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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.

Brian Ewart January 06, 2014 at 03:24 PM
Of course, nobody was ringing the conflict bell when Governor Ed Rendell, who has publicly declared himself as an Eagles fan, was pushing through the plans to build the Linc. How is this any different?
Draco January 06, 2014 at 07:57 PM
Is it that significant that someone earns $15 (or free admission) to a basketball game, such as to suggest conflict? I think not (But it IS significant that backyard neighbors to Androssen did NOT recuse themselves from that vote, when committing the rest of us to purchasing land there.)
Mark Brennan January 07, 2014 at 09:59 AM
This is a new low from my perspective on this Patch, someone took the time to photograph Bill Spingler volunteering at a Nova game and that lead to a suggestive article about his character??? Sam, I am very disappointed to read this and see your name as the author, I would think the editor of our Patch would be a bit more bipartisan when "reporting" the "news" in our area.
Sam Strike (Editor) January 07, 2014 at 10:04 AM
My purpose was to "answer" the email's question, which was, Is this a conflict of interest that had never been disclosed? It was the email that questioned his character. My purpose was to get the facts from Bill, who says it is not a conflict because he has no financial interest.
Mark Brennan January 07, 2014 at 10:28 AM
You made an editorial decision that seems one-sided and furthers a consistent theme on this Patch about this particular commissioner, someone who has served our community for decades. I can't say I always agree with Bill's position or his approach in dealing with those who oppose him but your reporting on this comes off as very one-sided especially in the heading and the lead of the story, not to mention the surveilance-type photographs. Obviously you are going to defend yourself but I think if you really think about the piece you'll realize it was unnecessary and it simply pandered to the irrational. Additionally, perhaps you should have included the original email.
Sam Strike (Editor) January 07, 2014 at 11:04 AM
Well, I do appreciate your feedback and am always willing to reflect on editorial decisions.
Lamar Layfield January 08, 2014 at 12:04 AM
Spingler is not a volunteer, he is paid. What he does or doesn't do with the money is not material. Maybe one of the Commissioners will finally refer this issue (and others) to the Radnor Ethics Board for review. Hopefully they will do what the Twp Solicitor appears not to have done—read & follow the Radnor Home Rule Charter. Better hurry though, word is that Spingler will be quitting the BoC by summer...
I Lived Here for 25 Years & Finally Moved Out January 08, 2014 at 09:22 AM
Is this the Commissioner that hasn't "lived" in Radnor for some time now?
I Lived Here for 25 Years & Finally Moved Out 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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