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In Her Last Appearance as Newtown Supervisor, Jen Dix Alleges Decades of Township "Self-Serving Leadership" and "Corruption"

In Her Last Appearance as Newtown Supervisor, Jen Dix Alleges Decades of Township "Self-Serving Leadership" and "Corruption" | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

[Photo: Members of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors say goodbye to Jen Dix, who has served on the board for the past four and a half years. From left are Supervisors Kyle Davis, Chairman Phil Calabro, Jen Dix, Linda Bobrin and John Mack.]

 

Phil Calabro, the chairman of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors, took a moment at the beginning of the June 27 meeting to publicly thanked Jennifer Dix for her service to the community.

 

Dix, who resigned from the board effective June 30, accepted an engraved plaque from Calabro in recognition and appreciation for her years of service on the board from 2014 to 2018.

 

“Sadly, Newtown has had decades of self-serving leadership and I’ll even be as bold to say to some degree corruption,” said Dix. “It’s led to a toxic environment of greed and entitlement and I know that will hopefully begin to change. It’s not going to change overnight. And I put the charge to the rest of my board members to work on turning that around. I know all of you can do that.

 

During public comment, resident John D’Aprile questioned Dix on the corruption allegation raised during her parting words and asked her to elaborate.

 

Dix was happy to oblige, sharing that earlier this year “the FBI came knocking on my door to investigate two former supervisors and some of their ties to a certain little project here in Newtown as well as some of the corruption in Lower Southampton. I’ll just leave it at that,” she said.

 

“I guess it was the Democratic FBI guys under Comey,” responded D’Aprille to some laughter from the room.

 

D’Aprile also noted that he had not walked out of the room when Calabro gave Dix a plaque “like you and Phil did when they gave (former supervisor Mike) Gallagher a plaque for his service. That wasn’t very nice, especially since you were on the board. Just because you didn’t agree with him, there was no reason to disrespect him and walk out of the room.”

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News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents
These curated news items were selected by John Mack. Any opinions and "insights" appended to these article summaries are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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Water Damage from Bad Construction Destroys Homes and Dreams and PA is the "Epicenter" of the Epidemic

Water Damage from Bad Construction Destroys Homes and Dreams and PA is the "Epicenter" of the Epidemic | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Experts have labeled Pennsylvania the epicenter of an industrywide epidemic that has affected sprawling suburban houses, starter homes, and luxury Philadelphia townhouses alike. Properties constructed with materials other than stucco had problems, too. Some houses with water damage were built by billion-dollar public companies. Others, by small, local firms. Some are 10 or 20 years old. Others are brand-new.

 

Toll [Brothers, “America’s Luxury Home Builder”] declined to say how many water-intrusion claims it has received in Southeastern Pennsylvania in the last few years.

 

Even as builders have combated claims, nearly two dozen homeowners said that they were never notified of any potential problem — even as some building executives knew of its extent. Toll’s vice president of construction, Anthony Geonnotti, for example, testified in 2017 that, within slightly more than two years, he had inspected 300 to 350 homes in the region for water intrusion — with roughly 85 percent needing repairs, according to an arbitration hearing transcript filed in court.

 

But arbitration testimony for the Mulnix case offers some clues. Geonnotti, vice president of construction at Toll, testified in October 2017 that one subcontractor for Toll had remediated "around a hundred" homes, including those in Buckingham Forest, Upper Mountain Estates, Overlook at Newtown, Plumstead Chase, Highlands at Chapman’s Corner, and Regency at Northampton — all developments built since the early 2000s in Bucks County.

 

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office in 2016 filed a lawsuit against the David Cutler Group, based in Montgomery County, and launched a “review” into Toll this spring, financial filings show. According to a spokesperson, the Attorney General’s Office has received about 200 complaints from homeowners about water intrusion in the last five years. She declined to name specific builders or comment further.

 

In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated Toll and had requested information about the company’s estimated costs to repair water-intrusion claims — which, as of September filings, was around $324 million. Neither Toll nor the SEC would comment on the status of the investigation.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Toll Brothers wants to build in Newtown. Read  “Toll Brothers Twining Bridge Road Proposal”.

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Third time not the charm for Arcadia Green development in Newtown Township

Third time not the charm for Arcadia Green development in Newtown Township | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Township supervisors rejected the third iteration of Arcadia at Newtown Holdings’ proposal for 76 residences at the intersection of Buck Road and the Newtown Bypass.

