Township Council Minutes
September 14 , 2004
The Regular Public Meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council was called to Order at 7:30 pm by Council President Rattner with the Pledge of Allegiance.
MOMENT OF REFLECTION in recognition of the anniversary of September 11th, we also have all our soldiers protecting us from the violence in the world and I think we should have a special concern for what happened in Russia last week, it shows that it can happen anywhere, it was another horrible situation, but this time they went after the children and it’s just beyond any reasonable thought, so just a moment of silence and reflection. Thank you.
OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT ANNOUNCEMENT
According to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this meeting has been given to the Mount Olive Chronicle. 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.
ROLL CALL Present: Mr. Buell, Mrs. Labow (7:33), Mr. Guenther, Mr. Greenbaum, Mr. Rattner
Absent: Mr. Perkins and Mr. Elms
President Rattner: I just spoke to Ms. Labow, she should be here momentarily. We have not heard from Mr. Elms.
ALSO PRESENT: Mayor De La Roche; Sherry Jenkins, CFO; William Ruggierio, Business Administrator;
Michelle Masser, Deputy Clerk; John Dorsey, Township Attorney.
President Rattner: The first item we have on the agenda is the first public portion of the agenda, when the public can speak on issues in front of the Council. You will have the chance on the resolutions and ordinances for public hearing separately and there will be another public portion at the end of the meeting. Is there anybody from the public that would like to address us at this time?
Charlie Uhrmann, Mount Olive: This basically addressed some of the issues that the Council has already addressed. I consider it old news, however, you will be discussing it later as a resolution, but I consider it still old…an old issue that’s been before the Council for quite some time. I start by saying that I relocated in Mount Olive on June 19th, 2000 and I was in excellent health. The summer of 2000 was cold and damp, unfortunately, we rented a house that was 150 years old, from the same person to build our new home. It didn’t take long before I felt the ill-effects of this home. Basically, the home was contaminated with mold and was deemed uninhabitable for human life and by an environmental specialist and a Superior Court Judge. The molds that affected me were called penicillium and aspergillus. The penicillium mold placed me in a coma-like state. The aspergillus mold caused major lumps all over my body. In short, I was unable to stay awake during the days, I had difficulty breathing, even under medication, and I experienced lumps throughout my entire body. This situation was so serious, I endured numerous major surgeries. From October to the end of January our calls to the Health Department of Mount Olive went unanswered. The Superior Court of New Jersey were the ones who provided us with the relief, while Mr. Wilpert ignored our calls. During an administrative investigation, Mr. Wilpert contended he was never notified. Documentation in his own files proved he was lying. Mr. Wilpert has failed to conduct health inspections and issues issuing health CO’s on behalf of seven Mount Olive families, resulting in permanent injuries to residents and pets, he neglected his duties. Mr. Wilpert failed to log and return phone calls violating mandatory State laws. Mr. Wilpert willfully provided referrals to private organizations, notwithstanding, it was against township policy. Mr. Wilpert willfully and unlawfully lied to township officials during an investigation as documented in several inter-office memorandums. Mr. Wilpert acknowledged that a non-family member that resides in 153-B Mine Hill Road, but yet ignores the fact that they are currently living in a toxic condition. Only our side of the residence was remediated. In addition, 153 Mine Hill Road is zoned one-family, while after several years, two families have been dwelling there. Ms. Labow, you and I have spent endless, endless hours researching this situation. Ms. Labow, you signed your name to each and every one of these lies of Mr. Wilpert’s, the lies of the Administration and the lies and threats of Mr. Guenther. You have composed e-mails and letters stating how our rights have been violated. I have, in my possession, an e-mail of threats that Mr. Guenther had provided to you, copied by you. Laugh if you like, Mr. Guenther, that’s disrespectful. It would be a travesty of justice for you to back down now, Ms. Labow. You promised you would see this to the bitter end. Mr. Greenbaum, it troubles me, that you not only chose to place residents in the physical harm…harms way, but as financial, as well. As a resident, I resent the fact that you, as a Councilman, would readily assist Mr. Wilpert in a possible lawsuit against all the residents. We, the taxpayers, feel your comments in last week’s Mount Olive Chronicle demonstrates your inability to make non-biased decisions on this matter. You