John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Newtown Township Joins Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

With regard to the opioid crisis, I have said (here) that we can’t educate doctors and patients on the effects of opioids and combat the overdose epidemic without addressing the source of the problem: pharmaceutical companies.

At the December 12, 2018, meeting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) 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 (see story embedded at the end of this post).  

THIS SUIT WILL NOT COST NEWTOWN TAXPAYERS ANY MONEY! 

Newtown Township will NOT incur any expenses related to this suit and it will NOT be charged any attorney fees for filing the action. 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% will go to Newtown.

The following video clip documents the discussion before the vote was taken:

SURVEY: Do You Support Newtown’s Decision to Sue Opioid Manufacturers, Distributors?

Take this survey to test your knowledge of statistics regarding opioids and the opioid epidemic, then answer the question: Do You Support Newtown's Decision to File a Civil Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers?

This survey is NOT an official Newtown Township survey.

There is no single “magic bullet” that will solve this problem, but putting pressure on drug companies through legal suits such as this one can help call attention to some of the bad players, some of whom are mentioned in this lawsuit.

I do wish other bad players were on the list of defendants. Including those companies who have illegally provided kickbacks to physicians to overprescribe their opioid products (see the “Further Reading” list below).

If the Township were to get some money out of this, small as it might be, it is my hope that the funds are used to support opioid anti-addiction programs and implement educational programs for the general public and students.

Further Reading:


Posted on 14 Dec 2018, 10:53 - Category: Opioid Epidemic



November 2018 Newtown Police Report

Interim Police Chief Jason Harris presented the Calls Report for November 2018 at the December 12, 2018, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. In November, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,363 total calls, 263 (19%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown). See a summary of the report below. Note: Not all calls are listed.

Traffic Citations and Struck Deer

There were 99 total traffic citations in Newtown in November 2018. Sixty (60) of those involved speeding, which is a perennial problem of concern to residents. Residents along Swamp Road, for example, have been especially vocal concerning speeding and truck traffic on Swamp Road. In response, Newtown administrators and police asked PennDOT representatives to attend a public BOS meeting on September 12, 2018, to respond to questions and concerns of residents. You can view a video snippet of that session here.

Looking at the citation data to date for 2018, it is obvious that Newtown Police have responded by issuing significant numbers of speeding citations along Swamp Road in September, October, and November. In fact, 38 of the 60 (63%) speeding citations in November were issued to drivers on Swamp Road (see chart below).

Chief Harris cautioned drivers to be aware of deer on the roads and noted that there were 92 traffic accidents in November, 31 of which involved deer. There were 33 such incidents in October 2018 (see chart below).

Shop With a Cop Success!

On December 2, 2018, 35 Newtown Township, Newtown Borough, Middletown Toawnship and Upper Makefield Township police officers spent the day at the Target Store on E. Lincoln Hwy in Langhorne, PA, volunteering in the annual “Shop with a Cop” event.

Shop with a Cop is a national program pairing police officers with children to afford them a better holiday season.  The program allows children to view police officers in a different atmosphere and promote positive relationships. The program’s participants are elementary students from the Council Rock School District and St. Andrews Elementary School.  These children face life challenges such as a parent losing a job, homelessness, military deployment, economic shortcomings, and other hardships.

Over 150 kids were allotted $150.00 gift certificates to purchase gifts for themselves and their family members. The Shop with a Cop program is funded solely through the generosity of our local community’s residents and businesses.

Posted on 13 Dec 2018, 13:47 - Category: Crime



Volunteers Needed for the NEW Newtown Township Human Relations Commission

On November 28, 2018, Newtown Township became the FIRST Township in Bucks County to pass an Ordinance Definition prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Specifically, the ordinance, a copy of which you can download here, safeguards the right of citizens to obtain and hold employment and public accommodation and to secure housing accommodation and commercial property "without regard to 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, use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids, and to have equal access to postsecondary educational institutions."

Volunteer to Serve on the Human Relations Commission

The Ordinance becomes effective immediately upon the appointment of a Human Relations Commission by the Newtown Board of Supervisors ( BOS Definition). The Commission will handle complaints through a fact-finding conference with the parties of the dispute in order to resolve the dispute without the need to hire lawyers or go to court.

The Commission will consist of no fewer than three and no more than five members, who will serve overlapping terms of three years each. Members must be residents of the Township or individuals who work full-time within Newtown Township. No voting member of the Newtown Township Human Relations Commission can hold any office in any political party.

Members of the Newtown Township Human Relations Commission serve without salary but may be paid expenses incurred in the performance of their duties, as approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Members of the Commission must attend training and education seminars or sessions to acquaint themselves with the functioning of the Commission under the ordinance, as well as the terms, conditions and provisions of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and the operation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Send in Your Letter of Interest!

