News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents
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News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents
These Scoops are excerpts from articles published in local newspapers and other sources. Please click on the "From" link to access the full original article. 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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Neshaminy School Student Art on Display on "Middletown M" Outdoor Electronic "Billboard"

Neshaminy School Student Art on Display on "Middletown M" Outdoor Electronic "Billboard" | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Art crafted by students at all district schools will be on display over the next several months on the Middletown M monument, a large electronic advertising structure that replaced a vacant transmission shop at the corner of Business Route 1 and Bristol Oxford Valley Road in Middletown.

The visual art show will be shown several times a day and is a cooperative effort between Neshaminy and the M’s owner, Catalyst Experiential.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  • “Catalyst Outdoor Advertising Paid Kickback to Lower Southhampton Solicitor. The Same Company Made Two Pitches to the Newtown BOS in 2016”; http://sco.lt/8AlwYL
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A Large Electronic Billboard – Touted as “the Middleown Monument” – is Being Erected at Intersection of Route 1 and Oxford Valley Road Near Wawa!

A Large Electronic Billboard – Touted as “the Middleown Monument” – is Being Erected at Intersection of Route 1 and Oxford Valley Road Near Wawa! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

A spot in Middletown on its border with Falls will soon be an electronic fountain of information.

 

Catalyst Outdoor Advertising of Newtown Square, Delaware County, is erecting a large electronic billboard called the Middletown Monument at the corner of Business Route 1 and Bristol Oxford Valley Road, less than a half-mile from the Oxford Valley Mall.

 

The "monument" will replace a transmission repair shop at the site that had been closed for several years and was considered an eyesore by many. Catalyst Founding Partner Thaddeus Bartkowski said the project should be completed early next month.

 

It will consist of a 45-foot-high M and T, standing for Middletown Township. Attached will be a 480-square-foot horizontal screen and two 450 square-foot vertical screens flashing various community or township informational messages — or paid advertisements from companies — every few seconds. One of the screens will be seen by motorists or walking or biking pedestrians approaching the intersection from three different directions, Bartkowski said.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Note that (1) Catalyst Outdoor salesman Robert DeGoria and Michael J. Savona, former Lower Southampton solicitor, each pleaded guilty to one count of false statements in U.S. District Court in March, 2018 (story here) and (2) DeGoria made a pitch for a similar electronic billboard to the Newtown Board of Supervisors on October 17, 2016 (video here). 

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Catalyst Outdoor Advertising Paid Kickback to Lower Southhampton Solicitor. The Same Company Made Two Pitches to the Newtown BOS in 2016

A former Lower Southampton solicitor has resigned from his prominent Doylestown Borough law firm one day after the release of the latest superseding federal grand jury indictment in the ongoing probe into allegations of corruption involving former Lower Southampton public officials. 


The Billboard Project 

The indictment also includes excerpts from text messages and telephone conversations between Waltman, Hoopes and “Solicitor 1” colluded to negotiate “consulting fees” that the sign company would pay Raff’s Consulting in exchange for the two officials’ assurances that the Board of Supervisors and other township officials would look favorably on the billboard proposal and lease agreement. Raff’s Consulting was a business owned by Bernard Rafferty that figures prominently in the federal government’s allegations of money laundering, according to the previous December and August indictments against the defendants.


Rafferty, 62, of Lower Southampton, is the former deputy state constable who worked out of Waltman’s district court. He is facing charges in the federal probe. 


The billboard company and its salesman were not identified in the Dec. 5 indictment, but Lower Southampton Board of Supervisor meeting minutes confirm that Savona was involved in negotiations last year with a subsidy of Catalyst Outdoor Advertising LLC of Malvern called Southampton Outdoor LLC. An attorney for Catalyst Outdoor confirmed Wednesday that the salesman identified in the indictment was former vice president of asset development Robert DeGoria. DeGoria is not criminally charged in the Lower Southampton probe. 


The company was seeking to place a two-sided advertising billboard in Russell Elliott Park. The agreement never came before the board of supervisors for a vote, according to township Manager John McMenamin. 


Minutes from last year corroborate the timeline outlined in the Dec. 5 indictment involving the billboard proposal and the alleged scheme to extort a payment for Waltman, Hoopes and Rafferty. 


The minutes show DeGoria, who recently was terminated from Catalyst and Southampton Outdoor, according to Catalyst’s attorney, appeared before the board of supervisors on April 27, 2016, to pitch the proposed LED billboard project. According to those minutes, DeGoria said it could generate revenue for the township as a place where local businesses could advertise. 


[Note: DeGoria appeared before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors twice in 2016 - once in June and once in October - to pitch putting a billboard on the Newtown Bypass at Silver Lake Park. No action was taken on the billboard idea.]


DeGoria sent a term sheet to “Solicitor 1” in May 2016 offering the township $48,000 a year over 30 years for the right to erect a billboard in the park, according to the new indictment. Lower Southampton supervisor minutes from May 11, 2016, confirm the Savona told the board he received a proposal from Catalyst for a double-sided billboard at Russell Elliott Park offering $48,000 a year for 29 years and 11 months. It also promised a 10-percent increase in the annual payment every 60 months. 


“Mr. Savona said that Catalyst needs to come a long way to match” another company that operated a one-sided digital billboard in the township that paid the township an annual fee of $50,000 with a 2-percent increase annually, according to the May 11, 2016, supervisor minutes. 


The Dec. 5 indictment confirmed that “Solicitor 1” and the supervisors thought the offer was too low and wanted $68,000 a year, money it planned to use for capital improvements and the general fund. 


In early November 2016, DeGoria sent a revised term sheet to “Solicitor 1” offering $60,000 a year over 30 years, and afterward according to the Dec. 5 indictment. DeGoria, Waltman and Hoopes allegedly entered into an “unlawful arrangement” where the public officials allegedly agreed to solicit, accept and conceal bribes through “Raff’s Consulting.”


In return, the public officials agreed to “influence actions taken by, and on behalf of, LST’s Board of Supervisors, LST officers, and ‘Solicitor 1’ to accept the company’s lease offer for the billboard at Russell Elliott park,” according the latest indictment. 


The Dec. 5 indictment specifically noted that in early November 2016, DeGoria asked Hoopes if someone could “influence LST’s Board of Supervisors to take a favorable view” of the new lease offer. 


“Yeah, I can do that,” Hoopes said, according to the Dec. 5 indictment, adding, “I’ll make it happen.” 


johnmacknewtown's insight:
At the June 8, 2016, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting, at least one supervisor thought a similar billboard on Newtown Bypass "deserved further attention."  See DeGoria's pitch made to Newtown Board of Supervisors on October 17, 2016. Nothing came of it. http://newtownpa.swagit.com/play/10182016-1806
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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.
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