In my Opinion, As an Elected Supervisor of Exeter Township:
I fully acknowledge the existing concerns surrounding our escalating water costs. Unfortunately, due to the industry's heavy governmental regulation, our direct control over these costs is minimal. In 2019, I submitted a detailed 63-page document advocating against the sale of Exeter's sewer plant. However, at that crucial time, participation from our residents was noticeably sparse, with only a handful of individuals offering support.
The primary reason for the plant's sale was rooted in years of financial mismanagement by our township supervisors. They, unfortunately, drove us into a position where the only option left was to sell our most significant and profitable asset owned collectively by our community.
Alarmingly, history seems to be repeating itself, as the same financial mismanagement appears to be resurfacing. For example, we are budgeting for our golf course to incur a loss of $400,000, and our banquet business, a for-profit venture, is being subsidized, causing us to lose another $100,000.
In the board of supervisors held on Monday, July 10th, four supervisors, our solicitor, and our short-term manager censured me, alleging disruptive behavior in meetings, which is categorically untrue (please refer to the video footage). They also claimed I was consuming excessive staff time by asking pertinent questions and seeking information.
As a representative of this community, I believe it is my duty to work tirelessly for you. To succeed in this mission, I urgently require your continued support and active involvement.
The handling of our township's affairs by these unaccountable individuals, whom I regard as inexperienced, has resulted in the mockery of our local government. They have perpetuated false accusations and have essentially controlled our township for a year now.
Key questions that need answering include:
These costs could have been averted since 2019, but were instead met by the sale of our sewer plant. I urge you all to consider the implications of these decisions, for this is your hard-earned money.
Here's My Opinion as An Elected Supervisor of Exeter Township:
A year ago, Gardella, Bell, and Vollmer engaged in a series of deliberate lies, publicly accusing me of sexual harassment against an employee. They were fully aware that these accusations were baseless and motivated by retaliation from a disgruntled employee. This employee sent an email the day after I took office. Further, a thorough investigation conducted over the course of a month, which included numerous testimonies from employees, cleared me of any wrongdoing. Despite knowing the truth, Gardella, Vollmer, and Bell still censured me, while Schnee took no action. They all participated in spreading these false allegations for political gain, and Schnee potentially for financial motives.
Throughout the past 12 months, Gardella, Vollmer, and Schnee utilized these fabricated lies and the censure to continuously harass and defame me in public meetings and online. They employed various methods, including exploiting the township website, Facebook page, and providing false information to the Reading Eagle, with the malicious intent of damaging my reputation and character. Gardella, Vollmer, Bell, and Schnee intentionally concealed the investigation report, as its release would have exposed their deceitful scheme. It was only after parts of the report were brought to light by Jerry Geleff and The Exeter Examiner, followed by an anonymous individual publishing the entire report, that the false accusations of sexual harassment miraculously ceased.
In the meantime, armed with absolute power and a majority of votes, and with Schnee's complicity, Gardella, Vollmer, and Bell continued their campaign of harassment, passing one motion after another to unlawfully impede me from fulfilling my supervisor duties. They managed to turn the entire township staff, including the township supervisor, against me, despite my never having set foot in the township offices. I was officially prohibited from entering any township office and subsequently prevented from communicating with any township employee. Whenever I requested information crucial for my supervisor responsibilities, such as invoices, bills, or budget reports, they deliberately delayed or outright denied my requests, using false claims of confidentiality. Eventually, they compelled me to resort to right-to-know requests, further obstructing my understanding by intentionally slowing down the process. Even with these requests, the documents were returned to me heavily redacted, rendering them incomprehensible. Later on, I was forced to channel all my questions and document requests through Gardella, who maliciously and passively denied nearly all of them. Bell exhibited the same unprofessional behavior. Schnee's electronic communications were not only unprofessional but also filled with passive-aggressive language, which amounted to fabricating additional lies for the record.
In summary, Gardella, Vollmer, Bell, and Schnee have conspired over the past year to systematically defame and harass me in public and on social media. They have retaliated against me by effectively blocking me from any opportunities or access to personnel and documents required for me to fulfill my duties as an elected supervisor. Their collusion has rendered me entirely ineffective and useless in my role as a supervisor.
Review full investigation report here.
Why are Gardella, Vollmer, Bell, and Schnee subjecting me to this treatment? What is the motive behind their intense hatred, malicious slander, relentless bullying and harassment, passive-aggressive vindictiveness, and the continuous infliction of emotional distress in public, on social media, and through email for over a year?
The reason behind their actions is simple: I am asking the right questions about the township's governance and exposing their complete incompetence, laziness, lack of transparency, and their role in destroying the township's finances while promoting unprecedented corruption. Additionally, I have dared to criticize their pet project, the municipal golf course, which is both expensive and unprofitable, benefiting only a tiny fraction of the township's residents. I have shed light on their lack of intelligence, business experience, misguided views on governance, absence of a plan, and their ignorance of fiscal responsibility and budgeting.
All I do is calmly and rationally ask questions, and they are terrified of facing those questions.
