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Chester County Press

Editorial: The order of things

03/01/2016 01:42PM ● By Richard Gaw

Three weeks ago, Raymond W. Schoen, 42, the newest member of London Grove Township's Board of Supervisors, was arrested by Birmingham Township Police on a triple count of criminal trespass, theft and receiving stolen property, for his involvement in the alleged theft of firearms from a Birmingham Township home in December.
Schoen was later released on his own recognizance, but as he awaited a preliminary hearing on March 1 in the Kennett Square District Court, there is no indication that he will resign from his post.  Elected to the board last November after running unopposed, Schoen remains a sitting and voting member of the board. 
When it comes to legal matters of this kind, it is only right for a newspaper to determine what should be made public knowledge and what should remain private.  It is a delicate walk, but one made more complicated when the subject is a public figure – particularly an elected one. There is an even larger responsibility for a newspaper, however, and it's one that should never be entered into lightly. It is the responsibility to take the higher ground and speak to its readers about what it sees from a clearer perspective; in this case, what happens when the flow and order of government is tangled by obstruction. There seems little doubt that Schoen’s intention to serve on the London Grove Board of Supervisors, while honorable and altruistic, is no longer front and center here.
His arrest is. Indeed, it’s now the elephant in the room. At the March 2 London Grove Township board meeting, it is anticipated that the township solicitor will be fielding several questions about how the township is responding to Schoen’s legal issue.  It’s not in their hands; in fact, the township recently addressed the issue on its website, indicating that the Board of Supervisors, by law, does not have the authority to remove any supervisor from the board for any reason, and to date, they have not met privately to discuss the issue.
In government, achieving the proper order of things is the lifeblood of progress, and any roadblock to that order should be removed. It is the opinion of this newspaper that Raymond Schoen should step down from his post as a supervisor and focus on the issues that affect him, privately. Ultimately, the decision rests with him, but as he makes his decision, we offer that his seat on the London Grove board was never intended to serve himself, but the residents.