are a direct liability to our township. The Council’s feelings towards me Ms. Uhrmann(cont’d): are evident, everybody knows, you’ve publicized it in the newspapers, you’ve maligned me on the internet, you have maligned me in all the local newspapers, but this is not about me. This is about the Mount Olive residents, these are about our children, these are about our pets, and we deserve better than this. This is about providing Mount Olive with an enthusiastic, qualified, non-political and competent Health Officer. Mr. Wilpert is not responsible and you know this to be true. Unresolved health issues seem to haunt Mount Olive, such as long-standing issues as the Rosewood Ditch, this is years, this hasn’t just happened in a few months time, this has been going on for years. You’ve ignored the…the Health Department has ignored abandoned toxic chemicals, truck tires that breed mosquitoes, refrigerators that still have their doors on them, twelve kerosene heaters with combustible items dumped on the lot of 5 Mine Hill Road. It’s a residential lot, nobody deemed that lot to be a dump site, however, Mr. Wilpert felt it was, even though he has been told and notified and there was a file of this lot. Next door to each side of this lot, was residents with children and with pets, and it is also against the State laws and the Township laws to have refrigerators with doors remaining on them. Mr. Wilpert is skirting his responsibilities towards a free-standing refrigerator that sits right before us every time we drive up and down 46, and here are the pictures; it’s blatant, it’s out there and it’s against the law. Refrigerators need to have their doors removed and their doors locked, but it’s there for everybody to see. It’s about time we stopped playing political games with the residents of Mount Olive. We pay extremely high taxes. We are human beings with families. You cannot buy good health, but by-golly, you are the ones that, as Council people, that can assure the residents that we will have somebody indeed in our office…in the Health office, that we can turn to at all times, and we don’t have to worry about the political games going on in this town. I suggest we stop making residents of Mount Olive the political victims. On another note, I have been labeled and accused, by many of you Council people, as a liar, a fabricator, and a nut-case, due to a comment I made at the June 18th, 2002 Council Meeting, stating I have information, and this is a quote, we have a video tape, we have the reports. Well gentlemen, I present to you the famous video tape that I am such a liar, and this will take about approximately five minutes for the people to see in this room, and then you can decide who actually made the mistake. So, we’ve got a TV right here, if you don’t mind, I’d like to play this video tape, it takes five minutes.
President Rattner: Go ahead.
Mrs. Uhrmann: Alright.
President Rattner: Ms. Uhrmann, how much longer? You asked for five minutes, we’ve been past ten minutes already.
Ms. Uhrmann: The mold is coming up, the most important part.
President Rattner: So, what do you say, another two-three minutes?
Ms. Uhrmann: Yes. Thank you. We’ll just fast-forward it, so we get to the parts and be done.
President Rattner: Thank you.
Ms. Uhrmann: Okay. The rest of the video basically shows a lot of the different molds. One of the reasons why I did bring this is because when I did speak to the Town Council, I never said it was a video tape of the tanks, I just said I had a video tape. This was the video tape that I was referring to, I could not have recreated something to 2000. My biggest concern was, we didn’t deserve to live in that home. When we had called, I had many medical bills, but my greatest concern right now is that home is being rented to other people. That home…only the part that we lived in, was remediated, and the basement still looks the same, and I think that the Council needs to be a little bit more responsible. This has been two years that I have asked you to look into this home, and to look into these issues, but more so, I think we need to take a really good look at the responsibility of Mr. Wilpert. Everybody knows that they get a knock at the door, if they want…and to get an interview, whether they have a dog and a cat, whether it’s licensed, to get that $8, but it’s really a shame that we can’t get the Health Department to our homes when we need them most. Thank you for listening and thank you for viewing that, I really do appreciate it, thank you.
President Rattner: Thank you. Mr. Wilpert, alright, I’m not going to get into a debate, but you heard what was said, do you have anything in response to what was just shown or said?
Dennis Leonard, I’m an attorney, I represent….I’m with the firm of McConnell, Leonard and Griggs in Stanhope: We represent Mr. Wilpert. Mr. Wilpert’s here only as an observer, and would…and really has nothing to say with respect to this video tape at this point.
President Rattner: Thank you very much. Would anybody else from the public like to address the Council at this time? Mr. Bonte.
