Sunday, February 3, 2008

2008 Elections

We are all united in our desire to ensure that our Democratic voters have full slates to vote for in April ' s primary and have pledged to assist each other in getting the job done.

Please contact your preferred campaign to help collect signatures, sign petitions, and support our presidential candidates and their eight pledged delegates - all of whom must appear on the ballot to fully represent each campaign.

We also encourage all presidential petition carriers to also carry Congressman Patrick Murphy ' s petitions and one or two others for additional candidates at the state level including John Cordisco for State Treasurer and a local State Representative.

If you can't do everything, don't do nothing. All assistance is gratefully appreciated by every candidate for every office.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

An Ode to Cawley and Martin

Ode to Cawley and Martin
> It must feel so good
> To be a commish
> And enhance our security
> (Don't we wish!)
> Opportunities unending
> As long as we note
> That jobs at the courthouse
> Depend on our vote.
> And speaking of voting
> We're so glad you backed
> Those brand new machines
> Are so easily hacked.
> You will long be remembered
> In paper and wood
> Your mailers and signs
> Are really so good.
> But November is coming
> And those in control
> Should hold on to their hats
> Crowned heads can still roll.
> Ann Melby Shenkle
> 9 Belmont Square
> Doylestown, PA 18901

> 215-348-9097

Ode to Cawley and Martin

It must feel so good

To be a commish

And enhance our security

(Don't we wish!)

Opportunities unending

As long as we note

That jobs at the courthouse

Depend on our vote.

And speaking of voting

We're so glad you backed

Those brand new machines

That ares easily hacked.

You will long be remembered

In paper and wood

Your mailers and signs

Are really so good.

But November is coming

And those in control

Should hold on to their hats

Crowned heads can still roll.

Ann Melby Shenkle

9 Belmont Square

Doylestown , PA 18901


Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Current Commissioners put
our votes at risk"

November is coming soon.

Around here people like to vote. They like to talk about candidates and qualifications and they get out and knock on doors. While they may disagree about who to vote for, there is no disagreement on the value of the vote. The vote has meaning to each and every person in our town, no matter what their political philosophy.

Then one day, the "Current County Commissioners" announced that a new Federal law, the Help America Vote Act, said that they had to get new voting machines because of the problems in Florida in the 2000 election. The public was told that this had to be done in a big hurry, or big bucks were going to be lost.

The commissioners had no interest in the participation of citizens in any group studying which voting machines to choose. They put together a “work- study” group, consisting of only county employees, and used their recommendations as the basis of their decision-making. Soon they announced their decision to purchase the externally paperless Danaher electronic voting machines rather than the voter-marked paper ballot/ optical scan system considered by most computer experts across the country as the most accurate and secure system.

"Information" sessions for the public were held that limited the demonstration machines to those that the commissioners deemed appropriate. In one "Information" session, a citizen was escorted out of the courthouse by the cops for handing out literature on a machine that provided vote verification! The "Current Commissioners" preferred the "simple" touch screen type, even though no individual vote could be verified, and it was possible that such machines could be hacked into by high school kids, never mind sophisticated experts with a political agenda. There was even evidence that the touch screens wore out faster and required more maintenance than the scanning type. Bottom line: the voter-marked paper ballot/ optical scan system is the most cost-effective as well as being the best for recounts and audits because you have the voter-marked paper ballot to check against the electronic count.

