TOWNSHIP COUNCIL PUBLIC MEETING MINUTES
- June 22, 2010
The Public Meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council was called to Order at 5:30 pm by President Tobey: We will begin with the Open Public Meeting Announcement as the Pledge of Allegiance and moment of reflection was earlier.
OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT ANNOUNCEMENT
According to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this meeting has been given to the Daily Record. Notice has been posted at the Municipal Building , 204 Flanders-Drakestown Road, Mount Olive Township , New Jersey and notices were sent to those requesting the same.
Present: Mrs. Labow , Mr. Mania, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Roman, Mr. Greenbaum, Mr. Tobey
Absent: Mr. Walsh, Bill Sohl, Business Administrator, Mayor David Scapicchio, John Dorsey, Esq.
Also Present: Sherry Maniscalco, CFO; Michelle Masser, Deputy Township Clerk
- Resolution to Amend the 2010 Budget.
President Tobey: The item on tonight's Agenda is a Resolution to Amend the 2010 budget. Mr. Mania, would you please move that?
Mr. Mania: Mr. President, I move to adopt and amend the 2010 budget.
President Tobey: Thank you and I'll second that. Any Council discussion with regards to this Resolution? Seeing none, anyone from the Public? Seeing none, Roll Call please.
ROLL CALL – Passed with the exception of Mrs. Labow and Mr. Perkins who voted no.
PUBLIC PORTION ON INDIVIDUAL RESOLUTIONS - none
COUNCIL COMMENTS ON INDIVIDUAL RESOLUTIONS - none
ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS - none
OLD BUSINESS - none
NEW BUSINESS - none
LEGAL MATTERS - none
COUNCIL REPORTS - none
Recreation Liaison Report – A. Roman
Board of Health Report – R. Perkins
Planning Board Report – J. Mania
Open Space Committee Report – C. Labow
Legislative Committee Report – P. Walsh
Pride Committee Report – C. Labow
Board of Education Liaison Report – A. Roman
Lake/Environment Issues Committee – R. Perkins
Safety Committee Liaison – R. Perkins
Economic Development Committee Report – P. Walsh
Library Board Liaison – R. Greenbaum
Senior Citizen Liaison – J. Mania
Community Development Revenue Sharing – P. Walsh
President Tobey: Does anyone from the Public wish to be heard? Yes, please.
Scott Uhrmann, 12 Jennies Lane: Hackettstown is the mailing address. I'm here to; I want to address two issues. One recently happened. The first one was my wife, my son and I went to vote in town hall over in the court house on election day. The doors were locked. The doors themselves being locked actually is not a big issue. Accidents happen all the time. It is the ensuing actions that emanated out of the Clerk's office after that. My wife had sent an email, basically did not send it to the Clerk's office but was basically just asking for some enlightenment as to why the doors were locked. It became a very contentious email from the Clerk's office basically accusing us of lying, that the doors were indeed open and we were actually fabricating all of this for some unknown reason. I, therefore, went and got a copy of the… there's a security video that's taping the lobby, all of the hallways, as well as the court house entrance door. It's a 24 hour video recording, digital recording, and the police department provided that for me. It actually shows that we were not the only people denied access. The people before us as well as employees who tried to come through the door. It was clear that they had to go to the right side of the door. There's like a swipe pad there and they had to swipe to get through the door because the door indeed was locked. When we had gotten there, we had just assumed that we were there at the wrong time. It was a few minutes before seven so we waited about three or four minutes and at 7:00 we were banging on the doors because we actually heard people inside talking. You could clearly hear people talking, laughing, you know and nobody came to the door so we continued to bang and try and it's obvious by watching the video that we were actually trying to get through the doors and couldn't and we finally gave up after about ten minutes. Like I said, the issue isn't that, you know, things happen. The issue is what emanated from the Clerk's office in response to that. It should have been, let's see what we can do, why were these doors locked, why weren't they open. I guess, being very simplistic about it, there's two issues that are probably more basic here than anything and that's our right to vote and right to free speech and they are both basically tied pretty much together and when people sort of pooh pooh the fact that we didn't get to vote and what's the big deal and to me it is a big deal. I mean that is basically what this whole country is founded on and it wasn't like it was just some local election. It actually was a national, federal, state election. My second issue also follows up in that and it happened several weeks before, it's also from the Clerk's office and this I find truly disturbing. I had made an OPRA request. Several of you may have remembered when I sat on the subcommittee for the school budget. I had made a request of any emails or information concerning the school budget that would have been made to the other four members of the Council that did not sit on that committee. My request for that information, although it is really not relevant to this discussion, was merely just because we were on a fact finding mission and I thought it was very important to get all of the facts to make as best a decision as we could. The request was denied, no problem with that. It was denied on the fact that it was confidential information. I wasn't privileged to have it. I'm okay with that and that is where I think the issue starts. About a week after that, the local newspaper editor made a request for