John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Good Government

We need an open and honest government that works for the good of everyone in the Newtown Township community.  As a Supervisor, I will work hard to develop and implement more effective print and digital media communications that will inform and engage residents and businesses regarding issues before the Board of Supervisors (BOS).

But all this is worthless if the information is not transparent, complete and easy to use. Minutes of BOS public meetings, for example, must provide sufficient information so that residents who can not attend meetings can understand the issues discussed, see the questions posed by the Board and by the public, and be informed of the decisions and voting record of the Supervisors.

Also, minutes should be searchable. Before I was elected Supervisor, BOS meeting minutes PDF files were NOT searchable. At the January 2, 2018, BOS meeting I explained the benefits of searchable minutes: (1) it makes it easy to find specific topics, comments, and how Supervisors voted on issues when reading the minutes, and (2) it is possible to search for PDF files of minutes by keyword on your computer without having to open each document first. At the very next BOS meeting, Township Manager Kurt Ferguson announced that all minutes going back to the beginning of 2016 are now searchable PDF files!

Excerpts from Board of Supervisors Meeting Minutes

Details of important Good Government related Newtown Board of Supervisors' decisions and discussions in last few years (organized by issue in reverse chronological order). This is NOT a complete list of items. You can find complete minutes of BOS meetings here.

Code of Conduct Guidelines

13-Dec-2017: Mr. Gallagher will also prepare procedural rules and conduct guidelines for Supervisors that would be adopted each January. The Board changes often and this would help maintain the continuity of procedures and rituals.

27-Dec-2017: Mr. Gallagher ... presented a proposal of Ethics, Rules of Procedure, and Standards of Conduct for Newtown Township Board of Supervisors. The Standards would help new supervisors with a foundation to maintain the continuity of procedures and rituals. Mr. Gallagher made a motion to approve the Ethics, Rules of Procedure, and Standards of Conduct for Newtown Township Board of Supervisors. Motion Discussion: Resident John Mack, Supervisor-elect, was concerned about the contents of the document. Mr. Gallagher read a few of the standards for Mr. Mack for examples. [Find the complete Guidelines here.] Copies of the document would be shared with incoming Supervisors to review and make any proposed changes.

Hiring Township Professionals

10-Jan-2018: Resident Mike Gallagher, Newtown, commented that he was told there would be no public comment after each motion at the re‐organization meeting on January 2, 2018. Public comment was done at every motion during the 2017 reorganization meeting. There was no public announcement for interviewing professional staff. He then investigated the campaign finance reports and the amounts that were donated and believes there are conflicts. Mr. Gallagher requested the Board to reconsider open and public interviews with multiple professional firms and to reconsider the Board’s appointments.

Minutes of BOS Meetings

10-Jan-2018: Mr. Mack favorably acknowledged that the minutes are now searchable PDF files and explained how searching to find a particular subject can be done quickly.

28-Mar-2018: 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.

National Sunshine Week

14-Mar-2018: Mr. Mack stated that it was National Sunshine Week regarding the Sunshine Act and the right to know about public document access. He held an online quiz regarding this topic and with 55 people responding, the average score was 50% (see more results here). An example question asked if you could record a public meeting with your cell phone. The answer was that you have the right to record the meeting with your cell. Some public meetings that are not televised can also be recorded (i.e. a zoning board hearing). The Right-To-Know Law allows a person to receive a transcript or recording of a meeting within five days of the request. Requests can be made using a form available on the Township website and submitted to Mr. Lewis, Open Records Officer.

Social Media Guidelines

28-Mar-2018: 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. [John Mack put together a resource folder on his Google Drive of resources related to social media and online ethics that may be useful for Newtown when creating SM GLs. Included are sample guidelines from other municipalities as well as from pharma companies which may be relevant. Also, I included a partial list of books, articles, blog posts, and presentations that I published that discuss issues relevant to developing social media guidelines and online ethical principles. Although these references are focused on the healthcare industry, the principles and issues discussed are relevant for all industry sectors as well as governmental agencies.]

Technology Committee

28-Mar-2018: Report by 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.

28-Mar-2018: The Technology Committee resolution was updated to reflect one year term [also revising its mission]. 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.

28-Feb-2018: Mr. Mack, Technology Committee liaison, reported that three new members joined the group. He suggested not to cancel meetings if there wasn’t a quorum adding that topics could still be discussed. Minutes would be available for absent members to review in order to stay upto-date. Mr. Mack would like to modify the mission ordinance of the Technology Committee to add using technology to communicate to residents. The Committee consists of 9 members for a quorum of 5. The Board will need to give priorities to the Committee. Mr. Calabro suggested that this be discussed at the March 19, 2018 BOS work session. Five topics will be decided for the Committee to review.

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