John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Savvy Citizen Presentation

About 87% of respondents to my online survey (N=151) said they would opt-in to a notification service such as Savvy Citizen as long as it was free to them (7% say “No,” 6% “Not sure”). The survey also collected 84 comments from respondents about the types of messages they would like to receive and if they preferred to receive notices via cell phone app, text message, or via email. 

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors asked representatives of Savvy Citizen to make a presentation before the Board at the September 16, 2019, Work Session and answer questions. Unfortunately, videos of Work Sessions are not available. However, I made an audio recording of the presentation and present some highlights of the presentation - with audio - below. [Also see video at the end of this post.]

You can download the complete presentation PDF here.

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Posted on 17 Sep 2019, 13:29 - Category: Communication

August 2019 Newtown Township Police Report: Traffic Citations Down, One Life Saved By Narcan

Newtown Township Police Lieutenant Jason Harris presented the Calls Report for August 2019 at the September 11, 2019, Board of Supervisors meeting. The following is a summary. Note: Not all calls are listed. See the full (redacted) report embedded at the end of this post or download the PDF version here.

In August, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,617 total calls, 336 (21%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown).

Traffic Citations Down for Month Of August

The 3rd wave of the 2019 "Aggressive Driver Campaign" is over! The Newtown Police Department issued a total of 158 traffic citations in August 2019 compared to 244 in July - a 35% drop. 55 (35%) of these were for speeding compared to 115 (47%) in July.

Traffic Citations in Newtown and Wrightstown Issued by the Newtown Police Department for the period January through August, 2019.
Speeding Citations Along Various Roads Issued by the
Newtown Police Department for the period January through August, 2019.
Certificate of Appreciation from the Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission



Today, at the Police Chiefs’ Association of Bucks County meeting, four local Police Chiefs Clark (Northampton Township Police Department), Hearn (Newtown Township), Schmidt (Upper Makefield Township Police Department), Sabath (Newtown Borough Police Department) received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission, Inc. for years of participating in the bi-annual medication collection take back days and ongoing collections throughout the year. ✅Please keep in mind that our drug disposal drop box is available in our police lobby and it is accessible Mon-Fri from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you are not able to make it during our normal business hours you can call the non-emergency phone number 215-579-1000 or 215-598-7121 and special arrangements can be made to accommodate you 24/7. ✅Our National Drug take back initiative will also be held on Saturday, October 26th, 2019 between the hours of 10am - 2pm in our Township Administration building. ✅We encourage our residents to take advantage of these services by safely disposing of expired and unused prescriptions in order to make our communities safer and our environment better.

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Full (redacted) Report

Posted on 13 Sep 2019, 01:40 - Category: Crime

Summary of Aug 14, 2019, Newtown Township BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the August 14, 2019, 2019, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack and members Kyle Davis and Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale and Township Solicitor David Sander.

Good Communications/Good Government

Savvy Citizen Presentation: Mr. Mack confirmed that the Savvy Citizen representative will be attending the September 16 work session.

At the Last Board meeting it was proposed that a Savvy Citizen representative be invited to attend a future work session. Recall that Savvy Citizen offers a mobile phone based notification system that can inform citizens of meetings, public service notices, Parks and Rec programs, road closures, emergencies, etc. Soon after that meeting, I notified Mr. Lewis that Jeralyn Brown, senior account manager at MSA, the company that is responsible for Savvy Citizen, confirmed that she can attend the Sept 16 Work Session and answer questions.


Villas of Newtown: Resident and president of the Villas of Newtown (VON) HOA, William Posner, addressed the Board on behalf of the VON community. He expressed concern that the motion to draw down financial security being held by the Township for completion of community improvements was removed from the agenda. Mr. Posner said he sent a position paper to the Township and received a response that work on site had commenced and therefore the item was removed until further details could be obtained. Mr. Posner then reviewed the recent history of the situation including interactions with the builder and relayed his concern that the work will not get done. He submitted signatures of approximately 90 residents supporting moving forward and asking for assistance to bring this matter to conclusion.

