.

HOME
CONTACT US


HOT ISSUES

SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT
COLONADE
MARCELLUS SHALE/Fracking
PESTICIDE SPRAYING
WAWA NEAR BAEDER
RED LIGHT CAMERAS
VOTING- ELECTIONS
ST.MICHAEL'S
SOLICITORS AT DOORS
POLICE MATTTERS
MANOR WOODS / SUMMERFORD
GALMAN Near LENOX RD
FLOODING
BILLBOARDS
COMMERCIALS ON TV
NOBLE TRAIN AREA
BAEDERWOOD SHOP CNTR
FAIRWAY TRANSIT DISTRICT
ZONING REWRITES
YOUR HOUSE RE-ZONED?
ZONING VARIANCES
WHERE TO FIND LAWS AND REGS
ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ORDINANCE
MCDONALDS- DUNKIN DONUTS
A PLACE TO MEET
TAX COLLECTION COSTS
YORK RD CORRIDOR PROJEct
ILLEGAL ALIENS
E-VERIFY PROGRAM


and more...
LOST AND FOUND
THE BUDGET PROCESS
THE TAX PROCESS
TAX ABATEMENTS
ZONING &
DEVELOPMENT
HUNTER SOCCER CLUBHOUSE
LORIMOR PONDS ESTATES
RYDAL WATERS
EMINENT DOMAIN IN ROSLYN
TV ACCESS CHANNELS
CORRIDOR REVITALIZATION
WILLIARD COMPLEX IN GLENSIDE
OPEN SPACE
ARDSLEY WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
DEER HUNTS IN TOWNSHIP
CELL PHONE TOWERS
CONTRACTORS
TRASH - PAY TO THROW
LITTER 
SCHOOL ISSUES
JOBS FOR OUR KIDS
ANONYMOUS REPORTING
TOOLS FOR RESIDENTS LIKE
WHERE TOFIND LAWS AND REGS


and more...

COMMUNITY GROUPS
ACTIVITIES -EVENTS
TOWNSHIP GOVERNMENT
FIND YOUR COMMISSIONER


and more...

CONTACT US
SITE MAP
INCLUDE YOUR ISSUE
ABOUT THISNETWORK
POLICIES
PRIVACY
DISCLAIMER
REPORT ABUSES
CORRECT AN ERROR
 


 

Regarding Postings:
All views
Pro and Con
including
multiple views
on either side
will be given
equal access
on this site.
 

The Abington Citizens Network
where Abington, PA residents can share ideas and join forces to build a better community
 

 

Channel 43 in Abington Township

PROGRESS / UPDATES / NEXT MEETING

    Please feel free to send   information to us  and please be sure to  contact us about any information you believe to be incorrect  - Please  verify info with your township  or Commissioner before relying on this information.

 

1-09 After the 2008 Budget process, it is really clear that residents would benefit  from the airing of finance, zoning and planning meetings that are, as yet , still not on the channel .  No they would not be watched by many - but the point is, that they would be seen by some.  As someone wrote to the local newpaper, it does not matter how many are seeing it - but that they are being seen.

_____________________________

2008
Who would have guessed......  Ok, maybe everyone.... The microphone games all year led to ... surprize .... a brand new purchase - in the neighborhood of  $20,000 for approx 10 mics and a few other pieces of equipment.   And while we have been told we had no money to film extra meetings, we seem to have had this money held in reserve....   

__________________________

December 17th, 2007 The microphones at the podium are so low that you cannot hear the people at the podium when the meeting airs.  The Commissioners however, are overly loud and one can even hear comments made that are inappropriate.

December 13, 2007  the Final Budget was approved  for 2008.  Only the four additional meetings were funded - the rest of the meetings were not funded, despite  nearly two years of requesting them.  The good news is .... that there is a 5.8 million dollar  surplus fund in this township and that in the opinion of some of us,  the Local Services Tax that was just imposed should not even have been approved  because of the incredible surplus and a lack of need shown. Only two Commissioners voted against the budget because of it - (Carlin & Zappone - kudos to them )   though a third ( Mike O'Connor ) registered his disapproval  of the tax before voting for the Budget. The 4 Committee meetings that were approved are to begin in February -They include the Public Works, Public Safety, Code Enforcement and Public Affairs,  none of the other meetings - (Finance, Planning Commission. etc )  were funded . And despite there being some language at the top of a Budget Meeting  agenda to the effect that this was one of the most important meetings of the year, they did not  see fit to film or air it.
At this meeting President Ring tried to refuse resident  comments at the end of the Committee section - others reminded him that there had been promises that they would allow that. 
Final analysis  for the end of  2007  - It has been nearly two years since we began this quest  to air meetings and lots of other community related things to make use of this magnificent resource.  The  Commissioners agreed  alsmost  immediately that something needed to be done ..... and a year later ( and many thousands of dollars later)  just one regular  meeting is being aired. 

November 6, 2007  Elections.  Commissioner Agostine will no longer  represent Ward 7  and we have a new fresh start also in Ward 1 .  There is hope for change.

Nov 1st Budget meeting  -   Amazing, but possibly true.  As we hear it, monies were only set aside for the additional 4 meetings not for the others requested and endlessly discussed .   $5500 was apparently agreed upon, which works out to approximately 115 per meeting  or 230 per evening .   Sometimes the evening only goes an hour or so - sometimes it lasts 3 or 4.  So if someone tries to add Zoning Hearing Board or Planning Commission meetings they will have to start all over again wrestling with the issue of where the funding will come from.  Should we pretend to be surprised.

October 29, 2007  Public Affairs  4 additional meetings were approved for airing starting in February.  Public Affairs - Public Safety - Code Enforcement  and  Public Works .    This will go to the Board of Commissioners for a final vote - so it is not a done deal yet. 

At the meeting - Commissioner Schreiber offered  a motion to amend the original 4 meeting motion  and include 2 more - the Zoning Hearing Board and Planning Commission meetings. This was initially approved unanimously ( don't get excited- it is days before the election.... we might have expected just this kind of thing ) then the whole issue was reconsidered (see what I mean) the votes for the extra two meetings were retracted. The outcome, of course, was that each Commissioner got to  show his constituents that he was "all for the airing of all the meetings" even though only 4 were left up for vote.   Apparently,  Commissioner Lynott forgot to figure out funding behind his motion - after a year and a half and special Committees to investigate....... yes...... the funding .......and  endless talk about it and a whole report on.......funding........ somehow that detail escaped him when he put forth the motion.  All the chatter thereafter went literally "back to square one" even with Commissioner Wachter revisiting the idea of whether anyone even wants these meetings.  It just boggles the mind to watch. (Maybe if you havent been to nearly 30 meetings about this very issue, it looks different to you - but picture this same scenario times 30.... )

  So the amendment ultimately was withdrawn  and only the 4 original  meetings were approved to go to the Full Board. But at the budget meeting Nov 1st Matt Lahaza will offer a "creative way " to cut costs - we have a small clue what that entails, and we feel pretty certain that the end result will be MUCH higher costs for taxpayers.
 
     Re: Open Comments-  Three Commissioners there tonite said that at the Full Board meeting they would allow open comments after their agenda items were done - others have advocated for it in the papers. I suggested that, according to the By-Laws, it would appear that any Commissioner has the opportunity to return  the "Open Comments " section to the agenda at the end of the meeting.

