Monday, June 29, 2009

Win Big Prizes Through Ridicule

Ed Feldman announces a new contest! Win a genuine Furniture Guys T-Shirt! Yes, Ed's award winning TV shows (just like Art Howe's Pulitzer) type T-Shirt, featuring Graven Images of its two Producer-Writer-Hosts, Ed Feldman and Joe L'Erario, identical to the ones worn all over the US, Canada and Europe by thousands of fans, Heads of State and Strippers, can be YOURS!

Here's all you have to do. Write a piece for this here blog.

Subject - "How Embarrassing is the Chestnut Hill Community Association?"

You can use personal experiences, factual third person reportage, or heresay. I bet you have stories that even I haven't heard! And if all you can contribute is a creative treatment of what we already know, that's OK too!

Because it's all ART. Make us laugh, cry, or raise a single eyebrow in typically understated Hill Fashion! No word limit, but bear in mind the Walter Sullivan effect, too long and I start to think about all the free porn I could be watching.

All entries will be commented on by the Usual Gang of Idiots, but, since it's MY T-Shirt, I will make the FINAL RULING! Just like Walter gets to do! I'll even sign the shirt, so you can wear it to the next Snowden Daisy Chain at the Library!

In the Event of a Tie-don't worry-I've Got Several! In the Event of an Anonymous Winning Entry. You'll have to prove Authorship. Don't worry, we'll figure it out!

So get to writing kids! Or I'm gonna have to have to post 'em myself under aliases, and don't need another shirt. Yeah, but if I already have the shirts......never mind. Hey. They're 100% cotton!

Ed ( COME ON DOWN!) Feldman

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For ...

Ed Note: June 2. Part of this post was not copied when uploaded. This is the complete post.

The word on the street at CHCA election time is that the reason the Positively Chestnut Hill types picked Walter, arranged the votes, and congratulated him in advance was that they wanted someone "who could control a meeting and deal with Recko Foster and Feldman."

Well, all those robots who voted as they were told must now be obedient children and take orders from the one so sure of himself he has already issued his first "Ruling" - - as if a Judge on a high level court, not the elected leader of a democratic organization where personal commitment, thinking, contributing and voting were to be the principle guidelines.

But of course history has proven that when we have weak minds and lazy citizens they get the government they deserve. Let us never forget that the most popular "elected" leader in history was Adolph Hitler who for years had a 95% popularity rating with the citizens.

Zu Befehl, Herr Kapitän.

O'Donnell introduces a motion to create a CHCA committee to deal with the vacancies in commercial real estate in Chestnut Hill. Snowden himself objects and the reason is that any meeting held under CHCA by-laws would have to be public and that the public learning what they are doing in such a meeting would be undesirable

Walter to rescue. He first asks if the Business Association has any such requirement for public meetings - -and the answer is no. He then motions that the Business Association create such a committee and he would then appoint several members of the CHCA to that committee.

Motion passed. Gee that was easy. See what you can achieve when a rich martinet lunatic teams up with a malleable lawyer to run a board of syncophants.

Sullivan's ruling to the board:
It is my ruling that Bylaws II E 1 c applies to all Meetings including of all Committees in requiring Notice normally published in the Local "at least seven days in advance of the meeting." It is my ruling that that provision applies to all Committees, including even those which may be conducted entirely in executive session, such as the Awards Committee and the Nominating Committee. Please consider this not as the opinion of one individual but as a formal ruling.

It is further my opinion that it is generally not desirable that Meetings of Committees be conducted in a private home, no matter how pleasant the environment and how gracious the host. Because the Bylaws are not explicit on this point and because the Board therefore may need to act on this question, please at this point do not consider this as a formal ruling.

Whether that ruling and that opinion apply to Meetings of the CHCF I shall consider.

Walter J. Sullivan
Jim Foster

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Morning Line ...

by Ed (Nicely-Nicely) Feldman

Track: Chestnut Hill Downs
Conditions: Ridiculous

Horse - Trainer - Finish - Odds
Phil (in the blank) LeCalsey - CHCA - Out of the Money - 5-3
History/Tip: In what will be termed as a cost cutting move, Phil's race card will now be filled by efficient and less expensive filly Noreen Spota. Phil's partner, Pat Moran, said he was "appalled" by the '08 election. Pat's comments apparently did not sit well with head trainer Dina "the (you fill in this one, kids)" Hitchcock, and Pat was recently scratched from the executive committee and has resigned from the entire CHCA race season.

Horse - Stable - Trainer - Finish - Odds
Pete's Hope - Local - CHCA/Snowden - August - Even Money
History/Tip: Pete bit Snowden back in '01 and Richard's memory is Legendary. Discussions now center around whether Pete should be put down or be allowed to continue to race, if he responds well to the bridle. "Richard the Dick" is holding fast to the former. Those who care about appearances want to keep him on, in order to seem humanitarian to the larger racing community. But Pete has a stable mate now, and he's being groomed to step up in class.

Horse - Trainer - Finish - Odds
Larry "the Hoch" berger - CHCA - Win - Even Money
History/ Tip: At the May stable meeting, your humble handicapper asked Larry if, during discussions about his new job with board members, he was asked if he could take over editorial duties at the Local. He said he was asked "hypothetically" if he could. Then, backing up like a quarter horse, added that he wasn't asked to "do it", but only if "he could" That's good enough for me Lar! You see, Larry's feed is more than his trainers' budget allows at present.