If you are interested in serving on the Commission, please submit a letter of interest and your resume (or short bio) by December 24, 2018. Send to Olivia Kivenko, Newtown Township, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA 18940. Or by email to oliviak@newtownpa.gov, or by fax to (215) 968-5368.

Posted on 06 Dec 2018, 01:25 - Category: Governance



John Mack’s Supervisor Report for November 2018

The following is a summary of my Supervisor-related activities for November, 2018. In November, I spent a total of 58.5 hours on official Supervisor business. For comparison, in October, I spent 57.5 hours as Supervisor (read “John Mack’s Supervisor Report for October 2018”).

What This Report Does Not Include

My log of Supervisor-related activiies 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 November 2018, I estimate that I spent about 19 hours attending meetings, which was significantly less than the 34 hours I spent attending meetings last 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).

“Other Meetings” I attended were optional. For November, 2018, these included:

  1. Zoning Hearing Board: November 1, 2018
  2. Finance Committee: November 13, 2018
  3. Planning Commission: November 20, 2018
  4. Technology Committee: November 27, 2018

I spent 6.9 hours attending these optional meetings. In total, I spent nearly 42 hours in November, 2018, attending all the above meetings, preparing for these meetings, and traveling to and from these meetings. The following chart shows the breakdown of all my Supervisor-related activities for November, 2018:

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.

For November, 2018, I spent approximately 5 hours (8% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents compared to 9 hours (16%)  in October. What did I discuss with residents? Here’s a partial list (some items are not included for confidentiality reasons):

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 spent some time working for you as Supervisor 22 days in the month in November (see chart).

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 03 Dec 2018, 13:23 - Category: Governance



Summary of November 14, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the November 14, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here.

Administration

Township Manager Employment Agreement: Ms. Bobrin motioned to approve the Township Manager Employment Agreement. Mr. Fisher seconded, and the motion passed 5-0. [NOTE: As per the draft 2019 Budget, $116,367 is allocated for "Management Salaries" in 2019.]

Committee Reports

Finance Committee: Mr. Fisher reported on the Newtown Township Finance Committee. The group has been researching a possible grant from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. There will be a presentation at the Board’s Work Session meeting on Monday, November 19, 2018.

Crime

October 2018 Calls report: Interim Police Chief Harris reported on the police activity for October: Calls for service: 1,549 total calls, 328 (21%) of which were in Wrightstown Township - Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown (for details, read "October 2018 Newtown Police Calls Report"). Chief Harris noted Officer Goodwin administered Narcan to save a person in full cardiac arrest from an overdose. Mr. Mack thanked Chief Harris for his recognition of Officer Goodwin and expressed his gratitude to the officers who have saved lives with Narcan. Further discussion was about helping survivors, that they are provided information to overcome their addiction, and they have to take the first step.

Development

Arcadia Green/Newtown Holdings LLC, Tentative Plan Application (Decision): Mr. Schenkman explained that the decision must be drafted, issued and provided to the parties no later than November 25, 2018. The application needs to be approved or denied by the Board for this action to be completed. Mr. Calabro made a motion to approve this application. The motion failed. Mr. Calabro made a motion to deny this application. The motion passed 5-0 for the denial of the Arcadia Green application

Prepared Statement by Supervisor Mack

"After listening to all the testimony, reading the reports of experts, and listening to residents of surrounding communities, I will vote to deny the current Arcadia PRD Definition because I think it would be unsafe for residents of that development – should it go forward – to exit and enter the development. Also, let’s not forget the additional traffic it would bring to the intersection of Buck Road and the Bypass. Lastly, the plan for a U-turn to allow access to the Bypass is totally impractical, unsafe, and will cause major delays in my opinion, which seems to also be the opinion of PennDOT and other experts."

Fiscal Responsibility

2019 Draft Budget: Township Manager, Mr. Lewis explained that the 2019 preliminary budget needs to be advertised before it can be adopted (access the budget here). It is anticipated that the final budget will be approved on December 12, 2018. Mr. Lewis outlined changes to the preliminary budget. Ms. Bobrin made a motion to authorize the advertisement for adoption of the 2019 preliminary budget. Mr. Mack seconded, and the motion passed 5-0.

Public Safety

Newtown Ambulance Squad: Chief Evan Resnikoff, Newtown Ambulance Squad, thanked the Board and residents for their support with the EMS millage and subscription drive. Mr. Resnikoff informed the Board as of September first, NAS no longer cover Northampton Township and will see a “significant decrease” in its subscription drive revenue. For more on that, read "Northampton Resolution is a Setback for Newtown Ambulance".

Posted on 02 Dec 2018, 11:29 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



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