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Public Comment

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    On  Dec 9th, 2021 at the Board Meeting  they plan to  vote on a new set of Meeting Rules and Public Comment rules.  This is the 4th set of rules that has been imposed since Richard Manfredi has been here  and each  set has been  worse than the last. This one takes that model to new heights removing open comment - totally it appears,   It is 23 pages that anyone wanting to make a simple statement at a meeting would have to "study "  in  order to understand where the comment was supposed to be made . I have not seen it properly described in a single Commissioner's newsletter.

     It will be passed virtually without the public understanding at all what's being done. What is completely ironic, of course, is that all of the language in the document says that it is about enabling informations on matters that impact residents and about public participation .  Yet it uses none of the many methods it outlines  to inform residents of this Policy that it plans to pass .

Don't allow that !!!   Demand that they inform you first -- before it passes via information sessions / roundtables / and of Course the proper Committee meeting that they skipped over.   Demand they distribute a summary.   Have them put the information about it on  the channel and on Social Media and in January we'll add OUR input - some of which you can see below.  

     This is NOT how business in the Township is supposed to be done .

  Here is the actual document first presented 11-10-21 at the Committee of the Whole . It is up for passage  on 12-9-21   Tell them you do not want it passed until you have been fully informed about the poorly written and confusing things in it --- so you can  make informed comments.

  What IS so concerning ABOUT THIS NEW POLICY ?

1)  It is  so poorly written and so convoluted that no one could easily understand just where their opportunities to speak were in any given meeting . Every meeting has different guidelines  Such guidelines should be well written, simple and succint. And the same rules should apply for every Township meeting - except that certain meetings like EAC  or Shade Tree should clearly invite open participation by residents . 



2)  The robust comment & the open opportunity to petition our legislators has not been restored SINCE THE RIGHT TO SKIP OVER COMMITTEE MEETINGS WAS GRANTED, NEARLY ALL HAVE BEEN SKIPPED OVER
        The way our government works, is that when there is a problem the residents are supposed to petition their legislators in order to create legislation that fixes the problem. When we first tried to do this, we found there was no place allowed for residents to speak openly to their Commissioners,staff, & employees that are there to serve them. So we created a place at the Committee meetings. At the end of each Committee, our legislators inserted  3 minutes of open comment to address that Committee Chair & members. Without any warning, information meeting, or other alert, the Board of Commissioners under Commissioners Spiegelman and Hecker, created a plan to remove that by adding a "2nd layer" of Committees called the Committee of the Whole where we did not have any open comment,  where our comments were not informed because they came before the agenda item was even presented, and where they allowed themselves  to completely skip over our Committee meetingd- taking our speaking rights out of hte equation.  In doing so they  removed our ability to petition our legislators for needed changes in our government. In this new version, Dec 2021,  they have not fixed anything. They have simply used one of Mr. Manfredi's favorite tricks---- renaming things to cause confusion ------ and they renamed the Committee of the Whole the Board of Commissioners "Working Session" ( which of course will cause great confusion with a regular Board of Commissioners Meeting. People are likely not to  understand which one they are attending because they have virtually the same name).   

Restore all Committee meetings and require that everything be handled there. ALLOW 3 MINUTES AFTER EACH ITEM IS PRESENTED AND BEFORE THE VOTE, AND ALLOW 3 MINUTES OF OPEN COMMENT TO PETITION YOUR LEGISLATOR AT THE END OF EACH COMMITTEE.  If it's an item that doesn't need a lot of discussion , it will just be sent on.  If other commissioners want to have a say  they can certainly attend and  I feel certain that there opinions will be respected. They should not be creating "Wrking Sessions" just to consolidate control in the hands of the President and Vice President - at the expense of hte rights of the  residents

Commissioners he new Working Sessions  back to back with another whole month's worth of meetings are  against our interests. They have  already proven to be too much for our health and welfare- (even for Commissioners) . The speaking rights have not been adequate and do not provide for informed comment which is a form of deceit. You may use your 5 minutes up to comment on an item they will table.  No open comment period is  provided to petition our legislators. Skipping over Committee meetings removes speaking rights . The meetings  go so long that people who waited hours finally give up. It is a disrespect of the highest degree to the residents you keep insisting are at the top of the heirarchal chart. They keep people on their devices past a healthy hour. They require people to sit for  too long which is also unhealthy .   It is stunning that again and again the Commissioners  have seen and heard that the back to back sessions with  2 months worth of business is highly  problematic - and yet in the  new policy they propose to  continue  them.

REQUEST :  ELIMINATE  THE NEW "WORKING SESSIONS " BACK TO BACK THAT ARE A CONTINUATION OF THE PROBLEMS  YOU HAVE SO FREQUENTLY HEARD . One full month's meeting is more than enough for one night. Handle the problems in Committee meetings .  Consider Moving the Board meeting to the 3rd Thursday instead of the  2nd for more time between Committee and Board meeting.


