Monday, January 03, 2011

"The group is hanging its admittedly slim hopes on a court challenge that West Chester Attorney Samuel Stretton said he would file within a week."

The Friends of the Barnes fight on:

"Stretton said he will ask that the original case be reopened, arguing that then-State Attorney General and now-Federal Judge Michael Fisher was too supportive of the coalition of individuals and groups that pressed for the Barnes to be moved to Philadelphia.

"As Attorney General, it was Fisher's job to represent the interests of the state's citizens, not one side or the other in the dispute, Stretton said.

"Stretton said he questioned Fisher's actions after seeing him interviewed in the 2009 documentary, The Art of the Steal, which offered a critical view of the machinations that ultimately led to the planned move of the Barnes.

"It is not the first time the Attorney General's role in the case has been challenged.

"In 2004, Montgomery County Orphans' Court Judge Stanley Ott issued a blistering critique of the Attorney General's position, making same point as Stretton.

"In response to Ott's criticism, Sean Connolly, spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, agreed that 'the attorney general represents the public, not one side or another in charitable matters.'

"'In this case,' he said, 'we supported the petition because, in our view, it was in the best interest of the public.'

"Despite his unhappiness with the Attorney General's office, Ott ultimately approved the plan to move the Barnes, which would not seem to bode well for Stretton's attempt to raise the issue now.

"In his ruling, Ott acknowledged that Barnes' will stipulated that his collection never be moved, but determined nonetheless that the Barnes Foundation was in financial trouble and the move to Philadelphia was in the best interest of the collection."