A Philadelphia-based developer’s third attempt to develop homes on a Newtown Township tract has fallen short.

Township supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday evening to deny Arcadia at Newtown Holdings’ proposal for a walkable 76-residence community, with 23 single-family detached homes and 53 townhomes on 21.47 acres off the intersection of Buck Road and the Newtown Bypass.

Though Wednesday’s meeting did not attract much turnout, larger numbers of residents, including those living in the Newtown Crossing and Eagle Ridge communities near the proposed Arcadia Green site, spoke out against the project at four public hearings since August. Some suggested the township move to preserve the land, sometimes known as the Wynmere/Karr tract, as open space.

Arcadia made adjustments to its proposed development from its last submission in attempts to address concerns at the time, like abandoning plans to demolish a nearby home to incorporate a one-way exit road from the community.

But new plan features also received a frosty reception, including a proposed traffic improvement to allow cars, but not buses or large trucks, access to the bypass via left U-turns at nearby Mill Pond Road.

Supervisor John Mack said in a statement before voting that, after reviewing experts’ testimony and reports on Arcadia Green and listening to nearby residents, he believed the development would be unsafe for residents driving in and out.

In addition, Mack said, the proposed U-turn was “totally impractical” and could cause major traffic delays.

Listen to my comments here.

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Does Newtown Need a Mobile-Enabled Emergency Notification System? Take This Short Survey.

Does Newtown Need a Mobile-Enabled Emergency Notification System? Take This Short Survey. | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Recently, there have been several emergency or near emergency situations in Newtown Township. On March 7, 2018, during a snow emergency power failure, the Township Building was open as a “warming center,” but before any township residents were made aware of this, power was restored; on October 5, 2018, the Bucks County Community College was locked down due to a supposed terrorist threat, but residents did not get immediate alerts sent to their cell phones; on October 24, 2018, Swamp Road and Route 413 experienced significant traffic delays due to an accident, but many residents were unaware of the problem.

 

The list goes on. And although the Newtown Police Department and/or the Township Manager were able to post information about some of these events on Twitter and Facebook or via email homeowner association management companies, these notices reached a limited number of residents, reached them too late, or never reached them at all.

 

Would you opt-in to receive Emergency Alerts, Advisories (less urgent need-to-know information), Community Information (day-to-day neighborhood to community-level information), Traffic (very localized traffic information), etc., via mobile phone, email or hard line phone?

 

TAKE THIS SHORT SURVEY!

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Yardley's "Bully" Council Member Mike Ruttle's Statements Spur Adoption of "Safe Council" Resolution Against Bullying

Under the non-binding “safe council meeting” resolution approved Wednesday evening, any council member can request an officer’s presence during executive sessions if they believe they fear for their safety. Councilwoman Sandi Brady introduced the motion, a little over a month after decrying alleged bullying from Councilman Mike Ruttle in a public statement (for more on that, read “Yardley Borough Councilwoman Cites "Pervasive Bullying Mentality" on Council”).

 

Yardley council now allows its members to request a borough police officer attend closed-door executive sessions, following what multiple officials have described as repeated problematic behavior from Councilman Mike Ruttle.

 

The remaining six council members unanimously approved the “safe council meeting” resolution Wednesday night. The non-binding motion states “council desires to provide a safe and bully-free environment” and that council can authorize the required expenditures for an officer to attend council, executive or committee meetings at any member’s request.

 

Borough police Chief Joseph Kelly, who already attends council meetings, said he most likely would be the officer to attend executive sessions if asked, and would do so for free.

 

Councilwoman Sandi Brady introduced the resolution, after bringing attention to what she described as a “pervasive bullying mentality” stemming from Ruttle in a public statement Oct. 2.

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1st Annual Shop With A Cop: Sunday December 2, 2018 at the Target Store 2331 E. Lincoln Hwy, Langhorne, PA  19047

1st Annual Shop With A Cop: Sunday December 2, 2018 at the Target Store 2331 E. Lincoln Hwy, Langhorne, PA  19047 | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

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.

The Shop with a Cop program is funded solely through the generosity of our local community’s residents and businesses. Each child is allotted a $150.00 gift card to purchase gifts for themselves and their family members.  Volunteers from the community assist with gift wrapping, hosting, and registration.  The Newtown Township, Newtown Borough and Upper Makefield Township police officers volunteer their own time to support the program.