 4) Violations of the INTENT of the Sunshine Law.   The Sunshine Law Violations  requires hte Commissioner to provide a reasonable amount of time to speak on a matter before a vote. Sometimes there are between 20 to 40 items onthe agenda -  three minutes is clearly not enough time  tif several are important to you and impact you. Even if  you got 2 minutes per item -- or one full minute per item -  something needs to be changed to address the intent of that law


 SPEAKING  AT THE OUTSET OF THE MEETING SHOULD BE ALLOWED .   Residents may have things they have  to tend at home, but whether or not they do, there is no reason for them to sit through a 3 or 4 hour meeting that they are not interested in sitting through, just so they can address their Commissioners for 3 minutes. There is NO reason whatsoever that they should not be allowed to address the Commissioners for 3 minutes at the beginning of the meeting  on open topics.  The Commissioners will not be there any more or less time, but the residents would not have to wait 3 - 4 hours for  their opportunity, It is  the height of disrespect and it should not be tolerated. It defies any notion that we are at the top of some heirarchal chart.
      If there are a lot of speakers, time could be reduced to 2 minutes per speaker  or y the first 10 people could speak and then the rest  would perhaps have to wait till the end of the meeting or until some other major business was done. But there are rarely a lot of people there to speak, so requiring them to wait hours  is just unconscionable.


all questions should be answered  
 Residents should never be denied the information that they need to oversee their government. If they need to have a question answer that question should be answered immediately if the answer is known, and if not known it should be answered as soon possible 

REQUEST : Commissioners should answer all questions asked at a meeting. If the answer is unknown, they should try and get the answer as soon as possible.


when we cant  get any answers to any questions til Mon- 3 days from the meeting date 



discussion is often important for understanding   Commissioners should allow discussion whenever possible as discussion often leads to better understanding on both sides. The most important thing that a Commissioner can do is to understand what his constituents are trying to convey.


No person shall be allowed extended time while others are cut off at a strict 2 or 3 minutes Except that all persons shall be permitted to briefly finish therefore when their time is up.. If you lengthen for some – you must lengthen for others... otherwise clearly some people will be favored because what they are saying is accepted while what others are saying is deemed less acceptable- that is contrary to Sunshine law.  



First of all,  no one has consented to anything prior to these items showing up to be voted as a block currently . If they are to be transferred to a Consent Agenda that must be part of the voting so that the public can see whether their Commissioner voted that item to have no further discussion.  If you do not allow citizens to remove an item  from the Consent Agenda, then they should know that it is going on the Consent Agenda before their remarks -so that they can ask Comrs not to proceed without further discussion at the board meeting . Manager Manfredi does not have the ear of the residents, and so cannot make the decisions about which things are important to the residents and which are not. Neither can he read the minds of the Commissioners to know what is and is not important . - to them and he should not be doing this kind of business out of the public purview. He chose to put one of the most controversial isses we have ever had- the economic development Corporation--- on the consent agenda. That is a clear indication that the consent agenda should be eliminated and if it is not then residents should be able to take items off of it as well, and ask for a robust discussion.
vote things as a block and remove the chance to see them a second time. Often at the Committee meeting we learn about something for the first time, and share it with fellow residents. Then the full Board meeting is the first time  those folks have a chance to say anything. None of the items should be removed from the agenda. Nor should our comments be removed.   Manfredi tried to put the Economic Development Corporation with blank By-Laws on the “Consent Agenda”—even though he knew it was one of the most highly controversial topics we have ever had.

REQUEST : If you maintain the consent agenda allow citizens also to remove items and call for a proper discussion.


Allow residents to use the overhead projector  or other technical tools, just as you allow developers and outsiders of every sort to use these taxpayer paid resources.   Items may be previewed first by staff if you are worried about content - but it is not OK to deny taxpayers the use of what they have bought to enhance communication



Here's What We Need ( Not What We've Got)

  1)  BE ON A MAIL-PUSH -OUT LIST TO BE NOTIFIED ON  A TOPIC  NOT JUST A MEETING  THAT HAS 80 TOPICS - if we want to know when the Mall Apartment proposal , or the Wawa proposal or  info on Fireworks or  the Economic Development Corporation is coming up at a  meeting agenda or when new documents are posted on the topic, we want to be alerted by email with a link to a single page where the issue is chronicled.  We want there to be push out lists that you can sign up for.

 2) A SINGLE PAGE WITH ITS OWN LINK SHOULD BE PROVIDED FOR EACH TOPIC -  currently you can only direct people to some issues by referring them to a page with 24 drop down choices  and then a long scrolling action. Each page, each issue, should have the documents , meeting dates and all chronological information kept on a single page. The link to that page can then be easily shared.

:  if we have children to get home to, or problems sitting for 3 hours just  to address the Board for a mere 3 minutes, this allows us to address the Board and leave. We are happy to be notified when we choose that option that if we wait til it comes up in the agenda, we might learn more before we speak, but that should be our choice not the Commissioners or Managers choice. 

3)  SPEAK ON EITHER AGENDA OR NON AGENDA ITEMS -OUR CHOICE  whenever we speak  : if we are speaking at the beginning or the end of the meeting it should be our choice whether we are choosing to speak on agenda items or non-agenda items. After we have seen the action you took on an agenda item, ( perhaps ignoring the pleas of doezens of people who asked you to vote no, then watching you vote yes,for instance)  it is totally appropriate for us to want to comment on the action you just took and for you to understand how your actions affect us.

4) THE SUNSHINE LAW AFFORDS  US A REASONABLE TIME TO SPEAK. Generally three minutes is considered a reasonable time on one agenda item.  However, our commissioners have been giving us just three minutes on, for instance, 25 agenda items, or an 856 page page budget (just as they did with the 4-500 page one .    Sometimes we do want to speak on three or four of the 25, and we should be able to have the 3 minutes for each item you will vote on - but even if it were reduced to 2 mins per item, that would be an improvement over the 3 min for all  My recommendation would be 2 minutes on up to four items. Or if you have more than four items you want to speak on one minute per item.  The sunshine law makes it clear that for larger more complicated items like a budget, three minutes is not sufficient time and far more time should be provided depending only on the number of people that appear to want to speak. That is made plain on the Webpage of the Office of Open Records.

