Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh, Dem Ruby Slippers

In another township development deal gone bad for some politicians, former Haverford Township commissioner Fred Moran went on trial yesterday for "bribery."

The case is going to be a tough one to make, although Moran made it a little easier describing what he was asking of the developer was "extortion."

That he used the word in front of a political enemy (Andy Lewis) and to the developer himself suggests an innocence of mind.

After all, he was not asking for the money to put in his own pocket. According to his lawyer, he was "renegotiating" the purchase of the Haverford State Property so that the township, which was facing a budget short-fall, would get something out it.

The prosecution's theory is that he was requesting the money in order to enhance his political power. Maybe. But if that's a crime, every pork-scarfing pol in America ought to be locked up.

Moran's problem was the crudity with which he made his request/demand.

When it comes to asking developers to contribute to township's common good, like getting the ruby slippers off dorothy, it must be done "delicately."

Moran is certainly guilty of being indelicate. Whether he is guilty of anything else is more doubtful.


Anonymous randal said...

What Moran did was no different that what Supervisor Linda Houldin in Newtown addmitted to when she said she was holding up that project to get more money out of the developer, just because she could.
It has become commonplace to extort from developers in this way and by making unreasonable demands of them.
"You want to do this in our town? Then contribute to our Open Space Fund and do all these expensive, non-related traffic improvements."
All these local planners have become corrupt with their little bit of power.

November 20, 2007 at 10:30 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spencer, are you kidding me? What connection do you have to this man? You pound away at other officials for much smaller amounts of money but this guy you let skate by. Doesn't make sense. We are talking about 500K. You are slippery and a joke of a reporter. You pick your subjects based upon your "feel" for them. You are not a good person and you continue to show it.

November 20, 2007 at 12:39 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred Moran did what every politician does when there is a large project that needs to be approved. Ridley Township, for instance, will not approve anything until there is money provided for some other project. Fred Moran must go free! If he is convicted then the developers will rule our communities.

November 20, 2007 at 1:43 PM 
Blogger whynotus said...

There must be more to this case, Gil...if not, I can't see how it got past a preliminary hearing. The theory of trying to enhance his own political clout by shaking down the developer is interesting, but seems new to me, and usually you do not get pinched on new crimes. If the money was going to him, or a family member or friend, or something more tangible than his perceived clout, fine, otherwise, purely speculative and nothing that every public official doe not do to better their community.

November 20, 2007 at 6:30 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Nope. I think this is pretty much the case.

Which is why, I bet, Pete Tozer threw half of it out before another judge re-instated some of the charges.

I wrote a little more about it for tomorrow. Right now it is in the jury's hands and they've been sent home for the night.

We'll see tomorrow.

November 20, 2007 at 7:17 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gil, I appreciate your point of view that "extracting" additional sums from a developer for the betterment of the community and its constituents or "the common good" is not a crime however you seem to ignore the notion that a developer is also a member of the community and one of its constituents.
Furthermore, it seems to ignore the fact that the rules of development are enumerated in each Township's Subdivision and Land Developement Code and its Ordinances which are further regulated under the Municipal Planning Code of the State Pa. Within those rules, Municipalities can legally impose fee structures to be uniformly applied. From a Developer's point of view these can be anticipated, budgeted for and capitalized within a project. I submit to you that in circumstances where in the hours leading up to a Final Plan Approval a Township's representatives choose to "play hardball politics" by extracting extra money from a developer "for the Taxpayors" a crime has been committed.
To appreciate this perspective you need to consider the Developer's point of view more thoughtfully. Option (A)Pay the extraction (its not negotiable) get your approval and begin development, Option (B)Just say no, subject yourself to an improper if not illegal denial of your plan and then sue the Township. Of course option (B) will result in substantial project delays and costs such as, legal fees, interest expenses, taxes and insuance.
To regard this activity as legal, gives license to a Board of Supervisors or its Solicitor to measure the consequences of (B) and steal up to that value.
Of course, in the context of your articles concerning Newtown, it would seem safe to assume, some Developers will be subject to this process while other "insiders" would be exempt.
I have read many of your articles on fairness, governance and the desire for transparency and I am surprised by your one-sided view in this case.

November 21, 2007 at 10:30 AM 
Blogger whynotus said...

is it true he was found guilty earlier this afternoon?

