West Vincent Republican Committee
Hosts Public Forum Discussion
Issues response to a letter from "Republicans for Sara Shick"
A group calling themselves Republicans for Sara Shick recently sent a letter to the voters in West Vincent Township. The letter was paid for by Sara Shick and is full of unsubstantiated claims and outright lies.
To the uninformed reader, the letter paints an image of the Republican Committee, Mike Schneider (current Supervisor), John Jacobs (former Supervisor) and George Dulchinos (current Supervisor and candidate) as real slackers that do nothing for the community.
It is our job as your committee to set the record straight and make the facts known.
The Letter from David Brown
Paid for by candidate Sara Shick
Important Note: The letter "signer" William A Cooper Jr was never asked to have his name included nor had he any prior knowledge of this letter. He stated these facts at the Forum and was adamant that the public be made aware that his name was used without his consent or knowledge. We can only guess how many other names were used without consent.
An Invitation to a Public Forum Discussion
David Brown, Sara Shick, and everyone listed as "signers" of the letter were publicly invited on October 21 by an announcement at a West Vincent Township meeting. In addition, David Brown received a typewritten invitation personally delivered to his property. A table was prepared for the invitees. Of these, only one person showed up... to state that he knew nothing of the letter nor had he given permission for his name to be included in the letter. One has to wonder how many others are just like him? Ted Mollegan, Senior Advisor to the Shick Campaign, did attend but made no comments in support of the letter or otherwise.
Update 10/29: David Brown doubles down and releases "an alert" that the letter accurately reflects his position in support for Sara Shick. David is a lawyer. Take notice that he did not address the accuracy of the statements in the letter.
Complete Video and Point-by-Point Response
The meeting highlights are summarized below along with a point-by-point response. You really should take the time to watch the meeting video. The forum response will be very enlightening (and perhaps shocking) to the trusting voter who has taken the letter at face value.
Committee Response to Letter Claims
LETTER CLAIM #1: When was the last time anyone of them asked your opinion about anything. We're guessing the answer is never.
FACT: Sara Shick and David Brown are "guessing" wrong!
We replaced the same stale people that held the Committee positions for two decades and have continued to get new blood (forum video) into the team with new ideas
We are constantly talking to people (forum video). How else would we attract new participants in the committee and widen our volunteer base? By regular communications with the community.
We deliver election materials for the Primary and the General Elections. We personally hang those materials on your mailbox. We do this so that you can make an informed decision on Election Day. It takes hours of dedication to personally fill those bags and have teams go out at all hours of the night to make sure you know about the people running for office. Once you read the literature and know the candidates, then you can do your own research and make an informed decision. Literature was rarely delivered by the committee we replaced.
LETTER CLAIM #2: When was the last time there was a real search for Township appointees? Not in years. This group uses Township appointments to reward cronies and merit is irrelevant.
FACT: A Completely FALSE ASSERTION. New positions are advertised regularly, unlike when David Brown was Supervisor and Committee man.
In the days of the David Brown/Ken Miller Administration, the same people were chosen to sit on multiple township committees, and in that roster of names that appeared over and over was Sara Shick. At one point she held three committee appointments simultaneously! The old Administration never ran ads looking for qualified people with one exception -- the newly formed Trash Task Force. In that case, two Supervisors openly admitted at a Township meeting that they already had specific people in mind when they ran the ads.
This Administration has strived to replace people and fill openings. Ads are run on the township website. People send in their qualifications. The Supervisors actively search and have been very successful. Cronies? Over half of the people appointed or reappointed to Township positions weren't even personally known by Mike Schneider to John Jacobs. Jacobs and Schneider appointed the new committee members because they were qualified. Several are ardent supporters of the opposition party but their political beliefs are irrelevant. The Supervisors felt the appointees had the qualifications to do the right job for the Township and its residents regardless of their political affiliation.
It's interesting that someone can talk about cronyism, but is currently making promises for positions if she wins. Here is an example recently posted on Facebook:
How many other promises has she made that include your taxpayer money?
LETTER CLAIM #3: When was the last time their Supervisor candidate was anyone but their own Committeemen? Hard to remember, isn't it?
FACT: We hold an open call for potential candidates to be endorsed.