5) ALL DOCUMENTS SHOULD BE PROVIDED AT LEAST A WEEK IN ADVANCE - if they are not, any item that does not have a specific deadline it must meet, should be off until the next meeting by the request  of any residents who felt they did not get  sufficient advance notice. So an item like the August 2020  Public Comment Policy Resolution, that did not have a deadline, would have been put off for a month because residents had been given only three days notice. 

6) THE CONSENT AGENDA SHOULD BE ABOLISHED.  IT IS CONTRARY TO RESIDENT INTERESTS  UNLESS RESIDENTS ARE ALSO GIVEN THE OPTION OF REQUESTING AN ITEM TO COME OFF OF THE CONSENT AGENDA . Residents have a right for items to be fully explained. They may first learn of them when they watch the Committee meeting video - so their first opportunity to speak would be at the Board meeting. They also can require that an item go to a committee meeting rather than be shuffled directly past the committee and to the voting full board meeting .

7) RESIDENTS CAN ADD ITEMS TO THE AGENDA BY PETITION OF 50 RESIDENTS, an item can be added to the agenda, so long as the petition is received by the deadline  required to place items on the agenda

8) COMMISSIONERS MUST ALSO STICK TO FAIR RULES  THAT ARE WRITTEN AND ADHERED TO REGARDING PUBLIC  COMMENT AND ENGAGEMENT Commissioners must adhere to a proper and well described set of Rules, whether it be Robert's Rules of Order or rules that hte residents help write for them  so we can  helt them understand  what works and doesn't work for us .heir own Rules - but they must be fair rules and they must be adhered to. .  Currently they have allowed themselves to officially "sort of " follow some rules, meaning they don't have to follow any ( which is exactly what they are doing) and the Chair is allowed to change the rules at will. There are constant
violations of any proper public engagement  - such as Commissioners taking as much time as they want to "negate" the comments of a speaker, or Commissioners giving one speaker ( that they like ) more time and speakers whose comments they don't like, less. This is neither fair nor legal. And it is detrimental to the residents.

Please ask your Commissioner to get these basic speaking rights in place







 It should be  “For Discussion Only” at the 9-10-20 meeting.  Any vote taken without proper public participation and input on a matter this important is a violation of the public trust.


  Public Comment - 2018

 2020 above appears to be a repeat of the devious tactics that removed many of our our speaking rights shortly after Mgr. Manfredi's arrival - again it ahppened with a false claim of what was being done and  without any proper notification.  It was a loss of many things we had worked hard to get.

In 2018 :  I would dare to say that literally no one knew the Commissioners were revamping your speaking rights when they passed a measure 1-11-18 that took away nearly every rule they were required to follow and tightened restrictions on residents.  They did this on a packed meeting day with no prior Committee meeting, right after the holidays and while everyone was focused on the YMCA and BET's proposal to build on every inch of it .  Manager Manfredi completely misrepresented what they were doing ( knowing that the written details were well buried and most people would'nt understand what was being removed.  Those kinds of actions are exactly why we need better speaking rules ---- and Commissioners that hear us and who are willing to require that their Managers serve our interests!  

  Nearly every other Township has a far better method of interacting with their residents ..... In Abington, we are still fighting for very basic rights.  

         This is being hastily done - I will revise if I can find time.... but here is an idea of  just a few of the things we are asking for --- and have been...for a decade

PLEASE PUT UNDERSTANDING AS A PRIORITY OVER CLOCK WATCHING " or other reasons for curtailment . Allow residents to re-explain what may have been misunderstood or ask for clarifications in a response .  If they did not know an earlier segment was the place to address a concern, allow the concern or comment anyway, and help them understand where it might better have been brought.

PLEASE  AFFORD RESIDENTS A BRIEF ANSWER TO A QUESTION WHENEVER ONE IS KNOWN   and offer a longer or more thorough  answer later  if  one cannot be had during the meeting

PLEASE DO NOT INTERRUPT speakers  :Let them speak as you would like to be allowed to speak- but if they are timed they must be allowed to interrupt an official who might be using up all their speaking time with a longer than necessary answer

PLEASE ELIMINATE THE "SIGN UP FORM"  IN THE LOBBY  - If someone doesn't sign up and then hears something important - the sheet gives the false impression they can't speak unless they signed up.  Instead of the sign up,  have a sheet  instructing residents that there will be a place  where they will be asked for their comments and that they have 3 minutes and that they may comment again at the end on any topic. Let them know they have a guaranteed  right to speak  ( Currently they often don't even see the form, let alone know how to use it .

PLEASE ALLoW RESIDENTS TO COMMENT  AT  THE BEGINNING  OF A MEETING. They should be  allowed their 3 minutes on any, open  topic at the beginning, or at the end  as they see fit. Some have to leave early . If they wish to comment on an item when it comes up for the vote, they can be asked to save theri comment til then - but some may want to leave early.  It is a great disrespect to residents to require them to wait 3 hours to speak to you for 3 minutes.


