Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My meeting with Rep. Miller

Yesterday, I met with State Representative Dan Miller, Commissioner Kelly Fraasch, and former Mt. Lebanon Commission President Matt Kluck. The topic was transparency in Mt. Lebanon. I had attended Rep. Miller's Right To Know Information Session in November and know that transparency in government is very important to Dan.

I am extremely frustrated with what is happening within the Municipality. Just trying to get an email to the Planning Board was an ordeal. I sent an email to Municipal Planner Keith McGill asking him to forward my email to the members of the Planning Board. On the subject of the Planning Board, the meeting last night was in the commission chambers and was not video recorded, even though a staff person was paid to sit there and video record it. Here is an email exchange that I had with Commissioner Fraasch and Keith McGill. Kelly has had a difficult time getting all the boards and authority meetings videotaped. No consistency whatsoever.

I suggested that the boards get their own email addresses, such as sportsadvisoryboard at mtlebanon dot org. It is ludicrous that we cannot reach the boards via email.

Another problem that I have is the lack of transparency when it comes to personal emails and text messages for RTK requests. A Right To Know was granted to me yesterday, after my meeting. My RTK was:
All communication to/from Commissioners for March 11, 12, and 13, 2014 pertaining to turf, Castlegate, Newcomer's tax, and/or about residents or guests who spoke at the March 11, 2014 meeting during Citizens Comments.
I filed an appeal today with the Office Of Open Records over an email exchange from that RTK request in which Kristen Linfante had with Kelly Fraasch. Kristen had sent an email to the commission and copied staff about a citizen who challenged the turf project during Citizen Comments at a commission meeting. The reason why I appealed the RTK is because her personal email, sent by a constituent, was not included in the RTK. I also challenged the RTK because I never get any text messages included in any of my RTKs. I am still waiting for a final determination of a previous appeal that was sent to the OOR for the very same thing.

I couldn't believe I was saying this at Dan's meeting yesterday, but the MTLSD website does not list phone numbers of the school board members, only email addresses in their contact information. The municipality should follow MTLSD, and adopt the same policy. (I know! Can you believe that I said that??) By including phone numbers, residents are encouraged to text message or call commissioners and makes it virtually impossible to access that information for Right To Know requests.

I also raised questions about the turf project. There seems to be a lot of secrecy when it comes to this turf project. Even fundraising has raised flags. I want to share an email exchange that came to me today over the fundraising email sent out by the Recreation Department's Sandy Kyper.

From: Stephen Feller [mailto:sfeller@mtlebanon.org]
Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 2:57 PM
To: A Concerned Resident
Cc: David Donnellan
Subject: your question

I am told that the email was sent to the addresses on the recreation program notification data base and that this includes over 8,000 addresses that have asked to be notified about recreation programs and facility updates. Some of these folks do not live in Mt. Lebanon. 

OVER EIGHT THOUSAND ADDRESSES? The “recreation program notification database” solely belongs to the Municipality for Municipality specific use and it was used to benefit the Soccer Association, the Lacrosse Association and the Endowment, which are all third party independent organizations.

Finally, I would like to share an email exchange, which was a followup to Rep. Miller's meeting. I do hope changes are made as a result of my meeting.

From #8 to #11 to #20

According to U.S. News and World Report, we have dropped again. Last year, I posted We have dropped to #11.

Pennsylvania Best High Schools

The U.S. News "best schools" rankings for 2014 have been released. Here are the top 10 in Pennsylvania:

