Category: Survey Results
Recently, there have been several emergency or near emergency situations in Newtown Township. On March 7, 2018, during a snow emergency power failure, the Township Building was open as a “warming center,” but before any township residents were made aware of this, power was restored; on October 24, 2018, Swamp Road and Route 413 experienced significant traffic delays due to an accident, but many residents were unaware of the problem.
The list goes on. And although the Newtown Police Department and/or the Township Manager were able to post information about some of these events on Twitter and Facebook or via email to homeowner association management companies (with the hope that it would passed along to HOAs and residents), these notices reached a limited number of residents, reached them too late, or never reached them at all.
Not only is there a limited ability for the Newtown Police and Administration Departments to send out emergency and other notices to residents, there is limited ability of residents to easily communicate information to the Township and be assured that a record is kept of each contact.
The Newtown Technology Committee has been investigating services that can solve these problems by sending notices to residents about active shooters, traffic incidents, community events, severe weather alerts, missing persons, etc., via text, mobile apps, email, voice, Twitter, and Facebook. One such system is NIXLE, which is used by over 8,000 communities across the country. For more information download the NIXLE data sheet.
Such a service would cost Newtown Township about $5,500 per year (plus $500 in the first year for implementation and training). The service is FREE to residents who sign up (opt-in) to use it. Is it worth it?
Listen to This Presentation
This is an edited recording of a presentation to the Newtown Technology Committee made by a Nixle sales representative. It covers all the major features of the system.
Recently, I spoke with the Chief of a Regional Police Department that uses NIXLE. According to him, "Nixle has been working very well for us. We purchased this service and permit the three municipalities in the region to also post notices/alerts through our system. All officers can post an alert. The system is very easy to use, especially the mobile application. I have already used NIXLE's mobile app from my car while traveling to the scene of an event."
Citizens and residents from surrounding municipalities can opt in to receive mobile, email or hard line phone notifications. His department created information cards and officers hand them out at community events to make people aware of the system.
"I would say that Nixle is a benefit and cost appropriate," said the Chief.
Another Option: Savvy Citizen
DISCLAIMER: This is not an official Newtown Township approved survey. Its purpose is solely to inform John Mack – a Newtown Supervisor – of the public’s opinion regarding this issue.Read More...
Posted on 13 Nov 2018, 10:40 - Category: Survey Results
At a May 14, 2018, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors meeting, a resident claimed that "There is no place [in Newtown] to get a normal sandwich for less than $15". The comment was made in support of a plan for a Wawa superstore on Newtown Bypass (see here).
Actually, there are many places in Newtown where you can get a sandwich/hoagie for under $15.
To prove it, I bought hoagies/sandwiches from six Newtown Township businesses. All were priced under $15. But how did they compare with a Wawa hoagie?
To answer that question, I drove 6.0 miles to the Wawa located on 2nd Street Pike in Richboro, PA and purchased a chicken with spinach classic hoagie for $5.79.
Just for fun, I decided to create an online quiz that challenged people to identify the Wawa hoagie among the six Newtown hoagies that I purchased (see image above). Of course, it was only possible to judge based on photographs I took of each sandwich. It was not a popularity contest and unfortunately, not a taste test.
I also asked respondents to identify the highest priced hoagie among the group of seven.
Over 215 people participated in the quiz. Only 22% of them were able to correctly identify the Wawa hoagie (#6).
The majority (55%) of respondents thought #3 was the Wawa hoagie, but it is an Italian hoagie from Shady Brook Farm. It cost about $8.
About 13% of respondents thought it was #4, which is an Italian hoagie from Acme and cost $5.
Here's the identity of all the hoagies:
- Slack’s Hoagie Shack half Italian hoagie. About $8.50.
- La Stalla “Frank Sinatra” sandwich. $ 11.95.
- 12” Italian hoagie from Shady Brook Farm costs about $8.
- 12” Italian hoagie from Acme. About $5.
- Primo mild sharp Italian hoagie. About $10 for 9” size.
- Chicken with spinach classic Wawa hoagie. About $5 for 10” size.
- Joey G’s grilled chicken with asparagus sandwich. $7.95.
