Worcester, Pennsylvania, Politics Online

Policy Statement

      This website is maintained by Worcester residents who are concerned about our community and its future. Its purpose is to inform all Worcester residents about matters of interest and concern.
      We encourage and support efforts by our Supervisors and other groups and individuals to control development in our Township in a way that protects its rural heritage. For those of us who live here, Worcester is an island of tranquility and open spaces surrounded by a sea of traffic-congested development, both residential and commercial. Some commercial and residential developers, most of whom are not Worcester residents, see our home as a place to be exploited, not as a place to be preserved. A very small but very vocal minority of residents would like Worcester to look just like the other heavily developed communities that surround it. These groups favor eliminating Township funding for the preservation of open space and expanding municipal "services" that are not needed or wanted by the vast majority of Township residents. These groups also favor changing zoning ordinances in ways that will quickly cause Worcester to lose the qualities that differentiate it from the communities surrounding us on all sides.
      We disagree with these individuals. Worcester is different from other communities and we are committed to keeping it that way. Toward this end, we favor Township efforts to limit development while at the same time encouraging appropriate commercial activity in our existing village areas. We want the Township to enforce zoning ordinances that protect the open and peaceful character of our residential areas. We encourage the Township to work proactively with groups and individuals dedicated to preserving our open spaces and we support the use of public funds toward this end whenever appropriate. We support a small and efficient local government that limits our local property taxes (only a few tens of dollars per years for Worcester households, rather than the several hundreds of dollars more typical of other communities in Montgomery County) by limiting the services we ask our government to provide.
      We believe these are widely held non-partisan positions for our community and the role of local government. We endorse or oppose candidates for elected office based not on their party, but on their actions and their demonstrated abilities to represent the interests of the vast majority of Worcester residents. We are not affiliated with or supported by any group or organization in Worcester, nor are the contents of this website controlled by any group or organization.
      Questions and comments can be sent to webmaster@worcesterpapolitics.org. Comments will be posted entirely at our discretion. Posted comments will appear in their entirety, without editing unless noted otherwise. Comments can be posted anonymously, if you wish. We will never reveal any personal or contact information unless you specifically authorize us to do so. The reason for this policy is that, unfortunately, some members of our community regularly resort to harassment and intimidation of residents with whom they disagree. We do not wish to provide targets for those individuals. We admit that one unfortunate result of this policy is that you have to take our word for it that we are accurately reflecting the views of contributors — that we are telling the truth when we state that an e-mail is "reproduced in its entirety, unedited," and that the e-mail is genuine. This is a decision for you to make about this site, as is the case for political or other information from any source.

April 20, 2018: Planning Commission apppointments

      At the April 18 Board of Supervisors meeting, two appointments were made to Worcester's Planning Commission. No appointment was made for an "alternate" member -- someone who can participate in discussions but does not have a vote on the committee.
      In the past, these appointments have been fairly routine. This time, the process was far from routine and the outcome was uncertain. At the January meeting, where those appointments would normally be made, Chairman Rick DeLello wanted to establish a more "transparent" process for these and other volunteer appointments. So far so good... it is hard to argue with such an initiative. But DeLello also wanted our Township Manager to interview the Planning Commission candidates and provide recommendations. We do not believe this is a reasonable role for a manager to play. It is, after all, the job of the supervisors to make these appointments by evaluating the candidates themselves. Ceding this role to the manager gives the impression not of increasing transparency, but of abdicating responsibility.
      In any event, the five candidates who applied for the Planning Commission were Jim Mollick, Jim Phillips, Michelle Greenawalt, Jay McKeever, and Mike Holsenback. Apparently, our manager interviewed all five and made recommendations. His recommendations were not made public but, assuming those recommendations appeared in any written form, they would be a public document available through a right-to-know request.
      Fortunately for all Worcester residents, and regardless of the manager's recommendations, the Board appointed Michelle Greenawalt and Mike Holsenback. Greenawalt has been attending Planning Commission meetings regularly for a long time and is apparently well regarded by the other Commission members. Holsenback is an engineer who was considered to be highly qualified by the Board. He is also a Democrat, which represents a striking change for Worcester. McKeever, currently a Republican Committeeman, would also be qualified.
      It hardly needs to be said by us that the idea of Jim Mollick in any position of responsibility in our township is offensive. His record consists of costing Worcester taxpayers more than half a million dollars in legal fees for actions taken against the Township, personally insulting and attacking your neighbors and elected officials, charging all three supervisors with bogus criminal offenses in 2016 (of which they were easily acquitted), favoring letting developers do whatever they want, and opposing every farmland and open space initiative undertaken by the township.
      Because of Phillips' association with Sperango Construction Company, a company active in Worcester, his multiple conflicts of interest render him completely unsuitable for such a position even if he were otherwise suitable. During his time on the Methacton School Board, we understand that his most notable moments involved bullying other board members and trashing Worcester.
      Did you attend this important meeting? We are reminded once again of the quotation, apparently misattributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, author of Democracy in America, that "in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve," or Thomas Jefferson's version, "The government you elect is the government you deserve." Once elected, for better or worse, our elected officials must be held accountable by listening to their constituents. This time, Worcester once again lucked out with a good decision. But, if nobody attends these public meetings and those who do appear will not speak out to represent our vision of Worcester, then we will get not what we want, but what we deserve as a consequence of our complacency!

