John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Summary of April 11, 2018 BOS Meeting

You May not have the time to download and read the entire minutes from the biweekly meetings of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS), or the approved minutes may not yet be available on the Township website (here), so I created this summary from the April 11, 2018, meeting. I also included some links to related information including video clips from meetings. I'll do the same for future meetings. This is not a complete list of items discussed.

Public Health

Medical Marijuana: The Planning Commission also began preliminary discussions of three ordinances, of which was Medical Marijuana Uses in the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance. A map overlay showing existing school locations was made available but there has been no determined definition or type of schools to be identified. The statute presented does not define a school. There was discussion on whether it is necessary for each municipality in the Jointure to maintain an inventory of accurate locations of existing schools so if there is an applicant (dispensary), they would have to comply with being located 1,000 ft. from the property line of a school. Presently, the JMZO only indicates it being available in one zoning classification which would be in Upper Makefield.

[Allen Fidler, Chair of Newtown Township's Planning Commission, summarized the Commission's preliminary questions regarding the proposed amendment to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO) for new Medical Marijuana uses. Specifically, the Commission wanted to know what is defined as a "school" in the law. Fidler noted that Jerry Schenkman of the Law Offices of Sean Kilkenny, advised the Commission that the state law does not define "school." Listen to his comments in this video clip:




Push Out the Pusher: [Police] Chief Pasqualini mentioned the Bucks County Crime Stoppers program "Push Out The Pusher" signs. District Attorney Matt Weintraub and Chief endorse this program that encourages the public to get involved with this campaign. If you call the drug tip hotline at 215-345-3784 with information on a drug dealer and that information leads to the arrest and conviction of a drug dealer, that tip will lead to an award of up to $5,000.00. Text the word BUCKSDRUGTIPS and your tip to TIP411 (847411), or email drugtips@co.bucks.pa.us. Yards signs are available at www.buckscrimestoppers.org/take-action. Mr. Mack commented that the County raised taxes primarily to fund this program and he asked how many signs were distributed in Newtown. Signs were just starting to be distributed; signs would be available in the future, or can be ordered on the Bucks Crime Stoppers website.

Traffic

Mill Pond Road: Regarding a resident's complaint of parking along Mill Pond Road and requesting the road become a non-parking street, Mr. Ferguson suggested the Board to discuss the matter at the April 16, 2018 Work Session. Staff and the Police Department could develop a list of criteria as a guide for Township-wide thresholds to determine if limiting or eliminating parking is appropriate. Mr. Ferguson also stated, for example, that a Ford F150 pickup truck with landscaping company information on the side of the truck is not a commercial vehicle; it is a vehicle for commercial use.

Posted on 28 Apr 2018, 01:09 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



How Effective is the "Push Out the Pusher" Program?

Nearly a year after the “Push out Pusher” campaign started, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub says he is seeing results. He says the initiative has already led to several arrests, but he also said: “I can't get into details because most of those cases are still pending but we are pleased with the results.”

Push Out the Pusher signs available at the Newtown Police Dept

I got the same response from Newtown Chief Henry Pasqualini at the April 11, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting (watch the 6-minute video clip below).

A critical part of the program is the six-detective “task force” that District Attorney Matt Weintraub hired to “root out” the pushers at a yearly cost of $885,400 (see here). What’s the Return on this investment?

While I am appreciative of all that Bucks County is doing to help fight the opioid epidemic, I think creating a 6-person drug task force at a cost of nearly a million dollars per year is a tactic that has been used before - i.e., the “war on drugs” - which has proven to be a failure. Meanwhile Bucks County residents are going to be stuck with the taxes to pay for this no matter the outcome of those cases (op cit).

Another concern I have is how this program jibes with Chief Pasqualini’s policy to help victims of addiction rather than arrest them. As the Chief explained in his comments to the BOS, “make not mistake, there are people out there that are peddling these drugs that are not actually users and this program focuses on them.”