October 24, 2007 A film about firefighters was aired on the channel. we have requested to know how this was paid for and how it was produced.  ( The response was that it was  a Fire Recruitment video,  paid for out of Fire Department funds. 

October 11, 2007   Full Board meeting. Boy am I sorry I missed this one.  One resident signed up for the Pledge of Allegiance an item that was on the agenda, and wanted to talk about the meaning of the pledge and his right to free speech and he asked a question about the open comments and why they were gone and who voted for that.....But instead of getting an answer to his question, he got a police escort from the podium.  after that, the president of the board read a prepared statement into the record ( a right no longer afford it to the citizens on issues of their choosing). The statement that was read accused others of circulating grossly misleading information in charge that we had claimed all public comments had been banned from the board meetings.  he suggested that his new format allowed public comment on every item of business on the agenda prior to any vote taken by the commissioners.  Though in fact the sunshine law has always provided that and I could provide you with videotape that showed you it has always been done.  He attempted to claim that rather than remove your opportunity to freely comment on non-agenda items, this system would provide a more orderly,  comprehensive and effective way for residents to comment  ---   on items of business that are on the agenda were up for a vote.  He wrote his letter in such a way as to make it sound as if nothing had been taken away. But of course where we once were able to comment openly, we no longer can. Unless of course someone's feeling benevolent enough to ask anyone if they have an open comment that night - as happened with Commissioner Lynott after the public affairs agenda. A resident was allowed to speak - to ask for clarification about citizens open right to speak.  It was pointed out that he was speaking openly on a non-agenda item right then and there. He then went on to even comment on a non-public affairs item in order to complement another commissioner.  It seems to some of us more likely that this exchange was one that was intended to be captured by the cameras right before the elections since there has been such a hullabaloo in the newspapers about the loss of the open comments.  And along those same lines, Commissioner Lynott squeezed in a remark that he was planning to make a motion to tape and air the committee meetings at October's public affairs meeting. Might this also have been coincidence, that this was the last televised meeting before the elections.......... and this nugget offered by the commissioner who was unable to get anything more than one meeting  per month televised for a year and a half?

By the way, I asked and asked and asked to have the issue of the airing of the Meet the Candidates night put on the agenda tonight so that we would be allowed to comment on it and request that they make a motion to air it.  Though I addressed this correctly with my Commissioner, and made sure all the Commissioners were aware of it, it was not put on the agenda----so it would not have been an item that I may or may not have been  granted an opportunity to speak on had I been there. Previously I could have brought it up at the open comments section. The entire cable community was deprived of this very valuable tape.

October 3, 2007 Meet the Candidates night  School personnel would not approve the taping of the entire Meet the Candidates night . only half of it is  approved - ( and coincidentally channel 43 will only air meetings gavel to gavel)  we taped the entire Meet the Candidates night and will work to get permission to have it on channel 43.  Channel 43 is our government and education channel and there is little that could be more important in government or in education than picking those who will be directing it.


_______________
September 20, 2007  the three camera shoot begins.  We asked to have the original to Township cameras as backups for this meeting. 

September 15, 2007 We understand the three camera system is installed, though we have not been directly informed despite our request to know when this was happening.  the school channel will be number 850.  But will not be in operation until (surprise) after the elections.
_______________

August 30, 2007-
at the July board meeting I asked where channel 43 would be handled again and was told that there would be a workshop in August. It took me quite a bit of effort following up that information to actually learn the date of this meeting.  As it turns out, it was a budget related meeting and the discussion at the end of the meeting did not really relate to channel 43 at all but instead related to the August 9 removal of the open comments from the end of the meeting.  This was not an agenda item, nor was it opened in any way for citizen comment.  Instead it became a discussion among the commissioners about these open comments and an affirmation by the solicitor that, indeed, Commissioner President Ring did have the right to remove this open -comment segment from the agenda.  The solicitor even offered case law where it was evident that others had tried to challenge this right to speak unsuccessfully. Residents were now going to be told that they could bring problems to their commissioners if they wanted something put on the agenda, or they could attend a committee meeting to discuss their concerns.  But no more open comments would necessarily be entertained at the full board meetings.  Some commissioners suggested that day as individual chairs might be allowed to do that if they so desired.  But it was unclear as to when and where this might occur.
 

  Since the beginning of the televising of the meetings, the Commissioners have heard things similar to things that they have heard in the past but now these things are televised  for all Township residents to see.  The advantage to this is that when all people are watching the request then all people expect something to be done.  When only with one or two or half a dozen people are watching (because that might be all that came to a meeting) then things are less likely to be accomplished -- or in the very least there will be less criticism when they are not accomplished.  Oversight is a wonderful thing and are channel helps provide that.  But Commissioner Ring has found a way to suppress our voices even after we succeeded in finally getting the meetings televised.

  Some of the issues that were brought to the attention of the commissioners in this brief period of televised meetings included: they need to improve communications in the Township, the need to provide additional staffing in the zoning and code enforcement department, the need to deal with the illegal alien issue within our borders,  and of course the need to televise the committee meetings, to name just a few.

the August 9 meeting where the open comments were first removed was one of the very few meetings that this web writer has missed in the last year and a half , since beginning this quest to have channel 43 populated. It was only thanks to the fact that this meeting was televised that any of us even realize our right to free speech was limited. After the meeting aired, I had to rewind the tape four times to understand what Commissioner Ring had mumbled.  And one of the most heinous parts of this action was the effort that he took to try to make this look like was doing something to enhance the  speaking opportunities afforded to residents. he suggested he was moving it up to an earlier placed on the agenda.  However, residents have always had the opportunity to comment on items on the agenda were items coming to a vote.  That right is guaranteed by the Sunshine Law not granted by Commissioner Ring.  Residents have begun to speak out about this issue, thankfully.
____________

August 9th, 2007 
   
Channel 43 is still scrolling, with just one meeting per month aired and no other changes to its agenda.  But that is not the saddest part of this adventure.  At this meeting the president of the board of commissioners, Jim Ring,  took it upon himself to decide that the open comments section at the end of the meeting would no longer be offered to residents ( or commissioners) .  after a year and a half of fighting to get our voices heard on our government channel we will now have our voices suppressed at the whim of the president of the board.  He did not do it by motion, so other commissioners did not have an opportunity to vote yes or no, and residents had no opportunity to comment as it was not an agenda item ( which is all they can now comment on) .  This is truly a disservice to all Abington residents. But does anyone even realize it was done .....?   A giant step backward for openness and transparency and   It would appear to me everyone is not happy seeing residents share their concerns on TV.   Amazing. 
once again....are wqe surprized?

____________________

 June July    August  ---   Will have to catch you up on meeting of  6-4-07  Code Enforcement  /  6-6-06 Public Affairs and  6-14-07 Full Board Meeting - stay tuned  - the 7-2-07 Committee Meetings and, of course,  the 7-12-07 Full Board meeting  ( we have been sleeping haven't we?  ) At the 7-12-07 Board meeting, for instance,  Commissioner  Wachter claims implies that someone was trying to "force them" into making an immediate decision that would require them to spend $500,000 or more ( whaaaaa??? - quite the  opposite, I think )   

But in a nutshell we can say this:

Not a single "working" township meeting as requested is yet in view, let alone any plan made that is to be shared with the residents for the continued use of the channel - in addition Commissioner Wachter has expressed he would like to see that residents get limited to 2 minutes to talk about issues, I guess  so he can have more time to treat us to stories about his mismatched socks,  etc.   