November 8, 2017: Election results

      The election results of particular interest to Worcester residents are as follows:

Rick DeLello won the Board of Supervisors seat currently occupied by Art Bustard, who did not seek re-election. This is no surprise, as there was no Democratic candidate (DeLello actually had a spot on the Democratic ballot based on Democrat write-in votes he received during the spring primary election) and no write-in campaign like the hugely unsuccessful one frequent loser Jim Mollick ran against Susan Caughlan two years ago.
      In the School Board election, the top four vote-getters will take seats on the board and the Democratic candidates swept these positions. Incumbents Brenda Hackett and Herb Rothe lost their seats. Only one of the Democratic winners, Jan Cancro, is a Worcester resident. Worcester resident Karen Vavra's loss is particularly discouraging because her financial background would have been a tremendous plus for all of us. Was the School Board election about conditions in the school district and dissatisfaction with some incumbents, or was it about a Democratic anti-Republican rout that seemed to be the case in elections elsewhere? Who knows – we certainly don't.
      The results from the montcopa voter services website are shown below. The School Board votes are for Worcester and Lower Providence combined. The Supervisor vote is, of course, only for Worcester. Note that for unknown reasons, Rick DeLello is listed in these results as a Democrat rather than a Republican. Whether you find this amusing or not depends on your party affiliation sensitivity. (DeLello used to be a Democrat and, at one time, was even a Democratic Committeeman in Worcester... :-) .)

October 13, 2017: Testing results for Methacton schools

      Recently the 2017 PSSA testing results have been posted online. Among other results, testing in middle schools shows the percentage of middle school students who are "advanced," "proficient, "basic," and "below basic" in science and mathematics. Rankings for Montco school districts in "advanced" and "advanced + proficient" show that Methacton is doing OK, but certainly not outstanding. For lowest (worst) to highest (best), Methacton is:

23/28 for "advanced" in science (40.6%)
18/28 for "advanced + proficient" in science (74.1%)
19/30 for "advanced" in math (24.7%)
16/30 for "advanced + proficient" in math (56.6%)

      Here is some additional information from a commercial web source. The source, accuracy, and timeliness of these data are unknown. Methacton HS is a little below the middle for the number of AP courses offered (16), which ranges from 9 to 29. SAT scores for Methacton HS are second highest in the county – a fact that may be attributable as much to student demographics as anything else. This same site ranks Methacton high in "best college prep" and "best high schools" categories, but barely in the top third for schools reporting specific STEM programs.
      You might want to keep these numbers in mind when you vote for school board members in the November election. For the most part, we do not have strong opinions about the candidates, but we believe that the best candidate from Worcester, by far, is newcomer Karen Vavra, appearing on both the Republican and Democratic ballots. She is a financial professional who we believe will provide a valuable voice on those issues that affect the quality of our schools and the tax burden imposed on all of us.

May 22, 2017: Primary Election – Rick DeLello wins Republican primary for seat on Board of Supervisors; Herb Rothe and Karen Vavra win fall election spots for School Board

      Rick DeLello has won the Republican primary election for Board of Supervisors. As we have noted previously, Democrats did not offer a candidate for this office, so the primary election is essentially the actual election for this seat. Here are the (as yet unofficial) vote counts for each district:

2017 Primary Election Results
PrecinctDeLelloMollickDem. Write-In
East 11299834
East 215022243
East 32107414
West 16615841
TOTAL655 (54.3%)552 (45.7%)132
2015 Primary Election Results
East 1140 (58.6%)99 (41.4%)
East 2155 (37.4%)260 (62.7%)
East 3102 (68.7%)87 (30.97%)
West 217 (60.5%)141 (39.3%)
TOTAL614 (50.9%)587 (48.6%)