PLEASE ALLOW DISCUSSION - IT IS OFTEN THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING - most all other township engage in discussion freely with residents. It is vital for understanding. Please stop calling it "debate" and understand that it is part of a healty process.


PLEASE  SHOW HOW EACH COMMISSIONER VOTED - a show of hands is the only way we can tell  how our Commissioners are representing us . They should leave them up long enough to know who was aye and who was nay

PLEASE  DO NOT   require residents to  sit down once they ask a question - allow them to hear better  by being closr, see the faces and the lips of those they are dialoguing with  and allow that they may have a clarification if a question or comment has been misunderstood. These things help  prevent misunderstandings 

PLEASE  DO NOT  shorten the brief 3 minutes residents are afforded in any other way - such as by interrupting

comment in a way that negates or changes speakers remarks  at all  if you are the chair

PLEASE  DO NOT   allow anyone to negate speakers remarks with out offer a brief 30 second rebuttal from the speaker to provide clarity

PLEASE  DO NOT   discredit the speaker - or "undo" their point after they have left the podium
and can no longer speak or offer a rebuttal  ( the chair should never be entering the conversation - if he wants to enter the conversation the co-chair or vice-chair should take the leadership role. .

  PLEASE ALLOW RESIDENTS AT A FULL BOARD MEETING TO ALSO  SPEAK 3 MINUTES AFTER AN AGENDA ITEM IS PRESENTED but before the vote. Residents often first learn about an issue when they see it on tv or hear about it after the Committee meeting. They should not be first hearing about it AFTER their right to speak on it is exhausted.

PLEASE ALLOW RESIDENTS TO RESERVE LEFT OVER TIME -If they have not used their 3 minutes – please allow them briefly back to the podium.

PLEASE ALLOW RESIDENTS TO HAVE OTHER RESIDENTS REPRESENT THEM by reading what they wrote if they are unable to be in attendance.


PLEASE GET RID OF THE CONSENT AGENDA -  residents have never been asked if THEY consent to these items being dispensed of with no sunlight on even what the topic is.

COMMISSIONERS & RESIDENTS SHOULD TREAT ONE ANOTHER POLITELY Residents shall be treated with the same courtesy as staff and Commissioners.

PLEASE SEE THAT ANSWERS AND COMMENTS BY COMMISSIONERS shall not be counted as part of a resident’s time allotment.


 PLEASE INCLUDE ON THE SPEAKING RULES SHEET  a link to the Sunshine Laws, to Robert’s  Rules Of Order, to the Right to Know Laws and information on how to contact Commissioners and staff to obtain information about a matter in the Township.
Please especially include the paragraph that allows a resident the right to bring to the Board’s attention a perceived violation of the Sunshine Act.  Please also include where they can find the video’s agendas and other Public Comment information on the township website

    Some History on the Development of the Current Regulations   ( incomplete - will try to find time soon...)

In 2006, when I first began to come to  the podium, we found that meetings were run with barely a breath in between the "PW1" and "all in favor say aye". residents who had come to a meeting to express their views found that the topic had passed and was voted on before they even knew what was happening, as they were unfamiliar with the agenda and the process.  We took a great deal of time to get that sorted out and finally got them slowed down to the point of asking after each item on the agenda for comments from commissioners and then comments from staff and audience. 

   Speaking time was reduced at 1point to only 3 min. if you come well prepared and knopw that you have to squeeze everything into  3 min. you might do OK . It is sometimes is sufficient to express your view.  But most residents are not prepared to compactly present their case.  And so this has been at times problematic as they are cut off. Or also problematic as some ( who bring up unhappy points ) are cut off  while others ( who praise the commissioners ) are given far more time.  .  Also problematic has been the fact that while residents are cut off from speaking about important items that impact their lives, commissioners give themselves great leeway to speak about nearly any topic they desire including their children's sports events and yes, even sorting socks.  This while people are prevented from discussing in depth flooding and fire safety violations and other serious issues. 

   Eventually, the plan that was set allowed that residents could speak at a Committee  meeting for 3 min. after any agenda item was introduced ( and before the vote ) and also for 3 min. at the end of  each Committee topic on any open issue that was not an agenda item but related to that topic . At full Board Meetings, residents could chose to have 3 minutes of open topic comments either at the beginning or the end of the meeting as well as 3 min. after any agenda item was introduced ( and before the vote ) At one point they also could speak at full Board meetings at the end of each section  with 3 minutes of open comment -- but that right was very soon removed.  Again exceptions are made for some and not granted to others in regard to these rules.

        In  Spring  2012 , new  Manager, Michael Lefevre, proposed  that we move all public comment to the beginning of the meeting and eliminate comment during the rest of the meeting, including on agenda items after Commissioners' discussion showed us what they were intending to do.  Citizens vehemently argued for their right to continue to comment on agenda items before they were voted on and after they learned what the pklan was.   Citizens also asked to have the right to speak before the meeting, but not in conjunction with their other rights taken away as Manager LeFevre was trying to do. The Commissioners did not implement changes at this time


Some  2012 points as we were formulating new rules

First and foremost - all citizens should know, NO they do not have to SIGN UP to speak.  The sign up sheet has led people to believe that  if they did not sign up, they cannot speak  - and it should be abolished altogether, since half of the residents in a meeting don't even know they just walked past a sign up sheet - or upon which page to write their name.

