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Settlement Agreement with Terry Bradley

Ridley Park’s Settlement Agreement with Terry Bradley

Recently, my neighbor asked me about the Borough’s Settlement Agreement with former Borough Manager Terry Bradley. He said he heard conflicting accounts. I thought this was presented clearly months ago but apparently not.

Terry Bradley’s December 1, 2009 settlement amounted to twelve weeks pay plus four months of health insurance on the condition that she would not sue the Borough for “harassment in the workplace”. This agreement ended up costing the Borough two weeks pay or $2,500 more than Terry would have been paid if her employment ended on January 5, 2010. That’s because her contract included a five week severance clause, similar to former Borough Manager Bob Poole’s contract.

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The more important question to ask is why there was even a need for a settlement agreement in the first place. Terry Bradley said she would not work for the incoming Council because of her experience with them. She said would sue the Borough for “harassment in the workplace” unless there was a settlement agreement. This was explained to all of Council and the Mayor during an Executive Session meeting and to the residents during the November Council meeting. The Borough’s Labor Attorney said that because of the circumstances of this case, it could cost the Borough $20,000 just to defend against this lawsuit and much more if the Borough lost this case. Based on this advice and that of the Borough Solicitor, the Borough Council voted to accept the Settlement Agreement rather than fight the case in Federal Court.

Terry Bradley’s claim of hostility in the workplace was based on numerous incidents that occurred during her employment with the Borough. These are a matter of public record and are in the Police Reports. One of the more recent incidences occurred on November 3, 2009, the night of the election when Councilor-elect Sue Murtha called Terry’s personal phone. Soon afterwards another call was made to Terry from the same cell phone. These calls were after work hours and were made to her personal phone and had nothing to do with Borough business. In the Police Report of November 3, 2009, Police Chief Tom Byrne noted “the calls being made were in my opinion harassment”. That night, the Chief called Carole Nasella, Republican Committeeperson and Chair of the Ridley Park Victory Committee, who put Bob Boland, co-chair of the Republican Party, on the phone. Bob Boland told the Chief that he was “with the subjects in question, and that he would get them together and tell them that they are not to make calls to the Borough Manager or anyone else”. No other calls were made.

There were other incidents that Terry Bradley filed with the police. These included three separate occasions where her family van’s tires were slashed or spiked by some jerk. Terry paid for the new tires. She received two threatening anonymous letters. She even had a defendant in a code enforcement case follow her back to Borough Hall after the court case at the District Justice’s office.

It seems ironic that some elected Republicans have denied that these claims amount to harassment. It was a member of the Republican Party and currently a member of Borough Council who made the phone call that even the Police Chief considered harassment. Where is the concern for the victim? I don’t know of any other Borough Manager that had spikes put in the tires of their family car and had to put up with these types of intimidation.

Certainly, we should all desire that the Borough provide a safe work environment for employees, one that is free from harassment and intimidation, and a place where there is respect for diversity. These are basic rights protected in the Constitution.

Some may have preferred a long case in Federal Court but I believe the previous Council acted in the best interests of the Borough by settling this claim out of court.

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Comment by Jared Brennan on September 20, 2010 at 8:54am
Joe,

Yes at that time I asked for PECO to cut the tree branch that was hanging on the power line, BUT I didn't expect them to remove the tree. I am so glad that I have Terry's attention and she is supplying you with documented facts! Did she lose the certified letter? Joe why do you constantly try to play the political role? Just MAN up and say you were wrong! I guess that is never going to happen so I will just let you have the last word and move on!
Comment by Joe Yorke on September 19, 2010 at 8:47pm
Jared,

You were treated with common courtesy and I can’t let you get away with distorting the facts. You wrote recently that you never said that PECO, the Borough or anyone else was responsible for removing your tree. Yet, in the sequence of emails from last year attached below, you said the timing was perfect for the tree to come down since Asplundh was trimming trees for PECO. You also said you would not be held responsible for injury and damages caused by this dying tree. Because of these and other statements it appeared to me that you didn’t realize that removing the hazard tree was your responsibility. Don’t forget the first time you complained to the Borough about your tree was three years ago. The first time the tree commission and I were aware of it was last year. You’d have to ask Manager Poole and Mr. Pinto, Council liaison to the tree commission, what happened to your communications because two years went by before I even heard about it. If you were in violation for failure to remove a hazardous tree, you were given a citation just like anyone else.

----- Original Message -----
From: confident name
To: doris_lamb@ridleyparkborough.org
Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 4:24 PM
Subject: A question concerning trees on common property!

Good afternoon Doris,

My name is Jared Brennan and I reside at 111 Welcome Lane. I am writing in regards to the shade trees that are on the common strip of land between the sidewalks and street in the front of my property.

