on behalf of PAEDCO, but only on her own ticket. PAEDCO, said Murray, was happy with what the Borough did.

But Murray is concerned about the cost to repair the mural, maybe $100,000. Gee, what did PAEDCO get when it sold the Foundry? Or is it time to bilk the public again?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

What do you do with a 13-year-old delusion?

The Phoenixville Renaissance [a subsidiary of PAEDCO] Proposes to Develop the Foundry Property . . . . The project will generate sufficient cash to permit the Phoenixville Renaissance to be financially self sufficient while functioning as the engine to drive compatible development in Downtown Phoenixville.

–from PAEDCO’s 1994 “Vision 1999–Agenda for Action”

You give it a birthday party: September 28, 2007 at the Foundry.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Let's think outside the box

Nepal's state-run airline has confirmed that it sacrificed two goats to appease a Hindu god, following technical problems with one of its aircraft.
The airline said that after Sunday's ceremony the plane successfully completed a flight to Hong Kong.

–From a BBC News story, September 5, 2007.

What size would you like your fakery?

“Now that we have entered the knowledge-based society, we have to deal with an overflow of fake knowledge.”

–South Korean prosecutor Moon Moo-il, speaking about that country’s problems with falsified credentials.

How much fake knowledge is too much?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

"Bad Actors"--A Play in Six Bad Acts

Video of the August 29th Special "Lack of Public Notice but it Doesn't Matter Because We're Really not Doing Anything" Council Non-Meeting with the CDC Board in six ten-minute segments here.