similar documents from the committee and he basically wanted all of the documents, all of the emails, whatever. The Township, and it's my understanding, although this information might be correct, again, it's third hand, is that the Township IT guy, Scott Gaskill, and the Township Clerk proceeded to then retrieve the information directly off the Township's servers and that is where my issue lies. I am not an attorney but I know that there is privileged information that does rest on those servers and is not privy to just anybody's ability to view the information. There has to be some kind of procedural protocol, not just any employee has, can be able to go access a server. My one example would be, if I had sent an email to any of you or any department within this Township and I had disclosed an illness of a child, of a family member, an older parent, whatever, to anybody, it is very privileged information under HIPPA laws. It can be divulged to nobody. Nobody can view it; see it without either my express permission or the permission of the person the information is about. So I guess what I'm asking here is it seems like there's things happening within the Clerk's office that sort of fall outside the purview of that department as far as a public employee. I guess, not a guess, I would like an investigation done within this matter, both these matters, and I'd like to get some kind of response as to why these things are happening and how come an employee of the Township, a public employee who serves all of us, has this sort of unfettered, unlimited access to public documents and also to basically berate residents without first discovering the facts of what transpired on the day in question.
President Tobey: Mr. Uhrmann, your concerns are duly noted. I'm not prepared to respond any further. Our attorney is not here but I will certainly speak with Mr. Dorsey as early as tomorrow morning and get some guidance and direction from him regarding this.
Mr. Uhrmann: Thank you.
President Tobey: Thank you. Yes, please.
Charlie Uhrmann, 12 Jennies Lane, Hackettstown: Mine's a little bit more drawn out and I cannot tell you how upset that I was on Tuesday when I couldn't vote. I've been a registered voter for 30 years. I have never, ever missed an election for any reason so when you are locked out of a voting precinct that's disturbing enough. When I sent out the email as I approached home, I did call Mr., I first left a message on Council President Tobey's cell phone stating what the problem had been at approximately 7:25 and I was agitated, clearly, you knew I was agitated. When I couldn't get a hold of you immediately then I just went ahead and turned to Councilman John Mania because if I couldn't vote, I certainly didn't want others not to vote. Something that I've always prided myself on, if I support somebody, they know it and I will always provide due diligence in supporting. I can't expect other people to go out and vote when I don't demonstrate that responsibility myself and with that said, we did everything that we could to get the attention for approximately 15 minutes and clearly we couldn't. I was in a conversation after I had left a message with Councilman Mania, I just felt that that was done. However, I was still a little bit annoyed and I did send out a letter to the people I promised to vote for and I had stated that I couldn't vote because those doors were locked. I was annoyed but the letter, the email that I sent out was in no way, shape or form pointing fingers. It wasn't vicious, nothing but I also sent it to the Board of Elections. I would think that that would be the appropriate avenue to take, however, the response that came from the Clerks was quite disturbing and I did not find out about it until late that evening when I was going to Florida. The reason why I couldn't go home and then come back was because I was actually leaving town. I knew I was going to be here to vote. That's why I didn't cast an absentee vote. So I left town then I find out that Clerk Lashway saturated the full area with a pretty damning, scathing email. I'm not surprised. I've been putting up with this for eight years but I will tell you, while I'm not surprise, I'm pretty fed up. I'm fed up because every time I come to an elected official, I speak with an Administrator for eight solid years; I am given the same answer time and time again. So that evening I did speak with Mayor Scapicchio and said, look, lucky for me because she's been doing this very ultra virus for eight solid years acting like the ultimate professional only to stick it up or stick it in my back when I'm turning around, she finally got caught. That was the blessing of the whole matter and so I asked for the video and the video supports what I had said. The following day I receive a call from Fred Snowflack basically stating what Lisa had told him that if I'm too stupid to pull on the right door, that's my problem. Furthermore, she also stated as I have found in her history, I have publically accused her of her gossip so instead of we're dealing with a simply a door, she goes to the pollsters and finds out as much dirt and she adds this to the email to discredit me throughout the county. I received this email from Lew Candura, that's how far deep it got us into the democratic camp and I gotta tell you guys, I'm tired of it and what I'm asking you to do today, Councilman Tobey I have lodged some complaints with you and you have said to me, she's not my responsibility. I have lodged complaints to Mayor Scapicchio, to Administrator Bill Sohl. I have lodged complaints to Administrator Rick Prill, interim Business Administrator Ed Katona. I have lodged complaints with former Mayor Richard De La Roche and the same thing that I hear from the municipality is, she is not my responsibility. So when I get the