Mr. Davis acknowledged the issues VON residents have had and assured that the BOS will follow through according to the guidelines. Mr. Calabro added that the BOS wants to see this completed and pressure on the builder will continue and if necessary legal action will be taken in the proper stages.


Native Plant Resolution: George Skladany from the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) presented a resolution to support the increased use of native plants in the Township in order to benefit the community as a whole and improve the quality of life. He thanked the BOS for their support of EAC activities including this one and the pop-up garden in conjunction with the Audubon Society.

Mr. Mack questioned where residents might obtain a definition and list of acceptable native plants. Mr. Skladnay explained there were many lists and definitions as well as differing opinions on this topic and advised having some leeway could be beneficial. Mr. Mack agreed to accept the ambiguity and move forward. Mr. Fisher added that the EAC was discussing updating the SALDO and after some conversation around this subject it was determined the EAC will continue to work on providing a list of acceptable native plants.


At the native plant/rain garden exhibit in front of the Newtown Theater. Great day for a walk in town and outdoor dinner tonight on State Street!

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Fiscal Responsibility

Approve and Advertise RFP for 5-Year Financial Plan: Mr. Mack stated since the Plan was written the EIP has changed its name and he is requesting the new name be updated in the Plan. Mr. Sander agreed to replace all appearances of EIP with STMP. Mr. Mack then read excerpt on page 4, paragraph G relating to discrimination and said the Township has a new anti-discrimination ordinance which expands the definition* and he suggested the language that goes out to vendors and consultants should reflect our anti-discrimination ordinance.

New Anti-Discrimination Language To Be Included in All RFPs

“The consultant will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of actual or perceived race, color, gender, religion, ancestry, genetic information, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, age, mental or physical disability, or use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids.”

Mr. Sander agreed and said he will work with Mr. Lewis to update all appearances to include the new anti-discrimination ordinance language.

Public Safety

July 2019 Police Report: Lieutenant Jason Harris reported the department responded to 1,600 calls for service during July including 12 arrests and 33 traffic accidents. Additionally, 286 traffic citations were issued. The aggressive driving campaign continued on Swamp and Eagle Roads with focus on commercial vehicles on Swamp and Stoopville Roads. [Read "July 2019 Newtown Township Police Report: 3d Wave of Aggressive Driver Campaign, Missing Persons, Terroristic Threats" for more details.]

June & July 2019 EMS Report: Chief Forsyth reported the Fire Department had 113 calls for service during June and 130 in July. During June 82 fire safety inspections were conducted in the Township and there were 31 in July.

Mr. Fisher ... requested Chief Forsyth review gas grill location requirements. The Chief advised never put or use a gas grill on a second-floor balcony. He reminded all the code requirement is gas grills be at least 10 feet away from the home.

Mr. Mack inquired if the safety inspections were both residential and business and Chief Forsyth said inspections are for commercial buildings only.



Posted on 13 Sep 2019, 01:04 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

My "Lazy" Summer as Supervisor, Part 2: Activities for August 2019

As expected, I've had another "lazy" summer month as Supervisor in August. In fact I spent almost exactly the same amount of time on official Supervisor business in August, 2019, as I did in July, 2019: 28 hours! That's way below the average of 43 hours per month for the 12-month period of September, 2018 through August, 2019.

As in July, I spent less than 3 hours attending required meetings in August, primarily because the township is on a summer schedule with only one Board of Supervisor (BOS) meeting for the months of July and August.

Although things were slow in the summer, I expect my activity to pick up substantially in September.

Log of Hours Spent on Official Business

My log keeps track of the time spent on the following:

  • Attending “Required” Meetings
  • Preparation for BOS Meetings
  • Attending Optional Meetings/Activities
  • Interaction with Residents
  • Travel To & From Meetings

What This Report Does Not Include

My log of Supervisor-related activities does not include the many hours I spend posting to this blog, maintaining my personal website, writing a newsletter, creating and posting video clips from meetings, hosting podcast interviews, summarizing decisions made by the Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition), etc. Also not included is the time I spend posting to my personal Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. These activities are NOT part of my official duties as Supervisor, but represent my personal views.

