Congratulations Commissioners! Your "Vision For Ardmore" Scores Another Hit and Other Fun

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carla's picture
Last seen: 3 years 14 weeks ago
Joined: 2008-01-03 :36

Wow, thanks Amanda for writing about this. Yes, in full keeping with the strategic vision for Ardmore,Patch is reporting yet another cash for gold place in Ardmore. know...the other one is so classy, right? (What is a "gold party", anyway?)

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But wait, there is no real vision in Lower Merion, is there? There is a hodge podge of zoning overlays and grand plans, but Lower Merion has not had a COMPLETED comprehensive plan update since 1979, correct? And "working on it" is like being a little bit pregnant, you either are or you are not, so Lower Merion can twaddle all they want about workshops and working on it, but the only thing they are doing is working the residents about things not happening, yes?

Look over at 1st Baptist Church in Ardmore. I hear a lot of people feel the Zoning Hearing Board could have made allowances for that plan, but chose instead to send a message to the Board of Commissioners at the expense of an applicant and neighborhood? There you not only had a an adaptive reuse that the residents loved, heck even the reporters reporting on it couldn't believe there was *finally* a plan in Ardmore no one argued about as being just simply awful. But now, what is the neighborhood faced with? Easy, it's called demolition. Will that happen in the end? I hope not for the neighborhood's sake.

But while Rome burns, Lower Merion executives fiddle. Check out this update on Doug Cleland's contract due up maybe next week. This came from Commissioner Jenny Brown. Too bad Lower Merion Township can't get a staff make-over like Radnor Township did, eh?

From Jenny Brown:


As we approach the July 4th holiday, I want to wish you all a wonderful weekend. I also wanted to give you an update on the Township Manager’s proposed contract. In a nutshell, the meeting is likely to be on Monday, July 9 at approximately 6 p.m. and the proposed compensation is excessive and inappropriate. More detail follows:

Date of meeting – public notice/process

Amidst holidays, long weekends and summer vacations, it is my understanding that Board President Liz Rogan intends to have the Board vote on the Township Manager contract on Monday, July 9. As you know, the Commissioners meet on Wednesday evenings. Even though there is a regular Wednesday meeting on July 11, with only one committee currently scheduled (per the township website), I understand that the manager’s contract will be discussed and voted upon at a very unusual Monday night meeting two days earlier (although the website does not currently show any Admin and Human Resource Committee meeting scheduled for that evening). I am not going to speculate why President Rogan would set this matter for a meeting that few residents would know about or attend; suffice it to say that it looks like Monday, July 9 will be the day. (Hope anyone who wants to attend the meeting wasn’t planning on extending the holiday weekend).

Prior and current problems with proposed contract

You may recall that I raised a number of issues with the proposed contract which caused it to be pulled off of board agendas in February and April, including but not limited to: (1) the terms of compensation and benefits were not spelled out; (2) the cost of the contract to the taxpayers was not clear; (3) the contract was contrary to new state law that intended to prohibit contracts from extending beyond the term of the board that approves it; and (4) the compensation is excessive for the job of manager in a township of under 60,000 people, and when compared to similar positions.

Although the proposed terms are still excessive and inappropriate, I am happy to advise that, working with Commissioners Dan Bernheim and Brian Gordon, I have been able to get a lot more detail put into the proposed contract so that at the very least people will be more aware of the various, heretofore hidden, benefits and other compensation to which the manager would be entitled.

Already, however, the compensation for Lower Merion's township manager is far in excess of that paid by comparable municipalities to their managers and, as many have noted, is more than the Governor is paid and more than the Mayor of Philadelphia is paid. The cost to taxpayers will increase under the proposed new contract.

Compare this excessive contract with what just happened in Radnor

Last week, the Manager for our neighboring municipality, Radnor Township, showed the type of leadership that we should be able to expect from a first class township manager. According to a Radnor Township Commissioner, the Radnor Township Manager recently went to his Board of Commissioners and offered to reduce his overall compensation. Among the things he offered (and that have been incorporated into his new contract):

1. Radnor’s Manager has agreed to no increase in salary for as long as he works for the Township (his salary, which is significantly less than Lower Merion’s manager’s salary, will remain at its 2010 level);

2. Radnor’s Manager has agreed to pay for his own life insurance (previously funded by taxpayer dollars);

3. Radnor’s Manager has agreed to personally pay for (the Township will not have to pay for) his attendance costs at any conferences or training;

4. Radnor’s Manager has agreed to pay 10% of his family health insurance premium in 2013, 11% in 2014, and 12% in 2015.

5. Radnor’s Manager will contribute 2% of his gross salary towards OPEB (other post-employment benefits)

In addition, I note that while Radnor’s manager may participate in his township’s deferred compensation plan, it is only with his own money, there are no employer contributions (Lower Merion’s manager gets an 8%, legally questionable, taxpayer funded contribution). As well, unlike Lower Merion, the Radnor manager is required to live in the township he manages.

