Thursday, October 23, 2014

Report linking field surface to cancer elicits Mt. Lebanon protest UPDATED

Report linking field surface to cancer elicits Mt. Lebanon protest

Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media

The grass on the baseball fields along Cedar Blvd. in Mount Lebanon is removed for the installation of artificial turf on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.

Report linking field surface to cancer elicits Mt. Lebanon protest
By Matthew Santoni
Google+ Staff Reporter
Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, 10:25 p.m.Updated 30 minutes ago

Construction on Mt. Lebanon's controversial $1.05 million artificial turf project began Thursday, but residents concerned about possible health and environmental effects are not giving up.

Contractors started to tear up grass on a pair of overlapping baseball diamonds in Mt. Lebanon's Main Park soon after the state Department of Environmental Protection and Allegheny County Conservation District granted the municipality a storm water discharge permit.

Mt. Lebanon Manager Steve Feller said Massillon, Ohio-based Vasco Sports Contractors could finish the project before winter sets in, despite delays of more than two months from the planned Aug. 1 start date.

A residents' group known as Mt. Lebanon Advocates for Child Health has scheduled a protest at 11 a.m. Sunday in the park, and hopes to get the municipal commission to delay or change the project.

“I'm against the turf because of the health risks,” said resident Susy Tybl, who plans to attend the protest. “The materials... contain a lot of toxins, including known carcinogens. I just wish Mt. Lebanon would wait until more is known.”

An NBC News report this month highlighted more than 30 soccer players, mostly goalies, who contracted cancer after playing extensively on artificial turf, leading them to question whether there was a link.

The report highlighted the back and forth over the topic: Environmental groups point to toxins such as benzene, lead or zinc in ground-up tire rubber used to cushion and fill in fields, while turf advocates produce studies that say those materials are locked in or aren't released in high enough quantities to affect health.

“Now with the NBC news about goalies, I'm more convinced than ever that Lebo needs to hold off on artificial turf,” said resident Dean Spahr, who originally opposed the project because he preferred grass, but became more concerned about health questions.

Jeff Heiskell, who lives near the field, said he and his wife were reconsidering having children because of their proximity to the field and their worry over whether it could affect her pregnancy.

Commission President Kristen Linfante said she and the commission knew about the goalie issue, from prior news reports, before awarding the contract in July, but felt it was outweighed by studies that said turf was safe.

“Each of us did our due diligence, and the overwhelming evidence of safety has made us feel more than confident with the decision we've made,” she said, noting artificial turf is at the high school stadium and similar material is used in local playgrounds.

Proposals for the Main Park fields included an alternative, organic infill made from ground coconut shells and cork, but contractors' bids for that option came back too high.

Dave Franklin, a coach and member of the sports advisory board that pushed for the project, said the board made its recommendation to move ahead with turf based on “the totality of the circumstances.” The board compared studies, and weighed them against the desire to create a more durable field to squeeze in more playing time and whether other institutions were choosing turf or natural grass for their fields.

“I certainly respect (the opponents') position,” he said. “Parents weigh risks for their kids every day: I don't let my kids play on trampolines; I don't let my kids swim in a pool without a lifeguard.”

In approving the storm water permit, the DEP echoed the commission majority and the EPA when it wrote that studies couldn't conclusively point to health risks from turf, though the EPA and other state and federal agencies also have said more research was needed to draw broad conclusions.

DEP approval, spokesman John Poister said, was based on whether the application met the state's regulations for runoff, which it did after Gateway Engineers modified plans for the drainage system. No one had appealed DEP's decision to the state's environmental hearing board as of this week, he said.

“The whole process was very disappointing to me,” said Elaine Gillen, who runs the Lebo Citizens blog, and said she thought government agencies would “do the right thing.”

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or

Update October 25, 2014 11:27 AM Two additional and very disturbing articles were sent to me this morning.

Is Synthetic Turf Giving Athletes Cancer?


ANOTHER NBC Nightly News Story on Artificial Turf

A followup story on NBC Nightly News tonight concerning artificial turf. High School Changes Plans for Artificial Turf Field

The school’s change of heart came after an NBC News investigation featuring University of Washington soccer coach Amy Griffin, who has compiled a list of 38 American soccer players -- 34 of them goalies -– who have been diagnosed with cancer, most commonly blood cancers like lymphoma and leukemia.
Both parents and players were concerned. Just like they are here. I received a note from a high school student today asking about the negative effects the artificial turf may have on the community.

