Channel 43 in Abington Township
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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.
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
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
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
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
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
A giant step backward for
openness and transparency and It would appear to me
everyone is not happy seeing residents share their concerns on
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.
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 .
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.
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.
the first meeting aired at 8 pm with just a few glitches
and possibly aired for the next two days as well.)
More "technical difficulties "
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
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.
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
" 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
Commissioners hear more on Channel 43
By: Mischa Aaron Arnosky, Staff Writer
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
"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
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
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
The board said some of the delay has to do with ongoing talks
with Comcast regarding grants, which might cover some of the
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
Channel 43's future now lies with Abington commissioners
By: Mischa Aaron Arnosky, Staff Writer
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
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
"This is a monumental portion of the road for Channel 43,"
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
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
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
"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
- 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
- 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
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
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
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.
10-14 & Sorry - behind schedule on Postings - will post
info from Montgomery News and Full Board meeting shortly .
Requested: To air the working government meetings so we can see
the decisions as they are being made and participate in the
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
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
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
Ch. 43 to be run in house
By: Kyle Schulz, Staff Writer
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
The committee also discussed using students from Penn State
Abington to help out with more complicated issues such as
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 .
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What Abington residents are saying
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