Are the Ghosts of Bishop McDevitt haunting a candidate for Harrisburg School Board?

  • Kirkland and Fowler are planning a voter registration outdoor dance party event tentatively scheduled for April 9th, on the South Side. 
  • The men’s ‘team’ has an event scheduled April 1st at the Boys & Girls club on Berryhill Street. 

Harrisburg, PA – When Carrie Fowler saw Betsy Devos on the television with President Trump, she immediately knew that her time had come to step up and serve on the school board to save our public schools. Devos is pro school choice, pro charter school, and Fowler believes that she will destroy our public schools. The charter school interests are strong because there is a lot of public money at stake. Fowler, who is a social justice activist and a grad student at Shipp, stands against charter schools. Along with the help of Dan Miller and Shamaine Daniels, she circulated her petitions and received more than enough signatures. Her paper work was all in order.

Enter Richard Soto. Not to be confused with the Richard Soto of Middletown who was convicted of a child sex crime. That point should be made as others have previously accused the Harrisburg School Board Director candidate of being the same man. However, Soto is a convicted felon from 2005 who served 8 years in federal prison for drug trafficking crimes. He has since rebuilt his life, is actively involved in the community, and volunteers his time towards helping the children. Now Soto is running for School Board Director. It is strange that he is following up his unsuccessful 2016 campaign for State Representative against Patti Kim, and now again running for an ‘office of trust.’ Because of his criminal record, he cannot legally serve due to a Pennsylvania state law that to many people, including Fowler, would agree should be revised to allow for some conditional considerations, and perhaps somebody like Soto, or Cory Williams would be eligible to serve those office posts. 

Now Fowler is being targeted by Soto, initially at the Broad Steeet Market while working her table for signatures. She had to request security assistance after Mr. Soto began outspokenly blasting a candidate that Fowler supporter. 

Already annoyed by Soto’s disruptive behavior, a few days later, Fowler receives court documents that she has to appear at a hearing in The Dauphin County Court to defend her petitions. This move was filed by Shawn Rodgers of McNelly & Goldstien LLC, the high priced attorneys from Philadelphia that are representing Soto.

While Fowler knew this was a baseless challenge, the hearing moved forward by checking into Soto’s claims about her petitions. After the 8 minute kangaroo court proceedings, Judges Evans denied Soto’s challange and Carrie Fowler remained on the ballot. 

Although irritated by the unnecessary proceedings, she had a short lived celebration of her court win. Because now Fowler has again been served with court documents, this time for an appeal of the ruling that allowed her to remain on the ballot. The attorneys who deal with the appeals of election law aren’t cheap, and no lawyers will work pro bono on this type of case. It is so expensive that Fowler cannot afford her own council and is desperately seeking legal help in her wholehearted bid just to remain on the ballot. How does Soto afford such pricey lawyers?

And why so much intimidation towards another candidate for school board director? Surely he wants to spread no bad blood in the community. Soto is a typical Harrisburg citizen of the middle class, unlikely to have the personal resources to fund such pricey fees for these expensive election lawyers. Are these plans to use intimidation techniques and court challenges actually the ideas of a strategic Soto, making him the primary source of this disruption? Maybe not so much. 

Soto is admittedly part of a ‘team.’ A team of 5 candidates who are working in kahoots on their individual bids for school board director. Which is strange at best, and starting to smell fishy to the folks who are taking notice. It’s sort of hard to miss, considering Soto is plastering a photo-op of the team on his public Facebook page. And again it must be restated that Soto, along with other members of his team, are ineligible to serve for the very posts that they are running. So what gives?

  • Also, a side note about Soto is that an unnamed accuser has made specific allegations that Soto did make sexually harassing comments about her breast and weight, in a Bernie Sanders campaign office last year. The question that begs to be asked: When running as a ‘team,’ do the actions of one member speak to the character of the whole?

At another court hearing filed by First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo of Dauphin County, 2 men from the team, who are running for the four year seats, were reminded that due to their criminal convictions they are ineligibile to serve, and to remove themselves from the ballot. However, Richard Soto and Cory Williams have defied the order and remain on the ballot. 

What will happen if we have ineligible officials elected to office? Will the board have to make appointments? Who will have control over those appointments? So many questions. Could the laws be changed to accept convicted felons for serving an ‘office of trust?’

What are the intentions of this team? It really looks like a very strategic approach to influence the election, and in-turn control the school board. The question has been circulating about the leadership of the ‘team’ and their interests. We know that Gerald Welch, who is a member of the ‘team,’ assists individuals who are transitioning into mainstream society after incarceration, and that would fit in with the idea of a second chance for these candidates. (A follow up will be written about Welch and Williams profiles and roles in the ‘team.’) But is there an unspoken mentor of this group, who is pulling strings behind the scenes?

