A May 5 editorial mischaracterized a vote by Haverford Township Commissioner Andy Lewis, whose call to local authorities led to a state investigation that last month produced corruption indictments concerning development of the former Haverford State Hospital site. Lewis' following explanation of his vote corrects the record:
Although I have no problem with your decision not to endorse me for Delaware County Council, your "conflict of interest" allegation was unfair, inaccurate and completely unfounded.
According to your editorial, as a Haverford Township commissioner, I "didn't see the conflict in voting on public contracts with a company, Independence Blue Cross," upon whose board I sit.
To set the record straight, I have never voted to award Independence Blue Cross one, let alone multiple, "public contracts." That is a false statement.
Most important, anyone objectively reviewing all the facts on what I actually did vote on would agree there was no "conflict of interest," either, because I have never voted to place any business with Independence Blue Cross.
Haverford Township is contractually obligated to provide its employees and retirees with Blue Cross coverage, and has subscribed to Blue Cross for more than 35 years, long before I became a commissioner. Furthermore, all contract renewals with Blue Cross are negotiated jointly by the township manager and the human resources director, not by the Board of Commissioners.
On Nov. 28, 2006, I voted to allow our township to join with 32 other Delaware County municipalities and authorities in an affiliation, or buying group, to provide negotiating leverage for the sole purpose of saving tax dollars by paying less for Blue Cross. The measure passed by a 9-0 vote.
By joining the affiliation, Haverford Township taxpayers will save $187,587 in 2007. The combined savings for the other affiliation members - and therefore, for other Delaware County taxpayers - was more than $2.5 million. In other words, my vote contributed to Blue Cross' actually losing $2.5 million in premium revenue.
I am very thoughtful about each of my votes as a commissioner, and I reviewed this transaction carefully before casting my affirmative vote. I was not, however, going to be intimidated into abstaining simply because my political opponents fabricated another "conflict of interest" allegation, as they had done in the past on other matters.
If the vote had hypothetically been tied 4-4, and I had acquiesced to my political opponents and abstained from voting, the measure would have failed. If that had happened, Haverford Township taxpayers would be paying $187,587 more in health insurance premiums in 2007.
I have fought for honesty and open government from the day that I first took office as a commissioner and I proudly stand behind my vote to save $187,587 for Haverford's taxpayers and to help other Delaware County taxpayers save $2.5 million.