Dear voters, this is the consequence of allowing corrupt, incompetent, unscrupulous, lazy, and, most importantly, incredibly stupid, vindictive, and despicable individuals to attain power through deceit rather than merit. They leave nothing but destruction in their path. And now, as this malicious clique prepares to launch another coup and censure me using new fabricated lies, I have a question for you: what have they accomplished in the past 12 months? They have held complete power with a majority vote, so what tangible achievements can they claim?
Here is a short list of top issues Gardella, Vollmer, and Bell must respond to.
As they censure me once again, be prepared to witness another narrative, most likely built on psychological projection, in which they will falsely claim that I am creating a hostile environment, solely focused on slandering them and ruining the reputation of our township. They will go to great lengths to propagate this narrative across the township's websites, inundate official meeting minutes with relentless attacks against me, and spread further slander about Supervisor Hughes, calling me the “Trump of Exeter," on platforms like the Reading Eagle and various social media outlets.
At this juncture, it becomes essential for you to question how I can be responsible for all these alleged wrongdoings when my access to information has been completely severed, my freedom of speech forcefully suppressed, and my vote as a minority reduced to insignificance, while Gardella, Bell, Vollmer, and Schnee have enjoyed uninterrupted power for over a year. Do you truly believe that all this spectacle and smoke and mirrors will deceive anyone?
Let me make one thing abundantly clear to Gardella, Vollmer, Bell, and Schnee: The more you spread lies about me, the more resolutely I will expose the truth about each of you.
I will never resign.
Dave H. Hughes, BS, CMA, CFM
In My Opinion As An Elected Supervisor of Exeter Township, this Non-Disparagement Clause is an Attempt by Schnee Legal Services to Suppress my Speech and Engage in Retaliatory Action.
The actions of Schnee Legal Services demonstrate a consistent disregard for transparency and public discourse, invoking concerns around potential First Amendment rights violations. The firm appears determined to facilitate the operation of government in an opaque manner, thereby avoiding necessary public scrutiny. Its handling of right-to-know laws further supports this perspective: I am, as a Supervisor inexplicably, required to submit formal right-to-know requests to access invoices and contracts that other supervisors receive promptly, without delay or obstruction.
The firm's misuse of attorney-client privilege to encompass non-legal matters also raises significant concerns. This is exemplified by the evident lack of understanding around the application of the attorney work product doctrine within the context of public government.
Moreover, the firm has attempted to curtail the First Amendment speech rights of myself as a Supervisor by including a retaliatory provision within its contract. This provision takes the form of a 'non-disparagement' clause, inserted into the firm's contract with the township. The inclusion of this clause appears to be a deliberate attempt to suppress my freedom of speech as an elected official, giving rise to repeated acts of retaliation against me.
Any expression by me that is deemed unfavorable by Schnee Legal Services invokes this non-disparagement clause, resulting in a $1,000 fine levied against the township. In effect, Schnee Legal Services is manipulating contractual agreements to penalize freedom of speech, which is a core tenet of democratic governance.
Below is Schnee’s Non-Disparagement Clause in his Schnee Legal Services Contract, specially designed to suppress my Speech as a Supervisor and to retaliate against me when Schnee doesn’t like what as an elected public figure I might say.
You, on behalf of the Township, its public officials and employees, agree to not disparage or make any defamatory or slanderous statements about this firm and/or Attorney J. Chadwick Schnee, Esq. through any means, including but not limited to social media postings, conversations or written materials. Any violation of the non-disparagement provision of this Agreement shall entitle the other party to bring a legal action for appropriate equitable relief as well as damages. In addition to any other rights or remedies available at law, in equity, or by statute, the parties consent to the specific enforcement of the non-disparagement provision of this Agreement through an injunction or restraining order issued by an appropriate court, without the requirement of posting a bond. Further, we agree that this firm may assess an additional fee up to $1,000.00 per violation, up to an annual maximum of $10,000.00, of the non-disparagement provision of this Agreement.
While it's not unusual to encounter non-disparagement clauses in the private sector - particularly as stipulations tied to severance packages following involuntary termination of employment - such provisions are decidedly uncommon as mechanisms to regulate the speech of public officials. In the present circumstance, the non-disparagement clause imposed by Schnee Legal Services is characterized by excessive breadth.
This overreaching provision is virtually guaranteed to attract substantial judicial scrutiny, as it appears designed to stifle criticism from a particular public servant in their professional role - specifically, myself in my capacity as Supervisor. It is widely perceived as an attempt to curb public discourse and could, therefore, be considered a challenge to the principles of democratic governance and transparency.
Upon reviewing the aforementioned contract from Schnee Legal Services, it is evident that the firm exhibits a pronounced discomfort with my online public commentary. In fact, the persistent focus on my digital remarks suggests an intense fixation, potentially driven by fear.
It's clear that the firm's reaction is not merely defensive, but has taken on a patently retaliatory quality. The nature of these retaliatory actions seems to bear no connection to any personal or private affairs. Rather, they are intrinsically tied to my responsibilities and obligations as a public servant.
The threats issued by Schnee Legal Services can be interpreted as efforts to obscure government transparency and accountability. Furthermore, these actions raise serious concerns about potential ethical breaches, suggesting that Schnee Legal Services may be engaging in practices that are not only inappropriate for a solicitor, but arguably corrupt.