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:
  • MUNICIPAL REGULATIONS HAVE NOT BEEN CONSIDERED (all the while fundraising is already underway)
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?


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

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:
Lebo Citizens
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

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

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 []
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.


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


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,


From: Jan Klein []
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.

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 []
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
Mt. Lebanon Recreation Department
900 Cedar Boulevard - 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
Phone: (412) 343-4519
Fax: (412) 561-6499


From: David Donnellan []
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.

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

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

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 []
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
Mt. Lebanon Recreation Department
900 Cedar Boulevard - 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
Phone: (412) 343-4519
Fax: (412) 561-6499


From: David Donnellan []
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:

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
Mt. Lebanon Recreation Department
900 Cedar Boulevard - 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
Phone: (412) 343-4519
Fax: (412) 561-6499

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 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 <>
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 <>
To: egillen476 <>
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.


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!


John David Kendrick


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" <>
Date: April 10, 2014 at 1:18:27 PM EDT
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:
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.

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 
For more information please email:
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.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"I will shut down this meeting!" UPDATED 2X

I can't wait until the Commission meeting video is uploaded on At one point, President Linfante threatened the angry newcomers and real estate agents with, "I will shut down this meeting!" I hope the camera caught Manager Feller's expression when Kristen said that. His eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head. I wish she did shut down the meeting. Kristen would have been in deep doo-doo had she followed through with her threat.

Wow! What a night! I am hoping to hear from the newcomers and post their stories, charts, graphs and comments from tonight's meeting. I had the pleasure of meeting many of my new Lebo Citizens readers. I will be uploading the podcasts shortly. I uploaded the podcasts and are available here.

Until then, I just want to say how happy I am to see residents attending a Commission meeting. Newcomers, you really need to go to a school board meeting. You heard the solicitor tonight. If the municipality "presses that pause button," the school board can and probably will proceed. Somebody has to pay for those raises, the $74,000 trophy case and the new teachers' contract.

A resident was wearing this sign at the meeting. Copies were available on the table.

Not to be disrespectful, but I saw a similar reaction last night.

Update April 10, 2014 7:35 AM Residents who bought homes in 2011-12 fighting Mt. Lebanon's assessment appeals 

Mt. Lebanon to hold meeting for property owners whose assessments are being appealed 

Update April 10, 2014 12:02 PM The April 8, 2014 Mt. Lebanon Commission Meeting video has been uploaded on the Municipal website here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Did they or didn't they? UPDATED

Here we go again. I am getting conflicting information. According to Dave Franklin, Mt. Lebanon Soccer made the largest, single contribution to the Toxic Turf Project. I took his comment and emailed Commissioner John Bendel, and copied the Recreation Director and the MTLSD Athletic Director.

The exchange, which I believe I have shared here before, is below.

On Mar 23, 2014, at 10:47 AM, "" <> wrote:
Good morning Gentlemen,

On March 15, 2014 at 10:58 PM, Dave Franklin posted this on my blog post,

"On 10:42, to date soccer has made the single largest donation to the turf project...

Dave Franklin"
How much was soccer's donation? Since you are members of the Turf Project Task Force, I thought I should ask you directly, rather than waiting for Dave Franklin to respond on my Lebo Citizens blog. To date, Mr. Franklin has not answered my question.
Thanks in advance.
Elaine Gillen

From: John Bendel <>
To: egillen476 <>
Cc: Recreation David Donnellan <>; John Grogan <>; Commission <>
Sent: Sun, Mar 23, 2014 8:24 pm
Subject: Re: Soccer donation for Mt. Lebanon Turf Project

The soccer association has made a pledge to the turf project. Since they are a private association, I do not feel comfortable providing the specific amount of their pledge without their approval to do so. Several other sports associations have made pledges and the Commission expects to receive a status report on the totals in early April for pledges and cash on hand as of month-end March. The status report with the totals can be shared at that time. 

Lo and behold, this eblast surfaces today.
From: MLSA Announce <>
Date: April 7, 2014 at 3:40:36 PM EDT
Subject: [MLSA] Cedar Boulevard Turf Project - please read carefully
Reply-To: <>
Friends of Soccer:

On behalf of the Mt. Lebanon Soccer Association, I wanted to take a minute to share with you some important news regarding the APPROVED plan to add artificial turf at Wildcat and Middle Fields.  The Commission has allocated approximately $750,000 towards the completion of this important field project.

Adding artificial turf at this location will undoubtedly benefit our Association as well as community recreation programs, other youth sports associations, our high school programs, and it will even allow for some much-anticipated adult league play.  Practices and games on the turf will not be affected by soggy field conditions again.  Our ability to teach our youth will greatly improve with a consistent playing surface.

These improvements are long overdue, and our Association would like to thank the many folks who have been involved in this effort over many, many years.  However, the work is not complete. The plan approved by the Commission also requires a private contribution of approximately $250,000. To date, the Sports Advisory Board has raised over $100,000 through limited requests. This is a great start, but let's not stop now!

On behalf of the Association, I would kindly ask that you please consider making a TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation to the Turf Project Fund. 
Go to to make your tax deductible donation TODAY!
If you have any questions, or if you know a corporation or local business that might be interested in participating in this exciting project, please contact the Sports Advisory Board at

** We know that all of our kids probably play more than one sport and we appreciate that you might receive an email like this from another Association.  Please understand that our goal is not to stuff your mailbox, but this truly is a community-wide, grass roots effort.  Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.