5-10-07 At  the Full Board meeting of the Township Commissioners the $75,000  (1/2 of the Comcast Grant  ) was given to the School District to run its channel (  as expected ) .  Despite the request by so many residents to secure in writing that these monies be used to ensure the meetings are aired,  the monies were not designated so - BUT  since the School Board  already has indicated openly ( and in writing ) its intent to use the monies to air the meetings along with other programming, we recommended that the monies be given.  We made a point of noting that both the township and school could have been airing meetings this entire past year ( residents even offered to help over come any difficulties )  so while we are glad to see them moving forward, it is hard to ignore that the monies being spent  were not necessary .

  5-08-07  The School Board at its meeting stated in its anticipation of the grant that it would be for educational programming including the airing of meetings  !!!!  It is anticipated this will begin in Fall as they are investigating equipment etc. now.

5-2-07  At the Public Affairs Meeting the School was awarded 75,000 which ( effectively) is half of the grant monies received from Comcast ( and all that we are due to receive for the duration of the 15 year contract) . No contingencies were put on this award to ensure that the meetings are aired, however, the President of the School Board spoke and expressed their intent to air the meetings.   The Commissioners were asked about the plan for the rest of the channel, for getting other things aired. Amazingly, they suggested there is no plan.  After 15 months of being asked to get one and after the many, many hours and efforts that have been put in, that would seem a bit hard to believe.  It would seem to be more a factor of the public not being afforded the openness by the Commissioners to share in the making of one. 

4-18-07 the first meeting aired at 8 pm with just a few glitches ( and possibly aired for the next two days as well.)

4-17-07
More "technical difficulties "

4-16-07 The first meeting was supposed to air - Short segments aired without sound ( or correctly with garbled sound) Failure to air any signigificant portion of the meeting .

4-12-07  Full Board Meeting. The first meeting was videotaped. The Board was asked to provide a plan for the two channels it now plans to operate and not to give the second station to the school without a plan for how it will be paid for, especially when there is now 12 hours a day available to the shcool for its us which is only being used for scrolling.

4-4-07 Public Affairs  -
The bid specs, as expected,  were abandonned - this time before the poor bidders put in hours of their time, fortunately. The 3 camera option was approved, as was a plan to give the second channel to the school -  despite a lack of a plan for either channel financially.  Requests have been  made for this information   but  not obtained.

3-8-07  Full Board Meeeting - the Commissioners did indeed deny the lowest bidder the award and it appeared as if they will be re-bid..... but simultaneously a suggestion was  made to consider other options, specifically a 3 camera shoot as proposed by another bidder.  Where will that leave the next batch of bidders - provided anyone else does bid?  Will they again spend their time and then be told we've decided to do it another way?

2-28-07 Public Affairs meeting. The agenda included a motion to approve the award to the lowest responsible bidder in an amount not to exceed $25,000. Keep in mind the $25,000 is not the amount that was bid by Mr Garvin - it was an amount derived  by the Township - Mr Garvin's charges might have amounted to quite substantially less, given the times he calculated using the length's  of  this past year's meetings  as an example.  The Commissioners at the Public Affairs Committee  did not award Mr. Garvin the bid  and instead are planning to re-work the specs and re-bid.  Concerns about re-working the specs so that they favor other bidders seem valid. This whole process is just incredible to watch.

2-21-07 The Bid Specs were opened - There were three bidders  and one did not complete the specs required. The other two were very different in their pricing.

2-20 -07  If you read the Bid Specs then you know that there is nothing there designed to attract seriously competitive bids or to contain costs for the residents of Abington.  In fact it looks very much like they were designed to do just the opposite .  Many videographers were put out of the running and decided not to bid because of the nature of the specs.  But ----- the specs were just changed.  And these videographers won't have a chance to  even consider bidding since they missed the "mandatory meeting" .  This site is where you can find the guidelines that they are supposed to be using to run your township effectively  and to your benefit http://www.newpa.com/default.aspx?id=132. Among these are the Purchasing Guide and the Township Commissioner's Handbook. Also section 1802 under Contracts in the First Class Township Code is relevant    

Examples from the Purchasing Handbook /First Class Township Code or Commissioner's Handbook  that we think have been completely ignored by the Township are:

" Mandatory compliance with statutory procedures and bid instructions serves the goal of awarding contracts fairly and economically. Clear-cut ground rules for competition guarantee none of the contractors will gain an undue advantage through better information of the municipality’s operation, and strict adherence lessens the possibility of fraud and favoritism.15 page 10

Bid Changes. Describe methods and restrictions for making changes to bidding documents. Material changes in specification should be advertised in order to provide an opportunity to prospective bidders who may have chosen not to bid under the original specifications.18 All specification changes must be mailed to all bidders who have already picked up the bidders instructions and specifications.

Specifications
The specifications provide the common standard used to measure the bids received. They must be made available to all wishing to compete for the contract. The municipality cannot change the specifications without readvertising.19 page 11 …….. 

….In the preparation of plans and specifications for contracted work or materials, there are two basic problems.

The specifications may be so loosely drawn the municipality fails to receive the desired results, or they may be so unnecessarily restrictive all contractors will bid high in order to protect themselves at the expense of the Municipality
___________
Written responses to the questions should be provided to all bidders in addition to the bidder making the request. (NOT DONE, AS I WAS GIVEN TO UNDERSTAND)
______________________________________________
The municipality cannot change the specifications without readvertising.
_______________________________________________
In the preparation of plans and specifications for contracted work or materials, there are two basic problems. The specifications may be so loosely drawn the municipality fails to receive the desired results, or they may be so unnecessarily restrictive all contractors will bid high in order to protect themselves at the expense of the municipality. The purpose of good specifications and standards is to provide the bidders directions to enable the successful contractor to complete the project as desired by the municipality at a reasonable cost.
______________________

Only needed goods and services should be purchased. There should be a written statement (such as on a purchase request form, or elsewhere) by an authorized person that there is a need for the item(s) or services to be purchased. For small purchases this can be quite informal. As the amount to be spent increases, the explanation or justification must become more thorough. (ABINGTON TAXPAYERS CERTAINLY DO NOT NEED VIDEO MONITORING, NOR DO THEY NEED THE NAMES OF ALL THE PEOPLE WHO SPEAK, NOR DO THEY NEED TO HAVE MEETINGS TAPED ON 24 HOUR NOTICE WHEN THEY HAVE CLEARLY CHOSEN TO NOT TO TAPE ANY OF THEM FOR THE PAST 20 YEARS, NOR DO THEY NEED TO HAVE THE TOWNSHIP LOGO RUN ON THE LOWER PORTION…..etc etc etc )
_____
Purchases should be kept within budgeted limits. When the need for the purchase is stated, the budget account code against which the purchase is to be charged should also be given, along with a statement to the effect that funds are available for this purchase.

_______________________________

2-14-07  The mandatory meeting for Videographers was held.  Despite the fact that no significant changes to the bid specs are to be done without re-advertising, some very important parts of the bid specs were changed and confusing parts to the specs still remain.  We have asked the Township for an opinion as to whether the video specs do not have to be re-advertiased.

