inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

Judge Slaps an Injunction on Delaware County Dems Over Election Board Change

A Common Pleas judge ruled on Wednesday against Delaware County over rule changes for appointing a minority member to the Board of Elections.

Judge James P. Bradley granted an injunction sought by Delaware County GOP Chairman Frank Agovino and the Delaware County Republican Party, saying an ordinance passed by the all-Democrat County Council is “null and void” and cannot be enforced.

The council passed an ordinance on Jan. 18 that said it could reject appointments to the Board of Elections made by the Republican Party chairman.

By law, the minority party is entitled to representation on the Board of Elections. The now-moot ordinance said the council could reject a list of three nominees given by the minority party chairman. If they do not provide another list within 30 days, the “Council may appoint any member of the minority party,” the ordinance change said.

“Under the election code, the council shall appoint a minority member to the Board of Elections from a list supplied by Agovino as the minority party chair,” the judge wrote. “The purpose of the election code is to guarantee minority representation on the county Board of Election; however, the current ordinance impermissibly affords Delaware County Council a veto power over the minority party’s nomination to the Board of Elections, which unduly expands the powers conferred upon council by the election code.”

Wally Zimolong, the lawyer representing the Delaware County Republicans, said he was pleased with the decision.

“The ordinance was as lawless as it was arrogant. The Pennsylvania Election Code guarantees minority representation on boards of election and gives the minority party chair the power to appoint the minority member,” Zimolong said. “Here, by giving themselves veto power over the GOP’s nominee, the Delaware County Democrats engaged in an illegal power grab, which the court put to an end. Democrats like to claim they are pillars of democracy in the electoral process; this case shows that is scantly the truth.”

Agovino said, “No one believes that one party rule is democratic. Unfortunately, we reside in a county that is exactly that. The current regime of Five Democrat County Council members chose to thwart the minority party’s only seat within county government by attempting to take away the authority of the Chairman to appoint one member of the Board of Elections.”

“After presenting the evidence in a Court of Law, our desire for fairness was upheld and the authority to appoint will remain with the minority Chairman. While this is a matter for the Republican Party today, someday the pendulum will swing. Ultimately, this is about fairness for all residents of Delaware County and we are thrilled that democracy was victorious today,” he added.

Republican Joy Schwartz, who ran for a seat on the county council in 2023, said, “Congratulations to the Delco GOP, Chair Frank Agovino, and attorney Wally Zimolong for prevailing in their petition against Delaware County Council’s efforts to weaken the process of selection of the minority party’s appointment to the Board of Elections. This is a victory for the rule of law and due process. It places an appropriate check on the otherwise unrestrained power of the majority party in Delaware County and exposes their nefarious power grab and their politicization of elections.”

Schwartz was among a handful of people who questioned the changes to the election code at the Jan. 18 council meeting. At that session, Director of Elections James Allen downplayed the changes to the ordinance as updating “archaic” language. Councilwoman Christine Reuther described them as mere “housekeeping.”

Shwartz praised “Delco Election Deepdivers, a grassroots election integrity group that investigates election procedures,” and brought the changes to the attention of the GOP.

Adrienne Marofsky, a spokeswoman for Delaware County, said county officials are still analyzing the ruling, and no decision has been made on whether to appeal.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or Facebook.com/DelawareValleyJournal

Democrats Sweep DelVal County Elections, Retain State Supreme Court Seat

Democrats kept their hold on Delaware Valley county politics, sweeping local elections Tuesday and contributing to a good night for their party across the commonwealth. And voters elected Judge Daniel McCaffrey, also a Democrat, to fill a vacancy on the state’s Supreme Court.

The Republicans in Bucks, Montgomery, and Delaware Counties ran on the issue of public safety, pointing out that crime is increasing in the suburbs. But that issue did not convince voters. In Chester County, Republicans attempted to use the escape and two-week manhunt of convicted murderer Danilo Cavalcante to tar Democrats in charge of the county as incompetent.

In Bucks County, incumbent Democratic Commissioners Bob Harvie and Diane Ellis-Marseglia were challenged by incumbent Republican Gene DiGirolamo and Controller Pam Van Blunk.

