Friday, March 27, 2009

Meet the New Boss, Worse Than the Old Boss

It's official, the CHBA (Chestnut HIll Business Association) has a slate of candidates running for the board. Mike Hickey, CHBA rep to the board, used those very words at the board meeting on 3-26.

He denied any Snowden purchase which, if true (odds running 8-5 against) means that the CHBA bought the memberships themselves, with the same goals as Richard:
To turn the CHCA and the Local into entities fully controlled by Chestnut Hill Business. Yes, the ones who gave you Snowden Vancancy-Land and Bank World will now be able to spin tales of Perfection and blame others for their mismanagement in the New and Improved Local.
Franny O'Donnell, assisting Mike in a Grand Plan Presentation said that Richard was getting on board with Hill revitalization.

What perfect timing! Now that the shit has hit the fan, and after keeping his stores vacant during good economic times, NOW he's going to pitch in and help the neighborhood prosper.
Tenants are so much easier to find in a recession.

But this IS abut timing, and all the pieces are in place for Him/them. Graham, Mitinger, Kathy Jones, Tolis; the old guard continues to run for cover. They're not running for the board. Just like Jeremy and Tia, they're going to sit out the next faze-it might get a little messy.

A combination of Lawsuit/Iinvestigation fear and an eagerness to hand a bag of stinking garbage to someone else. Even the accountants hired by the the this bunch told them the CHCA financials were a mess.

So here we have the CHBA coming in to clean up the mess. Even Chestnut Tim said he trusted them - and we all like him -even though we don't know who he is.

The CHBA takes no prisoners - McNally, Cigar boy, these types make the old new order seem like the Marquis of Queenbury. And they listen to Richard. Richard can read a 14 to 12 vote as well as anyone. That's how much Pete kept his job by.

The Local will be cleaned out one week after the CHBA candidates get those other two votes.
All the negative articles will be gone; all those lying articles which were never responded to, or disputed, or threatened with a libel suit by anyone in the lawyer-happy Hill.

Maxine said it once about the way the board conducted itself. "We think the corporate way is the way to go." You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Richard was going to develop his properties after he got his apology. He got it . He did nothing.
Maybe he was waiting to get the Paper.

Mike, Franny, Greg, are you really ready to believe and trust him? I guess so. The history books are filled with people who bought a line of bullshit in desperate times.

But someone has to tell me about the people who were gettin' ready to shop on the Hill until they read something negative in the Local.

" Hey honey!- I just read Feldman. Let's go to Warrington instead!"

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Deciding in the Dark?

Written and posted by Jim Foster, a member and candidate for the Chestnut Hill Community Association Board of Directors, and publisher of the Mt. Airy and Germantown newspapers.

I sent this piece to the CHCA Board Discussion Group, because we need more accurate, current financial information before we talk about hiring a "publisher." It's an attempt to appeal to sanity, and give a larger picture of what the last few years' faulty administration have done to the CHCA and its Trust Fund:

My observations sent to the board follow:
My recent comments through the board discussion group brought the usual personal insults and unfounded accusations, so I decided to reply from an entirely different perspective that possibly might be meaningful to both long term and newer board members. As with most organizations gone awry, it is usually about the money, where it went, and who used it outside of the intended purposes. This situation is no different.

We are being asked to vote tonight on a new budget, but without any clear understanding of our financial condition from our own auditors. Even the 3/31/08 figures we won’t have are a year old. Internally generated statements have been flawed and do not properly present the separated costs of running the CHCA from the Local. We are being asked to approve the concept of hiring another executive to remedy problems that no one fully understands in the first place. Since a full year has past and our auditors told us that they had reservations about the CHCA as a “going concern” last year, I would want to know their position in detail going ahead, and I would want to see some accountant’s interim figures to back up where we have gone during this past year, or wait until a draft of the 3/31/09 figures are ready. We are told they will not be delayed, and should be ready before the 45 day required filing by the IRS. You must know where you are before determining where you are going.