#1 Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School
1699 SPRING GARDEN ST, PHILADELPHIA, PA 19130
2825 STATE ST, ERIE, PA 16508
#3 New Hope-Solebury High School
182 WEST BRIDGE ST, NEW HOPE, PA 18938
#4 Wyomissing Area Junior/Senior High School
630 EVANS AVE, WYOMISSING, PA 19610
#5 Conestoga High School
200 IRISH RD, BERWYN, PA 19312
#6 Upper St. Clair High School
1825 MCLAUGHLIN RUN RD, PITTSBURGH, PA 15241
#7 Unionville High School
750 UNIONVILLE RD, KENNETT SQUARE, PA 19348
#8 Radnor High School
130 KING OF PRUSSIA RD, RADNOR, PA 19087
#9 Wissahickon Senior High School
521 HOUSTON RD, AMBLER, PA 19002
#10 Great Valley High School
225 NORTH PHOENIXVILLE PK, MALVERN, PA 19355

~~~~~~

#20 Mt. Lebanon High School

Ratings are based on based on student/teacher ratio, how 12th graders performed on their AP tests, and how they performed in math and reading on their state exit exams. Mt. Lebanon has a national rank of 962. Of the top ten high schools in the USA, eight are in the South or Southwest; one is in California, and one is in Michigan. Two of the top ten high schools are charters; in fact #2 in the nation is a charter school in Arizona. In Pennsylvania, Upper St. Clair IMPROVED, going from #7 in 2013 to #6 in the PA ranking.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Food For Thought For The Planning Board UPDATED

In preparation for tonight's Planning Board meeting, a concerned resident found a previous discussion on artificial turf in the August 27, 2013 meeting minutes

Mr. Pittman asked about the artificial turf that is recommended form Wildcat and Middle fields.
Mr. McGill said he believes the majority of the commission supports an artificial surface. They looked at the pros and cons of artificial and natural surfaces, received advice from the sports advisory board and conducted several meetings hearing arguments both for and against turf, of turf on one field either Wildcat or Middle field.
Mr. Pittman is concerned about the expense and if the use of the fields warrants it. He said he goes by those fields and many times they are not in use.
Mr. McGill said the users of those fields have indicated that fields are often not in unusable condition. Every year it is a challenge for the recreation department to provide adequate field space for all of the different sports. Some sports organizations have had to lease fields in other communities because there were no fields available in Mt. Lebanon. Adding lighting to these fields could extend time frame that they would be in use.
Mr. Pittman said artificial turf does not alleviate the need for field space, it only protects the field after a weather event. He is concerned about the athletes’ safety with artificial surfaces.
Mr. Sabeh said the newer surfaces are designed to be safer than grass and absorb more impact, thereby protecting the athlete better.

With all due respect, Mr. Sabeh, you are misinformed. I have been posting links to documentation that says otherwise on Lebo Citizens. Here are some new ones which were sent to me.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Artificial Turf 

Are artificial turf fields carcinogenic?

Mr. Sabeh, in case you were wondering about lawsuits, grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. This extensive list will keep you busy for some time.

http://www.synturf.org/lawsuits.html 


State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General 

I understand that you base your decisions on the 2013 Comprehensive Plan. (Please allow extra time for link to open. It is a large document.)

Action 8: Promote public/private partnerships related to recreation planning and improvements to maximize recreation opportunities in a cost effective manner.
Mr. Sabeh, check out how a school district was stuck replacing six year old artificial turf after it failed prematurely. Beaverton School District to spend up to $850,000 to replace failing artificial turf fields 
Although the district signed a limited warranty with the installer, faulty record-keeping on the district's part complicated negotiations for a new field.
You may have heard of a similar incident occurring here in Mt. Lebanon, Mr. Sabeh. Talk with Mr. Feller about poor record keeping and warranties connected with the Public Safety Building.

Please think long and hard before you rubber stamp this project, Mr. Sabeh. Turfing fields is a life long commitment. Once the artificial turf is installed, there is no turning back without extensive soil remediation which takes years to recover. This turf will be replaced every eight years, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Think about the lawsuits. Consider the safety of our children. Please.

Update April 22, 2014 10:13 AM I sent an email this morning to Keith McGill, asking to forward a link to this post to the Planning Board. Here is his response.

Good morning Elaine,

The agenda item on tonight's Planning Board meeting for the Wildcat/Middle Field project is an update for the Planning Board on the status of a project that is identified in the Comprehensive Plan.

