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WALKER: Despite State Ruling, Bucks Officials Persist in Hiding Emails

For most, COVID is now a bad memory. The thing about it is, it occupied our lives for the better part of 3 years. Some lost friends and family.  Others lost their jobs and livelihoods.  To this day some struggle with mental health issues.  Many of our children struggle with social and emotional issues as well as learning loss.

For me, it was always about my kids and making sure they had a normal in-person education.  So, as I describe what has happened since August of 2021, please keep that in mind.   When school ended in June 2021, there was great hope and anticipation that when kids returned in late August it would be “back to normal.”

Our county health director, Dr. David Damsker, issued COVID Health Guidance that we could reopen the schools fully.  Masks and quarantines were not needed. That didn’t mean children or teachers couldn’t wear masks.  It meant, based on his expertise, that school would be “normal.”

However, on August 23, the COVID Health Guidance was abruptly changed for ALL children in Bucks County.  This order went to all 13 school districts via email, an email that was not sent by Dr. Damsker. And he never spoke publicly again.

I and so many other parents and children were not only disappointed, we were angry.  What was the reason? What happened?  Why did this suddenly change?  Parents all thought their kids would go back to school normally, then all of the sudden another normal school year was taken from children in Bucks County.

What took place during August 2021 didn’t sit right with me so I decided to seek answers.  As American citizens we have the right to see the emails and correspondence politicians send to each other on taxpayer funded devices.  We have a right to see how decisions are made. What I thought would be an easy question was met with stonewalling and vicious name calling by our county commissioners Diane Marsaglia and Bob Harvie.  Commissioner DiGirolamo was nonresponsive.

I put in two public Right-to-Know records requests (RTK), to our county commissioners to see how COVID guidance was created by our county health director.  I put in a RTK asking for the emails from Commissioner Marseglia’s second county email address.  I realized she had a second account from an email she sent me previously.   Stunningly, the county denied my request.   I filed an appeal to the state Office of Open Records, and I won the right to receive the emails.  You would think that would be the end of it right?  Not a chance!

The county run by majority commissioners Bob Harvie and Diane Marseglia and in consultation with the then county Attorney Joe Kahn (now running for Pennsylvania  Attorney General) decided they didn’t want to give me the records I won so they decided to take me to Common Pleas Court. Keep in mind they are doing this using OUR tax money.  Turns out their attorney didn’t file the appeal correctly so according to the court, in theory it didn’t even exist.  An average citizen, mom of three, and taxpayer doesn’t have a staff and team of lawyers like the county has access to.

When you are taken to the Court of Common Pleas you have to hire an attorney.   It was clear the one appeal was not filed correctly.   I had already won the records when the OOR made its ruling.  When I went to the hearing in June the county had hired three attorneys to fight their case.  My attorney argued the appeal wasn’t filed correctly and I already won the records and asked that they please give them to me.

Unfortunately, the judge ruled that they did not have to turn the records over without a full trial.  So, Commissioners Chair Bob Harvie is prepared to continue this in court since he has three attorneys paid for with your tax money.   All I have is myself.  The county wants a Bucks County judge to make the entire state less transparent for every resident in Pennsylvania. This is what our commissioners are doing with their legal team funded by your taxes.

COVID may be over, but in Bucks County I am still paying the price for asking for answers about how health decisions were made for OUR children.  What I want to find answers I hope no other parent ever has to deal with this again.  I have learned what local government officials will do to cover up their secret emails and lies. Take this as a cautionary tale. But also take it as an important lesson that transparency in government is a cornerstone to our democracy. A cornerstone that our current county commissioners want to take away from us.

As the recent Bucks County Courier Times editorial board noted, “Government works best in full view of the governed, but falters when something compromises the public’s trust in it.”

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GIORDANO: Philly Needs More ‘Moms For Liberty’

It is rare for the local media, the mayor of Philadelphia, or everyday citizens to pay much attention to almost all conventions that come to Philadelphia. However, the convention last week of the Moms for Liberty group drew a ton of analysis and attention.

It also drew protesters who were determined to drive the group out of town. What is it about this growing group of women that prompted Mayor Jim Kenney to call them “problematic “and necessitated substantial numbers of Philadelphia police to surround their hotel to protect them?

The group was formed because of the frustration and anger many parents felt as their children were blocked from school due to COVID protocols that shut down schools for excessive periods. It also focused n concerns about the masking of children after schools reopened and the belief that the teachers’ unions were the powers behind these unscientific mandates.

