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Put it all on the CuttingBoard

Talking about non-profits, making money on social media, golf, beer, football and everything in between!

Updated: 2018-04-23T22:05:33.423-07:00


Just trying to find a place to park


I know, I know, it's been quite a while since I last posted on this blog. It's not my fault, really. I've been circling the parking lot at the zoo trying to find a sliver of a spot to put my car! Since I arrived at the zoo, one of my projects has been to shepherd plans for a new parking lot through the maze of government entities required to get anything done in the name of progress. A year later and I'm still playing shepherd. And as you can tell from the photo above, additional parking is sorely needed at Elmwood Park Zoo. If you have a friend who has a friend who knows someone who has a friend in local, county or state government, do me a favor and just innocently ask about parking at the zoo. Who knows, once we get this thing built I may just have more time to write!

Time for an update


While I find it believe March was the last time I wrote on this blog, I kinda can as well. I posted the name change right after leaving Digital First Media and my role as senior editor over the Philadelphia cluster of newspapers. And then...wham! It's been a crazy few months and I don't see it letting up any time soon. I've had a small consulting firm chugging along for the past four years and then I landed a very special client. The Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown is becoming a premier destination for all of southeastern Pennsylvania, and I couldn't be more excited to be working with the talented staff in helping spread the word about all the great things going on there and all about the great things to come! Most recently was the "Beast of a Feat," the zoo's annual fundraiser, and coming up on August 4 is the annual Wine Safari. Big picture... the $5 million Trail of the Jaguar opened in May, and there are plans on the books for several more huge exhibits. My biggest challenge right now is getting all of the paperwork for a new parking lot pushed through the various governmental bodies that want to have a hand in making sure we know what we're doing. Once the new parking lot is in place, we're going to be drawing in thousands more visitors than we did just last year, when attendance reached more than a half million. So things are going great here. If you want to stop by for a visit just shoot me an email at Thanks for watching!

Name change seems appropriate


Changing the name of the blog just seemed like the right thing to do after I left Digital First Media and The Times Herald. This space will remain pretty much the same, though. I'll give you my thoughts on why things are the way they are, and I'll also make sure to continue to ask some of the tough questions. The name change is today's topic though. For those of you who don't know, my departure from the world of journalism came about after a few years of dabbling in the consulting world and eventually landing a pretty sweet gig with Elmwood Park Zoo. I've known the director for years and we've always talked about me coming to the zoo and the timing was right for it to finally happen. So, back to the new name of the blog, which includes the name of my consulting company, CuttingBoard. We put it all on the cuttingboard is a slogan we've used for the business, and I thought it might just work here since the concept is pretty much the same. Put as much as you want, on any topic, on the cuttingboard and slice it and dice it until you come up with at least some answers and hopefully some solutions. If you have a particular topic you want to throw out, please do. Until next time...

Always be humble and kind


I used to say to my kids when they were growing up, don't lie, don't cheat and don't steal and you'll grow up to be a good person, and when Lori McKenna put all the lyrics together and handed the song off to Tim McGraw it became one of my favorites. Hold the door, say please, say thank you Don’t steal, don’t cheat and don’t lie I know you got mountains to climb, but Always stay humble and kind When those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you When the work you put in is realized Let yourself feel the pride, but Always stay humble and kind. In my latest rant I talk about the humbling experience the news of my leaving the newspaper business brought about.

Times Herald editor (me) retires from newspaper business, heads to Elmwood Park Zoo


After 21 years in the newspaper business, which has transformed into the multimedia business, I'm leaving the industry. It's actually 23 years if you count the two years I spent as a correspondent for the Daily Local News in West Chester when I was new to PA and the journalism field. While the story on my departure is quite lengthy, I did leave out one tale worth retelling. I received a tip one day that two of our three county commissioners were meeting regularly at a local restaurant, discussing county business and then coming to the regularly scheduled commissioners' meeting fully prepared to vote on everything on the agenda. I sent a new reporter to the restaurant because I knew she wouldn't be recognized. She wasn't. They were doing a lot of talking and the ensuing stories led to an overhaul of the state's Sunshine Law, upping the ante from $100 per incident to $1000 per incident for those in power who believe the law does not apply to them. So, I'm heading to Elmwood Park Zoo where I'm going to do my very best Dr. Dolittle impression, and also help with the incredible plans they have in the works, including the soon to be open big cat exhibit.