The Board will not be taking an action or making a recommendation on this project as no action is required. The project is an improvement of an existing facility. As you are aware the Commission voted in favor of a motion to assign funds for this project in November of 2013 with a requirement that non-municipal funds be in place to allow the project to move forward.

The Planning Board takes Citizens comments at the end of the meeting for any non-action items.

As always, thank you for your interest in the community and I will look forward to seeing you at tonight's meeting.

Respectfully,

Keith


Friday, April 18, 2014

Keeping it Real 2014

Little did James Cannon III realize when he made his Keeping it Real - The truth behind artificial surfaces in Mt. Lebanon presentation to the Commission in 2012, that he would still be advocating for grass fields two years later. Jim is part of a larger group that has banded together opposing toxic turf.

Flyers are being distributed to neighboring streets by residents who believe the Mt. Lebanon Middle and Wildcat Fields Turf Project must stop. The reasons are plentiful:
  • THIS IS A POTENTIAL HEALTH RISK
  • THIS IS POOR ECONOMIC POLICY and a MILLION DOLLAR PROJECT
  • GOVERNANCE BY THE COMMISSION IS QUESTIONABLE 
  • MUNICIPAL REGULATIONS HAVE NOT BEEN CONSIDERED (all the while fundraising is already underway)
  • THIS IS A RISK TO OUR ENVIRONMENT
I am including the link to the flyer which can be printed and distributed by all Lebo Citizens readers who believe the same.

Joan E. Gibson submitted an opinion piece to The Almanac  (Saved in Google Docs) this week, asking commissioners to further investigate the dangers of playing on artificial turf, citing the American Academy of Neurology and "the article in the most recent issue of American Family Physician Practice Guidelines (April 1, 2014) the article is entitled 'Evaluation and Management of Concussion in Athletes: Recommendations from the AAN.'”


According to the Turf Project Task Force Presentation timeline, Mt. Lebanon will advertise for bids on May 15, 2014. We have a very narrow window of opportunity to stop this before bids go out. 

What can you do?

MAKE YOUR CONCERNS KNOWN TO THE COMMISSIONERS!

Important meetings this week:
  • CRITICAL MEETING: The turf project is on the Planning Board Agenda for 4/22. This is the best opportunity to stop this project. Go to the Commission Chamber in the Municipal Building at 7:00 PM.
  • Attend the Municipal informational meeting on 4/24 at the concession stand building at the fields on Cedar Blvd. at 6:00 PM and ASK QUESTIONS! (In case of inclement weather meet in the ice rink lobby.)
  • Attend the Commission discussion meeting on 4/28 at 6:30 PM, and then the regular meeting at 8:00 in the Municipal Building. Plan to ASK QUESTIONS when they are permitted at the beginning of the 8:00 meeting! Sign up to speak near the Commission Chamber door. Bring friends and family. (Agendas to follow)
  • Attend the Environmental Sustainability Board’s (ESB) Educational Forum on Artificial Turf on 4/30 at 7:00 PM in the Municipal Bldg. Get the real facts about artificial turf!
  • Write to the Commissioners at commission@mtlebanon.org

MOST IMPORTANTLY – GET INVOLVED! The commission is putting your health and safety at potential risk with this project. You have VERY LITTLE time to tell them NO!

For more health and environment information, here are some useful links:

Commissioner Kelly Fraasch’s blog: www.kellyfraasch.com/blog
Lebo Citizens www.lebocitizens.com
Recorded public meetings including those of the Commission, Sports Advisory Board (SAB), Planning Board, Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB)and Parks Advisory Board (PAB) can be viewed at www.mtlebanon.org/index.aspx?NID=2151

Note: The hyperlink to James Cannon's presentation has been removed from this page.

Want to pay to have your garbage collected?

There is a real possibility, if the commission gets their way. There will be an informational meeting April 21, 2014 in the commission chambers, starting at 6:00 PM.

Here is what is on Commisioner Fraasch's blog:


Anyone wondering what this Pay As You Throw potential garbage program is about? 
Please join the ESB as they host a Q/A with representatives from WasteZero, the largest Pay As You Throw company in the US.  All are welcome and no RSVP is required.
Monday, April 21st at 6pm in the Municipal Building.
Please come out and learn about this programming and if the Commission implements the program how it will affect you.

********

This will affect every resident of Mt. Lebanon. Please don't say that you didn't know about it. You've been warned.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Once, twice, three times a lady...

For those of you who are new to this, it takes at least 2-3 emails to our finance director, before your question gets answered. Here is an example.

From: Mr. Concerned Resident
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2014 11:36 AM
To: Jan Klein
Subject: double counting

Ms. Klein,
At Tuesday’s school board meeting a Mt. Lebanon taxpayer, Bill Matthews, discussed what he felt was double counting properties that were currently under appeal and as a result of this there was a $36 million difference.
Was Mr. Matthews accurate in his thinking?