The statement below I sent last night to a board member who accused me of not thinking ahead. Maybe all those who have been told to believe my motives are suspect would reserve judgment until they digest what I state here and ask their own questions:

To a board member businessman:

Let me take one step back and see if I can get through on another channel. Since you are a businessman, maybe you can understand the financial loss to Chestnut Hill this runaway reckless management has cost you.

From about 1998 to the present the reckless and illegal use of trust fund money has seen the loss of principal that now totals near a million dollars. When the IRS and the State allow an entity to get a tax exemption, that now becomes publicly regulated money. On top of that the trust itself requires the trustees to wisely invest the money for the purposes outlined in the trust. The betterment of Chestnut Hill is that purpose.

Now, if that money wasn’t squandered by turning it over to insider “investment counselors,” wasted on enterprises that neither the board or the trustees knew anything about running, friends of developers who used Fund and CHCA cash to enrich themselves, and brokers who helped hide illegal transfers, then that money would still be in the Fund earning interest.

You can do a lot of good for Chestnut Hill with just the interest on a safely invested million dollars. At one point this fund had a nearly two million dollar value. Today it would not likely reach a million with the current real estate market and the massive waste in speculative and unsupervised investments. The Fund was not supposed to be the financial sandbox for a few folks who ran the board. That is the part of the story that has not yet been fully told. If that much public money being mismanaged and covered up does not bother you, then I guess we have a different value structure. It’s a lot like those TV promotions for Las Vegas - - what happens in Chestnut Hill stays in Chestnut Hill. That might be OK for your money, but not the public money and the contributed money that members and contributors think is doing civic good.

Jim Foster

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Setting the record straight

I, Ed Feldman, categorically state that any and all evidence uncovered and presented concerning Maxine Dornnemann's bank fraud was the work of the Oversight Committee and specifically Martha Haley, Jim Foster and others. I was wrong to imply sole authorship.

I can only assume that my anger at her recent actions concerning L'affaire Pack blinded me to the facts as I well know them. After I sobered up, I remembered the truth.

Ed (this time I was wrong) Feldman

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Monday, March 23, 2009

How Many Times?

"How many times must the piper be paid..........." (Mickey Newberry, R.I.P, obscure country singer).

In the beginning, an e-mail to CHCA board candidate Jim Foster:
I am writing to you in connection with your interest in running for the CHCA board. It has come to the attention of the election committee that questions have been raised concerning potential conflict of interest in light of your role as publisher of publications vying for advertising dollars among NW philadelphia businesses.

Questions have also been raised about the propriety of you having access to the Local's financials in this regard. If you submit a nomination the elction committee will need to bring this to the attention of the board for a decision. When we do so I want to include your rational as to why you believe there is no conflict of interest. I am on the train to NY but I will be back later today. I am copying Jane so that in the meantime she can poll the election committee so there is a committee opinion available to the board. In the meantime, if you are going to submit a nomination it will be among those drawn for a ballot position. But it can't be put on the ballot until the board has had a chance to weigh in on the conflict question. We can talk later today if you like.
Thanks. Pat
Back to the present:

Considering the freak show that is the CHCA Board of Directors, (don't make me name names), there is a fascinating exercise of democratic process in the upcoming April 2009 election.

2. Only individual members of the Chestnut Hill Community Association can run for election to the Board. (

Not a word, so far, about residency requirements, income, education, or membership in a mainstream church or coven. There's no limit on talking shit in the self-penned "biographies" submitted by the candidates.....nor any fact checker either. No vetting, no background checks, no inky finger prints.

Only these two: CHCA dues paid, and four members willing to sign upon the dotted line(s).

So in the passive/aggressive/passive voice language a la the late Bush administration, Jim Foster had learned that he needed a Special Election before his name could be put on the ballot for the Election Election.

Except for that brazen hussy Ann McNally who forgot that rule about deep cover, no names were named. No quotes quoted or attributed to living (sic) persons.

As it turns out, "meetings were held." "conference calls" were dialed up, and private email lists were activated.

Questions had been raised.

These meetings, surveys, random street polls were to be followed by more meetings.......public meetings attended by designated membership who would be producing a COMMITTEE OPINION to guide those with the power of The Last Word but without an opinion of their own.

Buck up, Jim.

