Today's Column Today
Ruinations and more ruinations as prosecutors and other lawyer-types run amok...
Havertown political crank, Joe Breslin, speaks for a lot of Delaware County residents when he blasts the selective prosecution of Haverford Township Commissioner Fred Moran.
Breslin writes that he is "outraged" that Moran was charged, tried and convicted of soliciting a bribe when he was clearly acting in what he believed to be the best interests of township residents.
The only thing Moran was guilty of was "trying to secure an additional $500,000 for the taxpayers from the Haverford State Hospital developer in order to keep taxes down and to avoid a tax increase."
Breslin points to a recently published report about the antics of Philadelphia City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell who refused to introduce legislation to build the $12 million Youth Study Center without receiving something "positive" for West Philadelphia constituents. For her efforts, Blackwell garnered some $11 million in projects funded by other taxpayers.
If, as the prosecuting attorney Assistant Attorney General Marc Costanzo, claimed in the case against Moran, the bribery statute prohibits any "benefit," including the burnishing of one's own political standing, it could just as easily be applied to Blackwell, not to mention a hundred other politicians.
Will it? No.
Expect, Moran's attorney, Tom Bergstrom, to argue such prosecutorial selectivity in his appeals. And rightly so.
* * *
Apparently, I upset Newtown Square Commissioner Linda Houldin the other day with my mentioning the Attorney General's office and her efforts to negotiate a settlement between two warring developers in the township.
According to one of the developers, George Spaeder, Houldin called him Wednesday morning in tears asking if he read my account of the meeting she arranged between him and Claude de Botton. He hadn't yet.
He told me she said I demanded she be investigated for soliciting a bribe. In fact, I had suggested the exact opposite. It was the AG I was took a shot at (see the above item), not Linda.
George said he realized that after he read the column for himself. I told him to call Linda and explain it to her. (She is not returning my calls, including one I made to her the day before the column ran.)
I have been tough on Linda recently for her asinine and clumsy treatment of the BPG Town Center project. But I thought what she did in this case was fine.
Now, if she will just learn how to read.
* * *
And then there's former Penn Delco School Board member John Green...
This week he pleaded no contest to a felony ethics violation for failing to disclose commissions he received from his company for work done for the school district.
According to prosecutors, Green knowingly failed to disclose $838.66 in commissions he was paid over three years.
A quick story to illustrate my feelings on this subject.
When I was in the second grade and in the hospital recovering from an operation, my mother read to me from a book called "The Great Big Book of Jokes."
One night, she read me this:
"Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over a candlestick. Big deal."
At the time, I thought that was about the funniest thing I ever heard.
Now, though people getting charged with felonies isn't funny, I feel the same way about this.
As in: John be nimble, John be quick, John failed to disclose his $800 jump over a candlestick.
* * *
There is also this bit of news out of Penn Delco:
From the same people who brought you Keith Crego, introducing Penn Delco's newest school board president, Anthony "Get Steffi" Ruggieri.
After a year on the board, what qualifies Ruggieri for the board presidency? Could it be his extensive experience, his keen intellect and verbal acuity?
Ah, probably not.
It's his canine-like ability to take orders from GOP bosses like Republican leader Joe Possenti.
Back in the day, former school board president Crego complained in a famous e-mail to the township Republican boss that he didn't appreciate all the stuff he'd gotten his "lackeys" in the district to do for him. That's what Crego called them, "lackeys."
Crego is out, charged with multiple felonies. But Possenti's lackeys are in.
It's a new day in Penn Delco.