I would like to obtain the documents that show the $214 pertaining to current appeals and compare for myself to see if these properties were double counted. Do I need a right to know request to obtain these documents?
Thank you,

Concerned Resident
Mt. Lebanon, PA
****

From: Jan Klein [mailto:JKlein@mtlsd.net]
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2014 11:46 AM
To: Mr. Concerned Resident
Cc: Dr. Timothy Steinhauer
Subject: RE: double counting

Mr. Concerned Resident

The numbers Mr Mathews referenced are county reports and you may obtain them directly from the county. We also have copies which you may request through RTK. The forms are on our website.

Note that the reports were used to ESTIMATE potential reductions in assessment in a proposed budget document. Those numbers and other projections of revenue change frequently as updated information becomes available and will change again before our final budget is approved by the Board next month.
Respectfully,

Jan

Janice Klein
Director of Business
Mt. Lebanon School District
7 Horsman Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15228

412-344-2098 (office)
412-559-9310 (cell)

I prefer the errors of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom - Anatole France


From: Mr. Concerned Resident
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2014 12:05 PM
To: Jan Klein
Cc: Dr. Timothy Steinhauer
Subject: RE: double counting

Jan,

Thank you for your reply, I appreciate the information.

With your explanation on estimates which I know will fluctuate between now and then, are you answering my question as to whether Mr. Matthews was accurate in his statements that there was evidence of double counting of properties that were in the appeal process?

Let me ask again…was Mr. Matthews accurate in his thinking and numbers by coming to a conclusion that double counting of properties currently under appeal existed when Mt. Lebanon created their current budget?

Thank you Jan,

C.R.


From: Jan Klein [mailto:JKlein@mtlsd.net]
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2014 3:05 PM
To: Mr. Concerned Resident
Cc: Dr. Timothy Steinhauer
Subject: RE: double counting

I do not verify Mr Mathews’ numbers.

Respectfully,
Jan
Janice Klein
Director of Business
Mt. Lebanon School District
7 Horsman Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15228

412-344-2098 (office)
412-559-9310 (cell)

I prefer the errors of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom - Anatole France



Hey, did you hear about the deer that got away?

Nothing about double counting or $36 million, but we do get to read about this.

Mt. Lebanon police investigating morning car crash
By The Tribune-Review
 
Published: Thursday, April 17, 2014 11:15 a.m.
Updated 5 hours ago
A vehicle crashed into a deer in Mt. Lebanon on Thursday morning, Mt. Lebanon
police said.
The wreck was reported about 10:45 a.m. in the 900 block of Washington Road, 
Deputy Chief Aaron Lauth said.
The driver wasn't hurt, and the deer ran away, he said.








Copyright © 2014 — Trib Total Media

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

$36 million in double counting UPDATED 3X

Last night, Bill Matthews hit one out of the ball park. He has identified $36 million in double counting in the budget. The following combines Bill's comments in the beginning of the meeting and at the end of the meeting. Bill identified specific Board of Viewers cases which are duplicates. PLEASE take the time to listen to his comments.




Update April 16, 2014 2:51 PM The following update is from Bill Matthews:

The “double counting” relates to the properties in our community that are currently under appeal with the County. Recently, Dr. Steinhauer reported to the board and our community that these properties totaled about $214 million. The district assumes this collective valuation may be reduced by 20% by the time each of these cases reaches final adjudication. Appropriately, the district makes an allowance for successful appeals in preparing its annual budget.

Upon request, the district provided reports detailing the $214 million – by property. In the first 2 minutes of my review, I concluded there were cases counted twice by the district, and additionally, there were several individual properties with two cases pending, effectively resulting in double counting (counting the property valuation twice, once for each pending appeal).

My deduction is that at the point in time of the district’s calculation, the collective value of properties under appeal was $178 million; $36 million less what Dr. Steinhauer reported.

Because an allowance is only made for the value of successful appeals (20%) not the entire $36 million, about $7.3 million in additional property valuation may be included in our community tax base for budget purposes. This $7.3 million represents about $164 thousand in ultimate tax revenue not currently included in the district’s proposed budget.

In other words, adding back the $164 thousand in anticipated revenue would reduce the millage increase required to balance the budget from the proposed .54 mills to .48 mills; a reduction of more than 10%.

Update April 17, 2014 9:34 AM Elaine Cappucci asks Jan Klein about the budget and double counting prior to the Proposed Budget vote on April 15, 2014.




