John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Governance Category

John Mack’s Supervisor Report for December 2018

The following is a summary of my Supervisor-related activities for December, 2018, which was a “light” month in terms of official meetings due to the holidays. In December, I spent a total of 24.1 hours on official Supervisor business. For comparison, in November, I spent 58.5 hours as Supervisor (read “John Mack’s Supervisor Report for November 2018”).

What This Report Does Not Include

My log of Supervisor-realted 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 December 2018, I spent only 3 hours attending meetings, which was significantly less than the 19 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 December, 2018, the only other optional meeting I attended was the regular monthly meeting of the Newtown Fire Association. The following chart shows the breakdown of all my Supervisor-related activities for December, 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.

In December, 2018, I spent approximately 6.5 hours (27% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents compared to 5 hours (8%) in November. 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 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 02 Jan 2019, 11:22 - Category: Governance

Newtown Township BOS 2018 Accomplishments

The following are some notable accomplishments of the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) in 2018. I am proud to have been involved in these decisions along with my fellow BOS members. I look forward to a prosperous and safe New Year!

Took Action to Enhance the Safety of Residents
  1. Hired a New Police Chief

  2. Named a New Township Manager: Micah Lewis (previously Assistant Manager)

  3. Hosted a public meeting on September 12, 2018, at which several PennDOT officials answered questions from residents and Supervisors concerning Swamp Road Traffic. Several suggestions for improving safety, including initiating a speed study to see if the speed limit can be lowered, were considered; see video:

  4. Passed a Gun Safety Resolution (Resolution 2018-R-17, passed by 4-1 on June 13, 2018) that calls for the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the United States Congress to enact laws to reduce gun violence. Council Rock High School students commented in favor of a gun safety Resolution Definition before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors:

  5. Passed Resolution 2018-R-20 requesting a Keystone Community Grant of $94,000 from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be used for the purchase of two (2) police Harley Davidson motorcycles and a Ford F-250 Pickup Truck to support community policing efforts and truck enforcement. We got the grant! More...

  6. Commissioned a Fire and Emergency Services Study. In February, 2018, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors approved the hiring of a consultant to undertake “an organizational, effectiveness and overall efficiency study on staffing levels, facilities, apparatus needs, equipment, administration, financials pertaining to the fire service and the services of the department serving our community.” The final Fire and Emergency Services Study was completed in December, 2018. Find a list of major recommendations here.
Took Action to Fight Opioid Crisis

Filed a Civil Action Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers

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 voted 4 to 1 in favor (Kyle Davis voted nay) 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 following video clip documents the discussion before the vote was taken:

Improved Tracking of Police Calls for Drug Overdoses and Narcan Use

In order to help combat the opioid overdose epidemic, we must keep track of the numbers, especially numbers that document the use of Narcan by our police force and the commend those officers who go beyond the call of duty to rescue people with Narcan.

As of November 30, in 2018, Newtown police saved 3 people from dying of opioid overdose by using Narcan. Interim Police Chief Harris informed the BOS that on October 23, 2018, Officer Frank Goodwin administered Narcan to a young woman in cardiac arrest due to a drug overdose. The Chief noted that Officer Goodwin’s actions surely saved this person’s life.

Last year, police alone in PA have saved more than 9,000 people from dying of opioid overdose by using Narcan. EMS agencies were responsible for 12,000 rescues. 

Took Action to Protect Our Environment

Passed Anti-Fracking Resolution

A the March 28, 2018, Newtown BOS meeting, the Supervisors by a 4-1 vote (Kyle Davis voting nay) passed Newtown Resolution 2018-R-10,  which calls upon the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to “enact a complete and permanent ban on natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing and all related activities (including drilling, fracking, wastewater processing and discharges from and water withdrawals for drilling and fracking operations) throughout the basin.” [Read “Newtown Township Supports a Complete & Permanent Ban on Fracking and Related Activities”]

Unfortunately, the Resolution was submitted to DRBC after the deadline. At the June 13, 2018, public meeting of the DRBC, I summarized the major points of the Resolution and asked that the Resolution be added to the public comment docket regarding DRBC’s Proposed Draft Regulations Addressing Hydraulic Fracturing.

Practiced Fiscal Responsibility

Passed the 2019 Budget Without Raising Taxes

The proposed package, which was approved in a 5-0 vote at the Dec. 12 meeting, is a little more than three percent higher than the 2018 budget but includes no property or other tax hike.

According to the budget, Newtown will end the 2018 fiscal year on Dec. 31 with an estimated budget surplus of $2,538,208, which is about what was earlier projected. However, Supervisors Davis and Mack questioned whether this so called ‘net fund balance’ is adequate to ensure the township’s future financial stability, of if a higher amount is needed on the books to ensure a healthy fiscal picture for township auditors.

