Thursday, November 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Property Tax Hike Opponents Hide Behind Anonymous Web Site

A new web site -- nopropertytaxhike.com -- being circulated by e-mail and social networking sites asks visitors to "tell the mayor his plan to increase property taxes is wrong!" The on-line petition asks for some personal information -- your name, email and address. But the site doesn't provide any information about who is running it.

Property Tax Hike Opponents Hide Behind Anonymous Web Site

A new web site -- nopropertytaxhike.com -- being circulated by e-mail, local blogs and social networking sites asks visitors to "tell the mayor his plan to increase property taxes is wrong!"  The on-line petition asks for some personal information -- your name, e-mail and address.  But the site doesn't provide any information about who is running it.

PhillyClout loves a mystery so we checked the web site's registration, filed on Friday by Adrian Pountney of Lombard, Illinois [about 20 miles from Chicago.]  A Chester County web company built the web site for Pountney.

We know two things about Pountney:  He didn't appreciate PhillyClout's efforts to reach him by phone and e-mail this week and he is Facebook friends with former City Council candidate Vern Anastasio.  Pountney e-mailed that he is "just hosting the site for someone, the site is pretty self explanatory as far as what it's about and what it's trying to accomplish, and that is all I have."

Anastasio said he is not that "someone," though he signed the on-line petition after Pountney sent him a note on Facebook about it and is now pushing it to others via e-mail.  Anastasio, after speaking with Pountney, said the site was launched for "some mutual friends" they have in Philadelphia.  So who are they?  "They are not interested in being known," Anastasio said.

The web site is pretty simple, with a lot of rhetoric in capital letters.  There are two pictures -- one of a very nice rowhouse and the other where the Liberty Bell appears to be smeared with something very red.

So there you have it -- someone in Philadelphia wants your personal information in an effort to influence public policy.  They just don't want you to know who they are.  "It’s not necessarily the way I would do it," Anastasio said. "That’s why I’m promoting the site myself."

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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