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Ellis-Marseglia was ahead at 27.67 percent, followed by Harvie at 25.53 percent. DiGirolamo had 24.01 percent and Van Blunk garnered 22.74 percent.

In Chester County, Democratic incumbent Commissioners Josh Maxwell and Moskowitz faced Republicans Eric Roe and David Sommers. With all precincts reporting in, Maxwell and Moskowitz were each ahead at 28.33 and 27.75 percent, respectively.  While Roe was ahead of Sommers at 23.02 percent to 20.86 percent for the minority board seat.

In Delaware County, three incumbent Democrat Council Members, Monica Taylor, Ph.D., Elaine Paul Schaeffer and Christine Reuther, were challenged by GOP candidates Joy Schwartz, Jeff Jones and Bill Dennon, the Upland Borough mayor. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, the Democrats retained their seats on the five-person council. And incumbent DA Jack Stollsteimer bested Republican challenger  Beth Stefanide-Miscichowski.

Chester will also have a new mayor. Democrat City Councilman Stefan Roots bested Independent Anita J. Littlejohn. Roots defeated outgoing Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland in the Democratic primary earlier this year.

Judge Carolyn Carluccio with her husband, Tom Carluccio and son, Joseph, walk to the Wissahickon Valley Library in Skippack to vote.

In Montgomery County, incumbent Commissioner Jamila Winder and candidate Neil Makhija, both Democrats, bested Republicans Liz Ferry and Tom DiBello. With all votes counted, DiBello was ahead of Ferry by 85,934 votes to 83,811 for the seat reserved for the minority commissioner.

In Philadelphia, where her party holds a 7-1 voter registration advantage, Democrat Cherelle Parker easily defeated David Oh to become the first Black woman mayor of the city. And Republicans appear to have lost one of their two remaining City Council seats to the leftwing populist Working Families Party. The only GOP holdout was Councilman Brian O’Neill who won re-election to the 10th District.

Statewide, the marquee race was for an opening on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Republican Judge Carolyn Carluccio, president judge for Montgomery County, lost to Superior Court Judge Dan McCaffrey.

A relentless spate of negative television commercials pummeled voters in the weeks leading up to Election Day, along with internet ads and mailings. The race was pricy, too.  About $17 million was spent, with outside groups including unions, lawyers, and others pumping in cash. Democrats made abortion, an issue that worked for them in 2022, again the centerpiece of their argument.

Charlie Gerow, a GOP consultant with Quantum Communications, said, “The results of the Supreme Court race are especially troubling. Not winning that seat means that Democrats will likely control that Court for the rest of my life. Equally troubling were the at -large Council seats in Philadelphia that Republicans failed to win. The system was not designed to have no GOP representation, but that is what we have for the first time in modern history.”

“One bright spot was the re-election of Steve Zappala (for district attorney) in Allegheny County who won as a Republican over a Larry Krasner style Democrat,” Gerow added.

Carluccio sent this concession statement: “I just spoke with Judge McCaffery.  The people have spoken, and while the outcome was not what we hoped for, the democratic process has once again prevailed. I want to express my deepest gratitude to my supporters for your time and your belief in our vision for a fair and impartial judiciary.

I congratulate my opponent on his victory and wish him the wisdom and strength to uphold the great responsibility that comes with serving on our State Supreme Court. It is my hope that he will serve the interests of justice and the well-being of all Pennsylvanians at heart.

To all who have stood by me, know that our efforts have not been in vain. We have sparked important conversations and advocated for the values we hold dear. I remain committed to serving our community and upholding the rule of law as President Judge of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.”

McCaffrey’s win will bring the high court back to a 5-2 Democratic majority.

Delco Recognizes October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

(From a press release)

Delaware County Council members Christine Reuther and Kevin Madden, District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, and Sheriff Jerry Sanders were honored to participate in a Domestic Violence Survivor Vigil on October 26 in front of the County Courthouse.

The vigil hosted by the Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County (DAP) was held to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Since 1981, October has been recognized as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, with the goal of educating communities, individuals, and families about advocacy services and community resources that can help prevent and raise awareness of domestic violence.

