John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Open Records/Transparency Category

My August 2020 Supervisor Activities: A Very Busy Month!

In August 2020, as Bucks County continued in the COVID-19 "Green Phase", I spent 56.3 hours on official supervisor business. That's a lot of hours for the month of August, which usually sees less scheduled activities. With meetings being held via Zoom, however, there was less need to cancel meetings, of which there were many this August!

The height of each bar represents total hours spent on official business that day. This includes time spent at meetings. Blue indicates a required meeting was held that day, orange indicates it was a more-or-less optional meeting.
BOS = Board of Supervisors, EDC = Economic Development Committee, JZC = Joint Zoning Council, EAC = Environmental Advisory Council, HRC = Human Relations Commission, NFA = Newtown Fire Association, TCC = Bucks County Tax Collection Committee

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.

Lots of Meetings!

You would think that many meetings would be cancelled during the summer when most people are "on vacation," but no! I spent nearly 19 hours in August attending meetings! It's all due to COVID-19: (1) many people have not gone missing on vaction, and (2) Zoom makes it all too easy to participate in meetings even though you may be on vacation!

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 August 2020, I spent 8.0 hours (14% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents in my official capacity as supervisor.

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

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 05 Sep 2020, 01:49 - Category: Open Records/Transparency

My June 2020 Supervisor Activities: Getting Back to Normal

In June 2020, as Bucks County moved into the COVID-19 "Green Phase" when some businesses re-opened, I spent 56.2 hours on official supervisor business. Although that's still below the average of 63 hours per month in January and February before COVID-19, it is well above the 33 hours for June 2019. There were more committee meetings to attend, which required more preparation time.

The height of each bar represents total hours spent on official business that day. This includes time spent at meetings. Blue indicates a required meeting was held that day, orange indicates it was a more-or-less optional meeting.
BOS = Board of Supervisors

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.

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 June 2020, I spent 6.6 hours (12% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents in my official capacity as supervisor.

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

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 05 Jul 2020, 01:08 - Category: Open Records/Transparency

My May 2020 Supervisor Activities: Preparing to Come Out of COVID-19 Lockdown!

In May 2020, as the COVID-19 shutdown continued, I spent only 35.1 hours on official supervisor business. That's well below the average of 63 hours per month in January and February before COVID-19. Fewer meetings, however, were canceled and the meetings that were held were via Zoom, which has its good and bad points (see box below).

The height of each bar represents total hours spent on official business that day. This includes time spent at meetings. Blue indicates a required meeting was held that day, orange indicates it was a more-or-less optional meeting.
JZC = Joint Zoning Council Definition, BOS = Board of Supervisors,

Open Up Zoom Meetings to the Public!

At the May 27, 2020, BOS meeting, I continued to press for Zoom public meetings where members of the public could participate. I said, "Since it appears that we will continue to hold 'public' meetings via Zoom, I would like that these zoom meetings be open to the public for participation instead of the current practice of only allowing comments via email. That was fine for the red phase, but we need to get more back to normal during the next phases.

"The more Zoom 'public' meetings are hosted by Newtown Township (BOS meeting, PC, etc.), the less actual public input we get. Zoom technology allows the meeting leader/moderator to add attendees with their microphones shut off as a default. If anyone wants to speak, they can click on 'raise your hand' and the meeting leader/moderator can turn on the mic. This was done successfully at a recent Wrightstown PC Zoom meeting attended by more that a dozen residents. It is extremely simple to run a Zoom meeting and have mics of certain participants muted until they use the "raise hand" feature of Zoom."

Unfortunately, my request was denied! (View the May 27,2020, BOS Zoom meeting here.)

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.

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 May 2020, I spent 4.5 hours (13% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents. This includes a 1.6 hour Meet Mack Monday meeting via Zoom. View the video archive of that meeting below.

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

  • Newtown BINGO! Read more about that here.
  • Traffic issues at NAC event.
  • Discussion of COVID-19 task force to help open businesses.
  • Newtown Economic Recovery Committee

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 Jun 2020, 01:05 - Category: Open Records/Transparency

My Supervisor Activities: April 2020 Was The Cruelest Month!

In April 2020, as the COVID-19 shutdown of business as usual in the Township was in full swing, I spent only 19.5 hours on official Supervisor business. That's well below the average of 63 hours per month in January and February before COVID-19.

I attended only one "Special" Board of Supervisors meeting via Zoom that lasted about one and a half hours and a Planning Commission meeting via Zoom that lasted just over one hour.