Our event will be on Sunday December 2, 2018 at the Target Store 2331 E. Lincoln Hwy, Langhorne, PA  19047.  Times will be scheduled to accommodate the kids and officers. This is our first Shop with a Cop event. We will be working with Middletown Township Police to assist us.

Much thanks to Target for hosting the program and providing supplies.  A special thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers and the Council Rock School District for supporting this program. 

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Newtown Borough Votes to Engage in "Friendly" Eminent Domain Discussions to Acquire Unspecified Land for Open Space

Newtown Borough Votes to Engage in "Friendly" Eminent Domain Discussions to Acquire Unspecified Land for Open Space | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The borough council on November 7 voted unanimously to authorize its solicitor to engage in “friendly discussions” regarding the possible acquisition of a borough property through eminent domain.

Council also voted to form a special committee to discuss the timing of various actions in connection with the possible acquisition.

And they named councilors Julia Woldorf, Bob King and Tara Grunde-McLaughlin to represent the council on the Committee.

Council did not publicly say what property is under consideration nor did it provide any details regarding the potential acquisition. They did indicate the property would be preserved as open space if the land is acquired.

Eminent domain is a tool municipalities can use to acquire land either through a friendly or forced condemnation for public purpose like preservation of open space or construction of a public works project, including bridges, highways, roads or similar structures.

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Bensalem Residents Approve a 1 Mill Tax Increase For Volunteer Fire Companies

Bensalem Residents Approve a 1 Mill Tax Increase For Volunteer Fire Companies | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Fire companies in Bensalem will be getting a financial boost after voters on Tuesday approved a tax increase to benefit them.

 

The referendum, which called for a one-mill property tax hike to benefit the six companies, was approved by voters on Tuesday, 9,189 to 6,991.

 

The question read: "Shall the Township Council of the Township of Bensalem be authorized to increase the real property tax for the operation and maintenance of the volunteer fire companies serving the Township by an additional one (1) mill?"

 

In Bensalem, the average property's assessed value for tax purposes is $23,600. That would amount to a $23.60 annual increase in property taxes, officials say. The township's council approved putting the question to voters earlier this year.

 

[What about EMS? View this video - “Evan Resnikoff Speaks About EMS Crisis”]

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Construction Begins on Falls Wawa Even As Law Suit Continues to "SLAPP" Residents Who Opposed It

Construction Begins on Falls Wawa Even As Law Suit Continues to "SLAPP" Residents Who Opposed It | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Work on the Wawa near the Falls-Morrisville municipal border was scheduled to start Monday, weather permitting, a construction company representative confirmed. Developer Morrisville Commons received construction permits from the township in early October, after a zoning appeal that previously had held up the project was withdrawn in early August.

 

Still ongoing is an $11 million lawsuit the Wawa developer filed in October 2015 against some local business owners and residents who opposed a previous plan for the Wawa, a Rite Aid and restaurant at public meetings (read “Falls Wawa Developer Wins Case Brought by Local Service Station But “SLAPPs” a Lawsuit Against Residents Who Spoke Up at Public Meeting”). Those opponents are accused of delaying the township’s approval of that plan and costing the developer rental income from the businesses.

 

In the latest case motion, dated Friday, the Giant Plaza owner’s attorney repeated arguments that the lawsuit was “intended to strong-arm (the owner) into foregoing their participation” in public meetings, and as such was filed in “bad faith and for an improper motive.”

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What's Next for Ordinance Amendment to Allow Wawa on Newtown Bypass?... It's Complicated!

What's Next for Ordinance Amendment to Allow Wawa on Newtown Bypass?... It's Complicated! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Solicitor Dave Sander explains the possible next steps in the text amendment to the OR zoning JMZO ordinance that would allow a Wawa on the Bypass at Lower Silver Lake Road.

 

I also include a "flow chart" in an attempt to visualize the steps involved. The timeline could extend to many months, possibly beyond the 2019 elections!

 

See here for the video and more details.

 

 

johnmacknewtown's insight:

BTW, I tried - unsuccessfully - to get the draft amendment into the public domain, but Mr. Sander insisted on following the letter of the Right-to-Know law, whereas if the Board wished, that document could be made public. I agree, however, that sometimes it is best to keep draft documents under wraps until they become final. It's a moot point in this case, because the Planning Commission went through each item in the draft at its Oct 16, 2018, public meeting, which I summarized here.