         Public Comment has been a real political football, with Commissioners actually campaigning on the issue, but then later trying at nearly every opportunity to reduce our rights to speak  unless there is great citizen outcry.  Our speech, especially when televised into many of our fellow residents homes or with a shareable computer link,  is an incredibly valuable tool that each Abington resident should seek to protect and to use.

     As of 9-12, although I have heard that everyone understands the current plan for what is allowed a little differently, it is my understanding that residents can speak in this manner:

They are encouraged to sign up on the sheets in the hall outside the meeting-however , as noted above, residents are not forbidden from speaking because they have not signed up and, in fact, as noted above, the sheets  frequently make things more confusing and I believe they should be abolished for that reason.  The Commissioners or a clerk could simply make understood by a "rule sheet" or orally what the speaking rules are.  They are required per the Sunshine Act  to provide for comment at public meetings.


Residents must state their name and address for the record before speaking ---- Yes, every time they speak.    Residents can speak at a Board of Commissioners meeting for 3 min. after any agenda item  as well as 3 min. at the end of the meeting on any topic.   At one point they were also allowed to speak for  3 min. at the end of  each Committee section .  That was then removed ---  You will see that exceptions are made for some and not granted to others in regard to these rules.

    During Committee meetings, (as opposed to the full Board meetings)  residents are able to speak for 3 min. on each agenda item and are able to speak at the end of the particular Committee segment

The Commissioners are not required to answer you ( which they like to call "debating" when they don't want to answer, but which they gladly do, when they don't mind answering. ) 

   They have also been known to hold up signs indicating  how much of your time is left.  At times, they have done this so frequently during the 3 min period of "selected" speakers that one could only interpret the action as an attempt to  "interrupt the speaker ". They continued the practice even when asked not to do so.  Many residents are quite nervous when speaking in public, and Commissioners, generally are aware of this

Given the above, it would be good for residents to hold small group discussions on  public speaking issues .


2014 More rights eroded


2016    Commissioners took away more speaking rights . No more comment after each item at Full Board meetings -  Now, if you just learned about an issue when you heard the issue at a Committee meeting on TV , your ability to comment is largely gone


Manager Richardi Manfredi arrived in 2017 and began immediately suggesting rules that cut the public out - like his " consent agenda"  - where many items that  were first viewed at a Committee meeting would not even be brought up again  before the vote - even though residents are just learning of it for the first time at the Committee meeting and many might not even have attended.  Instead of a process where it is read and Commissioners are encouraged to discuss it  again at hte 2nd meeting ( the full Board Meeting )  many items would instead be packaged together into a falsely named "Consent Agenda"  --- and voted on as a block without another word of explanation or discussion.  He allowed that Commissioners could have it removed from that "block vote" if they chose to - but residents did not have the same ability.  They would have to petition their Commissioners to do that --- but no one really understood the Consent agenda or that this is how it worked.  And, in fact, no one had actually "consented" to these items being removed from the normal process. Manfredi later admitted that he, himself, always chose which ones to remove from the regular review process and make more difficult for the public to have input on.   No vote was taken to consent - no consent was given. It was a dupe even to name it that. And in the short time this manager has been here the number of dupes has been enormous .  And just a while down the road Manfredi  would show us why he institued this and how he was planning to use this  to the disadvantage of the residents he is supposed to be serving, when he put the onerous and much protested Economic Development Corporation on the consent agenda - after residents discoved that the  ByLaws were all blank and that they would be filled, once passed, with any conditions the Commissioners wanted to insert . This, after the impassioned protests of all the residents who became aware of this  debacle, which represented one of the most serious conflicts of interest we have ever seen and which is totally contrary to residents' interests .  

2018  Jan 11, 2018   THE BIRTH OF THE CONSENT AGENDA Manager Richard Manfredi  is at it again -  in concert  with the President and Vice President of the Board - and your own Commissioner - some major speaking rights, that we had worked years to get, were removed  by a manager who only recently arrived  and who has spent no time learning the needs of the residents he is supposed to be serving.  He seems intent on eroding puplic access to  inforamtion and public speaking rights. On January 11, literally 2 days before hte Board meeting, in a month where there is no Committee meeting to vet new  items on the agenda before the full Board meeting, our new manager  Richard Manfredi  gave the public just 2 days warning of a project that was unbelieveable - the development of just about every square inch of space at the YMCA with a 5 story high -rise  risght in the heart of Abington . All of us were scrambling to get information  on this  - because there was no "vetting meeting" .  But meanshile - the agenda had another fiercely onerous  item -- one we barely took notice of  Without a proper explanation at all & buried in page 79 of an enormous agenda ( without any  summary at top as it usually is )  they passed new and despicable rules . For a year they heard me saying that they had improperly printed speaking rules on the agenda - and not a single Commissioner, manager, staff person or other said to me, "no - they're correct. We changed them when no one was paying attention-- those actually ARE the new rules.

    Mr Manfredi  falsely described what they were doing on 1-11-18 when they were changing them . This was incredible deceit . I have yet to find a single person who said his or her commissioner alerted them to the upcoming change --- even though they knew we had petitions and passionate testimony the last time they tried that.  
    In fact, what they did is ...they took away all rules that they themselves had to follow - and gave the chair of any meeting tthe right to change any rules or procedures on the fly. That is the wequivalent of have NO RULES at all for themselves - while they increased the restrictions on resident somment .  The only theing ethey had to abide by was the Sunshine act  and the Commonwealth laws - which they are counting on NO RESIDENTS TO KNOW.  And in the first meeting that we learned about this 7-11-19  they violated the Sunshine act . Amazing.