call from John Sette who is on the Board of Elections and I say, look, we've got a problem here. I didn't expect for the pollsters number one, they basically ranted on that I'm not intelligent enough which was included in Ms. Lashway's, instead of dealing with the issue, she dealt with the issue that I caused problems at the previous election meaning that I gave the wrong name when I went to go vote. I've been voting for a long time. I'm old and I'm tattered. If I don't know what my name is when I go to vote, that's pretty bad but unfortunately for her, she didn't tell the whole truth because it was the Board of Elections that changed the name on the docket. Why they did it, I have no clue. Speaking with John Sette he stated, you can't touch her, she's a 25 year tenured employee with a flawless employee record. Well I gotta tell you something, I disagree. I think now is the time, I have seen this body of, this government body do investigations. From 2001 out of her office, under her purview, Council Minutes have been destroyed which is illegal. She has inserted herself insomuch to the benefits case when she found out that perhaps under the health benefits case, I think we are all aware that my husband and I spearheaded, when she felt a little threatened, she called me in personally and said, look, if you want to beat them, I'll give all the documents to do so and you can look at all of this, all of this is documented. I have been time and time again denied OPRAs for absolutely the most idiotic reasons when I knew darn well that I could of. She pick and pans (????) OPRAs. When I'm OPRAing and I'm asking for records or emails that emanated from her office, I doubt that it would be even appropriate for her, for the fox to guard the chicken coop. She has overcharged me for, on a continuous basis, this isn't once in awhile, they put so much garbage in there. I've complained about that under the Open Public and it's in the Administrative and I've got copies of the letters where I said, I'm tired of being overcharged by OPRAs because they think it's funny. She once said, one time said she doesn't like me, she's not puttin' up with me anymore and I've always been civil to her but she's not going to handle my OPRAs so when I went on another avenue and filed an OPRA with the Administration, she inserted herself and said, absolutely not. The reason being is, she didn't have access to the information I was asking so she couldn't make her phone calls because this is what happens time and time again. She, Phil Garber has been covering this Township for more than 20 years and I think you all can agree you haven't seen him sitting here yet but immediately after a Council meeting, he is reporting the stories. He leaves her office, I have watched him hand her a newspaper and leave her office with documents that I, as a resident, a taxpayer, has to OPRA and pay for but not Phil Garber. When I went and looked into how many times has he OPRAed information, at that time when I looked, it was three times in all these years but he has information readily available. I have hard time understanding why you would make it difficult for a resident to obtain information going on in my own town with my own elected officials but yet the media has carte blanche and not paying for it. She has been known to release original copies, not copies of documents that you guys have. I have original copies that she's, either she's just too flustered or too what, she gives me the originals. You guys are supposed to have the originals. When Richard De La Roche was in office, I had noticed a pattern and when I walked in her office on several times, she's on NJ.com. He had done an investigation how many hours or how many hits has her office visited NJ.com. As a taxpayer, I feel, and it was off the charts. She was the leading person on NJ.com. As a taxpayer, I feel that's theft. I don't pay her to hang on NJ.com. I don't but what's even more disturbing is a situation when we had a tricky tray. We had Rob Pearson who decided to do articles. She was saying I was doing it and I went to the office to have a discussion with her, my private discussion with her five minutes later before I even got home, my entire private discussion with her ended up on the NJ.com which is amazing. It was a breach of what I expected was confidentiality. I feel not only that but I want to touch on another thing. I have brought to Clerk Lashway's attention the situation on the games of chance which was the Mount Olive High School Parent's Club applying for the different permits. The games of chance works this way, just because you have a driver's license doesn't mean somebody in your home can use it. It is non-transferrable but I had provided her enough information to basically look into the President of the, for four solid years, I have documentation that the President, that I had suspected that the President of the Mount Olive Parent's Club was allowing other residents to apply for the different games of chance or anything, the gambling at the High School and she said she'd look into that. That has never happened and when I requested the banking documents from the Parent's Club, I got stonewalled. We're talking the law here. We're talking about who is breaking the law. Who knows that the law is being broke and who's covering for certain individuals. I think this is important and I think too much of this has been going on in this town. I think that the residents should have a right to come into this Township. They should be treated fairly with respect. I feel that when they come in and they have a private conversation, I feel very much that they should have an expectation of some sort of confidentiality or privacy. It should not be used later against them. This seems to be a pattern and I have all of the information eight years