November 21, 2007 at 1:09 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If he is guilty the next one the District Attorney should go after is Linda Houldin in Newtown. She stated to you she was holding up that development for "mo money" as you put it. Unless you are not being truthful then she is as guilty as he is. Lets see if she skates by because of her cronies in Media. That will tell all

November 21, 2007 at 4:29 PM 
Anonymous jeremy19015 said...


Wrong again, Gil!

Can't wait to see if your prediction that your source/accused Penn Delco felon John Green will get ARD, turns out to be wrong, too!

November 21, 2007 at 5:16 PM 
Blogger David Diano said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 22, 2007 at 9:05 AM 
Anonymous Jake said...

See Gil you are wrong once again. GUILTY he was found. He is guilty of a felony. Some how I think you know this man, otherwise you would have been in attack mode. If the rumors are true on the streets of delco, you and your paper should be careful of your print. Law suits are very easy to file.

November 22, 2007 at 3:46 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Green will not get ARD. He will get probation. They can not give him ARD. He was/is a public official and will not allow him to to be able to sit on another board. My opinion is that there is more to green than any of us know but I am sure we will find out soon.

November 22, 2007 at 3:48 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sure if Moran where a Democrat he would be guilty as sin!

November 22, 2007 at 6:01 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well there's a few things in play here. first, it was andy lewis and his gang on a political witch hunt, with lewis setting up moran, who was just plain stupid for falling into the trap.

then you have the grand jury investigation, another political witch hunt, with andy lewis and his dad drew lewis with his big contributor money calling the shots. lewis' enemies got squished, while his allies went scott free even though they were dirty too. watch for a big contribution from drew lewis to pa attorney general tom corbett in his next election.

then you have george twardy singing and then walking away whistling. a big miscarriage of justice there.

so lewis sets up moran, lewis' pals walk, twardy walks, and we call this a big clean-up? what a crock! just another political power play, with gray-haired moran pushed aside for fair-haired boy lewis and his daddy's money. same old dog show, different dogs.

November 22, 2007 at 11:46 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1146pm anonymous -

Drew Lewis gave $750Gs to Bruce Castor when he was running against Tom Corbett, so why do you think Corbett was doing Lewis's bidding here?

Fred Moran has been corrupt for many years. Just ask the paving contractor. Fred just got nailed for one small thing in a lifetime of ripping off the taxpayers.

November 23, 2007 at 4:10 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gil Spencer is reprehensible. Trying to control the public's (and DA's office's?) opinion of which crimes should be prosecuted and which should not based on nothing but who he likes and who he doesn't.

I have never seens such arrogance, and so undeserved. If you wanted to be a judge, you should have set your sights quite a bit higher than "opinion" columnist, Spencer.

November 24, 2007 at 3:44 AM 
Anonymous randal said...

Oh brother. Grow up. Get a hold of your feelings.

November 24, 2007 at 3:02 PM 
Anonymous Vincento said...


There is actually a difference between what Moran did and what Linda Houldin is doing in Newtown Square.

Linda Houldin isn't just trying to get more money from the developer for the betterment of the community, as Moran did.

Instead, it appears that Linda Houldin is trying to put the brakes on the Berwind Town Center for the betterment of her buddy Claude Debottom.

If Moran was convicted for what he did, Linda Houldin should have the book thrown at her.

November 24, 2007 at 6:09 PM 
Blogger patbiswanger said...

I have no idea if what you are saying about Linda Houldin is true or not, but it is not comparable to what Fred Moran did.

Fred Moran offered to make the zoning process go more smoothly if the developer coughed up another $500,000. That's called "selling your office."

If, however, as you claim, Ms. Houldin is holding up one development to try to favor another, then the question is, what are her motives?

If it's because she thinks the other development is better for the community, it's (probably) perfectly OK.

If it's because she will personally benefit from the other development in some way, she's probably OK too.

That's what George Twardy did: he manipulated the Haverford State selection process to favor the developer he thought would be best for his political ambitions. And according to the grand jury, that's perfectly OK.

So George Twardy is your comparator, not Fred Moran.

Either way, great company to be in!

November 26, 2007 at 11:53 PM 
Anonymous randal said...

In the article in the Daily Times Ms. Houldin admitted to holding out for more money from the developers before she’ll give her green light for the project. That’s extortion too. And her motives are indeed even more questionable than Moran’s. She is no doubt nervous about him being found guilty. She should be.

November 27, 2007 at 11:35 AM 
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