NOTE: 36% of respondents identified #2 as the "priciest" hoagie among the seven (it also had the most meat!) whereas 23% guessed it was #7 and 22% said #5 (close, but no cigar!).
One person complained about the lack of fairness: “I don't know why the same sandwich wasn't ordered, and that the sandwiches were positioned differently. Not really a fair visual comparison.”
In my defense - if any is needed - I got the idea for the survey AFTER first buying the Wawa hoagie from the Richboro, PA store and noticing how it seemed to be thrown together without much care. Afterward, I started buying other hoagies to compare - my preference was for Italian hoagies but I did not think it mattered that all of them should be the same type of sandwich.
Show Me a Wawa Italian Hoagie
To be a fair visual comparison, I agree that I should have a photo of an Italian hoagie from Wawa. So, while attending an EPA meeting in Horsham on 25 July 2018, I purchased a classic Italian hoagie from a local Wawa (see my Instagram post below).
During the lunch break today at the EPA PFAS Community Stakeholder meeting in Horsham, I was able to drive about 1 mile down Horsham Road to a Wawa and get this Classic Italian hoagie for $5 and change. It looks OK compared to the chicken hoagie I purchased at the Richboro Wawa. It also tasted OK, but not great. The amount of meat was pretty meager compared to other Italian hoagies I have purchased in Newtown.
Posted on 24 Jul 2018, 11:47 - Category: Survey Results
In November-December 2017, after Democrat candidates swept many local municipality elections, the Bucks County Democratic Committee (BCDC) fielded a survey of winning supervisors and council members asking them about factors that lead to their win, what approaches were used in the campaign, how much money was spent, etc. The survey collected 29 responses, all from winning Democrats, of course.
Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign was Critical
- Top factors contributing to wins are GOTV (Get Out The Vote), especially canvassing & strong local municipal organization (see chart below)
- Most prevalent approaches were canvassing, signs, in-person fundraising, snail mail, social media and meet & greets
The GOTV effort – mostly through canvassing – was very important, especially for someone like me who never ran for office before. Not only was that critical for getting people to know me and to vote for me, it also gave me an opportunity to speak to residents about issues that were important to them. I surveyed and polled residents on the issues as well (for more on that, read “Newtown Speaks Out on the Issues”).
Under “Other,” I included my blog and email newsletter, which continue to to be important ways for me to inform residents about important issues.
Follow the Money
- Campaigns spent anywhere from $0 (unopposed) to $50,000; average was about $9000; on average, candidate self-funding was $626 (see table below)
After the primary and before the election, I spent $651.12 out of my own pocket, mostly for my website (www.johnmacknewtown.info), which I will continue to maintain, pamphlet printing fees, postage and envelopes for mailings sent to a couple of hundred people I met while canvassing, and Facebook ads.
Of course, my team (Newtown’s Voice) spent much more than that to fund the campaign of three Supervisor candidates; i.e., Phil Calabro, Linda Bobrin, and myself. For the period from June 6, 2017 through October 23, 2017, Newtown’s Voice Spent $31,559 according to Campaign Finance Reports filed with the Bucks County Board of Elections. The Republican team (Newtown First) spent $46,363 during the same period.Read More...
Posted on 04 Jan 2018, 13:12 - Category: Survey Results
As you may know, when I was running for Newtown Township Board of Supervisors, my team had a tag line: “Listening to you for a better Newtown!”
One way we listene to residents was through simple polls and surveys. I collected responses to a poll as part of my door-to-door canvassing (the Canvassing Poll). In addition, I hosted an online survey (the Online Survey), which asked slightly different questions. This article summarizes the results of this poll and survey.
Canvassing Poll Results
When knocking on doors canvassing, all the candidates on my team asked people to select one of the following as the most important local issue for them:
- Drugs/Opioid crisis
Nearly 300 responses wer collected. The summary of results are shown in the following pie chart:
Drugs, Taxes, and Development are the most important local issues according to the poll respondents. Respectively, 26%, 21%, and 21% of respondents chose those issues as most important for them. Keep in mind that the majority of these respondents are Democrats.
Although the Canvassing Poll does not allow the collection of comments, I often got a lot of feedback and comments from people. So, although the results may not be based on a “scientifically significant” sample, it was a great way to open up a conversation with residents and I learned a thing or two.