This result is a victory for every Worcester resident. Mollick won in East 2, his home district, but not by nearly enough to overcome losses in the other three districts. We wish the overall margin had been larger, but all that matters is that once again, Worcester Republicans have had the good sense to deny a truly toxic person a role in our local government. Thankfully, we don't have to speculate about the presence on our Board of Supervisors of someone who over the years has caused nothing but trouble and has opposed every Board of Supervisors action and initiative that makes our community a uniquely desirable place to live and work.
      There were 132 write-in votes for Supervisor on the Democratic ballot. The Montco site doesn't say who the write-ins were for, but hopefully (and probably) most of them were for DeLello. If so, that means Democrats can vote for DeLello in the fall. Although Supervisors are chosen in partisan contests, we continue to believe that this is an essentially non-partisan position. There may be some partisan "slant" to how individuals approach this job, but the role of a Supervisor is not to promote a party-driven agenda, but to serve the interests of Worcester residents. This year, we will all have the opportunity in November to vote for supporting these interests, regardless of whether we vote as a Democrat or Republican.
      It is interesting to compare this primary election to the 2015 primary in which Mollick ran against incumbent Susan Caughlan. In that primary, Mollick's campaign featured ranting multi-page cheaply printed screeds with offensive personal attacks against Caughlan and everyone else in what he perceived (and still perceives) as the "elitist establishment." Caughlan's primary victory margin of about 2% was pretty thin, perhaps as a result of some unpopular decisions the township had made about the sewer system in Hickory Hill and other perceived problems.
      This year, Mollick's amateurish mailings were replaced by professionally produced full-color mailers containing relatively subdued attacks against the "establishment," ludicrous claims to protect our open spaces (see previous postings), and attacks against DeLello for not being a real Republican because of his relatively recent past as an active Democrat. Mollick claimed to be the only true Republican and boasted of his endorsement by County Commissioner Joe Gale who, you should remember, won his seat by running against every "real" Republican in the county.
      As it turned out, the "new" Mollick did worse against DeLello this year than the "old" version did against Caughlan in 2015. The lack of an easy target or incumbent to attack was no doubt a problem for him because he has never had a believable positive message or any mode of operation other than attack mode. His self-serving claims to be the only champion for the common man apparently lost rather than gained traction. The enthusiastic endorsement of DeLello by the Worcester Republican Committee probably hurt. Did the endorsement from Joe Gale help him or hurt him? Did voters believe, as Mollick always claims, that Worcester is broken? Did voters believe Mollick's all-too-obviously fake claims to favor preservation of open space? Did his harping on DeLello's Democratic past work for him or against him?
      Although the election results speak for themselves to the extent that Mollick lost rather than gained ground, these are questions to which we will never know the answers. What we do know is that in 2015 there were 1201 total votes cast for Mollick and Caughlan. This year there were 1207 total votes for Mollick and DeLello – a fact that also raises new questions. What about all the efforts expended by both sides to engage new voters and get them to the polls? We don't know if those 1207 votes were from the same voters as before or some combination of "old" voters dropping out and "new" voters coming on board. But, the inability to increase voter turnout for elections so critical to our community's future remains deeply concerning.
      Another take-away from this election is that Worcester needs new faces who are willing to serve in elected office even with the reality of constant harassment from people like Jim Mollick. (Remember that in 2016, Mollick filed criminal charges against all three Supervisors because of what he decided were violations of the Sunshine Act. The charges were groundless and were thrown out.) Putting up with constant harassment and a lack of basic decency and respect is a lot to expect our elected officials to deal with. Serving in this kind of environment is not easy, but it is essential for our community's future.
      We also learned that a positive campaign like the one DeLello ran can work in an election for which there is no incumbent providing targets, real or imagined, for negative attacks. Having said that, Mollick has been essentially an "incumbent outsider" for many years, with plenty of history to be attacked. DeLello resisted all opportunities to take on that history. Whether that raised or lowered his margin of victory is another question to which we will never know the answer. In any event, we doubt it will work as well in any election where there are incumbents and policies to be attacked.

      The School Board primary is also of interest. The entire Republican endorsed slate won. On the Democratic ballot, the three Republicans who were cross-filed did poorly relative to the C.A.R.E candidates. Because of the heavy Democratic vote in Lower Providence, this poses a problem for keeping Republicans on the Board and, in particular, keeping Herb Rothe on the Board and getting Karen Vavra on the Board in the fall.

2017 School Board Primary Election
Hackett1245 (15.9%)Hull1170 (21.8%)
Allebach1184 (15.1%)Drummond1117 (20.8%)
Rothe1107 (14.1%)Cancro1113 (20.7%)
Vavra1048 (13.4%)Navarrete   971 (18.1%)
 Hackett   532 (8.2%)
 Vavra   269 (4.1%)
 Rothe   218 (3.4%)
 Allebach(not cross-filed)

      In conclusion, the good news is that we don't have to worry about political campaigns for several months. Have a good summer!

May 8, 2017: WARNING: Jim Mollick and open space – Don't believe it!

      In a recent mailing, Jim Mollilck claimed he is the candidate you can "trust" to "preserve open space." Everyone agrees that open spaces and farms are what makes Worcester a special place to live. We would much rather trust Jim Mollick's actions. Let's summarize (again!) the facts about his "support" for open space. Over the years, he has: Once again, we urge Republican voters to reject Mollick's worthless promises. Rick DeLello understands the value of open spaces and farms to Worcester and we (along with Worcester's Republican Committee) believe he will actually keep his promises. Republicans, please vote for for Rick Delello on May 16. Democrats, please write in Rick's name. Our community is depending on you!

May 1, 2017: Final thoughts about the May 16 Primary Election

      It is now less than two weeks to the primary election on May 16. As always, although too many voters decline to vote in primary elections, these elections are IMPORTANT for our community. Here is our bottom line for essential votes:

Herb Rothe and Karen Vavra for School Board (endorsed Republican candidates)
Rick Delello for Worcester Supervisor (endorsed Republican candidate)

      As noted previously, the School Board election is basically non-partisan. Parties endorse a slate of candidates, but all candidates have the opportunity to cross-file with both parties. All candidates must win in one or both party primaries to advance to the general election in November. Four seats are going to be filled:

Scott Dorn (not running)
Jim Phillips (not running)
Brenda Hackett (incumbent, endorsed Republican)
Herb Rothe (incumbent, endorsed Republican)

The complete endorsed slates for both parties were listed in our April 7 posting. Worcester voters need to understand that the Methacton School Board is heavily dominated by members living in Lower Providence. Therefore, it is especially important for Worcester voters to work to elect qualified candidates who, hopefully, will represent OUR interests as forcefully as they can. We suggest that, regardless of your party affiliation, you vote for incumbent Herb Rothe and newcomer Karen Vavra. Ms. Vavra will bring badly needed professional financial expertise to the School Board.
      We have no problems with incumbent Brenda Hackett, from Lower Providence. She seems to understand the financial difficulties facing the school district, including the proposed school closings. We recommend not voting for Candy Allebach, who we believe will be a disruptive presence with no positive contributions to make. We are neutral about the Democratic-endorsed C.A.R.E. candidates. Remember that you can vote for less than four candidates; there is no reason to vote for someone just to pick a third or fourth candidate.