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johnmacknewtown's curator insight, October 30, 9:17 AM

I tried - unsuccessfully - to get the draft amendment into the public domain, but Mr. Sander insisted on following the letter of the Right-to-Know law, whereas if the Board wished, that document could be made public. I agree, however, that sometimes it is best to keep draft documents under wraps until they become final. It's a moot point in this case, because the Planning Commission went through each item in the draft at its Oct 16, 2018, public meeting, which I summarized here.

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$1.6 Million Available for Traffic Improvements BUT It Can't Be Spent!

$1.6 Million Available for Traffic Improvements BUT It Can't Be Spent! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Whenever new residential or business developments are proposed for Newtown, the impact on traffic is a major concern of residents (read, for example, “Newtown Board of Supervisors Shoots Down Drive-thru Starbucks” and “Super Wawa Survey Comments” and “Arcadia Green Development Hearings”).

In order to mitigate these concerns, the township collects traffic impact fees from developers to make capital improvements to accommodate traffic generated by new development. Eligible improvements include adjustments to existing traffic signals, new traffic signals, auxiliary turn lanes, etc.

Currently, Newtown has accumulated approximately $1.6 million in traffic impact fees but is unable to use those funds because it lacks an updated capital improvements plan, which is necessary for the use of those funds.

So, how can these funds be unleashed? Find out here...

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Newtown Supervisors Promote Micah Lewis to Township Manager

Newtown Supervisors Promote Micah Lewis to Township Manager | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Having served as interim-manager since mid-July, assistant township manager Micah Lewis was officially appointed township manager at the Oct. 24 supervisors’ meeting in a unanimous vote.

 

He replaces Kurt Ferguson, who left in July after six years to take the township manager’s job in neighboring Lower Makefield under a two-year contract.

 

In nominating Lewis for the position, Chairman Phil Calabro praised him for doing a “great job.”

 

“I thank the board for your confidence and look forward to working with the staff here,” Lewis responded.

 

“It’s a different life in the barrel of the shotgun” he joked about his promotion. “I enjoyed it up to this point.”

 

Voting for the appointment were: Calabro, along with Supervisors Linda Bobrin and John Mack, Dennis fisher and Kyle Davis.

 

Township solicitor David Sander is currently drafting an employment contract for Lewis for approval by both parties.

 

In the 2019 proposed budget, the township manager’s salary is set at $115,000 a year.

 

Lewis was working at the Doylestown-based engineering firm Boucher & James, Inc. when he was hired as Newtown’s full-time assistant township manager in February 2015.

 

He had been brought on to handle planning and development, as well overseeing parks and recreation matters and improving the township’s technology.

 

Meanwhile, Ferguson has been retained as a consultant to Newtown Township at $75 an hour and has helped Lewis prepare the proposed $14.34-million 2019 general fund operating budget for the fiscal year beginning Jan. 1.

 

At this time, the no-tax increase package calls for hiring an additional police officer, three new police cars and other capital purchases, including several new public works vehicles to replace aging ones.

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Craft Beer Brewery, Food Trucks and Fun Coming to Newtown Commons This Summer

Craft Beer Brewery, Food Trucks and Fun Coming to Newtown Commons This Summer | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

A new craft brewery is opening in Bucks County. The Newtown Brewing Company will be setting up in Newtown Township, and anticipates a summer 2019 opening, the owner confirmed to Patch.

 

Gregg Bonstein, Newtown Brewing Company owner, said the business has received full approval from Newtown Township to move forward on its plans for a brewery in the Newtown Business Commons (read “Summary of August 22, 2018, BOS Public Meeting” - includes video of comments from the Planning Commission chair).

 

Newtown Brewing Company will be located at 103 Penns Trail, and will share a 10,000-square-foot building with Sir Speedy. The brewery will have about 4,600 square-feet of space, with half of it dedicated to brewing, manufacturing, and warehouse uses, with the other half as a taproom open to the public, according to Bonstein.

 

Renovations to the building will begin in mid to late November, with a summer opening anticipated, said Bonstein.

 

The taproom will be open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday, with the following hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

 

Bonstein anticipates having 10 beers on tap, with a rotating schedule of lagers, IPAs, Belgians, wheat beers, stouts, pale ales, and some "fun experimental stuff." For those who prefer an alternative to beer, there will be cider, wines and spirits.

