Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Council's New Year's Resolution

Anonymity is a strange thing, we as humans tend to hide behind it when we aren't brave enough to confront those we disagree with face to face.  Sometimes it's necessary so that a public persona is not damaged or if we are whistle blowing on a company we work for, but when it comes to political figures and elected officials why would someone want to hide their opinion?  Those people are in office because they won the majority of the vote and they are to speak for us.  If you disagree with a point, stance or opinion of theirs then it is your civic duty to let them know and do it "face to face." 

In the council meeting tonight a letter that had been addressed to each council person was about to be read in the open forum when the time came for "For the Good of The Order".  It started it out stating that the person had to do it anonymously and then legal council stepped in.  Once the smoke had cleared we all knew that the letter was not exactly praising staff as it was pronounced to be, but a letter to put down one specific council member.  Bet you can't guess who that might be...........

Before I go any further let me make this perfectly clear, I have not changed my position on many issues in the borough.  I am I tired of the legal wrangling that continues and do I now see a lot of what was started long ago as what I call "Council's Folly"?  Yes I do, but regardless of my position I have never hidden behind a wall of anonymity and I have never resorted to personal attacks that an official or staff member of the borough is evil incarnate.

For the Good of the Order, according to Robert's Rules for Dummies, is usually time set aside for members to offer comments or observations (without formal motions) about the society and its work, or time to offer a resolution to bring a disciplinary charge against a member for offenses committed outside of a meeting.  Normally in a borough council meeting notices of happenings in the borough are stated and kudos and "shout outs" are given for good deeds and events.  So as you see it is rarely used properly in this particular forum and again tonight it was misused.  The letter apparently contained slurs against one specific council member whom is disliked by many.  I will go on record that while my views on borough activities, ordinances and regulations most likely will be on the opposite side of the fence from this particular council person, she is not an evil woman and I can honestly say I like her and if it is for the betterment of the community I will willingly work with her.  However, there are just some people in this community that will not put differences aside.  You don't have to agree with the person, you don't have to even like them, but to constantly find ways to undermine and belittle them make you look small.  Making sure that this person does not get a chance to have her say, ask her questions and try to make her look more like a nuisance than someone who is trying to do the best that she can is shades of what we have in Washington DC and we can all see how far that has gotten us....right up to a cliff is where it has gotten us.  Do I agree with this person every time?  No.  Do long winded questions bother me? Yes. Do I and quite a few other people need to learn patience and humility?  Oh my yes.

I am asking as a citizen and resident of the Borough of Downingtown that the animosity stops here and now.  I am asking that chairpersons and presidents not let a little bit of power go to their head.  A little bit of decorum needs to be infused and a lot of humble pie needs to be eaten if things are going to get done around here.  Now is the's a new year...let that be your resolution.


  1. Elaine, I think you were too kind in your comments here.

    With your own very strong opinions on, well, quite a few things, you have not come close to the political machinations of a few members (and former members) of Council.

    Yes, I had to look ‘political machinations’ up to make sure I was using it correctly.

    “The act of plotting; a crafty scheme or cunning design for the accomplishment of a sinister end.”

    I don’t think any one of them should come out from behind the cloak of anonymity. We’ve all heard them verbally spit their venom. We’ve read lies written with such extreme hatred, I wonder if they are able to think – or talk - of anything else.

    I think it is obvious that some council members’ obsession to ‘break down’ one councilwoman, has gotten in the way of the reason why they were elected: TO SERVE THE RESIDENTS OF THE BOROUGH.


  2. Well Sarah to be honest I am not privvy to the entire content of the letter that was brought to the forefront. I know that it was not kind letter towards Ms. Feldman in the long run and it was a poorly veiled attempt to further the animosity that exists amoung council members when Ms. DeStefano attempted to read it aloud wanting to credit the staff of borough for all the good that they do, but I do not know the specifics that were contained in the letter just the spirit.

    I am sorely disappointed in this council as I was hoping that they would not make the same mistakes as previous council had. While Ms. Feldman and I vehemently disagree on the Kardon Park issue (although at this point I have come to be more frustrated than anything)I can still set aside that issue to work with her in any capacity that we need to. Unfortunately it does not seem to be the goal of the rest of council save Mr. Winkler and possibly Mr. Rakoff. Previous council made the huge mistake of making promises of monies to entities before they had said money in hand and now we are reaping what they have sown. We have a firehouse that is being built (I am not saying it is not needed) without the total amount of funds needed for it's completion, we are now raising taxes and various other projects were started or promised without regard to whether the borough would sincerely have the money in the bank. Now when Ms. Feldman questions any expenditures or even Mr. Winkler they are shut down because as has been said by Mr. Gazzaro that's the way we have always done it. I believe that council members as elected officials SHOULD question what OUR money is being spent on and not be talked down to or shut down for doing their duty. In fact I think the uneven handed handling of what is discussed, for how long, and what can be questioned is poorly if not unreasonably mismananged.

