John Daley, Commissioner in Mt. Lebanon's Ward 2, asked if Blog-Lebo would post a newsletter on his behalf. We're happy to do so, and the first Part of the three-Part newsletter appears below.
Any other Mt. Lebanon Commissioners and School Board members who would like to do the same are welcome to do so. Candidates for Commissioner and School Board are also welcome to send us newsletters for posting. Please contact us.
JOHN DALEY ANNUAL NEWSLETTER 2007
In my campaign for the office of Second Ward Commissioner in
2005, I promised to put out an annual newsletter for persons living in
the Second Ward. With the internet and, more specifically, the advent
of blogging, I believe this medium of communication is the best way to
reach not only Second Ward residents who take an active interest in
local government, but for persons in all of Mt. Lebanon as well. What I
would like to do here is to discuss some issues of interest I have faced
in Mt. Lebanon since my time on the Commission, as well as to address
the positions I have taken on the same.
Before I talk about some of the issues I have dealt with facing
the community, I want to make one prefacing statement; namely, that if
there is one absolute for anyone who holds public office no matter what
the level, it is that you can never be all things to all people or
please all of the people all of the time. Dealing with issues of policy
in a representative form of government requires an elected
representative to take positions with his or her votes. It is simply
inevitable that some of those votes are going to be disagreed with by
some. Without further adieu then, here are some of the issues (and this
is by no means exhaustive of issues facing the community) I have seen
and my take on the same.
Perhaps the issue I have seen that has generated the most
passion in my 20 months or so on the Commission has been that of the
deer. It is in fact a question that pre-dated my election in November
2005. During a Commission meeting I attended as a candidate, a public
hearing was conducted as to culling (in the form of a controlled hunt)
with use of professional bow hunters. Citizens rose to speak on the
question, with a majority of those in attendance speaking out against
culling operations. No further formal action was taken that year.
Upon my coming to the Commission in January 2006, the deer issue
of course did not go away. We had representatives of Upper St. Clair
come in to Commission discussion sessions to discuss their experience
with culling - first with bow hunting, and then later with United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA) sharpshooters. The Upper St. Clair
experience revealed that it was only when sharpshooters were utilized
that the number of vehicle-deer collisions was reduced. We also had
USDA representatives come in to discuss their operations in culling deer
populations, and we did have an individual appear at a discussion
session via telephone conference to speak to contraception methodology.
A Deer Management Plan was commissioned and posted on the
municipal web site, and we did conduct another public hearing on the
subject. As was the case in 2005, a large number of citizens rose up in
opposition to a controlled hunt - some citing safety concerns with the
use of firearms, and others philosophically opposed to the idea of using
lethal methods to manage the deer population. Unlike the year before,
however, nearly as many people at the public hearing voiced support for
a controlled hunt. Some of these citizens were from the Second Ward.
In addition to this, a solid majority of the phone calls and e-mails I
received on the deer management subject were in support of the idea of a
My own personal view that developed during the process was to
support USDA going forward. I believe we did (and still do) have a
deer problem in Mt. Lebanon, particularly in the Second Ward, with Bird
Park and Robb Hollow Park being areas where significant numbers of deer
are. I would readily admit that the problem is not as pronounced in
areas such as the Fifth Ward, where the Washington Road business
district is. The deer population problem that convinced me that culling
was necessary was the issue of vehicle-deer collisions. Although
persons speaking of damage to gardens and shrubbery, as well as the risk
of lyme disease, played some factor in developing my view, those factors
alone were not enough to convince me to go forward. It was the very
real prospect of a collision between a vehicle and deer that would
involve either serious injuries or fatalities.
I also became convinced that contraception was not a realistic
option - in terms of feasibility, effectiveness and cost. I also was
satisfied that the USDA would take adequate safety precautions in their
culling operations. Their experience in other communities has been
solid in terms of safety. There has not been a single injury to a
person reported in all of the years of USDA conducting culling
operations. We were also briefed at length as to the safety precautions
USDA uses, such as using a softer ammunition that expands on impact in
order to decrease the risk of a ricochet, taking shots from elevated
positions so that the bullet travels downward and only with a backdrop
in the case of a miss. This also decreases the risk of a ricochet.
Finally, the USDA personnel conducting the hunt were to be professionals
and not some over-enthusiastic weekend hunters.
At the end of the day, I and three other Commissioners voted to
authorize USDA to engage in a controlled hunt or culling of the deer
population with use of sharpshooters in the areas of our public parks
and golf course. During the course of the culling operation between
February and early April 2007, some 69 deer were killed and removed,
with the venison meat of 68 of the deer being donated to local food
banks. Not a single injury was reported during the culling, and I am
not aware of more than one or two complaints registered which related to
persons seeing the removal of deer which had already been shot.
The deer issue has recently come up again. On Wednesday,
September 26, 2007, the Commission conducted a two-hour public meeting
on deer management. We heard from Craig Swope of USDA, and the USDA
report is available on the Mt. Lebanon web site at www.mtlebanon.org.
The report summarized the culling activities earlier this year, and it
recommends that 150 deer be targeted for the 2007-2008 winter months.
During the meeting, approximately 25 citizens spoke and provided their
opinion on the deer issue. A clear majority of the persons there (I
counted 17) were in favor of the culling and indicated that they would
support further culling activities by USDA.
As for those of you who are opposed to the approach the
Commission has taken - whether philosophically, for safety reasons or
for a combination of the two - I can respect your viewpoints. The issue
is one where I believe reasonable minds can differ. At the end of the
day, I can only say that I looked at the issue, determined there was
indeed a problem based upon the evidence presented and made the best
call I thought I could given the situation.
Labels: john daley, mt. lebanon commission