Big law and the judges

It’s nice when companies sponsor public events (like the May Day Festival in West Chester on May 5), but isn’t this a little crass:

May Day Festival 2013

Besides the yard signs for a judicial candidate near the bottom, the table also held campaign literature and buttons.

The same law firm, whose second named partner is the former long-time head of the ChesCo Republican party and has been Chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board since 2011, also openly supported a judge candidate in 2011.

How much do a big law firm, a political party, and a judge candidate work together around here? Too much.


Some issues with primary election articles

Letter, Daily Local News, 5/17/13

The article “Board hopefuls represent competing camps in primary,” printed in the May 13 Daily Local News, deals with a vital race in the May 21 primary but has some issues, as they say.

The print article says that the “Better Directions” slate of Ricky Swalm, Joyce Chester, Robin Kaliner, and Chris McCune “were endorsed by the Democratic committee, though they are all registered Republicans.”

There were two errors there: the Democratic committee does not “endorse” Republicans (and vice versa) and one of those four is a Democrat.

The online edition (under the title “8 West Chester school board hopefuls represent 2 slates“) changed that quote to:

“Chester, the only registered Democrat is endorsed by the Democratic committee. Though Swalm, Kaliner and McCune are registered Republicans, they received a recommendation from the committee, but cannot be fully endorsed.”

That is a lot better, but a candidate cannot be partly endorsed. The proper term, used by the Dem committee, is “supported.”

For further confusion, the bipartisan group just described and the other four candidates, representing the current board majority (with one substitution for an outgoing board member), are all cross-filed in the primary, meaning that all eight will appear on both ballots on May 21.

Why is this such a mess? Because the whole system of electing school boards is faulty in Pennsylvania–one of only three states to put board candidates on primary ballots. Such a vital community resource as public education should not be part of the business-as-usual political process.

State Senator Andy Dinniman (D-19) and state representative Dan Truitt (R-156) have both filed bills to remove school board elections from the primary ballot. Rather, candidates would get on the November ballot by filing petitions over the summer, with a required number of signatures.

One of the benefits would be to give Independents–20% of the electorate, who currently have virtually zero chance of getting on a school board in our state–a chance to serve.

Finally, the print edition headline’s term “camps” suggests that electing school boards is a military or political maneuver. Rather it should be a chance for voters to mull over a diversity of candidates’ backgrounds and positions on education and our communities’ ability to support education for the common good.

West Chester

The Choice for True Leadership in WCASD

from A View from the Cheap Seats, 5/8/13

The mission of West Chester Vote is to preserve excellence in education for West Chester Schools by supporting candidates who will protect our educational and enrichment programs. West Chester Vote is endorsing Joyce Chester, Robin Kaliner, Chris McCune and Dr. Ricky Swalm as Directors for West Chester Area School District. Two years ago, this community voted to change the direction of the school board to one that serves all taxpayers by electing one write-in candidate!  One board director alone cannot adequately represent us. We must be successful in electing 4 more board directors.   We stand no chance of preserving excellence when the current majority of the 9 school board members share the same philosophy. The strength of the educational integrity of our school district prepares our children for high performance and success and is paramount to improving and protecting our property values. The current school board majority has demonstrated a lack of leadership through the following actions:

Not Fiscally Responsible: Inability to balance student needs, taxpayer resources, and long term goals limits our ability to maintain high scores and high property values.

Focus: Dedicating time and efforts towards single issues and ideology prevents us from addressing those matters that pertain to excellence in public education and the best interests of our community.

Transparency: Voting in “lock step” and without public discussion is not only divisive to the process but also shows a blatant disregard for the rights of the community to receive representation representative of all residents in the community.

The primary election on Tuesday, May 21 will not only decide who wins the 4 director seats but also the direction this school district will take for the next 4 years. As a citizens group committed to educational excellence, we ask you to help us by voting for our 4 endorsed candidates – Chester, Kaliner, McCune and Swalm, who, if elected, will help to change the direction of the WCASD board.

Please visit the candidates’ website. Please show your support in this effort by committing to vote on Tuesday, 5/21.

Need an absentee ballot:click here. Last date to file is 5/14.

Why Vote for a “Better Direction”? (WC Area School District, 2013)

from Better Direction for West Chester

Why Vote for a “Better Direction”?

In the last school board election, against all odds, our community joined together and succeeded in electing a board director with strong community values. This was the first step in providing a “Better Direction” for the West Chester Area School Board. Take the next step to achieve a “Better Direction” by ensuring a majority of the board members share this vision. All 4 of our candidates for School Board Director believe in the values of a strong community built upon strong schools. Our ability to present independent views while embracing core values is critical to providing a “Better Direction.” Electing our team of 4 on May 21st ensures we will have a School Board majority in place that provides intelligent, fiscally responsible governance by pruning the budget wisely and spending our dollars sensibly to improve student achievement and the quality of education, which will contribute to maintaining or improving our high property values.

Our Shared Commitment for this “Better Direction:”

· Ensures quality education & high property values through smart spending;
· Reduces expenses and increases revenue streams while maintaining our educational integrity;
· Demonstrates true fiscal responsibility by balancing the current year’s budget while considering our responsibility to future years (5-year outlook);
· Seeks relief from unfunded state and federal mandates;
· Conducts board business publicly and transparently to promote better understanding and inclusiveness;
· Participates in on-going, professional development to ensure the best possible governance and ability to recruit and retain excellent administrators.

Candidates for a “Better Direction” for West Chester Area School Board:

Chris McCUNE

Please vote on Tuesday, May 21st for our team of candidates!

For more information, please email us at

West Chester Mayor to Run for Re-Election

West Chester Patch, 2/10/13

Current West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta will seek re-election this fall.

The following is a press release from the Campaign to Elect Carolyn Comitta.

At a lunchtime gathering, Friday, at West Chester’s Municipal Building Council Chambers, Carolyn Comitta publicly announced her plan to run for re-election as Mayor of West Chester. Comitta was elected to her first term as Mayor in 2009. She was the bipartisan candidate for Mayor, having won both the Democratic and Republican Primaries…

read more at West Chester Patch