 

Bonstein said he has plans for a rotating food truck schedule, as well as other fun events like live music, trivia, movie nights and more. The space will also be available for private party bookings.

 

"Our plan is for the taproom area to a fun relaxed environment with close ties to the Newtown community," he said.

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Trends in Newtown’s “Volatile” Earned Income and Property Transfer Taxes

Trends in Newtown’s “Volatile” Earned Income and Property Transfer Taxes | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

In this post, I focus on Earned Income Tax and Real Estate Transfer Tax, which are “volatile” in the sense that they depend on the state of the economy and the actions of neighboring townships that are beyond the control of Newtown planners.

 

Read it here...

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The Newtown Township Planning Commission Stymies - For Now - Path Forward for Wawa

The Newtown Township Planning Commission Stymies - For Now - Path Forward for Wawa | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

At its October 16, 2018, public meeting, Newtown Planning Commission members ripped apart the proposed ordinance amendment (a so-called “text amendment”) to the Newtown Area Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO) that is designed to allow a “modern, motor vehicle fueling center consisting of a convenience store with accessory motor vehicle fuel sales” on the Bypass. The ordinance was drafted by developers and their legal counsel and modified by Newtown Township officials specifically for a Wawa Super store, a sketch plan for which was first presented to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) in May, 2018 (read “Developer and Attorney Present Their Case for a WaWa Superstore on the Newtown Bypass”).

 

The following is a summary of the questions and comments made by Planning Commission members regarding this proposed Ordinance, which would amend the OR District zoning regulations to allow for this conditional use, which otherwise does not allow such use. The Planning Commission review is the first step before the draft ordinance is presented to the Jointure for approval by all three members (Newtown, Wrightstown, and Upper Makefield). Newtown is the only municipality in the Jointure that encompasses an OR District.

 

Find the comments by the Commission as well as audio of comments by residents here.

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Path Forward Nebulous for Newtown Township Wawa

Path Forward Nebulous for Newtown Township Wawa | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Township planners say a developer has work to do before it can proceed with plans to build a Wawa with gas pumps off Newtown Bypass.

 

The township planning commission recommended at its meeting Tuesday evening that attorneys for the township and the Provco Group revisit a draft zoning amendment, which the developer had authored to permit the Wawa where the bypass intersects with Lower Silver Lake Road.

 

[For more background, read:

 

The amendment would create a new “motor vehicle fueling station” use under the Newtown Area Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance, with specifications such stations must meet to be permitted within the ordinance’s office research district. Standalone convenience stores and gas stations currently are not allowed in that district, where the 5,585-square foot Wawa with 16 fueling stations is proposed.

 

The Newtown Area Zoning Jointure also includes Upper Makefield and Wrightstown. Planning commission Chairman Allen Fidler said, because neither township has an office research district, both likely will approve Provco’s proposed amendment if Newtown Township does so first.

 

Before any vote on the amendment, planners said Provco needs to return to the commission after revising aspects of the draft. The specifics of the amendment are of key importance, in that they could have long-term ramifications for future development along Newtown Bypass, commission members agreed.

 

For example, the township could be seen as creating an uneven playing field if it were to give Wawa leeway to install LED signage after turning down similar requests from previous developers, planners said.

 

In addition, an allowance for the chain to remain open 24 hours could create potential for crime after hours, commission members said.

 

A majority of the approximately 15 residents in attendance spoke out in opposition to the Wawa.

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A Scary Preliminary 2019 Budget, But at Least It Calls for More Roads to be Repaved

A Scary Preliminary 2019 Budget, But at Least It Calls for More Roads to be Repaved | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The ghouls, goblins and skeletons were all there last night at the 2019 Budget Presentation. These guys greeted me at the door!

 

Interim Township Manager Micah Lewis and former Manager, Kurt Ferguson - now a consultant working for Newtown - presented some pretty scary numbers to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) throughout the night. Those numbers have to do with:

 

  • unpredictable Earned Income Tax (EIT Definition)
  • decreasing Real Estate Transfer Tax Definition
  • alarmingly low predicted year-end General Fund Definition balance
  • the looming shortfall in the debt service fund

 

I will post more information about these scary items in the next couple of weeks leading up to Halloween. The budget itself should become available for public access soon after it is approved for advertising, which I expect will happen at the next BOS meeting on October 24, 2018.

