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PennFuture Politics of Personal Destruction Rebuked

John Quigley - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.



PennFuture, one of the Heinz and Haas families trio of dirty trickers, was twice rebuked this week, by the court and the citizens they personally attacked.

The contempt with which Pennsylvania’s elites, the Heinz and Haas families, hold ordinary citizens richly deserves regular rebukes. They were twice delivered in the past few days and how sweet it was. PennFuture, one of three organizations used by these two families to undermine rural development they abhor, was handed its hat. Rural Pennsylvanians are fighting back and showing just how to expose these phonies.


Earlier this month I reported how PennFuture was targeting rural communities with a fractivist legal strategy. Like the Clean Air Council and Delaware Povertykeeper, it is funded by the Heinz Endowments and William Penn Foundation to “fight dirty energy.” It decided to go after Mount Pleasant Township as a “symbolic” gesture in the fight. Their goal was to intimidate and stop the development of the Yonker well pad by Range Resources.

The Washington County Observer-Reporter picked up the story on August 22 with an article by David Singer. Here’s some of what Singer reported (emphasis added):

…Washington County Court of Common Pleas judge ruled Mt. Pleasant Township authorities could not take action until PennFuture’s suit challenging township gas drilling ordinances is settled. The board has 45 days to take action on the proposed application barring any further court intervention.

President Judge Katherine Emery wrote in her Monday order the challenge from environmental nonprofit PennFuture about the township’s ordinances regulating drilling would be heard Aug. 29 during an injunction hearing and approval or denial of any gas drilling activity could not be made until the township’s ordinances are ruled upon…

Nearly 150 people, most in support of the well, packed into Hickory fire hall

George Yonker, property owner of the proposed site, said there’s no doubt his family would benefit from it, and there would be several other property owners who would benefit as well.

“I have seven grandchildren that I love more than life itself and I wouldn’t expose them to anything that would harm them and I would not move forward if that weren’t the case. It is only fearmongering that is driving opposition to this.”

The story also included a wonderful picture of the event, with dozens of residents in fluorescent green shirts saying “Land Owners United.” They also had “Yes To Gas” signs (see photo above tweeted by David Singer). There were even symbolic “no PennFuture” signs. Click here for a video of the event, which was akin to a rally against PennFuture. Check out, in particular, what this fellow thought of PennFuture:

Paul Battista defended the Yonker family, who stood up to personal attacks from PennFuture. He called PennFuture’s attacks a “disgrace, to represent The Yonker family as monsters and zombies…I really think we should get an apology from PennFuture.” What Battista was referring to was this photo from PennFuture’s Facebook page:

PennFutureNotice the “Connect @ PennFuture” in the lower-right corner and the fluorescent green zombie figures to the left. Battista was correct. PennFuture was calling the citizens of Mount Pleasant Township and the Yonkers family zombies. It was a personal attack. Moreover, it was made by an organization that didn’t even bother to show up for the hearing to hear how local people really felt about gas drilling. They couldn’t care less. They’re well paid Yuppie shills operating from trendy office space in Pittsburgh’s Waterfront Building (occupancy expenses of over $167,000 per year). They have a $3 million budget, including almost $1.8 million in employment expenses and $482,000 in “other” expenses for which they don’t bother to account on their 990 return.


Waterfront Building, Pittsburgh – Home of PennFuture

PennFuture, despite its first class office space is no first class outfit. It has a dirty tricks mission to “fight dirty energy.” The real mission, of course, as always, is to stop growth. The urban gentry class represented by PennFuture would “parkify” all of rural Pennsylvania if it could. They want it for themselves, to look at and admire, not to be used (trashed in their view) for such mundane things as feeding families.

This time, though, they lost. Not only did they get the deserved rebuke by the public they contemptuously dismiss, but the judge also ruled against them on Monday, denying them an injunction request. Here’s what she had to say (full decision here):

The court notes that the test is not whether Complainants are likely to prevail on the substantive validity challenge; instead, the question before this Court is how likely is it for Complainants to prevail on the issue of the stay as contemplated by 53 P.S. § 10915.1(a).

An analysis of Section 915 is critical and after extensive research on the issue, this Court finds that land development is an essential element to invoke the stay of proceedings and not any “official action” by the municipality as argued by Complainants. Lacking legal authority and because this Court does not find that a conditional use application to be land development as considered by Section 915.1(a), Complainants have failed to meet their burden of showing they are likely to prevail on the merits that they are entitled to a stay.

AND NOW, this 29th day of August, 2016, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that the ex parte Preliminary Injunction granted on August 22, 2016 is hereby dissolved and the Motion for Preliminary and Permanent Injunction is DENIED.

Simply put, PennFuture’s request for a stay was inappropriate, of now at least. There was no land development permit involved with a conditional use application. Could it come back? Perhaps, but the judge obviously had little sympathy for the carpetbagging dirty trickers assigned by Heinz, et al to go out to Mount Pleasant Township and harass the locals. May it ever be so.

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