________________________________
1-29-07  The channel  bid specs HAVE BEEN RECEIVED  - the disgrace continues .....
click here to view  BID SPEC SUMMARY WITH NOTES  (8 PAGES)  OR BID SPECS THEMSELVES  (25 PAGES) .  This is sad to see.   I trust you will agree. 

1-07 Happy New Year - Let the Games Continue . ......

The Comcast Franchise Negotiations have finally been signed and the contract was brought to the Jan 11th Board Meeting for approval.  Residents who asked to be alerted learned only at the last minute.   The consultant's fee to negotiate the contract was apparently $25,000 . ( NOTE: THIS FIGURE WAS PRINTED IN THE NEWSPAPER - WE HAVE SINCE BEEN TOLD THAT THAT FIGURE IS NOT CORRECT AND THAT  ONLY $2,500 WAS SPENT - WE HAVE NOT HAD A CHANCE TO PERSONALLY VERIFY THE CORRECT AMOUNT)  Over $600,000 will come in to the Township treasury thanks to the Comcast subscribers (5% of the Comcast revenues are returned to the Township ).  That means that residents who do NOT have Comcast have already benefited handsomely thanks to the subscribers.  The long awaited channel grants total only $175,000 over the 15 year contract  and  were negotiated so as to be used for any purpose - rather than to be dedicated to  the channel underway, and despite the fact that we are having trouble getting ONE channel underway, we have negotiated now for two - at the expense of the monies needed to run the first.  No problem, if the Commissioners decide to get them both underway, they will simply approve the funds to do so.   The residents will have little say without starting a grassroots movement, as we have learned in this process.   To speculate: One option is that they may choose to spend the entire $175,000 on equipment  and then we could be in for the figures that ranged into the $90,000's for personnel, such as paid coordinators and assistants.  Although the $90,000 salaries were presented as just for airing the meetings, it would more likely end up that the paid coordinator would run the community events and more. Let's see, if that were to occur,  would we ever get the additional meetings on?  After all, they  COULD put them on now but won't.  Who knows?  This is all just speculation because we have been unable thus far to get any answers from those who ARE able to tell us what their intent is.  We will report as soon as we do.  

And now  a minute for commentary prompted by that inability to get information and some fascinating moments : Whoever said township meetings would be to boring to watch was definitely wrong.  At the end of the Jan 11th meeting  we had quite a session, thanks to some Commissioners who chose to use that forum to vent some fascinating comments.   Commissioner Agostine, for instance,  accused me of sharing lies and half truths - but I have asked repeatedly to have corrections for any information that is printed or shared in any way that needs to be corrected.  As she knows, I even offer to publish opposing opinions - but most importantly I strive to get facts and information straight. Residents are having trouble doing that sometimes, and it makes it hard for them to participate in their governmental process, Commissioner.  
       My own Commissioner, Gail Weilheimer asked how I dare to criticize herself and the other Commissioners. Well, I'll tell her how I dare.  I and other residents have been unable to get questions answered or replies from our Commissioners or township personnel in many, many instances. Far TOO many instances. I have watched Commissioners make incorrect statements from the dais and have even been told that I cannot say that they have. I have watched as the Presiding Officer of many meetings failed to follow the dictates of their own by-laws and interrupted residents, opposed residents' views and cut off residents' comments.  I have had Commissioners say I misrepresented things and refused to tell me what those things were so I could apologize if necessary or fix whatever could be fixed.   I have been trying since March to get the figures for the new trash program. I still have no figures - not one single Commissioner has stepped up and said  " I'll make sure you get them."  Yes, Commissioner Weilheimer,  it only takes one person on YOUR side of the dais to say: "This should not be happening in Abington Township and we can work to change it."   I have watched unbelieveable amounts of energy go into NOT answering a question that could have been answered in a minute.  All that (and more)  is what has kept my letters in the newspaper and my camera at your meetings.  This is a wonderful township. So many great people and assets. But there are a few things that need to change. So I am daring -- daring to try to press for those changes. I would like to think that you might have the same goal in the end.

  As for the bid process for the 12 to 15 meetings : it will be a competitively bid process.  The specifications are currently being put together by staff such that they will be advertised in the local paper the week of January 24.  They  will be looking for vendors who have professional experience and  we are requesting of them that they drop the possibility of  requiring a performance bond.  They  will probably specify more than one camera and hope to get as many interested vendors as possible to bid.  There will be a pre-bid meeting with interested vendors the week of February 5 to go over any questions.  Bid opening will be the week of February 19 so that they can hopefully make a recommendation of the lowest responsible bidder to the Public Affairs Committee on February 28.  As to “which meetings”, the intent is to video the monthly Board meetings and up to three additional meetings of special interest during the initial twelve month period. 

 


2006

12-14-06  As expected the motion previously presented passed.  There will be 12-15 meetings aired on a trial basis in the next year.  While many residents applauded that any meetings at all were being accepted at the last meeting, nearly all that I spoke to afterwards said they were not thrilled that no working meetings were included, but glad at least that SOME meetings finally got on.   At the meeting tonite, the Commissioners were again offered a tape made for only $60 of  a recent  meeting,  but again it was refused - this time the interruption came in the middle of  the presenter's comments when Commisioner Wachter called for the vote.  You would have to see this on tape to believe it.  By denying the viewing of the tape and the ability of all involved to see the quality of a product that could allow for not 12 meetings but nearly 100 meetings for the same cost, the Commissioners again did a disservice to the taxpayer .  The result will be that we will have fewer meetings, a LOT more cost and none of the meetings that the majority of the residents are requesting.  Abington residents have again, with this bizzarre behavior, been denied an opportunity to accept a reasonably priced product that would meet their needs. 

12-6-06  Another night of wonder . Residents walked in to the Public Affairs meeting  to find a motion all ready for a vote   " Motion to approve the  recording and televising of 12-15 Township Board Meetings  and Special Meetings over a 12 month trial period . This  is to give the Board of Commissioners  an opportunity to gain experience  which will help the board to evaluate and to arrive at a more permanent policy while expending  the least practical amount of money. 
And a second motion  to authorize staff to solicit competitive proposals for professional video recording services to record 12 to 15 meetings over a one year trial period.    "

      And amazingly, with a room full of people  Commissioner Lynott tried to pass that good motion lickety split before any discussion.  We halted him at the "all in favor"  part. This motion has nothing to do with what was being asked.  There are NO working meetings, No school meetings, NO Township activities and NO school activities.  Whom is this serving?
      In fact, Commissioners were acting like they had no CLUE what the school might do or have in mind ------after 7 months of working on a Committee with the School where these very things were discussed.  And not a single plan is offered for the Township activities and events  after endless meetings with that also as a topic. 
      Further, the exhorbitant employees and assistants recommended by the Ad Hoc Committee were apparently simply tossed out.  Instead an independent contractor  will be called in and will supposedly be bidding on meetings that they expect to pay only $300-$400 dollars for ( this figure down from the earlier estimate that came to somewhere between $1,800 & $2,800  per meeting  with employees / coordinators / assistant producers/ cameramen etc. )   Apparently another calculation has been made ( by Commissioner Lynott ?)   to arrive at the new amount . He apparently disregarded what his  Committee spent 7 months researching and recommended to him.
      Resident after resident got up and suggested that this was way too timid. That the time for testing the waters was long over.  That the WORKING meetings were what was desired.  But these comments were ignored as residents were offered no amended motions, just a choice of this or nothing. 
     In addition, though promised answers to their questions, residents again did not receive them.
In doing nothing asked of them,  they would  like to say that at last they have responded to residents requests as regards the meetings.........  
_________________________________

11/15/2006  Reprinted from the Times Chronicle  with permission
Commissioners hear more on Channel 43
By: Mischa Aaron Arnosky, Staff Writer   
11/15/2006

A non-agenda item sparked some conversation toward the end of an Abington Township Commissioners meeting Nov. 9.

