Two years after enacting an LGBT-inclusive anti-bias ordinance, the Haverford board of commissioners this week appointed seven people to a panel that will investigate bias complaints.
The ordinance bans discrimination in employment, housing, commercial property and public accommodations.
It allows for penalties of up to $5,000 per discriminatory act.
On Feb. 11, the following people were named to the panel: Richard H. Buxton, Mitchell S. Clair, Robert E. Courtney 3d, Steve Elkins, Florence D. Goff, Carol L. Hartz and Barbara Rittinger Rigo.
The selection process was delayed, in part, because of a challenge to the ordinance by township resident Fred W. Teal.
But Teal died Sept. 21 of natural causes.
Last month, anti-LGBT activist James Schneller filed a petition in Delaware County Common Pleas Court to succeed Teal as a litigant in the legal challenge.
A Delaware County judge hadn’t ruled on Schneller’s request at presstime.
Larry Holmes, a member of the Haverford board of commissioners, said the panel is “great for our township, and great for the commonwealth.”
To his knowledge, there are no out LGBT people on the board. But, he said, all of the members are sensitive to LGBT issues.
Mario A. Oliva, president of Haverford’s board, echoed Holmes’ sentiments.
“We have a very talented group,” Oliva said. “They’re diverse, eager to serve and willing to learn.”
The panel will soon be trained by the state Human Relations Commission in order to properly investigate bias complaints.
Judge denies request in Conshy case
A Montgomery County judge last week denied a request by Conshohocken officials to bar James Schneller from filing additional legal challenges to the borough’s LGBT-inclusive antibias ordinance.
Judge Bernard A. Moore issued the ruling Feb. 8, two days after hearing oral arguments on the matter.
The judge also denied the borough’s request for about $1,300 from Schneller to cover legal expenses incurred due to Schneller’s latest court filings.
Schneller, who lives in Radnor, is co-founder of Philadelphia Metro Task Force, an anti-LGBT group with about 75 members in the region.
He wants the antibias ordinance declared null and void, partly on the basis that it violates protected religious freedoms.
In an email, Schneller expressed optimism that his legal challenge of the ordinance will prevail in Commonwealth Court, where it remains pending.
He’s been challenging the ordinance through various court filings since September 2011.
Paul McConnell, president of Conshohocken Borough Council, had no comment for this story.
In a related matter, the borough is seeking about $18,000 from Schneller for legal expenses incurred during an earlier part of the litigation. But an arbitration panel hasn’t yet been selected to rule on that request.
Violators face a $300 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
— Timothy Cwiek