Online Survey Results
As of May 30, 2020, 344 people have responded to my online “Issues Affecting Newtown Survey,” which allowed respondents to rate the importance of each issue and to add comments as well as issues that are not included in the survey. The following bar chart is a summary of results:
This survey asked opinions about some of the same issues as the Canvassing Poll, but also included other issues, several of which have been discussed at Newtown Board of Supervisors meetings. The survey was open to all regardless of political party affiliation.
Water Quality Tops the List
It’s no surprise that 79% of respondents think that the “Quality of Drinking Water” is very important to them. This issue has been written about frequently in the local press. According to an article published in the July 16, 2017 issue of the Bucks County Courier Times, for example, "over the past several years, more that 16 public and 200 private wells...were found to be contaminated with high levels of PFOS and PFOA, which come from fire-fighting foams. The problem is national in scope... The contamination has reached drinking water supplies in states as diverse as New Jersey, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Washington." Also, after being petitioned by the Bristol Borough-based environmental nonprofit Delaware Riverkeeper Network, a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection board unexpectedly voted to order a review of PFOA in drinking water.
Fracking is another source of drinking water contamination. Recently an ordinance was introduced to permit fracking in Newtown, Wrightstown and Upper Makefield.
Here are a couple of comments regarding this issue from Survey respondents:
The water quality is atrocious. It is at the maximum limits for all TDS and I have received letters periodically -after the fact- that the water failed for carcinogens.
The water report I saw is not ok. I bought my house 2 years ago from a young woman who was dying from a rare cancer. While it may not be related, it makes me uneasy. The neighbors tell me there has been a lot of cancer here.
I am not well informed about water management, but I feel that the quality (smell, taste, etc.) of the local water is poor, and is at the same time, very expensive.
Open Space and Trails
Open space - including parks and trails - improves our quality of life, reduces stress on our resources and increases our home values.
21% of respondents to the Canvassing Poll say “Development” – by which they mean “over development” or “inappropriate development” – is the most important issue for them. Compare that to more than two-thirds (69%) of the Online Survey respondents who say that “Preservation of Open Space” is the most important issue for them.
Some comments from the Online Survey include:
Would love to see the township made more walkable, with more sidewalks and crosswalks connecting neighborhoods with shops.
We need more walking paths - including connections between those that already exist.
Newtown's Comprehensive Trail Plan (find it here) will strengthen the Newtown Township community by creating a safe network of pedestrian and bicycle facilities that connect local and regional resources and that encourages healthy lifestyles
Prescription & Illegal Drug Abuse
Many respondents to the Online Survey (47%) and a plurality of respondents to Canvassing Poll (26%) say the drug problem is their #1 concern. While canvassing, I’ve heard from at least a dozen people who know someone in their neighborhood who has overdosed on drugs or who has had a problem with opioids.
When the subject of drug abuse arises during canvassing, I tell people about my proposal for 24/7 drug drop-off box in Newtown (read “John Mack Proposes 24/7 Drug Drop-Off Box for Newtown Residents”). 70% of people who abuse prescription opioids get them from their friends or family. Safely disposing of unused and expired prescription medicines, therefore, is important to keeping them out of the wrong hands. Drug drop-off boxes can help achieve that.
One resident I spoke to wondered if security would be an issue.
That gave me an opportunity to point out that at the May 10, 2017, meeting of the Board of Supervisors, the purchase of a new video surveillance system was approved for an estimated cost of $38,140.48! According to the meeting minutes, “The new system will have more cameras throughout the complex which can be live stream viewed remotely in police cars or by the Chief or Township Manager. Video can be stored for 30 days.” Obviously, such a system would provide adequate security for a 24/7 drug drop-off box. If someone tried to break into one, the new security system would be sure to catch them in the act and lead to an arrest. I also mentioned my idea to ask KVK Tech - an opioid manufacturer located right here in the center of Newtown - to pay for the 24/7 box. I am sure they have experts who would be able to advise the town of the necessary security required. After all, they store these dangerous drugs at their facility on Terry Drive one block down the road from the post office!
Some comments from respondents:
Drug abuse attention should include helping those with the addiction not just law enforcement aspect of the problem.