Recent history one turns up one similar case of double dipping. That was in 2005 when yours truly, riding on the not-quite-sufficient coattails of Lou Aiello and Maryann Ross Cowper, came in first of the losers. "Fear not," my mentors said. "Somebody always quits and you're next."

All it took was a decision from The Decider Stewart Graham and unfortunate failure of Dick Becker to actually run in the election.

So I also had to "run again" facing off against a row of unpleasant old women led by the Missus who voted AGAINST my assuming my seat on the Board. It wasn't important enough for me to make a note of the for/against but it appears that the ayes had it.

Many of us always figured Stewart Graham as the back room boyo - the bush league Machiavelli with a finger in every plot.

My money's on The Real Mac, Jane Piotrowski. Who else has served on the executive committee regardless of the ruling party the last five years? Who can even hope to match her contacts considering that she has been on every committee ever listed in the CHCA office. In spite of Sanjiv's obvious deep pockets, she was the one who publicly donated hours, days, weeks of free labor to boost his business. For what? To be his confidant and BFF in the same way she herself described her friendship with R. Snowden.

Every coffee klatch in Maxine's kitchen, every "work session with Cosmopolitans" -- Pastorius Park, the Gala, the seriously offensive house tours -- she was there. It's impossible to clock those hours spent on the phone or cranking out those emails. Her service as CHCA Secretary served as the best little cover-up ever and her bad grammar and elaborate (yet senseless) *minutes* for the meetings will stand alone in their brilliance as psy-ops known only to MI-6.

Is she the Manchurian Candidate or the Wizardress of Oz?

Post script: Rumor has it that Foster has somehow been found worthy and the crisis averted. I don't care. It's still a great and unforgettable story. And I've got the records, as usual, to prove it.

Martha Haley

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Toys for Twits

A comment on my last post mentioned Fran O'Donnell, of O'Doodles Toy Store, formerly ODonnells Stationery Store. I've been so busy I couldn't comment on one the best bits of Irony printed in the Local by Fran a few weeks ago.

It was a response to Ed Budnick's letter suggesting that shoppers were finding alternatives to Hill establishments in a tough economic environment. Fran reminded us all that patronizing the Hill was being true to tradition-just like his father taught him.

Fran's father ran a store that sold engraved stationery and hundred dollar pen sets.

When Staples moved in, O'Donnels responded to a tough economic climate by dumping tradition and switching to selling plastic toys, just like Wal Mart does - only more expensive.

Fran, I'll shop at the store, just take that bucket of bullshit outside.

Ed (I like plastic vomit) Feldman


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Just When I Try to Get Out . . .

People keep calling me with information and so I must share it. It is alleged that Richard Snowden, following the Sanjiv Jain theory of buying the CHCA board of directors, has purchased as many as one hundred memberships for the Chestnut Hill Business Association and others. The number varies in the reports I have been given, but the following reports have been given to me by several different witnesses and their accounts are identical.

That the boy king Snowden spoke to the Business Association (CHBA), and said the following:
1.We should go up to the Local and fire everyone. (They aren't allowed to do that).
2. That because of the Local, Pete Mazzaccaro, and the CHCA, the businesses on the Hill have lost 25% of their business. No mention of the effect his empty storefronts have or where he got his figures or how any such calculation could have been made by anyone other than someone in his forties who plays with toy soldiers.

Yes, folks. Only days after we threw a scare into Dina and her gang of amateurs, the professional destroyers of the Hill, the Business Association, is about to strike. Under the direction of Dick-boy, who they feared enough to ignore his vacancies, his back dues, his signs, and his middle-aged tantrums, they will attempt to control the board, fire Pete, and turn the paper into the booster sheet the have always dreamt of.

The only mystery is this: What percentage of cowardice as opposed to stupidity has caused the minds of the business community to arrive at the following:
That the Hill is NOT in commercial trouble because some rich punk has not rented his properties.

That the Hill is NOT in commercial trouble because every large property was given to banks that bring in no shoppers as opposed to restaurants that would, especially in the evenings, when it's a ghost town.