Update April 17, 2014 10:57 AM The entire April 15, 2014 School Board Meeting podcast is available on my website, Lebo Citizens.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oops, my mistake

It turns out that the meeting on April 24, 2014 is only for residents who live next to the fields.



From: David Donnellan [mailto:ddonnellan@mtlebanon.org]
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2014 2:32 PM
To: Concerned Resident
Subject: Re: letter

Mr. Concerned Resident:

The letter was sent only to residents living adjacent to, or in very close proximity to Wildcat and Middle fields on Cedar Boulevard.

David D. Donnellan
Director
Mt. Lebanon Recreation Department
900 Cedar Boulevard - 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
Phone: (412) 343-4519
Fax: (412) 561-6499
www.mtlebanon.org

*****

From: David Donnellan [mailto:ddonnellan@mtlebanon.org]
Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 3:56 PM
To: Concerned Resident
Cc: Steve Feller
Subject: Re: letter

Mr. Concerned Resident:

The turf project has been presented at several commission meeting discussion sessions, which are open to the public. You may wish to view the commission discussion sessions on our website and/or attend a commission meeting. At the April 8 commission discussion session, the concept plan was reviewed. Below is a link to the turf project summary, including the concept plan.

http://mtlebanon.org/index.aspx?NID=2199

Since the property owners nearby the fields are most affected by the project, a separate meeting with them was deemed appropriate.

David D. Donnellan
Director
Mt. Lebanon Recreation Department
900 Cedar Boulevard - 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
Phone: (412) 343-4519
Fax: (412) 561-6499
www.mtlebanon.org

*****
On Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 4:29 PM, Concerned Resident wrote:

Thank you Dave.

Can you please email me a copy of the letter you sent out to those residents including a list of folks who received that letter.

Also, because this is a public informational meeting, any Mt. Lebanon resident can attend, correct?

Thank you Dave,

Concerned Resident

*******

From: David Donnellan [mailto:ddonnellan@mtlebanon.org]
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2014 4:38 PM
To: Concerned Resident
Subject: Re: letter

While we are happy to accept input from any resident on this project, our intention with this meeting is to get input from residents who live next to the field.

David D. Donnellan
Director
Mt. Lebanon Recreation Department
900 Cedar Boulevard - 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
Phone: (412) 343-4519
Fax: (412) 561-6499
www.mtlebanon.org

*******

From: David Donnellan [mailto:ddonnellan@mtlebanon.org]
Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 5:18 PM
To: Concerned Resident
Cc: Steve Feller
Subject: Re: letter

Mr. Concerned Resident:

If you would like to make a public records request, please follow the instructions on our website. Link below:

http://mtlebanon.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/2962

The meeting with neighborhood residents is not a meeting for the general public. The Commission and our consultants will be discussing the project at the discussion session on April 28. That would be a more appropriate meeting for you to attend.

David D. Donnellan
Director
Mt. Lebanon Recreation Department
900 Cedar Boulevard - 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
Phone: (412) 343-4519
Fax: (412) 561-6499
www.mtlebanon.org


I  omitted most of the Concerned Resident's emails. Based on David Donnellan's responses, it is pretty clear that the resident was asking why he did not receive a letter to this meeting since the majority of the project is being funded by public funds. 

So how many "neighborhood residents" will be attending this meeting that is not intended for the general public? You gotta love the community outreach! We don't want to be too transparent, do we?

How do you do this on synthetic or organic infill?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Newcomers, School Board Meeting on Tuesday

Normally, the Mt. Lebanon School Board would be meeting on Monday, but due to the Holiday, it has been moved to Tuesday, April 15, 2014. The agenda has been posted here.

On the agenda,
2014-2015 Proposed Final Budget: RESOLVED, That the Board approves a Proposed Final Budget in the amount of $87,924,509, at a millage rate of 23.15 mills, a .54 mill increase from 2013-14, utilizing $750,000 of the fund balance in the form presented.
Furthermore, the Board intends to vote on a Final Budget with such changes as it deems necessary at its May 19, 2014 meeting.
For those new to the system, residents are permitted to speak for four minutes at the beginning of the meeting, only on action items on the agenda. I see that Bill Matthews has requested to speak. My guess it is concerning the Proposed Final Budget. I hope President Cappucci actually listens to him this time instead of watching the time clock. Last year, she was very rude to him.