Nevertheless, the touch screen voting machines were purchased and first used in the November '04 election. The County declared that they worked flawlessly. It is useful to note that the Congressional race was won by a margin of victory of less than 1%, yet there was no call for a recount as it is impossible to do a meaningful recount or audit on these paperless Danaher machines. Every time you push the button, the same number comes out of the electronic machine. There is just no way to verify the accuracy of the vote count. Meanwhile, in Florida, New Mexico and other places, events occurred that showed that the use of these machines was a recipe for disaster. In California, a computer scientist found that he could hack into the touch screen system in minutes and change the numbers as easily as pressing a few keys. Actually, a similar study had been done at Johns Hopkins before the "Current Commissioners" installed the touch screen system, with the same results. People all over the county wrote to the newspapers pointing out the problems with the system and the peril to the sanctity of the individual vote. The "Current Commissioners" ignored them, ignored all the research, ignored the advice of leadership in other states and citizens here and insisted there was no need for change. Following the Spring primary, the “Current Commissioners” issued another statement saying that the election had occurred “without incident,” despite newspaper reports of problems with the write-in function on the Danaher machines.

If ever, in history, there was a better reason to turn the "Current Commissioners" out of office, it is difficult to know what it could be. Whether it was ignorance or arrogance or reluctance to admit that a mistake had been made, the commissioners who stuck us with those touch screen voting machines have got to go. We must be able to trust our commissioners with our vote. There is nothing more important. November is coming.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Study: Democrats are scarce on boards


Bucks County's boards and authorities that deal with development, planning and emergency services are dominated by Republican appointees by a margin of more than 11 to 1, according to a new Democratic study.

The study, conducted by the campaign for Democratic commissioner candidates Steve Santarsiero and Diane Marseglia, found that 14 of the county's boards and authorities that deal with those issues are made up of 111 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

Eight of those 14 boards, including the county's Agricultural Land Preservation Board, the Redevelopment Authority, the Local Emergency Planning Committee and the Housing Finance Board, have no Democratic members, the study found.

The total 46 county-related boards and authorities the study looked at were made up of nearly three times more Republicans than Democrats (254 to 88), as well as 47 members who were not registered to vote in Bucks County and 18 who may have another or unknown party affiliation, according to the study.

Both Marseglia and Santarsiero said the imbalance of party membership on the county's boards and authorities was occurring “to an embarrassing degree.” Both Democrats painted the imbalance as examples of a culture of patronage and pay-to-play politics they claim is prevalent in county government.

“It is very troubling to learn that political favoritism is occurring on these key boards,” said Marseglia.

Positions on the boards and authorities are nearly all unpaid positions, but can carry heavy influence in county government, Marseglia and Santarsiero said.

Commissioner Chairman Charles Martin, who along with fellow Republican Commissioner Jim Cawley is running against Marseglia and Santarsiero in November's race, dismissed claims of patronage.

“When somebody applies for a board we don't go running to check their party affiliation,” Martin said. “We want qualified people.”

Cawley said party affiliation has never played a role in one of his appointments. He said he and Martin have spent “zero time” researching the political party affiliation of potential appointees.

“It has not and it will not be a factor,” Cawley said. “We make appointments based on abilities. I don't focus on [party affiliation], but clearly Steve and Diane do.”

Harry Fawkes, chairman of the Bucks County Republican Committee, said party affiliation bears no weight when the commissioners are appointing people to boards and authorities.

“I think what [Marseglia and Santarsiero] are saying is just outright wrong,” Fawkes said. “We try to get people that are qualified to do the job. That's it.”

Santarsiero said the overwhelming number of Republicans, however, is evidence that Republican registration may have been one of the qualifications county commissioners were looking for.

“I don't think anyone's being fooled here,” Santarsiero said. “I think party affiliation is being taken into account when appointing these folks. If the numbers were a little closer, I might be inclined to believe [county Republicans].”

John Cordisco, chairman of the Bucks County Democratic Committee, said that while anyone can volunteer to serve on these boards and authorities, several registered Democrats who have volunteered were denied. Cordisco, a former teacher, school board member, state lawmaker and graduate of Bucks County Community College, said he was denied a spot on the Community College board of trustees about two years ago. That board has 11 Republicans, three Democrats and one member with an unknown party affiliation, according to the report.

“This is not government, it's a mere extension of the county Republican Committee,” Cordisco said. “If you look at the numbers, they speak for themselves.”