I am going to include my response to the student here, which may help parents understand how we got to this point in Mt. Lebanon.

Thank you for contacting me. I am delighted that you are taking an interest in this topic. I know that high school students appreciate the truth and are willing to listen. I also know that high school students understand abuse of power.

What I would like to share with you are links to various resources and let you draw your own conclusions.

Since you emailed me, you must be know about my blog, I have linked documents and reports that illustrate the negative effects on the community.
CBS News: School replaces artificial turf over cancer concerns
Groups Giving Second Thoughts To Those Little Black Crumbs On Playing Fields 
Morning Joe on MSNBC

Forbes Magazine: Buyers Remorse Surfacing Over Artificial Turf Fields

These are just some of the negative effects on the community. There is the lack of transparency on behalf of the municipality discussing these potentially harmful effects.

The use of excess tax dollars to fund the project, without a referendum, and the abuse of power when commissioners email constituents saying that they have three votes and that it will pass.

Where a commissioner lied about the ESB's stand on artificial turf.

In the audio montage above, Recreation Director David Donnellan is heard saying that there is a representative from the Parks Advisory Board on the Sports Advisory Board. Dave Franklin, Parks Advisory Board liaison, shares his perspective here. wasn't until Mr. Franklin was absent from a meeting, when we learned about the Parks Advisory Board push back here.

Then there is the post which shows flooding on Cedar Blvd.

and the video clip of the same from August. Notice how the first comment accuses me of lying.

Sadly, the school board directors will be putting in artificial turf on the high school's Rock Pile." and

Finally, XXXXXXX, there will be a rally on Sunday morning at 11:00 AM down at the fields.  I would like to invite some students to SPEAK at the rally against the turf project, if they are interested in representing the student point of view. Someone will be. There is nothing more powerful than hearing from your point of view. I hope you can make it on Sunday. If you do, please introduce yourself to me. I would love to meet another citizen exercising his First Amendment rights.

Thank you for contacting me...

Elaine Gillen.
What Mt. Lebanon residents don't know is what the DEP shared with a concerned resident.  The new storm water plan will be more expensive. A lot more more expensive. Our commissioners have not disclosed that to us. Perhaps they never thought to ask. Or Gateway engineering forgot to tell them. 

Don't forget: 

"Rally for Lebo Kids' Health"
Sunday, October 26, 2014 11:00 AM
Middle and Wildcat Fields on Cedar Blvd.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rally for Lebo Kids' Health

"Rally for Lebo Kids' Health"
October 26, 2014 11:00 AM

Who: Advocates for Lebo Kids’ Health

Where: Middle and Wildcat Fields located on Cedar Blvd.

What: Rally for Lebo Kids’ Health

When: Sunday, October 26, 2014 11:00 AM

Why: The Mt. Lebanon Commissioners have chosen to disregard warnings about the dangers of artificial turf aired on NBC and CBS. Construction has started to turf Middle and Wildcat Fields with crumb rubber infill made with shredded tires.


NBC Nightly News’ investigation “How Safe is the Artificial Turf on Your Child's Sports Field?” aired an interview with University of Washington Assistant Soccer Coach Amy Griffin. Coach Griffin found a horrible coincidence where 38 soccer players, 34 of them soccer goal keepers, developed cancer. One young woman died at the age of 25.

We continue to learn about communities not willing to risk children's health with toxic turf. Mt. Lebanon is willing to take that risk with your child.

A notice from the school district:
"We have been notified by the municipality that Dixon Parking Lot (on Cedar Boulevard) will be closed beginning October 27, until further notice due to an upcoming turf installation project on Wildcat and Middle Fields."
Map of Vehicle Traffic Patterns and Pedestrian Access

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No LeboALERT because it is political

From: egillen476 <>
To: klinfante <>
Cc: sfeller <>; cmcdonough <>; nsohyda <>; commission <>; repmiller <>; smorgans <>Sent: Tue, Oct 21, 2014 10:06 AM
Subject: Re: Kids Health & Safety Fair
I see. It is unfortunate that you consider anything about kids' safety as political. I am not surprised.

Since the purpose of the June 12 presentation was "NOT to discuss the potential harmful effect of artificial turf" as Susan Morgans wrote in her May 23, 2014 email to Andrew McNitt, I was hoping that you would take this opportunity to let others "discuss the potential harmful effects of artificial turf."