back. No offense, Phil, she is your responsibility. I have looked into it. I have researched it just as much as she is Mayor Scapicchio's. She falls under many many authorities just like whether John Sette likes it or not, she falls under his purview as well. She is the, she handles the elections. Her biggest complaint was, why didn't Charlie come to me and how would I have known that Lisa Lashway was in her office at 7 o'clock but more importantly, why is it my responsibility to start seeking when I'm on a time schedule and alls I want to do is vote but instead of, two weeks have passed now. She knows she was wrong. The tapes are shown. Everyone knows the tapes exist. Wouldn't an apology be in order? I would say definitely, just an apology. You know what Charlie, I sent out that email. That was a real crappy thing to do. I apologize but I will promise you this, I gave you a litany of things. Had it been anybody else who got locked out of that door, it would have been moot. It wouldn't have been an issue. She wouldn't have been on the warpath but it was me, so she was going to show me and she did it on the telephone, she did it via email, she did it in the media and I'm tired of it and I am asking this body to do a full investigation, an unbiased investigation, a confidential investigation and you make your own conclusion. I will be more than happy to provide you any type of documentation that I have just spoken today because I have supportive documentation. I think you all know I'm pretty thorough but I would ask only one thing, I would ask that Councilwoman Labow recuse herself because she would be part of this investigation to be fair and I feel that we need to also discuss the matter of always being the mouth piece for the media. Phil Garber, I don't believe that while taxpayers are paying this woman a lot of money, I don't think her job description is to keep the media or anybody else informed of some of what would be considered confidential material emanating from her office and I would ask, Phil, if you could please inquire with John Dorsey cause I know you probably not going to address this and I know that you and I have had some heated discussions who she belongs to but she belongs to somebody. Somebody's got purview over her and I would ask that you guys reign her in, respectfully. That's what I have to say.
President Tobey: Mrs. Uhrmann, while the Clerk works for this governing body, the Clerk is an employee that reports to the Administration. Your request is duly noted on the record and I will speak with our Attorney, once again, as early as tomorrow.
Mrs. Uhrmann: Council President Tobey, I want to remind you she also works for the Council.
President Tobey: That is correct.
Mrs. Uhrmann: So while you guys are doing these inquiries of the Town Attorney, I would ask that you be fair. If it takes a team, get a team but it's your responsibility too, Phil. Don't skirt it. Somebody needs to do something and I'm asking now. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. You need to man up. Thank you.
President Tobey: Thank you, any Council comments?
Mr. Mania: Just a quick response. As Mrs. Uhrmann indicated, on election day I did receive a call from her maybe about 7:15 – 7:20, somewhere in that neighborhood and she asked me to look in to see what I could find out, why the doors were locked. I immediately called the police dispatcher and the woman dispatcher answered and told me she would check into it and find out what was the problem.
President Tobey: Mrs. Labow?
Mrs. Labow : Thank you Mr. President. I just want to say that on election day I also worked on election day. I worked right over at the Senior Citizen's Center but for the afternoon shift and one of the things when I got there, the other workers were saying how it really was a rough start because normally one of the buildings and grounds employees would make sure the doors were open, the tables were set up, the machines were in place but over time had not been authorized, therefore, when the poll workers came, they were telling me that they couldn't even locate, two of the machines were stuck back in the one corner so election day morning, things were kind of crazy because what normally would happen would be, as I understand it, Radar would come and get everything set up, make sure everything was taken care of so I'd have to say, probably this past Primary election was the first one where we were now short staffed in buildings and grounds and people who normally, or used to do something in the past, someone else didn't pick up the slack because a lot of things that need to be done, people just step up to the plate and do it but if that person is no longer available to do it or are not coming in, somebody else would not know that it needed to be done. That is what I saw happening on election day, that things were kind of discombobulated because we have less staff now.
President Tobey: Thank you. Any other Council comments?
Mr. Greenbaum: I don't think that's what the Uhrmann's were saying. They weren't talking about the reason that the door was locked. They were talking about everything that happened after the door was locked.
Mrs. Labow: No, I know but the door wouldn't have been locked if…
Mr. Greenbaum: It doesn't matter. It's irrelevant.
Mrs. Labow: Yeah, I know.
President Tobey: Any other Council comments? Seeing none, I'll accept a motion to adjourn.
Motion was made and seconded, all in favor and none opposed, the meeting was adjourned at 5:55pm.
Phil Tobey, Council President
I, Lisa M. Lashway, Township Clerk of the Township of Mount Olive do hereby certify that the foregoing Minutes is a true and correct copy of the Minutes approved at a legally convened meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council duly held on June 29, 2010.
Lisa Lashway, Township Clerk