Part of Larry's job, as jockey Mark Keintz stated at the same meeting, was to find ways for the paper to save money. What better way than to take Pete's reigns and take the daily double all by yourself! After the meeting, Pete asked me how I knew to ask Larry that question. I told him that it was an obvious one, but what tipped me off was junior stable boy Bob Rossman's effusive introduction of the new associate publisher. In a two minute speech, Bob said that Larry's job would be to "oversee all aspects of the Local EXCEPT THE EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT" four different times.

As well known tout of yore Willie Shakes might have said, "methinks that gent doth protest too much" and I wanted the real feedbox noise.

Horse - Co-Trainers - Finish - Odds
Earl of Snowden - Cotiga/ Andorra Stables - When the Coal Runs Out - Very
History/Tip: Always bides his time and usually comes from behind. Long shot for Stud. Has unlimited feed money. Next race; Height variances to be run through committees without notifiying neighbors on WestGravers. Luckily, any opposition in the field has been told to clear the track for an open run to the finish line. Only possible opposition comes from Pete's Hope, who may be scratched by then. This handicapper is still trying to run down rumors about some recent geldings that are taking place at the Local's Stables. Could P. H. now be a soprano?

That's all I have time for now race fans! Remember to watch where you step, 'cause it sure gets piled high around where the thoroughbreds roam!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Conversation About Hill Real Estate ...

A Phillyblog post (Ed Note: the Phillyblog site has been erratic Wednesday afternoon - off and on) features a discussion on Bowman Properties adventures in Chestnut Hill. It's a chance to participate in a quiet conversation about real estate on the Hill (with a few detours through CHBA/CHCAland).

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The Undressing of a President

by Theodore H. Feldman

Now we see it. Now that we have lured Walter Sullivan into the open, away from( some) of his ridiculous rhetorical flourishes that add nothing, save cover, to his discourse, additionally providing cover for those who employ him and screw the Local, we see it. He answered my suggestions as to what he could do as President to make us feel that he is not a tool, not a fool, and not an asshole.

He has provided substantive proof that he is all three, and has done it so amateurishly that my brief hiatus of treating him as an adult, as someone who could be treated with respect is now over. I never doubted the result for a moment, but I gave him a chance . But he exceeded my expectations. He blew it with crawling colors.

He responded to my suggestions thusly:

1. To come clean about Snowden's involvement in the "Positively Chestnut Hill" Slate - Walter said it "must have cost little, one ad in the Local and some nice and useless buttons-if Richard paid for them, it must amounted to nothing."

I can't find out what the buttons cost - Jackie, Snowdens assistant, won't tell me, but there were four ads in the Local, two half pagers at $520.00 apiece and two at $117.00 apiece. That's $1274.oo. I'm gonna throw in the $50.00-a-pop CHCA memberships he bought for nothing, his people are too scared to talk.

Walter, couldn't you even look at the Local and count the ads ? Or did you bother to do anything at all to respond accurately?

All communication for the slate came out of Snowden's Bowman Property's office, by paid employees, except when Greg "The Shill" Welsh ladled his bullshit to a recumbent Local reporter, saving any Snowden mention for the Inky. Richard, give Greg a big wet one. The Local knew the connection, it took calls and e-mails from Bowman about the Slate, but wrote nothing. Pete, meet Greg.

2.Regarding conflicts of interest: The new conflict of interest Policy, to be signed by all board members states that if a member has received direct or indirect remuneration, or gifts or favors in excess of $150.00, then that constitutes a conflict of interest. Would $1274.00 be more or less than $150.00?

It further names any member having any compensatory arrangement with any organization with which the organization (CHCA) is conducting a negotiation or arrangement as having a conflict of interest.

Walter, in an astonishing display of legal and evidentiary ignorance, states that only Richard must recuse himself. Is Walter additionally ignorant to the fact that one Positively candidate is Richard's tenant, that her husband was elected too (the Howes), that Wendy Kern, fellow supplicant does architectural work for Richard? I wonder if she helped to design his "Ghetto Store" signs - or was that Jane Piatrowski?

Even if they deny the ad buy, you can't miss these other serfs to the Snowden feifdom.
Walter, you idiot, you're blowing the easy ones.

None of Snowden's electoral vassals can discuss or vote on the variances that he got them elected to pass, according to this policy. Ironic, ain't it? But if Walter doesn't know any of this, how the hell is he gonna get Irony?

3. & 4. Walter claiming ignorance and "denying the premise" about threats to the Local is even dumber. From the illiterate Joe Pie, to the thuggish yet cowardly Remus, to the small timer Howe, the Local's bullying by those from outside the profession to those outside the city has been reported on and known to everyone not in a coma for years.

If Walter had only copped a plea that all this interference was actually "help" and that the Local employees, or me, or all the people who have written to the Local about the exact same thing were mistaken, or wrong , or stirred up by the axis of evil (Feldman-Foster-Recko), then I would have had to recount all of the incidents - again, as I have in print in the Local, without contradiction from the board. But Walter just denies "the premise."

Does the name Jim Sturdivant ring a bell? At a board meeting Walter gave Jim this advice - too late, as he had already quit - about telling those who were telling him how to do his job to" get the hell out of his office." I was there Walter - I heard you say it. Why would you give someone this advice and then "deny the premise?"

Walter, did they tell you that this non existant pressure has already wound up being handled by lawyers once, and that another complaint is coming?

Maybe that's why lawyers other than yourself are getting these jobs.

5. About my demand for a forensic accounting. Walter responds by asking, "what exactly do I mean" by that phrase. Walter, are the only cards in your deck marked "ignorant?"