Richard Bonte, Budd Lake: I’ve never taken the opportunity to speak before the Council meeting, but I would just like to request that the Clerk’s office go back in the Minutes from when the discussion of the video tape, with the oil tank, took place and reconfirm that the video tape that was discussed, which I know I heard with my ears, at these meetings, back sometime, was the video tape that was being discussed and I was waiting to see the oil tank. So, I would like to request that the Clerk go back and find those minutes and reconfirm whether we have a credible witness or not. Thank you.
Paul Stefiniw, Budd Lake: With the issues that have come to light, I think, tonight, and reading through the resolution that was proposed last week, I have to say that I am distressed and I would ask that the Council make a motion to table this resolution and work closely with the Administration to find out what is actually going on, how the performance of the individual has been over the past several years, and is he meeting the criteria that he should be. To see a resolution written, where the reason for termination is given that the son’s…the Mayor…the son’s Mayor, worked under Mr. Wilpert, and that we have only one individual complaining about the abuses of a certain individual, is to me, not the way a resolution should be written for the citizenship. I’m concerned where it says that the conclusion….the Council to the conclusion that has removal by the Mayor is a personal and/or political vendetta, as the result that the Mayor’s son once worked as an intern under Mr. Wilpert, and/or that Mr. Wilpert has been the target of a political abuse by the Mayor’s political ally, Ms. Uhrmann. That should never have been put in that resolution. If we’re going to have a resolution written up, let’s deal with the facts and let’s stop running around the issues. Thank you.
President Rattner: Thank you.
Ronald De La Roche, Wynnewood Road, Mount Olive: I just…just now, brought to my attention by Mr. Stefiniw, that my name is in this resolution. I find this absurd, absolutely absurd, okay. I did do an internship in 1999, under Mr. Wilpert, when I was going for my State license for Sanitary Inspector, I had a professional relationship with Mr. Wilpert, and with the direct supervisor that Mr. Wilpert put over me, which in this case was Mrs. Heidi Fredericks, and I left there…I was there in good standing, in the Health Department, and I left with good standing. I had an excellent review, which Mr. Wilpert signed. So, this is absolute tripe. That’s all I have to say.
Scott Uhrmann, Mount Olive: I was going to wait until later to speak about this, but since it’s all come up, I might as well just keep it going. The following is in reference to the construction site in the development known as Jennies Lane, and in reference specifically to the tanks that were or were not found. The following correspondence and statements are in the possession of Mount Olive Township and my information was released by Mr. Thomas McClackery of the New Jersey DEP, he’s a hazardous mitigation specialist, and Mrs. Cynthia Spencer, who is a former Business Administrator of the Township. I won’t delve into whether the tanks actually existed or not, since I and other residents believe they do, and Frank Wilpert, and other members of the Council, don’t believe they ever existed. I’ll begin: Cynthia Spencer stated: When officials first visited the site on April 19, 2002, Rocco claimed that there had only been a water tank at 8 Jennies Lane, which Rocco said was removed on April 5th, 2002. Spencer continued that Rocco showed officials a receipt from Raimo of Stanhope, for disposal of a water tank on that date. June 11th, 2002, report from Cynthia Spencer: On May 31st, 2002, Township employee, Chuck McGroarty was dispatched to the development and his investigation led him to, and I quote, the best grassy areas and the areas where the tanks had been identified by residents, as well as oil along the roadway that could not have been made by a vehicle. Still, the Health Director, Frank Wilpert, did not take the lead and investigate. In the same June 11th report, Spencer asked Municipal Health Official, Frank Wilpert, to return to the site, take soil samples and have them analyzed. This never happened, nor did Health Director Wilpert formulate any further future plan to investigate. However, on July 10th, three months later, Rocco admitted to McClackery of the NJ DEP an abandoned oil tank had been removed from that exact same lot. The June 18th, 2002 Council Meeting, Mr. Wilpert first states to the Council that inspectors didn’t see any tanks during their April 19th inspection. He then changes his position upon further questioning that inspectors saw a 275 gallon water tank, but only a water tank. This is impossible, since the builder stated the tank had been removed on the 5th of April and the complaint filed with the DEP, and subsequent Mount Olive Township inspection, did not occur until the 19th of April. The issue of the water tank receipt is disturbing. Of all the documents that I’ve received from the Mount Olive Health Department concerning this issue, this was the only one that does not have a date stamp showing receipt by the Township. The removal date by the contractor on this water tank receipt is now shown as 6/5/02, at some point in time, it has been altered. This would have gone undetected except for the fact that Mr. Arif Akhtar, in a memo dated May 28th, 2002 to Mr. Wilpert, states that on May 24th, he obtained a copy of a disposal receipt from Raimo of Stanhope, is attached for your review for the 275 gallon tank. The problem is, the 5th of June is in the future, it hasn’t occurred yet. He could not
