Last week’s Lower Saucon Township Council meeting was as different from July’s meeting as night is from day. This month saw a dramatic improvement in the communication among the council members.
At the August 19 meeting, there was no mansplaining, no use of motions as a bludgeoning tool, no rude interruptions or snide remarks. It was actually quite enjoyable for those of us citizens who join in to observe what’s happening in the township. Not only that, but there were even outbreaks of collegiality. There were two occasions that I observed where one councilperson ask for clarification or explanation and the answers were freely provided. Likewise, there was an offer that one councilperson would update another who might possibly have to miss an upcoming committee meeting.
There was excellent collaboration on the questions surrounding a request for further funding of a new ladder truck, a discussion that ended in a unanimous agreement to table the request until the September 2 meeting. There is apparently some concern over the painting of the ladder on the truck, both as to color and markings and a conflict with what the consultant had recommended. Mr. Banonis also raised the question as to whether workers’ compensation coverage could be compromised if the consultant’s recommendations were not followed. There was a thorough and civil discussion of the various ramifications and, at the appropriate point in the discussion, the motion to table was made.
I might be inclined to posit that Wednesday’s meeting went smoothly because it was, primarily, what I would call a housekeeping meeting. Most of the business items were straightforward – an extension of the disaster emergency declaration, the advertising of a public meeting and a request for bid for a water line installation, an extensive report on the impact of Tropical Storm Isaias by Township Manager Leslie Huhn with some further timely discussion of storm water regulations. The only item that seemed to stir significant passion was a rezoning request by Creek Investors LLC, but all of the council members agreed that they were still in opposition to the request. Every vote ended up being unanimous – 5-0.
I’d also like to point out that, as we are all learning, Zoom is not the most congenial method for conducting a meeting. It is very difficult to read another person’s body language or be certain when a person has stopped talking. All of the interpersonal cues that we rely on for smooth communication are made more difficult because of the inherent friction in the Zoom app, not to mention the technological difficulties that rear their ugly heads. At this last meeting, it seemed that the council members were much more aware of those obstacles and more careful that interruptions that may be caused by the drawbacks of the medium not be interpreted as intentional rudeness. Patience and grace in these difficult circumstances are excellent additions to the meetings.
Along those lines, I’ve noticed that Mr. Carocci has not been providing a video feed in the last couple of meetings. I don’t know if that’s a technology issue. If it isn’t, I think it would be helpful for all of us attending by Zoom if as least all of the council members could provide a video link. Being able to see our elected representatives is a plus. Of course if it’s a technology issue, well, such is life these days.
Perhaps as a reward for the improved cooperation at the August meeting, the council adjourned at 8:15 PM, a tribute to efficiency and, I suspect, no significant developer issues on the agenda. Kudos to all. I look forward to September’s meeting in the same spirit.