During the vigil domestic abuse survivors shared their emotional and powerful journeys and urged people who may be experiencing abuse of any kind- physical, sexual, or emotional- to speak up, seek help, and empower themselves.

The vigil also remembered 104 domestic abuse victims in Pennsylvania who were killed in 2022, including four victims in Delaware County.

Sadly, one in four women, and one in seven men in the United States suffer severe physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner. The devastating consequences of domestic violence can cross generations. 1 in 15 children are exposed to domestic violence each year, and 90 percent of these children are eyewitnesses to the violence. Homicides in Delaware County have been directly related to domestic violence.

Last fall, Council worked with District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer to form the Delaware County Domestic Violence Prevention Task Force, dedicated to the prevention of domestic abuse, and assisting survivors. The Task Force’s mission is to increase coordination and resources among key stakeholders who share a common interest in serving survivors of domestic violence in Delaware County.

Goals of the Task Force in the next year include: expanding the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP); training. LAP is an evidence-based assessment tool used by law enforcement officers responding to intimate partner violence calls. The tool uses a series of questions to determine if the victim is at an increased risk of lethality and helps connect the victim directly with services through DAP.

Police Departments who have received the training and who use the LAP tool consistently have stated its helpfulness in knowing what to ask and what to look for, how to better assess domestic violence situations, and how to better document calls so they can provide DAP with information that allows them to best serve the victims with whom they are helping. Currently, approximately 435 officers across 44 police departments in the county have received LAP training.

And creating a county system-wide education session on domestic violence and victim experience. The Taskforce is working to create an education session for all county departments and stakeholders, including law enforcement and the courts, who are involved in the experience of a victim of domestic violence.

The training will include information on domestic violence such as misconceptions and data. The training will also look at how a victim navigates our systems so that we can come together to identify how to best serve victims while providing an experience that recognizes their trauma, rather than adding to it.

Creating school-aged programs to offer prevention and support for parents and guardians, educators, and students DAP and the Victims Assistance Center are working to create materials and potential education sessions for schools in Delaware County to provide information to parents, guardians, educators, and students. The information is being designed to help identify and prevent domestic abuse as well as supporting students and staff with age-appropriate information and guidance.

During the vigil, Council Member Christine Reuther presented the Domestic Abuse Project (DAP) with a resolution proclaiming October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Delaware County and commended DAP Executive Director Michelle Brown and her team for their work, dedication, and compassion serving the community.

Empowering survivors of domestic abuse and domestic violence prevention are core to DAP’s mission and accomplishments. Annually, thousands of survivors of abuse and their children are supported through a 24/7 hotline, emergency safe shelter, counseling, and legal advocacy. county Council recognizes these vital services and commends the DAP staff for their dedication and compassion towards domestic abuse survivors.

 

 

TRACY: Democrats Claim “Unfettered Discretion” Over Republican Nominees to Delco Election Board

This column previously appeared in Broad + Liberty.

Three weeks ago, the Delaware County Council enacted an ordinance altering the powers and duties of the county’s board of elections and registration commission. These changes to the administrative code follow years of contentious debate surrounding minority party representation in county government, as well the private funding of election administration from partisan non-governmental organizations.

With the changes, the all-Democrat council has granted itself the power to hand-pick the minority party member on the board of elections, undermining the ability of the out-of-power party to choose its own representation. The Board of Elections is a bipartisan body responsible for managing, overseeing, and facilitating elections in Delaware County. It is also the only governmental body in the county where minority party representation is guaranteed.

Previously, the administrative code stated that members of the board shall consist of two appointees representing the majority party, which the code defines as “the party with the largest total vote cast for the seat on council in the most recent municipal election”, and one appointee representing the minority party, or “the party with the second ranking total vote cast”. The minority party representative is chosen by the council majority from a list of three nominees submitted by the minority party chairperson.

Now, the council has granted itself the authority to reject the list of representatives from the minority party and appoint a representative of their choosing. As it stands, the new law, Ordinance 2023-1, does not provide any examples of necessary grounds for the rejection of such a list.