Mr. Uhrmann(cont’d): possibly have a receipt for the 5th of June. It is also interesting to note that several minutes later in this same meeting, when she was looking at her paperwork, Cynthia Spencer states, when asked by the Council to clarify, and I’m quoting: It was removed according to this receipt on April 5th of this year. Later in a Mount Olive June 11th inter-office memorandum, Cynthia Spencer again states the April 5th, 2002 removal and receipt obtained of a water tank. It is the only documentation of any tanks in this file. It is interesting to note that Cynthia Spencer, the builders, and other officials had all stated before and after this date, the tank had been removed and disposed of on the 5th of April. It would have been impossible for anybody to see that water tank on the 19th. At the May 28th, 2002 Council meeting, Cynthia Spencer stated: We have not received any paperwork or phone calls from the DEP. I checked with every department, this includes Frank Wilpert, Health Department Director. Mr. Wilpert changes a position and now states at the June 18th meeting that he did indeed receive notification, but only in the form of a phone call. Mr. Wilpert now makes a statement, after he just told Cynthia Spencer approximately two weeks earlier, that he had never received any notification from the NJ DEP. This statement is also false, since in the Mount Olive Health Department records is a fax from the NJ DEP. It is addressed to Mount Olive Township, Health Department, Frank P. Wilpert, date stamped with a Mount Olive Health Department stamp on April 19th, 2002, the same date the complaint was filed with the DEP and the same date Arif went to the site to inspect. It has a hand-written note across the top: Arif, FYI and 8600/8. The 8600 is for block numbers for Jennies Lane and 8 is the lot number which was where one of the tanks was reported located. This is not information that was supplied to the DEP. To summarize, the builder first denied for three months, then admitted to the NJ DEP of removing and disposing of two additional tanks. The NJ DEP sent the letter directly to Mr. Wilpert, Health Director, but he refused to act. No receipts have ever been documented for removal or disposal of the two oil tanks from Rocco, nor has Mr. Wilpert attempted at any future time, after admission of the tanks existence, to secure those receipts. No permits have ever been documented or supplied for the removal or disposal of the two oil tanks. Rocco produced only one receipt and verified the removal and disposal of a water tank only on April 5th, 2002. This date has been confirmed by numerous parties, including the Township Administrator, in writing. Mr. Wilpert’s Health Department records now show that same receipt as dated June 5th, 2002, but that document is void of any Township stamp. On May 28th, 2002, Mr. Wilpert of the Health Department, denied ever receiving any notification about the oil tanks from the NJ DEP. As a record of fact, it was denied that any department in Mount Olive ever received any notification. This is blatantly false testimony, as Mr. Wilpert received a phone call and a fax on the 19th of April. At the same June 18th Council meeting, Frank Wilpert first states his employees did not see any tanks in their April 19th inspection, then upon further questioning, admits to see a water tank only, even though the tank had been disposed of two weeks earlier. Mr. Wilpert also disregarded a request by the former Administration, to return to the site to take samples and have them analyzed. This never happened, nor did Health Director Wilpert formulate any further or future plan to investigate or remedy. All of the above issues were under the purview and control of the Health Department, specifically the Health Director Frank Wilpert, who the Council is trying to reinstate. Even though several Council members, who currently sit on the Council, have stated as absolute fact in later e-mails, that no oil tanks ever existed and an attempt to use the NJ DEP as the proof, that is also false. What the NJ DEP stated in their report is that no evidence of oil contamination could be found, but their inspection took place three months after the fact. One of our very concerns that an action by the Health Department was allowing, quite literally, all the evidence to wash away. The NJ DEP never stated the tanks did not exist, instead, they left that up to Rocco, to affirm that they did. The NJ DEP actually states, all parties agree the tanks have been disposed of and all parties agree as to their former locations. The DEP left it up to the Township Health Department to continue an investigation if they so choose, they chose not to. Another Council member did an investigation earlier this year and stated in written communications and I quote: There are many inconsistencies in this file. There is proof in the file that the Township did not follow through with recommendations, policies, etc. This same Council person concluded that a felon had occurred and signed off on the inconsistencies. Mr. Wilpert’s inaction and misleading statements cannot be disputed and to further discuss this issue could and did effect not only the twelve immediately families of Jennies Lane, but the numerous other residents that live in homes previously built adjacent to all sides of the development. In ending, inaction by Health Director Wilpert, in this case was damning to the residents and taxpayers in this township. It shows a total lack of concern for the health and well being of the community at large by ignoring the police for not…intervention not only by the residents, but also by the former Business Administrator. He intentionally changed his testimony before this Council on several occasions, all of which has gone unheeded to this date, even though the builder admitted to removing and disposing of two oil tanks. All this information exists and is within the possession of Mount Olive Township officials. Thank you.