Martin said the large number of Republicans on boards and authorities, however, is not surprising in Bucks, a county long controlled by Republicans. “I think if I went to the city of Philadelphia I'd find more Democrats than Republicans [on boards],” Martin said.

According to the Bucks County Board of Elections, of Bucks County's 414,940 registered voters, nearly 45 percent are Republicans and 40 percent Democrats. The other 15 percent are Independents or members of another party.

Martin pointed out all appointments were unanimously approved, including approval votes from Commissioner Sandy Miller, a Democrat.

Martin also said the Bucks County Economic Development Corporation, which has 18 Republicans and no Democrats, according to the study, is a private corporation whose members are not appointed by county officials.

Brian Scheid can be reachedat 215-949-4165 or

September 13, 2007 6:25 AM

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Doylestown Supervisors Can Controversial Sewer Project
from the Bucks County Herald (8/30/07)
by Dana M. Eckman

In a surprising move, at the urging of Vice Chairman Tom Scarborough, the Doylestown Township Board of Supervisors have unanimously voted down their controversial plan to provide sewer service to 2,000 homes at a cost of $59 million.
But the plan that has some residents seeing red isn't going away. Scarborough, who became a vocal opponent of the plan after a meeting held two weeks ago that drew 900 people, with the majority against it, proposed the motion to reject it at the Aug. 21 meeting.
"It is clear to me that the public sewer project that was presented to us on Aug.7 makes no sense, economically or environmentally," he said.
Some of the crowd of about 30 residents applauded Scarborough's motion to kill the plan.
"I cannot and will not support this project as presented. But we're not turning our backs on people who have failing systems or contaminated water. That's not what this
is about."
Scarborough went on to say that the CB South presentation showed limited and iso- lated failed septic systems that may or may not have been repaired, adding that the data presented was insufficient to support the township's Public Water and Sewer Advisory Committee's proposal of the plan.
David Blois, sewer committee vice chairman, said he realizes that the committee has a lot of work ahead, but contended that the committee believed that the data it gathered adequately supported its recommendation for sewering, adding that resi-
dents' concerns haven't fallen on deaf ears.
"We heard the reaction and we're taking it seriously," he said.
Changes are necessary, Scarborough said. "Rather than force 2,000 residents to pay for a $59 million sewer project, we must explore other options, going neighborhood by neighborhood to solve this problem."
Scarborough, liaison to the sewer committee, suggested a four-pronged solution: Develop an education plan so that all residents know how to properly maintain their septic systems; Re-examine the septic management plan; Improve the township's communication with the Bucks County Board of Health; Expand the Sewer Study Committee to re-evaluate the situation in light of the outcome of the public hearing and report back to the board.
And they did just that, but not before the meeting got a little heated between supervisors and residents.
A few in the audience, accused Scarborough, a Republican running for re-election in the fall, of rejecting the multimillion dollar plan because he is running for office, an accusation he flatly denied.
"It's not about being Republican or Democrat," he said after the meeting. "It's about people doing the right thing for the residents of Doylestown Township."
However, supervisor Cynthia Philo said she believes Scarborough is less than sincere. "This is all about conflicts of interest," she said. "The township Board of Supervisors’solicitor is the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority solicitor. The engineer who did the township's study is the BCWSA engineer. Tom Scarborough's running mate this fall, Jeff Bennett, is a board member of the BCWSA."
"And their campaign has happily accepted money from BCWSA leadership. But when 900 people showed up to blast a plan that was concocted by a board that Tom Scarborough personally approved, he realized he had a big re-election problem and decided to grandstand. It's that simple. It was a shameless campaign performance and the voters shouldn't be fooled," Philo said.
Board members decided to expand the five-member sewer committee to 11 and redirected the committee to take a more extensive look at the whole project to determine what is necessary and what isn't necessary.
The committee will meet for that work session Sept 20.