John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Some Bucks Towns Opt for Volunteer Stipends

Act 172 of 2016 allows municipalities to offer tax exemptions to emergency volunteers and some Bucks County towns are passing resolutions offering a stipend to fire and ambulance companies (see Courier Times article below). Newtown is not among the towns mentioned in the article. Recently Evan Resnikoff, Chief of Operations of the Newtown Ambulance Squad requested a 0.5 mill tax increase (read "Newtown Ambulance Squad Seeks Additional Funding").

 

Posted on 22 Oct 2017, 01:28 - Category: First Responders



Every Vote Counts!

[Excerpted from a speech I made on Sept 29, 2017, at a "Get Out the Vote" rally outside Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick’s Langhorne office.]

As a member of the Country Bend Homeowners’ Association Board I have been very effective in implementing much needed improvements that have enhanced the quality of life of residents. From that experience, I’ve learned that you cannot implement change alone – you must get the community involved. One way of doing that is by better communication and volunteerism.

That is why I am here today – to communicate to you the need to get more involved in local elections by volunteering. Many of you here are already doing that. Thank you! If not, let me introduce you to Joe, the Field Organizer for Lower Bucks County Democrats, which means he coordinates the efforts of volunteers who wish to help with canvassing, phones call, or whatever else is needed to win.

As Joe will attest, Democrats cannot wait until the 2018 and 2020 elections to build the grassroots infrastructure needed to secure victory; they must build now during the 2017 elections. This includes investing in local and county races, as theory and research suggests that higher voter turnout during local elections leads to higher voter turnout in the following mid-term or presidential election (read "The Importance to Democrats of Getting Out the Vote in 2017").

Here's a video of the rally, which, in addition to my speech, includes a song by Lynda Mintz and a speech by David Bria, Democratic candidate for Yardley Borough Council.

Posted on 21 Oct 2017, 01:07 - Category: Voting



Newtown Ambulance Squad Seeks Additional Funding

Asks for Return to EMS Millage

Evan Resnikoff, Chief of Operations, Newtown Ambulance Squad, presented the Squad’s Annual Report at the October 11, 2017 Newtown Township Board of Supervisors meeting.

Resnikoff compared funding of the Newtown Squad to funding of neighboring municipality ambulance squads. Lower Makefield Township, for example, provides $248,000 in annual funding for its ambulance squad, which averages 1500 calls per year compared to an estimated 2600 for Newtown’s Squad. Currently, the Newtown squad receives 25% of Local Services Taxes, which for 2017 is estimated to be $490,000 – the squad would receive about $123,000 of that.

About 90% of the squad’s revenue comes from fee for services (see Figure 1, below). Resnikoff reported that the Squad has $74,000 in collectibles for the period of January through August, 2017, due to the fact that patients are not turning over checks they receive from insurance companies. In general, the squad collects only about 60 cents of every dollar billed.

Figure 1. 2016 Revenue Sources for Newtown Ambulance Squad

When Resnikoff revealed that the response to opioid calls was up 58% in the first 8 months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, the audience let out an audible gasp! This adds a significant cost to the healthcare system including EMS because greater than 80% of these patients have no insurance and cannot pay the fees.

Resnikoff said the Squad’s Paramedics on average earn $3.75 per hour below market rate for Bucks County and EMTs average $4.00 per hour below market rate. These first responders have not been given base hourly rate raises since December 2015. These hourly wage levels have made it challenging to recruit for open positions, resulting in more overtime hours to fill open shifts.

Resnikoff suggested “going back to the EMS millage” instead of a percentage of the Local Services tax, which varies from year to year. The maximum allowable would be 0.5 mill. That would generate about $172,000 of funding for the squad in 2018.

Posted on 19 Oct 2017, 12:27 - Category: First Responders



Find Me on the Official Ballot

When you vote on November 7, 2017, find my name on the ballot - it's button #15A!

 

Posted on 19 Oct 2017, 12:19 - Category: Voting



Protecting Your Online Privacy is an Important Local Issue!

[This post was updated on 10/17/17.]

Lower Makefield Township Supervisor John B. Lewis has proposed an ordinance to protect the online privacy of Lower Makefield residents and suggests that other townships do the same. See his Opinion piece - “Protecting your online privacy: an important local issue” – published in today’s Bucks Courier Times.

Specifically, Lewis is concerned about the provisions of a new federal law signed by president Trump that makes it “legal and lucrative for your Internet Service Provider (ISP; i.e., Verizon FIOS, Xfinity, etc.) to sell your browsing history, app usage and personally-identifiable information without your ability to opt-out or know what is being shared with a third party.”

Lewis’s proposed ordinance, which you can find here, states:

Township Supervisors have determined that the sharing of personally identifiable information such as web browsing, application usage, and the extent of viewing of video programs with third parties can have negative, unforeseen consequences on residents and residents should have the right to opt-out of third party information sharing to protect their  privacy and maintain the general welfare of residents of Lower Makefield Township.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit ISPs from collecting personally identifiable information without prior authorization form the customer. Additionally, it states that customers have the right to opt-out of the disclosure of personally identifiable information and that these rights should be communicated to customers via privacy notices.

John Lewis is not just a Supervisor. He is an interactive marketing authority and strategist for one of the largest customer lifecycle marketing providers. His strategic advice helps companies integrate digital messaging, empowering marketers to manage conversations across email, mobile and social channels to acquire, grow and retain customers.

Supervisor Amy Strouse from Middletown has indicated she will be introducing a similar ordinance and other municipalities are considering action as well. So far, I have not heard any mention of this issue at Newtown Board of Supervisors meetings.

In my professional career, I have taken a leadership position in the online health information quality and privacy arena as the co-founder and past president of the Internet Healthcare Coalition, a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)3 corporation whose mission was to provide educational programs, research, and other resources for improving the quality of health information and privacy on the Internet.

Therefore, I am in favor of Newtown Township adopting a privacy ordinance similar to the one proposed by Mr. Lewis for Lower Makefield. Such an ordinance is permitted under federal law (Section 632 of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992).

What do you think? Should Newtown introduce a similar ordinance?

UPDATE 20 August 2017: At the April 26, 2017, Board of Supervisors meeting, Newtown Township Manager, Kurt Ferguson, pointed out that Newtown collects about $516,000 in franchise fees from Verizon and Comcast. Every decade Newtown and other local municipalities must negotiate franchise contracts with the cable companies. The township is currently in negotiation with Verizon.  

UPDATE 17 October 2017: Comcast and Verizon fight proposed privacy ordinances. See Bucks County Courier Times article below,

UPDATE 18 October 2017: Falls Approves Online Privacy Laws for ISPs. See Bucks County Courier Times article below,


Posted on 19 Oct 2017, 01:11 - Category: Privacy



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