Heroine (sic) abuse and deaths plague not just this town but this county. Arresting a victim of this drug is senseless (sic). I would like to see more awareness and education about this poison that is on our streets.
I agree with these commentators and have called for the Board of Supervisors to establish a non-partisan “Drug Free Newtown” committee and appoint knowledgeable volunteers from the community to serve on it. The committee should be tasked with recommending other solutions to this crisis and spearheading a drive to solicit donations from local businesses, including KVK Tech.
Taxes was a top 3 issue of importance to respondents to the Canvassing Poll and ranked 4th among 11 issues in the Online Survey. A majority (54%) of respondents to the Online Survey thought that taxes was the most important issue for them. But some respondents weren't so concerend about taxes. As one respondent put it, “Of course no one likes paying taxes, but so long as the services they pay for are desirable and clear to see, they are worth it. Progressive Taxes are the basis of a civilized society.”
Another comment about taxes:
I view taxes as the total package coming out of my retirement fund which goes to any/all government agencies. Reduction at the federal level which forces increases at the state or local level results in the same thing: a tax increase. This is unacceptable, and could very well force people to move out of this area.
Posted on 11 Dec 2017, 14:28 - Category: Survey Results
Dozens of people have taken my Newtown Issues Survey, which asks respondents to rank several issues in terms of importance to them. These issues include:
- Keeping Taxes Low
- Quality of Drinking Water
- Prescription & Illegal Drug Abuse
- Bringing New Business to the Town
- Preservation of Open Space
- Condition of Roads
- Plus others
There is also a space for people to give me their opinion about issues/topics not on the list. The following are some of the comments I have received. You can take the survey here and give me your feedback as well. As always, you may remain anonymous and your comments & personal information (if supplied) are confidential and will not be revealed to any 3rd-party. After you complete the survey, you will be able to see a summary of responses (not including any comments or personally-identified information).
If elected Supervisor, I hope to do more surveys like this to get opinions from residents on issues as they come before the Board of Supervisors. I don't have all the answers, but I'm a fast learner.
Comment from a resident of Eagleton Farms:
"We need more walking paths - including connections between those that already exist, programs and activities for our growing 55+ population, and a strategy for getting rid of the geese."
I think the Township is working on that - at least the walking path part. According to the minutes of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors meeting, Wednesday, August 10, 2016, the Town contracted with Gilmore& Associates to develop a comprehensive, long term plan for trails throughout the Township. A committee was formed with members from the Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council (EAC), Planning Commission, Park and Recreation Board, staff and Board of Supervisors to work with residents to develop the plan.
In a future newsletter I will report on the progress to date. Subscribe here to receive it by e-mail as soon as it is published.
As for the geese... they should "migrate already!"
Comments from a resident of the Whispering Wood section of Newtown Grant:
"Would love to see the township made more walkable, with more sidewalks and crosswalks connecting neighborhoods with shops; also need to address parking problem in the shopping center, especially Goodnoe's corner."
Not sure about Goodnoe's corner, but there are plans to "revitalize" the Village at Newtown shopping center with many new restaurants, banks, and sidewalks connecting them. Not sure we need more banks and parking may still be an issue -- I've heard there will be as many as 40 restaurants located there!
Of course, people are concerend about taxes. One survey respondent, however, put it into perspective: "Of course no one likes paying taxes, but so long as the services they pay for are desirable and clear to see, they are worth it. Progressive Taxes are the basis of a civilized society. Thank you for this chance to state my views."
Meanwhile, Newtown has one of the lowest property tax millage in the area.
"Heroine (sic) abuse and deaths plague not just this town but this county. Arresting a victim of this drug is senseles (sic). I would like to see more awareness and education about this poison that is on our streets."
This is an important issue to me, especially regarding the manufacture and distribution of opioids by KVK Tech right here in Newtown (for more on that read "Attacking the Root of the Opioid Crisis - Pharmaceutical Companies").
It's Not About Politics
Finally, one survey respondent gave us a good piece of advice: "Stop voting along party lines and start working together to find solutions to community issues."
I'm in favor of that!Read More...
Posted on 21 Jul 2017, 12:27 - Category: Survey Results