John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

John Mack’s Supervisor Report for April 2019

The following is a summary of my Supervisor-related activities for April, 2019. I spent nearly 55 hours this month on official Supervisor business compared to an average of 43 hours per month in Q1 2019.

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.

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

Meetings

In the month of April 2019, I spent about 13 hours attending meetings. The average for the 1st quarter of 2019 was 8.3 hours per month. BOS meetings are “required” in the sense that I am expected to attend them in order to satisfy my duties as a Supervisor. These include regular bi-weekly public meetings, non-public executive sessions, public work sessions, and special meetings (see the list below). Note: There was an optional Work Session on April 15, 2019, that I missed because I was at the annual PSATS Convention in Hershey,PA, participating on the panel "Social Media for Supervisors" (see my PowerPoint below).

Social Media for Supervisors

 

Social Media for Supervisors from PharmaGuy.com

“Other Meetings” I attended were optional. For April, 2019, I attended a Planning Commission meeting on April 2, 2019, where the proposed OR zoning amendment was discussed (read "Planning Commission Recommends Moving Forward with OR Zoning Amendment, But..."), a Zoning Hearing Board meeting on April 4, 2019, where I learned about the Iron Hill Brewery, a Newtown Finance Committee meeting on April 9, 2019, and a Newtown Fire Association meeting on April 29, 2019.

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 johnm@newtownpa.gov account and via my personal john@johnmacknewtown.info account, and via phone and/or Facebook.

In April, 2019, I spent 6.8 hours (12% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents compared to an average of 6.7 hours per month in the fourth quarter of 2018. What did I discuss with residents? Here’s a partial list (some items are not included for confidentiality reasons):

  • Notified residents of upcoming meetings they may wish to attend
  • Spoke to a resident about sidewalks in the Newtown Commons
  • Answered a question about the Newtown Human Relations Commission
  • Informed residents how to respond to the Newtown Pollution Reduction Plan
  • Corresponded with a father whose son wished to do an Eagle Scout project in Newtown
  • Posted information about potholes in S. Eagle Road, which subsequently resulted in those potholes being repaired (read the discussion on Nextdoor)

Disclaimer

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 01 May 2019, 16:04 - Category: Governance



Newtown Fire Association is Well-Trained & Qualified

The PA Office of the State Fire Commissioner recently recognized the Newtown Fire Association (NFA) for successfully attaining the 75% recognition level as part of the Participating Department Recognition Program.

The Participating Department Recognition Program recognizes those departments that support promote and encourage their emergency response personnel to voluntarily certify at various levels in accordance with nationally recognized and sanctioned Professional Qualification Standards.

"Your organization has accomplished an important goal and should be proud of this achievement," said Bruce Trego, State Fire Commissioner, in an April 18, 2019, letter to NFA Chief Matthew Gerhard. "With this recognition, you have demonstrated that your organization is competent and capable in providing quality services to the residents and visitors of the Commonwealth," said Trego.

The letter came with the following certificate:

 

Posted on 01 May 2019, 13:01 - Category: First Responders



Newtown Files Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

At the December 12, 2018, public meeting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 in favor of authorizing Marc J. Bern Partners, LLP, & Cordisco & Saile, LLC to file suit against the manufacturers, promoters, and distributors of synthetic prescription Opioid medications on behalf of Newtown Township.

The Complaint was filed in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas on April 24, 2019 (Docket NO. 2019-03043). It names a total of eighteen defendants (15 manufacturers and 3 distributors):

  1. Purdue Pharma L.P.
  2. Purdue Pharma Inc.
  3. The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.
  4. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
  5. Cephalon, Inc.
  6. Johnson & Johnson
  7. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  8. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc (now known as Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
  9. Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc. (now known as Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
  10. Endo Health Solutions Inc.
  11. Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  12. Allergan Plc (formerly known as Actavis Plc)
  13. Allergan Finance, LLC (formerly known as Actavis, Inc. formerly known as Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
  14. Watson Laboratories, Inc.
  15. Actavis LLC (Actavis Pharma, Inc. formerly known as Watson Pharma, Inc.)
  16. Mckesson Corporation (distributor)
  17. Cardinal Health, Inc. (distributor)
  18. Amerisourcebergen Drug Corporation (distributor)

The Township is seeking judgment on each of six "causes of action" against the defendants in excess of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), jointly and severally. The total damages claimed are estimated to add up to just under $4 million!

