Friday, March 20, 2015

Uniforms, Edgewood and a Defense of The Mercury

Thursday night's Pottstown School Board meeting was only about an hour, but provided some interesting information.

Perhaps topping that list for Pottstown taxpayers was the indication that the board is getting ready to start discussing the fate of the Edgewood School property.

Located adjacent to The Hill School, rumors about its sale to that school have been persistent, said school board member Ron Williams.

And so, perhaps moved by the spirit of Sunshine Week, he declared he did not want the subject restricted to executive sessions from which the public would be barred.

Other board members agreed -- to a point, and said they would be guided by their solicitor, Stephen Kalis, who apparently sent an e-mail asking for an executive session Monday to discuss the subject.

If Twitter traffic is any judge, of grater interest to the student body was the report from student member Emmanuel Wilkerson on the students proposal to ease uniform restrictions for students at Pottstown High School.

Everyone, students, board and staff, praised the district's production of "Grease," and Superintendent Jeff Sparagana pledged there will be another musical next year.

Speaking of "Grease," some of you may recall that earlier this month, Mayor Sharon Thomas chided The Mercury at a council meeting for not "covering" the district's first musical in six years, and instead running a three-day series about crime.

I have no problem with that. She is entitled to her opinion and we addressed concerns about our coverage of the arts on Facebook. And the readers weight in as well.

But at the same meeting, Councilwoman Carol Kulp piled on and complained that  during her son’s wrestling team’s success during championships 25 years ago “we had to practically beg The Mercury to cover it,” she said. 

Since Mrs. Kulp is allowed to hold a grudge for 25 years, I am allowed to hold one for a month.

You see, it bothered me that anyone would complain about The Mercury's wrestling coverage, even coverage that happened long before I arrived in Pottstown, because, well, I worked for years with the late Don Seeley, a member of the Wrestling Hall of Fame,  and a longtime member of The Mercury staff and our former sports editor.

I had a very hard time believing Don would have allowed a championship wresting team in our coverage area go uncovered or even be under-represented. It just suck in my craw.

I'm not enough of a sports guy to know how much coverage was Don, and how much was other staffers, but as much as Don irritated me in the office (newsflash,m I'm easily irritaed) , he was a remarkable writer who I couldn't help but respect both for his craft and for how much he truly cared about his chosen subject.

Frankly, I thought we owed him a defense since he is no longer around to defend himself, but I had no evidence to refute Kulp's claim.  It just seemed like a cheap shot to me.

And then, like the thorn being pulled from my paw, John Armato produced a scrap-book of our wrestling coverage from that self-same year, for which I thank him most sincerely. 

Page after page (more than 20 of them) showed exactly what I had expected to see, your local newspaper's coverage of local kids making good.

The video above shows a brief over-view of that scrap-book, which includes a photo and write-up of Mrs. Kulp's son and reveals her jibe for the cheap shot that it truly was.

Understand, I'm not saying that we don't have faults at The Mercury. We've got them by the boat-load. But we live local coverage and local sports and next time you want to cast aspersions at us Mrs. Kulp, it might be helpful to have at least a few facts on hand to support those aspersions.

Here are the Tweets from the rest of the school board meeting.


  1. Evan - I enjoy reading your twitter updates. I feel the true colors of the Borough leaders and Borough Council are starting to be uncovered. What will be uncovered if we dive into the yearly Borough budget. I was discussing this with my neighbor and he told me the budget is on the Borough website but the Borough won't disclose how they came up with the budget numbers for each department. I think this is odd that my tax money pays for this budget and I can't see exactly what it is paying for. Do you know if this is true? Am I entitled to know exactly how they came up with the budget figures. If I not entitled to this information how do we know they just randomly pick out figures to balance a budget that fits the tax base?Lee Evans

    1. Lee,
      Knowing how tax dollars are spent is perhaps the single most unshakeable right a citizens has, and the Right to Know law recognizes this.

      That being said, the law only requires a municipality to provide a document that exists. So yes, the budget is on the web site.

      If you want to know information beyond the budget, you can file a Right to Know request for budget memos between departments, worksheets and the like.

      Because the borough and borough authority budgets are so intertwined, it may be hard to decipher. But as a citizen, you can also request a meeting with the finance director of the borough manager and ask them to explain it to you.