      As we have noted previously, the primary election for a seat on Worcester's Board of Supervisors is essentially the actual election. Why? Because there are two candidates running as Republicans and none as a Democrat. Unlike School Board elections, there is no cross-filing for the Supervisor position. As a result, only Republicans have the opportunity to choose our next Supervisor.
      We have often been frustrated by the tendency in both parties to evaluate candidates based on nothing more than their party affiliation. The fact of the matter is that serving as a Supervisor is essentially non-partisan. The job of a Worcester Supervisor is not to promote wider partisan policies, but to work with all residents to retain and build upon the qualities that make our community a uniquely desirable place to live.
      This job requires someone who understands how to work collaboratively and constructively with Township staff, elected officials, and residents. Although some have criticized endorsed Republican candidate Rick DeLello's fairly recent decision to register as a Republican, we do not believe this should present a problem for any Worcester Republican. Mr. DeLello has earned the endorsement of the Worcester Republican Committee based on his commitment to a widely shared vision for Worcester and his participation in Township affairs over several years, including as an alternate member of the Planning Commission. We believe he will work with the existing Board (Susan Caughlan and Steve Quigley) to support a positive future for our community.
      Our opinion of Jim Mollick – that he is unfit to hold any elected office in Worcester – is well known. Despite his self-congratulatory self-evaluation as a "watchdog" for open and honest government, he has none of the qualities required to be an effective leader who can bring about positive changes when needed. He has NEVER shown even the slightest ability for or interest in working collaboratively and constructively with ANYONE about ANYTHING; his promises of unilateral action against every imagined "problem" he invents ignore the realities of our representative form of government, which REQUIRES constructive collaboration to function. He consistently opposes every initiative to preserve our quality of life, including all initiatives to control development and preserve the open spaces and farms that distinguish Worcester from the communities surrounding us on all sides. He continues to launch personal and legal attacks against our elected officials and Township residents. He refuses to accept responsibility for the half-million dollars in legal fees paid for by OUR tax dollars to defend against his actions. (According to him, it's always somebody else's fault!)
      You are free to disagree with and disregard our opinion, but you should not disregard the fact that Jim Mollick, despite serving as a Republican Committeeman in his district, has NEVER been able to win an endorsement for anything from our Republican Committee. That committee's task is (or at least should be) to support individuals not just because they are registered as Republicans, but to make informed decisions about who deserves an endorsement based on their ability to represent our interests if elected. With Rick DeLello, they have made a responsible choice. We approve of that choice and we urge you to support that choice at the polls on May 16. If you are a Democrat, we encourage you to write in Rick DeLello's name for Supervisor.
      Finally... PLEASE vote on May 16! As always, the future of our community is in YOUR hands!

April 7, 2017: Methacton School Board Primary Election

      The primary election on May 16 also includes candidates for the Methacton School Board. The Worcester Republican Committee (which, for reasons we do not understand, does not have an up-to-date website) has endorsed four candidates:

Candy Allebach
Brenda Hackett
Herb Rothe
Karen Vavra

The Montgomery Area 4 Democratic Committee, and also the Community Advocates for Responsible Education group (which took over the Methacton School Board in the last election) has endorsed four candidates:

Jennifer Cancro
Elizabeth Drummond
Mary Hull
Ralph Navarrette

School Board candidates can cross-file on both Republican and Democratic tickets, so you can vote for any cross-filed candidate regardless of your party registration.
      Of the endorsed Republican candidates, we strongly support Herb Rothe, an incumbent, and Karen Vavra, both of whom are Worcester residents who will increase our township's influence on the School Board. Ms. Vavra has a financial background and will be a strong voice for fiscally responsible management of our school tax dollars. Brenda Hackett and Candy Allebach are Lower Providence residents. We are neutral about Brenda Hackett, but we believe that Candy Allebach should not sit on the School Board because we do not believe she will be a worthwhile contributor to solving the many problems facing Methacton School District.
      As for the C.A.R.E team, in the last election they definitely "drained the swamp" of board members who we were happy to get rid of. But your support for them in this election depends on what you think about their policies. Everybody wants to be "fiscally responsible," but everybody's definition of what that means is different. Perhaps between now and the election all the candidates will be more specific. (Don't hold your breath!)

April 4, 2017: Tax Burden for Montgomery County Municipalities

      As we have noted, it's an election year again. With elections, voters' thoughts turn to taxes. Nobody likes paying them, of course, especially when they always go up and never down. It is instructive to compare Worcester with other municipalities in the county. (See HERE.) All Montgomery County property owners pay a county millage rate of 3.459 and a (new) millage supporting Montgomery County Community College of 0.39. Local property taxes are set by each municipality and school taxes are set by school districts. Hence, Worcester and Lower Providence property owners have the same school tax rate, but different municipal tax rates. The table below shows tax rates for Worcester and a few surrounding communities. Out of the 67 municipalities in the county, Worcester has the 24th lowest total tax millage and the 39th lowest school tax millage. Our relatively low ranking in total rates is due mostly to the fact that Worcester's local property tax millage, 0.05, is by far the lowest of any municipality in the county. Taxes are calculated by multiplying the millage times 1000 times the assessed property value (much lower than the property's "market value"). Thus Worcester residents pay a local tax of $5 per $100,000 of assessed property value!