Two residents complained of lack of progress in programming regarding the township and school district's government access channel, Channel 43. The channel, which is provided to both of those entities gratis from Comcast, has been criticized for providing residents with scrolling township-related messages rather than meeting coverage.
An ad hoc committee in charge of providing cost and program estimates for the channel was formed in May. A presentation given by committee Chairman John Jay O'Connor said costs for meeting coverage would range from about $64,000 to televise 12 meetings to $94,000 to televise 52 township meetings, while township Commissioner Lori Schreiber and Assistant Township Manager Matt Lahaza came up with a figure of $26,000.
Resident Lora Lehmann said during the Nov. 9 meeting that the ad hoc committee failed to come up with definitive answers regarding programming.
"In all these months there's no clear-cut proposal for a camera option which would be best [or] what number of people might be employed," Lehmann said. "There are lots of possibilities but we had [the possibilities] six or seven months ago. I don't know how you can come to any cost conclusion without those things defined."
Lehmanm's concerns were also brought up during the commissioners' Nov. 1 public affairs committee meeting. The consensus of the board at that meeting was that the ad hoc committee performed its task, even though more questions had to be answered.
Commissioners Chairman James Ring said during the Nov. 9 meeting that the committee did its job in providing the township with estimates for cost and programming and that it was not required to get into any more detail.
One resident said he would be happy with the use of one or two stationary cameras rather than an elaborate display.
"This situation with Channel 43 has been dragging on for a long time," the resident said. " I just have one question, 'Why?' Let's get this thing on the road - it's a benefit for the township."
The board said some of the delay has to do with ongoing talks with Comcast regarding grants, which might cover some of the equipment costs.
One unanswered question from the Nov. 1 presentation was how much the school district was willing to fund the channel. The school district estimated it needed about $68,000 for programming costs, but it was unclear who would pay for it.
For comparison, neighboring Cheltenham Township has a similar channel, Channel 42. It too has a scrolling format, but the school district airs live meetings and produced material. Township Manager David Kraynik said the channel doesn't cost the township much money.
"Like Abington's [Channel 43], Cheltenham Township shares a channel with the school district," Kraynik said. "We don't televise our meetings so there isn't a lot of overhead cost."
Kraynik said Cheltenham's Channel 42 remains focused on bulletin board information, similar to Abington's. He said the township recently entered into an agreement with a company to maintain the scrolling news format. Because it's funded by local advertisers, the only cost to the township is one full-time employee to interact with the maintenance company.
Although there haven't been any recent discussions about airing meetings, Kraynik said, the township airs one half-hour budget meeting per year with the help of the school district.
On the other side of the spectrum, Upper Merion Township Manager Ronald Wagenmann said it costs his township an estimated $280,000 annually to operate the township's Channel 22 - which includes about $200,000 in salary paid to two full-time and four part-time employees. Another $21,500 goes toward local talent.
Franchise fees with Comcast, which are projected to be about $430,000, cover all the costs of Channel 22, Wagenmann said.
"We have been [airing] the board of supervisors meetings and school board meetings since 1981 without censorship," he said. "It doesn't cost the taxpayers anything because it comes from the franchise fees."
Wagenmann said the township is now looking to stream video of all of its meetings online.
Abington's ad hoc committee met with Wagenmann and Upper Merion officials to sample some of Channel 22's programming and showed clips of it during the Nov. 1 public affairs meeting.
The public affairs committee will next meet at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 in the municipal building.

©Montgomery Newspapers 2006

____________________________________

11-9-06  Full Board Meeting
I brought up Channel 43 at the Citizens portion of the Full Board  Meeting and was met with exactly the same  response as I had at the last several meetings.  I asked to understand how costs could be derived without the features defined that we mentioned on 11-1 at the Public Affairs meeting.  We were refused an answer again.  When we ask the questions outside of the meetings, we are told that they will be answered in the meetings.  When we ask them at the meetings we are told that the meetings are not the place to do that .  When we are told our concerns will be discussed at the next meeting, they are not and we are bck in the same cycle. Does anyone else think that their government HAS to function this way. Because it doesn't.  This is  an example of broken government that needs to be fixed.  Those who would like to get together & work to change this in our Township should contact me.  It does not have to be this way in this Township.
_________________________________
 

Channel 43's future now lies with Abington commissioners
By: Mischa Aaron Arnosky, Staff Writer
11/08/2006
Email to a friendPost a CommentPrinter-friendly
Though questions still remain, Abington Township Commissioner James Ring said the Channel 43 ad hoc committee did its job.

Ring, during the Nov. 1 public affairs committee meeting, said more discussion is ahead regarding programming on Channel 43, which is provided at no cost to the township and the school board from Comcast. Ring said questions are left unanswered because the township is in ongoing talks with Comcast regarding a one-time grant - which will likely be used to purchase equipment.
Commissioner Jay O'Connor, chairman of the Channel 43 committee, said his group tried to "encapsulate everything it could think of" into the meetings, and he chalked any current questions up to "unforeseen events." He said the committee had the task of finding an estimated cost for an estimated number of shows. Committee members took in sample footage from neighboring Upper Merion's government access channel, Channel 22, regarding programming.
"This is a monumental portion of the road for Channel 43," O'Connor said.
O'Connor said initially the committee was looking to broadcast 12 meetings, but that number later increased to 52. O'Connor said the 52 meetings would include: 12 commissioners', planning commission, zoning hearing and code enforcement meetings; and four budget meetings. The estimated cost would be about $94,000.
Assistant Township Manager Matt Lahaza said the township could broadcast using fewer than four cameras, due to improved technology, and offered up a cost of $26,000 for 12 meetings. He also said the potential grant from Comcast may be important this year, but will have little to do with programming and staffing down the road.
"[A potential Comcast grant] will only be a one-time grant, to what's likely to be a 10- to 15-year franchise," Lahaza said. "Regardless of what happens in the first year, you've still got many years of budgeting to figure out if you want to go in that direction."
Township Commissioner Lori Schreiber came up with the same figure as Lahaza.
O'Connor said he thought Schreiber had agreed on 52 meetings.
"I don't agree that we should be spending $90,000," Schreiber said, "and I think that there's a low end and a high end, of what is available, and 36 meetings at $26,000 is a lot different ..."
O'Connor interrupted and said he misinterpreted what Schreiber meant by the phrase "12 or so."
The school district, with which the township splits access to Channel 43, came up with a number of about $68,000 to broadcast about 30 meetings - which would most likely take place after school hours. There was confusion as to where the money would come from.
Commissioner Robert Wachter asked O'Connor whether the school district would pay the $68,000. O'Connor said, "no."
Wachter said 80 percent of real estate taxes go to the school district and seemed surprised the township would have to front any of the school district's portion.
Following O'Connor's presentation, resident Lora Lehmann said the committee's findings were inconclusive and that it hasn't defined what equipment or staff costs will be.
Lehman, who has personally videotaped the Oct. 26 committee meeting and the Nov. 1 meeting, said the quality of her footage is reasonable and she would let committee members sample it. She said she was concerned about the board of commissioners striking down the idea because the estimates are prohibitively high.
She said the committee paid no attention to the prospect of keeping costs low and that the township is no closer to airing meetings than it was in February.
Public Affairs Committee Chairman William Lynott praised the Channel 43 committee for its hard work and said the board of commissioners is now in charge of fashioning a resolution. He said the township is inexperienced in the area of broadcast and that Channel 43 would probably start at a more modest level than discussed.
"It's likely in my view that we're going to have to make a proposal to start off at a more modest level than 52 or 87 meetings," Lynott said.

