Saturday, June 19, 2010

Comment of the Week...

Franknsq, a commenter on Friday's column about the illegal wine run in Newtown Square, wants to know...
Who is investigating the ILLEGAL rental of former Commissioner John (Jack) DiPompeo???
Why isn't the same scrutiny and input of time of this opinion writer given to an ELECTED public official who ILLEGALLY rented a portion of their home and such scrutiny is given to a bottle of wine for a cancer fundraiser???

This would be a legitimate question if I hadn't written about the DiPompeo matter. But I have. Read about it here.

What is interesting about these two cases, is that one of them was actually pursued by township officials and local law enforcement and the other, so far, hasn't been.

Former supervisor DiPompeo claims that his renting the in-law quarters of his home to a Gulf War vet and his wife for a reduced rate amounts to a de minimus violation of the township zoning code. That is arguable. Just as it is arguable that a township secretary running to Delaware to buy wine for her "boss" isn't the crime of the century either.

What is different here is that the township moved against DiPompeo. Township officials "investigated" the claim and BROUGHT CHARGES and IMPOSED FINES against DiPompeo. No such investigation, that I am aware of, has been conducted concerning the wine run. In fact, something much closer to a cover-up has been employed to protect a sitting supervisor implicated in e-mails as the prime mover behind it.

The secretary, Gwen Toyzer, told me she lied in her e-mails about who and what the wine was for and that she never actually went to Delaware to get it. She told me she signed an affidavit to that effect. When I asked her who asked her to sign such a statement she said "no one."

I find that odd. Just about everyone I've talked to about the matter does to.

In the DiPompeo case, he claims that he is a victim of selective enforcement and a political vendetta for switching parties. That a Newtown Square policeman showed up at his door shortly before Election Day to "investigate" his violation of the borough zoning code give credence to his suspicions. But when I talked to him about it last year, he seemed to understand that the borough code is the borough code and he was violating it.

There may be something to his claim of selective enforcement, though. Especially given how township officials have handled
the wine run matter.

It is illegal to cross state lines to buy booze. It inappropriate for township employees to run personal or political errands for elected officials on township time. So far though we have yet to hear from Board of Supervisors President Linda Houldin, the person for whom Toyzer claimed to be acting. She has had plenty of time to get a story straight. And plenty of help from other actors in getting Gwen to make a statement taking all blame on herself.

I have no doubt that the people who leaked the wine run e-mails have political motivations for doing so. But what's good for the gander is good for the goose. And this goose is starting to taste a little gamey.

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