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A blog that takes a look at West Chester area government, politics, and community events.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Seeing your own words twisted by political campaigns

It's amusing to see something you've written appear, totally out of context, on a campaign flyer.

An example:

"I recommend her, she's a Democrat."

-Paul Drucker, Democrat running for the 157th District State House seat, as quoted on Republican Guy Ciarrocchi's mailer "Extreme Partisan."

Ciarrocchi is trying to say that Drucker tried to get Susan Wachter, a former Clinton advisor, appointed to the Tredyffrin planning commission just because she was a Democrat.

Drucker's quote, which I meticulously transcribed on March 6, 2007 from a tape of a Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors meeting, actually reads:

"Susan Wachter was appointed by the President of the United States, she was approved by the Senate, and she was vetoed by the Tredyffrin Township Republican Board of Supervisors... I recommended her, she is a Democrat, and therefore it doesn't matter if Tredyffrin needs her. This is how things are done in executive session in this township. I can't prevent it, but I can make certain that you the voters know about it."

As far as I can tell, Ciarrocchi's object is to portray Drucker as a partisan who, to coin a phrase, "never goes against his own party."

Drucker has also engaged in his share of intellectual dishonesty. He sent out a mailing that claimed Guy Ciarrocchi, while a Tredyffrin supervisor, hired a convicted tax evader to be the township's finance director. Ciarrocchi did no such thing. The evader, Harry Marrone, was hired years before Guy became a supervisor. (He was caught embezzling money from the township while Guy was on the board, and he was fired immediately.)

The Drucker campaign defines "hire" strangely - if you're an elected official, you, in essence, rehire your staff every single moment. This is very Buddhist.

I wrote an article dealing with both of these campaign deceptions. There are two more major deceptions, which I meant to write about but did not have the space for.

-First, Ciarrocchi's claim, in a mailer and on a TV ad, that Drucker was fired from the board of the First Bank of Philadelphia.

According to John Nathan, who was President and CEO of the bank in 1994 when Drucker left the board, the reason for his resignation was that new investors were coming in to try to revive the beleaguered bank. They wanted their own people on the board of directors.

In Nathan's words:

"Basically, the previous management had not done well, and that had been recognized. So Paul and the rest of board bought me in to turn the organization around ... We did not know at time, and regulators did not know at time, how serious the problems were. As we got further and further into the books, we found out we had major problems. We were able to stop them and turn bank around. We brought in new investors to recapitalize the bank ... since they were putting in new capital, they wanted to have people they knew on board of directors, and they wanted a new management team ... as part of the resolution of the whole issue, our board resigned to be replaced by theirs, and our management resigned to be replaced by theirs. It was a congenial transaction, a way to save the bank, which later became the bridge by which Commerce Bank was able to enter the Pennsylvania market ... Paul may have resigned a little ahead the time everyone else did, but everything was in order. It was going to happen, and there was no reason to stick around under those circumstances."

You have to define "fired" somewhat liberally to be able to conclude that Drucker was fired. Even so, why is this relevant to a 2008 campaign for state house?

-Second, the Drucker campaign claimed that Ciarrocchi raised Tredyffrin's taxes by 420 percent.

This is outrageous. What Ciarrocchi actually did was vote in favor of the Emergency and Municipal Services tax, a $52 yearly tax most municipalities near Tredyffrin levy. The state passed a law allowing municipalities to levy it in place of the old $10 Business Privilege tax. The EMS tax comes out of the paychecks of people employed in (but not necessarily living in) the township . It goes to support emergency services (or at least it should). And, if you're not aware, apparently no one donates to volunteer fire companies anymore.

Is this a tax increase? Technically, it is. And Ciarrocchi has claimed that, while a Tredyffrin supervisor (a post he held for fewer than two years), he didn't raise taxes. But to say the EMS tax represents a 420 percent tax increase is misleading - when people hear tax increase, they think of an increase in property tax or earned income tax. The EMS tax is really more of a fee. Yes, I pay it. And no, I don't like paying it. But the people who work in my township pay it, so it's only fair.

What really frustrates me about the 157th district race is that THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT IDEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE CANDIDATES. AND WE MAY NEVER HEAR ABOUT THEM. Sure, some of my articles focus on (and perhaps legitimize) the attacks Drucker and Ciarrocchi have launched. But that's the direction the candidates have taken the race, and my job when writing news pieces is to tell people what did happen, not what should have happened.


Blogger D said...

Will you be writing about southern chester county politics - we have a race between 3 non-incumbent candidates for PA House District 13 and I'd love to see some coverage.

October 14, 2008 8:47 AM 
Blogger John V. Petersen said...

Your right, there are significant ideological differences. You should point people to my blog: for those insights as I have concentrated on the 157th.


October 15, 2008 3:16 AM 
Blogger D said...

"I'll give you the latest on the important local races no other media outlet is covering."

Sounds great but I don't see the coverage

October 15, 2008 8:53 AM 
Blogger D said...

If you are looking for content, try the website (I'm webmaster). Here are two things of note:

General Election - Tuesday, November 4, 7am-8pm
2008 General Election Voters Guide now available online!

PA House 13th District Debate on the web
The debate for the Pa House 13th District (Tom Houghton/John Lawrence/Ron Hershey) held on Oct. 9th was videotaped and can now be viewed at the following address:

October 15, 2008 8:58 AM 
Blogger baba booey said...

Can anyone please tell me if Shannon Royer ever had a job in the private sector? Also, did he ever apologize to the West Chester Police Department for the firing of a police officer for his D.U.I. coverup?

October 20, 2008 9:09 PM 

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