The height of each bar represents total hours spent on official business that day. This includes time spent at meetings. Blue indicates a required meeting was held that day, orange indicates it was a more-or-less optional meeting.
PC = Planning Commission, BOS = Board of Supervisors

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.

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 2020, I spent only 1.8 hours (9% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents. This does not include a one hour Facebook Live Meet Mack Monday event (read "Summary of April 20, 2020, Meet Mack Monday via Facebook Live"). What did I discuss with residents? Here’s a partial list (some items are not included for confidentiality reasons):

  • Ideas for using Nextdoor to help local businesses. This inspired me to create my list of Newtown Restaurants Doing Business During COVID-19, which you can download here.
  • When will the Supervisors make a final decision on the Toll Bros proposed development? the answer is when the Township allows a face-to-face public meeting of the BOS. For background on this issue, read "Residents Urge Newtown Supervisors to Abide by Spirit of Conservation Management Zoning Ordinance"
  • Discussed the consensus of the Planning Commission regarding the E-30 Zoning Amendment that would allow a Wawa or Wawa-like combination gas station and convenience store somewhere in the Jointure. For background on that issue, listen to selected recordings of Discussions of E-30 Zoning Amendment

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 2020, 01:08 - Category: Open Records/Transparency

February 2020: Another Busy Month! Marathon Toll Bros Hearing, LQBTQ+ Youth Get No Love, more...

February 2020 was another busy month for me as Supervisor. It didn't help that it was leap year with one extra day thrown in!

In February, I spent nearly 59 hours on official Supervisor business that included attending a 4.5 hour marathon BOS session. Most of that session was devoted to a Toll Bros plan to build 45 homes on 152 acres off of Route 413 and Twinning Bridge Road.

Just before that hearing, Supervisors were handed a thick stack of "Exhibits" that included site plans, results of s flood plain study, stormwater management report, transportation impact assessment, review letters from our Township Engineer, etc. (see photo). It should be no surprise, therefore, that I did not read every document from end to end in that pile of exhibits! It just is not humanly possible.

The Toll Bros Exhibit Book!

I have to question how Supervisors can ask intelligent questions and make the right decision under such circumstances. In fact, in the end, NO decision was made! Now we have 45 days to deliberate (in closed session, BTW) and make a decision.

This came after a disappointing vote on my "Love is Love Day" resolution, which was shot down 3-2 (read "The Day That Newtown Township Failed to Show Love for LGBTQ+ Youth"). As a consequence, Bucks Equality Coalition, NAMI Bucks County PA, Dave Bria (Yardley Borough Council Chairperson, The Rainbow Room, and Rise Up Doylestown have posted a "Speak Out for Lgbtq+ Youth in Newtown PA!" meeting notice on Facebook. They are urging the public to show up at the March 11, 2020, BOS meeting and "speak OUT, to let these elected officials [Phil Calabro, Kyle Davis, and David Oxley] and the community know that they cannot quietly vote against LOVE and support for our LGBTQ+ youth, and then expect to get away with it. Their vote against this simple resolution of support sends a dangerous message to our LGBTQ+ youth AND to all youth."

March is coming in like a lion for us Supervisors! Hopefully it will go out like a lamb with less contentious topics to discuss!

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.
Meetings

In February 2020, I spent 7.1 hours attending required meetings and 12.5 hours attending optional meetings for a total of 19.6 hours.

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 sometimes in December), and non-public executive sessions. Optional meetings include public work sessions, and special meetings (see the list below).

“Other Meetings” I attended were optional. In February, 2020, I attended meetings of the Joint Zoning Council (JZC Definition), Environmental Advisory Council, Planning Commission, Human Relations Commission (HRC), Newtown Fire Association (NFA) & the Annual Convention of the Bucks County Association of Township Officials (BACTO Definition).

 

In February, I spent 11.3 hours preparing for required Board meetings. This includes downloading and reviewing documents, including the Bills List (invoices paid by the Township), minutes of previous meetings, and police report.

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

In February 2020, I spent 5.9 hours (10% 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 find discussions with residents very helpful. Therefore, I'd like to make it a regular thing to meet with residents to discuss issues that are on the agenda of upcoming Board of Supervisors meetings. For more information about the next meeting, go here. Meanwhile, tell me what issues are most important to you by taking my short SURVEY.

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 05 Mar 2020, 13:14 - Category: Open Records/Transparency

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This site is paid for and approved by John Mack: john@johnmacknewtown.info
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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