Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Phoenixville and the "Gimmes"

Standing in line at a local grocery market I witnessed a short exchange between a father and two small children.

"I want a candy bar.", said the little girl as she gazed up at her Dad with big blue eyes.

"Not now, honey, when we get home I'm going to make your lunch."

"But, I really want that candy now!", she persisted.

"No!", said the harried Dad as he unloaded his cart.

The bigger brother brazenly started a chant, "Gimme candy, gimme candy."

The cute but manipulative twosome joined forces raising Dad's blood pressure and their voices in a cacophony of "GIMME, GIMME, GIMME!!"

Exasperated Dad grabbed a couple of candy bars and threw them on the conveyor belt.

Some children learn early in life the art of demanding "gimmes".

In a public place, a public spectacle is created first with a small demand, which then by design, escallates into a larger situation under very public scrutiny. Suffer embarrassment or give in to the gimmes?

The "Gimme" is learned behavior set up by an attitude of permissiveness, and some entities in Phoenixville have learned their lesson well due to the mind-set of certain members of Council.

Gimme a piece of Second Avenue and permission to close it for a monstrous white elephant of a building. Never mind that it will destroy neighborhoods and change lives forever in the heart of the community.

Gimme the right to develop a parcel of property I can't prove I own.

Gimme ordinance changes so a non-compliant property becomes deemed compliant with what I want to build.

Gimme monies for a public/private partnership.

Gimme a Parking Authority to make parking spaces available for the downtown district, and sometime in the future we'll address relief for crowded residential areas for the next generation.

Gimme a valuable piece of taxpayer owned property on Prospect Street to set us up in business so we can entice a bank to loan us millions of dollars for a parking garage which may be filled to capacity once a month.

Gimme a guarantee that the taxpayers of Phoenixville will foot the bill for a bank loan if the parking garage fails.

Gimme a majority of Council willing to risk the hard earned tax monies of the residents of Phoenixville.

And, after all the gimmes, gimme your trust and gimme more time to finally develop a believeable and viable business plan.

Folks, I remember Barry Cassidy, Parking Authority Director, speaking recently before Council, stating the half-million dollar taxpayer owned assets of Prospect Street lot would be ‘used to secure a collateralized loan’.

Last month, Barry came back to Council and stated, "“The bank has issues with the way the agreement [of sale] is written.”


THAT should raise alarm bells for Phoenixville Borough Council members. This project is too risky for a bank to underwrite even with the collateral of OUR assets.

Rather than discuss the situation in committee, allowing for public input and scrutiny, what follows is not a period of public disscussion and contemplation on a proposal financial experts are unwilling to accept, but an full blown, already drafted request for Council to address scheduling a hearing on a new ordinance:





Thanks to Councilman Ken Buckwalter, the entire proposed ordinance can be found at http://www.watchingphoenixville.com

Obviously, the development and drafting of this new ordinance took place somewhere beyond the public venue and by persons as yet unknown. The many hours required for the development of the language and considerations therein had to incur more legal and other costs to the taxpayer. Who is making these decisions to spend taxpayer dollars without the knowledge of the full Council?

Why would an ordinance quickly be drafted and presented, with the over-burdened taxpayer again holding the bag, when at least one bank considers the requested Parking Authority loan to be very risky business?

Council, giving into the "Gimmes" has to stop.


Anonymous said...

This is our town, not Barry and Jean's! Why don't we have a say in how our money is spent! I want my walls painted, my windows replaced, and to replace my carpets with hard wood...there's no way in the world anyone would just do that for me. I get things done on my own. And the more money I pay in taxes the less I can do to my property. So here's my gimme...GIMME A BREAK!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Vince Fumo knows!!! Gimme his jail cell number and we can talk.

You forgot to mention high school basketball coaches. Gimme players we legally can't have.

And don't forget past pasd admin. Gimme polluted land and we'll spend $5 million on it for nothing.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of gimmee, just how much do the officers of the Parking Authority anticipate they will be removing for their own salaries? Has anyone even asked?

Anonymous said...

You don't have a say because only 5 people out of 50 stuck out the meeting until 11:30.Why is the parking authority handing back 15% of the total fines($22,000) already collected by the Police Dept.none of which is generated downtown,when the boro is already getting 100% of these same fines?Use ONE YEAR of BC salary that is already budgeted and let the CDC gaurantee this loan.Kudos to council for asking for some type of game plan before wasting another 100,000 that won't ever be paid back.Seems to me that when you have a 45 minute wait at Iron Hill,PJ'S or Molley's the issue isn't parking it's Restaurant space.And why is the Foundry Parking Lot closed on the busiest nights of the week.I'll tell you why,because after the fourth of july the Hankins ask the CDC to clean the trash at the parking lot and they refused .Then asked the Boro for a street sweeper and was refused.Real nice that the Foundry did this after just recieving a COMMUNITY AWARD FROM THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.Where is the Chamber Director on this one.

Anonymous said...

It is very disappointing to see the Foundry parking lot blocked off and it's use banned by downtown customers. This after tax payer grant money to the tune of $5million dollars was spent to preserve it sufficiently so that Hankin can buy it for $1 million. Now we can't even use the parking lot when there is NO function at the Foundry and it is otherwise sitting empty. Where is the fairness in that. I want our $5 million back.

Anonymous said...

Greed and Greed. I thought all these downtown organizations were supposed to work together.(CDC-PABA-MAIN STREET).Since the foundry was restored with public money and sold at a discounted price ,where are the PAEDCO officers and why aren't they mediating any of this with Hankin.The board of PAEDCO was the WHO'S WHO of Phoenixville.Seems like everything else in this Boro,The high and mighty fight for what they want and then after its built seem to disappear and the TAXPAYERS are left hold the bag.

Anonymous said...

There is an agenda item on the Planning Board's Agenda for tomorrow nite (8-13-09) which reads "Review of Proposed Ordinance". Could this perhaps be the same ordance?????

Anonymous said...

Not likely August 12, 2009 5:30:00 PM EDT. The Planning Commission has nothing to do with ordinances that aren't part of development or zoning and even then their recommendations are frequently ignored.

Anonymous said...

Just as I though I was off the hook and again could start being proud to say, when queried, "I'm from Phoenixville", all hell breaks loose with HG, Library, school athletics and government, etc.

Phoenixville is fast becoming the laughing stock of Chester County as it once was.

Now I'm back to saying "I'm from Chester County". At least I'm not laughed at.

Anonymous said...

I too stopped saying I'm from town. The majority bafoons running Borough Council and the majority of the School Board have turned this town into the same very old joke it was many, many years ago. They should be ashamed of their gross incompetance.

Jeff Senley said...

I've looked into the political crystal ball on this issue.

Even though public participation will be solidly against this ordinance at the public hearing, there will only be 3 votes against it, so it will pass.

Might as well start making the loan payments now, as there is no indication of any pending Parking Authority revenue.

On 3 separate occasions since the inception of the Parking Authority, I publicly posed the question regarding what financing the Parking Authority will need from the Borough for budgeting purposes.

The answer all 3 times was "zero". This is what we currently have budgeted.

The Parking Authority needs to request a loan of funds from Council, that request needs to go through the budget process, and be approved as a line item for 2010.

It's real simple and straightforward.

But, since that won't be politically expedient, look for Council to ignore that process and move ahead.

Karen said...

Thanks for weighing in on this issue, Jeff.

Unfortunate for you and a few of your colleagues, you are seated on a Council the likes of which I've never seen in my lifetime.