Additionally, if the list is rejected, the minority party has ten days to compile and submit a new list or else the council may appoint any registered member of the minority party they choose. In the event that there is a vacancy on the board and a list is not received from the minority party chairperson within thirty days, the council may now also appoint a minority representative of their choosing.

When asked by Broad + Liberty to provide justification for this new ordinance, a spokesperson for the council said, “The Delaware County Charter gives the County council unfettered discretion over who to select as the minority party member of the election board,” (emphasis added).

Republican election lawyer James Fitzpatrick from Zimolong Law in Villanova, however, disagrees with the council’s assertion. According to Fitzpatrick, this move by the council is in direct violation of Pennsylvania state election laws.

“The recent amendment to the process by which the Delaware County Council appoints minority representation to their election board is illegal. 25 Pa. § 2641 states that the county council shall appoint minority representation on the election board from a list submitted by the county chairman of the minority party,” Fitzpatrick said. “The language in Ordinance 2023-1 gives the council authority to reject the list, in violation of Pennsylvania law, and appoint any member of the minority party.”

In addition to Fitzpatrick’s concerns, Delaware County Republican Party Chairman Frank Agovino expressed outrage.

“This blatant power grab by Delaware County Democrats is disgraceful,” Agovnio said. “For a party that loves to wrap themselves in the cloak of democracy, de facto veto power over minority party participation in election administration is arguably the most anti-democratic thing they could do.”

Agovino went on to say, “the language used in the new administrative code is purposefully vague. In its present form, Christine Reuther could appoint herself minority representative just by changing her party registration. What do you think her response would be if the shoe was on the other foot?”

Interestingly, Councilwoman Christine Reuther, a Democrat who voted to approve the change, openly opposed what she described as a “one-party system” in 2015 in an unsuccessful bid for county council in then Republican-controlled Delaware County. Ruether publicly lamented that Delaware County is the only county in the state “not obligated to have minority representation.”

Reuther is hardly the only county Democrat to have campaigned on the issue of minority party representation when Republicans controlled the county. Indeed, the decision to support this amendment signals a noteworthy change in Democrats’ views on minority party representation now that they are not the minority party.

In 2014, former Democratic candidate for council and county Democratic Committee Chairman David Landau described a minority party voice as “much-needed” in Delaware County.

Twice over the course of this past week, Broad + Liberty reached out for comment from the League of Women Voters of Delaware County, an organization with a longstanding history of advocating for increased voter participation and the preservation of democratic processes. The league did not respond to our inquiry.

Given that the ordinance was passed quickly and with limited public debate, it is difficult to speculate as to why any of the above changes to the administrative code were implemented. However, the nature of these changes and the discreet way by which they were pushed through is likely to be concerning to voters frustrated by a perceived lack of transparency in election-related processes and the facilitation of mail-in voting.

Delaware County has been fraught with politicized election issues in recent years. Officials knowingly accepted election grants from left-wing non-profit groups funded by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and run by former Obama administration aides. Additionally, county officials admitted to sending hundreds of mail-in ballots to the wrong voters, and a 2021 lawsuit alleges election officials destroyed election materials in the 2020 general election.

All of these issues together comprise the backdrop for these recent changes to the county administrative code, which begs the question: why did County Council believe it necessary to inexplicably modify pre-existing code language and implement heavy-handed, possibly illegal leverage over minority party election board nominees?

Democrats and their progressive allies in the county would demand an answer — if they were still in the minority, that is.

Delco Last of Suburban Philly Counties to Post Proposed Budget Online

This article first appeared in Broad and Liberty

Although the Delaware County Council has had next year’s proposed budget in hand since the beginning of November, the county won’t be putting it online for public review until Thursday, making it the last of the four southeastern “collar counties” to make the document available over the internet.

As a result, Delco citizens and other interested parties will only have six days to review the document — estimated to be several hundred pages in length — before the budget is expected to be adopted in the second week of December before the new fiscal year begins on Jan. 1.