There isn't a board member of your vintage that does not know of the two-year teeth pulling extravaganza of the SOC, then its' remnants, trying to get the board and its' trustees to follow its' own rules and finally reveal how it's been using its money like Michael Jackson used Webster.
It was written about in the Local, and discussed at about a dozen meetings. When the board pled poverty, we got a 100% donor. They still refused. Come on Walter, don't you remember? You were there. Didn't you read the Oversight Committee report? The PA State Attorney General has.

Which brings me to:

6. Since we now know that Walter has not read the Oversight Committees report, for it covered the reasons for a forensic audit that Walter now wants me to tell him about, Walter states that "no such concerns will arise" during his administration, and if they did, he would appoint such a committee "in a heartbeat."

This is the capper, my friends. The Dirigible Mooring Mast on that Empire State of Ignorant Responses to my impassioned pleas for honest governance.

I must admit here that I expected Walter to use his usual smokescreen to cloud the issues and nickel and dime me into some reasonable expectation of his future leadership.

But, although it may surprise some people to read this, for they know my low expectations of you already, this is a new low.

Walter, Oversight Committees, any committee observing and reporting conduct of board members cannot be unilaterally created by an individual whose position and conduct may well be the subject of the committees ' investigation. It doesn't work that way, Walter. IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY WALTER.

Such a committee is "independent." If it is only created if you see a need, then it is "dependent" on your opinion of it. Do you see the difference in the two words?

Must I speak to you as I would a child? Either you really are as ignorant as these answers make you seem, or you have been told to deny everything so childishly that the only research I needed to expose you was a single, anonymous call about ad prices to the Local. Either way, you are unqualified to captain the Good Ship Lollipop, let alone be charged with task of covering up for an organization so corrupt that people all over the City, the Region, and thanks to..... me, all over the Country simuntaneously laugh and shudder as I report on its workings.

So farewell Walter, I can't even pretend to take you seriously any more. You're just not worthy. This is why all those who have really run things for so long keep their mouths shut. And why the new order will follow suit. If they spoke and gave their "reasons" for their actions, they would be as exposed as you were. Remember Dina's "feminine intuition"? Absurd on so many levels, all the way down to chromosomal.

As I said about you originally, you're there to draw the fire, an easy target. But they know the truth about your abilities and your role in their little theatrical troupe. You're Falstaff. Someone to laugh at. But the battles are elsewhere, and you're not a part of them. I won't ask you any more questions. This is why W didn't hold press conferences. God, but these allusions are obvious.

Ed ( Fish in a barrel )Feldman

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Neurotics Anonymous ...

If there is one central location where a self-help group could be formed from almost any random number of citizens it would be Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Now I hail from adjacent Mt. Airy, which some have described as an assembly of weirdos, fruit loops, extremists and malcontents, (I will admit to the latter category) but few there are in denial of their self-directed pathways.

Not only do residents of Chestnut Hill lie to each other, it is de rigeur to lie to oneself to reinforce the myth that the emperor of the moment has a functioning brain, let alone clothes. Myth after myth is laid upon falsehood after falsehood, with the circle only growing smaller and smaller in the Northwest corner as the community looks more and more like something from the twilight zone.

Fahrenheit 451 could be filmed again here in color on any given day, as they have burned all the books, and the library is just a meeting place for the CHCA, which should be renamed Neurotics Anonymous. Despite being Philadelphia's community built on money and power, their affiliated trust fund is run by folks who can't read a financial statement, and are near running out of inheritance.

Denial reinforces all, and this once-respected institution (CHCA) produces one falsified financial report after another and everyone salutes it in scenes reminiscent of the film classic King of Hearts where everyone becomes what the moment requires, for thinking past the day is much too difficult to handle.

Living the lie and hoping desperately for the return to what never was in the first place is the mission of the moment, and lots of new and old Hillers have signed up, put on the uniform and are ready to face the enemy. But what they do not realize is that Pogo was right many years ago when he stated - - - "We have met the enemy - -- and he is us".

Jim Foster


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chestnut Hill Yokels ...

Phantom of the Local
by John Lombardi

Back in February, rumors began bumping shoulders again: 'They're gonna off Pete at last, even though they haven't been able to vote him out.' 'They're bringing in a new publisher, to assume the business worries of the Local . This guy is a killer, might of been in Iraq, family heavy in the news biz.' ' Then: 'He's an advertising director!, no war chops, that was another guy Rob Remus loved!' 'Maybe he's got a brother in news . . .?' Then: 'He can help revivify the Germantown Ave. business district , because he'll help shunt all the Bad News Boys -- Feldman, Foster, Recko , etc. -- off into the info reservation, isolate them completely like the Cavalry did the Sioux!' 'Yeah, put 'em in the Germantown Newspapers group that Jim Foster started, (taking even Scott Alloway out of the Local mix), restricting 'em to Northwest Notebook, minimizing their visibility . . .' News was on the run, the way Gen. Phil Sheridan and Gen. George Custer got after Crazy Horse & Sitting Bull . . .

Through the spring election, though control squeezed tighter & gloomier, nobody was actually canned. Pete slunk around like the Ghost of Editing Past, bequeathing a News Editor job to Joel ('Self-Referential') Hoffman , the apple of the Temple Journalism Dept's eye, because the Exec Committee objected to some goofy story Len Lear snuck into LocaLife, and Pete hates confrontation . . . so he figured he'd let a Deputy handle things next time . . . A regular Pat Garrett.