A few years back when I moved into the property I noticed that the tree in the strip was dying and large limbs and branches were falling down onto the sidewalk and the street regularly. Some of these limbs were approximately 3-5 inches in diameter, causing great concern for injury or damage to passing by pedestrians or vehicles. I wrote a letter to boro hall through the email address and asked for someone to come by and agree that the tree needed to come down, before it fell down! I thought that the timing was perfect since Asplundh was trimming the trees that posed damage to the PECO lines. I pointed out to the workers the tree limb hanging on my power line to my home and that it was pulling the line off the bracket that attaches it to my home on the house overhang. I was told there was no threat and nothing was done. Now the tree pulls the electrical wire from my home gradually and the branches continue to die and fall.

Also, two years ago I planted a bartlett pear tree in the same common strip. It was growing well and I took care of it myself. It NEVER hung over the sidewalk to impede pedestrians but recently "somebody" came by with a saw and proceeded to trim 5 or 6 branches off the NEW perfectly fine tree! I would like to know why the person did not knock up at my door to tell me what they were doing, and secondly why is the new 10 ft tree in perfect health and condition being pruned and NOTHING is being done to the dying falling down tree? One of my neighbors said they saw someone from the "shade tree group" cutting trees on our streets recently! I would like one of them to kindly knock up at my door and discuss these concerns!

I will not be held responsible for any injury and damages that are caused by this dying tree. Just wanted you to have it documented and on record! This is actually the third time that I've inquired about this matter to boro hall!

Sincerely

Jared Brennan
111 Welcome Lane


----- Original Message -----
From: Doris Lamb
To: Jared Brennan
Cc: Tim Devaney ; George Hutchins; Borough Hall; Joe Yorke; Mark Ash
Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2009 1:12 PM
Subject: Re: A question concerning trees on common property!

Jared,

Please go to Borough Hall and ask for a blank Tree Permit. Fill out the permit and return to staff to forward to Shade Tree Commission. The permit is the first step and will be processed in a timely manner. You will be contacted by a member of the STC for a solution to the tree in question. There is room at the bottom of the permit to comment and/or ask questions about the pruning of the Bradford pear. The tree permit automatically becomes part of the record.

In the meantime, someone will stop by and check the trees on your curb plot.

Hope this helps,
Doris Lamb



----- Original Message -----
From: Jared Brennan
To: Doris Lamb
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 8:14 AM
Subject: Re: A question concerning trees on common property!

Doris,

I was contacted by a Mr. Ash and he suggested that I join his tree commission or meet them. I don't have time for that and I want the tree taken care of. Also, why do I need a permit filled out? Will this lead to the tree being removed? Is this permit a suggestion to remove the tree?

Jared


----- Original Message -----
From: Doris Lamb
To: Jared Brennan
Cc: Joe Yorke; Tim Devaney; George Hutchins; Mark Ash; Borough Hall
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 8:31 AM
Subject: Re: A question concerning trees on common property!

Jared...Mark's invitation was not an answer to your concerns, it was an invitation he extends to many people to try to grow
our tree commission with members and/or helpers.

I'm trying to tell you that we have a procedure to follow in order to keep our requests in order, on record, and responded to in
a fashion that keeps those requests from falling through the cracks. If you wish you may request a copy of the tree ordinance
that we, as elected officials, are sworn to follow and uphold.

You need to fill out a permit, the STC responds to the permit, and the situations are resolved. That's the way it's done. Someone has already checked your trees and are anticipating your permit so it can be acted upon. I came down and looked
at the trees myself; I knocked on your door, but no one answered.

And yes, the tree permit may very well lead to the tree being removed. The STC will explain who is responsible for the tree care
for the trees on the Borough right-of-way.
Doris


You asked me why the Borough Manager was doing code enforcement work. The Manager is the Zoning Official by Ordinance. Fran McArdle reviewed building permits part-time and Rodger White, God rest his soul, reviewed zoning code matters part-time. Fran was paid $60/hr and Rodger was paid $20/hr. so that’s why we limited Fran’s work to just his expertise of building permit and construction review. Rodger was out sick sometimes so Terry also did some code enforcement.

The previous Council was looking into installing cameras as a measure of protection for the workers at the Borough Hall. In addition, cameras in the parking lot could reduce the possibility of someone driving spikes into an employee’s tires. An employee’s request for increased security should not be ignored.