On Friday the county distributed a press release announcing the first budget meeting is scheduled for this coming Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. That will be immediately followed the next day by a public hearing on the budget at 10 a.m.

“The Proposed Budget will be posted online after the public hearing on December 8, so any changes would be incorporated,” the release said.

“Council is expected to consider the budget for final passage on December 14, 2022,” the release noted further.

By county law, the county executive director must submit the proposed budget “at least 60 days prior to the beginning of the fiscal year.” While the proposed budget has not been online, it has been available for in-person review at the county clerk’s office in the government center in Media.

On Nov. 22, Broad + Liberty asked the county why the proposed budget was not online, and received an unclear answer. We sent a follow up inquiry on Thursday, Dec. 1, and received no response. The following day the county put out its press release.

Increasing transparency was a core campaign issue for all of the Democrat members of council. Indeed, in his first campaign Councilman Kevin Madden told the Delaware County Times in 2017, “we have a plan to ensure transparency by making the inner workings of county government accessible to its citizens.” That plan, released in conjunction with his running mate, former Council President Brian Zidek, required publishing all county budgets, data, reports and disclosures online.

As for the budget itself, the county says it “is the third consecutive budget that includes no new tax hikes as it makes unprecedented investments in the County’s post-COVID future.”

The budget press release also touts the “launch of a ‘Zero Waste’ program, which will completely transform the County’s approach to handling waste. Not only will ‘Zero Waste’ create new economic opportunities, but it will put Delaware County at the forefront of communities taking action to protect their natural resources.”

More details from the county can be found in its press release, available here.

According to the press release, the budget document is much longer this year because it will include a “new capital budget and data tables detailing the source and uses of all sources of funds — taxes, fees, capital, and grants[.]”

The general-fund portion of the county’s budget has been on a steep increase in recent years.

“[G]eneral fund total spending spiked from $251 million in fiscal year 2019, the last year a Republican Administration managed county operations, up to $284 million in the adopted 2022 budget — an increase of thirteen percent,” Broad + Liberty president and CEO Terry Tracy wrote in an October opinion piece.

But that increase didn’t capture all of the changes, according to Tracy.

“In a special budget meeting in June, the $284 million in spending for the 2022 general fund budget was adjusted upwards by another $6 million, bringing this year’s total budget to $290 million, pushing the aforementioned increase up to an eye-popping sixteen percent.”

The proposed budget will also be of interest to county Republicans, who lost control of the majority of the council in 2019, because the 2023 budget will be the first in which most or all of the transitional costs of major new initiatives are finally in the rear view mirror, and the outlays on those projects should present a reasonable forecast of what the recurring costs will actually be.

For example, the county created its own health department and also took back management of the county’s prison, which had been run by a private company for more than three decades. The incremental spending associated with these initiatives is not captured in the aforementioned operating budget increases, meaning the county’s ongoing financial obligations could be significantly higher in the aggregate.

 Progress Report on The Chester Parternship for Safe Neighborhoods

From a press release 

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), and members of Delaware County Council gathered Thursday to provide a progress report on the work of the Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods (CPSN) in curbing gun violence in the city.

District Attorney Stollsteimer announced that “Over the past two years, as a result of the work of my office, the Mayor’s office, the Chester Police Department, and Delaware County Council – with unwavering support from our partners Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon – CPSN has continued to have an extraordinary impact on the level of gun violence in the City of Chester.” A few of the highlights include:

  • There has been a 59.7 percent decrease in non-fatal shootings since 2019;
  • There has been a 60 percent decrease in gun violence homicides since 2020; and
  • There has been a 55 percent decrease in gun violence incidents since 2019.

Stollsteimer stated that “the progress that has been made in reducing gun violence in Chester is making a difference every day in the lives of City residents – and we would not have achieved these results without the support of all of our partners. We are particularly grateful to General Shapiro and Congresswoman Scanlon for their support of our efforts to obtain a $2 million grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to continue and to expand the work of CPSN.”