MunicipalityRank (low to high
(out of 67 municipalities)
East Norriton502.72734.38940.965
Lower Providence371.76728.7434.356

April 2, 2017: Primary Election for BoS Seat

As noted in our February 10 post, the primary election for a seat on Worcester's Board of Supervisors is on May 16. There is no Democratic candidate for this seat, so the primary election is essentially the actual election. The Worcester Republican Committee has endorsed Rick DeLello for this postion.
      Jim Mollick also sought the endorsement, but he did not get it. He is a five-term Worcester Republican Committeeman, thanks to a core base of support in his own district. But why, after all those years, is he still unable to win the support of the OUR representatives on the Republican Committee?! (He was rejected two years, ago, too.) Our position on Mollick has been clear for many years. He is a disruptive person whose harassment over the years of our township and its elected officials have cost Worcester taxpayers half a million dollars in legal fees. He is not a person who shares our vision for Worcester and he does not deserve an elected position in our local government. We are pleased that this opinion continues to be shared by the Worcester Republican Committee.
      Rick DeLello, in contrast, has worked quietly for many years to gain support, including currently as an alternate member of Worcester's Planning Commission, now working on the plan for Center Point Village that is critical to our community's future. He shares our commitment to preserving the rural heritage and open spaces that make Worcester a special place to live and work. He shares our commitment to conservative, fiscally responsible local government. (Worcester now has the lowest township property tax of any municipality in Montgomery County!) The Worcester Republican Committee – OUR representatives – believes Rick DeLello is the right person for the Board of Supervisors. He has our support and he deserves yours. We urge you to vote for Rick Delello on May 16!

February 10, 2017: Update on What's Happening in Worcester, 2017 BoS Election

Yes, although it might be hard to believe, it's once again an election year for a seat on Worcester's Board of Supervisors. But first, what's happening in our community?

(1) Susan Caughlan was re-elected as Chair of the Board of Supervisors for 2017.
      Ms. Caughlan was nominated by Steve Quigley and unanimously elected at the January reorganization meeting. Steve Quigley was unanimously elected as Vice-Chair. Serving as a supervisor and especially as the Board Chair is a thankless job and we should respect and thank anyone who agrees to do it.

(2) The Center Square Golf Club development case has been heard in Commonwealth Court.
      As you may remember, last year the supervisors turned down a conditional use request from The Cutler Group to build a 340-unit residential community thinly disguised as a "continuing care community" that didn't actually provide what most of us would think of as continuing care like Meadowood provides. The problem for Worcester is that its ordinance, written more than 30 years ago specifically to allow Meadowood to be constructed, is vague in its definition of what "continuing care" means. The Cutler Group's basic argument is that based on the ambiguity in the ordinance they deserve the benefit of the doubt about what should be allowed – this is an interpretation that has some support from Pennsylvania's courts.
      However, testimony from several experts in the health care field demonstrated to the supervisors' apparent satisfaction that the proposed plan did not meet any reasonable current definition of "continuing care" because it did not provide guaranteed transitions for residents from independent living quarters through several stages of increasingly dependent care. At Meadowood, residents do not own any of the living quarters. Once people "buy in" to Meadowood, they are guaranteed a wide range of living and care options. In The Cutler Group's plan, residential units would be sold on the open market to "age restricted" buyers, but purchasing one of those units would offer no guarantees about continuing care arrangements. Basically, The Cutler Group wants to build a high-density residential complex that includes a "care facility" sharing the property with but only peripherally related to the residential development itself.
      The Cutler Group appealed the supervisors' decision and Commonwealth Court heard oral arguments from both sides earlier this month. We hope the supervisors' decision is upheld, but it is now out of the hands of Worcester residents. A decision isn't expected for a few months.

(3) The Center Point development plan is still pretty much bogged down over competing visions about what is appropriate.
      There is still no decision about how to develop Center Point and, in particular, what to do with the "Palmer property" located on the northeast corner of Valley Forge Road and Skipppack Pike. There are two broad questions still to be resolved for this property: What kind of commercial developement should be allowed? What is the appropriate density for residential development? Developers, of course, want high density for new residential construction and the ability to do whatever kind of commercial development they want, unhampered by citizens' visions about they would or would not like to live with.
      Our position is that any new commercial and residential development in Center Point should be at the kind of "village" scale that is appropriate for Worcester. This scale, similar to what has been done in Cedars Village, is not what is common in other parts of Montgomery County. It is, instead, precisely what differentiates Worcester from its over-developed neighbors. The Worcester Planning Commission is struggling with these issues now. Those whose interests do not coincide with what we believe to be those of the vast majority of Worcester residents are well financed and professionally represented. If you agree with us that it is important to retain the quality of life that we enjoy in Worcester, this is the time to let the Planning Commission know your feelings!