Terry Bradley’s settlement was approved by Council so that her claim of “harassment in the workplace” would not become a lawsuit in federal court. Unfortunately, some members of your Republican party participated in an incident that Chief Byrne said was harassment. I think it’s better for the Borough to settle out of court rather than defend the actions of some members of your Republican party before a federal judge in a federal court in a civil rights lawsuit.
Comment by Kenneth Harper on September 18, 2010 at 11:51am
Hi Jared, No the fire at the Murray house was arson, there was a suspect taken into custody. This was all swept under the rug, he was let go. People who were on the Ridley Park town watch at that time caught this person. There are quite a few of the residents in the area that remember this. The politics was about who this person was related to, & how he got off.
Comment by Joe Yorke on September 12, 2010 at 9:28am
Jared,

Most people agree that driving spikes into tires is a cowardly act. As the bard said:
“Like a dog on a chain
He ain’t got no name
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game”

As far as your hazardous tree it was your responsibility to remove it. Someone should have told you that it was your responsibility – not PECO’s, not the Borough’s, and not anyone else’s – when you first contacted the Borough three years ago. After you asked the last Council to remove your tree two years ago, a certified arborist from the Tree Commission determined that it was indeed a hazardous tree. Then Code Enforcement notified you that you should remove the tree.

You were sent a letter that included a portion of the shade tree ordinance where it stated that it was your responsibility to remove the tree. You were also notified that you could appeal the finding of the Borough’s arborist about the hazardous condition of the tree by sending a letter to the Borough by a certified arborist of your choosing stating that the tree was not hazardous. You never denied that it was a hazardous tree and you continued to insist that the Borough remove your tree.

A letter was sent to you every day on the advice of the Borough Solicitor notifying you of your responsibility. The Solicitor told me that the Borough must show due diligence by trying its best to remove the hazard and Code Enforcement did just that by sending you daily reminders. As the Borough Manager, Terry had the responsibility of Code Enforcement by Ordinance and she followed the advice of the Borough Solicitor in carrying out her duties.

If you read the Ordinances, you would have known your responsibilities according to the Ordinances and the Borough Manager’s responsibilities according to the Ordinances.
I’m sorry for you that nobody from the powerful Ridley Park Republican party told you about this and allowed you to continue to make wildly inaccurate statements and play your political games.

Many others were sent notices to remove their hazard tree and most complied. There was even a Democratic candidate for Council who removed a hazard tree after being asked to do so by Code Enforcement. You chose not to do your civic duty and remove your hazardous tree and then you claim that Code Enforcement “used this to try to intimidate and harass me”. I’m glad to say you finally took responsibility and removed the tree.

And, by the way, Terry Bradley is BOTH a victim and a good lawyer.
Comment by Jared Brennan on September 5, 2010 at 4:21am
Ken,
With all do respect, the fire at the Murray residence had nothing to do with politics DEM vs REP! My family and the Murrays vacationed together for many summers during my youth and we still keep in touch! No one was ever caught and convicted of that arson. There was a dispute with one of the family member's work situation and that was what the family concluded was the reason for the arson fire.

Joe,

Terry Bradley was a "victim"? Child please! First, I do not condone ANY form of violence and vandalizing! I think that only COWARDS do that! Harassment and intimidation?

I tried for three years to have a dangerous dead tree taken down in front of my home and Terry used this to try to intimidate and harass me. She took on the role of code enforcer without anyone from Keystone or code enforcement's knowledge and proceeded to send me 19 citations in a three week period! Did I mention that this was two months before the election which I was a candidate? I reached out in a certified letter to work with the borough to have the tree removed and Terry NEVER replied back, other than the 19 citations! I personally saw the file in January of 2010 and it had ONLY Terry's handwriting and signature as the code enforcer! On the date of the hearing she tried to get Fran from Keystone to appear in court, which he refused because he had NO knowledge of the file. YOU allowed Terry to do whatever she wanted; even play political games with her position and limited authority. She ruled that council and you allowed her to manipulate and run the town! She set herself up to leave the borough the same way she did while she was employed. We payed her $75,000 a year to work from 10 to 2 or 3pm, she hired an assistant for $25, 000 a year, and left with an additional $20, 000 in settlement money! Is she a "victim" or a good lawyer?
Comment by Kenneth Harper on August 30, 2010 at 3:22pm
Hi Joe,
I just want to tell you that being a democrat in Ridley Park can be dangerous to yourself & to your family. I am currently living on a site where an arsonist burnt the house down while the family was asleep. The daughter had to get up very early, she was working at the airport for one of the airlines. Later on a suspect was caught by a member of the Ridley Park town watch. He wasn't convicted, he was let off the hook so to say. I know there have been comments made about my house should burn down again with me in it. This wouldn't be the first time for me, I nearly died in a garage fire in Ocean City, N.J. in 1958. My tires haven't had any spikes yet, so I can say that I am being treated better than the Terry Bradley. I plan on completing my term on council & serving all the people of Ridley Park.

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