“The Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods is an example of the positive impact that a focused, intelligence-based enforcement approach can have on a community. I commend the great work being done by District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer and the people of Delaware County to reduce the gunviolence that puts our neighborhoods and public safety at risk. There is still more work to be done, and together, through programs like this, we will make our communities safer for all who live there,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

“Everyone deserves to live in a safe community,” said Scanlon. “I’ve worked hard in Congress to deliver the resources critical to making community safety a reality. I’m proud to work with District Attorney Stollsteimer and the Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods to bring evidence-based solutions to prevent crime and help restore safety in our neighborhoods. While many offer nothing but meaningless rhetoric about being tough on crime, the DA’s office and the Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods are doing the actual hard work of keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them and addressing the root causes of violence by connecting individuals to opportunities such as meaningful employment, educational programs, and appropriate mental health care.”

In October of 2020 Stollsteimer launched CPSN, which is a deterrence-based program aimed at reducing gun violence premised on a data-driven model developed by Swarthmore College alum David Kennedy. The program, similar to ones implemented years ago in Boston and Philadelphia, works on a “carrot and stick” approach that begins by calling in influential people involved in crime, explaining that law enforcement knows who they are what they are responsible for, and giving them the ultimatum: “If you let us, we will help you; if you make us, we will stop you.”

The help may come in ways big and small, from simply getting a suspended license reinstated, or a present for someone’s daughter while they are in prison, to getting an offender into an educational or vocational program so they can improve their lot in life legally. With the financial support obtained through PCCD, additional staff will be hired to work with program participants. With the support of County Council, a community resource specialist was hired in 2020, and he continues to work on the streets of Chester every day connecting at-risk individuals with needed services. With funding from PCCD, three additional community resource specialists will be hired, and recently the Green Family Foundation has added its support to CPSN by contributing the funding needed to pay the salary of one of the outreach workers.

Kirkland said, “The Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods is a truly collaborative effort bringing public agencies, law enforcement, and community groups in our City together behind the shared goals of improving the public safety and quality of life for Chester residents. I am appreciative of all of our partners who encourage and support this life-saving work.”

“Delaware County Council is committed to the public safety concerns of our community and we are committed to ensuring that every resident in every neighborhood feels safe and protected,” said Delaware County Council Chair Monica Taylor, Ph.D. “Today’s announcement demonstrates what can be achieved through genuine collaboration, and on behalf of County government, I’d like to commend those who are a part of the Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods program and who have worked to reduce homicides and gun violence in the City of Chester.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or Facebook.com/DelawareValleyJournal

Sources: Delco May Settle With Aqua on DELCORA Sale Litigation

Two judges in separate courts issued rulings this week in cases involving DELCORA (Delaware County Regional Water Quality Control Authority).

The litigation involves an agreement with Aqua PA to buy DELCORA which had been approved by a previous county council but has been publicly rejected by the current Democrat-controlled county council. The new council went to court in May 2020 to block the sale by terminating DELCORA’s existence.

However, DVJournal learned Delaware County officials are talking with Aqua about settling the litigation.

Asked about whether the county was in settlement discussions with Aqua, County Councilwoman Christine Reuther was noncommittal.

“It’s possible we’ve had some conversations and these may continue,” said Reuther. “I will always take Chris Franklin’s call.” Franklin is the CEO of Essential Utilities, Aqua’s parent company.

Common Pleas Judge Barry C. Dozor held Delaware County does have the right to undo DELCORA but must go forward with a $276.5 million sale to Aqua PA or be in breach of contract. The Commonwealth Court ruled the Public Utilities Commission has authority over the matter, something that Dozor also stated in his decision. It also quashed a Delaware County’s petition asking for review.

William F. Martin, county solicitor, said, “The county has not yet decided whether to appeal the Common Pleas decision. In any event, no transfer of DELCORA’s assets can occur until the PUC has approved the transaction. And that approval is no closer to being received than it was in 2020.

“As to the Commonwealth Court order, it merely stated that now is not the proper procedural time to present the many issues the county has posed for review. The county will still have the opportunity to make its arguments before the PUC and if needed, the Commonwealth Court,” said Martin.

Dozor also ruled if it takes over DELCORA, the county would be bound by the terms of the asset purchase agreement and that settlement on the agreement must happen before the county dissolves DELCORA.