Also not included in this log are the many hours I am spending canvassing door-to-door campaigning for re-election from now until Election Day on November 5, 2019. Much of that time is spent discussing issues of importance to residents.

In the month of August 2019, I spent about 8 hours attending township meetings (required and optional). The average for the 8-month period of Jan-Aug, 2019, was 9 hours per month.

Obviously, BOS meetings are the most important meetings - I am expected to attend them in order to satisfy my duties as a Supervisor. These include regular twice-per-month public meetings (except in July and August), and non-public executive sessions. Optional meetings include public work sessions, and special meetings (see the list below).

My Hourly "Wage"

Newtown Supervisors receive a compensation of $4,125 per year before taxes. That's about $344 per month. For the period of January 2019 through August 2019, I earned an average of $9.51 per hour, which is higher than PA's minimum wage of $7.50 per hour - a rate that has not increased since 2009! If I just attended required meetings without putting in any time preparing for those meetings, my compensation would be about $95 per hour.

“Other Meetings” I attended were optional. In August, 2019, I attended meetings of the Parks and Recreation Board, Finance Committee, Planning Commission, and the Newtown Fire Association.

The height of each bar represents total hours spent on official business that day. This includes time spent at meetings.
Interaction with Residents

In my opinion, personal interaction with residents regarding their concerns is an important part of my responsibilities as Supervisor. I want to be sure that I spend enough time reaching out to and responding to residents via personal contact, official email via my account and via my personal account, and via phone and/or Facebook.

In August 2019, I spent about 4.5 hours (17% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents, not including the hours I spent campaigning for re-election.

What did I discuss with residents? Here’s a partial list (some items are not included for confidentiality reasons):


When speaking with residents on issues that may come before the BOS in the future for a vote, I never express an opinion as to how I will vote because I may not have all the information. Needless to say, I also do NOT discuss any confidential information that is not in the public domain. These discussions with residents are meant solely to inform me of their opinions, not for me to give them my opinion. Or it is just to listen to complaints/concerns and to forward them on to the BOS if necessary

I decided to keep track of my activities as a Supervisor on a monthly basis partly because I want to be accountable to residents, but also to make sure I am making the best use of my time. It's really an honor to serve the community! I learn something new every day and have met many fine people and volunteers who also put in a lot of time without any compensation at all. Thanks to everyone who help keep Newtown in business and safe.

Posted on 04 Sep 2019, 12:26 - Category: Open Records/Transparency

Summary of July 10, 2019, Newtown Township BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the July 10, 2019, 2019, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official APPROVED minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack and member Kyle Davis. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale and Township Solicitor David Sander. Supervisor Dennis Fisher was absent.


Savvy Citizen: In relation to the 2020 budget, Mr. Mack proposed the Township consider the Savvy Citizen app [a text/social media based resident notification system recommended by the Newtown Technology Committee] to provide information to residents at a cost of $300 per month. After some conversation it was determined a Savvy Citizen representative could be invited to attend a future work session to review details.


HOA Meetings: Mr. Calabro suggested the Administration contact HOA’s to schedule meetings to discuss community issues and concerns. He also said it would be a good time to obtain their input for the Comprehensive Plan Definition. Mr. Mack added that the Pollution Reduction Plan could also be addressed. It was agreed to revisit this issue going forward. [read "Newtown Revises Pollution Reduction Plan After Hearing Resident Comments"]


Conditional Use Definition – The Smile Company: Attorney Joseph Blackburn represented the applicant and presented the application for use D-2 medical office, abutting Harvest in the Village at Newtown Shopping Center. The space is 2,018 square feet and will house an orthodontics office in an existing building. The motion to approve passed 4-0.

Liquor License Transfer – Iron Hill Brewery: Application of Iron Hill Brewery, LLC for intermunicipal transfer of liquor license was presented by Joseph Blackburn who represented the applicant. The license was acquired from the PLCB auction from within the county.The motion to approve passed 4-0.