Meanwhile, no reportage about the new dude was allowed in the Local, and curiously, none appeared in the Germantown Newspapers or the Northwest Notebook, either. The publisher or associate publisher -- even his title was folded close to Dina Hitchcock's thorny breast -- was a forbidden topic. (Like what really happened between Jimmy Pack and Uncle Remus that chilly day in November?) But finally some facts oozed out between Hitch's bloody claws: The Delaware County Daily Times had been the new guy's home for 2 1/4 years! A little daily down near the Delaware line. As working class as Gloucester, New Jersey. The man -- Larry Hochberger, it turned out -- had been Classified Advertising Director -- not Display Ads, where you occasionally come in contact with other living, breathing beings, like, say, Sonia Leounes does . . . Classified, which is computer-based and as hypo-allergenic as a web-site, was Hochberger's stage, where he reportedly sold ads on an e-mail plan as effective as Pizza Hut's . . . It was bloodless but profitable -- or at least the CHCA Exec Committee who hired him thought so:

'Won't it be swell to get such smarts going on the Hill?'

I did my best to engage Mr. Hochberger. Called him up last week at the Times and got this bitten-off exchange: "Who'd ja say you were with?"

"Northwest Notebook, Mr. Hochberger."

"Well, can't talk now. I'm still working for my old company!"

"Right, but could we arrange a few minutes after work or on the weekend?"

"Try not to work weekends. Try me Monday at the Local."

"Any time that might be best?

"No, no. Can't say. Gotta go!"

"Well, thank y--"


Sources from the Local itself have all but dried up on these matters. (Everyone knows who you were anyway, but let that pass). Word was down -- like it had come down from the Exec Committee after Rob Remus's tag team match with Jimmy that NO mention of their "disagreement" should be exposed to reporters, lest they invent crappy spin. But through heavy scrounging, two days before the Official Story comes out in the Local, I was able to learn from people in or formerly in CHCA, who would know, and from Hochberger's old employers -- who would only speak on deep background -- that "Hochy," as the troops called him, is average-height, rumpled like a news-guy, in his 50s and as determined as a staple gun: He wanted, for example, $75,000. CHCA offered $54,000, and came up steadily to $74,000 through the dead of the winter. They'd already formed plans last fall through a "fact-finding" trio -- Dina, Mark Keintz, Rob Remus -- to do some salary-cutting, and started with the grotesque ousting of Jimmy Pack (which he played right into, and made easy for them.) That saved a fast $32,000 a year. Next the spotlight is on bookkeeping operations, where, it is rumored , the ill Lois Thompson, Claudia Bordo and/ or Joan Forjohn may be up for the knife (two out of three, it's said in salary ranges from the high 20s to the low 30s). Those would technically cover Hochy's new bite, but in an economy like this, other possible cuts include Pete's $54,000, and Community Manager Philip LeCalsey's salary, said to be $53,000.

According to one Byzantine theory, which seems of a piece with the great recurring Richard Snowden Legend, the real-estate-and-coal-mine-meany, backer of the current ruling clique in CHCA/CHBA, plans to pressure Hochy to gradually assume the editorial direction of the Local as well as its business-side publishing work. Pete's salary would then be downsized by half, and he would be reduced to a kind of Managing Editor at, say, $27,000 to $30,000 a year. Since even someone with his demonstrated pliability ( he didn't insist on being in on the "fact-finding" trio's formative plans; permitted them to halve the ad director's commissions without a squeak; let them push his old pal Pack out the door; allowed Ron Recko's Oversight Committee to go down without a fight; gradually forbade reformer Jim Foster and radical critic Ed Feldman space in the Local's pages (while denying it ), & himself mercilessly rationalized the Local 's dumbing-down ) -- couldn't be expected to put up with such mendacity forever. The current forecast is that Pete will be gone sometime in dusty August, while his social and financial betters are cooling off in Bar Harbor, or over on Lake Geneva.

I tried Hochy again on Monday the 15th, his first day of work at the Local. Same electric pencil-sharpener replies:

" I've indicated to you that I don't want to answer your questions," he said. "This is for some kind of story, right?"

"Well it's for my column, but you told me to call you back today, when we spoke Friday."

"Don't remember that. Very busy . . ."

"You were Classified Ad Director of the Delaware County Daily Times, weren't you? "

"Yes, but . . ."

"How does that prepare you for a position as publisher of an old weekly that's clearly dying?"

Hochberger laughed dismissively: "Not dying! Good brand name!"

"How are you going to beef up your 6300 circulation? After 50 years? Think positive business stories are all people want to read?"

"I'm busy. I need to get back to work."

"A few minutes for a couple of questions?"


What we know about Mr. Hochberger is that he's rude, unimaginative, has a family that he thinks the world of, and tends to see life as a business problem. Therefore if Pete and Sonia "perform" up to the standards he's promised Tolis Vardakis, Hitchcock, Keintz , and presumably Walter Sullivan he will enforce, those two have a chance of surviving. The true weirdos left in the office, who are few indeed at this point, are in for a rougher row to hoe.

Newspapers, when they were great, were outposts for free spirits who traded financial security for the chance of getting off some true insights a few dozen times a year, that made their lives, and those of their readers, worth living. The idea of speaking truth to power once in a while, even if they couldn't make it stick, is what Charles A. Dana, Stephen Crane, Upton Sinclair, Frank Harris, James Agee, Ernie Pyle and so many lesser-knowns, did for this country.