   Sept 10 (or 19th?)  2020 -  Resolution 20-039 was adopted
 Once again - with no vetting whatsoever before the public the Commissioners have created brand new speaking rules which htey falsely called and expansion of iour speaking rights . They created the Committee of the Whole - and it was anything but an expansion . It removed  nearly all the rights we had -  allowing them to skip over the Commitee Meetings  and to provide that hte ONLY speaking time we had on an issue was BEFORE it was presented and explained and before we knew what they were going to do.  After we learned what the item was - we had no speaking rights left whatsoever. It was based on a lie and was a removal of nearly all our rights . he most controversial of issues were removed from Committee Meetings   and it was done in a way that the new proposal ITSELF was never vetted. The level of corruption , lack of transparency and actions against the interests of the residents has risen to crisis proportions .   There has been nearly a wholesale removal of citizen input at a time when controversial and conflict of interest matters are a regular affair .

9-19-21  The Board of Commissioners adopted Resolution 20-039 setting forth agenda policy and procedures for meetings of the Board of Commissioners and its Committees.
Board of Commissioners to Consider Policy to increase public Participation

Consideration of Resolution 20-039: A Resolution Setting Forth Agenda Policy and

Procedures For Meetings of the Board of Commissioners and its Committees

The Abington Township Board of Commissioners will be considering a policy to increase public participation

tonight, September 10, 2020 at 7 PM at their regular meeting. Resolution 20-039 is a resolution setting forth

agenda policy and procedures for meetings of the Board of Commissioners and its Committees. This policy

seeks to increase public communications, education, and engagement by and with the Township. This policy

exceeds the Township’s current requirements per the PA Sunshine Act.

Residents are encouraged to read the policy in full at Below are

several key points for the establishment of this policy. Resolution 20-039 seeks to:

• Establish a standard of operations for Township meetings to provide consistency and transparency to the public;

• Increase public participation by creating a new Committee consisting of all members of the Board to provide (3) three additional weeks for the public to be made aware of and comment on Township business that will be considered by the Board of Commissioners at regular Board meetings;

• Increase citizens speaking time by five (5) minutes on any matter their elected representatives will be voting upon through the creation of a new Committee;

• Enable the creation of special, standing, or ad-hoc committees to provide an additional forum for public discussion and vetting of business to be considered by the Board;

• Increase two-way dialogue with the public and the Township through the use of public information

meetings as a new standard of business on significant matters of public interest that will come before

the Board. This informal meeting type will encourage and increase the sharing of ideas and concerns

amongst the public, elected officials, and Township administration. It will also result in the creation

of a comment and response document that will address submitted resident questions in advance of a

Board vote and be publicly available for residents’ benefit;

• Establish administrative informal meetings as a new standard of meetings that will afford the public

the opportunity to discuss proposed initiatives, projects, and matters with Township administration

prior to Board consideration. Administrative informal meetings will most often be used to address

concerns of residents who are most impacted by a proposed project, initiative or matter, and will not

replace matters that warrant a public information meeting;

• Increase the opportunities for the public to comment and  receive responses and be engaged inTownship affairs


  9-10-20   A Brand New Public Comment "dupe the residents" Policy Resolution #20-039  came unannounced right out of the blue just  3 days before it was voted on at the 9-10-20 Board of Commissioners meeting.  Touted as an expansion of speaking rights - it was quite the opposite. 
             This Public Comment Policy was formulated without any input whatsover from the public and it undid years of what had been worked on to advance public comment on behalf of the residents of Abington Township.

          Richard Manfredi became our manager in 2017, and in that short time the has taken 2 stabs at removing our speaking rights ( both times calling it an "advancement of our rights"  to fool those who did not understand our policies. )   In  January 2018, he said he was adding the consent agaenda - but  there were MANY more measures in there, including taking the rules of away that Commissioners had to follow . He passed all that without any proper announcement, and no committee meeting to vet it. That has been a hallmark of Richard Manfredi’s time at Abington, removing committee meetings and opportunities to speak, and providing shorter than required notice when posting meetings or providing documents.  It is a great disservice to the residents of Abington.

             Another measure that was in this new resolution was that they were allowed to dispose of or discard videos -- and that the minutes alone would be kept as  the official copy of any meeting. That is, of course, absurd especially given the fact that in Abington there are numerous frequent complaints of the minutes not being correct and of residents’  entire appearances at meetings not even being mentioned let alone the content of their comments.  We have many issues that last over years and even over decades where it is important to go back and see what was actually promised Word for Word not in some generalization. 

                Mr. Manfredi tried to explain that only videos that would be made specially and used just to create the minutes could actually be discarded in this manner,  however he has, as of this writing,  refused to show us where the policy is for retention of the main videos, because after a certain time they can be discarded as well, despite the fact that residents want them kept and accessible. But more troubling is the fact that Mr. Manfredi refused to amend the wording even a little bit in order to eliminate the confusion. He seems almost to delight in making things more difficult and more obtuse. 

             And his wording and renaming of things in the Township has been more than slightly problematic.  He often uses two or three different names for the same concept so one is not sure what he is talking about. These are small things but they are all things that are among the traits that make for a good manager, as opposed to one who lets problems persist.  Mr. Manfredi could change this if he wanted to, but he seems to have no desire to do so.