The Committee that operated under David Brown/Ken Miller era never had open meetings searching for Candidates. They had friends to run and and supported them. Talk about a closed group! As a side note, Ken Miller and David Brown (Former administration people we have replaced, with David Brown being the letter writer) held both the position of Supervisor and Committeeman at the same time.
Both of our Committee people (Jacobs and Schneider) that won the position of Supervisor, stepped down as Committeeman, when they were elected. It is not illegal to hold the positions simultaneously and it is very common to keep the position (both Parties do it). We just felt it was time for new people to come on board and did not want it to be viewed as some kind of conflict.
The current Republican Committee advertises and holds a meeting every year for people interested in running for office. In fact, Ted Otteni, one of the endorsers on the above letter was interviewed for the position of Republican candidate for Supervisor. He had the endorsement until he said he was pro-eminent domain (forum video). We are absolutely against the taking of people's property unless it is a matter of absolute need, such as public safety. Needless to say, he did not get the endorsement. Consequently, he ran as a Democrat. In the end, he proved that he did not hold Republican values. This is exactly the purpose of interviews. Here is the Eminent Domain that took place under the prior Administration. The people that lead the fight against the proceedings? The same people that got rid of the old Administration and have cleaned things up.
As we won elected positions and removed the old Committee people, old guard feared losing seats and power. In an effort to protect their power base, David Brown (Letter writer, and Committee man at that time) rewrote the by-laws just prior to the election. The by-laws changes were in conflict with the Chester County Republican By-laws, making them illegal. He wrote that in the event of a tie for candidate endorsement, he (David Brown, letter writer) got another vote, in essence making him a Super Committeeman. over-ruling other committee people votes. In the end, the re-write was thrown out by the County Party.
The Republican headquarters admonished David Brown for his actions. He was replaced in the next election by the voters. Forum Video Discussion on this Topic
LETTER CLAIM #4:They don't run the Township well. Ask them why...
This is just a partial list of accomplishments and savings: forum video
With reference to managing our infrastructure, here is the township's first ever Overall Road Evaluation Report that was created to guide the repair plan. This is something that never existed prior to the new Administration - repairs were performed on an ad hoc basis.
In the first year the current Administration took control, there were no reserve funds - everything was pre-spent or dedicated to a project. Since then, Jacobs and Schneider managed to put $1,200,000 in the bank. It has grown every year since. This was not the practice from the days that Sara Shick wants to return to.
Here is a section of the minutes from back in the "old days":
That $950,000 was indeed not a surplus, it was funds that were spoken for. 7 months later the Former manager admits there is no extra money saved in the Township accounts:
Now, let's do a comparison. 2013-15 is the old Administration, 2016-2018 is the New Administration of Jacobs and Schneider. In just the first year they increased the balance by almost $1.5 million!
Is this what David Brown and Sara Shick call mis-management?!
LETTER CLAIM #5: After the previous board placed the Bryn Coed acquisition in their lap (they've left the so-called Township park disfigured with its old cow barns which should have been taken down 2 years ago.
FACT: The Township has owned the property for just over one year, and here are more clarifications.......
The Bryn Coed acquisition was not "placed in the New Administration's lap" (forum video). The Former Administration was made an offer by Natural Lands Trust and they flatly turned it down. The same offer was proposed to the New Administration, it was reviewed and they agreed to work with the Trust to purchase 72 acres which is now the park. That transaction was CRITICAL as a good faith endorsement by the Township. This assisted the Natural Lands Trust in creating a package to protect the 1500 acres of the Bryn Coed Farm from becoming over 1000 homes. Instead it will only contain about 39 deed restricted parcel properties. It is said, it is the largest land preservation done to date in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and would most likely never have happened if the new Administration of Jacobs and Schneider had not acted quickly.
The Township didn't own the property 2 years ago. Two years ago, the township did not own the property, and in fact, had not even made a decision to demolish the cow barns. The Board (which at the time included David Brown) was holding discussions with residents regarding the future of the facility. The Township completed the purchase in July of 2018 (1 year and 3 months ago). The demolition is a significant effort and the past year has been spent preparing and bidding the contract. This is not a small job. A number of bids have been received ranging up to $2,000,000+ dollars.
