John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Newtown Artesian Water Company's Response to Cyanide Dumping Issue

As you may know, it was recently reported in Newtown Patch (February 14, 2018) and other local news outlets that a Merck chemist allegedly stole potassium cyanide – a highly toxic chemical – and dumped it down a public stormwater inlet in the area of County Line and Street roads, between Easton Road and Second Street Pike. Depending on where the chemical was allegedly dumped, it would've been discharged to either Neshaminy Creek or Pennypack Creek, police said. This happened in December, 2017. Read more about it here.

Many people have commented online that authorities should have warned them sooner. "So if this happened on December 15 why are we just now hearing about this?," said one commentator.

I spoke to Daniel Angove, Assistant General Manager at the Newtown Artesian Water Company, who assured me that this was never a threat to Newtown’s water supply because the company purchases water north (upstream) from where the chemical was dumped

“There never was concern about our water,” said Angove, “and if there was, our customers would be the first ones to know.”

He went on to explain that the company has a reverse 911 system for immediate threats. This would place a call to everyone who has their information in the system. If it were a less serious, localized problem, the company would hang information on doors in the affected neighborhoods as well as use news outlets and social media to notify people. “People would know and they wouldn’t have to wait and learn about it in Newtown Patch” weeks afterward, said Mr. Angove.

I'm not sure what "social media" Angove is talking about. There are no social media links on the company's website and very few posts - none recent - on its Facebook page.

Mr. Angrove told me that he was willing to come before the Newtown Board of Supervisors on an annual basis to give a status on the water system. Recall that upon the request of the Newtown Board of Supervisors, Mr. Angove reported on the quality of water and concerns of carcinogens based on a newspaper article published in the August 4, 2017, issue of the Bucks County Courier Times. Mr. Angove discounted an independent study that found 7 carcinogens - including chromium-6 that was featured in the movie "Erin Brockovich" - in Newtown's water. Read more about that here.

Posted on 15 Feb 2018, 15:47 - Category: Environment

January 2018 Police Report

In January 2018, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1330 calls, 220 (17%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown). See Chief Pasqualini's report below, which was presented at the February 14, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting.

I asked the Chief to include a separate list of the calls specifically for Wrightstown so that Supervisors can get a more accurate account of the calls in each town.

The 1 "Terrorist Threat" was a call in Wrightstown, which also accounted for 8 out of the 21 (38%) of calls related to "Struck Deer," which is not surprising.

Posted on 15 Feb 2018, 15:10 - Category: Crime

Be on Look Out for the Spotted Lanternfly!

As reported in the Q1 2018 issue of Townships Today newsletter:

Here we go again. First, it was the emerald ash borer that marched relentlessly from west to east across the commonwealth, leaving a trail of decimated ash trees in its wake. Now, the spotted lanternfly is threatening to spread from southeastern Pennsylvania and could wreak even more havoc than the ash borer.

According to the state Department of Agriculture, the pest poses a signicant threat to the grape, apple, and stone fruit industries, worth nearly $175 million, as well as the state’s $12 billion hardwood industry.

Consequently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the state nearly $3 million last summer to fund control efforts and public outreach. With 13 southeastern counties under quarantine, state legislators have requested an additional $20 to $40 million in federal funding to combat the insect.

[Note: The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in February, 2018, it is awarding $17.5 million to try and stop the spread of the invasive spotted lanternfly in southeast Pennsylvania. See the story here:]

Municipalities in the quarantined counties have been asked to alert residents and post signs and information about how to recognize the spotted lanternfly. The goal is to minimize the risk of the insect leaving the quarantined area.

Given that insects don’t recognize quarantines, it is a good idea to get educated about this invasive species and watch for its arrival in your community.

Note: At the October 16, 2017, Budget Presentation before the BOS, Township Manager Kurt Ferguson, estimated that between 800 and 1,000 ash trees in the Clark Nature Center have been killed by the ash borer. These dead trees are a hazard to hikers and therefore the Township closed the hiking trails in the park.

“Quite honestly,” said Ferguson, “we probably need a million dollars to take the trees down.” Meanwhile, the budget allows for only $15,000 per year. Some trees near activities have been taken down for safety reasons. But in the end the trees have to be removed not just taken down if this is going to be a useable beautiful space. Ferguson promised to come back with a long term strategy to deal with the situation.

Posted on 14 Feb 2018, 16:49 - Category: Environment

Soul Food at the Newtown Macedonia Baptist Church

Read John M.'s review of Macedonia Baptist Church on Yelp

Posted on 10 Feb 2018, 16:56 - Category: Newtown

Yardley Borough Votes to Advertise Local Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

At the February 6, 2018, Yardley Borough Council meeting, members unanimously (7-0) agreed to advertise a new Anti-Discrimination Ordinance. A final vote to adopt the ordinance will me made sometime in early March, 2018, at which time residents and businesses can submit comments prior to the vote. New Councilman David Bria introduced the ordinance.

The primary purpose of the ordinance is “to foster the employment of all individuals in accordance with their fullest capacities regardless of actual or perceived race, color, sex, religion, ancestry, genetic information, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, marital status, age, veteran status, mental or physical disability, use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids, and to safeguard their right to obtain and hold employment without such discrimination, to assure equal opportunities to all individuals and to safeguard their rights to public accommodation and to secure housing accommodation and commercial property.”

“The idea out there is that if the discrimination is related at all to the way someone identifies their sexual identity or gender identity, they would be protected,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how they identify but if it’s related to how ... we want to cast a broad net so there aren’t loopholes with this label or that label.”

Unlawful Acts under the ordinance includes:

  • Discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations or access to educational institutions is prohibited under this subpart.
  • Retaliation against any individual because such individual has opposed any practice forbidden by this [ordinance], or because such individual has made a charge, testified or assisted in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing under this [ordinance].

It is not unlawful, however, for a religious corporation or association, “not supported in whole or in part by governmental appropriations, to refuse to hire or employ an individual on the basis of religion.”

Bria noted that there are no state or federal laws that already protect LGBTQ – “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer” - citizens. Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act currently prohibits discrimination in housing and employment, but does not include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected categories. People who self-identify in these categories are not protected under federal laws like the Civil Rights Act either.

The proposed ordinance also prohibits “conversion therapy” of minors. Such therapy seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression, and includes efforts to change behaviors and eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender. The worst cases, according to Bria, are where young people are forced to stay in inpatient facilities and undergo shock therapy.

The proposed ordinance establishes a Human Relations Commission, which is charged with handling complaints and convening a “fact-finding” non-public conference concerning the dispute. If there is no resolution to the conflict, the Commission will convene a public hearing and may take additional action and remedies permitted under the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act.

Dave Bria Talks About Anti-discrimination Ordinances

In this podcast interview Bria discusses some of the reasons why he feels it is important for local Bucks County municipalities like Yardley Borough to enact anti discrimination laws.

Posted on 07 Feb 2018, 14:38 - Category: Ordinances

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