    So maybe another clean sweep of the council seats that are up for election this year will result in something actually getting discussed and oh I don't know even accomplished in a more agreeable manner might be the only solution because as it is now, no one is treated fairly, council members are at odds in underhanded ways and the people that pay are the residents.

  3. It seems to me that the majority on Council is ticked off that Ann Feldman had the guts to stand up for what she believes in, and to win in court against them, based on the law, of all things. If she is wrong on the law, she will not prevail in the end, but the fact that she has won her lawsuits for the most part proves she has been in the right on the issues she has championed (until the courts say otherwise) Until all of the appeals are finished, proper behavior should prevail in Council, since all of these people took an oath of office to work for the citizens, not to attack each other or behave childishly. They don't have to like it or her, but they should respect her for standing up for what she believes in, and knowing the law in the first place.

    Maybe if they had done their homework in the first place, there would be no lawsuits, and she would not be on the Council.

    In the meantime, she IS on the Council, took an oath to represent her constituents, and is bound by that oath to do what she thinks is best, such as question budgets, tax increases, contracts, and other Borough business, and not just go along with the others. She has not only a right but an obligation to ask questions and voice her concerns.

    While animosity may be understandable on a personal level, it is not acceptable for public servants in an official capacity.


  4. I agree Chris. I also got to understand some of what was written in that letter and if Anonymous or any of his or her friends or relatives read this or anyone conntected to them I ask this question "What council meetings are you attending and what did you smoke before attending them?"

    First of all the accusations flung at Ms. Feldman are laughable at best and sad at worst. If Ms. Feldman had the right to be either vindictive or nasty to anyone I would certainly be at the top of the list and she has been neither of those things so I have absolutely no idea where any of those types of ideas come from other than a diluded thought process. Despite our opposition on Kardon Park and a few other issues we can and have worked together for the betterment of the community and were big enough to set aside previous differences so that things could get done AND to top that off we work well together.

    The comments that were taken out of context attributed to both Ms. Feldman and Mr. Winkler, this person needs a serious course on budgets and what should and should not be spent in accordance to the money that is in the bank. NEITHER of them have EVER said that the suspension of services is something that should be looked at, but another approach might be feasable. Please make sure that if you are going to quote someone that you complete the sentence or don't even bother because it cheapens your point and makes you look less credible.

    The very fact that this letter was going to be read in an open forum under the guise of a "kudos to the staff" is laughable and I thought that Ms. DeStephano showed poor judgement at best and a vindictiveness that was attributed to Ms. Feldman at worst. Council meetings are not the place to show your shortcomings, nor is it a place to air your disdain for another although by the facial expressions of some it is clear what is being thought in most cases.

    I had hoped that this council could act as grown ups and actually get things done without personalities becoming an issue, but that has yet to come to fruition and I as a resident am quite tired of the blatant disregard for another's attempts at doing the job they were elected to do and the quashing of ideas that are different or not the way we do things by those in power according to personal whims.

    We all as residents get it that Ann Feldman is less than desirable as a dinner buddy for some of you, but learn to suck it up and deal with the fact that you HAVE to work with her up to and including when her term is over. Maybe a complete clean sweep of council is in order since if this one were to get a report card it would say in the comments "Does not cooperate or get along with others well."

  5. Glad I missed this one. Giving such elevation and credence to an anonymous poison pen letter? That she would actually be so desperate to smear a colleage and pat herself on the back as to stand up and read it at a council meeting is pathetic beyond words. Seriously? And how do we know Destefano didn't write it herself? Time to get some grown ups running this town. This is ridiculous! Did Chip Gazerro step right in and stop it or did Ann Feldman have to object? If he didn't have the balls and professionalism to know when he is overseeing a circus, he should be ashamed of himself. Stop your petty bickering and get to work TOGETHER! I'm with you, Elaine. Clean sweep.