President Rattner: Anybody else? We’re still going to have the time when we discuss the resolutions, so….
Dr. Charles Wallack: I had interest in Lincoln Park, but I’ve been a resident of Mount Olive for eighteen years and I’m currently on the Board of Health. The Health Officer’s responsibilities run the gamut from insuring that the milk you buy and the food you eat is safe, to planning to protect the health of the community in the event of
Dr. Wallack(cont’d): bio-terrorism attack. This is serious business. For that reason, I’m advised, the Health Department is specifically insulated from the political process by State statute, insuring that the Board of Health is an autonomous body, with the sole responsibility for hiring and firing Health Department employees. The health and safety of this community demands that the Health Officer not be a political appointee. To state that a member of that staff is not a team player or differs philosophically with any elected official, completely misses the point. I’ve been involved with the Lincoln Park Health Department for fifteen years and have met quite a few members of other Boards and I can state that Frank Wilpert is widely respected by his colleagues. On Health Department issues, he has been knowledgeable and capable, an able administrator, and has consistently fulfilled his duties in a timely fashion. I’ve yet to hear an issue raised that Mr. Wilpert was not on top of, if not out in front of. On a personal level, I found him to be ethical, conscientious, and affable. To the best of my knowledge, no complaint has been brought to the Board of Health concerning the department or Mr. Wilpert, which would be the appropriate course of action. I find the recent attempts to damage his reputation objectionable and the attempts to politicize his position are, at best, counterproductive to the functioning of the department. At worse, they show unwarming lack of concern for the welfare of Mount Olive. Thank you.
President Rattner: Thank you. Anybody else like to address the Council at this time? Seeing none, I’ll….you have to raise your hand, sir. Thank you.
Lou Terrezza, citizen of Mount Olive this evening: I would like to bring up a point on Mount Olive Child Day Care, which will probably be coming up soon. For anyone who’s not aware of who I am, I raised my daughter by myself, since she’s three months old, and I used Mount Olive Child Day Care. I had several years in the service, ended up getting out because of my daughter. When I came back to Mount Olive…relocated back here because of family and friends, I had my daughter at Mount Olive Child Day Care. At the time, I had to take menial jobs, so I could….jobs that my daughter would come first in…and Mount Olive Child Day Care worked along with me on that. Some of the things I’ve been reading in the paper, and I’ve been hearing and stuff, I just wanted to personalize it just a little bit. I know Mount Olive Child Day Care is a charity organization, it’s not a business entity. Basically that’s it, I just wanted to bring up about personally what I feel about Mount Olive Child Day Care. Thank you.
President Rattner: Thank you. Anybody else like to address the Council? Yes sir.
Steve Abrams, member of the Board of Health: Mayor, Council people…I’ve been a member of the Board of Health since 1983 and I’ve worked with Mr. Wilpert and I think that the way things are going, I was happy with the way the production was, but apparently there’s been some problems here. If we could work together to go through these problems and maintain Frank as the Board of Health Officer, I think it would be for the benefit of Mount Olive. I’ve been through four or five Health Officers in over twenty years and they are difficult to replace. So, if you remove him, you’re going to be absent one very important person. Thank you.