NOTE: Newtown Township will NOT incur any expenses related to this suit and it will NOT be charged any attorney fees for filing the action no matter what the outcome. The law firms will work on a 25% contingency basis, meaning that 25% of any fees awarded to Newtown will be retained by the law firms and 75% - potentially (if the case is 100% successful) $3 million – will go to Newtown.
Six “Causes of Action”

The six causes of action are:

  1. Unfair Trade Practices. Defendants violated the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law because they engaged in deceptive acts or practices.

  2. Fraud. Defendants made misrepresentations and omissions of facts material to Plaintiff and its residents.

  3. Unjust Enrichment. As an expected and intended result of their conscious wrongdoing Defendants have profited and benefited from the health insurance coverage purchased by Plaintiff that directly funded the opioid purchases made by its residents and employees.

  4. Negligence. Distributor Defendants have a duty to exercise reasonable care in the distribution of opioids, as provided by state and federal law, to avoid, prevent, or attenuate third-party misconduct. Distributor Defendants breached this duty by failing to take any action to prevent or reduce the distribution of opioids, as required by state and federal law, and instead participated in and enabled Defendants' misconduct. As a proximate result, Distributor Defendants and its agents have caused Plaintiff to incur excessive costs related to diagnosis, treatment, and cure of addiction or risk of addiction to opioids, the Township has borne the massive costs of these illnesses and conditions by having to provide necessary resources for care, treatment facilities, law enforcement services, and child and family services for Township Residents and using Township resources in relation to opioid use and abuse. Additionally, the Township has suffered lost productivity from its workforce, thereby losing much needed tax revenue.

  5. Negligent Misrepresentation. Defendants made misrepresentations and omissions of facts material to Plaintiff and its residents to induce them to purchase, administer, and consume opioids.

  6. Public Nuisance. Defendants made unreasonable and/or unlawful use of their financial resources in an improper, indecent, and unwarranted fashion to wage a massive campaign of misrepresentations and omissions of facts, negligence, and violation of state laws material to Plaintiff and its residents to induce them to purchase, administer, and consume lawful opioids for unlawful purposes.
Questionable Practices

The suit lists a number of “unlawful” or “deceptive” marketing and patient and physician educational practices of the defendants to bolster the Township’s case, including:

  • Like the tobacco companies that engaged in an industry-wide effort to misrepresent the safety and risks of smoking, Defendants worked with each other and with the industry-funded and directed Front Groups and KOLs [Key Opinion Leaders; mostly physicians] to carry out a common scheme to deceptively market opioids by misrepresenting the risks, benefits, and superior efficacy of opioids to treat chronic pain. [Read “Opioids Are the New Tobacco: Investigations of #Pharma Companies Taking Page from Tobacco Settlement of the 90's”]

  • Marketing dangerous and ineffective opioid drugs as safe and effective for the long-term treatment of chronic pain conditions in order to deceive physicians into prescribing addictive opioids to residents of Newtown Township;

  • Disseminating misleading statements concealing the true risk of addiction and promoting the deceptive concept of pseudoaddiction through Defendants' own unbranded publications and on internet sites Defendants operated that were marketed to and accessible by consumers in Newtown Township;
Purdue frequently cited a 1980 item in the well-respected New England Journal of Medicine, J. Porter & H. Jick, Addiction Rare in Patients Treated with Narcotics, 302 (2) New Eng. J. Med. 123 (1980), in a manner that makes it appear that the item reported the results of a peer reviewed study. Defendants, through the KOLs acting on their behalf, failed to reveal that this "article" was actually a letter-to-the-editor, not a study, much less a peer-reviewed study.
  • Sponsoring, directly distributing, and assisting in the distribution of publications that presented an unbalanced treatment of the long-term and dose dependent risks of opioids versus NSAIDs;