Exclusive for Harrisburg100, several undisclosed sources have named Banks as the money man behind this scheme. 

Otto Banks has a highly impressive resume. After being appointed by the White House in 2006 to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington D.C., he now has a key role in the REACH program, dedicated to ensuring parental choice in education. As the Executive Director, he oversees the administration, implementation, and completion of lobbying, marketing and legislative development campaigns. He is very pro school choice, and seems to have a keen interest in the election for Harrisburg School Board Director. 

If Banks is behind the pricey lawyers that are representing Soto and trying to take Fowler out, what are his intentions? What connection does Banks have to Fowler? As it turns out they both attended Bishop McDevitt High School at the same time. The truth is that they never had any conflicts and while they were never close enough to consider each other friends, they’ve stayed in touch through the years via Facebook and, at least to Carrie’s knowledge, have respect for each other and would consider each other cordial acquaintances. Although they both remain very interested in education and Bishop McDevitt, the paths of their lives would shift in opposite directions after high school. The targeting of Fowler appears to be absolutely politically motivated, with no personal drama involved. It is interesting the way these folks who were grads from Bishop McDevitt are now pulling strings and making power moves in the Harrisburg School District.

Perhaps Banks has his eyes set on the Bishop McDevitt building as part of his personal legacy? It has been a solid institution in the city and could soon have new future life as “Otto Banks Acedemy.” Or maybe there is some other motivating factor. Is it part of an even larger republican conspiracy?

As it would turn out, a vote that did not win the members approval, recently came before the school board directors over the fate of a proposed charter school to be located at the former Bishop McDevitt campus. Perhaps it is a location of great interest to Mr. Banks. Although it has been suggested that Banks really has no pawn in that battle. Either way, this strategy is an attempt for Soto/Banks/REACH to influence the vote on high ticket contracts, and ability to control the board. Of course, Fowler is a strong independent and very opinionated woman who would not succumb to the leverage of Banks.  

The two sides of the recent vote on a proposed charter school at the old Bishop McDevitt building are very symbolic of the current battle that is underway. On one side you have those in favor of public school, and one the other are those with a pro school choice agenda. This is just an example, but we know Fowler will not vote in favor of Charter schools, a move that would not serve the interests of Banks. 

What is the connection between Otto Banks and the ‘team’? Is he the mentor of a team designed to influence the election and eventually control the school board? Is there an end game planned for the election after being disrupted by ineligible candidates?

The first connection was noticed in a recent Facebook exchange, after Fowler posted her dismay from being served the initial court papers of Soto’s challenge. Endless commenters chimed in with their support of Fowler, and some mentioning their dissatisfaction with Soto. Although one commenter stood out in his defense of Soto.  That was Otto V. Banks. 

In the exchange, Sean M Guay posts an old article about Soto’s past convictions, and in response Banks defends Soto’s conviction as being due to a medical condition, rather than being viewed as having criminal intentions. He also posts a link to a related article

{Banks} “Sean M Guay, great article!! It’s a travesty that Mr. Soto went to prison for Opioid addiction, unlike the vast majority of Pennsylvanians who receive treatment as an alternative. I am glad that the legislature is finally viewing addiction as a sickness instead of a crime.”

{Guay} “Otto V. Banks that’s a very good point. I also found this article“How many times do I need to keep paying for the same thing over and over again? It’s not fair,” Soto said.”

{Banks}Sean M Guay, I agree with Mr. Soto’s sentiments. To my knowledge, there was only one man that was ever documented to “walk on water” and politics killed him too!”


He makes the point that nobody is perfect, but take notice to the suggestion of violence in relation to politics. Maybe Banks is the Harrisburg Illuminati. 😉

Harrisburg100 ✌🏽

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5 thoughts on “Are the Ghosts of Bishop McDevitt haunting a candidate for Harrisburg School Board?”

  1. Banks is wrong – Soto didn’t go to federal prison for “opioid addiction” he was a HEROIN DEALER and served 8 1/2 years for a felony conviction of distributing heroin. He was just released 3 years ago.
    Soto is very unprofessional .. He is not fit to hold office. Then he acts like a bully to intimidate another candidate for no real reason….
    We have to uphold the laws. There’s other ways he can try to make a difference in the community. What has he accomplished in the last 3 years?