That the Hill is NOT in commercial trouble because the CHBA had its thumb up its ass instead of formulating a business plan that could have brought vitality, rather than dark double wide storefronts.

That the blame instead goes to a paper that shoppers don't read, that wouldn't change their shopping habits if they did, and an Association that shoppers don't know exists. Richard my darling, If my little love notes to you in the Local had as much effect as you contend, you would be in a jail cell tonight, with a life-mate NOT of your own choosing, rather than continuing to rape West Virginia and 19118.
I realize that Richards' family history dooms him to a life of delusion, but how does this explain anyone on the CHBA agreeing with him?

So, Greg, Chris, Anne, etc: Is it fear or just stupidity? Never mind, I know the answer. It's both. That's why the people who tell me what goes on at your meetings don't want me to mention their names. Fear.

And that's why you let the banks and Richard prepare the Hill for an economic downturn to instead become an economic disaster. Stupidity.

It couldn't have happened to a more deserving group.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

And another thing

Ed Feldman is filming in Chestnut Hill! My You Tube exploits vs. the Chestnut Hill Community Association's Board of Defecators has been so well received that I will be hosting a Walking Tour up Germantown Avenue.

It will be filmed and posted on You Tube and be the basis for a documentary to accompany my upcoming book, Escape from Chestnut Hill - How I Fought Greed, Arrogance, and Corruption in One of America's Most Exclusive Neighborhoods.

The Tour (and book) will include tales of the Board, Richard Snowden, Sanjiv Jain, Stewart Graham, Dina Hitchcock and other colorful characters. The filmed Tour will also highlight how those and others have taken a pleasant, vibrant commercial thoroughfare and turned it into the depressed sinkhole it is today.

How small minded and petulant parochialism laid the groundwork for an economic downturn to be fatal, rather than survivable. And the Business association helped more than anyone! Keep being afraid of King Richard, you guys. He'll survive, but you won't. And that's just how he wants it. Maybe you can inherit a death-dealing Coal Timber And Gas fortune and live through post-Bush America, too! "Cotiga- Raping the Hills of West Virginia-and One in Philadelphia Too!"

Eds' Next taping - Saturday March 22-1:00 PM. It starts at Kilians, Germantown & Highland.

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Maxine Dornemann - Bank Fraud

I have presented evidence that Maxine Dornemann is guilty of bank fraud. I presented the case in the pages of the Local, and at more than one Public Meeting. The charges have never been refuted, nor was I ever accused of Libel or Slander. I have also, as have others, presented the physical evidence of the crime to the Pennsylvania Attorney General.

Edward Feldman

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chestnut Hill Yokels: Excitable Boy

by John Lombardi
Well , he took Little Suzie to the Junior Prom.
'Excitable boy,' they all said.
Then he raped her & killed her & chewed off her arm.
'Excitable boy,' they all said, Ooh wah,
'Such an excitable boy.'
-- Warren Zevon

"Tiffany McMaster" was the unpromising name of the State of Pennsylvania's Unemployment Insurance referee, overseeing the challenges to Jimmy Pack's out-of work claims last Wednesday at Third and Callowhill. She'd lined up Maxine Dornnemann, Rob Remus, Dina Hitchcock and Philip LeCalsey, the CHCA's witnesses against Jimmy's case -- he was fired from the Local last December and his hearing hadn't been scheduled until late February, given the glut of out-of-work Philadelphians crowding the Department of Labor & Industry these days.

But then the Reverend Dornnemann, a major voice against Pack, had to officiate at a wedding, and the proceedings were postponed until March 11. This necessitated his appearing without his lawyer. So it was Jimmy, Robyn John, his former supervisor in the production design department of the Local, a fistful of e-mails to help his defense arguments, and a written statement from the Editor of the paper, who just couldn't get away to help his old friend.

Meaty Remus, an Information Systems honcho and Sanjiv Jain pal, led off. His argument with Jimmy after a board meeting at the Library on November 20th had brought an old enmity between the two to a head. According to Pack, Remus reacted badly after he'd dared to comment to R about his Ad Hoc committee report on the financial state of the Local and his generally Prussian attitudes: "Way to go!" J said to Remus, who'd allegedly proposed cutting Ad Director Sonia Leounes' commissions in half; allegedly suggested rearranging the placement of some major real estate ads ; eliminating a production department employee (it turned out to be Jimmy); and instituting a policy of trying to sell regional and even national ads in a 6300-per-week paper limited to a tiny circulation area of Northwest Philly . . . And most of this without having consulted the Editor, or Leounes, or any other Local managers, a normal business custom.