The Chestnut Hill Local was a good newspaper at several points in its medium-length life. It hasn't been for several years now, & I'm sorry to see it end like this.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

We're the Crazy Aunts and Uncles

Firedog Lake has a great post well worth reading. Democracy is local as well as national.

A Revolution of Crazy Aunts and Uncles
By: Glenn W. Smith Sunday June 14, 2009 9:30 am

If we want an extravagant democracy, we should live together like one another's crazy aunts and uncles.

Conjure someone recognized as a relation. But this relation is also a unique and maybe dangerous "Other" whose otherness comes with seductive and liberating promise. Such a person reminds us that the human heart is always too big for the ribs of law and etiquette we hide it beneath for safety's sake. In a democracy, shouldn't that describe us all?

Follow the Money

Walter Sullivan has just told us that he is his own man and denied there was any manipulation in the CHCA election this year to insure an outcome that would clearly benefit the new-found arm of the business community and its founder and financier, Richard Snowden. If you buy any of that, please line up to purchase a bridge at wholesale from Bowman Properties.

Let's assume for the moment that all those purchased memberships just before the election and mass meetings of business types and their acolytes were not strategy sessions and pre-vote counting strategy a la Maxine and Dina, and that you won fair and square on the basis that the very limited number of participants in this last election wanted you at the leadership role because you represented independent integrity, legal expertise, and a willingness to run the organization using the By-Laws -- for a change.

Since I know your personal political history of having "found God in the Democratic Party" after being nurtured and maturing as a Republican and realizing that the needs of the people should triumph over the desires of the powerful (I think that is how you put it) let me ask you to transmit those beliefs directly to how you plan to run what remains of a once-legitimate community organization that actually did at one time deal with the needs of the majority over individual power players - - and there were always plenty of them in the Hill.

I see a conflict right off the bat with the Snowden Empire and your deep personal beliefs. This is the man with the deepest financial pockets who jettisoned the needs of the community years ago by keeping as many prime properties empty as a payback to a community who did not accede to his wishes and give carte blanche to his vision. What must have been more revolting to a "man of the people" like yourself than those huge racist bigoted billboards that Richard Snowden placed in the most prominent locations all over Chestnut Hill as a warning of things to come if he was not given his way - - can you even stand to recall the sight of them? This wasn't a page from Birmingham Alabama in the 1930s, this was darling Chestnut Hill just a couple of years ago!

And who is the entire community lining up to worship and follow as if it all never happened because his says his money and connections will make the Hill some combination of what it was and what it should be - - the very same individual who in his own mind must be laughing all the way to the bank he owns now having had the "Chestnut Hill Establishment" say UNCLE.

Your first mission as your own man is to restore confidence in this organization by picking up the pieces, and that means telling the truth to the larger community about what was done to destroy its image, and that goes to that well-worn path of following the money, who misused it and who covered up its misuse - - and why? For it is not whether the state DCED grant and community trust fund dollars went offshore versus being used to pave over reckless and self-serving management right here, but it is that a few clever manipulators took the Association you now preside over and ran it according to what they openly characterized as a "corporate model" but the corporation they must have chosen was Enron.

They moved the money, cooked the books, and now hide behind legal technicalities that even prevent their current auditors from telling the truth about how previous audits were incomplete, inaccurate and misleading. On top of that there is still an open investigation into financial irregularities by the State Attorney General. You must know that old adage about wheels grinding exceedingly small. It would be a shame if they ground to a halt on your watch and you were not prepared.

First order of business is to reinstate the Oversight Committee which was severed just as it was about to fulfill its two-year mandate. The first year it examined and reported on the CHCA. The second was to be the Fund, and that is where the money is, or I should say was. Sadly, the new trustees have done all they can to keep the Fund's history in the dark, even to the point of misleading the board for years now as to what kind of fund it was. The fund is the financial sandbox that has been misused and mismanaged going back many years, and claiming it could not have been stable and yielded reasonable returns while supporting the community with earnings rather than losing millions is nonsense - - but nonsense that much of the membership and most of the board has bought into.

Run the meetings with the community priorities ahead of personal agendas and according to the By-Laws, form committees with new and fresh leadership that don't do back channel work for insiders. Replace all the trustees as they serve at the pleasure of the board and can be removed at any time for any reason. Have the auditors do the right thing and report to the board quarterly while at the same time clean up the bogus and inaccurate reporting that the internal statements provide, and while you are at it, return to providing monthly internals for the Fund, which the current trustee president discontinued a year and a half ago so the board would have trouble monitoring its activities.

Lastly, do not let the CHCA become the zoning tool of the business community, for that is the primary reason they stacked the board in their favor at this election. There are massive plans in the offing and they will require multiple and far-reaching zoning changes and challenges to the Special District Controls that Chestnut Hill enjoys in the Zoning Code. Using you as a tool, along with the LUPZ and DRC is the master plan; make no mistake about it. Be that good committed Democrat you claim and don't let that narrow power base turn Chestnut Hill into Stepford on Fairmount Park.

So you have had power foisted upon you that you might have not imagined and are promising good things. We have seen those occasions before in our political history where unlikely individuals were parachuted into high positions and had the opportunity to do the right things and change course. These are often difficult decisions, and during the time the individuals are in power they have been sometimes vilified for what they do, sometimes worshiped, but only time tells who did the people's business legitimately. The big question for you Walter is - - will you be Harry Truman or Huey Long?

Remember that great film where the people triumph over arrogant power in the Community? Remember George Bailey? You and Kris can be Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, and Chestnut Hill can have "A Wonderful Life." I think we all know who represents Mr. Potter.