(4) Jim Mollick loses criminal complaints case against our supervisors and Worcester Township. Township files a complaint against Mollick for "frivolous" prosecution.
      In the summer of 2015, Jim Mollick filed 16 complaints, accusing our supervisors of deliberately violating provisions of Pennsylvania's Sunshine Act. (For such a claim to have merit, the violation has to be intentional, not just inadvertent.) At the subsequent trial, Mollick presented no independent evidence and no witnesses other than himself in support of his claim. The supervisors were found not guilty and the case was dismissed without having to present any evidence on the supervisors' and Township's behalf.
      The Sunshine Act includes provisions for fining elected officials who violate provisions of the Act regarding public meetings. But the Act also includes provisions that if someone undertakes a frivolous legal action against an official without "substantial justification," the victims of that action can be awarded attorney fees and other costs of litigation, including personal costs.
      Pursuant to this provision, in the summer of 2016, Worcester, through its insurance company, filed a claim, Civil Docket number 2016-19829, asserting that Mollick's criminal action against our supervisors was "frivolous and brought with no substantial justification" and that the Township and its supervisors deserve to be compensated for their costs under the provisions of the Sunshine Act.
      This is a serious matter in the sense that the rights of citizens to address real grievances is a cornerstone of our system of government. On the other hand, our elected officials deserve protection against frivolous or, worse, malicious actions. Jim Mollick, as is well known, has built a career on suing anybody and everybody. Although it is at least possible to argue that some of his lawsuits have not been completely "frivolous," there can be no doubt that they are usually malicious personal vendettas. Worcester defending against these actions have resulted in wasting many tens of thousands of our tax dollars.
      This matter is ongoing, so stay tuned...

(5) Election to fill Art Bustard's seat on the Board of Supervisors
      Finally, there is the matter of the upcoming election for Art Bustard's seat on the Board of Supervisors. The primary election is on May 16. It is now common knowledge that Mr. Bustard will not run again for his seat. We have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, we need to respect his many years of service to our community (two six-year terms). On the other hand, he has picked up a lot of negative baggage along the way – an inevitable fact of life for anyone in this position because nobody can please everyone all the time when decisions need to be made.
      Considering this situation and the ugly, vicious campaign Jim Mollick ran against Susan Caughlan in 2015, we believe that Mr. Bustard would not survive a primary challenge against a determined and well financed opponent like, but not necessarily limited to, Jim Mollick. What happens now? We don't know. The last day for candidates to file for the May 16 primary is March 7. As far as we know, Democrats in Worcester do not have anyone to run for this seat. Thus, the Republican primary election is essentially the actual election to fill Mr. Bustard's seat. We will have more to say about this in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned and please be prepared to vote on May 16!

August 30, 2016: What has Jim Mollick been up to?

It's been a while since we have reported any township news...
      Jim Mollick has once again been digging up what he considers to be "problems" from the past. Why should you care? Because his self-defined problems all too often require legal responses on the part of the Township which cost YOUR tax dollars!
      At the August 17 Board of Superisors meeting, Mollick brought up a legal action against Worcester which he initiated in 2008 (yes, this is not a typo!). Periodically, the courts attempt to clean out old cases, but Mollick has always refused to let them go. One of those cases, docket #2008-25358, involves a dispute with a neighbor (who has long since moved) and Worcester's alleged involvement in trying to resolve the dispute.
      On August 17, 2016, both Mollick (through Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein PC, his long-time counsel for this action) and Worcester filed a "Pre Trial Memorandum/Statement." Mollick asked for a payment from Worcester of $6,000. Worcester's memorandum stated that "No Complaint has ever been filed on this case and there are therefore no facts stated of record." and that "Counsel for the Township has had brief discussions with Plaintiff's counsel about the nature of the claim."
      One day later, on August 18, Mollick's counsel filed a motion with the court to "withdraw as counsel for Plaintiff, James Mollick." The motion states that "... Kaplin Stewart and Plaintiff has disagreed about the legal theory of the case and certain of its factual underpinnings..." and that "... significant disagreements between Plaintiff and Kaplin Stewart makes effective representation of the Plaintiff impossible...," in accordance with Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct allowing an attorney or law firm to terminate representation when "rendered unreasonably difficult."
      What are we to make of such a motion?? We believe the most obvious and reasonable explanation is that Mollick's case is so lacking in legal merit that it has become a unacceptable source of embarrassment for his attorneys. Unfortunately, based on Mollick's past performance, Worcester taxpayers should not hold their collective breaths waiting for this sorry spectacle to come to an end. Currently, however, a court-mandated settlement conference is scheduled for October 11. It will, of course, cost more of YOUR tax dollars for Worcester to defend itself, as it must do. Stay tuned...

NOTE: The text of all civil case documents is available electronically from the Montgomery County Prothonotary's office at a cost of roughly $0.20 per page. See https://courtsapp.montcopa.org/psi/v/search/case?Q=&Count=20&fromAdv=1&CaseNumber=&ParcelNumber=&CaseType=&DateCommencedFrom=&DateCommencedTo=&FilingType=&FilingDateFrom=&FilingDateTo=&JudgeID=&Attorney=&AttorneyID=&Grid=true.