  • Developing and disseminating misleading scientific studies that deceptively concluded opioids are safe and effective for the long-term treatment of chronic non-cancer pain and that opioids improve quality of life, while concealing contrary data;

  • Holding themselves out as law-abiding distributors but instead withholding from law enforcement the names of prescribers they knew to be facilitating the diversion and over-prescribing of their products, while simultaneously marketing opioids to these doctors by disseminating patient and prescriber education materials and advertisements and CMEs that Defendants knew would reach these same prescribers, violating Pennsylvania and Federal law by not reporting these doctors instead. [Read “How Congress Allied with Drug Company Lobbyists to Derail the DEA’s War on Opioids”]

The 107-page Complaint lists many more questionable practices and includes dozens of references to support the claims. Download it here.

Further Reading

Opioid Drug Maker Mallinckrodt Spends Big Lobbying Lawmakers About Opioids

Pennsylvania's Treasurer Says Big Pharma Must be Held Accountable for Its Role in Opioid Crisis

Attacking the Root of the Opioid Crisis - Pharmaceutical Companies

Newtown Township Joins Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

Opioid Lawsuit Survey Comments

 

Posted on 30 Apr 2019, 12:42 - Category: Opioid Epidemic



Summary of April 10, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the April 10, 2019, 2019, Newtown 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 member and Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Owen Hyne and Township Solicitor David Sander. Absent: Kyle Davis.

Committee Reports

Planning Commission: Peggy Driscoll, Vice Chair of the Planning Commission reported that at its meeting on April 2, 2019, the only item on the agenda was the Revised amendment to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance to amend provisions of Office Research District to add new use (E-25, Motor Vehicle Fueling Center).

The Commission recommended that the Supervisors consider this ordinance, not as written, and move forward. Ms. Driscoll stated that this recommendation was not unanimous.

Mr. Mack asked to clarify what is meant by “consider not as written but move forward." Mr. Sander explained this is a use that is now recognized by the courts and has to be provided for within the Jointure so that right now the ordinance doesn’t have provisions for a motor vehicle fueling center or gas station/convenience store combined use. The recommendation is the township move forward with an ordinance to deal with that legality, but not necessarily this ordinance as written.

Ms. Driscoll said it was the applicant that crafted this ordinance and much of it does not coincide with our ordinances. The commission recommended the applicant go back and consider some of the recommendations made by the commission. Mr. Calabro suggested to create the usage within the jointure and then form our own ordinance. Mr. Sander recommends the Township reach out to the Bucks County Planning Commission and their partners in the jointure to determine any resources that can help the township establish the use and provide for it.

Development

Arcadia Professional Consultants Fee Lawsuit - Authorization to File Appeal : Mr. Mack asked if any details could be provided. Mr. Sander said there is a portion of decision received that the judge stated that we disagree with and we want to protect the township going forward with regard to charging professional fees in PRD cases.

[The following questions/concerns were prepared by Supervisor Mack before the BOS meeting with the intent of bringing them up at the meeting. However, these questions/concerns may NOT be included in the official minutes. View the official video of the meeting for details.

"I assume that this appeal is response to a lawsuit filed by Arcadia that was reported in A Feb 5, 2018, article published in the Bucks County Courier Times, which states that Arcadia asked a county judge to determine whether it must pay back the township $39,866 in fees it – the Township - paid for solicitors and consultants to review the developer’s proposal. According to the article, Arcadia also requested a court order for the township to return $17,132 of the developer’s $19,375 submitted cash escrow, which the township previously spent on expert review."]

Conditional Use - Iron Hill Brewery: Application of Iron Hill Brewery LLC for conditional use to operate an E-5 eating place at 2920 S. Eagle Road in the Village of Newtown. Attorney Joseph Blackburn represented the applicant. Mr. Calabro thanked Mr. Blackburn for addressing the parking issues. Mr. Fisher, in reference to the outside music, asked if there was a possibility for dual controlled volume and Mr. Blackburn confirmed that this was part of the proposal. [Mr. Calabro] asked if there was a way to reduce the outdoor seating area and after Mr. Blackburn discussed with Mr. Finn, who is representing Iron Hills, it was determined they could reduce the outdoor area by 20 seats.

