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Chester County Press

Scudder's Folly

05/30/2013 12:59AM ● By Brian O

On the evening of May 20, at the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Scudder G. Stevens read from a prepared statement, and by way of verbal slings and arrows, with one scorched earth, broad cloth indictment, tossed the collective governance of the township under the bus. 

He claimed he wanted to use the platform to provide a public answer to a question posed to him recently by Board Chairman Michael Elling and township resident Chris Burkett, who asked him what had he learned from his nearly two-year ordeal to obtain 36 pieces of information from the township's records, one that cost the township a lot of money in legal fees and drove a stake through a township government already deemed untrustworthy. 

In the relatively small pocket of 30 minutes, Stevens, who won election to the board in part for his platform campaign to restore transparency and cooperation to the board, managed to accomplish nothing, and the timing of his statements left something to be desired. 

The talking points of his diatribe were nearly two years old – nuggets of fact and accusation that have already been beaten to death, both at the township building, in his relationship with Elling and fellow board member Robert Hammaker, in the local media and in the general conversation of township residents. And yet, like a broken phonograph, Stevens addressed several examples of where he felt that the actions of the township supervisors were, in his words, “tainted,” “legally questionable” and “in violation of state law.” He misidentified individuals whom he thought were related. 

Many in the audience, longtime township volunteers, misinterpreted Stevens' finger pointing as including them. The content and the timing of Stevens' comments were made even more ludicrous given that Elling and Burkett, the key antagonists of his statement, were not even at the meeting, and therefore, not able to respond for themselves.

Realizing the neither Elling or Burkett were present, some suggested that Stevens should have reserved his sweeping commentary for a private conversation. We believe that he should have not spoken them at all, and that whatever ax Stevens still feels a need to grind about the way  Kennett Township is run, he needs to lay it to rest.

In light of the fact that the election of either Democrat Richard Leff or Republican Jim Przywitowski to the seat soon to be left by Elling will further yield a new dawn of openness and transparency – one that Stevens has himself begin to build – it is time to end the fight. 

This newspaper has made note of the fact that when egos are held in check, when soapboxes are demolished and the three supervisors work as one entity, that the business of  Kennett Township is a strong one. Stevens ran – and won – on that platform, and he is to be applauded for what he has done to tear down those walls. Turning back – as he did on May 20 – serves no great purpose, either to himself or for the citizens he serves.