Opinion: An Example of Special Interest in Whitemarsh Township

Two weeks ago Whitemarsh Township Supervisor Michael Drossner revealed just how special interest groups are allowed to drive the agenda and write the laws in Whitemarsh Township.

Please note, this article is not about the treatment of animals or the ordinance that was adopted. It is about the process. This isn’t about animals.

Also, “special interest” should not be viewed in a negative light. There are many special interest groups and some have great agendas. But that doesn’t mean the information they provide should be taken without exploring the issue fully.

On September 12th the Whitemarsh Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance that basically bans circuses and rodeos.

After the ordinance was introduced, the Supervisors were provided time to make a statement. Drossner spoke first and states that he doesn’t think there is another ordinance like this in Pennsylvania and very few across the country.

During public comment, one of the members of the special interest group corrects Drossner by sharing that Whitemarsh will be the third municipality in Pennsylvania and one of 80 across the country. Two states have also adopted statewide bans and a third is moving towards it. The speaker did not share that there is also a bill in Harrisburg that would make a ban statewide in Pennsylvania. It is currently in committee.

Drossner apparently didn’t know any of that.

So exactly how did this ordinance come to be? It was provided to the township by a special interest group. We confirmed this with Gigi Glendinning who led the effort. She shared with MoreThanTheCurve.com:

To be even more clear, I asked Animal Defenders International’s attorney to provide sample ordinance language using existing PA definitions, clarifying the options depending on what animals the Board wanted to cover with this ban… they chose to cover traveling wild and exotic animal acts, exempting the rodeo by the species list (not by listing “rodeo” by name as they originally did, among the other exempted entities (accredited zoos and wildlife rehab/sanctuaries). We were happy they removed them by name because if listed by name, LuLu could have had half-time acts with monkeys or other exotics at their rodeo. Exempting them by species omitted that loop hole.

In the video, Drossner admits that he isn’t an expert about a variety of topics that come before the Board of Supervisors. There is nothing wrong with that. There is something wrong with just taking information as provided by a special interest group and not seeking outside information.

How could they not have sought information from the other municipalities on issues that might have arisen after they passed a ban? There was a lawsuit in Pittsburgh. What could be done to avoid that? How was it resolved? Since Drossner didn’t know of any examples of other municipalities that had passed a similar ordinance, they couldn’t have.

What other issues aren’t they seeking additional information on?

This isn’t just a Whitemarsh issue.

All municipalities allow special interest, especially developers, to write their proposed ordinances.

It is time for that to stop.