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It’s the supervisors who should be fired

March 31, 2011

It was arrogant, and rude, of the Damascus Township supervisors to remove Dolores Keesler as their representative to the Upper Delaware Council (UDC), without, apparently, even bothering to inform her of their intentions, let alone to discuss the basis for their action.

In his article in the March 24 TRR, Tom Kane quotes Joe Canfield’s explanation as “just say she doesn’t represent the whole township, that’s all.” The real question remains, who do the supervisors represent?

Last September, I performed a study for Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, which showed that less than 33% of the individual families in Damascus Township had leased for gas drilling. Despite the minority of individual ownership, however, these families own 69% of the acreage in the township. Yet, despite owning more than two-thirds of the acreage, these property owners are assessed for only 39% of the property taxes.

What did Dolores Keesler do that did not “represent” the “whole” township? She cast a vote to accept, and send, the UDC comment letter to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), which was the official UDC response to the draft regulations put out by the DRBC. Out of all the townships represented at the UDC, only two voted against this letter.

It seems that Dolores Keesler represented the overwhelming majority of citizens in her township, as well as the even greater majority of the citizens represented at the UDC, whereas, the lessor supervisors seem to prefer to represent the minority, who own the large majority of the land, but who form the minority of the tax base.

The Damascus Township supervisors are poised to change the zoning to make it easier to extract shale gas in the township’s rural, residential areas. Perhaps they objected to the fact that the UDC defines shale gas extraction as a heavy industrial activity, which is exactly correct.

The supervisors should be fired, not Ms. Keesler.

James Barth
Beach Lake, PA