Last year, the school board was a smidgeon more transparent than they are this year. Last year, a list of suggested cost reductions was published and discussed at a separate Budget Forum. This year, we will learn more about the "Final Budget with such changes as it deems necessary at its May 19, 2014 meeting."

Another very important topic, which started prior to the newcomers' arrival is the high school renovation. The Almanac reports in the article Retirements, tuition payments will help close Lebo budget gap (Saved in Google Docs) concerning the $91,713 change order on the agenda:

the installation of additional sprinklers in the catwalk area above the auditorium. Project plans had not flagged this as occupied space. 
Architect Tom Celli said this was a miss by the design team. “When you have a project of this size and complexity, with materials and controls coming from all over the country, these things are going to happen. We have gotten nothing but great feedback, whether from people in the community or those who have competed in the gym or the swimming pool.”
I am glad that Dan Remely didn't throw Fire Chief Sohyda under the bus, as he had done in the past. I question Celli's comment about the great feedback about the swimming pool. I understand that the railing reported in the Fall is still taped off with caution tape.

The Almanac article continues with
contractors have billed 72 percent of construction costs, and have used 71 percent of the project’s contingency funds. 
Both Celli and project manager Tom Berkebile expressed confidence that the project would finish within the established contingency. 
It’s going to be close,” Berkebile said, “but I still feel confident we’re going to get there.”
What that means is that the project should have gone to Referendum, but it would never have passed. If they go over, then voters get to decide to leave a school partially completed, or approve the project after the fact. We were told that the high school renovation would bring people to the community, similar to the rhetoric we are hearing about the artificial turf on Cedar Blvd. Aren't you glad you moved here?

If newcomers (and any other residents) wish to speak about items unrelated to the agenda, you must wait until the end of the meeting, where you are given five minutes to speak. Warning, the school board will be watching the clock instead of listening to what you have to say. These are the same people who have been working with Diversified Municipal Services for years. Enough said.

Let's hear from the men too!

Lebo Citizens reader and frequent commenter, Charlotte Stephenson spoke about the problems associated with artificial turf at a recent ESB meeting. With her permission, I have published Charlotte's letter below.

Dear Fellow Concerned Mt. Lebanon Residents: 
The video of the April 10 Environmental Sustainability Board meeting is now available to watch on the www.mtlebanon.org website
There are many reasons why this project is not good for our community and they range from the threat to public health to wasteful economic policy and improper ethical political procedures [Kristen Linfante told a bold faced lie when she stated the ESB was behind the project] in play where certain Commissioners are supporting pet projects in spite of the common good. Did you know that our municipal employee is fundraising for a local non-profit agency to secure funding for this project? Yes, your tax dollars are at work there. 
Please send this to friends or neighbors who are not aware of what is in the works for us. Working together, perhaps we can change the course on this problem situation in our community. 
Thank You, 
Charlotte Stephenson
 Just as James Cannon III came forward with his Keeping It Real presentation, I hope more men get involved and express their concerns with toxic turf.  It appears to me that the SAB, Commission, and Municipal staff seem to be more receptive to men. Come on, Dads. We need your help.

Friday, April 11, 2014

What has Mt. Lebanon become? UPDATED

Yesterday was most disappointing for me. In a matter of a few hours, I received an abundance of emails exemplifying the corruption in our local government.

Earlier in the day, I reported an address to the commission of a friend of both Dave Brumfield and Kristen Linfante, whose home is assessed $310,000 below their purchase price last year, along with the link to their friend's County Assessment. I was alerted to this discrepancy by a Lebo Citizens reader.

Moments later, my mailbox was flooded with emails from Lebo Citizens readers notifying me of the fundraising efforts by the Recreation Department as discussed in my post, TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATEAs I mentioned in my previous post, I questioned the commission about this action in a separate email.

At the same time, a newcomer received this response from Dominick Gambino, who clearly intended to send it to Nancy Carroll. The resident had been asking for information concerning his appeal.

From: Dominick Gambino <d.gambino@comcast.net>
Subject: Re: Municipal Tax Assessment Appeal
Date: Thu 04/10/14 02:43 PM

He can't stand that you won't react. That's the best weapon against folks like him
Sent from my iPhone