 

For now, I will focus on some good news: the budget includes a road paving program.More about that here.

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Political Tracker Working for Brian Fitzpatrick Posed as Courier Times Reporter at Scott Wallace Event

A Philadelphia man falsely told Wallace he ”(files) for Bucks County Courier” while questioning him on camera as a part-time tracker with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s campaign, which cut ties with him after learning of his behavior. Five videos Ariel Benjamin Mannes shot at campaign events were uploaded to a YouTube channel housing more than 600 videos of Democratic candidates for dissection by opposition researchers.

 

In today’s high-stakes political landscape, trackers are there to catch politicians in their less-guarded moments. Both parties enlist trackers under the radar, hoping to cultivate and capture footage of their opponents off the stump speech. One memorable slip-up — highlighted in a campaign ad or a viral video — could swing an election.

 

Last month, “Ben Mendelson” [real name: Ariel Benjamin Mannes] showed up at a Falls event, where Scott Wallace touted the importance of food stamps in Bucks County, and asked the congressional candidate multiple off-topic questions on camera. Nearly a week later, Wallace’s answers surfaced in a Washington Examiner editorial and a press release from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

 

This news organization learned Wednesday that the videographer was working for Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s re-election campaign. But unbeknownst to campaign representatives until a reporter reached out, that man submitted a guest opinion to this news organization last month under a pen name, then weeks later falsely identified himself to Wallace as a Bucks County Courier Times reporter while shooting video.

 

The man can be heard telling Wallace, “I file for Bucks County Courier in Philadelphia” before trailing off, in a YouTube video shot at a campaign event Sept. 15. The video was uploaded Sept. 25 to the channel “Democrat Tracking,” an anonymous depository for footage that opposition researchers can mine for soundbites to use against candidates. Previous finds have been spotlighted in conservative media outlets and Republican campaign ads.

 

[Shane Fitzgerald, executive editor for the Courier Times] said neither Mannes nor a “Mendelson” had ever worked for the Courier Times. The newspaper’s editorial policy requires guest opinion authors to provide their real full names, hometowns and phone numbers to be considered for publication — a measure Fitzgerald said helps the paper keep accountable as well as provide the authenticity of the author. “But that’s obviously not foolproof,” he said.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

The congressman indicated Mannes’ behavior was “completely unacceptable” and that the campaign’s working relationship with him immediately ended, Fitzgerald said.

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Doylestown Borough Budget Talks Propose Fee Increases Rather Than Tax Hikes

Doylestown Borough Budget Talks Propose Fee Increases Rather Than Tax Hikes | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Doylestown Borough’s first 2019 budget meeting Thursday had council members apparently favoring fee increases over a tax hike to cover a projected $388,000 shortfall in next year’s general fund balance.

Most of the “modest” permit and fee increases raised by Borough Manager John Davis during Thursday’s three-hour meeting were generally $5 to $10 changes for event and special parking permit fees, some which haven’t been raised in over a decade.

“A lot of these fees — over the years — we’ve been reluctant to raise them, because individually they wouldn’t generate significant revenue,” Davis told members of borough council and finance committee.

Much of the gap between projected revenues and spending comes from increases in the borough’s portion of the Central Bucks Regional Police Department budget, which Borough Manager John Davis said was about 4.43 percent higher than last year.

While the regional police budget is not expected to be finalized until later this month, Mayor Ron Strouse said the increase in the department’s budget was in part due to a more accurate projection of overtime costs, but an increase in police pension costs also contributed to the spike.

Davis added that projected revenues in 2019 are about half a percent lower compared to this year, partly due to an underwhelming real estate market.

Borough officials are expected to continue reviewing future challenges to keep its projected $4.7 million capital projects reserve fund stable.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Interesting. Newtown Township budget talks begin Monday, October 15, 2018. The Newtown Twp Manager will present a draft of the 2019 budget to the Board of Supervisors. The final budget must be approved by December 31, 2018. This important meeting will also be televised live and can later be viewed via channel 22 on Comcast Xfinity and Chanel 40 on Verizon FIOS. See the rebroadcast schedule for the days and times: http://www.newtownpa.gov/newtown-township-board-of-supervisors/#

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Yardley Borough Councilwoman Cites "Pervasive Bullying Mentality" on Council

Yardley Borough Councilwoman Cites "Pervasive Bullying Mentality" on Council | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

A Yardley Borough Councilwoman, saying she has been repeatedly bullied by a council colleague, is calling on the council to take action to end what she says is a “pervasive bullying mentality and culture on council.”