Even so, I am concerned that some people may falsely believe that someone suffering from addiction is also a “pusher” and will call the number on the sign. Enter the special task force detectives who might coerce the victim to work as an informer – under threat of arrest for illegal use of drugs - to “root out” the so-called “pusher.” I know such tactics are often used as has been well-documented.

However, as the Chief also explained, the program makes people more aware of the problem, which is a good thing.

The biggest “pushers” of all, however, are the drug companies that have engaged in illegal marketing of opioids. Bucks County Commissioners obviously agree as they recently approved the hiring of a New York City-based law firm to file a civil claim against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid drugs (see here).

Further Reading:

Posted on 19 Apr 2018, 13:25 - Category: Opioid Epidemic



Democratic Candidates for U.S. Congress District 1 to Speak on Opioid Epidemic

Steve Bacher, Rachel Reddick, and Scott Wallace - Democratic Candidates for U.S. Congress District 1 - will speak on the Opioid Epidemic, Access to Healthcare, Recovery Support & Housing, Medicaid, Criminal Justice Reform and answer your questions.

I have a couple of questions for them:

  1. Do you think Medical Marijuana (MMJ) has a role in combatting opioid addiction?

  2. Do you agree with the school zone restriction of the PA MMJ Law, which prohibits MMJ dispensaries from being located with 1,000 feet of the property line of a public, private or parochial school or a day-care center”?

What do you think?

Here's some more information pertaining to those two questions plus an online survey

After completing the survey, you can see a summary of results to date. No identifying information is collected via this survey unless you provide such information within your comments.THIS SURVEY IS NOT AN OFFICIAL SURVEY OF NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP OR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY. Results of the survey, however, may be used by Supervisor John Mack to help form his opinion and make reports to the Newtown Board of Supervisors.

Posted on 16 Apr 2018, 01:34 - Category: Opioid Epidemic



Summary of March 28, 2018 BOS Meeting

You May not have the time to download and read the entire minutes from the biweekly meetings of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS), or the approved minutes may not yet be available on the Township website (here), so I created this summary from the March 28, 2018, meeting. I also included some links to related information including video clips from meetings. I'll do the same for future meetings. This is not a complete list of items discussed.

Committees

Finance Committee: Resolution 2018-R-12 passed 5-0: The Finance Committee is created to serve as an advisory committee to the Supervisors with a dual emphasis on budget analysis and revenue generating opportunities or any tasks or responsibilities as assigned by the Board of Supervisors, and to advise on economic development. Members of the Finance Committee with terms ending December 31, 2018 are: Mark Boada, Stuart Caplan, Richard Weaver, Hank Schrandt, Margaret Dissinger, Jack Brod and George Skladany

Technology Committee: Mr. Mack, Technology Committee Liaison. The Committee met last night and re-appointed the chairperson and co-chairperson. There was discussion about how to better communicate with the Board and vice versa. Mr. Mack informed the Committee that the Board would like to hear suggestions and suggested that the chairperson make a report to the Board at a work session or Supervisors meeting. Mr. Calabro suggested the Committee report at a televised meeting as is done with other committees. Mr. Mack made a motion to approve Resolution 2018-R-11 establishing the Newtown Township Technology Committee and setting forth its mission, structure and composition. The motion passed 5-0.

Finance Committee: Resolution 2018-R-13: passed 5-0: Committee members will have a one year term ending 2018. Mr. Ferguson stated he would be able to approve funding to a certain amount but if the Committee would create an action plan and specific projects/events, that it could be a line item in the 2019 budget Members of the Veterans Committee with terms ending December 31, 2018 are: Jay Schnitzer, Ed Valenti, Rhett Baxter, Jim Casey, Charles Resch, Jim Gieseke and John D'Aprile.