“It’s a concern, it’s getting lower and lower every year,” stated Mack.

Last year at this time, the township ended fiscal year 2017 with a $3.14 million net fund balance. Chairman Calabro also expressed his concerns of the dwindling surplus, noting, “We need to find ways of raising revenues in the future.”

Established the Newtown Township Finance Committee

Resolution 2018-R-12,  signed on March 28, 2018, states "It is the mission of the Finance Committee (NTFC), in cooperation with the Board of Supervisors and the Township Manager, to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors related to matters associated with finance, budgeting, debt service, investments and long-range planning."

At the September 26, 2018, BOS meeting, Jack Brod, Chair of the NTFC, presented the Committee's first-ever report to the Newtown Board of Supervisors. Play the following video clip to hear the details:

Established a 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."

The Ordinance becomes effective immediately upon the appointment of a Human Relations Commission by the Newtown Board of Supervisors. 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 BOS appointed 5 members to the commission at the January, 7, 2019, reorganization meeting. Find out who they are here
Approved Repaving of 2.3 Miles of Roads

In 2017 and 2018, 8.3 miles of roads were repaved for an average of 4.15 miles per year (read more on this here). This is an important threshold number. With 71.3 road miles and an average of a 20-year life, the Township would need to average 3.56 miles of road paving per year to keep up. For 2019, the BOS approved 2.34 miles of roads bringing the 3-year average to 3.54 miles per year. In 2020, when the Township expects to take out a new road improvement loan, the number may be closer to 5 miles of newly repaved roads. This program is accomplished without raising taxes! The following is the list of roads expected to be repaved in 2019:

Established the Newtown Township Veterans Committee

Via Resolution 2018-R-13,  signed on March 28, 2018, states "The mission of the Newtown Township Veterans Committee shall be to honor our many Veterans, aid in the planning, facilitation, and coordination of Veterans affairs in the Township and to work with existing Veterans organizations and Township residents to achieve this mission."

Rejected the Arcadia Green III PRD Application

On November 14, 2018, the Newtown Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to deny approval of a tentative Arcadia Green Planned Residential Development (PRD Definition) project! More…

“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 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.” – John Mack’s comments made before the vote by BOS.
Introduced an Ordinance to Eliminate PRD from JMZO Zoning Ordinance

At the September 12, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting, Solicitor David Sander introduced JMZO 2017-04, which is an ordinance amending the Newtown Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO Definition) to delete Planned Residential Development. The Board passed the ordinance by a 5-0 vote. See video below:

Approved Several Notable Eating/Drinking Establishments

The list includes:

  1. Nina’s Waffles (read “Nina's Waffles Coming to Newtown”),  
  2. Drive-thru Starbucks (although initially rejected; read “Drive-thru Starbucks is Back on Track!”),
  3. Newtown Brewery (read “Craft Beer Brewery, Food Trucks and Fun Coming to Newtown Commons This Summer”)
  4. Melt Shop, a grilled cheese store (read “Melt, a Grilled Cheese Store, To Open Newtown”)
  5. Cross Culture Indian Cuisine (read “New Cross Culture Indian Restaurant and Turning Point Breakfast/Lunch Restaurant Coming to Newtown Township”)
  6. Turning Point (breakfast & Lunch)

 

Posted on 31 Dec 2018, 14:46 - Category: Governance

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

John Mack’s Supervisor Report for October 2018

As I reported in September, Newtown Supervisors prepare for and attend a lot of meetings (read “A Month in the Life of a Newtown Supervisor: Meetings, Meetings, and More Meetings!”). Some of us also spend time doing other things as well, such as having full-time jobs, being parents, and volunteering for other community services.

Admittedly, I have a lot of free time to devote to my Supervisor duties – perhaps more than other Supervisors. I am a retired businessman whose children are adults and sad to say, I do not have any grandchildren to keep me busy, yet! And I am not a golfer! So, for me, I have the “luxury” of devoting as much time to being a Supervisor as I wish. This month, for example, I spent a total of 57.5 hours on official Supervisor-related activities. The following report provides details of how these hours were spent. 

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.

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 October 2018, I estimate that I spent about 17 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 Definition, public Work Sessions Definition, and special meetings (see the list below).

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

  1. Planning Commission meetings: October 2 and 16, 2018
  2. Zoning Hearing Board meeting: October 4, 2018
  3. Finance Committee meeting: October 9, 2018
  4. Joint Historic Commission meeting: October 22, 2018

I spent 8.8 hours attending these optional meetings. In total, I spent nearly 33.7 hours in October, 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 October, 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 October, 2018, I spent approximately 9 hours (16% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents.

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 nearly every day of the month in October working for you as Supervisor (see chart below). Not that I’m complaining! 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 Nov 2018, 01:41 - Category: Governance

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