Tuesday, March 21, 2006

An Observer's Comment on the Town Meeting

An attendee to the Town Meeting held on Monday, March 20, mailed these observations. A complete story about the meeting will follow in the near future.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (and women) do nothing."
Edmund Burke, Statesman

As the clock struck seven o'clock, George L. Spaeth, M.D., former CHCA president and statesman in his own right, opened the March 20 Town Meeting at the Chestnut Hill branch of the Public Library

An audience of approximately 70 people, representing a wide swathe of the community's interests was ready with questions, suggestions, demands, and answers. These were fielded by CHCA members Ron Recko, Jim Foster, and Ed Feldman, key organizers of this meeting.

Yes, the names just mentioned may seem familiar: Letters to the Editor, opinion pieces, voices of dissent at CHCA meetings. But these are als people who are a part of that bunch calling itself The Second Opinion Caucus. And there were community members participating who may be recognized from their contributions to the welfare of Chestnut Hill -- CHCA Board Directors Ann Spaeth, Janine Dwyer, Virginia Mallery, Lou Aiello, Jonathan Sternberg and John O'Connell.

But was this one-sided conversation by design? Can you identify who was missing on March 20?

For starters, the Philadelphia police and Library security personnel were absent (See Maxinista). Likewise chaos, loud voices, unruly behavior, scatological language, and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

And except for the presence of Board Director Tom Hemphill, NO OTHER MEMBER OF THE BOARD, the "majority party," the thirty or so Directors who have, in the current term, voted down every motion, denied every proposal, refused items submitted for Board meeting agenda, sidestepped every legitimate question coming from the seven or eight duly-elected minority, showed up for the Town Meeting.

Four or five members of the Executive Committee who dominate the Board were personally contacted by Recko and declined or were unable to attend and complete the panel. Stewart Graham, Tia Burke, Dina Hitchcock, and Jeremy Heep, among others, were invited to participate, to answer questions from the audience, propose solutions for the future, or to even give the appearance of accountability.

A reliable source reports that emails sent by Vice President of the Physical Division Sanjiv Jain urged Board members to absent themselves. You just can't say enough about "following orders," can you?

But the Second Opinion Caucus and its supporters got the first in a series of REALLY EARLY Christmas gifts in Director Walter Sullivan's wife who introduced herself as his proxy. In a series of outrageous comments from her, heads literally snapped at her observation that "democracy was working perfectly on the fifty-member Board until there was the second opinion."


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