There were reportedly hard words between Pack and Remus on Nov. 20th, part of the subject of a rumored pending lawsuit (and therefore not describable here), but on March 11th, Remus now allegedly amended his earlier words to assert that Pack had somehow moved or pressured him against a parked car outside the Chestnut Hill Library, and had identified himself as a "reporter." Pack goes 5' 10", 220 lbs, Remus six feet, approximately 250. Pack despises conventional journalism, and asserts that he'd never represent himself that way. Remus was unavailable for comment.

Rev. Dornnemann, who resembles Laura Bush toward the end of her husband's White House days, retailed her skirmishes with Jimmy, dating back to 2005 during her chaotic presidency of the CHCA: He had, she said, demeaned her reputation by spreading rumors about her (a fact Pack denies); had called some of her pals 'fat bitches' ("fat witches"), Jimmy corrected; and was loud and profane while protesting the wholesale destruction of the Local staff and normal journalism policy after forcing then-Editor Jim Sturdivant and reporter Mike Mishak' s exits: "I quit then, too, in protest!" Pack defended himself. "But they needed me and took me back!" Hitchcock and LeCalsey, who weren't around at the time, shook their heads and kept their eyes aloof, like firing squad shooters before they get the fatal order: "At least Dornemann and Remus looked me in the eye!" Jimmy said.

But State referee McMaster had heard enough. Hitchcock had described how Pack had pushed CHCA president Tolis Vardockis out of the doorway (where he was blocking the Local's Editor from entering the office where his employee was being fired, saying "This is CHCA business!") According to Pack , he was practically accused of assault, and one of the grounds for the Editor's (failed) dismissal, several weeks later, was that he should have gone to Vardakis's "defense" when he was attacked by Wild Man Jimmy . . . Pack also admitted being "excited" and flinging his office keys on Hitchcock's desk, which she reportedly suggested was an attack on her . . .

McMaster reportedly refused to listen to Jimmy's explanations. She wouldn't allow Robyn John to testify as to his actual excellence as a production design assistant -- his real work at the paper. She wouldn't examine the Editor's statement that Pack tried to submit into evidence for his side. She noted that he was red and upset again, apparently a mortal sin in the Halls of Technocracy, where iced-tea trumps blood and good employees are expected to talk and look like Michael Chertoff , who headed FEMA in New Orleans after Brownie screwed up, and later did such a swell job complicating airplane boarding procedure for Homeland Security . . .

The Local's excitable boy is out, and he can't even collect the unemployment tax deducted from his meager pay for 11 years by Pennsylvania bureaucracy. After the Exec Committee rubberstanps the rich Iraq-vet kid whose family "has a background in newspapers" next Thursday -- beating out Mark Keintz's pick for new publisher, Stephanie Leight -- the collapse of the Local will be complete. We hear even the Editor is strongly on board, this time.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Do something about the empty storefronts

Tired of those abandoned storefronts and empty properties in Chestnut Hill?

Business and the economy are tough but many of these properties owners just don’t want to rent their properties, for tax and other reasons. a lot of those properties were empty or left to nature long before this economic downturn. Such properties detract from the neighborhood and the quality of life in Chestnut Hill. Many residents feel hopeless or frustrated. Delores Campbell expressed her concerns in this week’s Local. Perhaps there is something you can do.

The Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act was passed by the legislature and signed into effect by Governor Rendell. This act allows citizens to petition courts to appoint conservators to essentially take over property that has been abandoned or left vacant in order to make repairs when the owner refuses to or can’t do so. The passage of this bill was part of a 13 year effort by Allegheny representative Don Walko.

The bill provides a measure of relief to communities with long empty buildings and those that violate building codes. Petitions can be made regarding any abandoned, substandard and deteriorating residential, commercial, and industrial properties.

