Tag Archives: West Chester

House Bill 809 would further cut local control

By Nathaniel Smith, Columnist, The Times of Chester County, July 28, 2015

Bill would let state make housing, zoning choices instead of local communities

Along with about 50 other people, I attended a hearing at West Chester Borough Hall on July 20 about House Bill 809 proposed to the PA House of Representatives.

On the positive side, we have a democratic process that allows citizens to find out what our legislators are doing and to hear differing views in a public forum.

On the negative side, the bill is a total disaster, as was made clear by speakers from West Chester, Lower Merion, Millersville, and State College. (Four realtors and landlords spoke for the bill, however.)

The principle is very clear, in my view, just what Mike McGann enunciated in his July 20 opinion piece on public education:

“What I am advocating for is to allow folks in local districts like Unionville to make their own choices – through their elected school board – on what is right for their community and school district. We don’t have that now.”

Does the state know best how a local school district should educate its own students? No.

Does the state know best how a municipality should zone property use for the benefit of its own residents? No.

House Bill 809, currently before the Committee on Local Government, would radically cut into municipalities’ ability to regulate rental properties. …

read more at The Times of Chester County

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Filed under Nathaniel Smith, PA govt & politics

Promises, promises

Here’s my current favorite campaign promise, from at least two West Chester Borough Council candidates’ mailers: Balanced budgets without raising taxes (their emphasis).

Well, great. Who could oppose that? If anyone knew that secret, think how much better things would go in Harrisburg and Washington!

Some candidates promise to secure outside funding for important local projects. If anyone knew that secret, think how much better things would go in every county and municipality across the country!

Then candidates promise “openness” and “transparency”; I’m not quite sure how that goes beyond the state’s excellent Sunshine Act and Right to Know regulations.

It’s already illegal for an elected body to make decisions in secret (with some limited exceptions like personnel matters). The public can already contact their officials, attend meetings, and make comments at the meetings before a vote is taken. Transparency and openness are strongly in place; the public just has to care.

And of course candidates are all going to meet regularly with their future constituents, respect all opinions, and answer all emails. All I can say is: winners who don’t follow through deserve public critique.

And they are all trustworthy, public-spirited folks who want to make a difference and give back to their community (two of my least favorite expressions).

In many cases, someone in a party office or outside organization (thanks to the wisdom of the Roberts court) writes these flyers up and sends out variants on behalf of their favored candidates.

But very few candidates mention their party affiliation or what outside organizations support them. Some, after they win the election, truly listen to constituents, learn on the job, and exercise independent judgment; some (as we see all too often in Washington) don’t know how, don’t care, or don’t dare.

I’m a detail person myself. In my view:

1) Comparison shop, and if 2+ candidates use the same wording, it’s probably not their own;

2) In a local election, candidates are often at the polls asking for your vote. And they should be! Their mailers and flyers have told you what they want to do; now ask them how they are going to carry out their promises and where the money is going to come from–before you go in to vote.

3) Ask candidates if they agree or disagree with their own party’s standard positions on issues important to you.

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Filed under 2013 election, Local govt & politics, Nathaniel Smith

A remarkable man

Major General Smedley Butler wrote:

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations….

Yes, a remarkable man.

From Denton Sally Denton, The Plots Against the President: FDR, a Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right, quoted at “When The Bankers Plotted To Overthrow FDR” at NPR Books, 2/12/12:

…The Wall Street Putsch, as it’s known today, was a plot by a group of
right-wing financiers.

“They thought that they could convince Roosevelt, because he was of their, the patrician class, they thought that they could convince Roosevelt to relinquish power to basically a fascist, military-type government,” Denton says.

“It was a cockamamie concept,” she adds, “and the fact that it even got as far as it did is pretty shocking.”

The conspirators had several million dollars, a stockpile of weapons and had even reached out to a retired Marine general, Smedley Darlington Butler, to lead their forces.

“Had he been a different kind of person, it might have gone a lot further,” Denton says. “But he saw it as treason and he reported it to Congress.”…

Denton says that as she was writing the book, she was struck by the parallels between the treatment of Roosevelt and that of Barack Obama. For example, a cottage industry much like the birther movement grew up around proving that the Dutch-descended Roosevelt was actually a secret Jew.

–Bill McLaughlin

For more on local and national hero Smedley Darlington Butler, see also:

“War Is A Racket” by Smedley Darlington Butler

“Historical Interlude: Smedley Butler and Benito Mussolini” by John Grant

“The Business of War (an excerpt about Smedley Butler)” by Wade Frazier

“War Is a Racket” by Amy Goodman

“BBC: Bush’s Grandfather Planned Fascist Coup In America” by Paul Joseph Watson

“Smedley Darlington Butler of West Chester” by Nathaniel Smith

“When The Bankers Plotted To Overthrow FDR” by Nathaniel Smith

“Smedley Butler,” Wikipedia

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Filed under Peace, Security, Terrorism, War