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ALL COMMITTEE MEETINGS !!!!
In 2020 (see chronology below )
the Commissioners took almost all of our robust speaking rights
away, while falsely calling it an "expansion". I honestly don't
know how they hold their heads up sometimes ....
Here is what we need
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETINGS
MUST BE ELIMINATED
No two months’ worth of meetings jammed
into one night. Sometimes 40 items or more . Eliminate
the Committee of the Whole – it has perverted the entire
The Committee of the Whole goes too late when there
is a large agenda at either meeting, past when all ages,
especially seniors, should be on their devices. It is
contrary to our health and welfare
It does not provide for
INFORMED comment and provides NO open comment on topics not on the
agenda . (it was created to remove our voices and to override
It also allows the “skipping over” of
Committee meetings that removes any proper vetting by the
public completely – which has been done to nearly every single
item since it was created.
Allow anyone who cannot stay long to address the board for a
brief 2 minutes at the outset on any topic agenda or non ( and ,
of course , to ask a question)
Present all new items at
a proper Committee meeting where 3 minutes of Comment is
available to us after we hear and understand the issue and see
what the Commissioners are anticipating doing.
Allow for questions to be asked
and answered whenever the answer is known and for them to be
answered as soon as is reasonable after the meeting, if the answer
is not known at the time.
Allow us three minutes of open
comment with each Committee Head at the end of their Committee
segment for items that are not on the agenda – open topic -
to petition for action or understanding of an issue.
No person shall be allowed
extended time while others are cut off at a strict 2 or 3 minutes.
If you lengthen for some – you must lengthen for others
FULL BOARD MEETINGS
Allow anyone who cannot stay long to address
the board for a brief 2 minutes at the outset on any topic agenda
or non ( and , of course , to ask a question)
the Consent agenda – no one has consented to 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.
Present the item and have
Commissioner discussion . Before the vote allow 2 minutes of
comment or questions.
At the end of the meeting, allow 3
minutes of open comment on any topic.
Allow residents to use the overhead projector , just as you allow
developers and outsiders of every sort to use it . Items may
be previewed first by staff if you are worried about abuse
RESTORE ALL COMMITTEE
MEETINGS where our speaking rights are !!!!
Here's What We
Need ( Not
What We've Got)
FOLLOWING THAT IS A HISTORICAL CHRONICLING OF THIS ISSUE
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
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.
3) SPEAK AT THE BEGINNING IF WE CHOSE TO
: 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.
SPEAK ON EITHER AGENDA OR NON AGENDA
ITEMS : 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
. 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
THE SUNSHINE LAW AFFORDS
US A REASONABLE TIME TO SPEAK.
Generally three minutes is considered a reasonable time on one
However, our commissioners have
been giving us just three minutes on, for instance, 25 agenda
items, or a 4 or 500 page page budget with new line items never
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.
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
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
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.
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
. 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 .
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
COMMISSIONERS MUST ALSO STICK TO FAIRLY SET RULES 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 their own Rules as were once crafted.
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
Please ask your Commissioner to get these basic speaking rights in
PRIOR CHRONOLOGY OF THIS ISSUE
should be “For Discussion Only” at the 9-10-20 meeting.
vote taken without proper public participation and input on a
matter this important is a violation of the public trust.
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.
: 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
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
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.
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
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
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
as by interrupting
PLEASE DO NOT
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
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
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.
RESIDENTS TO RESERVE LEFT OVER TIME
-If they have not used their 3 minutes – please allow them
briefly back to the podium.
RESIDENTS TO HAVE OTHER RESIDENTS REPRESENT THEM
by reading what they wrote if they are unable to be in
PLEASE ALLOW A RESIDENT TO APPOINT ANOTHER ABINGTON RESIDENT TO
SPEAK FOR THEM
if they are also 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
SEE THAT ANSWERS AND COMMENTS BY COMMISSIONERS shall not
be counted as part of a resident’s time allotment.
PLEASE ALLOW RESIDENTS TO COMPLETE THEIR SENTENCES OR THOUGHTS.
INCLUDE ON THE SPEAKING RULES SHEET a link to the
Sunshine Laws, to Robert’s
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
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
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.
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
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
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
2017 THE ONEROUS CONSENT AGENA
IS BORN THANKS TO NEW MANAGER rICHARD MANFREDI
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 .
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? 9 2020 - Resolution 20-039 was
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 .
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
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
Residents are encouraged to read the policy in full at
www.abingtonpa.gov/proposedpublicpolicy. 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
responses and be engaged inTownship affairs
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
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’
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
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
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
SO HERE IS A LIST OF PROBLEMS WITH THIS RESOLUTION:
This Resolution offers
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
Rules of Order are not rules at all –
they can be broken at any time at the whim of the presiding officer.
It 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
If any issue deserved an information session before any
vote, it is this issue ….this resolution
(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
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 Whole tabled
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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