Thanks for your time and consideration,

Bob Andrews
MLSA President

So did the Soccer Association make the largest single contribution or didn't they? Was Dave Franklin's announcement premature? Am I being lied to? Or did someone on the Soccer Association commit to something without the approval of the Association? Are parents being asked to contribute twice? Is this another example of donating the same $125,000 over and over? I love his choice of words, "grass roots effort."
Mr. Andrews was one of the eighteen who wrote in support of turfing Middle and Wildcat Fields.

Update April 8, 2014 10:57 PM During Citizens Comments tonight, I asked about the Soccer Association donation. John Bendel is still not comfortable releasing that information. Through my Right To Know, I learned of the possibility of corporate deal with Dick's Sporting Goods. Steve Silverman shared that Dick's has donated $5,000. That's it. No clothing deals and no sign. I also asked what the amount is projected to cost. John Bendel said that it was still $1,000,000 with $750,000 coming from us and $250,000 coming from "non-municipal funds." If the project comes in higher than that, the Commission has not decided whether the Sports Advisory Board's contribution will remain at $250,000 or if it will be 25% of the project, as originally discussed.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Toxic Newcomers Turf will cost more

The Crown Jewel Toxic Turf Project being built to lure unsuspecting newcomers to the community and will allegedly increase the value of each and every one of our homes is going to cost taxpayers more than expected. According to the Sports Advisory Board - April 3, 2014 video, the Middle/Wildcat Toxic Turf Project will be 1,000 square feet more than initially thought. A better survey was done and indicates the true size will be 111,200 square feet. The soccer field will be 165x320, not 180x360. The area will be smaller than the High School and Jefferson fields. All soccer games and varsity games will use 2 time slots. The fields will not be available for simultaneous use. I would love to have a revised time slot number using that information.

At the beginning of the meeting, a very powerful message was delivered in citizens comments by a former Mt. Lebanon Soccer/Basketball mom. She started out by saying that there is a definite need for more fields in Mt. Lebanon. Turfing an existing field with toxic turf does not solve any problems. I guess this woman is a research scientist and analyzed the existing data out there concerning the toxicity of artificially turfed fields, both organic infill and synthetic infill, as well as the blades of grass and backing. Her conclusions were that artificial turf was marketed and studied for adult, professional use only. Many other factors were not considered, including the size and metabolism of children, which she identified in her comments. She spoke for about 20 minutes and there were 10 minutes of Q and A's.

The day after the SAB meeting, on April 4, 2014, a comment was posted on Four more documents from the mother of all RTKs at 1:29 PM, which I found very disturbing.
Referring to the previous video posted on Lebo Citizens ( regarding the hazards of synthetic turf and featuring two scientists including Kathleen Michels, Ph.D.:
Dr. Michels has been nominated to be the "Mom on a Mission 2014" by HealthyChild, Healthy World.
Some of the mothers in Mt Lebanon who have advocated for healthy playing fields have been threatened, mocked, and intimidated by members of the Sports Advisory Board. One elected mother received such a threatening email from a Mt Lebanon coach that it was turned over to the police.
Ask yourself, Mothers, if artificial turf were good for Mt Lebanon, why would Dr. Michels be nominated for this honor by Healthy Child, Healthy World, and at the very same time, why would mothers who feel the same way in Mt Lebanon be treated with such aggression, hostility, disparagement, and unfairness?

OK, back to the meeting. Core samples were done and indicate no rock. Plans include a portable pitchers mound on Middle and a permanent clay mound for Wildcat. David Donnellan promised to get the concept plan of the layout online within a couple of days of the Sports Advisory Board meeting. Tuesday's Discussion Session Agenda reveals that this will be discussed.

The good news is that The Mt. Lebanon Community Endowment website, Field Improvement Project Fund is up and running. Dave Franklin sent 200-300 emails during its roll out and raised $2500 in 48 hours. That comes to an average of $7.58 per signature from his petition. The amount raised so far is around $115,000 to $120,000. Field hockey contributed $500 which will give them a small spot to play, under the trees - all said in jest. No mention of the amount of the soccer donation, which John Bendel was uncomfortable sharing with me.

Under Potential Capital Projects, a couple of ideas came up. One was an indoor multipurpose athletic facility. Dave Franklin shared his wife's plan. She said that an elementary school can be closed, move the administrative offices from the high school, and use the fields, auditorium, etc., as a community center.

Finally, a public meeting is planned for all affected neighbors on April 24, 2014 at 6:00 PM. The meeting will be at Middle and Wildcat Fields.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Change orders for April 2014

According to the Monday, April 7, 2014 Agenda, the change orders totaling $166,727 are:

a. GC-99-221 to Nello for $42,528 for wall and floor work,

b. PL-29-222 to Vrabel for $3,964 for water and heater repairs,

c. EL-60-223 to Farfield for $12,161 for additional fire alarm horns,

d. FP-05-224 to SimplexGrinnell for $91,713 for additional sprinklers above auditorium, and

e. IN-02-04 to Vrabel for $16,361 for hot water heater repairs to be reimbursed through insurance.