©Montgomery Newspapers 2006
___________________________________

11-1-06 Public Affairs Meeting
After 6 months "on the job" The Ad Hoc Committee results were  offered ........ as a spectrum of possibilities  - without any final and clear value for the cost of actually running the channel .
- What exactly is the cost of equipment that is intended  to be gotten from negotiations? 
- What is the whole cost when added up ? 
- What amount will have to be budgeted ?
- How much is the cost per meeting by these calculations ? 
- What OTHER duties exactly would this richly paid coordinator have? 
- How many hours of programming would we get for this ?  

None of this is apparent from ANY information offered by the Committee members.  This is one of the worst examples of bad government that I can imagine and I ask why anyone would take part in this willingly.  Any one of the Committee Members could  clear this up if he or she wants to, but thus far not one voice of reason has prevailed.  Figures of over $150,000 for 80 school and township meetings have been presented at $1,875.00 per meeting in salaries alone -- equipment estimates bring it to $2,800 per meeting .  What beyond the 80 meetings we are getting  is not defined.
Does anyone think this is OK?

No decisions were made to bring this to the Full Board.  Another  session of the Public Affairs Committee  will review it  on December 6th.

_______________________________________

10-25-06  The Final Ad Hoc Committee meeting.  First a presentation of Entertainment TV for the Channel was offered - for instance  a program by a local historical society .    Then Chief Kelly gave testimony that something other than live broadcasts should be considered because live TV sometimes attracts those that  pose a bit of a danger while trying to get a minute of fame.  Privacy rights were discussed. The Township solicitor will need to be consulted. Various estimates were discussed for the airing of the township meetings - No single final reccommendation could be discerned by this viewer .  The committee was thanked and dismissed  and apparently the entire range of possibilities ( which is what the Committee had when they started)  will be presented at the next Public Affairs meeting .  Could be 12 meetings - could be 52 meetings ...Could be Producer and assistant - could be a staff of many.....  ???? No concensus was reached so a course of action would be clear. In fact some Committee members themselves seemed confused about what these final "conclusions" were,  as were members of the audience. 

 __________________________________________
10-06  Next ad hoc meeting scheduled  for  10-25-06 .    It is anticipated that some plan from this session will be brought back to the Commissioners.  The apparent plan from the prior meeting is to NOT allow the filming of the meetings with the equipment we have, (cost-zero)  nor to allow the airing of currently available  school and community video (cost again- zero )  ------  but instead to ask for $130,000 in salary, maintenance & extras from taxpayers funds while asking Comcast for only "equipment" from the negotiated grants.  The equipment suggested at the August meeting for live airings with two or three crew members necessary, would make the cost of producing each individual meeting rather severe.  Unnecessarily severe.

    In addition,  Commissioner Oconnor has not rendered any further explanation about why ONLY 18 township  meetings a year would be filmed and  why 12 of these  would be the Full Board meetings contrary to the specific requests of EVERYONE that we have seen who MADE  a specific request.   Commissioner Ring recently told Scouts that had come to the Full Board meeting that they should attend  other meetings, like Public Wporks or Public Affairs,  to see the real workings of the Township.  The Full Board meetings are NOT a place where you can see what is happening .  You would have to wonder then why those are the only meetings the Commissioners seem to want to allow us to see.

          Having asked several ( no many)  times for further explanation of the above, or to have any misconceptions cleared up,  no response  is apparently going to be forthcoming.   Commissioner O'Connor responded that  no responses will be given,  and that there is a Public Meeting for this discussion  scheduled (Oct 25th) . However, citizens are generally invited to comment only at the end,  but may not to participate IN these discussions. And questions posed in their limited time at the end are not answered either.   And Commissioner has also not yet agreed to clarify the information that we believe he erroneously conveyed at the last meeting about salaries not coming from the Comcast negotiated grants.  How could he going into reasonable discussions about the process without doing that?
There is definitely something wrong with this picture .  This is NOT how government is supposed to work.

Continued amazement.
_____________________________________________________________
 

10-14 &  Sorry - behind schedule on Postings - will post info from Montgomery News and Full Board meeting shortly .

_____________________________________________________________

9-25-06   If you asked the Commissioners how the requests were coming along to get the meetings and other programming on they'd tell you " Great. It's all underway and being diligently worked on by the Channel 43 Ad Hoc Committee". But is that really the case? Let's take a closer look.

Requested: To air the working government meetings so we can see the decisions as they are being made and participate in the process.
Proposed by the Ad Hoc Committee : Only 18 township meetings in an entire year and that they would largely be just the meetings where the approvals are rendered after the work is done. In essence, the ones we expressed that we DON'T want.

Requested : That the method for filming be kept as simple as possible so that the cost of each meeting remains within reason, allowing for more meetings and other programming with less "glitz".
Proposed by the Ad Hoc Committee: Salaries that amount to something in the neighborhood of $100,000 a year without a clear definition of what (besides the few meetings) is included in that. And equipment that would cost upwards of $80,000.   Whoah -  the cost of filming an individual meeting in both manpower and equipment just sky-rocketed - allowing for good reason to turn down requests for additional meetings to be covered. ( Like, the ones we DO want. Hmmmmmm……) and the cost just zoomed way over what might logically be anticipated from the grants designated just for the channel, so the additional $120,000 or so will be bourne by…..? Hmmmmm…

Requested : That the residents of Abington be allowed to use the camera and equipment that we currently have to film the meetings (now) to display the quality the cameras can produce while the Committee is making these decisions. ( Hey ! And the meetings could be even be aired right now so the public can stay informed while all the rest is being decided - what a bonus ! )
Answer : No permission allowed. No reason given.

It amazes me anew every day.
_______________________________


8-16-06  reprinted with permission from  Montgomery Newspapers

Ch. 43 to be run in house
By: Kyle Schulz, Staff Writer
08/16/2006

Abington Township's Channel 43 Committee met for the second time Aug. 9 to discuss options, and agreed to look into broadcasting live school board and committee meetings.