This attitude is exactly what we are seeing from our local elected officials. I had emailed the commission asking about the results of the deer aerial survey. As usual, Kristen ignored me. This issue is very important to me, but based on what I had seen at Tuesday's meeting, the citizen who spoke during Citizen Comments was informed. I had heard that the pro-culling residents were circling their wagons and her comments confirmed it. Transparency? Nope, not any more.

I received one response to my emails.
From: David Brumfield < davidcbrumfield@gmail.com>
To: egillen476 < egillen476@aol.com>
Sent: Thu, Apr 10, 2014 03:24 PM
Subject: Re: Totally inappropriate

How is forwarding an email request for charitable donations inappropriate. Aside from your dislike of the project please explain how this is any different than assisting in the advertising for Martha's Run or the Ultra Party.
Additionally, as to your prior email I think it is an unforgivable invasion of privacy for you to circulate the name, address and community service record of a resident whose assessment is being appealed in some cheap attempt to allege bias contrary to the facts.
In the future please do not copy me on any emails where you cast aspersions on private residents. I have no desire to participate in your slanderous gossip.
To prevent the unnecessary dissemination of this information I am only responding to you. I shall not copy or forward this and request you act likewise.
Dave Brumfield
I explained to Dave that because his email is subject to a Right To Know, according to the Sunshine Law, I could not honor his request. Since it was written from his personal email account, I now understand why there are never any emails of his in my Right To Knows. 

Emailing to the Commission is not slanderous gossip. In light of the fact that our Commission is in the news over the Newcomer's Tax, I felt that my email was not out of line.

I did not see the letter from the Recreation Department as forwarding an email request. I let Dave know that I disagreed with him. Comparing this to Martha's Run or Ultra Party is insulting. $750,000 of our money is going into this project already, without any approval from constituents. Does the Municipality donate to Martha's Run or Ultra Party? Hardly. I know that the committee for Martha's Run pays to advertise in mtl Magazine.

I also felt that a more appropriate response from Dave, in regard to the assessment of his friends, would have been, "Thank you for your concern. This property has been appealed by the Municipality."

I am so tired of the tone that our elected officials use with their constituents. I am tired of the attitude from many staff members within our local government. I don't appreciate how the newcomers are being treated by a contractor hired by the Municipality and School District. It is offensive to me that an employee is on the Mt. Lebanon Community Relations Board. 

The public is seeing this very ugly side of Mt. Lebanon. The transparency is gone. Where is the civility, Kristen and Dave? It left the school board long ago.

Update April 11, 2014 2:10 PM Good thing I didn't see this on Facebook yesterday. Don't you just love to see municipal staff fundraising for the non-municipal share on our dime? (Saved in Google Docs)




Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dear Newcomers

The following letter is from Lebo Citizens reader, John David Kendrick.

DEAR NEWCOMERS,…

Earlier today I watched the April 8, 2014 meeting of the Mt. Lebanon Commission and I have several observations that I want to share with you:

1. Contrary to Dave Brumfield’s comments around the 48 minute mark, Nancy Carroll will not have any discussion with you concerning an informal resolution of the appeal. In fact, the only response that you will get from her is, “I’ll see you at the hearing.”

2. The four Commissioners present at the meeting couldn't care less about your problems:

     a. They have no reason to care (they are not your stakeholders);

     b. They have no interest in the welfare of you or your family; and

     c. In all likelihood they don’t understand the impact that they have had on your property values.

3. All of you should be proud of how you presented yourselves at the meeting.

     a. You all were well prepared with your comments.

     b. Your comments were well researched.

     c. You showed respect for the institution and the office – which is the polar opposite of what these four FARTS have shown your families!

The question is how you can deal with the problem at hand…

The biggest problem that all of you have is that you don’t have any leverage over the Commissioners. Your presentations made an appeal to their sympathy or the logic of their decision, but you need to find something that will capture their attention and make them more sensitive and responsive to your problems. Leverage can come in many ways and political leverage appears to be the most effective solution for this problem. You need to find something, like the potential death of the turf project, that you can control. For instance, after I heard that Dick’s was contributing $5,000 I decided that I’ll never go shopping in a Dick’s store again! Maybe all of you can think of similar collective economic leverage that you can assert?

