If Arthur Miller were alive, he could turn the Nov. 16 meeting of the Doylestown Township Board of Supervisors into a scene from “The Crucible.” You know, the Salem Witch Trials. Except in this case the accusations appear to be true.
Act I Nov. 16, 2021
There is still a political divide in Central Bucks. Bill Senavaitis is the president of the Central Bucks Education Association. He stands at the microphone to make public comment.
A known person entered the Central Bucks administration building and inserted into the mail system a two-page clip-and-paste screed, which he refers to as propoganda, accusing him (wrongly) of having had a position in the teachers’ union pension fund (PSERS). Information in the two-page letter paints him and others of consorting with people who (gasp) thought there could be a more diverse teaching staff, that the Rainbow Room, a place for LGBTQ+ students to feel sheltered, was somehow scandalous, and that people should be called out for writing on their Facebook pages that they favored school board candidates who agreed with science, supported inclusion and diversity and agreed with climate change.
Then the public stoning began, except this time the ones doing the stoning would prefer witches to someone who would write such things.
We suspect hard-core Republicans have some kind of training to put on a stoic face while people condemn them. Consider Paul Gosar being censured on the House floor. Marjorie Taylor Greene being stripped of committee assignments. Trump being impeached, twice.
It’s an impassive look. This has nothing to do with me.
A video of the meeting is available here; their comments begin about two minutes in.
Teacher after teacher speaks: “It’s filth, it’s disgusting.” “Vitriol, garbage, hate.” “It was all political lies.”
The woman who runs the Rainbow Room, Marlene Pray, and who was attacked directly in the letter, said straight out: “Shame on you. Shame on you.”
One man spoke directly to Santacecilia about their shared history. He said, “It’s time for good people in our community to stand up and say we’ve had enough of this hate-spewing. I’m asking for Mrs. Santececilia’s resignation.”
Karen Smith, a Central Bucks School Board member, said, “When I learned the identity of this culprit I was stunned!”
Santececilia had just been elected to her seat on the board. Smith said, “I think the township deserves a resignation.”
Barbara Lyons, the redoubtable chair, made a statement of her own: “I can’t tell Nancy to resign. She will take her own counsel to do so. However, I will say this… . If I had done something indefensible, and it became public scrutiny, and it affected this boardroom, I would not be sitting here right now. I would already have resigned.”
Most people would not endure such a public spankind. But Santasecilia was made of Marjorie Greene stuff.
She said: “My actions were my own. It was never intended to impact the township. And so I apologize to my fellow supervisors for any hardship it may have caused. In terms of communication, there was never meant to be any harm, but awareness. In terms of action of others and what is happening, people need to pay attention because the children, the parents, the teachers – they are being deceived. And I’ve been advised that’s all I can say.”
A non-apology apology: It was not intended to impact the township (in other words, it’s been blown out of proportion and has nothing to do with the township, just because I am an elected officer of the township; my intentions are all that matter, not my actions), so I apologize. She apologized for the board’s hardship, not her actions. She says: What really matters is that I made people aware, because they are being deceived. Translation: I believe everything in the letter, and I stand by it. Plus, I am not resigning.
Because the Bucks County Beacon will not reproduce the letter, only a blurry version, we want to give you an example of why it is unsettling.
The letter implies guilt by association to a group of named teachers and candidates for school board who turned out to help at an event for Rise Up Doylestown.
Rise Up Doylestown is a nonprofit group that fights racism, bigotry, oppression, environmental destruction, and injustice.
A letter that holds people guilty by association must therefore itself be in favor of racism, bigotry, oppression, environmental destruction, and injustice.
If the first sentence and the second sentence are true, then the Boolean brain says the third sentence is true. That was the assumption of those who received the letter.
Act II January 18, 2022
Residents of Doylestown renewed their efforts. Some of them vowed to show up at every Doylestown Township meeting to say that one of their supervisors was a — you name it, accused racist, hate-monger, white supremacist, well, at least someone outside the norms of polite society.
It wasn’t quite putting her in the stocks, but it was public humiliation. But did she feel it?
And who knows? Perhaps someone would uncover her real goals. Township power to do what? Regulate burial plots? Animal shelters?
Bonnie Chang, saying she represented a group of 1,750 people called Bucks Voices, read an open letter at the meeting that included this: “By distributing a race-baiting homophobic flyer within the school district and the Doylestown community, you committed an unethical and deceitful act, unworthy of an elected public official. Chang added: “Even Marguerite, [Marguerite Corr Quinn, former moderate Republican member of the House of Representatives for Doylestown) says you should quit.”
To the Beacon she said, “Trumpian People are so determined to stay in a position of power. They are going to ride this out.”
Act III February 15, 2022
Nancy Santacecilia intends to be there. Someone from Bucks Voices intends to be there.