But the bill also provides a broader opportunity for communities to take action on such properties. The bill applies not to just those buildings in technical violation of the residential codes, but also those that are not in accordance with “standards of public welfare, or safety.”
A petition of conservatorship would be filed with the Court of Common Pleas. To file a petition, you must be a party of interest, which includes anyone with a legal interest but also any resident or business owner within 500 feet of the property.

However, it is not as simple as it initially appears and may require moving the municipality to act initially within its enforcement capacity. Any petition filed must include a citation of a violation or a declaration that the property is a public nuisance. Whether the City of Philadelphia will actually act on violations reported will have to be seen.

The petitioner must recommend a person or entity as a conservator. A plan for and estimated costs of rehabilitation must also be presented to the court. The owner must be notified of the petition by registered or certified mail.

Writers of the bill were concerned that the petitions would languish in court and the property would continue to detract from the community. To prevent this, the writers of the act included provisions requiring the court to hold a hearing within 90 days and issue a decision within 30 days of the hearing.

Any interested party may participate in the hearing and support the petition.

A court must grant the petition and appoint a conservator if it finds two of the following:
1) it is a public nuisance.
2) the building needs rehabilitation and none has taken place within 12 months.
3) the building is unfit for human habitation.
4) there is risk of fire to it or adjacent buildings.
5) the building is subject to unauthorized entry leading to health and safety concerns.
6) it is an attractive nuisance to children.
7) on the property is vermin, uncut vegetation or hazardous physical deterioration.
8) the appearance of condition of the property negatively affects the economic well-being of the community.

The Chestnut Hill Community Association and Chestnut Hill Business Association would both also qualify as possible conservators. These organizations as well as individuals in the community can file petitions. For more information, visit the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania website.

Darlene Heep


Goodbye and Hello. An Update.

Good night, Times Express. So long, Courier.

Hello, Mt. Airy Examiner and Germantown Chronicle.

Jim Foster, speaking on behalf of a group dedicated to bringing print media back to the two communities in Northwest Philadelphia, confirmed that there will be two new papers in Philadelphia in the very near future. Foster said he has advertising staff, an editor and other pieces of the project in place. He emphasized the importance of a strong web component and promised it would be a vital part of the papers' presence.

Details on the new papers and the goals will be released soon.

Update 1 - 02.07.09: A group discussing a new Chestnut Hill paper held a meeting Friday. Details are being closely held but we were told by one participant that the Winters venture for a three-community newspaper is on hold. The CH consortium is moving cautiously, the source said.

Update 2 - 02.10.09: This week's Chestnut Hill Local (March 12, 2009) has the story on page 3 (author retained FNASR). An abbreviated and edited version follows this paragraph. Also, Ed Feldman makes reference in a letter to a CHCA board meeting video posted on this site. That link is posted below.
Mt. Airy business owner and community activist James Foster announced plans last weekend to publish two new newspapers, the Germantown Chronicle and the Mt. Airy Examiner, with a web edition to go online by the week of March 17 and "papers on the street by the first of April." They will operate under the corporate name of Germantown Newspapers Inc., with a web site at Foster is a Chestnut Hill Community Association board member, a frequent contributor to the Local as well as the Courier and Times Express, and a classic car restoration specialist.

“As a lifetime community resident and a longtime contributor to the Mt. Airy Times Express and Germantown Courier, I was disheartened to find that attempts to sell the papers to other local interested parties did not materialize," Foster said. "Feedback from both communities (Mt. Airy and Germantown) was consistent and intense in that the loss of their traditional print newspapers represented a significant lifestyle change" for area residents.

"Local advertisers have made it clear that the loss of this medium would seriously impact their ability to communicate with the markets they most depended upon," Foster said in support of his decision. "With those people in mind, we intend to publish the Germantown Chronicle and the Mt. Airy Examiner and distribute it without charge to the same general areas previously served by the Courier and Times Express and beyond."