Jim Foster
Still close by

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Thanks ...

My thanks to Walter Sullivan for identifying himself and addressing me directly. [Note: For back story, see the comments in In Camera Obscura] I don't know if it was the flattery or the ultimatum, but it worked. I will break my recent pledge and respond, one more time. But after I do, regardless of his response, I will not counter. As I have said before, he is not the one(s) I'm after.

Neither was Tolis. Stewart Graham, Dina Hitchcock, Jeanne Hemphill, and Richard Snowden are the ones who are the movers behind the various plans, from financial malfeasance to newspaper censorship that offend me. The rest are just helpers. So let's begin.

Walter says he never signed a comment as "anonymous". Why then, did he first sign his name to respond to the ultimatum I gave to "anonymous"? That thread never mentioned Walter, it was between me and "anonymous." Shouldn't "anonymous" be angry right about now? Hey "anonymous," why didn't you respond and tell Walter to stay out of our conversation? Right.

Next, the vote count, and the reason for Walter's election. Sorry, but I have never revealed my sources before, but since this story is all over the street, perhaps you can figure out how it got out. Just like the concept of you being better equipped than Tom Hemphill to "handle" Recko, Feldman and Foster. Sound familiar W.S.?

I see no criminality in you actions. Everyone should read more carefully, and not project. Criminals are those convicted of crimes. Chip Butler was. The board never asked him a single question about his actions during his term as trustee, during which he was under the investigation that led to his conviction.

I have written factual accounts on board misconduct for five years. My art includes some evocative imagery, as does the work of other writers, but I have always always included the issues. If someone else could have disputed my facts, they never did.

As for my comment on the Missus, well, gee Walt, you've got to know what I'm talking about.
But I can't hold Walter in the same contempt I have reserved for those mentioned above, for a lot of reasons. His foibles are surface mounted, and strangely lovable. He, unlike those others, is neither secretive, (well, not for long,anyway), mean, sinister, pathological, or profit minded.
But he has been willing to stand by while the others ran their games.

And here's where, and why, everything can change. And I will now speak directly to Walter.
You stood by while Maxine did things that you knew were wrong. That you and the rest of the board cut her loose is an admission.

You stood by while Dina embarrassed the community during the '08 election. You knew she did wrong, but you did nothing. She took a demotion. Another non-admission admission.
Your ethics, your standing in the community, and your voice could have been used to set things right, but you were silent.

Now you have the chance to set your past, and the CHCA's past, right. By listening to your heart, and to me. Because, despite your criticisms, I know what you think of me intellectually, ethically, and artistically. I can see it in your eyes Walter, and that finally, is why I don't hold you in contempt, why I don't think you're like the others.

And, in a political sense, see the difference in the National Political party you belong to and the neighborhood one you have worked with. And then think about the National political party you helped defeat last November. Where are the similarities? Where is the disconnect?

1. You must start by writing in the Local all that transpired in secret about the Positively Chestnut Hill Slate. The extent of Snowden's involvement must be revealed by someone who was there.

2. You must then follow through, stating that anyone who benefited financially from his electoral largesse must recuse themselves on any vote concerning zoning regarding his projects.

3. If anyone involved has revealed to you plans to change the Local, you must reveal them also.

4. You must then state that the Local will return to the freedom it enjoyed before unrelenting pressure from the board and specific board members turned it into a place where fear, rather than security, is the norm. You must guarantee Pete's job and his independence.

5. You must move for a forensic accounting of the Fund that has been fought by the board for so long

6. You must restore the oversight committee, with a non board membership. I will recuse myself from serving.

The Dina's and the Snowdens will not help re-elect you. But they will not be able to stop you during your term.

And here's where the inspirational stuff happens. Walter, the neighborhood will rally to you. All those people who have run from the board because of all the things they have done for so long would give you a REAL majority, not the "mandate" of the lowest vote turnout ever, so many purchased by the CHBA.

The numbers that would return because of your inspirational leadership will make the Dinas and the Snowdens and the CHBAs look like the small timers that they are, in both vote numbers and stature. You won't need their support, you'll have the people's. Some board members will support you also. You can use the Local as a bully pulpit for this reform.

If anyone knows what Dwight Eisenhower and the Republicans expected from Earl Warren, and what they got, you do. It changed America, Walter. It gave us freedom, it gave us equality, it eventually gave us Obama.

But Warren had to listen to his heart, not to those who gave him the job. He had to endure the "Impeach" billboards too.

Greatness never comes without sacrifice. Up 'til now you have been sacrificing the qualities that I think you possess; the qualities that can make you great.

Do any of those who helped you get elected talk to you this way? That's because they only care about themselves. Two parting thoughts, because after this, I'm done talking about this.
Of all human endeavors, the most admirable one, and the one most requiring courage, is redemption.

Courage exists in limitless amounts inside of us.

Norman Vincent Feldman

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

In Camera Obscura

Uh-Oh. I almost fell into the trap, didn't I? For one post and a couple of comments, I took my eye off the ball. I got so sidetracked responding to the Walter thing that I forgot one of the reasons his election was engineered. He's not only there to do the bidding of others, putting up a front of stentorian smog, giving the appearance of gravitas whilst saying absolutely nothing, he's there to draw fire.

Just as his out-sized physicality and vocal timbre obscure his Escher-like communication skills, his very presence as president exists to obscure those who really run things.