In a separate case that is still pending, the Chester City receiver also filed suit to be sure that the city garners its share from the sale or regains control of its infrastructure.

An Aqua spokeswoman said it has not publicly commented on the court’s decision.

Frank Catania, the lawyer for the Chester Water Authority, which is also an Aqua target, praised the Bucks County Board of Commissioners which recently rejected Aqua’s planned $1.1 billion purchase of the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority. Catania also praised Chester County officials for their support of CWA and its ratepayers.

“The Bucks County commissioners made their decision in two months and made it publicly,” said Catania. “Delaware County is doing something different, having private conversations. I don’t understand what they’re trying to do here. Their stated strategy is to try and stop the purchase from going through. If there is something else going on they should state it publicly.”

Recently, outside counsel representing Delaware County filed a motion with the Supreme Court to stop Chester Water Authority’s “attempt to protect its natural resources,” said Catania. “They raised an issue that’s not even before the court.” Delaware County took this action without public discussion or notice in the minutes that Council had discussed it in executive session, he said.

As part of its bid, Aqua has offered to place the proceeds from the sale into a trust used to offset rate increases for DELCORA customers. However, residents of other Delaware Valley areas where the sewer or water utilities have been sold have seen rate increases. Residents in Cheltenham Township experienced sticker shock this year after Aqua received PUC approval to raise their sewer rates, with an average residential bill up 69 percent. Township officials sold the sewer system to Aqua in 2019.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or Facebook.com/DelawareValleyJournal

Delaware County Swears in Most Diverse and First Majority Female-Led Council in History

History was made on Jan. 3 as Delaware County swore in its most diverse county council in history at an induction ceremony held in The Honorable John V. Diggins Ceremonial Courtroom at the Delaware County Courthouse in Media. Newly-elected Richard Womack, Jr. was sworn into office, joining incumbent councilmembers Kevin M. Madden, Monica Taylor, Elaine Paul Schaefer, and Christine Reuther. President Judge Kevin F. Kelly presided over the ceremony.

After the ceremony, the council held its reorganization meeting where Monica Taylor, Ph.D. was elected council chair and Elaine Paul Schaefer vice-chair. Taylor had served as vice-chair for the last two years.

The council is now the most diverse in the county’s history, with a female chair and vice-chair and two African American members.

Newcomer Womack was elected to a four-year term in November 2021. His prior government service includes representing Ward 2 on the Darby Township Board of Commissioners since 2009, where he was vice president of the board in 2015 and president in 2018. He also served as an advisor to the president for community and religious affairs for the National AFL-CIO.

Womack has been recognized for his achievements and commitment to his community with the National NAACP “Labor of the Year Award,” the A. Phillip Randolph’s “Community Activist Award,” the Coalition of Black Trade Unionist “Labor of the Year Award,” and the Martin Luther King Jr. “Social Justice Award.”

Womack’s oath of office was administered by Magisterial District Judge Wilden H. Davis. He was introduced by his father, Richard Womack, Sr. presentation of the certificate of election was made by his daughter, Chantel Womack and a Bible was held by his granddaughter, Amiyah Porter-Womack.

Newly re-elected County Controller Joanne Phillips was also sworn in for a second four-year term. Her oath was administered by Common Pleas Court Judge Kelly D. Eckel and the introduction was by her sister, Carol L. Roberts. The presentation of the Certificate of Election was made by Phillips’ brother, James E. McPhillips, and the Bible she was sworn in on was held by Mary J. Walk, director of the Office of Judicial Support.

The invocation was given by Rev. Warren D. Mays, Sr., of the Second Baptist Church of Media. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by army veteran Maura A. “MO” Gillen and the national anthem was performed by Dean Fagiolo, a Media Theater Student.

Newly re-elected Councilman Kevin Madden, Sherriff Jerry Sanders, and Register of Wills Rachel Ezell Berry were sworn in during small private ceremonies prior to the public swearing in observance.

 

Follow us on social media: Twitter: @DV_Journal or Facebook.com/DelawareValleyJournal