    To have a manager who chooses the least accurate, and often, tragically, false re-creation of a meeting as the "official copy" is also problematic.

     The minutes should be offered only as a helpful summary of a long video,and both versions would be appreciated

      I am still seeking the answer as to whether Mr Manfredi, or his stenograher, Liz Vile, or someone else altered  a recent meeting and eliminated one speaker entirely.  That is one instance of many in this Township.  Mr. Manfredi said that this was a "personnel matter" and we would not learn anything about how it was handled. But because it might have been him who altered it - or asked her to, it is important that we follow up further on this. If it is an employee altering it, they should be dismissed. We cannot allow corruption and complete non transparency  to be the way our Township does business.


This Resolution offers no  increased opportunity for participation. That is how it was billed - to fool you.  Our rights in this new Resolution are reduced, plain &  simple 

The Committee of the Whole was "invented", with absolutely no explanation.
Who would put out a document referring to an entity that is completely unknown &  not explain it? No resident could cogently comment about it until they have had time to ask questions and fully understand its function .  No vote should have taken place until residents had a chance to ask questions and get answers. They were given 3 minutes for 16 items - this huge issue being  one of them. This never should have passed in this fashion  with no proper notification, no proper opportunity to understand it , and with NO changes  even made that were suggested. Even rewording the disposal policy that was so poorly worded it did NOT describe what the Manager said he intended. It is ironic that the policy that was said to INCREASE our public comment rights was actually passed by reducing them improperly down to nearly nothing. 

 It is completely unclear how the expanded written comment periods are to work and what the downsides might be. Will all residents be able to see the comments of their fellow residents, for instance? Why has Mr Manfredi ( and Commissioners John Spiegelman, Tom Hecker et al) decided residents should have no right to understand these things before their comments are made.  The one used for the Economic Development Committe was surely not ideal. How will it be fixed?

Rules of Order are not rules at all – they can be broken at any time  at the whim of the presiding officerIt a farcical attempt at pretending there are actual rules to protect residents from improper behavior.  The first statement  of Manfredi's "additional information is that he is  establishing a standard for operations to provide consistency and transparency to the public . Seriously? Where is the consistency when each presiding officer can make up his own rules depending on which side of the bed he woke up on and whom he likes and dislikes and what he likes to hear and doesn't want to hear? He MAY refer to Robert's Rules of Order - Meh. Unless he doesn't want to.  

Residents are forbidden to use the overhead projector
to present documents that both the commissioners and the audience would be able to see, while developers or others with views contrary to the taxpayers who paid for that equipment are allowed free access to it

Residents are not guaranteed answers to questions that they have - a right that we fought years to get and which was removed without any discussion or consultation. The inability to have truthful answers  about the operations of our Township is guaranteed to promote corruption …. In a Township that recently endured (at great, great taxpayer expense), a Grand Jury  investigation with disturbing results and which currently also has a whistleblower suit in full swing, making oversight harder to do can only be imagined is  “for a reason”. 

Residents are able to be banned from  Administrative Information sessions at will… without cause …. whether or not tax monies are used to hold the sessions.  In the past residents who were banned were the only residents that had the documents and had communicated , for instance with EPA and done the work. Residents were told things that were not true.  No residents should be banned from an informational or  government run session. We have a right to see how our tax monies are used and have a right to all have a hand in forming our communities.

Some residents will be allowed to speak longer than the 3 minutes, while others won’t. Others will be strictly held to the 3 minute “rule” – meaning there is no rule at all. The decision is at the whim of the Presiding Officer who may decide if he likes what you are saying or doesn’t.

Regular Sunshine Law violations have been the hallmark of this Board and this Administration .  Not allowing a reasonable amount of time to comment, refusing to recognize residents  rights to interrupt to note a perceived violation of the law, etc.  This suppression of speech is purposeful and intended to prevent citizens  from hearing other citizens or exposing “uncomfortable” facts.  We cannot expect our government to work properly under these circumstances.

A pattern of purposeful egregious behavior  to quickly vote  on measures  that  residents would object to --  like the budget that was decided in five days of having been seen by residents in Nov 2019 … and the Economic Development Corporation that they tried to pass before anyone understood what it even was – and then tried to do again during Covid times. There is a clear pattern in this administration with this manager, this Board and this solicitor.

No adequate time to comment --  a violation of the Sunshine Law.  Our comments are limited to three minutes for this lengthy and complicated resolution  and also for 16 other items at the same time -violation of the sunshine law that requires a reasonable amount of time to comment

Comment is required before any explanation of terms like "Committee of the Whole" can be had or before the consequences of destroying records can be properly discussed. Comment is at the beginning of the meeting with no option to understand what you are commenting on. And our committee meetings where such matters are to be fully vetted were again cancelled for no reason. It is fully ironic that what they were passing was supposedly an increased opportunity to comment and increased information  in issues........   their choice here was to violate all their own rules and give LESS opportunity for that - so they could jam this through.   NIRI

The Resolution should never have been crafted without input from residents.  Residents were never made aware that this was underway nor asked for their concerns about public comment issues. And the Commissioners and Mgr Manfredi are aware that we have MANY.  The effort to bully this through so quickly  shows us the little  regard they hold for our concerns NIRI

Notification was inappropriate
–  residents normally can see agenda items on Friday this was not available  til Mon afternoon. Literally three days before the vote . They violated even the scant courtesy of their own rules  in order to bully this through quickly. NIRI

No time for residents to look up the laws or to alert their fellow residents
--- 20 pages worth to digest in three days.  On a holiday weekend  where families are away and come back to for school. NIRI

If any issue deserved an information session before any vote, it is this issue ….this resolution NIRI

      (5-13-21)   and then  JUNE 10  2021  AT THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
      New Public Comment Rules were to be presented  and it looked like they were acknowledgintg that we had NO OPPORTUNITY to be informed and then speak and that they might correct that - That was not to be . Tom hecker personally sabotaged it in multiple ways so by October we still have the same onerous conditions ....