I hope you are able to attend Sunday's rally, Commissioners.

Elaine Gillen

-----Original Message-----

From: Kristen Linfante <>
To: egillen476 <>
Cc: Stephen Feller <>; Coleman McDonough <>; Nicholas Sohyda <>; Commission <>; Rep. Dan Miller <>Sent: Tue, Oct 21, 2014 8:52 am
Subject: Re: Kids Health & Safety Fair

Ms. Gillen,

For clarification, w e send out LeboALERTs only for municipal events/issues or in response to requests from formally organized groups or 501C3s. For instance, we will send out a once-a-year-alert for YMCA Indian Princess/Guide Registration or for youth soccer registration or for a membership meeting for the Mt. Lebanon Junior Women's Club. In the spirit of neutrality, we do not send out anything political in nature and have repeatedly denied requests from both the democratic and republican committees to publicize their party events. We will send out an alert for something that an elected official is sponsoring that is open to the public—for instance Dan Miller's recent fair for young people seeking jobs (although we generally don't even do that prior to an election.)

I hope this helps to clarify the stance of the municipality.


Kristen Linfante
Commissioner, Ward 3

Kristen Linfante
Commissioner, Ward 3

On Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 7:48 AM, '' via Commission <> wrote:

I would think that a "Kids Health & Safety Fair" is the correct forum for any group concerned about kids' health.

Nothing was mentioned about my request for a LeboALERT to be sent out on Friday concerning Sunday's Rally. I had copied Susan Morgans, but as usual, I got no response from her. In fact I received ZERO responses from anyone and it wasn't until you talked with "Rep. Miller's office about this issue" did I get a response at all.

Mr. Feller, the customer service level within the Municipality is subpar. This is Brewfest Poster Request Redux.

Elaine Gillen

Monday, October 20, 2014

Kids Health & Safety Fair is not the correct forum to discuss children's safety and artificial turf UPDATED

What a day! I started out this morning with an email to our police chief and fire chief asking about getting a table for the advocates' group.
From: egillen476 <>
To: cmcdonough <>; nsohyda <>
Cc: commission <>; smorgans <>
Sent: Mon, Oct 20, 2014 9:14 am
Subject: Kids Health & Safety Fair

According to the Halloween Parade information on the Mt. Lebanon website:

After the Parade,
visit the
Kids Health & Safety Fair
Mt. Lebanon
Public Safety Center
555 Washington Road
Noon – 1:30 p.m.
 Kids Activities
 Information from
Mt. Lebanon Police
and Fire Department,
local organizations,
county and state
departments, and more
 Health, nutrition,
wellness, and safety
information for kids
and parents
 Trick or Treat in the
Safety Center for
additional candy

Concerned parents are interested in having a space concerning the health and safety of kids' health in regard to the artificial turf at the Kids Health & Safety Fair. Who should they contact?

Elaine Gillen
No response. So I sent this email:
From: egillen476 <>
To: cmcdonough <>; nsohyda <>; commission <>
Cc: sfeller <>; smorgans <>; repmiller <>; msantoni <>; hfunk1213 <>; jon.delano <>; nicholaslewandowski <>
Sent: Mon, Oct 20, 2014 12:27 pm
Subject: You're invited

I emailed most of you earlier this morning, requesting some space for the Kids Health and Safety Fair, but I fear it will be ignored as my Brewfest Poster request was.

Anyway, you are all invited to a rally on Sunday, October 26, 2014. Invitation is attached. I have been asked to invite you all, and I will be posting it on my blog, Lebo Citizens. Would the Public Information Office issue a LeboALERT announcing Sunday's rally on Friday?

Thanks for your consideration.

Elaine Gillen
Lo and behold, I received the following email from Steve Feller denying the parents' request for having a space concerning the health and safety of kids' health in regard to the artificial turf at the Kids Health & Safety Fair.