But Walter is there for target practice, so easy to hit, so lampoon-able, much easier than Tolis. (I only made fun of the former presidents' sometimes inpenetrable accent in private. That was too politically incorrect for even me to do in print).

On reflection, CHCA president-selection does have a pattern. Someone with some sort of surface attribute of what the gullible intrepret as CLASS. Maxine and her Southern Charm and clerical background, Tolis and his Continental (albeit the island outpost of) flair, and now Walter and his Foghorn Leghorn sound and fury signifying......Huh?-What did he say?

At least Maxine spun her own webs. No Dina in the prompter box needed for her. And by the way, where the hell IS Maxine? I hope my first scalp is running her game on someone who deserves it. Ah, Maxine-Bernie Madoff crossed with Blanche DuBois.

So anyway, I have spent too much time parrying with, and writing about Walter, but as you can see, he's like potato chips, so hard to resist. So W.S., I will now focus on the real movers behind your election and the CHCA. So many fronts, so many back rooms.

A final note for you however. You're not a bad guy. You just got so desparate for some semblence of stature, somewhere, that you took the only job that was offered. History is littered with similar stories. They usually end up with someone saying that they only followed orders. But I guess you're used to that by now. Ask Lady MacBethstein about it, or is she too busy "kvelling"? (Ask her what that means).

Ed (God, I'm a stinker - but they deserve it) Feldman

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Record Shows...

I don't usually do this. In fact I never do it . When someone criticizes my work without actually contradicting it, I just let it lay. If you don't have counter facts, or equal style, why should I ? I don't argue with people who just say I'm wrong, or mean, or ...something. And threats don't work either. But since so many of you still may not get it, or don't read ANY newspaper, and since, after putting off finishing that last Walter-like fog-bowl response of journalistic parvenu, I felt perhaps some parallel facts may be in order.

He accused me of judging others wholly on the basis of their having opinions differing from my own. I assume that he assumes that other local citizens who have run from the CHCA like Bambi's family from the forest fire has nothing to do with them seeing exactly what I saw. I also assume that he assumes that the oversight committee, made up of two attorneys and a former banker made up all of the report that was never contradicted by the board before, during, or after it abolished the oversight committee before its term expired.

But perhaps my accuser, who may or may not have a law degree, or be a member of any city democratic infrastructure, would listen to some others who, after a little investigation, have come to ally themselves with my "personal" agenda.

I called Trustee Chip Butler dishonest and a bad liar. In print. In the Local. I presented corroborated facts. Within months, he was arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced by the Eastern District Court. I had no prior knowledge of this. But I wasn't shocked.

I called John Capoferri some similar things in the Local. He has been arrested on multiple charges and will appear in the Dock on June 11.

The Pennsylvania State Attorney General, who, at last look, doesn't investigate organizations because their opinions "differ" from my own, or their own, or from anybody's own. They investigate on FACTS. Some of the facts I, and others have given them, are the same ones I have written about in the Local, and here.

So Walter, or whomever, or whomever is telling you to threaten me or Scott with legal action because of what I accuse you and your masters of, know that three different law enforcement agencies have found precisely what I have .

That the board is dirty. That the trustees can't be trusted. That those who the board has harbored and defended are, by the LEGAL definition of the word, CRIMINALS.

Want me to call the same law enforcement officials who investigated, arrested, charged, and sentenced the same people I accused first to the witness stand? I'd like that.

We can also discuss Dina and the ballots, Richard and the signs, and Walter and the vote count electing him to the CHCA presidency, that he pretended not to know at the meeting, but was actually told about before the meeting, before the vote was taken. I guess he confuses the big "D' in the the Democratic committee he belongs to with the little "d" in democracy that secret ballots are supposed to represent. We could talk about that too.

That the emperor has no clothes has long been known around the hill. What the emperor has been doing with a certain portion of his exposed anatomy is a matter of record.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Some People Care..

I'll send something like this in to the Local and it won't be published. Pete told me that people just don't care. I told him he was half right. Those of you who have lives look at the CHCA's behavior as a combination of amusing, childish, and disgusting, but who cares? I dig.

The fact that, in an affluent neighborhood, the community government defrauds the community should engender little concern. That's always been my fallback position. I get to tell creeps what they are, tell you what they do. It diminishes their smugness, it makes them a little less happy. And I enjoy myself. But if I fail to thwart their plans, who gets hurt? More affluent whites. Who gives a shit? It's win-win for Eddie.

But some people DO care. They're the people on the board who will brook no breech of discipline. We saw a couple of instances of that at the May meeting, when the old Dina-Tolis -Stewie dynasty gave way to the Snowden-CHBA order. If you remember Caligula to Nero, without Claudius in between, you get the picture.

Tolis gave his valedictory, in which he gave special advice on learning and following the bylaws. Atheists everywhere should rejoice, for the fact that no lightning struck the outgoing president as he said those words prove that no god exists. Three feet away, Dina, who with Tolis' complicity has broken bylaws the way her pit bulls eat, sat mute. For the first meeting in ages, she did not have to whisper instructions into his ear before he acted. This little speech had already been prepared. Had only they been this organized before!

She may have been mulling her fate under the new order. For while there IS overlap in the Dina-Snowden Pathology, Dina's motivation has been simply sociopathic. Never smiling, always looking down, always starting her statements with the phrase, "what you have to understand," the earmarks of a life of non-engagement with others, except for the purposes of condescension and control. Richard on the other hand, while no stranger to vengeful foot stamping, does have a toe dipped in the pool of real-world commerce as motivation, if only for the continued obedience of Greg Welsh, Fran O'Donnell and the rest of the marginal Hill businesses who need every edge to move "product."

