Springfield Commissioners issue statement on Capitol violence

by Betsy Wallace
Posted 1/20/21

At the outset of the monthly Business meeting, Board of Commissioners President Baird Standish read a statement on behalf of the Board concerning the violence at the Capitol that occurred on January 6. 

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Springfield Commissioners issue statement on Capitol violence

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In the midst of serious violence in our Nation’s Capital and political dysfunction in our State Assembly, it’s comforting to know that the Springfield Township Commissioners and staff continue to fulfill their oaths of office in doing the nuts and bolts work of the Township without fail.

At the outset of the Business meeting, Board of Commissioners President Baird Standish read the following statement on behalf of the Board concerning the violence at the Capitol that occurred on January 6. 

“When your Township commissioners took their oaths of office, they stood in front of the flag of the United States of America and swore to uphold the Constitution, not a king or a president or a party or a specific ideology or philosophy, but a living document that forms the back-bone and heart and soul of what America is and what we are as Americans.  Recently, a group of protesters crossed the Rubicon by storming the United States Capitol Building in an attempt to physically disrupt and terminate an important congressional proceeding. Some were lawmakers themselves, freely elected to represent all of their constituents to, if nothing else, protect their constituents’ rights under the Constitution. And yet, a number of them put their own personal interests ahead of their duty to protect our Constitutional rights and, instead, made an attempt to subvert and block the process of free elections, a process that placed each one of them in office in the first place, and a process that is an inviolate component of what has made our democratic republic function for the past two hundred and thirty-one years.

“The assault not only laid bare the prevalence and danger of the white supremacy element that exists far too much within in our country, it highlighted again how many in our society and law enforcement view protesting by marginalized people of color in contrast to a crowd rife with white nationalists proudly celebrating violence and criminal acts.  The Board has been recently undertaking important work to ensure equity in all forms within our township, and events like these only reinforce the significance of those efforts.

“As your elected public officials, we hereby reaffirm our obligation to our Constitution and to the trust that you, our constituents, have placed in us to protect the equal rights of each and every one of you, to provide necessary police protection to ensure safekeeping and freedom from undue harm, to guard against transgressions of basic human rights, and to help make our community the best it can be by supporting the health, education and livelihoods of one and all.  We also stand behind our brothers and sisters who have put themselves in harm’s way defending our country overseas, defending the rights of our citizens on our streets, and, most recently, defending our exercise of free elections against a self-interested and violent horde.

“Last but not least, we are privileged and thank our constituents for allowing us the opportunity to serve as your elected officials and, particularly in these trying times, to help make our community a better place to live and prosper.”

Proceeding with the Township’s business, the Board reported on the status of the criminal case brought by the PA Attorney General against certain members of the engineering firm, Boucher and James, Inc., at its workshop and Business meetings.  Between 2009 and 2018, Mark Eisold, former Springfield Township Engineer, and two other members of the firm engaged in overbilling 100 municipalities, including Springfield Township.  The Attorney General’s office estimates that the engineers stole about $2.1 million dollars for work that was never done.  Eisold, David Jones (another firm engineer), and Ross Boucher, former owner and Board member, were charged with several counts of theft and conspiracy (coverup).

Pursuant to the negotiated agreement, Boucher and James reimbursed the Township $172,412.24 for the period 2015-18 (according to the information provided by the AG, the Township did not experience any overbilling in 2019 or 2020).  The Township was not compensated for the loss of $291,671.26 in overbilling from 2009-2014.*

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the crime would never have come to light but for an internal disagreement among the firm’s engineers, which prompted one engineer to complain that Eisold was padding his bills.  Commissioner Jeff Harbison will create a task force to review the Forensic Accountant’s report once it is made available by the Attorney General’s Office.  “We will create new policies to prevent us from getting into this situation again,” Harbison said.

At its workshop meeting, the Board worked with Wyndmoor residents to resolve speeding problems on Pine Road and received an update on the status of the Community Satisfaction survey on Police Relations.  Erin Cassar, one the two Wyndmoor residents who drafted the survey, reported that they added questions in response to the Commissioners’ comments from last month and said that they are now using Qualtrics (free survey software) to ensure that no one can complete the survey twice.  There will be one last review by the Police Chief and his command staff and then Cassar and Chung will submit the survey to the Temple Institutional Board of Review (IRB) for further scrutiny.  They plan public speaking events to increase community awareness and are looking to send the electronic survey to Township residents in the Spring.  Cassar and Chung are volunteering their time.

Finishing up its Business Meeting, the Board passed resolutions that are required every year to continue payments such as the payroll, health benefits etc., before the 2021 budget kicks in, renew the agreement with the Tri-State Financial Group to handle the Township’s business privilege and mercantile taxes, and appoint the Township Manager and Finance Director to receive confidential information from the Township’s earned income and local services tax collector.  The Township enacted Ordinance No. 968, amending the current ordinance on Parks and Recreation, updating its rules and regulations.  It proposed a Fire Insurance ordinance that will update the procedures for issuing a certificate for payment of fire loss claims.

Township residents can request an audio recording of the Workshop Meeting by contacting Michael Taylor, Township Manager, by email: mtaylor@springfieldmontco.org.  Residents may view the Recorded Business meetings and check all Public Meeting Agendas and Minutes here: https://www.springfieldmontco.org/government/meeting-agendas-minutes/.

*Editor's note: The original version of this  story  reported that the Township had received $851,000 in compensation from the engineering firm of Boucher James, which had been sued by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office for overbilling numerous townships more than $2 million over a five-year period.

Springfield received compensation but not $851,000.

According to the Attorney General’s office, Springfield Township’s total financial loss was $464,083.50 for the 9-year period from 2009-2018.  In their negotiated settlement with the AG, however, Boucher and James agreed only to reimburse municipalities for all losses occurring within the 5-year statute of limitations, from 2015-2020.  Pursuant to the negotiated agreement, Boucher and James reimbursed the Township $172,412.24 for the period 2015-18 (according to the information provided by the AG, the Township did not experience any overbilling in 2019 or 2020).  The Township was not compensated for the loss of $291,671.26 in overbilling from 2009-2014.

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