June 16, 2016: Board of Supervisors votes to appeal Center Square Golf Club decision

      Last year, the Cutler Group proposed building hundreds of homes on the Center Square Golf Club property for what it referred to as a "life care" community. Based on evidence presented at an extensive conditional use hearing, Worcester's supervisors concluded that the proposed plan was not, in fact, a life care or continuing care community which would be allowed under Worcester's zoning code, but rather an excuse to construct high density housing on this property. The Board of Supervisors denied the Cutler Group's plan and that decision was appealed to the Court of Common Pleas, which recently overturned the board's decision.
      At its June 15 meeting, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to appeal the Common Pleas decision to Commonwealth Court and to have the case handled by an attorney who has experience in such matters. Residents at the meeting spoke for and against this decision. The arguments against the appeal appeared to be based more on the issue of spending money for the appeal rather than on any support for the development plan in principle. The vote signals the supervisors' continuing belief that:
(a) The Cutler Group's proposal does not represent a continuing care or life care community under accepted interpretations of those terms. (Meadowood, the relevant local example, guarantees a full spectrum of care options for all its residents and owns all its residential units. In the Cutler Group's proposal, all the residential units would be sold privately to buyers and there would be no guarantee of continuing care.)
(b) The detrimental effects on our community as perceived by many residents outweigh the possible positive effects on tax revenues which could be provided if this high density residential development were allowed to proceed.
      Times Herald reporter Carl Rotenberg has posted an ARTICLE summarizing testimony at the conditional use hearing, including expert testimony which concluded, among other points, that the Pennsylovania Insurance Department would not license the facility as either a "continuum of care community or residential life-care facility" – testimony which supports the board's decision to reject the Cutler Group's application. Considering that the board action was taken immediately following an executive session to discuss legal matters, it is presumably the opinion of Township Solicitor Robert Brant that Worcester has a good chance of prevailing on appeal. Now we will just have to wait and see what happens next.

May 31, 2016: Worcester AA+ bond rating for sewer project

Worcester's summer newsletter, available online HERE, highlights the recently issued Standard & Poor's extremely favorable AA+ bond rating, which enabled the township to fund a 25-year bond for its sewer projects at a very low annual interest rate of about 2.6%. By acting when it did, the township avoided very recent interest rate increases for all kinds of borrowing. According to the newsletter, Standard & Poor's noted "Worcester's strong budgetary performance, conservative fiscal practices and ample reserve funds."
      This situation is especially noteworthy in view of ongoing accusations from some residents that Worcester's finances are mismanaged, in particular, the size of its cash reserve fund. Nothing could be farther from the truth! "Conservative" fiscal management means limiting ongoing long-term obligations, fully funding obligations such as pension plans which do exist, maintaining adequate cash reserves to handle operational needs, and borrowing money only when it is financially advantageous to do so. (As has been pointed out many times in public meetings, sewer projects are funded by users of those systems and cannot be funded from cash reserves generated from general tax revenues. Hence, a long-term bond made sense for the township and users of the public sewer systems.)
      The news is rife with stories about government entities in financial trouble through incompetent management, a willingness (too often an eagerness) to kick difficult problems down the road, and outright fraud. Worcester's staff and supervisors deserve our support and thanks for how they have managed our township's finances. Those who choose to criticize are either uninformed or willfully choosing to misrepresent and/or ignore the facts.

March 31, 2016: Jim Garrity replaced as Worcester Township Solicitor

At a special meeting on March 30, Worcester's Supervisors accepted Jim Garrity's resignation as Township Solicotor, a position he has held since 1990. He was replaced by Robert Brant, who has served as the attorney for Worcester's Zoning Hearing Board since 1989. (That position will now be given to someone else.) No reasons were given for this change, although Township Manager Tommy Ryan was quoted in the Times Herald as remarking that the "very high" legal bills for the Township were $250,000 over the last 12 months.
      As we have noted previously, a substantial percentage of Worcester's legal bills is due to Jim Mollick, who apparently continues to believe that every action taken or not taken by the Township's staff and elected officials is another opportunity to waste taxpayer dollars by initiating another lawsuit. Whether a different solicitor can handle these actions at lower cost, or can change the relationship beteween Jim Mollick and Worcester, remains to be seen. Presumably, that effort is at the top of the township's to-do list for the new solicitor and we wish Mr. Brant the best of luck in that endeavor!

January 5, 2016: Caughlan elected Chair of the Board of Supervisors

As required by state law, Worcester held its annual reorganization meeting on Monday, January 4. What is usually a routine affair this year resulted in a complete reshuffling of the roles of our three supervisors. Newly re-elected Supervisor Susan Caughlan is now Chair, Steve Quigley is Vice-Chair, and Art Bustard is a Member – thereby ending Mr. Bustard's long service as Chair.

Why the change? Nobody knows for sure. Based on her consistently thorough knowledge of the facts about issues before the Board, Ms. Caughlan has certainly earned this position. But, the turnover may be more a result of the tumultuous 2015 endured by the entire Board. There was a contested conditional use hearing regarding the development of Center Square Golf Club, which the board rejected based on what it concluded was a thinly disguised attempt to justify a very high density residential development by defining the development as a "life care" community. The protracted and contentious conditional use and legal battle over installation of lighted fields at Methacton High School ended in 2015. There was ongoing resentment about the sewer installation project in the Hickory Hills subdivision, with some residents complaining about every aspect of this project and insisting that the system should be paid for by the Township out of its taxpayer-supported general fund. Some residents refuse to accept the fact that this was not going to happen. As is commonly the case in communities around us, sewer systems in Worcester are paid for by fees from users of the systems, not by general tax revenues.

2015 also saw the ugliest election for a seat on our Board of Supervisors in Worcester's history. Republican Committeeman Jim Mollick ran a nasty and negative primary campaign against Susan Caughlan in May. When he lost, he ran an equally offensive write-in campaign for himself in the general election – an action which was totally inconsistent with his position as a Worcester Republican Committeeman. (A basic responsibility of committeepersons is to support the election of their party's candidates.)