Since their last meeting in May, the eight-member committee has sat in on meetings in Upper Merion and Cheltenham townships to gather information on what equipment other municipalities use and how they find funding.
According to the committee, one of the biggest cost factors will be hiring experienced people to work the equipment and handle the editing. To help ease the costs, committee members seemed to agree that Abington should follow Cheltenham's example of hiring school students to run the cameras.
"It can reduce the costs and provide a means for introducing somebody into a career they might like," Commissioner Jay O'Connor said.
The committee also discussed using students from Penn State Abington to help out with more complicated issues such as editing.
According to Commissioner Lori Schreiber, the township and Penn State Abington have already been discussing the possibility of using students to help out with the running the channel.
"You make a win-win situation," O'Connor said. "The product is there and the kids learn something."
Assistant Township Manager Matt Lahaza, however, was not enthused.
"We've been talking to Penn State for three years ... and they've been yet to pull their act together," he said.
Similar to other municipalities, funding for the channel could come from franchise fees made from cable providers. According to O'Connor, money made from franchise fees currently are put into the township's general fund, which help pay for various projects in the township.
Unlike Cheltenham however, Abington's Channel 43 will not air commercials.
According to O'Connor, the commissioners decided commercials could have a negative impact on local businesses and the television program "Abington News and Views."
Lahaza said the township was recently approached by the New Jersey based company TelVue, which specializes in finding advertising for public access channels.
According to Lahaza, the company would secure local sponsors, while providing local weather and traffic reports. However, none of the profits made from sponsors would go to the township or school board, he said.
Lahaza said the township shouldn't let another party become involved with the channel.
"It's like having third-party management," he said.
Cheltenham, however, recently struck a deal with TelVue, and ShopRite of the Cheltenham Square Mall signed on as the first sponsor. TelVue agreed to provide professional station identifications, local weather forecasts, local traffic cameras where available, public service announcements and other video services. To offset costs, the company secures local sponsors.
Discussion then turned to content, where the board is still not in agreement on what sort of programs they should be showing.
Besides airing school board meetings, O'Connor said he believes it would be more appropriate to air the individual committee meetings rather than the commissioner meetings. Committee meetings, O'Connor said, is where actual discussion takes place while commissioner meetings are simply the final vote.
Committee member Bob Jawer however, said the township should put out more entertaining programs because not a lot of residents would tune in for just meetings.
All committee members however seemed to agree that meetings should be shown live, rather than just taped and shown later.
"What's said is said and can't be edited out," O'Connor said.
However, broadcasting live meetings could come with a hefty price tag.
Between buying the equipment and paying the personnel behind the scenes, live broadcasts could cost between $80,000 to $100,000 a year, according to Lahaza.
"You need a lot more money for broadcasting," Lahaza said.
After taking some steps forward, the committee now faces a new problem regarding the recent agreements reached with Verizon.
According to Lahaza, the township is still stuck with the technical question on how they'll be able to broadcast Channel 43 to customers with Comcast and customers who will add Verizon as their new cable provider.
It's a problem 30 other municipalities within the Montgomery County Consortium could face.
The committee's next scheduled meeting has not been set yet, but O'Connor said it will be some time in September.
©Montgomery Newspapers 2006
______________________________

8-9-06 The Ad Hoc Committee met and various of the important topics were discussed - however no real scope for the project was set, it was not fully decided what format or equipment would be used , which meetings would be filmed, what number of meetings would be filmed,  what the scope of the other programming would be or what number of operators and coordinators would be needed. Despite reaching no consensus on these issues, all necessary to determnine budget - the Chairperson handed out a simple chart and asked the committee to return it to him with their "guess for budget figures". Committee members even came into this meeting unsure what programming they were actually deciding on.  It was an unbelieveable experience to watch.  While valid points were  bantered back & forth on all of the important issues, no clear consensus on these issues was arrived at before asking to have the entire budget "guessed at" .   It is clear that a lot of questions need answers before budget figures are presented.

8-06  Citizens interested in seeing the channel get up and running have formed a committee to find a voice. The Citizens' Committee for Channel 43 is open to any resident of Abington Township. We will try to insure that a repeat of history does not take place. If the township cannot come up with a plan within budget, the Committee will do so . We  have offered two viable proposals working with no more funds than are currently being expended. If the Committee cannot find a way to end the scrolling, air the meetings and get some other things of interest on there, then we will be happy to get the job done.

7-28-06 We received notice of an August 9th  meeting to discuss the costs  - most of us have vacation or other plans already set and won't be there. The Committee was adamant about seeing many operations before costs could be discussed- now after seeing one - they are discussing costs.

7/06 The Montgomery County Commissioners  announce that they have found a way to film their meetings at very little cost . They give a donation to the high school  media group that does the filming  ( and we learn later that the coordinator may be paid a small stipend for holiday & summer filming .

7/06 Commissioner Benzak is on Channel 66  asking why it could be taking this much time to get the meetings aired.

6-23-06  AMP TV - Abington Media Productions which is filmed by Abington High School students as part of their media program is aired on Channel 66.

6-27-06  The Committee thus far has seen only Upper Merion's operation, as we understand it, with plans to visit Cheltenham or Radnor soon.

5-31-06
Ad Hoc Committee met.  Little more was accomplished other than an agreement to go see other townships operations of their stations.  The many that were listed as "of interest" would be difficult to visit in any short amount of time. No specifics were discussed about programming or other items . More on this shortly

5-31-06  Next Meeting  6:30 Township Building  Ad Hoc Committee Meeting

5-3-06
Comcast Cable franchise meeting  ( which negotiations SHOULD BE tied in to the cost issue of the meetings ) was held right before the Public Works meeting . Apparently advertised for several weeks we did not see the ads, nor did Twp personnel who knew about it happen to mention it to us, despite the fact that  several of us have been asking about these negotiations for motnths and as recently as  within the last few days.
At the meeting the School Board presented airable clips to the small group at the meeting - instead of just getting the necessary permissions and airing them on the channel.  We feel certain that the School District would do a fine job of staying within the guidelines.
     The township was asked to bring their camera to the meeting  so that we can show them what can be done for virtually no cost  and with the equipment e already have.  They refused - again. The Ad Hoc Committee was named
.     Two Citizens : Jim Caroll & Bob Jawars. Two Commissioners:  Lori Schreiber & Jay O'Conner. Two School District Representatives :Amy Sichel, Laurence Goldberg.  Two Twp advisors: Tom Conway, Matt Lahaza.
___________________________________________________
The  Channel 43  issue brought to light some problems in our government process in Abington .  From February to May of 06 there was a disturbing process that we watched as we tried to get answers to questions necessary to offer solutions to what has now dragged out nearly another 4 months .  We have archived the exchanges  that we found so unbelievable.  We can only hope that the  next segment of this adventure will not be a repeat of the first and the Ad Hoc Committee will move things along in a more open process so as to air the meetings very shortly with much more programming to follow right behind.
__________________________________________________________

 

4-28-06  Deadline for the applications to be on the Ad Hoc Committee.  8 people applied.

4-25-06 
The Superintendent of Schools had several prepared segments suitable for airing on April 10th  at the School/Township Liaison Meeting & several  will also apparently be brought to the May 3rd  meeting . The Superintendent has been asked by Abington Citizens Network to take these to the Township, as they have done with films in the past  & request that they be aired so that this year's seniors, as well as the many others, who may have worked on this year's projects can have their works aired on channel 43.   This was also requested of the School Board at tonight's meeting, with an offer to help see the process through. Most all of the Commissioners have said publicly that they most want to see the kids on.  They would have an opportunity to do this.  The equipment is all in place to do this. The School Board & the Suprintendent's office both said they will not honor this request and that they will instead stick with the current plan to let the Committee form first. It is possible, therefore that these may not air until  September, when the current seniors may be gone.
 