From: Stephen Feller <>
To: E.T. Gillen <>
Cc: Coleman J. McDonough <>; Nick Sohyda <>; Commission <>
Sent: Mon, Oct 20, 2014 5:04 pm
Subject: Re: Kids Health & Safety Fair
Today I talked with both Chiefs and also Rep. Miller's office about this issue. From the first day that this event was proposed by then County Councilmember Gastgeb, the Municipality has indicated that we would support the event in the Safety Center provided that: 1) the event needs to be focused on having service providers give information to kids on safety issues 2) no political campaigning would be permitted in the safety center, 3) all of Mt. Lebanon's current sitting elected officials, but certainly the Congressman, state senator and state rep. for Mt. Lebanon, and county councilmembers representing the community should be invited in order to distribute information about agency services 4) other service providers including county departments, MRTSA, and Outreach should be invited and 5) it should be a small, informal event that avoids politics and focuses on service providers. Therefore, I am going to need to deny the request to have space for those who want to provide information on the safety of artificial turf. This is not the correct forum for that type of activity. Of course, anyone can exercise their first amendment rights and distribute information on the public sidewalks along the parade route. Please call me if you need further clarification. Thank you.
Since when is children's health political?
What IS the correct forum for "that type of activity?"
I guess the Public Safety Building is not public.
What a crock.

Don't forget the Rally for Lebo Kids' Health on Sunday morning at 11:00 AM on Cedar Blvd.
If anyone is interested in printing their own T-shirt, this mirrored image should be used with iron-on transfers.

Update October 23, 2014 7:36 AM I was told that this is Chief McDonough's and Chief Sohyda's event.
From: egillen476 <>
To: repmiller <>; sfeller <>
Cc: commission <>
Sent: Wed, Oct 22, 2014 6:00 pm
Subject: I'm confused.

Does anyone know what is going on? If this is Miller's event too, then the Advocates can have a table, right?

Elaine Gillen

Media, are you getting all of this? Another Mt. Lebanon move "NOT to discuss the potential harmful effects of artificial turf."

"Rally for Lebo Kids' Health" UPDATED

Updated flyer for the Rally for Lebo Kids' Health 

I have been asked to post this on Lebo Citizens.

"Rally for Lebo Kids' Health"
Sunday, October 26, 2014* 11:00 AM
*new date and time

Who: Advocates for Lebo Kids’ Health
Where: Middle and Wildcat Fields located on Cedar Blvd.
What: Rally for Lebo Kids’ Health
When: Sunday, October 26, 2014 11:00 AM
Why: The Mt. Lebanon Commissioners have chosen to disregard warnings about the dangers of artificial turf aired on NBC and CBS.

After the Pumpkin Patch Parade on Saturday, October 25, visit the Kids Health & Safety Fair:

Mt. Lebanon Public Safety Center
555 Washington Road 
Noon - 1:30 PM

Advocates for Lebo Kids’ Health will be on hand to answer questions concerning the artificial turf project and the dangers of artificial turf.

  • Learn more about the tire crumb infill which will be used at Middle and Wildcat Fields. 
  • Read the Department of Environmental Protection’s response included with the NPDES Permit issued to the Municipality of Mt. Lebanon 
  • Watch the investigation reports on NBC Nightly and CBS 
  • Grab iron on transfers for Sunday’s rally. Put them on Tshirts, tote bags or print out the sign here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"We were days away from the infill process....We said regardless, stop everything."

Coach Griffin has heard from toxicologists all over the country, telling her that she is not wrong. Local governments are stopping the process and aren't willing to take the chance. But Dave Brumfield, Kristen Linfante, Steve Silverman, and John Bendel are willing to take the chance on yours and their kids.

Friday, October 17, 2014

They added the parking lot!!!!!!

A Lebo Citizens reader emailed me these photos, along with this note.

Thought you might be interested to know someone sneakily dropped an envelope off at my doorstep within the past hour containing the below 2 page document. Notice the project area now includes the parking lot.

Here is a copy of the Notice of Intent (NOI) also known as the NPDES permit application.

Also, a copy of the Post Construction Stormwater Management Plan (PCSM) is here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I look like a chump.

What does it take to get Lebo Citizens involved? Toxic turf reports are being aired on television all over the country. A five day old baby was shot in the head while in his father's arms, in the safety of their own home. I have provided links here. I have spoken at commission meetings for over two years about the dangers of artificial turf. Since 2006, I have been going to commission meetings with concerns over guns being fired in our neighborhoods. I didn't go to last night's meeting and I heard that ONE person spoke against turf and TWO people spoke against deer culling. I look like a chump.