Environment

Gas & Oil Drilling/Fracking: The Township received a sample resolution [from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network] opposing fracking detailing facts and figures from scientific studies regarding the adverse impact of fracking. Mr. Mack commented that during the March 19th Work Session, the issue of the massive amount of trucks was mentioned that would be coming through if there was fracking done north of Newtown. It would be detrimental to the road infrastructure and the well-being of the community. Mr. Calabro called the vote. The motion passed 4-1, Mr. Davis voting nay. [Read "Newtown Township Supports a Complete & Permanent Ban on Fracking and Related Activities"]

Comments made at the meeting by Sharon Furlong, Lower Southampton Township resident, is a spokesperson for the Bucks Environmental Action Group and Bucks County Sierra Club.

Good Government

Minutes of BOS meetings: Mr. Mack made a note that minutes are accessible to the public once they are approved. However, there is a delay on posting them on the website until Board member signatures are acquired or corrections need to be made. Mr. Ferguson said if there are no changes, the minutes can be signed and posted the following day. If corrections need to be made, the Township administrative assistant will post a temporary copy of the minutes which would then be replaced with the corrected copy.

Social Media Guidelines: Mr. Sander spoke on a proposed social media policy for the Township. He recommended that the Board authorize his office to draft a policy to bind all non-union employees and elected officials. The policy would be used as a negotiation point in 2018 union negotiations with CWA non-uniform and CWA fire, and police. Motion Discussion: Mr. Mack asked for an estimate of the cost and that it wouldn't infringe on a person's 1st Amendment rights. Mr. Sander replied that the policy would include reference to the 1st Amendment, and that the policy would take approximately 3 hours to draft. The motion passed 5-0. [See John Mack's Social Media and Online Ethics Resource Kit.]

Parks and Recreation

Trails: In regards to a DCNR grant, the Bucks County Planning Commission has asked the municipalities for their support in a recreational trail connecting Newtown Borough to Washington Crossing and Yardley Borough. The feasibility study assists the BCPC to seek grants. The motion passed 5-0.

Public Health

Opioid Crisis: Mr. Mack attended an Addiction and Opioid Awareness education event hosted by the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission at St. Andrews School. Attendees were trained on and were given Narcan and received two doses of Narcan as a handout. There was also a "medicine locker" for prescription drugs that can be used to keep children away from the drugs. There is a National Drug Takeback Day on April 28, 2018 from 10AM to 2PM at the Newtown Municipal Building and at the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC) which will also hold an informative drug symposium from Noon to 4PM. [Read "Report from the Together We Can Convention"]

Public Works

Roadway Improvement: W. Jeffrey Nagorny, Township Engineer, stated that the road program was re-bid last week. There will be a pre-bid meeting on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 and the opening of bids will be done on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 10AM. [Read "Faulty Bids Cause Delay in 2018 Road Improvement Program"]

Traffic

Frost Lane: The traffic results have been about 10 MPH over the limit in the school zone. Speed enforcement will be done within the school zone and other areas soon. A blinking speed limit sign will be installed. This has been successful in having drivers reduce their speed. The speed signs around the school seem to be sufficient and some will be replaced this summer. Mr. Mack commented that Mr. Ferguson's report was very well done and that residents of Frost Lane appreciated the information that was shared. [Read "Frost Lane Traffic Study"]

Posted on 12 Apr 2018, 11:55 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



April 9-13, 2018 is "Local Government Week"

APRIL 9-13 IS LOCAL GOVERNMENT WEEK— an entire week dedicated to commending the hard work that local officials - including Supervisors, Township Management personnel, and Township employees - put into our township. Local Government Week honors the dedication of Pennsylvania’s local officials and encourages citizens to learn how local government functions and affects each resident and business in the community.

During this week, the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services has made a tradition of hosting a Local Government Day celebration, featuring the presentation of the Governor's Awards for Local Government Excellence to recognize local officials for their successes in undertaking innovative initiatives to improve the quality of life in their communities.

There are an array of services that local governments provide to residents they may not be aware of. See the infographic below prepared by the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS):

 

 

Posted on 10 Apr 2018, 01:09 - Category: Governance



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