Finally, 2015 saw the continuation of Jim Mollick's ongoing assaults on nearly every action taken or not taken by the Board of Supervisors, leading to increasingly confrontational election-year public meetings and endless legal challenges requiring the expenditure of many tens of thousands of dollars of OUR tax dollars in legal fees.

So, perhaps we need to do nothing more than look back at 2015 to understand the change in Township leadership. We are sure that 2016 will continue to bring new challenges. We wish the very best for each of our supervisors, and we ask EVERYONE to renounce in 2016 the ugly and destructive behavior that dominated 2015.

November 5, 2015: Election Results

We are using the close of this election cycle as an opportunity to "reboot" with a fresh start for this web page. We hope all Worcester residents will also consider a fresh start for working together to address the challenges facing our community.

      As everyone who gets mail or has a phone knows, this off-year election generated a huge amount of campaigning for many significant races. Countywide, Republicans suffered a near total rout from row offices on up. Their only bright spot was election of the highly qualified Risa Ferman, currently the Montco District Attorney, as judge on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.
      The problems facing Montco Republicans are perhaps best exemplified by the fact that Joe Gale, going "rogue" on his party, won the single Republican County Commissioners seat over endorsed candidate Stephen Tolbert. (Election rules for this position mandate that no party can hold all three seats.) Gale was quoted by the Times Herald in its November 4 edition as saying "I think I'm a breath of fresh air, that it is healthy and refreshing for Montgomery County. I am not beholden to the party, to special interests, to law firms, to engineering firms. I am beholden to the people,... I had a different campaign strategy. I was never picked by the party and I was never treated as a nominee. The people selected me." Gale, in his 20's, has no prior service in any elected public position and no apparent qualifications or experience that would appear to be relevant to running Montgomery County. Whether he will be an effective representative for county residents remains to be seen.
      There were two races of direct interest to Worcester residents. Five seats (with three incumbents) were up for grabs on Methacton School Board. For School Board, candidates can cross-file to be on both the Democratic and Republican ballot. The spring primary campaign for a spot on the ballot featured the Montgomery County Republican Committee retracting Scott Misus' endorsement and removing his name from campaign signs that had already sprung up across the school district, because of his widely circulated racist and anti-semitic remarks on social media. It also featured formation of an entirely new group of five contenders, working together as a group, "Community Advocates for Responsible Education (CARE)." This group appears to have been started in response to the School District's clumsy handling of possible plans to close one or two elementary schools in the face of declining enrollment projections. They then mounted a high-profile and ultimately successful campaign to take over the School Board. Chris Boardman won a spot on both the Democratic and Republican ballots, so he was essentially guaranteed a spot on the Board. However, in a stunning result, all five of the CARE candidates (a majority for this nine-member board), won. Here are the School Board results from the Montco Voter Services website. The top five names will take seats on the School Board in December and the remaining four will not.

In Worcester, the School Board race played out differently. The incumbents plus Scott Dorn and Chris Boardman won the top five spots. Boardman won the top spot because he was cross-filed and there was a heavy Democratic turnout. But Worcester votes were outnumbered by Lower Providence votes.

      The Worcester Supervisor race was between incumbent Susan Caughlan, who won the spring primary election as the endorsed Republican candidate against Jim Mollick, who ran what must certainly have been the nastiest campaign in Worcester's history. Caughlan also won a spot on the Democratic ballot as a result of her successful primary election write-in campaign. (Democrats did not field a candidate for Supervisor.) It is worth noting that the Democratic party included Caughlan's name on their yellow voting sheet, although they did not HAVE to do that.
      Caughlan won with 1679 votes, about 79% of all votes cast. (See THIS LINK.)
      As a Republican Committeeperson, it was Mollick's job (and the job of all Committeepersons) to support Republican candidates in the general election. Instead he mounted a last-minute write-in campaign for himself, announced in a campaign mailer as ugly as his literature during the primary campaign, and in an October 30 email to his supporters. Obviously, not all of the recipients of this email were his supporters because two readers sent us copies.

"From: jim mollick <committeemanjimmollick@yahoo.com>
To: Jim Mollick <gyno@comcast.net>
Sent: Fri, Oct 30, 2015 8:57 am
Subject: Jim Mollick Write In Campaign for Supervisor November 3

Hi All!!
      I am announcing my Write-In Campaign for Worcester Supervisor. I have kept this a secret until now so that my opponent would be caught off guard and have very little time to react and to get organized. Hopefully I have put all of her supporters to sleep and I can rally you guys to come out to vote for me and we can pull it off.

Since I am not on the Ballot, you will have to write me in. It will take a little more time and effort but certainly better than having to hold your nose and casting your vote for Susan Caughlan..."

Clearly, the Caughlan campaign was not caught off guard and her supporters were definitely not sleeping on election day. Mollick lost even at his own polling place, where he beat Caughlan in the spring primary election.
      We appreciate the fact that our system of government allows individuals to mount write-in campaigns for elected office when they have been ignored or turned down by the political establishment. Committeepersons can seek their party's endorsement for ballot spots in primary elections, and they can run in the primary election if they do not get that endorsement. (In the Worcester Republican Committee's endorsement process for Supervisor early this year, Mollick received only his own vote.) However, party committeepersons forgo this right when they lose a primary election. At that point, supporting party candidates in the general election is the essential part of the job description and any committeeperson who doesn't want to do that job should resign. We now wonder what the Republican Party will do about a committeeman who refused to do the job he was elected to do.