Foster said the company's offices would be "prominently located in the Germantown/Mt. Airy area" and has recruited experienced newspaper staff familiar with this area. Karl Biemuller, formerly of the Courier and Times Express, will be the editor of the two papers, Foster announced. Staff will include many editorial and sales personnel that formerly staffed the now-defunct Journal Register newspapers. “Continuity is a primary concern of the employees and staff of the Chronicle and Examiner."

“Contrary to some accepted predictions, local newspapers are not necessarily anachronisms, and these communities are living proof," Foster said. "With that in mind, I decided to structure (the publications) on sound financial footing with community needs in mind, essentially resurrecting similar publications with the intent to improve on what came before in the weeks and months ahead."

Foster declined to identify other investors in the project. He said additional information about the Chronicle and Examiner will be available online in the near future.

Scott Alloway

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

We're so sorry ...

Our paper has been remiss in publishing "corrections" on a timely basis, if at all.

In response to the gentle olive branch proffered by Dina Hitchcock (Local - 3/5/09), "we" (that would be the "editorial we") will attempt to make amends for the one tenet of the Society of Professional Journalists - "minimize harm" - since that seems to be our weak suit.

1. The Caruso's unpleasantness: we went too far. The story was just fine with loyal Hillers bemoaning the loss of an historically-approved bodega. Former customers were free to fib about the graciousness of the store staff and their appreciation of the absence of those annoying sales slips and all that "sell by" date mess.

But that stuff about John Capoferri and his ilk in early October, according to the CHBA, sounded the death knell for commercial enterprise from McNally's to TLA Video.

How the hell were we to know that those Enemies of Capitalism, Peter Mazzaccaro and Joel Hoffman, had pulled the pin on the global economy all the way to Iceland?

2. Our Contract with The Man requires us to publicize upcoming CHCA elections, facebook the candidates, and announce the winners and losers. We should have left well enough alone.

But noooooooooooo, we had to get all Connecticut Puritan about it. All that time we spent obeying the first tenet of the above-mentioned S of PJ/s. Did you forget already?

"Seek the truth and report it."

Should have been gearing up for the Holiday House Tour and Potpourri. Those society page photos of a tuxedo-clad John Capoferri would not have been an embarrassment to anybody but for our unfortunate autumn tales.

Any cheesy attempt to link the voting irregularities to San Jive Jain and his stable of stealth candidates for the Board was inadvertent.

3. On our watch, *Opinions* became our death trap - our suicide rap. Any screed slagging the CHCA, CHCF, or the CHBA was our crystal meth.

We just couldn't quit it.

Truth be told, for every byzantine rant by Ed Feldman, every lecture from Jim Foster, all those drive-by Ls to the E from Budnick, the Spaeths, Virginia Mallery, we get ten letters from fans and supporters of the status quo heaping praise upon the brave ways and means you cooked up to stifle the discouraging word.

They go in the circular file, of course.

Just kidding.

And so, in closing, in the spirit of detente, we regret Editor John Lombardi's putting a bank robbery on page one, Editor Jim Sturdivant's snide crack, and all news articles about crime on the Hill which may have driven away Ann McNally's well-trained customers.

So, in the brief time we have left to us, we will take your advice. If you want us to print six different letters from Mary Anna Ross Cowper a week, it is a done deal. How about a regular column for Lou "Which Way Do the Wind Blow" Aiello? The place of honor should go to Jane Piotrowski whose "ssoooooooooo" many O/s and DoobyGood manners bread and butter notes have set the standard for Professional Journalists and Methodist church bulletins.

Listen. We aren't dunces. Our own mothers warned us about "left-handed compliments." We get the part in your letter about those K/s in the Koffers. Absolution granted for the "misunderstanding" about the "Loop" articles cleared us of any lingering rumors about our part in costing $$$$ for legal fees.

The standard "avoid the company of bad companions or even the occasion of sin in the appearance of seeming to have had bad companions" was, frankly, redundant. It's old. It's tired. Catholics cannot even muster up the furtive laugh.

As Rumsfeld would say, balls were dropped. Many of your long list of ex-members are jonesing for the sheer drama and cause for snarky hilarity provided by George Parry and his manifesto posted on Town Hall's front door listing the "BANNED FOR LIFE."

As Feldman would say, "Somebody oughta write a book."