In Lower Merion, not only is the manager paid excessively more than any other township manager, he has demanded a raise for next year and expects the township taxpayers to pay for all sorts of perks, including the nearly unrestricted personal use of his township-owned car and he wants the taxpayers to continue to pay for all of the gas he puts in his car – can you imagine not feeling any “pain at the pump”!?! There are other inappropriate perks that I don’t have room to detail in this email but will discuss at the meeting.

Estimated cost to taxpayers

I have not been given an estimated cost of the proposed new two-year contract for Lower Merion’s manager, but I understand it is somewhere in the $550,000 - $600,000 range for just two years.

Performance concerns

Many of you have asked about performance evaluations for the Manager. Although the contract requires a self-evaluation by the manager and an annual evaluation by the Board, there has never been a performance evaluation of the current manager that I am aware of and most of the Commissioners appear to have no interest in evaluating performance as is required by the contract.

I have not yet been given a copy of the contract that will be considered on July 9, but will forward it to you as soon as I can after I receive it.

Over the past 5 months, a remarkable number of you have contacted me with your concerns about this contract, the excessive amount of compensation and the performance of the manager. I suggest that it is important for you to come to the meeting on July 9 and make your concerns heard by the entire Board.

Jenny Brown

Lower Merion Township Commissioner

Ward 2 - Gladwyne/Penn Valley

And saving the best for last, is the rumor true? Is that magnificant public servant Jane Dellheim really not seeking re-election? As in retiring? Will her ward now finally be able to tell her "good riddance and thanks for the memories"? If true I predict a giant plaque-bearing ceremony in the oval where Liz Rogan will get all teared up talking about "lovely" Jane and Doug Cleland will beam appreciatively as he will undoubtedly be enjoying his new contract by then, right? (At least we won't have to have another round of her photo from 30 years ago on an election sign, right? Don't believe me? Click on THIS LINK IT HAS THE SAME PHOTO )

Jane, for all your contributions to Lower Merion, this photo-shop is for you:

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politeia's picture
Last seen: 3 years 12 weeks ago
Joined: 2008-07-30 :00

I just sent an email to my commissioner with a cc to all commissioners regarding Cleland’s pay:


It has been rumored Monday the 9th is the day Cleland's insanely absurd and astronomical pay package is to be voted on during the committee meetings that evening.

As of 11:30am on the 5th, no agenda is posted on the township website for any committee meeting on the 9th.

This is a disgrace in regards to anything that will be on the agenda for committee meetings with no fair notice to the public, let alone for Cleland's pay.

Less than 4.5 days notice (2.5 days business day notice) for committee meetings is a slap in the face of the citizens of Lower Merion.

As you are my commissioner, I would like your take on this Phil.

Other commissioners feel free to chime in, though I expect the typical silence.

Do any of you have any respect for the citizens you are supposed to work for - as opposed to who you actually work for in the form of monied special interests and Cleland?

Township staff and monied special interests work behind closed doors with commissioners to not only set the agenda, but they are given weeks if not months of notice given staff and monied special interests secretly work on these agendas with commissioners behind closed doors.

Why is it citizens get less than 4.5 days notice (less than 2.5 business days) for the pre-ordained and fixed commissioner votes that have been months in the making behind closed doors?

Even if Monday were not to be the vote for Cleland's pay, it is still an outrage citizens are left in the dark on ALL other agenda items with such short notice.

Curious as to your take, Phil, as well as any other commissioner who might actually put the citizens of Lower Merion before government bureaucrats and monied special interests.


Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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Hugh Gordon's picture
Last seen: 3 years 5 days ago
Joined: 2009-10-24 :58

Cleland's contract is on line now (though, interestingly,  the agenda for the Administration and Human Resources Committee to which it is an exhibit has not, contrary to usual procedure, been emailed to people who have signed up for email notices of the the Township's official meeting schedule). It is not substantively different from Cleland's old contract, except it expires at the end of 2013 as state law now requires.  It provides for a 2% pay raise in 2013.

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Hugh Gordon's picture
Last seen: 3 years 5 days ago
Joined: 2009-10-24 :58

Well said.

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carla's picture
Last seen: 3 years 14 weeks ago
Joined: 2008-01-03 :36

Head Cheerleader Francie McComb is in rare form defending Lil' Dougie Cleland's honor at this evening's meeting. Watch the replay. I don't understand why she has to tell people she is "not a professional."

Lord they are dragging them all out, even Lita Cohen is warbling and twaddling. Paul "the coward" apparently called Lita personally. Wow, she has aged and is not making much sense. In Lita's case, I hope her health is o.k. Says Cleland deserves his contract because Lower Merion is a Township of the first class and is first class....and Lower Merion doesn't disenfranchise anyone and Cleland should be paid "ten times what the governor earns."

Lita also describes Cleland's contract as "fiscal responsibility."

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"Well behaved women rarely make history" - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

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