My personal 12 Days of Christmas Wish List


Some of the things on here are true and some are made up. You decide which is which. Oh, and Merry Christmas one and all!

Time to get critical thinking out of intensive care


Critical thinking seems to have given way to the 30-second soundbite and the instant gratification of the Internet. Time to reverse course! In my latest rant I talk about the need for the Electoral College. Unfortunately, some believe in the wake of our last presidential election it needs to fall by the wayside. I argue that we need it now more than ever!

Time to give Trump a chance


I remember thinking what a lot of you are thinking right now. How in the world did this guy get elected president? Only I was thinking it about eight years ago. We’re in almost the same position we were then when a virtual unknown became the president-elect. Now, we have a completely known as our president-elect. Think about it. In my latest rant, I talk about the fact that Donald Trump is not going to ruin America any more than Barack Obama did. Worse case scenario he gets some of his agenda through Congress that the liberal half of the country doesn’t agree with, just as the conservative half of the country doesn’t agree with the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

Norristown Rising Roundtable to focus on safety and cleanliness


Revitalization hasn't come easy for Norristown. It's a struggle I've had a front row seat to for the past two decades while sitting in the editor's chair at The Times Herald. After years of frustration, and not for lack of trying I might add, I thought about a different approach. One of our responsibilities here at The Times Herald is to lead public discourse. We are the watchdogs of the community, but we also need to ask questions when things just don't seem right. So almost exactly two years ago the idea for Norristown Rising was born. We mapped out a series of stories that would run during 2015, asking questions about crime, housing, infrastructure and multiple other issues that never seem to make any progress toward the goal of revitalizing what was once a very proud place to live and work, and visit on a Friday or Saturday night. From that series, we launched the Norristown Rising Roundtable panel discussions in late 2015. We'll be hosting the third roundtable discussion later this month at the Centre Theater, where they've all been held, in the heart of Norristown. Last week's column outlined the next discussion pretty well, so give it a read and hopefully, we'll see you at the theater on October 24.

Washing away the stigma of Norristown's past


I've been on a personal mission for some time now, and what I'm coming to realize is that I'm not going to be able to accomplish this task all on my own. As much as I would like to think I can single-handedly get Norristown back on the right track, I know I'm going to need some help. In my latest rant, a lament the lack of public involvement when it comes to anything positive in town. Oh, people are more than happy to tell you about everything that's wrong with Norristown, but what we really need are the people who see the positive, and I certainly believe the residents of Norristown have to become more involved. Here's a positive for you. Just look at the marquee at the Centre Theater! Good things are happening in this town!

Word of caution for choosing our next commander-in-chief


My three-column rant ends with a look at the current president, and a word of caution about choosing our next commander-in-chief!I figured I was working my way up the food chain so in my latest rant I thought I might as well take a couple of shots at our departing president, and implore folks to please pay attention during these God-awful debates. What these folks are saying out of the sides of their mouths will come straight at us if they're elected to the highest office in the land.



It’s time now for a little shameless self-promotion! My latest rant is really more of a plug for Norristown, a place I've been trying for years to help bring back to life! The promotion is actually for the Centre Theater, but since I sit on the board this column could be considered a little self-serving. We’ve been having a great time down at the theater, you know, when we’re not working our tails off trying to get the place in shape, which is where I want to start today. Not with me getting in shape. I’m working on it, but hey, let’s be honest, I’ve been working on it for years.

Trying to kill two political birds with one stone


Sixty seven counties, 67 state representatives. I like it. Add breaking off commercial properties from residential and we might just have a state that doesn't seem bent on taking all of our hard earned money away from us. In my latest rant I actually give some credit to a group of lawmakers out in York County who want to shrink the size of our state government, but I want to cut just a tad bit deeper than they do.

What are your top stories of 2015?


We all have different versions of different events, but some stories just stand out as the most talked about of the year. Even some you wish people would stop talking about, Kaitlyn Jenner! In my latest rant, which really wasn't much of a rant (I promise to rant more in 2016), I talk about some of the local top stories of the year. But, now it is your turn. Let me know which stories stood out for you.

Another possible title: We have no one to blame but ourselves


This week's rant is titled Don't hold your breath on tax relief. I was looking for a photo to go with it because photos get attention in the online world and low and behold, what did I find? The photo above, as you can see, is from a column I wrote more than two years ago! How long are we going to accept the inaction on the part of our elected officials? Apparently 'the people' are not fed up enough!

#GivingTuesday should last all year round!