LETTER CLAIM #6: They have brought the township to hostile arbitration with our outstanding Police force, over a 3% side issue?
FACT: While in arbitration, it is neither hostile nor a side issue.
Brown/Shick don't want to mention this has to do with the Police having to do what everyone else in the world does, which is pay 3%, or more, of their health insurance premium. The National Average is 18%. How much do you pay towards your own Health Insurance? Listen carefully to the deal. In the end, it costs the police $0. The Supervisors feel strongly about keeping all costs borne by the taxpayer low. That is their job. Here is a discussion at a township meeting which addresses the issue. You decide.
LETTER CLAIM #7: In the past 2 years, not a single practical step has been taken on Open Space protection, despite their receiving $5,000,000 from the sale of the sale of the sewer systems (another legacy from the previous Board).
FACT: Let's start with the $1.1 million spent in two years that includes a 70+ acre park acquisition.
In the past two years,$1,100,000 has been spent to preserve open space (forum video). This includes 100 acres (16 Years LLC project). 50 acres (18 years LLC project) and the Bryn Coed acquisition. the first two were done negotiating the the numbers instead of just paying the number requested. 16 Years LLC was negotiated, saving the Township taxpayers $75,000. In both of cases, the deal was done in a cooperative effort with other funding sources, so the Township cost (taxpayer burden) was substantially less than if they had used only Open Space monies Both of those properties are retained by the owner but development rights have been stripped, lessening development.
In the case of Bryn Coed Park, the Township OWNS the property so it is able to be used by all the residents and now has a 1.4 mile walking trail on it. That trail was built by volunteers at a cost to the township (taxpayer) of coffee, donuts and water. Lot's of water. It was 90 degrees plus and almost 100% humidity some of the days. The design was created, mapped, and flagged by a volunteer, Bill Holderness (and sometimes the assistance of Supervisor Mike Schneider) at no cost to the Township. Supervisors Mike Schneider and George Dulchinos worked to build the trail weekend after weekend along with about 8 other people (an open call for volunteers was made ever week on Facebook as well as advertising on the Township page) to have it done for the residents enjoyment. Sara Shick appeared only for the Grand Opening ribbon cutting wearing her campaign button. Talk about grand standing!
...and continuing, to address the $5,000,000 from the sale of the sale of the sewer systems which is claimed to be another legacy from the previous Board
Yes, that is definitely a legacy nobody can forget. The sewer systems are actually 5 different development systems that are not interconnected. The township developments water and sewer system design or treatment type is approved by the Township engineer. All of the public sewer systems were installed, as Brown and Shick assert, under the former administration.
When Schneider and Jacobs became the majority on the Board of the township, they discovered that one of the developments had sewer operating costs that were so high, the former Administration was SUBSIDIZING their rate with General Fund money to the tune of over $40,000/year. That was your taxpayer dollars paying for someone else's sewage disposal. They knew that had to be changed.
Another development sewer system barely brought enough in to pay to operate it. Neither system had money to replace the plant when it required major maintenance or rebuilding (Capital Reserve) and would have been a huge financial obligation. That huge financial burden would have been borne by all the citizens of West Vincent Township a few years down the road, even the majority of the residents have their own on-site sewage disposal (septic system).
LETTER CLAIM #8: Township government needs to open up and get moving.
FACT: The Forum discussion (documented in video) with its statements, facts and figures has shown everything Sara Shick and David Brown to be untrue.
Unlike the reactionary former Administration, the current board has looked toward the future and has initiated many actions; by making these changes now, we will lower costs in the future for all taxpayers. This involves a great amount of time and effort by dedicated people that understand the dynamics of business, how to negotiate the best deals and balance it with investments that will pay off in the future. One example is the interest increase (forum video) (around a 500%) paid on Township capital. The increased yield brings in about an additional $100,000 a year. Consider what it would take to receive that same income via taxes. A commercial development such as the Daycare facility next to the Library increased local tax revenue by $2,000 - it would take 50 of these to match the additional interest we are receiving thanks to the financial stewardship of the current Administration. And we get the same revenue benefit with no impact to the township residents or Township services. That is just one small change the new Administration made.
With examples like that, does anyone seriously really want to go back to the good old days of Sara Shick and former Supervisor David Brown?