Public Works

Pollutant Reduction Plan: Mr. Hyne reviewed the Pollutant Reduction Plan (PRP). The Township has three impaired watersheds, Neshaminy Creek, Lake Luxembourg and Core Creek, The Township must reduce 202,252 lbs. of sedimentation per year for five years and will be implemented by basin and meadow conversions, inlet cleaning and stream restoration projects. Mr. Hyne provided a map to show targeted areas. This plan must be authorized by the Board and then be publicly advertised for public comment for 30 days, After this time frame the plan will go to DEP for approval.

Mr. Calabro asked if we have enough township basins that can be converted to meadows to reduce by 10%. Mr. Lewis clarified that the seven township owned basins will be converted to meadows along with under-utilized park areas. The manicured grass areas will be transformed into meadow areas which will also reduce fuel consumption and maintenance costs. Mr. Lewis believes the meadow and basin conversions will start this year

Public Safety

Newtown Township Complex Emergency Action Plan: Mr. Lewis explained that the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is required by our insurance carrier. Chief Forsyth presented the EAP which was written in compliance with NFPA Standard 3000 Definition and Homeland Security standards. Chief Forsyth is looking for the Board’s approval of the EAP so staff training can begin. The purpose of the EAP is to ensure staff is trained and prepared for any critical incidents that may occur. Mr. Mack asked if the Board would be trained and Chief Forsyth said yes they could be. The motion passed 4-0.

[The following questions/concerns were prepared by Supervisor Mack before the BOS meeting with the intent of bringing them up at the meeting. However, these questions/concerns may NOT be included in the official minutes. View the official video of the meeting for details.

Page 11: “Violent Incidents/Active Shooter”: This report does not specifically mention Supervisors, advisory Committee members, ZHB members, etc. at Public meetings – I am concerned about active shooter incidents at such meetings.

Page 12, Under “FIGHT” – says “be prepared for the fight of your life” and gives some pointers such as “try to attack the shooter's eyes and face” with “whatever makeshift weapon is available (pocket knife, scissor, screw driver, keys, etc.).”

Shouldn’t Supervisors, committee members – as well as employees – be trained in ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate)? According to the
ALICE Training website, the "Counter" aspect of the training does not involve confronting the active shooter: "ALICE Training does not believe that actively confronting a violent intruder is the best method for ensuring the safety of those involved. Counter is a strategy of last resort. Counter focuses on actions that create noise, movement, distance and distraction with the intent of reducing the shooter’s ability to shoot accurately. Creating a dynamic environment decreases the shooter’s chance of hitting a target and can provide the precious seconds needed in order to evacuate."]

Police Report: Police Chief John Hearn reported during March the Department responded to 1,846 calls including 53 traffic accidents and 15 arrests, 4 were DUI related. There were 319 traffic citations issued, 78 which resulted from the aggressive driving campaign. Read "March 2019 Police Report: Crack Down on Aggressive Driving!"

 

Posted on 26 Apr 2019, 10:35 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



Attracting New Businesses to Newtown

I'm often asked, What will you do to attract new businesses and new jobs to our municipality?

This is an important question because to maintain a low 4.5 mill property tax while providing the excellent services our residents have come to expect, the Township depends on business-related sources of income such as the Earned Income Tax (EIT Definition), which accounts for nearly 80% of its tax revenue!

As a member of the Newtown Board of Supervisors, I voted to create the Newtown Finance Committee, which is in the process of helping Newtown Township attract employers/jobs and pursue economic development.

I also supported the Township’s application for a matching $40,000 PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED Definition) grant to implement an Early Intervention Program (EIP Definition) that will assess the township's financial condition and identify additional sources of income, including attracting new businesses with high-paying jobs to Newtown (read “Newtown Township Seeks Grant to Assess Finances”).

I will continue to work with local business associations, the PA Department of Community and Economic Development and Newtown Township's Finance Committee to promote our community as a great place to establish businesses with high-paying jobs.

We Need This Kind of Promotion!

Posted on 12 Apr 2019, 01:15 - Category: Finances



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The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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