President Rattner: Thank you. Anybody else like to address the Council? Seeing none, I’ll close the public portion. There will be another opportunity at the end of the meeting.
Questions on Bill List?
President Rattner: Okay, now we come to the portion of the agenda where if we have any questions that have not been asked before to the Administration on the bill list, to give them a little bit of time before we get to it.
Mr. Buell: Yes, this is to the public as well. On August 14th, over a month ago, I noted several invoices… telecommunications…Nextel, Verizon invoices, where the Federal and State taxes, we were paying, which we are not supposed to be doing. I asked the Administration these questions, how long has this persisted, how did this happen, when was it uncovered, and how much money is involved and can we recover the charges? Until yesterday, or until today, I have not received an answer back. Last Saturday I came in and I reviewed the invoices and saw that they had deducted additional taxes from a large number, in fact, all of the telecommunication bills, about twenty telecommunication bills. The total deduction was $722. In addition, we had received back from Nextel $83 for taxes paid, confirming the fact that the township should not be paying these dollars. Ladies and gentlemen, that wasn’t all of the telecommunication bills. I suspect we had been paying over a $1,000 a month and there’s nobody up here on this dais that’s responsible for this, so I’m not blaming anybody for the fact that we have back charges for taxes on telecommunication bills for as far as the eye can see. $1,000 a month for year after year after year after year. Can we recover it? Very interesting question, I suspect that there is a statute of limitations on this; but my concern tonight, to the Mayor, is we waited a month before we even began to look at this…this issue….would a Councilman had asked the question of what are we doing. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a total lack of urgency in this government, and I think you’ve just heard part of it discussed in terms of this video tape in terms of the mold. I think it’s time the
Mr. Buell(cont’d): Administration in this township begins to work on some of these problems and get to the bottom of it. Thank you.
President Rattner: You don’t have anything on the current bill list? Mr. Guenther.
Mr. Guenther: I had a question last….I want to direct this to Mr. Ruggierio, I had a question last week, you answered most of my questions in a memo, but there was one that was pending, I believe. I don’t have the notes with me, but I remember it was from Ms. Hilbert regarding the Library, there was one item that I brought up the week before about a question that I had on the bill. I don’t know if you got an answer for that.
Ms. Jenkins: Bill, I can answer that if you want.
Mr. Ruggierio: Okay, I’ll let Ms. Jenkins address both of the issues, the one brought up by Mr. Buell and the one that you were asking about.
Ms. Jenkins: Bernie, I sent an e-mail to Rita and she indicated to me, via e-mail, that she had sent you a response directly regarding the question that you had about the Library. So if, for some reason, you didn’t get it, I will check with her tomorrow and make sure she resends it, okay.
Mr. Guenther: No, my computer crashed, but that shouldn’t affect my e-mail, I can pick that up other places, so I don’t know what happened. I know some of the township employees had a hard time getting through e-mails to me, so maybe I’ve got a filtering device…that’s filtering some stuff out….
Ms. Jenkins: Okay, I’ll have her resend it, I know she did send me something back saying she had sent it to you.
Mr. Guenther: Okay, I appreciate it.
Mr. Greenbaum: Question related on page 5, storage for township files $1,016. Is that a new charge related to the storage of files?
Mr. Ruggierio: Yes.
Mr. Greenbaum: Does that relate to our files no longer being stored at ITC?
Mr. Ruggierio: Yes.
Mr. Greenbaum: Was any effort made, on behalf of the Administration, to find another business within town that had space, instead of us having to pay the storage charge?
Mr. Ruggierio: No effort was made in that connection. This was an emergent matter that had to be attended to and, frankly, in our staff meetings where storage issues were discussed, there was grave concern about the fact that we were entrusting files that many of them had plans of buildings, for example, that could be accessed, you know, by a terrorist, God forbid, or someone with improper motives; and just to emphasize that fact, I’ll give to the Council and then make available to the public, these very interesting pictures of where our files were stored before. The big piles of dirt under the roof here are the ITC area where we were and, although there were secured fences and so-forth, these were not immuned to being touched by other people. So, we felt it was something emergent that had to be dealt with immediately.
President Rattner: Thank you. Anything else?