In a public statement read at the October 2 meeting, Councilwoman Sandi Brady said the most recent bullying took place during a late September executive session called to interview two finalists for borough manager.

At that meeting, Brady said Councilman Mike Ruttle “unleashed his rage on me” and called on her to resign. Brady said she walked out of the session along with Councilman Ryan Berry, leaving Ruttle, Council President Bryon Marshall and members David Bria, Caroline Thompson and Matt Ross to finish the meeting.

“The fact is this was not the first time I have been on the receiving end,” said Brady. “I have been repeatedly targeted since I joined council. And everyone on council knows it. There is in fact a pervasive bullying mentality and culture on council.”

As with most bullies and their targets, Brady continued, “Mr. Ruttle doesn’t know me at all. We have never had a one-on-one conversation. We have never worked on a committee together. He simply targeted me at the onset and has repeatedly undermined and insulted me since I joined council.”

Brady said when she made requests of the former borough manager, “Mr. Ruttle would give a direct order not to fulfill my request.” And at an executive session in April, she said, “Mr. Ruttle sat with his back toward me as I presented research and analysis that Mr. Berry and I had spent hours preparing. Then he yelled and he screamed. He has called me a viper, the enemy, poison and the worst thing to happen to this town.

“All of my colleagues, including the solicitor, have witnessed Mr. Ruttle’s attacks on me, but unfortunately politics and the power of a vote sometimes carry greater weight than human decency or doing the right thing,” said Brady. “Thursday’s executive session was no exception,” she said.

“Unhappy with the outcome of the search committee process, and I remind you I was not and never was the chair of that committee, Mr. Ruttle unleashed his rage on me, he yelled insults at me and called on me to resign,” said Brady.

With the exception of Councilman Ryan Berry, “bystander apathy once again took hold of my colleagues,” said Brady. “Mr Berry and I walked out of the meeting. So let me ask you, ‘If you were Mr. Ruttle, would you change your behavior?’”

Ruttle did not attend the October 2 meeting. And BucksLocalNews.com was unsuccessful in reaching Mr. Ruttle for comment.

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Council Rock Gets $20K Grant To Prevent, Reduce School Violence

Council Rock Gets $20K Grant To Prevent, Reduce School Violence | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Council Rock School District has received $20,000 in funding from the state to help reduce and prevent violence in schools, officials announced on Thursday.

The money will be used for a number of programs, including improved anti-violence efforts involving schools, local law enforcement, parents, and community organizations, the state said.

Details on exactly what these programs will look like have not yet been made available.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

IMHO, this money should be used to support student lobbying lawmakers for better gun control measures such as thus proposed by a Newtown Twp Resolution passed not too long ago:“Newtown Township Passes Gun Safety Resolution After Emotional Student Testimony”.

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Celebration to Mark the Grand Opening of the Newly-Restored Newtown (Borough) Common

Celebration to Mark the Grand Opening of the Newly-Restored Newtown (Borough) Common | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The newly restored Newtown Common at the foot of West Greene Street will officially open to the public during a public celebration on Sunday, October 14.

 

A ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m. inside the Newtown Theatre, 120 North State Street. Light refreshments will be provided. The ceremony will be followed by the official grand opening of the park at 2 p.m.

 

The Newtown Common and Creek Restoration Project was completed by Flyway Excavating, which was awarded a contract by the borough earlier this year to revitalize and restore the small patch of history, which once included more than 40 acres of open space along the east and west side of the Newtown Creek in the heart of town.

 

The Common, when it was laid out in the late 1600s by William Penn, was designed as a focal point of the town and was used as a pasture for livestock and for other common purposes - public speaking, business and recreation.

 

Unfortunately the Common was left unattended over the years and became overgrown, which resulted in the sale of all but one of the common lots to fund the construction of the Centre Avenue Bridge and other projects in the late 1700s. The last remaining lot is located at the foot of West Greene Street on both sides of the creek and is marked by a stone memorial.

 

Borough councilwoman Julia Woldorf, working in partnership with the Newtown Creek Coalition and the Borough (which owns the land), secured state and county funding to restore the lot and bring attention to the historic piece of land.