Moms for  Liberty has taken off and now has many chapters and thousands of members. Vicki Flannery, the head of the Montgomery County chapter, told me they have 1,400 members, and I’ve been told the Bucks County chapter has even more. What is it that has these area suburban moms joining and pushing back against all comers?

The answer is simple. It’s their kids!

However, many area public officials, pundits, and progressive mobs have another answer. They say they’re haters! They claim the Moms are racist, homophobic, and enemies of free expression. They seem to think that parents that object to books in school and school libraries that are so graphic that they can’t be read at school board meetings are for book bans. In Philadelphia, they announced the Moms were defiling the values of Philadelphia by meeting at the Philadelphia Marriott and the Museum of The American Revolution. The museum was vandalized, and the Moms were greeted at the Marriott by a mob spewing profanities.

I think the mothers’ group has tapped into an issue that might play a big role in our area in the 2024 presidential race. Can swing voters in suburban Philadelphia be won over by a Republican candidate who emphasizes the rights of parents in all matters affecting their kids? For example, several suburban Philadelphia school districts will not inform parents if their child wants to be known as a different gender in school. The argument they seem to make is that this is a civil right of the child, and also, school officials feel that many parents may not react well to the news.

This stance is not a winner with many, many parents. In fact, many parents believe it is indefensible. However, it is part of the orthodoxy of growing numbers of progressives and substantial numbers of Democratic Party elected officials.

The moms’ group was also labeled racist because they objected to various forms of Critical Race Theory being taught to their kids. Philadelphia area historian groups huffed and puffed and attacked the Moms claiming they wanted to hide America’s true history. It seems to me that those groups don’t want to acknowledge the growth and evolution of America. They are stuck on grievances.

The crux of all this is that Moms for  Liberty represents traditional America, and various Philadelphia politicians and far-left groups not only reject that vision but regularly love to mock it. These New Age Philadelphia values have given us a progressive mayor who quit last July 4th, a police commissioner who can’t recruit cops or mitigate crime, and a district attorney who believes he is still a defense attorney.

Moms for  Liberty chose Philadelphia because they love our founding principles and wanted to be around them near our Independence Day. I  think many Philadelphians could learn something from them.

Resident Files Petition to Recall Great Valley School Board Members

Seven members of the Great Valley School District could be driven from office if irate residents have their way.

The seven are named in a petition in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas last Thursday, filed by a local taxpayer angered over the district’s mandatory mask policy. The district was served Tuesday, said Kerry Puia, the lead plaintiff.

Puia, whose own children are grown, told the Delaware Valley Journal Tuesday that she is striking a blow for freedom. And, she believes, thousands of others share her sentiments.

“I got involved because of the fact that people’s freedoms were being taken away,” said Puia.  Puia noted that the two school board members not named in the recall petition were absent last July when the board voted to impose mask mandates.

“Basically, we started our own petition because of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, which is cited in the petition, that what the governor and school boards were doing was unconstitutional.”

The school boards “are not listening to parents or taxpayers,” she said. The Paoli resident and others tried to talk with the board before taking this step, but nobody listened to them, she said.

“People are being completely shut out,” she said. “Their voices aren’t being heard…And so it’s gotten to this point.”

The board is “not allowing parents a choice,” she said. And even though the mask mandate is being lifted next week, the district could just as easily re-impose it.

“We’re the voice for thousands of people,” said Puia, who noted that people in some other districts, including West Chester and Downingtown, have also filed petitions to recall school board members.

The petition accuses GVSB members David Barratt, Rachel Gallegos, Wendy Litzke, Jennifer Armstrong, Stephen Dittmann, Samantha Jouin, and Neha Mehta of failing to perform their duties.

“The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled the order to force EUA (emergency use authorization) experimental medical devices to be worn by healthy children (masking) by the Secretary of Health was so illegal, it should have never occurred,” the petition said. “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the PA Commonwealth Court decision on December 10, 2021. The ruling has deemed the forced masking order by the Secretary of Health “void ab initio” and unenforceable.”

The petition further stated, “Municipal government agencies may not create new rules or regulations’ out of whole cloth’, only the Pennsylvania legislature has that authority.

“There is no state of emergency in Pennsylvania allowing for rules to be subverted, and the highest courts in our state ruled, twice, that the Pennsylvania Health Department may not force mask healthy children. ‘The Board’ has failed to follow proper procedure for exception requests to their illegal policies.”

A spokeswoman for the Great Valley School District did not respond to a request for comment.

The court has not set a hearing date for the petition.


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