Martha Haley

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Chestnut Hill Yokels: Contempt for the Community

by John Lombardi

Looks like the Exec Committee is willing to meet weekly now, in order to get its way. If votes are taken, as they were on Jan. 22, to broom Pete Mazzaccaro from his job, and the count goes against them -- no problem! They just schedule another vote! If the community turns out to dispute their nonsense and demand their resignatioms for ignoring the CHCA's own bylaw procedural rules -- as happened last week -- they ignore that, too , and squirm out of the public portion of the Board Meeting in order to prevent action! Then someone calls the cops on the people! Reporting "trouble at the Library"!

Now another "special" meeting is being called for the Chestnut Hill Hospital (!), for next Thursday, to accomplish whatever post-literate schemes Dina, Tolis, Herr Keintz and Walter "Foghorn" Sullivan think is "in the interest of Chestnut Hill." Last time they chose the Hospital, in 2006, they garroted Board member Lawrence Walsh's Board seat away from him, for advising two Local journalists to stand up for their free press rights. And for being leader of the opposition to the CHBA-influenced clique in the CHCA, which then operated through Stewart Graham and Maxine Dornneman (who are said to be related!). The pettiness and unreasonable-ness of the anti-Walsh move was so blatant, Walsh obliged them and left. To insure there was no trouble, the CHCA had brought in rent-a-cops. In these more straitened economic times, will they just call 911?

The fact is that the CHCA "leadership" is running out of gas. By turning on Mazzaccaro, a mild editor, they show an unreasonable fanaticism for power and control. By blaming the Local for their economic decline, instead of facing up to the fact that market forces and actuarial tables are changing the nature of the old "village" concept of Chestnut Hill's economic plan, they show a managerial opacity that's hard to fathom in such a highly-educated, wealthy community. By demonizing me for my brief stint as editor nine years ago, claiming that my wild overspending and carelessness in printing objectionable material in the Local dug a financial hole for the CHCA (through the payment of a settlement to an aggrieved reader), that it's still digging out of, it shows a willingness to smear without evidence. Where's the back-up material for your claims, Ms. Hitchcock? We could do a one-on-one debate at one of your frequent meetings.

The community needs to show up at all of your questionable public sessions, and confront you as it did on Feb. 26th. It needs to defeat you and your clique in the Spring elections. It needs to either return the Local to its former free press status, or support a new paper, free of Bush-regime tactics : Stewart Graham as Karl Rove; Mark Keintz as Scooter Libby; Tolis Vardakis as George Tenet ; you as -- Condoleezza Rice?

You can't manage a newspaper the way you'd oversee a fast food restaurant, or even an information-technology operation. Newspapers are dying not only because young people are scanning more "info downloads" online than they used to, but because publishers have devalued the art of writing and reporting honestly and well, and with -- God save us in the Age of Jimmy Kimmel and Oprah! -- a little humanity.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A return to the scene of a crime

They're going to try something different but the same next week (more on that part later). On Thursday, March 12. at 7:30 p.m., the Chestnut Hill Community Association will hold a special meeting (and they are so special) in the Lea Auditorium, Chestnut Hill Hospital at 8835 Germantown Avenue.

On the agenda - Financial status of the CHCA and CH Local (maybe with the right numbers this time) and a collection of bylaws recommendations: Size and composition of the board; ethics and disciplinary committee; nominating committee deadlines; others to be brought by board members.

Why does the location seem so familiar? Oh, that's right. We're back to the future again. And while you're at it, take a look at the terrorists and parasites of 2006 who have become the witless camp followers of 2009, according to Geraldine in her letter to the Local this week.

This board doesn't get it, even after the very public display of disaffection evidenced in the video posted last Friday. What magical moments will the board create this time? Can we expect the board to shut the community out? Will Dina and others run away when confronted with their actions? Will Tolis sit mute while someone else runs the meeting, interrupting only to offer his bits of wisdom on who is or isn't out of order? Most importantly, will the board have rent-a-cops to keep the community away from them? Or maybe real cops will be on the scene. Again.

Remember the date, time and place, people. This could be the best of show.


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