Thursday, May 14, 2009

Another Penn-Delco story

Our legions of critics in the Penn-Delco School District might be somewhat surprised by the front page of today’s print edition.

They are the ones who believe we play favorites, that we take great delight in displaying the troubles of some officials, while downplaying others.

The focus of today’s front-page story is John Green. He is a former Penn-Delco School Board member. He served on the board when the district was engulfed in controversy, much of which was displayed in the pages of this newspaper.

At the center of the controversy was a company called Quick Start, which the district contracted to provide preschool services and full-day care.

By most accounts, Quick Start was a very popular company that provided a service that was praised by parents in the district. In fact, a move by the district to remove the contract from Quick Start sparked outrage from many parents.

But Quick Start had another problem. His name was Keith Crego. At the time, Crego was president of the Penn-Delco School Board.

Eventually Crego was indicted on charges that he was secretly an investor in Quick Start and drew income from the operation, but never disclosed it.

Crego took Superintendent Leslye Abrutyn down with him. She resigned her post after being indicted on charges that she did not reveal her connections to Quick Start and Crego.

Both Crego and Abrutyn eventually entered plea deals. It should be noted that while Quick Start as a corporation was charged in the deal, and entered a plea that resulted in the firm discontinuing operations, none of its principals were charged with wrongdoing.

All of which played out in the pages of the newspaper.

Green is not exactly without his share of problems.

It was less than two years ago that Green entered a no-contest plea to a felony count of conflict of interest under the state Ethics Code. It turns out Green received more than $800 in commissions from the firm where he was employed for work they received from the school district.
He received 18 months probation, 40 hours of community service and fined $2,510. He also resigned his seat on the school board.

He also ran afoul of the rules involving filing the required financial disclosure forms with the state, then using phony dates to make it appear as if he did. He was fined $500.

Another member of the Penn-Delco community, former chief district financial officer John Steffy, found himself with a similar problem with the state Ethics Commission involving financial disclosure forms. He was fined $250. Steffy has since left Penn-Delco, but not before an audit undertaken by the district in the fallout from all this controversy criticized some areas of his office. He now has found work in the Reading School District.

As for Green, today he has more serious problems. He is charged with stealing $16,000 from a sports booster club at Sun Valley High School.
The affidavit filed for his arrest alleges he made out 30 checks from the club’s account to himself, a family member, or to cash.

I have never met John Green. He faces charges of embezzlement. They are serious charges.

It is the latest in what seems to be the never-ending problems swirling around the district and some members of its school board.

They have landed him on today’s front page.

I’m not in the business of playing favorites. I report the news. And the charges filed against Green are news.

I feel badly for his family, as I would for anyone in a similar circumstance. And that includes the families of Keith Crego and Leslye Abrutyn. That does not mean we do not report the issues surrounding them. The same goes for Green.

Which I am sure surprises those who wondered if this story would ever make the pages of the newspaper.

2 Comments:

Blogger Niknem said...

Mr. Heron's blog shows how biased the DT continues to be in their reporting of the issues in PD. How the reporting requires the mention of the Quickstart program baffles me.

He mentions the amounts of the fines Mr. Green has faced and it smacks of his buddy Spencer's likening Mr. Green's transgressions to a parking ticket. Funny I never got a 16,000.00 parking ticket.

If the allegations against Mr. Green are proven true one begins to understand the move to get rid of Mr. Sereni as he was calling for an audit.

I will commend Mr. Heron for getting through an entire blog without mentioning Mr. Sereni's name. That must have taken some resrtraint.

May 14, 2009 at 11:09 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone interested in finding out the truth about whether the Daily Times is as even handed as Heron is claiming should take a look at talkpa.net, Betty Boops's Nest. Sure throws a monkey wrench into Mr. Heron's attempt to make the Daily Times look unbiased.

May 14, 2009 at 2:06 PM 

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