16 questions Martic residents would like to have answered at tonight's public forum on Home Rule.

Via Martic SOUL (Save Our Unspoiled Land)

"Concerned Martic residents have spent the past 14 months intensively researching ways that our local community can better determine our own future, protect ourselves from unwanted & dangerous industrial projects like the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline, and have a greater say in our own township affairs.

Tonight our township supervisors are hosting a public forum entitled “What does home rule mean to me?” Aware that our supervisors have, so far, publicly expressed opposition to Home Rule for Martic—and also aware that strict guidelines for public comment have been placed on tonight’s meeting—township residents have compiled the following public list of questions we’d like to see addressed tonight.

These questions arise from dozens of public meetings (town halls, forums, panel discussions, house meetings) that Martic SOUL has hosted for Martic residents over the past six months. These questions have also been sent to our township supervisors. We hope the panelists come prepared to address these pressing concerns.

QUESTIONS on HOME RULE from MARTIC RESIDENTS

Will the election of a Home Rule study commission in any way affect the insurance for our fire company? Has any home rule municipality ever been denied insurance for its fire company? It’s our understanding that there are no such cases.

Would the election of a Home Rule study commission, in and of itself, in any way affect the financial stability of our municipality

Could you please note home many municipalities in PA are currently under home rule?

Would you agree that home rule, by its’ very nature, involves more citizen participation in local government? Isn’t this a good thing?

It's our understanding that a home rule form of government gives greater authority over local issues to its residents than our current 2nd class township. This sounds like a huge benefit. Can you explain how this works?

Some of the estimates we’ve heard about the average cost to fund a HR study commission for a township our size seem overblown. Can you address what the cost of such a commission might be for a 5,000 resident rural township like Martic?

Can we get on record why 3 of our supervisors are running as study commission candidates given their public opposition to home rule? Can they publicly state whether they are for or against genuinely exploring home rule for Martic?

Some local critics of home rule have been spreading the idea that home rule will raise taxes. Isn’t it true that our current township structure puts the power of raising taxes into the hands of 5 supervisors, whereas a Home Rule municipality would require more than half the voters to make this decision? Isn’t this better for residents?

Some critics of home rule have been making accusations about a “yes” vote bankrupting our township. Has there ever been a case where a township going to home rule has bankrupted the community because they choose home rule?

Do you have evidence of the percentage of home rule communities that are “successful in comparison to second class township communities?

At the Conestoga meeting last week, Mr. Herr mentioned a number of home rule communities in the state that purportedly “not doing well.” It is our understanding that distressed municipalities sometimes move to home rule as a tool to assist in their recovery. Might this account for some of these townships you talk about? In addition, do you have any direct evidence that the cause for such distress is home rule?

We’ve heard that Home Rule gives local communities greater freedom when it comes to the issues they can legislate on. PA’s “Second Class Twp Code” allows our current township to make laws only on matters where they’ve explicitly been given permission to legislate. In contrast, Home Rule municipalities are allowed to legislate on any matters not expressly forbidden. This sounds like an important expansion of governing authority—for supervisors & residents alike. Can you discuss this further?

We’ve been reading some editorials in the Lancaster Newspaper recently by political party leaders insisting that more citizen involvement in local politics is a very bad & dangerous idea. Our own local party leaders have likened Home Rule supporters in Martic Township to “an irrational mob” and even described “more citizen involvement” that comes with Home Rule as a disturbing “downside”! Isn’t more citizen involvement one of the chief goals of a healthy democracy—and, if so, isn’t home rule a powerful tool for achieving that goal?

This mtg was advertised as an “unbiased” presentation on home rule. And yet, the featured presenter is the Asst Executive Director of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS), an organization that will lose Martic Twp’s membership should Martic become a Home Rule municipality. Additionally, we noticed that the Marcellus Shale Coalition—a hyper pro-gas industry advocacy group—was a “Bronze” level sponsor of the PSATS 2015 annual mtg. Given these facts, is this panel truly an “unbiased” presentation on Home Rule?

Conspicuously absent from this panel are any residents of Martic township itself—despite the fact that scores of our residents have been investing 100s of hours in the study of HR over the past six months & would have been well-suited to serve on this panel. Why were none of them included to speak about our research, findings, & what we've been hearing from our own Martic friends and neighbors through countless public meetings on this very issue?

Anti-“p-i-p-e-l-i-n-e” & pro-home rule residents of Martic have been hosting public & educational town halls, forums, panels, and house meetings all across this township for more than a year now. They even had local party operatives, who are fully against Home Rule, crash their home meetings, trying to sabotage the discussion with arrogance and yelling. Still, never has this group of passionate residents considered calling on the police to quell dissent or enforce the will of event organizers. So our question is: what is the fear that motivated the supervisors’ decision to have police on hand at Conestoga’s public meeting last week—and, perhaps, at Martic Middle School this evening (if, in fact, that turns out to be the case)?