  6. No Chip did not stop the letter being read, it was legal council who stopped Ms.DeStephano from reading the letter, and this is just my opinion, but it was to save the borough from a possible defemation suit that Ms. Feldman could have brought to bear. President Gazzero is the ring master of this circus and has an uneven hand in dealing with the running of the meeting. He has talked down to almost every council member there, has cut people off in the middle of questions, and then has proceeded at times to explain something that is understood by another, but he wishes to get his two cents in. I realize that he has been on council quite a long time now, but that does not mean that no one else has enough intelligence to understand procedure and "how things are done". In fact that that's just how things are done attitude has gotten us where we are in robbing Peter to pay Paul in the borough budget. Council meetings have a feeling of "don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain" or a magician that is not very good at slight of hand. One of these days I am going to walk out of there singing "If you only had a brain!"

  7. After reading the comments a few thoughts come to mind.

    1) If the people in the peanut gallery think they can do a better job on council, then enter your name in the next election. I would like to see Ann, Sarah, Chris and Elaine do a better job. It's so easy to sit there and bark out complaints and imagine some big dark drama going on behind the curtain. Again, small minds that need to get out and take an art class or something.

    2) It sounds like some people really need to find other interests in their lives besides obsessing over other people's personalities or professional lives. We're all just human beings here trying to do the best that we can.

    3) I believe the present council members all have the town's best interest at heart and not for the "fame and glory" of it.
    That implication alone shows just how small some people's minds are.

    4) When is Ann's term over?

  8. Nobody is obsessing over anyone's personal or professional lives. You really need to review this thread which involves the reading of an anonymous attack letter against one council member by another council member in a PUBLIC Council meeting.

    These people tooks oaths of office to do the public's business as their representatives, not to attack each other using"anonymous" letters.

    The average fifth grader would do a more respnsible job and would be above this crap.

  9. WOW !!!!

    First off to the poster above me ... You are obviously on Council by the manner in which you write. So you look at the people you serve as the "PEANUT GALLERY" really !!!???? How pathetic are you? Nothing like looking down on the very people you serve.

    Point #2 you actually got right, you are human like the rest of us sitting in the Peanut Gallery. But let me ask you this Mr or Mrs Council person what better interest should I have?? The very town I LIVE IN is a real good example of a healthy interest. But I guess you would like us to turn them elsewhere,so the spotlight would not be upon you.
    Maybe those people you look down at, will be running next election be very careful what you ask for, you may have it.

    Point #3 your response leaves much room for debate. The small mind comes from members who were elected and now think they are above reproach by default. A great mind questions things and hold leaders accountable.

    Point #4 ) When is your term over on council ?????? Not soon enough.

    I know you can't sign your name as you are too full of fear or ashamed but I will sign mine


  10. Well now......first of all to the poster who called the residents of Downingtown the "Peanut Gallery" that comment alone shows disdain and is an insult to those to whom you serve. Those of us who actually show up at meetings wish to know the goings on of our community and to call us the peanut gallery is offensive. So people on council are the only ones who are committed to making Downingtown the best that it can be and the rest of us are just along for the ride? Is that how you feel about your constituents?

    Yes you are right on the point that you are human beings, but I am not quite sure where you seem to think that anyone is obsessing over your personality or personal life. If your personality or personal life leaks into a council meeting and it is detrimental to the proceedings then you are right on the momey I AM going to be concerned, however on a daily basis you are but a speck in the timeline of my life (except when I in some way have to pay for your folly).

    On the third point I have no doubt that council members at the start have the borough's best interest at heart, but it rarely remains as such, and the comment that I made about fame and glory is the possible upcoming candidates for next term, so way to go with the reading comprehension.

    Small minds reside in heads such as those who attempt to read a letter that in essence is slamming other members of council thinly veiled behind wanting to give kudos to staff members. As for running for council that is not something I aspire to because I am not one to be duplicitous, what you see is what you get and I cannot in good conscience smile at you while you are stabbing me in the back. I am opinionated and I know it, but there are times that I say what others are thinking. I cannot work the political machine with the patience required to suffer fools gladly, however there are those in this town that feel as I do and can swallow the bile much better than I for the betterment of the borough so be careful what you wish for, you might get more than you bargained for.

  11. Isn't Ann already on the Council, having run for office and getting elected by her constituents?

    Calling the public for whom the council works the "peanut gallery" really says it all.
    I suggest you read the state and federal Constitutions.


  12. Amen Chris, and all of the other respondants ... it is clear where the heart of a certain council member is. It is also clear we elected the wrong person to represent us!!! We shall also make that clear on election day and right the wrongs that were made. Mark your time now CHIP, CARA, BREANDA, your days are numbered.

    "the peanut Gallery"

  13. The dailylackanews gave Roses to Andy Rau for stopping the reading. They weren't sure if it should have been thorns.

    You have to wonder why any lawyer representing the council would have allowed Cara to read any of it.

