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Council Members Keep Promises for More Public Participation

Township council unanimously supported the reinstatement of a second public comment portion to its meetings, as well as "office hours" for council members.

Fulfilling their campaign promises, new council members Greg Newcomer, Phil Garwood and Victoria Napolitano—along with Mayor Stacey Jordan and Deputy Mayor Chris Chiacchio—took steps Monday night to give the public more chances to have their voices heard.

Beginning next Monday, members of council will hold "office hours," giving residents an opportunity to meet with them in a more informal setting. Garwood and Newcomer will make themselves available at 7:30 p.m. Monday (Feb. 4) in the New Jersey Room at the library. 

"There's a lot of smart people in this town," said Garwood. "We should listen to them."

In a statement released after Monday night's council meeting, Jordan stated, "By holding office hours outside of regular council meetings, we are giving the taxpayers the attention they deserve and offering a way for our citizens to feel comfortable addressing their issues somewhere besides a microphone in a crowded room."

A second date will be announced soon with Chiacchio and Napolitano.

In addition to the office hours, council also decided unanimously to reinstate the "Residents' Requests and Presentations" portion of its meetings, which was removed from the agenda in 2011.

The idea was introduced by Newcomer, who made the suggestion a key feature of his platform when he ran for council in the fall, alongside fellow Democratic candidates Mark Hines and Brian Sattinger. 

The idea was immediately supported by the rest of the council members, though township manager Scott Carew suggested council limit the Requests and Presentations—which will come at the beginning of the meeting—to items not already on the agenda, a suggestion which was also supported by council.

To read a full statement from the Republican members of council, click on the attached PDF.

Lindsay Baumann January 29, 2013 at 12:02 PM
So we already heard the website is being made more user friendly. Now office hours and requests. All that's left is the promise to hold town halls with all the towns districts in town and Garwood and Napolitano will have completely moved on their pledge they released during the campaign. Nice to see that happen, I got used to feeling like politicians can't keep promises. Great to see
FormerlyJaded January 29, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Kudos to Napolitano Garwood and Newcomer for staying true to their word. Glad that all three followed through on their promise to bring back presentations and requests, and glad Greg got on board with the idea of office hours that Victoria and Phil pushed for. These guys are all scoring high in my book.
Jean January 29, 2013 at 01:13 PM
My taxes just went up because of the reevaluation. I hope you still cut spending and taxes like you promised to make town more affordable. Keep up the good work
Joker's wild January 29, 2013 at 01:26 PM
One smoothly happening meeting gang! I still am trying to get over the questioner at the end of the meeting. Councilman chiacchio was rocking strong last night, go get em buddy! It was good to see all happy And laughing , even both chairs giggled! Good night council.
Red Alert January 29, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Could somebody provide clarification on somethin? The PDF of the release from the Republicans states that Mayor Jordan will be involved in the office hours on February 4th as well; however, the Patch article above states it will only be Councilmen Newcomer and Garwood.
Joker's wild January 29, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Only Phil and Greg
Rob Scott (Editor) January 29, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Red Alert, During the meeting, it was discussed that only two council members—Garwood and Newcomer—should be at the library on the 4th, since a gathering of three would constitute a violation of the Open Public Meetings Act if it wasn't advertised. The release was written before the meeting. Hope that clarifies it.
Dienstag January 29, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Look folks, Greg definitely said that he wanted the Requests & Presentations to come back, we see that. But let's not forget the Republicans ran on that too. Here is their pledge folks: http://moorestown.patch.com/articles/moorestown-gop-candidates-pledge-accessibility-if-elected . Both sides making good on promises here. This is a good thing for the town. Glad that The GOP and Democrats can work together in our town, hey, its a good thing!
Red Alert January 29, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Thank you, Rob.
Jean January 29, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Since they will be at the library, can the fix the crossing situation before someone gets runned over.
Travis Woods January 29, 2013 at 03:04 PM
Isn't there already a crosswalk like, half a block from the middle of that road people keep talking about? People always cross in the middle of the street and jay walk, but thats a choice for not walking down a bit more to where there IS already a crosswalk......... Dont get this one, sorry!
Travis Woods January 29, 2013 at 03:04 PM
Imagine that! Guess I voted for the right three in the end.
HomeBrew January 29, 2013 at 03:12 PM
A suggestion for more open and responsive government: Please consistently post full-text versions of ordinances and resolutions on the the township's website. Please post prior to the Council meeting so that council members, staff, and citizens can be prepared and informed for the meeting. Ordinances and resolutions for Council's reorganization meeting were posted in advance (excellent), posted on the day of the first January meeting (fair), and not at all for last night's meeting. http://www.moorestown.nj.us/content/207/243/271/default.aspx
HomeBrew January 29, 2013 at 03:56 PM
Two resolutions on Monday's agenda authorized more than $21,000 in change orders for WBNorth syn-turf project. Do change orders mean the cost of this $1.5M project is rising? If so, who picks up the tab? Clubs? Donors? Taxpayers? http://www.moorestown.nj.us/filestorage/207/154/2143/488/4160/2013_01_28_agenda.pdf
Peter Pan fan January 29, 2013 at 04:03 PM
At the meeting carew explained it was for goal posts that they missed.
Bobby29 January 29, 2013 at 04:18 PM
This is fantastic. Glad the new council is working well together. Great job town council!
HomeBrew January 29, 2013 at 04:29 PM
thx.
Joker's wild January 29, 2013 at 06:42 PM
What are the ground rules in the New Jersey room at the library? Could a citizen bring refreshments or drinks to these two on one discussions? Are there time limits? Can a citizen unload endless questions if no one else is at the door? Is there a referee? Are any of these comments "on the record" ? Will council discuss the citizens concerns during a council meeting? What if a third councilperson was in the library for story hour or playing Legos during these chats away in the nj room is that ok? If no one shows up the first half hour will both councilmen leave is angst? Can we bring our kids?
Any news? January 30, 2013 at 06:54 PM
We heard about this meeting at the library room with two councilmen. Is this an official meeting? Because what we want is to be on record in case the two council people ignore our pleas. We wanted to talk about open space monies that may be used at the last council meeting? Reval? And other various services. Do we make a reservation?
I spy something .. February 03, 2013 at 02:57 PM
...yeah, looks good! hope this works out ok. Openness is a nice thing, is there gonna be a time limit on the residents request part? What is to stop these windbags from filibustering the meeting?
dienstag February 03, 2013 at 04:05 PM
...any news on the new blog site that wss discusses at the meeting?
I spy something .. February 03, 2013 at 04:53 PM
...interesting , the town discussed having a blog spot on the towns website? Now is the IT committee involved with that? Are they capable of running such a thing without an " in house" tech personnel? Perhaps the council liaison or chair of IT committee should be in charge of that or at least be the watchdog on that sort of thing? What new is it a " in house" person or outsourcing or shared services with the BOE on the tech crew?

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