4-20-06
Full Board Meeting -  A motion was made to approve the ad hoc Committee    - 
The  Board of Commissioners have agreed in principal that the Board meetings should be televised ..... To that end, the President of the Board is directed to appoint an ad hoc committee...... The express purpose of the Committee  will be to recommend to the Board of Commissioners, the most efficient, most effective  and most timely manner in which to implement the televising of said meetings”.
    
The Commissioners have not allowed the Township camera to come to the meeting so they can see the quality of the meetings that are done for virtually no additional cost.  Commissioner Lynott has disparaged the idea that it can be done with virtually no cost -  yet he has never inquired to ask what was meant. Choosing instead to imply that something quite different is being suggested.  When we seek to show him, he denies the use of the existing equipment.  When we seek to tell him he refuses to converse. It was he, we learn at this meeting, who  changed the meeting agenda and though the citizens were denied the information about this change, and information to other questions was also withheld from them,  it is explained  that no quorum was called to a meeting to do so and therefore they have no problem with that behavior. Agreed it may not be illegal, but it is a shame that it is an accepted behavior from people who are to have been elected as public servants.  The appointment of the ad hoc committee is voted on and passed. This will allow the sum total of those citizens involved to be two - appointed  directly  by  Commissioner Ring .  
 

4-19-06 No one will answer the questions as to how the meeting agenda changed from the last public meeting where a survey was approved to a VOTING item where an ad hoc Committee was to be formed. It is believed that either a meeting was called where the public was not invited or the plan and course of the next meeting was changed by one person without input from the rest of the Board or the citizens. No one will respond to how this happened.  It can only be assumed that this is not in keeping with the intent of the Sunshine Act . The full board  meeting agenda came out today and they will vote tomorrow. Input from citizens is needed to prevent this kind of behavior by our Commissioners.  For weeks citizens asked about the "new thinking"  and were stonewalled.

4-5-06  After refusing for three weeks to answer the citizens questions regarding costs, Commissioner Lynott tonight said the President of the Board would appoint a committee that would look into ...........the costs.  It is anticipated that the person he recommended to hire as a consultant will be appointed to this Committee - as well as one other hand picked member .  The reason for so doggedly refusing to answer the questions now seems quite clear.    The questions asked back in March 11 still remain unanswered to the extent that they could not be used to determine costs.  A totally free copy of the meeting was offered to the board by one resident . No one made a motion to air it, or the subsequent free ones being offered .  Many events like the trash issue may be fully decided before the Committee gets underway. No deadlines were set to limit the length of time the Committee had to come to some conclusions.

4-3-06 Up to and including today the Commissioners and the Township have refused to answer the questions that would allow residents to discuss the process and the costs. By Wednesday 4-5-06  they will reveal what the "new thinking " on the subject is - thinking  which should, of course, be shared with residents .  The Commissioners who have stated that they are openly in favor of having the meetings televised have also not aided the very process that would allow the costs t come to the meeting and a formal proposal to air the meetings NOW to be made.  The residents of this Township deserve honest and open communication - not a run around the mulberry bush. The intent of refusing to answer the questions is evident at the meeting 2 days later.
_________

4-2-06 We are up to 16 emails that we have sent to try to get the answers to the questions about cost. We email all the Commissioners and ask them to be concerned that residents are treated this way.  No emails are returned

Mar-24-06 Commissioner Lynott is apprised of the unanswered questions & is asked what the new thinking is that would prevent any questions from being answered.  He says there is all kinds of thinking - he will only discuss things at the public meeting.  He is asked if the answers to the questions about cost will be answered for us in time to take that information to the meeting. He answers that everything will be discussed at the meeting . He is asked if HE will bring the answers to these questions to the meeting -  he says again he will not discuss anything on the phone only at the meeting - and leaves that question also unanswered. 

_________

We archived 36 emails despite which  hardly any of the necessary answers are obtained. 
___________

Mar 15th - 2006   While airing the meetings was at first opposed outright by some Commissioners, pooh-poohed as unimportant by others and supported by just a small handful, last week's Times Chronicle report by Lisa Beisel showed an apparent "change of tune" with the Chairman of the Public Affairs Committee   saying he would be "very surprised" if anyone voted against it. Commissioner Lynott is reported to say a survey is no longer necessary .  But we still have no answers to our questions on cost.
________

March 12 -  Commissioner Lynott  suggests that we come to the meeting and ask for a citizens committee to be set up.  He was told that that had been done at the last meeting and if he turned on Channel 66 he could watch & see us asking him- it was airing all week

___________
March 11 - We ask questions related to showing how the meetings can be aired with minimal or no cost.

_________

Mar 1st 2006 Commissioner Lynott  comes to the meeting and proposes not a consultant but a survey. By the end of the meeting he has taken no information as to what the Commissioners feel should be IN the survey. He is asked at the meeting to set up a committee of citizens who will work on the details and get this moving.

_______

Feb 20 2006 Commissioner Lynott proposes that they hire a Communications consultant but is told by us that would only delay it further and produce more costs . We would like to just see a simple version of the meetings for the sake of content.   Commissioner Lynott insists a professional study is really in order.

________

Feb 8-2006 It is reported in the Times Chronicle in an article by Lisa Beisel that Commissioner Lynott at  the last Public Affairs meeting asked the Commissioners to decide what should be on channel 43 . Commissioner Lynott is called by us to see why they don't seem to know that many, many citizens have been asking for years for the meetings to be aired, in addition to community & school events and School Board meetings.   He suggests we can come to the meeting to voice our opinions & call or email our Commissioners.

_______

2004-2005 The Township locks in a debate with Channel 66.  Rather than promoting this Abington business, it is competing with it  and the question of whether or not ads should be aired on Channel 66 is dealt with . Guidelines for the use of the channel are adopted, based somewhat on Lower Merion's guidelines and it is determined that any meetings aired will be aired gavel-to-gavel.
_______
1999-2004   Residents ask about the use of Channel 43 again and are told they are "working on it"
______

1999 A current Commissioner reports to us that apparently around this time he himself as an ordinary citizen tried to investigate getting the meetings aired and we understand him to have felt that he was stonewalled by the then  Board of Commissioners and when he persisted to have finally learned that it was too expensive .  Grants and other considerations to defray the costs were not apparently pursued.

________

1996 The Board deals again with the requests and according to reports we understand a very high figure  for the filming of the meetings is presented. Some suggest that was in the neighborhood of $35,000 but we have not checked thru archived minutes yet to confirm that.

_______

1991-1996  Inquiries are made about this but people are told the Board is "working on it"

__________

 

November 1991 - Taped minutes of a Board of Commissioners meeting allow us to hear Joe Polya asking the Board (again) to just put the meetings on TV and not, instead, to do a survey to delay it further .

 

___________________________________________
|Channel 43 Overview  |  What  Abington residents are saying  |   Contact someone about this issue  |   Your Commissioners |

_____________


 

 

BROKEN LINKS ALERT  

Abington Township recently completely revamped their website at the end of 2015 . All links directed to the old site were broken. We will be reinstating links as we find them and if the data is still available.  
Please  let us know if you find a broken link . Send us the name of the link and the page it is on , and if we can reinstate it, we will.

 


Disclaimer:

The information on this page or in this site may have unintentional inaccuracies, and also has opinions. It should not be relied upon as fact until investigated personally by the reader.  Please read our full  Disclaimer
and read our Policies page before using this site.
 All who find inaccuracies are asked to please contact us so we may correct them.