We had an incredible Winter Concert Dec. 4, 2015 at The Centre Theater. From a 5 year old girl playing piano to a couple of near virtuoso performances on cello. We need to raise enough money to bring more students into the theater for music lessons. One student played without even using sheet music! I was thinking about the column when I wrote this week's rant on giving back.

New game plan needed in PA


I've been ranting about property tax relief for so long now that I would be hard pressed to even remember how the topic first got me fired up. I'm sure it was somewhere near the 10th time in a row my local school district raised property taxes, but I'm not quite sure. During that time I've followed with great interest any news stories on the possibility of said relief, all to no avail. I've pushed hard for reform, even going so far as delivering stacks of letters to Harrisburg from resident who were/are completely fed up with the antiquated collection system. Last week might well have been the last straw. The state Senate finally got enough moxie to pull off a vote on the elimination of the property tax as a funding mechanism for public education when what do you think happened? That's right, thrown out at the plate. Read how it all went down in my latest rant.

Attitude a big piece of Norristown’s revitalization puzzle


There isn’t much anyone can do about the past. I think everyone knows that. Certainly, we need to learn from the past and do our best to not repeat mistakes that have been made, but lamenting about the good ol’ days doesn’t do a lick of good when it comes to what we’re going to do to prepare for the future. That was the overriding sentiment, at least one of them, at last week’s Norristown Rising Roundtable discussion held at the Centre Theater. So I decided to take off on that in last week's rant. People with bad attitudes bring the whole group down to their level.

The Norristown road less traveled is now open to traffic


(image) Road closures, road blocks, detours, does anyone like them? I don’t even like road construction. But I do understand they’re necessary evils. You could say they’re just evil, but I don’t think the closures and detours are done on purpose, so I’ll stick with necessary evil. In my latest rant I somehow take the opening of Markley Street to two way traffic and turn it into a way to mention the Centre Theater Music School, yet again!

Time to bring a little culture to Norristown


The Centre Theater Music School is up and running. We're looking for students and teachers! Bringing a little culture to the county seat. Talking about that and much more in this week's column. Right now we have one teacher giving piano lessons on Friday afternoons. He has four students, and they’re making incredible progress considering the amount of time he has been teaching them. And the school is expanding. We have world-renowned cellist Steve Kramer, who will be teaching classes for us on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. And the cost for the classes? Very similar to some of those television commercials when they tell you the price is so low that we can even advertise it here! We do have some brochures printed up, though, and they have the prices right there in black and white for the world to see.

"The lion sleeps tonight"


For those of you who have not been following along, I’ve been on a mission to find photographic evidence of the lion that once roamed the grounds of the Elmwood Park Zoo. I’m working on a book about the zoo and while there was plenty of talk about the lion, I didn’t have a picture, and I didn’t want to mention the story about the lion without having a photo, so I posted my plea on the Facebook page, You Know You’re From Norristown When, and the response was terrific. While it may not have gone viral in the traditional sense, the post did garner 44 likes and 75 comments. In my latest column I thank Susan Owad for coming through in the clutch!



Help! I agreed to do this new book before I realized what I was taking on. If you have some old photos of the zoo you'll most likely make it into the book, and you'll get full credit! My latest rant is not a rant at all, but a plea!

Huskey's Brigade is getting ready to march


(image) So, a 'friend' of mine called to tell me he wasn't happy that I continue to write about property tax reform. He then went on to tell me that another columnist really ticked him off because he wrote about how America is moving toward imperialistic rule. Hmmm, I wonder how he's going to like next week's rant about how freedom of speech is becoming a right that only the left is permitted to enjoy?

We must start rewriting the Pennsylvania property tax stories


If there was a way to make this required reading for all state representatives and state senators I would do it in a New York minute. Maybe if everyone reading this would either cut it out or send the link to their own state rep or state senator, we could reach a good portion of them anyway. Maybe if they had to pick up my phone from time to time you wouldn’t have to. Or maybe, they get the same telephone calls, and they just haven’t been able to make it happen. In this week's rant I talk about Rose. She's 82 and she's about to lose her home because she can no longer afford to pay her property taxes. We should be able to write a different story for Rose.

Dreaming of Independence (Day) from property tax


I'm not really sure, but I'm beginning to think that I just might be the human definition of insanity. How many times can I keep writing about property tax reform and expect a result different than what we have today? In my latest rant I'm actually hoping for the day that I will be able to tell my grandkids, of which I have none at this time, about how property tax reform finally came to fruition.