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

      THE ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
a really bad idea for Abington  

   After this summary click here for the main Economic Development Corporation page for meeting dates and info  

    tHE NEWSLOOP    Sign up  here to receive our periodic Newsloop updates on issues that matter to us all
     

             The Township is in the throes of trying to create an” Economic Development Corporation”   IE them creating their own ever -expanding development- arm - a quasi-governmental,  completely separate body (that does not seem really separate at all).
The goal of this corporation  would be to use Township resources and personnel,  grants, taxpayer funds (ie: as loans and more ) in order to set up a development corporation, ( a new “developer” in essence ) – that the Township Commissioners  have “control” over (ok – not separate) but which doesn't have to abide by the rules the Township has to  because ist is .... separate and "independent". One of the selling features touted by the 2 very well paid lawyers
presenting this, from the Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell, Hipple LLP  law firm, was that the Township could “distance themselves from the public reaction”  to their projects --quite  the opposite of what we wish,  as we try endlessly to have greater say over developers and politicians activities - not less.
    
          They also tout that they can avoid  many of the rules that the Township is bound by – rules that are designed to protect improper government use of our funds and resources- like bidding regulations. On top of this, any profits are not considered “our monies” that would  go back into a budget that we have some (limited) say in. Instead, here, profits can be used to start their next team or project – you know, like with any non-profit,  as long as it "meets the mission".  And they are a …separate…remember ... entity so they don’t need our input on how to use the  profits.
     
       The Board would be appointed by the Township, we are told, not chosen by us, and can include literally anyone they want to put on it  ---- so a developer from elsewhere might be a favorite contender. Bruce Goodman is not a Township resident  but already sits on our Economic Development Committee, helping to decide what is "good for our town" while residents from this town are barely allowed to speak.  Do we want developers, and others who may profit, from outside of our township deciding what our Township should look like ? Or should the elected officials spend more time learning what the people they are supposedly representing want, instead of shutting them up at every opportunity?  What transparency would there be for us even to learn what they are planning. No more than there would be with any developer. It's a "separate"  entity remember. 
    
       While suggesting that developing parcels is too great a time commitment for our Township to undertake – ( you know,  because they all have other jobs )  the proposal simultaneous suggests that our Township Manager should be appointed their Executive Director  and that personnel should be at their disposal for $1 per year.   Wait..... doesn’t our Manager already have a “more than full -time” job, for which he receives a “more than average” salary. And aren’t our other paid employees already doing what they were hired to do?  Do they have a lot of free time?  If we want to become a "developer"  why don’t we just create a “Department of Development”  Oh yes, those pesky rules would have to be followed… you know, the ones that protect the taxpayers with bidding regulations and proper accounting, and time for public input, and the ability to vote out people who don't endorse properly provviding documents in a timely manner.    

       To highlight their desire to cut you out of the process, the Commissioners literally advertised this for a hearing before it was even fully written.  That was nothing short of shameful. They had never even read what they decided was “good for you”.  And, after the first (9-4-19) presentation, it was put on the “Consent Agenda“ where it would get zero discussion before the vote to hold a Hearing.  We had to beg them to take it off the consent agenda. Even then, Commissioner Luker tried to quickly call a vote when it came up … despite our having made it clear we wanted it off the consent agenda so discussion could be held to foster further understanding. Luker ignored that and our  (unfriendly the the residents) Solicitor then falsely tried to insist our  public comment  “rules” wouldn't provide for any further discussion by the residents who had already used up their speaking time just trying to get it off the "Consent Agenda". The Solicitor  knew that was not true  because  in January 2018 they snuck in new rules to protect the Commissioners who were continually violating the ones they had. The new rules don't require them to follow ANY rules  ( the ones they kept violating , for instance). They allow  the Chair ( Luker in this case ) to make up his/her  own rules whenever they want to.  So President Luker  had total freedom to allow citizens to ask questions at any time -- he simply refused to let them  ( see the 9-12-19 video ).

       The outcry from residents brought a "supposed" informational meeting  on October 16. Supposed because residents were told they had only 2 days from the time that was announced to submit questions.....via a site that was broken and did not accept the questions they submitted.  Also "supposed" because they knew most of their residents were still clueless and had not gotten this message. And also 'supposed' 'because barely any of the really significant questions were answered - a result of the requirement to submit them all in a big bunch  and letting them chose which they preferred to answer.  At the meeting although around 100 questions had been submitted in advance, they "answered" just a fraction of them ---- some were answered in a way that completely was in contradiction tof the By-Laws as they were printed ---- so....... are other By-Laws applicable?  Once they  answered all the convenient ones that they themselves chose  --- requiring written questions alls that form of "control" over what they have to address.  Further they frittered the time away  with needless "chit -chat" ----  at one point  John Spiegleman even went off into an advertising plug for the new Studio Movie Grill.
       The cards they collected at the meeting ( rather than letting attendees  ask questions penly) were going to be answered at random, they said  -- but you can see  Matt Vahey in the video - shuffling and reshuffling  them and ultimately putting certain ones at the very bottom - that they never got to.   Residents insisted on calling out  some questions, because clearly our most urgent questions were not being answered.  Not to worry - we're going to post these questions and answers .  But here we are 2 months after the announcement and the attempt to ram it through to a hearing .... and our questions are nowhere in sight as of the beginning of November.

   And the other thing that is nowhere in sight and a month overdue is a budget -- the place that these monies were supposed to be accounted for .... the $20,000 to draw up By-Laws ... the time our manager would spend as executive director  -- the time our other personnel are going to be used --- for the cost of $1 - with no accounting for their time and what their services ACTUALLY cost the taxpayers, the cost for all the people that are working on this now........  Solicitor, Manager, Code/Engineering etc etc . Your funds are being gifted  to a non-profit who will have the right to buy property and decide FOR YOU  how your town should be developed.

The Commissioners said that this could be dissolved anytime we decided it wasn't a good idea.  I think now would be a good time

 

    click here to get to main Economic Development Corporation page  for meeting dates and info  

 



  

      

 

     

      

            None of what they have been  doing was in the interest of their constituents. Clearly there is a lack of transparency They were clearly already......  chasing the money.    This Economic Development Corporation  is a singular formula that easily can foster corruption, in a town with a history of those in charge turning a blind eye to corruption every day .……. 


   What can you do?

Find your Commissioners here
https://abingtoncitizens.com/TwpGovt/Commissioners.htm
Please email your Commissioner – or all of them -  now and tell them :
1)  we don’t want  YOU to become developers
2)  the residents want a bigger say in how our community is formed than the developers - even when ( or especially when ) YOU  are the developers . You have a long history of NOT listening to your constituents
3) You should not to move forward until the constituents you represent  want you to
 

Also you can :

Direct others to  www.abingtoncitizens.com  or to  www.AbingtonCitizens.com/EconomicDevelopmentCorporation

or call Lora at 215-885-0504    email 
lel@abingtoncitizens.com

   click here to get to main page on the Economic Development issue


    Please feel free to send your  information to us  and please be sure to  tell us about any information you believe to be incorrect -  contact us

 

 

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