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Yardley Borough Council Offers Manager's Job to Longtime Employee Paula Johnson

Yardley Borough Council Offers Manager's Job to Longtime Employee Paula Johnson | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

After a search that got off to a contentious start, the Yardley Borough Council found its new manager inside its own borough hall.

In a unanimous 6-0 vote on October 2, council extended the job offer to assistant borough manager/secretary Paula Johnson, who has been serving as acting borough manager since the resignation of John Boyle in February.

The announcement brought a standing ovation and extended applause from a packed house of more than 50 residents, including Johnson’s family and friends.

“I just want to say how much I agree that she can do this job,” said Council Vice President David Bria, who headed up the search with councilwoman Sandi Brady and who made the motion to extend the job offer. “This is not a reluctant decision.”

Bria continued, “There’s a lot of history here that we have spent the last few months discussing - about how things were run downstairs under the previous manager,” said Bria. “I want this to be a fresh start.

“We have someone in Paula Johnson who can step into this job, who is qualified and willing to learn and has the number one quality that we need in someone who is going to hold this position - she cares about this town,” said Bria.

Johnson, who has worked under three borough managers and is the daughter-in-law of the late borough mayor S. Edward Johnson, will now take the helm as the borough’s new full time manager.

“I am very excited,” said Johnson after the meeting. “I am honored to be able to do this job and represent the borough. I love the borough. I love the residents. It’s my home. My family has been here for such a long time.”

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Two Bucks Towns Pass Bamboo Regulations

Two Bucks Towns Pass Bamboo Regulations | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Northampton supervisors approved an ordinance in August, setting requirements for new and old bamboo following residential complaints about the plant’s invasive nature, while last month Lower Makefield supervisors tightened a bamboo ordinance the board originally passed in 2016.

 

Two townships’ recent votes on bamboo ordinances are likely to satisfy a number of residents, unless they happen to be panda bears.

 

Residents cannot plant new bamboo unless they contain its root system entirely within an above-ground planter or barrel, or they enlist an “experienced installer,” who must provide certification to the township, to install a barrier that meets six design standards for thickness and depth.

 

Once dead or destroyed, bamboo cannot be replanted unless it is in compliance with the ordinance.

 

Those found in violation could be found guilty of a summary offense in district court and fined $1,000, with each day a violation persists constituting a new offense.

 

Bristol Township, New Britain Township, Perkasie, Quakertown and Yardley are among the Bucks municipalities to regulate bamboo in recent years.

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How's the Newtown Township Financial Garden Doing?

How's the Newtown Township Financial Garden Doing? | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Budget season is upon us! The draft 2019 budget is currently being worked on by Newtown Township officials and will be presented to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) for discussion at a public meeting later this month. The public, as always, is invited to attend this meeting. Refer to the Events calendar to find out when this meeting is scheduled.

Meanwhile, two financial reports were presented to the BOS at the September 26, 2018, public meeting:

2017 Audit Report
Newtown Township Finance Committee Report

 

View the videos of the presentations and download the reports here.

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Newtown Supervisors Agree to Draft Anti-discrimination Ordinance to Protect LGBTQ Community

Newtown Supervisors Agree to Draft Anti-discrimination Ordinance to Protect LGBTQ Community | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The board of supervisors has agreed to expand anti-discrimination protections to the LGBT community for public accommodations, housing and employment within the township.

At the Sept. 26 meeting, the board unanimously voted to give township solicitor David Sander the authority to draft a proposed ordinance after hearing a presentation from Yardley Borough Council Vice President David Bria.

The measure would also establish a township-run human relations commission to handle all discrimination complaints.

Voting for the motion were Chairman Phil Calabro, along with fellow Supervisors, Linda Bobrin, John Mack, Dennis Fisher and Kyle Davis.

Earlier this year, Bria had introduced a similar measure in Yardley which passed in March. It extends legal protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Yardley became the fifth municipality in Bucks County to enact such a law, following the lead of Doylestown, New Hope, Newtown and Bristol Boroughs.

Yardley’s ordinance was modeled after the Doylestown law which enhanced LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rights.

Bria told the Newtown supervisors that such an ordinance is needed because LGBT protections are not specifically mentioned in federal and state anti-bias statutes. Because of those statutory exclusions, interpretations are left up to elected officials and the courts.

“Currently there is no federal law which references sexual orientation and gender identity,” he emphasized.

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I am a retired small businessman who has lived in Newtown Township PA since 1995. The opinions expressed here are solely mine and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.