But what of Dina's future? She must know that there's a new sheriff in town. And he must know, for I have mentioned it, that she, along with Carol Cope and their then-numerous disciples, blocked Richards apology - for a while - and was even against his purchase of 8431. That was before his sweetheart deal with the convict-trustee Chip Butler got him his last CHCA scalp.
Richard has a beltful now. We shall see in the upcoming months, whether Dina, in a move to retain the power she has so single-mindedly amassed, will make a deal with Richard. It may already have happened.

But Dina may just be allying through surrogates. And certainly the culture of Hill businesses (or for that matter , any businesses) can supply them. For while the pathology of both Richard and Dina have a strict "cross me and I'll cut you" dynamic, business folk can't afford that luxury. Even the most hated of adversaries are potential customers.

This explains the always -for-sale Lou Aiello smiling at me, the slumlord thousandaire Sanjiv Jain calling me on the phone to make peace, and even Hate-Criminal Rob Remus claiming no ill will towards me after the May meeting. He's probably a new disciple of Sanjiv's "make people like you-it's easier to cheat them" Landmark business success course.

So Dina had Mike Hickey as her partner in the nomination manipulation scam we saw. Mike, so big and brawny, yet I got him to wimp out in the Town hall lobby two years ago, and now he attacks Ron Recko in a meeting from which Ron is absent. Pussy stuff, Mike.

But maybe you missed some hits carried out recently, perhaps a last show of force by Dina before she finally has to share power with the boy-kink.

In a arcane bit of interlocking representative-titty-twisting, Meredith Sonderscov, one of those hard working volunteers that the board always lauds, got kicked to the curb and replaced by a more loyal-to-Dina volunteer. Meredith had agreed that Dina had broken the election rules, and had the bad judgement to say so. That was enough for her position as Senior Center to be -1. eliminated, and -2. reinstated with a different, now hyphenated name, with someone else in the position.

That the center is now located in the building that Snowden got Butler to sell him, against the wishes of Dina, is a concept that would have baffled Richard Feynman. It may or may not be unraveled in the fullness of time.

So Dina succeeds where the White Citizens Council, (one of Meredith's past sparring partners failed.

And now, a lesson in loyalty vs " reasonableness". Pat Moran is a reasonable guy. He tried to bridge the gap between those who have used the CHCA as their pigsty and those who told you all about it. He was so reasonable that he never even spoke to me. He defended the board often, but said it could improve. I do not think his partners' position as community manager had anything to do with any of his actions.

But Pat went too far too often for Dina. He said he was "appalled" at the way the ballot destroying election played, and at this election he was cut like a mackerel. No more board for reasonable Pat. He sat, face down, at the meeting. I couldn't get him to look at me. Pat-It's OK- you can talk to me now- They screwed you for being reasonable and having morals.
I called Phil and left a message. In it I mentioned that sitting on their hands while Jimmy Pack got Hate-Crimed didn't help them. It's all or nothing with Her. I wonder what Rob Remus thinks about Pat and Phil?

So, two disloyal volunteers down and, well no more to go, unless someone new, with the knowledge that even reasonable objections are treated like so many turds in a cut-glass punchbowl at the Holiday House Tour, will take put their board membership in jeopardy by.......objecting to something!

Certainly that's why Tom Hemphill didn't have a chance at President over Walter Sullivan. Even if the vote outcome hadn't been known before the meeting and been told to Walter, who in a nice bit of asymetry, neglected to give the count after the results were announced, as per the rules......rules? election rules?

Tom dislikes my tactics, and me personally,I think. But he got screwed here too. He has, like Pat Moran, reasonably defended the board, most recently at the inaugural Chestnut hill Residents' Association meeting, but he made two critical mistakes. He said, at the CHRA meeting that Pete would be fired, "over my dead body", while Mark Kientz was in the room. He may as well have hired a sky writer. And during his pre-vote speech, said that he would restore trust in the board if elected president. The cardinal rule of the CHCA has always been denial and admitting fault gets you, well, Tom lost by ten votes. See, I got the vote count even though they didn't announce it!

But for comedy writers like me, even when stuck in black comedies in white neighborhoods, all is not lost. For in Walter Sullivan we have found our touchstone of buffoonery, a Punchinello of Pomposity, the big wind from Winnetka, a man so rife with comedic possibilities that the anticipation of his stewardship of meetings makes me think that I could make money selling tickets.

I will, at every opportunity, video tape these public meetings, as is my legal right, and You-Tube the shit out of them. Walters' Foghorn Leghorn obliviousness to his obfuscatorian bombast will make him a star on the order of Keyboard Cat. Christ Almighty, I CAN'T WAIT!

Walters election is due, of course, to his past obedience to Dina et al. But rather then his willingness to follow orders in order to acheive the cubic zirconia of a career of always being outrun by speeding ambulances, I think his natural ability to make any audience's eyes glaze over and think about other times, other places, anything but the drone of his basso confoundo, got him this job.

Since no one ever knows what the hell Walter is saying, since he never makes his point , but sounds like he might, it's the perfect smokescreen for a board who does all it's work outside the board room, in secret. All this entertainment, and I haven't even gotten to Richard yet. Or Stewie and the plight of a Republican in Philly, or Doug Doman' s Institute of False Hope, or Marie Lachat's $26,000.000 blackmail, or Jane Pietrowski's racket.


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