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Radnor Commissioner: I Have No Financial Interest in Villanova University

Photos were circulating on Monday, hours before a big vote on Villanova University's proposed zoning change, of a member of Radnor Township's Board of Commissioners in a "staff" jacket working a recent Villanova basketball game.

Photos were circulating on Monday, hours before a big vote on Villanova University's proposed zoning change, of a member of Radnor Township's Board of Commissioners in a "staff" jacket working a recent Villanova basketball game.

The email asked if this was a conflict of interest that had never been disclosed.

It's something Bill Spingler has been doing for about three decades, he told Radnor Patch Monday afternoon. He volunteers as security for the men's basketball home games and recruits other volunteers. The money they get paid by the North Carolina-based company hired by Villanova for security goes to the Radnor-Wayne Little League, he said.

"I’m a volunteer, I don’t get paid," Spingler said. "I do it because I enjoy watching the games. I have no financial interest."

Fellow Board of Commissioners member Elaine Paul Schaefer has recused herself from the Villanova votes because she has some financial ties through her husband's business.

But "Being a graduate, being a fan are not legal conflicts," Radnor Township solicitor John Rice told Radnor Patch Monday.

The state ethics statute focuses on pecuniary benefits, Rice said. "I don’t know if it would be an issue," he said of Spingler's volunteerism. "I'm not aware that there’s any legal conflict."

Rice said that when it comes to leaders in government, "People tend to think just because you’re biased it’s a legal conflict." (To be clear, Rice was speaking in generalities and not claiming that Spingler has a bias.)

Spingler is not the only member of the Board of Commissioners with Villanova ties. John Fisher holds a degree from Villanova University, and Don Curley has taught and has worked as a researcher at Villanova, according to their bios.

Radnor Patch ISN'T About Radnor Anymore :( January 08, 2014 at 09:22 AM
Is this the Commissioner that hasn't "lived" in Radnor for some time now?
Radnor Patch ISN'T About Radnor Anymore :( January 08, 2014 at 09:29 AM
And where is the article on Patch regarding the debate at the last BOC meeting regarding whether it was appropriate to vote for a Planning Commission appointee who is also an elected member of the School Board. I believe the discussion was whether or not the appointment would violate Radnor's Home Rule Charter, 3 Commissioners were very vocal (negative) about the appointment although only 2 of those vocal Commissioners voted against the appointment. Hmmmm....
Daniel Sherry January 08, 2014 at 01:18 PM
Sam, if Mr. Spingler dismissively tells you that there is no conflict because he does not have "a financial interest", or Solicitor Rice directs you to the Commonwealth's ethical rules regarding "pecuniary benefits", I would, respectfully, recommend you ask both men some direct questions about the plain language of the Radnor Charter vis a vis Mr. Spingler's photographed conduct at the Villanova basketball game. The Charter is clearly the governing law at issue, and the very broad language of Section 9.05 of the Charter (titled "Conflicts of Interest") does not limit prohibited conflicts of interests to financial quid pro quo (e.g. I give you money, you in turn give me a vote). Instead, that provision of the Charter broadly bars anything solicited or accepted, “directly or indirectly”, including any “favors” or “consideration” that “might reasonably tend to influence the official in the discharge of the duties of office.” Accordingly, even if Mr. Spingler is not personally being paid from Villanova, such a fact is, emphatically, NOT issue-dispositive insofar as to whether a prohibited conflict pursuant to Radnor's Charter occurred.
Michael Maloney January 08, 2014 at 08:25 PM
This is ludicrous!
Question Mark January 26, 2014 at 09:36 PM
Sam, if Spingler says he has no financial interest, then what about his taxes? Does he report these donations from the Villanova basketball games on his tax returns to lower his taxes, because if so, it seems to me that he does benefit financially from "volunteering" for Villanova.

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