First let me tell you what was being proposed on June 10, 2021 ................ they were proposing that instead of 5 useless minutes to expound on something we know nothing about at the  Committee of the Whole - that they will allow us instead to speak for 3 minutes after each item is presented and before the vote ,  So, yes -  it is an improvement - but still less than we had even a year ago -- before Mr Manfredi's  multiple efforts ( and successes) at removing our rights.
  They still are jamming 2 months worth of meetings together that would once upon a time have taken 3 full evenings and items would have been vetted thoroughly, This is unacceptable - and even they themselves are so exhausted they couldn't even properly fuction at the last one.  It is detrimental to the health of everyone not just senior citizens but it is particularly detrimental to senior citizens or to those who have to get up early.

 The consent agenda should be eliminated. It is being done quite improperly because the motion does not originally come with a directive to put it on the consent agenda. Mr. Manfredi told me he was deciding that himself which is quite inappropriate for the manager to take away the public's right to have  an issue presented at the full Board meeting and hear the discussion on it. And especially concerning when the manager took several very important issues such as the "Economic Development Corporation" and put it quickly onto the consent agenda ,,, with the By Laws still blank , trying to get it passed before anybody noticed it was there and that it would  get no further discussion - a subject that needed LOTS of it .

Rather than the 3 minutes at the Committee of the Whole, residents should ask to have the committee of the whole abolished and have just plain regular committee meetings reinstated. It is not okay to have them taken away. Our most robust speaking rights are there including the right to address each department head on matters of our own choosing ( when our commissioners, for instance, refuse to put in a certain matter on the agenda. Residents are then still able to bring it up.

 If they are not going to restore the Committee meetings on any given occasion, they should allow open comment at the Committee of the Whole. A trade off of our rights to address 4 dept chairs whittled down to one 3 minute open slot .  But ONE would be better than none


This issue should have been passed through at the last Committee of the Whole (5-13-21) - but Commissioner Tom Hecker violated every principal of good parliamentary procedure  and prevented it.  He first decided unilaterally to put this agenda item  at the end of the meeting,  Then he allowed someone who was NOT on the agenda at all to make a long presentation in what was already a VERY long evening, then, when the issue DID finally come up he did everything in his power to overcome everyone's efforts to try to have it decided before the night ended.   It is improper for the Chair of a meeting to interrupt or override the sugestions of the Board members. He is instead supposed to decide who speaks first, second, third and what motions etc  are made , organize the vote, etc .  But they took away your right to proper parliamentary procedure in an earlier "removal of rights" In the end they spent more time discussing whether it was too late to discuss it, than they would've spent actually discussing and voting on it .

But you should also know, that besides these shenanigans.  They did NOT have to wait for this item to be passed --- any Chair person could have allowed us to speak ...because they allowed themselves the right to do almost anything.

VP Tom Hecker admitted pretty much that he thought it was unfair that only the committee got to vote on certain items (like perhaps the Willow Grove Mall that might leave him out )  and so he wanted to use  the Committee of the Whole instead of, for instance, the Land Use Committee to vet it - so he could participate.  He wanted all of them to be voters on every topic ( like maybe, for instance, the Willow Grove Mall? ) He was afraid the Committee might have a different opinion ---   All the commissioners are able to  attend any committee meetings they like - and they are even able to have input - but  Hecker wanted to make sure they had a vote, too - which is not how government works. In order to assure that, he didn't mind pushing 2 months of meetings together - so 20, 30 or even 40 agenda items in one single night so that Tom Hecker and John Spiegelman can have a vote.  So Comr Hecker has a selfish interest here and is willing to remove our rights to increase his - with no regard for our welfare or fair process. I find tit particularly egregious that our rights were taken away just as the Willow Grove Mall district ordinance was being crafted.......  I would not want to think that this might appear as though they want to make sure they know how the votes will line up for any particular issue, but it is hard not to imagine that , isn't it?

June 10, 2021 - The Committee of the Whole tabled the agenda item until the July 8, 2021 Committee of the Whole meeting.


    7-8-21 again Hecker kept it from being passed - byu allowing PSU Dean to speak - making hte meeting  go late and then spending the time they would be deciding it  arguing over whether it was too late to decide it . It was clear Hecker was sabotaging it. 


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Abington Township, with John Spiegelman in charge, revamped the entire Township website at the end of 2015 and broke all the links to the information we had archived on this site for you.   In 2017, Manager Richard Manfredi arrived and assigned someone not qualified to redo the entire website again. They not only broke all archived links we had reinstated, but made everything as impossible to find as they could. Nearly all of our comments and recommedations to fix the Township website have been wholly ignored.

So we do need volunteers to work together helping the Township create a site that is functional and accessible.  We will be reinstating links as we find them....if the data is still available. So... please let us know if you find a broken link. Send us the URL of the link  and the name of the page it is on, and if we can, we'll reinstate it.
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