The Telford Borough Council held their monthly meeting Monday night and more than 100 people lined up outside in the cold hoping to gain entry. The meeting was the first opportunity for members of the community to make public comment after learning of funding cuts to the Indian Valley Public Library.
The Telford Borough Council reduced library funding by $16,274 in 2023. Many in the community believe anti-LGBTQ sentiment played a role in the reduction of funds.
Once the doors opened, a maximum of 55 people were able to be seated, per the fire code, forcing many to wait outside. Several retirees from the Lutheran Community at Telford waited in a heated van and listened to a live stream of the meeting on Facebook due to the inability to enter the building.
Public comment was limited to residents however some in the audience questioned whether everyone was actually from Telford due to social media posts from far right groups that encouraged people from other municipalities to attend.
Telford resident Natalie Cimonetti addressed the council and read a portion of a Facebook posting that indicated the desire to defund the library by a “Bucks County councilman.”
“I saw a woman on Facebook, by the name of Jaymie Jill Bellet, posted that she got an email from a Bucks councilman,” Cimonetti said prior to reading the post that details an effort to defund the library “if they keep evangelizing for trans agenda and LGBTQ.”
“All evidence points to the appointed, unelected member by the name of Robert Jacobus,” Cimonetti said, calling for him to step down from the council.
“Context matters,” was Cimonetti’s message after she read a passage from the Bible describing sexual acts contained within Chapter 19 of the Book of Genesis in order to illustrate their hypocrisy.
When asked if he wished to deny writing the Facebook post, Jacobus responded “absolutely not,” leaving his seat at the council table to make public comment.
“In the library, what we have is ultimately how to books on how to have anal sex,” Jacobus said. “Encouraging a child to participate in this activity is a public health hazard… call me a Christo-fascist,” he said with a shrug.
Jacobus offered attendees copies of a report he had prepared saying it will probably appear on the Borough’s website although it was not clear if the Borough had actually commissioned him to create the report or endorses his findings.
A majority of the public comments made were in support of the library.
“I’m a Christian but I also believe that public funds are for the public. You may believe what you like personally, but your personal beliefs should not cross the line into funding for public issues because this fine body [indicating the borough council] represents everybody in town,” said Telford resident Michelle Kane.
John Waldenberger, who will be running for borough council in the upcoming municipal election and live-streamed the event via Facebook, said he found the statement on the Borough’s website about the library funding disingenuous. The statement says that cuts in library funding represent an endeavor to avoid raising taxes.
“I have found several disturbing things including efforts centered in our very own community specifically targeting the LGBTQ community,” Waldenberger said.
“One such group, Indian Valley Conservative Voice, formerly known as Souderton Strong Conservatives, is associated with the Indian Valley Republicans which frequently posted transphobic attacks on former secretary of health, Dr. Rachel Levine,” he said.
Civil rights, the First Amendment and upcoming elections were mentioned by an assortment of speakers during approximately 60 minutes of public comment.