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Big Time Summer Shenanigans

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So many things to cover.  Let’s start with why, as I write this on Wednesday, July 20, there is no Lower Saucon Township council meeting going on.  You know, the one that was scheduled for this evening at 6:30?  It was marked “tentative” on previous schedules and Banonis did tease back in June that it might not be held.  Then all of a sudden on Monday, tonight’s meeting is cancelled and a “Special Meeting” is scheduled for Friday, July 22 at 9:30 AM.  Not a typo – 9:30 in the morning on a weekday.  

Wow!  What’s so critical that it can’t happen at a regular evening meeting but requires that a special, daytime meeting be held?  Let’s check the agenda!

Hmmm, only 2 items.  Appointment of a new township manager and bidding on a paving project.  I can’t wait to hear the excuse for why this has to be held at 9:30 on a Friday morning.  I doubt it’s the bidding on the paving project since it’s probably too flippin’ hot to do any paving right now anyway.  Must be appointing the new township manager.  Wonder why they want to do it in a big rush at an incredibly inconvenient time for most township residents? Things that make you go “hmmmmm.”

Lest you’ve forgotten, this is the township manager position that Carocci told us back in June probably wouldn’t be filled until August.  And at the time, he sure didn’t seem very concerned about that timing.

BTW, if you’re looking for any information on Mr. Mark Hudson who will be considered for the township manager position, don’t plan on finding anything publicly available on the website.  There’s no supporting information with the agenda item on this person to whom we will be paying more than $100,000 per year plus benefits, based on the current township budget.  Wonder if they’ll bother to say anything about him on Friday?

The June 15 Meeting

As long as you’re here, let’s go back and look at some of the previous serious shenanigans from the June 15 meeting.

First, completely in line with the council leadership’s unwillingness to share any information about appointments with the residents, we had the appointment of Mark Inglis last month to replace the recently departed Jenn Zavacky as a councilperson. Despite significant attempts by Mrs. deLeon to get Banonis, et al to share information about the new councilperson or the process, there was none forthcoming.  This in spite of the fact that Mrs. deLeon herself is a councilperson.  For example:

  • How many people applied for the opening?  Someone let slip that there were 4 applicants
  • Who were the others?  Don’t know.
  • What were their qualifications?  Don’t know.
  • What were Mr. Inglis’s qualifications that made him a better choice?  Don’t know.
  • Were any other applicants interviewed? Either no or don’t know.  Not clear on that. Banonis said he got to talk to “some” of them.  He doesn’t know how many other Council people talked to any of them.
  • Will there be an opportunity to interview any of the 4 in public?  Nope.
  • Hasn’t that been the Council’s past practice?  Not when Carocci was appointed, even though Mrs. deLeon distinctly remembers that being done in the past.
  • How long has Mr. Inglis lived in the Township?  Don’t know.
  • What does he do?  Don’t know.
  • What kind of service or involvement has he had with the Township?  Don’t know. 

It took 7 minutes and six more agenda items before we even got the correct spelling of Mr. Inglis’s name. 

Stay tuned. More to come.

Next for your consideration. Council seems to feel it’s their responsibility to stick their noses into the Saucon Valley School Board’s business.  To that end, there was a discussion of the possibility of the township supporting a School Resource Officer (SRO) for the district.  According to resident Barrett Geyer, who spoke during the public comment period in support of that idea, this is not something that the school board has considered important enough to address and therefore has not deemed it necessary to put this issue on their agenda.  It’s only been raised in their public comment.  But apparently the township needs to get involved in this so they passed a resolution to request a meeting with the school board to address the school board’s needs and then possibly add it to the August agenda or, if it’s REALLY important, hold a special meeting before then. Oh wait, we’re already doing that and it’s not on the agenda.  As I believe this council has been told in the past regarding this issue, “Stay in your lane.”

Moving right along.  Township resident Laura Ray had done research into the requirements for holding a citizens’ forum or town meeting in order to have a general discussion of residents’ concerns over the council’s behavior and actions.  She sent a request for such a forum to the Township Manager and Council. First, she was ignored.  Then the request was added to the June 15 agenda.  Here’s what the code says: 

“Article III. Legislative Officials

ss5.8 Council (3) 

On a regular basis, time shall be provided for a citizens’ forum or town meeting to be held at the beginning of the regularly scheduled Council meetings. Such meetings shall be limited to 30 minutes’ duration. Additional time may be designated at the discretion of the Council.”

Banonis then proceeded to announce that the forum would be held on Wednesday, November 23, which is not a regularly scheduled Council meeting.  It is, however, inconveniently, the night before Thanksgiving.  The regularly scheduled Council meeting would be Wednesday, November 16.  Mrs. deLeon objected to the fact that this was not a regularly scheduled meeting.  She was informed, very rudely, that she was wrong and it didn’t have to be a regularly scheduled meeting.  At least one person in the audience (your humble writer) objected verbally that this was contrary to the administrative code.  However, because there are no comments allowed during the meeting, those objections were also ignored.

Banonis is wrong.  The meeting is incorrectly scheduled.  It needs to be rescheduled at the time of a regularly scheduled Council meeting – unless they’re going to move the Council meeting to the night before Thanksgiving.  And Attorney Treadwell, who later in the meeting got his shorts all in a twist because he claimed Mrs. deLeon was questioning his knowledge of the administrative code, apparently didn’t know enough about the administrative code to know that what Banonis had done was, in fact, out of line.

Here’s another one.  When Mrs. deLeon was the liaison to the Landfill Committee, Banonis and Carocci often loudly objected to her reading reports regarding the landfill during her council member report time. She was accused of wasting the Council’s time.  One evening, she was told that residents could go read those reports on line and there was no need for her to read them into the record.  Nevertheless, she persisted.  And so she was removed as liaison to the Landfill Committee.  Apparently those concerns don’t apply to Banonis.  He spend five solid minutes reading reports about the state of the landfill that I’m fairly sure were of no interest to the people there nor were they understandable to most residents.  Of course the gist of them was that everything is hunky-dorey. But when he does it, it’s fine.

Of course, there’s always a public comment by someone about the library situation because otherwise the council would just try to ignore it completely.  Jo Ellen Thomson raised a question about the $50,000 check that was written to Southern Lehigh Public Library on May 12.  She was concerned that the prior check to SLPL had been voided and wondered how the council could write a new one without authorization.  Banonis tried to duck the question.  When Mrs. Thomson pressed him, his response was that the resolution passed in January authorizing the check had never been rescinded.  However, that leaves open the question of whether the May 12 check was for the same purpose as the January check.  On the surface, it would appear not.  More to come.

Now you’re up to date.  Oh – except for the tiny fact that Hellertown Borough at their borough meeting on Tuesday, July 5, voted to sever their intermunicipal agreements with LST regarding the pool, the compost center, and the Saucon Valley Partnership effective December 31, 2022.  And of course there’s the on-going, unresolved Hellertown Area Library issue.  But hey, none of those were worth holding a council meeting tonight to discuss and they certainly wouldn’t require a special meeting on Friday.  Only hiring a township manager is that important and time-critical.

Next Township Council Meeting – Friday, July 22, 9:30 AM – Township Hall

As a service to the community, the meeting will be live-streamed on the Saucon Shenanigans Facebook page.



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