At one time, Chip called us "spineless bloggers." He's right. We are. When the ONE person who spoke against the artificial turf asked for an update on the turf project, John Bendel said that they are ready to start construction as soon as the permit is issued. Coaches are delivering the same message to parents. The sports cabal is breathing easier today. Parents like to use the excuse that they have small children and can't go to meetings. Guess what? Hire a babysitter for an hour. When your kids are old enough, they will be playing on these toxic fields. Have YOU done enough to stop it?

Last night, the pro-kill folks had their "Eat More Venison" signs. They stood up in unison during fellow citizens' comments to show their solidarity. They said that thousands of pounds of meat were donated to local food banks during the earlier culls. News flash. Not one pound of deer meat was donated to local food banks from the culls. Not. One. Pound. A five day old baby was shot in the head from a hunter more than three hundred yards away. That equates to EIGHTEEN houses away from my home. EIGHTEEN. Yet, TWO people spoke against the deer culling. Where is everybody? God forbid someone gets hurt or killed when these yahoos are firing guns in Mt. Lebanon. Will we all be standing around the water cooler, looking appropriately sorrowful when someone gets hurt or killed by a bullet? YOU are letting it happen.

I look like a chump.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Worried about the safety of artificial turf?

My post, Nightly News on NBC at 6:30 PM proved to be a very popular story on Lebo Citizens. We're all concerned about the eerie coincidence which University of Washington women's soccer coach Amy Griffin noticed with young people who play on artificial turf and the increase of cancer.

There is a Commission Meeting tonight at the Municipal Building (across from Sesame Inn) at 8:00 PM in the Commission Chamber.  President Kristen Linfante will not be attending tonight's meeting, so if you would like to take five minutes and express your concerns to the remaining commissioners, manager, and solicitor, you should not be harassed, insulted, or interrupted.

I have sent emails to the commissioners and school board members about the report on NBC, as well as the original article published a month before the NBC report, and only heard from Commissioner Fraasch. I did not get any response from the remaining commissioners, school board members, solicitors, manager or superintendent.

Please make time to either write to the commission ( or come to tonight's meeting and voice your concerns about artificial turf. Please.

Allegheny Co. tax appeal deadlines are unfair

On October 20, 2014, our school board will be voting to approve tax refunds for 70 Mt. Lebanon taxpayers.
List of Tax Refunds
– The list of tax refunds totals $80,364.27 for 70 refunds. The list has been reviewed by the solicitor’s office and is recommended for approval. The Superintendent recommends approval of this list.

Lebo Citizens reader and former manager of Allegheny County’s Office of Property Assessments, Mike Suley wrote this opinion piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Allegheny Co. tax appeal deadlines are unfair

No other county in Pennsylvania forces you to pay taxes before your tax assessment appeal is resolved
October 14, 2014 12:00 AM

Allegheny County is the only county in Pennsylvania that forces you to pay taxes before your tax assessment appeal is resolved. For example, the appeal deadline in Allegheny County is March 31, 2015, for the 2015 tax year, yet 2015 county, Pittsburgh and city school district bills will be mailed out before the appeals deadline. It’s not fair to pay first and appeal later. There are city residents still waiting on retroactive appeal decisions for this tax year.

Under home rule, the appeal deadline has been changed at least 20 times. In 2013 the county changed the deadline again to give property owners and taxing bodies a “second chance” to appeal for the same tax year because a prior county ordinance permitted appeals before the tax bills went out. This was done even though tens of thousands of the previous appeals were unresolved and awaiting disposition going into the 2013 tax year.

Allegheny County politicians have complained for years that the county’s citizens should be on a level playing field with other counties. We’re not. It’s time to have an appeals deadline with resolution before the tax bills go out.

Mt. Lebanon

The writer, an assessment consultant, is former manager of Allegheny County’s Office of Property Assessments.

Monday, October 13, 2014

$109 Million Liability on the books

Amy Lewis, from Maher Duessel, spoke at tonight's school board meeting. As written on the Agenda, Approval of Fiscal Audit for the 2013-14 Fiscal Year,

– Annually, the Board reviews the audit by Maher Duessel, CPAs of the fiscal records for the prior fiscal year. This year’s audit will be reviewed by Amy Lewis, CPA and Dave Duessel, CPA and will be presented in final form for approval at the October 20 meeting.
Ms. Lewis reported that there has been a change in auditing and our PSERS obligation must be on the books this year. It is approximately three times our covered payroll.

Our school board directors, however, like to blame Tom Corbett.

Does Our Public Information Office Have These?