"Did you pack a lunch?" laughed Lower Macungie commissioner James Lancsek, when township resident Ken Guldin stood up to speak with a brown grocery bag in his hand.
Lancsek wasn't laughing a few moments later, when Guldin set the bag on the dais right in front of him.
"If that's what I think it is, don't leave it here," said the commissioner.
Ryan Conrad, president of the five commissioners, immediately told
Guldin: "If that's dog feces, please take that with you if you don't mind. We prefer that not be on the panel."
It happened at the beginning of Thursday night's township meeting, when a frustrated Guldin told commissioners he had been asking them for help with "a dog problem" since last fall.
"This morning I think I spent an hour and a half," said Guldin. "The walking path is clean."
With those words, he grabbed the bag and stepped away from the podium, approaching the commissioners.
Someone in the front of the room gasped: "Oh no."
Guldin placed the bag on the dais where commissioners and other township officials were seated.
But he did pick up the bag again when Conrad asked him to do so.
Conrad thanked Guldin for removing the bag, adding: "We appreciate that you were willing to clean it up, but we don't need to have it on the panel."
"Let's do something about it," implored Guldin.
He and Lancsek argued about the township ordinance that requires people to clean up after their dogs.
At issue is whether residents can help enforce township animal control laws, which state people can be fined up to $1,000 plus costs if they fail to clean up dog feces.
Township officials told Guldin he can take action against violators.
But Guldin said a local magistrate repeatedly has told him only the township's code enforcement officer can do so. Lancsek said the magistrate is incorrect.
Guldin asked Lancsek to go with him to talk to a magistrate. Lancsek said he would not.
Atty. Richard Somach, the township solicitor, waded in, telling Guldin he had a private right to abate a nuisance and nothing was stopping him from going to a magistrate.
Guldin told commissioners he was sharing with them the feedback he gotten from a local magistrate.
"You're giving us more than feedback!" quipped township manager Bruce Fosselman.
Holding up the bag, Guldin said: "I did my end of it. And I've done my end of it more than once."
When Guldin returned to his seat and set the bag on the floor, Conrad asked him to take it out of the meeting room "out of respect for the rest of us that are here."
Guldin tried to assure commissioners that the contents of the paper sack were inside plastic bags. "There's no smell." But he obliged and removed the bag from the room.
After the meeting, Guldin estimated: "What I had in the bag would weigh in at about eight pounds."
"They didn't think it was funny," said Guldin. "I got Ryan mad and I'm sorry I did."
But the resident felt he had to do something more dramatic to make his point after twice before standing in front of commissioners about the tough-to-resolve problem of township residents not cleaning up dog feces.
"I was talking to a wall," said Guldin.
He seemed most annoyed with Lancsek, which may be way he set the bag in front of him.
Guldin said Lancsek repeated told him that he could enforce the township dog law by taking photographs of defecating dogs and their owners.
Guldin is a 68-year-old retired Mack Trucks employee who resides in Lower Macungie's Wild Cherry Knoll neighborhood. He said he owns a small dog.
He had collected the dog waste in the bag from a walking path along Wild Cherry Lane.
"One guy with a rottweiler walks on the trail a lot. His wife cleans up but he does not clean up."
He said the township keeps telling him to catch people and their dogs in the act -- by taking pictures of the dogs "taking a dump" and the owners leading them away without cleaning up. He said township officials keep telling him the ordinance allows him to present those pictures to the local magistrate.
But he said the magistrate repeatedly has told him only a township official can enforce Lower Macungie's dog ordinance.
Guldin said he never actually took pictures of anyone with a defecating dog.
"I will watch," he said. "I will get the pictures. I think we will see results."