Tuesday, May 24, 2016

2014 Eldred Township water extraction amendment advertisement in Pocono Record was altered to obscure its meaning

This post is a simplified version of one on the same topic that was posted yesterday.
It reaches the same conclusion more directly - read the full version for intermediate details

On April 14 and April 21, 2014, a Public Notice advertisement was published in the Pocono Record, for the purpose of informing the public of zoning ordinance amendments in Chestnuthill, Jackson, Eldred and Ross Townships.

The file that was sent to the Record by Newman Williams for CJER containing the amendment text to be advertised was obtained via a Right to Know Request.  This was cross-checked with a representative at the Record who verified they have the original submission, and it matches what was sent.  There were 23 items that were to be underlined, and 13 items that were to be displayed with strike through, to indicate respectively text to be added, and text to be deleted.  When compared with the printed advertisement, there were exactly two discrepancies noted - both of them in the Eldred Township water extraction amendment.  One instance was underlining of manufacturing, light was not shown, and the other was industry was not shown.

Edit 5/25 10:15AM: The underlining of text to be added in the file submitted was actually double underlining, which the Record evidently could not reproduce.  As a result, the ad was printed with single underlining in place of double, which rendered single underlining in the ad ambiguous and meaningless, since other items in the ad are simply text that is underlined.

Below, the advertisement as it appeared is shown.  Beneath that, the advertisement as it should have appeared based on the file submitted to the Record is shown.  The bottom half of the advertisement was printed correctly and contains no underlined items or text with strike through - it is not shown. The only differences between the two pictures below are within the yellow shaded areas.  Compare the two.  If you assume (which the ad didn't state) that underline means add that text, and strike through means existing text to be deleted, do you see why someone might intentionally make this change?  You'd better see - it's painfully obvious this obscures both the "from" and the "to" of the change.  

By the way, the fact that manufacturing, light is italicized is not an indication that it is new text or a change.  It simply denotes a "use" in the ordinance, like "industry" or "manufacturing".  Look again - this means the ad as printed tells the reader nothing at all about how Water Extraction/Bottling is changing.

Note: the bottom picture is an edited version of the actual ad, altered to represent how the ad would have looked without the two omissions noted above.  This is what should have been printed, which while better than what was printed, still doesn't tell the average reader what is happening. Someone wanted to make sure that you didn't know.

There is a mathematical probability of 1/23*1/13 that one underline and one strike through in the water extraction amendment were deleted accidentally, or 0.3%.  This means there is a 99.7% probability that the two changes were intentional.  When you consider that someone would want to make this particular change, the probability increases to about 100%.  There is no practical difference between those two, hence the title of this post.  We're ready - let's see the magic:

April 21 2014 CJER advertisement as printed in Pocono Record

Can you hear strains of Sharon Solt's voice dripping with disdain while chastising someone and saying "If you had paid attention in 2014 you would have known what was happening"?  Yeah, right Sharon - every possible effort was made to inform citizens what was happening.
"I have always strived to do my best in making fair and ethical decisions for our constituents"   S. Solt
"It's terminology, it's definitions.  None of our zoning is changing.  None." G. Gannon Pettit March 27, 2014 
"Mr. Helfrich has the advantage of a broad range of experience and offers a unique planning perspective based on his local government involvement." C. Meinhart Fritz March 27, 2014 
"What we actually did was go through the definitions... so that all of those definitions are consistent." C. Helfrich March 27, 2014
"If you authorize that we can go forward with that." C. Helfrich March 27, 2014 emphasis added
"You can be really proud of the supervisors and the others who have worked on this." J. Rader March 27, 2014
"I'm Jack Rader" J. Rader March 27, 2014 
"I think a lot of people in the townships are going to be in for maybe some real surprises." V. Barlieb March 27, 2014 
"It's taken us three years to get to this point.  I'm all for public input, but at some point the public needs to take responsibility.  We're not about slamming this stuff through."  C. Gould March 27, 2014 in response to Mr. Barlieb emphasis added 
 "Whatever we have to do to do it right." C. Gould March 27, 2014
"the water extraction thing.  That can be updated in the advertisement that Attorney Fareri will put out.  That should all be correct at the next hearing " C. Helfrich March 27, 2014 emphasis added
"This is a local issue, not CJERP" J. Rader February 25, 2016 
"They're minor changes to what was originally advertised.  There were no major changes - some of it's technical in nature." J. Fareri May 1, 2014 emphasis added
"[Newman Williams] has no conflict of interest at this time because Rick Gower and CJERP are on the same side of the issue.  Both take the position that the procedures by which the [water extraction] amendment was passed were proper." J. Fareri February 25, 2016 emphasis added

These ads aren't cheap.  This one that doesn't match what planners approved cost $1143 each time it ran.  That's taxpayer money.  At the May 1, 2014 CJER meeting Mr. Fareri announced that the ad ran, and that the requirement was met.  Check mark.  Bill an hour for that.  But is the requirement met if the ad doesn't match what was sent?
Bill for half-assed advertisements for May 1, 2014 CJER meeting with water extraction
related text redacted and ambiguous underlining - placed by CJER

Oh, CJERP can't answer any questions about 2014 because they're covering their asses - that's right.  But their lawyer announced in February 2016 "procedures were followed properly in passage of the amendment."   We did everything right so we have nothing to hide but we can't answer our citizens' questions because it is a state secret.  That we did everything right - we might be in trouble if it turns out we are telling the truth.  This mumbo jumbo makes sense only to "Jimmy" as Mr. Fareri is known to the good old boys, and the men in control of CJERP.  Yes, there are's two Jimmy Esquires in this endless sordid tale.  Let's all pat ourselves on the back, smile, tell ourselves we are doing one hell of a job and bill some more hours.  Now Jimmy Wimmer - that guy earned his pay.  Bet he got a nice holiday basket too.

You're damned right I ordered the Code Red!

 How long is CJERP going to play this charade, while keeping its back turned on its own member Eldred Township and its citizens?  How disgraceful.  I have no idea how the so-called leaders of CJERP can look anyone from Eldred Township in the eye.  This is the worst example of a municipal-related entity I've ever encountered.  I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.  This is not being run as a regional planning entity.  It is being run as a politicians planning how to screw over the little guy committee, and who knows or cares jack &#(% about municipal planning.  It's controlled by politicians who have been inserted into the planning process.  You know you screwed up and you won't admit it.  You have probably known for almost a year.  But your privates are hanging out now and everyone can see them - isn't that just a little embarrassing?  This is indecent exposure at its worst.

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