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  2. Let me say, that you really did a disservice to your candidate (Carrie Fowler) instead of highlighting the amazing work that Social Workers perform daily. You have offered to the public a Carrie Fowler who appears to be weak, and not up for the rigors of the position for which she is trying to obtain. There is no crying in politics, primaries across the country have candidate petitions challenged, that is the process, that is politics, that is the law. Many times, over the past few weeks, many have chimed in that Mr. Soto should observe the law, I would say that Ms. Fowler, should do the same. I myself, am a Social Worker, I consistently provide services in a professional, resourceful and conscientious manner. What you have created here, is an opinion that is filled with conspiracy theories, and innuendo, pure conjecture and nothing short of pure deceptive narratives. Additionally, I am troubled by the language of marginalization, history tells us that if a White woman felt threatened, that Black men could or would be subjected to public thrashing or lynching, in the words of Clearance Thomas, “High Tech Lynching” is what I have witnessed, in many of the post where Mr. Soto has been mentioned.
    You reached out to me.
    “Hi Gerald, I’m writing an article about the school board drama. Do you have an insight or what to offer a statement about the team or the bids for office of trust by felons and perhaps an attempt to change he law or bring more attention to the cause

    If I don’t get you into this article, we can do a follow up from your point of view

    Send me the questions I will answer for you

    Ok will do later today”

    So, find I your methods as very duplicitous at the least. “We know that Gerald Welch, who is a member of the ‘team,’ assists individuals who are transitioning into mainstream society after incarceration, and that would fit in with the idea of a second chance for these candidates.” So, we are clear about who I am. I hold a Master’s degree in Social Work for Fordham University, currently working on my second Master’s Degree, in Christian Spirituality. I am a father, and grandfather. I regularly attend services and I am a member of Saint Paul Missionary Baptist Church, (where I met Mr. Soto) where I am active in community service, and the administrator of the scholarship fund, and to this date has given away thousands of dollars to students and adults all over the region. My work with Returning Citizens is critical to the health and wealth of the community, it is imperative that our men and women become stake holders and have access to the franchise. Also, I work with intellectually motivated individuals who often find themselves on the fringes of society. There are many things to know about Gerald, but you wouldn’t know that because you did not send the questions, but you chose to insert rumor and innuendo.

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  3. Mr. Welch,

    I truly have the greatest respect for you and your commitment to our community. That is why it is so puzzling that you are choosing to attack me based on my perceived strength, my gender, and my race. These tactics of intimidation are beneath you as a respected profession man. Further, I’m puzzled as to why you’ve aligned yourself with individuals that are exploiting a school system that is fraught with challenges and in desperate need of help and hope to make a selfish personal grandstand to challenge a Supreme Court decision regarding people with felony charges serving public office.

    Please don’t misinterpret me, the issues of records creating 2nd class citizens is a worthy debate and an issue worthy of challenging… but not on the backs of a broken school system. It is exploitative, selfish, grandiose, and frankly indicative of individuals that are not running for elected position out of love, commitment, and a desire to do good for our schools, but of politically minded power plays that distract from the dialog we should and MUST have to save our schools. Let’s take the debate about felony records preventing citizens from running for elected office out of the electoral system for School Board and into the legislative system where it belongs. Let’s change the dialogue to our schools and bringing the best and brightest minds and ideas possible to make the biggest difference and provide the BEST for our children. Every single sentence speaking about anything other than that is nothing more than a distraction.

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    1. I would say that you have been misrepresented by the writer not by me “Let me say, that you, (Sean Guay) really did a disservice to your candidate (Carrie Fowler) instead of highlighting the amazing work that Social Workers perform daily. You have offered to the public a Carrie Fowler who appears to be weak, and not up for the rigors of the position for which she is trying to obtain. There is no crying in politics, primaries across the country have candidate petitions challenged, that is the process, that is politics, that is the law. Many times, over the past few weeks, many have chimed in that Mr. Soto should observe the law, I would say that Ms. Fowler, should do the same.” Let the merits speak for themselves, if you are righteous, you will prevail. I don’t believe I have misrepresented you. I will say that the language is pretty, sensitive, but merely to point out how language can change the dynamics of a conversation. To use an extreme example, what if, no one challenged the law, we would not have the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment. Mrs. Fowler I don’t have aught with you, I wish you well, I still believe that you don’t need this guy to speak for you. You’re a Social Worker, you don’t need to be defended, when you are a defender!
      Be blessed
      GW

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  4. The public would be well served if the Patriot-News/Pennlive would make available the original article that was published about Mr. Soto when he was arrested. The arrest and the circumstances surrounding the arrest, were of great interest to the community due to his position at the time. I looked, and apparently others have also, without success.
    Perhaps Mr. Guay could find the details that are missing regarding Mr. Soto’s arrest for heroin dealing, and share them with the community before we decide whether or not the candidate should be seriously considered for the HSB.

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