John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Featuring content curated from articles published in local newspapers and other sources. The insights/opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration is now officially ended with the adoption of HR 106 and certification of the ballot questions that amended the Pennsylvania Constitution. The disaster declaration ending triggered the expiration of parts of Act 15 which means fully virtual meetings are no longer permitted by that law. Since the disaster declaration has been terminated, townships of the second class should go back to pre-declaration conditions and conduct in-person or hybrid meetings. Hybrid meetings must have a physical meeting location where the public may attend in-person, as well as a virtual option, and supervisors may participate in-person or virtually.
From - June 11, 2021
[Listen to Lynda Mintz sing "Ya Got Trouble Right Here in Newtown" in this 2017 campaign video.]

A pharmaceutical company based in Newtown and two of its executives were charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Friday.

Generic drug manufacturer KVK Tech, Inc., and Murty Vepuri, 69, and Ashvin Panchal, 50, were charged by indictment arising from the alleged distribution of unapproved drugs, as well as alleged efforts to mislead the FDA and conceal information which could impact drug safety and effectiveness.

The company was also charged with one count of mail fraud arising from the alleged sale of unapproved drugs to customers who believed the drugs were made with the approval of the FDA.

If convicted, Vepuri and Panchal each face a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and other financial penalties including forfeiture. KVK Tech faces fines up to $4 million and other financial penalties such as forfeiture and probation. The parties also face mandatory exclusion from participating in federal programs.

More details...
John Mack's Insights:
I have suspected KVK Tech of being a bad actor for a long time. At the July 6, 2017, Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB), I objected to KVK Tech's request for zoning variances. At that hearing, representatives of KVK Tech testified under oath that the company's major selling products are opioids. Read more about that here.

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From - June 8, 2021
Local governments and organizations were forced to transition in-person meetings to online, seemingly overnight, due COVID-19 restrictions and stay-at-home orders. Many people learned new tools and technologies in order to continue to work and support their constituents.

As COVID-19 restrictions are being eased or lifted entirely and as more people are fully vaccinated, townships are planning to return to live in-person meetings. Some townships are already hosting hybrid in-person/online public meetings (see "Related Content" below).

Survey asks: Do you favor the implementation of hybrid in-person/online township public meetings where officials meet in person as before COVID-19 but the public has the option to participate remotely via Zoom (or other technology) or in person? Your open-end comments are also appreciated.

Related Content:    

From - June 14, 2021
Suppose you wish to attend an upcoming public meeting such as the next meeting of the Board of Supervisors. But you want to make sure you know what’s on the agenda so that you don’t waste your time going to a meeting that won’t cover any issue you care about.

This video-enhanced step-by-step lesson tells you how to do that. I included some useful "secrets" to make your life less of a hassle when using the website.

View the video with detailed instructions...
Related Content:

Bringing New Business to Town, Better Resident Communications, Condition of Roads, Preservation of Open Space, Overdevelopment, Quality of Drinking Water, Taxes, and other issues...? Read more about the issues.
From - June 7, 2021
The hearing for Provco/Wawa’s requests for variances officially began at the May 6, 2021, meeting of the Newtown Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB). Township Solicitor David Sander, representing the Township supervisors, requested a continuance of the hearing to allow the township expert ample time to draft a report and prepare for the hearing. Thus, no evidence was taken and the hearing was continued at the June 3, 2021 ZHB meeting.

This is just “Round 1” of the hearing, which I review below. Round 2 will commence at a special July meeting yet to be officially scheduled.

Recall that the township supervisors voted unanimously to oppose Wawa’s requests seeking relief for eight fueling dispensers on 4.9 acres where six are permitted by right as well as various signage variances to display the Wawa logo and fuel prices. This round of the hearing focused mostly on testimony and cross examination of witnesses regarding the signage variances.

Listen to excerpts from the hearing, including comments from Mr. Mike Redel, a Real Estate Project Engineer employed by Wawa.

From Newtown Patch - June 15, 2021
Another fast casual chain of restaurants is looking to move in to the Village at Newtown Shopping Center.

Five Guys is looking to occupy a space at 2804 S. Eagle Rd formerly held by Salad Works, which closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

John Mack's Insights:
Fast-food establishments like this won't help offset the need for higher real estate taxes in Newtown. Here's why:

I looked up what Five Guys pays workers on GlassDoor and it ranges from $21K to $30K per year. The oft-mentioned goal of advisors to the Newtown Board of Supervisors (e.g., the Economic Development Committee, aka EDC) is to bring new HIGH-PAYING jobs to Newtown by making Newtown more business friendly.

The ultimate goal is be less dependent on real estate tax on residents by substantially increasing Earned Income Tax (EIT) revenue, which is based on 1% of wages of non-residents who work in Newtown or 0.5% for residents (none of whom would work for $21K per year!).

Therefore, each Five Guys "Crew Member" would contribute only $210 to $300 per year in EIT. The application says there will be 8 employees. Those employees will pay $4,500 (at most) in EIT to Newtown per year (half that if the employees are Newtown residents - the other half would go to the Council Rock school district).

From - June 14, 2021
[Image: Supervisor John Mack supports a Newtown anti-fracking resolution at the March 28, 2018 meeting of the Board of Supervisors.]

State Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) announced on June 11 that a federal judge sided with Senate Democrats to protect the drinking water of five million Pennsylvanians. The order entered by Judge Diamond in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismisses, with prejudice, the claims of the Senate Republican Caucus based on lack of standing to bring the lawsuit.

“This is an important victory in our effort to protect the drinking water of five million Pennsylvanians,” said Sen. Santarsiero. “Today’s order granting our motion to dismiss the Senate Republican’s claim was granted with prejudice, which means they are not able to re-file their lawsuit. The DRBC has been a steward of our water supply, and with today’s order they will be able to continue to ensure the Delaware River is free from the hazardous environmental effects of fracking.”

John Mack's Insights:
A the March 28, 2018, Newtown BOS meeting, the Supervisors by a 4-1 vote (Kyle Davis voting nay) passed Newtown Resolution 2018-R-10, which calls upon the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to “enact a complete and permanent ban on natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing and all related activities (including drilling, fracking, wastewater processing and discharges from and water withdrawals for drilling and fracking operations) throughout the basin.”

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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