Lower Dolington Road Multi-Use Trail Project "Rain Gardens": Mr. Mack inquired about the rain gardens and how far they extend on Dolington Road.

[More details provided by John Mack, not in minutes: In the Preliminary Construction Drawings (Exhibit 3), I see “Rain Gardens” as for example on page 18, which shows the trail at Lower Dolington Road and Frost Lane. Q: How far south from Frost Lane is it proposed to build these gardens along Lower Dolington? Q: I was wondering if this would impact access to Roberts Ridge Park from Lower Dolington Road? Many residents park their cars along Lower Dolington for easy access to the children’s playground and open space in the park. I’ve often thought that it would be a good idea to provide steps up the steep hill to make it easier for children and grandparents to get up the hill and walk to the playground I am all for “Rain Gardens,” but from the drawings it appears that they would prevent people from parking there.]

Mr. Lewis explained they would stop near playground area and said the specifics will be finalized in the design phase.

Planning Commission

Comprehensive Plan Definition: discussed the Jointure’s Definition Comprehensive Plan which is up for review and modification every ten years. According to the written statement by Mr. Fidler, “the Commission members discussed the Jointure’s Comprehensive Plan... Sharing information with residents and Township committees before the Plan is due would enable productive planning. Using electronic and paper sources for information and feedback would provide a good cross section of residents. All responses would need to be verified that they are actually received from Newtown Township residents.”

In response to Mr. Mack’s questions on the Comprehensive Plan [
More details provided by John Mack, not in minutes: "Is the PC recommending that the Township hold public meetings and survey residents as part of the process should it be decided to go ahead with updating the Comp Plan? Any specific suggestions for verifying responses are from actual residents?"], Mr. Fidler explained that the Joint Zoning Council Definition discussed getting input from residents and businesses by asking pertinent questions regarding their visions on improving the quality of life in the Jointure. Mr. Calabro stated the Board just received notification of the Comprehensive Plan and asked when the Board was expected to complete the process for the Plan. Mr. Fidler said the Planning Commission expects the process to last about one year. Mr. Calabro asked if there was any procedure for the Board at this time. Mr. Lewis said the Plan must be included the budget; it is not in the 2019 budget as it was not a proposal, however it will be included in the 2020 budget. The Bucks County Planning Commission (BCPC) is asking the Board to pass a resolution in support of a formulation of the Comprehensive Plan. Ms. Bobrin asked who does the application for the grants and Mr. Lewis replied that it is the BCPC. He said the Township will ask the BCPC to come to future Planning Commission and Board meetings to review details. There was additional discussion on cost and payment, surveys, responsibilities and the aggressive timeline.

It was agreed that sharing information with residents and township committees before the Plan is due would enable productive planning.

Public Safety

June 2019 Police Report: Chief Hearn reported there were 1,603 calls for service during June. There was one death investigation, two non-fatal overdoses and four arrests. Two arrests were for DUI, one for bank fraud and the other domestic assault. [Read "June 2019 Newtown Township Police Report: Traffic Citations Drop, But Don’t Get Complacent!" for more details.]

Chief Hearn then informed all that in addition to Facebook and Twitter, the Police Department is now participating in the Next Door app which gives residents another social media outlet to obtain information from the Department. Mr. Mack said he was pleased to see the PD posting on Next Door since many residents use the app.

[More details provided by John Mack, not in minutes: DRUGS I note the discouraging trend in Overdose Calls since these data were recorded: • 2017: 22 • 2018: 15 • 2019: 20 if trend continues (10 as of end of June) In other words, we are not likely to see a significant decrease in the 3 years from 2017 through 2019. ]

June 2019 Emergency Services Report: Chief Forsyth reported the Fire Department had 117 calls for service during May. The department conducted 40 fire safety inspections in the township as well as a successful fire drill at the high school while students were still in attendance. Mr. Mack thanked the Chief for the expanded report and asked about the fires in May. Chief Forsyth explained the details.

Posted on 19 Aug 2019, 14:12 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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