    Why did this anonymous letter even see the light of day?

  14. How about we all write "anonymous" letters to Council and tell them what we really think about them. They could take turns reading them out loud in meetings. That would be a lot of fun, eh? Thank God Congress doesn't burden us with all the negative mail they get or there would be no time to do anything else. You really have to wonder what this lady in council was thinking, if she was thinking at all.

  15. Calm down everyone. You don't want to get your grannie panties all in a bunch.

    First off, I am not a borough council member and I highly doubt any of them, except for their Mother, would even bother reading this blog, let alone comment on it.

    I refer to you as the "peanut gallery" because it seems all you do is "heckle and throw peanuts" at all of the council members except for the one.

    The council members are people who believe they have something to contribute to our community. They are people with families, jobs, knowledge, experience and a desire to give up their free time to expend their energy and efforts for the betterment of our town. They are not your slaves and should instead be treated with respect and allowed to do their job in which they were elected to do. Sitting there "throwing your peanuts" at people who don't happen to like who you do is immature and narrow minded.

  16. Excuse me? Who do you think you are? Oh wait we couldn't possibly know because you hide behind anonymity. Secondly why are you reading the blog if you don't think anyone is concerend with what we have to say? I love people who are so hypocritical that they step in their own mess. Like I said before, you have zero reading comprehension abilities if you think that the only council member that has not been "heckled and peanuts thrown at them" is Ann Feldman. You obviously are the type of poster that is what we used to call a spew and run.....not much substance, but a whole lot of words.

    If an elected official is doing what they were voted into office to do then there is no need for their constiuents to hold their feet to the fire, but when they fail to protect the interest of said people then they deserve to be called on it. If an elected official falls into the trap of high school behavior then it needs to be brought to light, which is exactly what occured when Cara felt like the letter needed to be read as a "thank you" to the staff. The letter was inflamatory period and not at all a "kudos" to anyone. It called Ms. Feldman vindictive and that the writer(s) feared that there would be retribution from Ms. Feldman if the identity was revealed......I have been on the opposite side of issues as Ms. Feldman and have critized her quite harshly and have NEVER seen the kind of behavior that was attributed to her in that letter and if anyone deserved her to act that way it would have been me.

    The letter culled supposed quotes from several meetings and the quotes were taken out of context to make not only Ms. Feldman look bad, but Mr. Winkler look as if he didn't care about the borough. The problem is that Mr. Winkler and Ms. Feldman have voted against more spending in the borough because WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY!!! I don't care if you like it or not....just because there are checks in the checkbook does not mean there is money. You want upside down thinking? Ms. DeStephano getting bent out of shape about bills that need to be paid for our fire department and if she could have would have not paid anything and then recomending that the borough spend money on CCDCE.

    Guess what Mr. Anonymous the residents are people with families, jobs, knowledge and experience and many of us VOLUNTEER in the borough and we don't need childish behavior from those who are supposed to represent our best interests. I am not going to blindly offer up respet as it has to be don't get to have my respect by default just because you were elected into office. You call the rest of us narrow minded and immature? Seems as if the pot is calling the kettle black.

  17. Nope … you can peddle your crap and try to pan it off as being fruit elsewhere. This is a back peddle if I ever saw one. Council members have read this blog you are totally wrong on that point, I have spoken to members that have.

    As for the poor statement that only their moms would have read this, once again highlighting the ignorance that you post with. You go right on believing that all you want. Tell it to yourself enough times and you just might believe it.

    You said “they are not slave and should be treated with respect” You are right they are not slaves. They are not treated as a slave by anyone on this blog. As for the respect that is something that is earned. When a member of council tries to read an inflammatory letter and pass it off as being something, positive to the order, that removes all respect. The town Solicitor had to practically jump out of his seat to stop Cara from reading it.

    Much in the same way you are posting crap now and trying to pass it off as being something good. HMMMM I see a pattern here.

    The only one being narrow minded is you by degrading the readers of this blog and talking to them like they should blindly follow all council members. From what I have read from previous posts on this blog is no one is “off the hook” for being called out.

  18. Dear "Rage",

    Quick, go look in the bathroom mirror. Bulging neck veins aren't very flattering on you.

  19. Let's not take this to a personal level as such.

  20. I think we can safely say that Ms. Destefano's cynical scheme backfired on her.

    Hopefully there is a lesson to be learned.

  21. I think we should use the mayor as a great example here. He did not hide behind anonymity with his DUI charges did he? No, he welcomed them, accepted his responsibility, was constantly being seen drinking at the station taproom, and even ran for public office again!