I can’t stress enough that the Commission's behavior is a call to action. There is a burning platform before every Mt. Lebanon resident – and it’s the equity, your hard-earned and invested money in your home that is going up in flames before your eyes! All of you absolutely must get involved, get organized, select your candidates and VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!

Don’t delay – the Community is about to turn into ashes before your eyes!

Sincerely,

John David Kendrick

TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE!

My mailbox is being flooded with emails complaining about the eblast that was just sent. This is totally inappropriate, using municipal email/resources to raise private funds for a private field. It is my understanding that Sandy Kyper works in the Recreation Department with David Donnellan.

Begin forwarded message:
From: "Sandy Kyper" <skyper@mtlebanon.org>
Date: April 10, 2014 at 1:18:27 PM EDT
To: skyper@mtlebanon.org
Cc: ddonnellan@mtlebanon.orglwuycheck@mtlebanon.orgpcannon@mtlebanon.org,skyper@mtlebanon.org
Subject: Mt. Lebanon Field Improvement Project
Subject: Mt. Lebanon Field Improvement Project

As you may know, the Mt. Lebanon Commission approved a plan to install artificial turf at Wildcat and Middle Fields, and allocated approximately $750,000 towards the completion of this important field improvement project.

Adding artificial turf at this location will undoubtedly benefit all of our community recreation and athletic programs, from youth soccer, lacrosse and baseball all the way up through our varsity high school programs; and it will create the opportunity for some much-anticipated adult league play.

The funds allocated by the Commission are conditioned upon a non-municipal, private contribution of approximately $250,000. Through the generosity of Mt. Lebanon's various youth sports associations, over $100,000 has been raised so far.

If you would like to make a TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation to the Turf Project Fund, donations will be received and held by the Mt. Lebanon Community Endowment. Please visit the link below to make your tax deductible contribution online:
 http://www.mtlebanonendowment.org/contributions/field-improvement-project/
The deadline for contributions is May 13, 2014.
Mt. Lebanon, are you going to tolerate this? Why are we allowing it to continue? This project is a WANT by Dave Brumfield, Dave Franklin, and David Donnellan.

Educational Forum on Artificial Turf infuriated the PIO

During the very intense Citizens Comments portion of Tuesday's Commission meeting, Environmental Sustainability Board representative, Maria Joseph announced the following Educational Forum on Artificial Turf and referenced this flyer which was available to residents.
Please look at the link to the flyer. I can't get it to format properly.


EDUCATIONAL FORUM ON ARTIFICIAL TURF IN MT LEBANON
DID YOU KNOW THAT TOWNS/CITIES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY ARE CONSIDERING MORATORIUMS ON TURF UNTIL UNBIASED SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IS AVAILABLE ON THE EXPOSURE OF ARTIFICIAL TURF ON CHILDREN’S HEALTH? 
Learn more about the impacts of artificially turfed fields when it comes to our children’s health, water run-off & heat island effects 
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30th AT 7-8:30pm 
MUNICIPAL BUILDING IN THE CHAMBERS
For more information please email:  healthylebo@gmail.com
Mt Lebanon Commissioners voted 3-2 to spend $750,000 of taxpayer money to add artificially turfed fields along Cedar Blvd at Wildcat/Middle Fields near the entrance of Main Park.    
In May a decision will be made about specific design options such as tire crumb rubber in-fill vs organic in-fill.
With such a long-term and expensive investment (over $2.5 million in 8 years),  our community needs to know more about these fields including the short and long-term effects of these materials on our children, coaches and residents nearby.

It was observed by several residents at the meeting, that our PIO was livid that this educational forum is being held in the Commission Chambers without her knowledge.

Prior to the Commission meeting, David Donnellan reported during the Commission Discussion Session that this informational meeting is taking place on April 24, 2014.


I understand that the commissioners whose wards are affected were not contacted by Mr. Donnellan prior to the announcement of this informational meeting.

I spoke with David Donnellan after Tuesday's meeting and asked him when he will be posting the concept plans that he mentioned at the Sports Advisory Board meeting. He changed his mind and was not going to post them as he had indicated to the Sports Advisory Board. He felt that they were subject to change and was asking the PIO to set up a separate web page dedicated to the Mt. Lebanon Turf Project. David offered to share them with me after I asked if I should file a Right To Know. Here they are.

Turf Concept Plan
Turf Perspective

Tonight, the Environmental Sustainability Board will be meeting at 7:30 PM in the Municipal Meeting. Unfortunately, no agenda has been posted. We can thank the municipal staff for that one.