Mr. Ruggierio: I think that Ms. Jenkins is prepared to answer Mr. Buell’s question about what was done in connection with his inquiries.
Ms. Jenkins: I think when…we will have a report ready this week and I think once you see the report and the complexity and the amount of information that’s in it, you will understand why it is that it has taken us a little bit of time. My staff has been down, you know, grabbing purchase orders that are, in some cases, seven or eight years old, so it’s been a little bit of a process. The reason that you still see tax-exempt charges on the bills, is because of the bureaucratic process that we’re going through with the utility companies in that we send them the tax exempt form and it’s taking them a little bit of time to get back to us. In the schedules, I will show you how far back they go, the amount of money that’s involved, the process that we’re going through to recoup, and I also reached out for John Dorsey and he can verify this because I want to work with him and see what kind of Ms. Jenkins(cont’d): letters we can send to the respective companies to, you know, obtain the appropriate funds back. A lot of these things go back, I kid you not, to 1998, 1999, they are very old. I have three of the six vendors now done, I’m almost done with the fourth and we have two other ones that we’re just about wrapped up on, okay. So, we have taken action, we did that several months ago and we’re simply waiting for the companies to go through the process that they need to go through to take the charges off, which is why you still see them coming off the bills.
Mr. Buell: How did it happen in the first place, I mean, just for internal control?
Ms. Jenkins: I don’t…I can’t…I don’t know. I can only assume that when the contracts were originally set up, you know, that there wasn’t communication to the respective companies and the proper forms weren’t submitted. You know, again, some of them go back a ways, I really don’t know what process was in place. There were two that were set up under the former Business Administrator and I know that I specifically wasn’t involved in that and I know my department, up to that point, hadn’t, you know, provided any sort of documentation. I have sent an e-mail around to all the employees making sure that if they set up any new contracts, you know, that they get the appropriate tax-exempt form from the township.
Mr. Buell: Do we have a policy that establishes, when you set up a contract that exists back that far, that says that you should be checking the tax exempt status?
Ms. Jenkins: We didn’t have a policy in place, but we do now, we do now, okay. You know, I haven’t found that the charges are significant at this point, I just want to allay everybody’s fears, you know, there is no $30,000 charge out there. There is another issue, and I will bring this up as well, that I spoke to Mr. Rattner about probably a month ago, Steve you can correct me if I’m wrong. The final issue that I see with the utility bills, we have two prior balances that go back a number of years and we are…I’m actually working with the area manager from JCP&L to get backup documentation for that. They have actually had to go into their archiving records, so I’m waiting to get the information from them, and once I have it, as I indicated to Mr. Rattner, I will forward that to the Council as well.
President Rattner: Anything else on the bills?
Mr. Buell: Just one other question, can we recover the charges legally?
Ms. Jenkins: John, maybe can you address that?
Mr. Dorsey: Well, you only spoke to me yesterday about that. I think we have to do some serious research, because I suspect that these utility companies may be protected from us going back too far, because of rules and regulations issued either by the FCC or the BPU, but, you know, we haven’t begun to process…we will.
President Rattner: I think one of the underlying issues, and this is something that I discussed with the CFO about a month ago, is that before we pay a bill, it takes three signatures and we’re supposed to be checking for correctness, and obviously, anything can slip through, but if we’re looking month after month, you would think that: gee, we’re not supposed to be paying sales tax or some of these taxes because we’re tax exempt, and if we just need to do a better job of actually verifying, other than just making sure there’s a piece of paper attached on the back, because, you know, I don’t think it’s…no secret to the public that for about two or three months, almost every meeting I was complaining about something with the bills…that wasn’t right, and most of the time, it was. The utility bills where we were getting cut-off notices, sometimes we didn’t have all the backup because we were paying statement amounts rather than invoice amounts, and I think that’s really what we have to step back and make sure that when somebody puts a signature on something that we know their responsibility. A department head may not realize that…now like these taxes I don’t pay for, but if somebody bought something with their own credit card, they do, because they’re not under the tax-exempt at that point, and that’s probably one of the issues that come up, but if we have two or three signatures keep going higher, the whole reason for the signature is verifying that they’re correct, so I think we have to just make sure that we have the proper procedures in place and they’re followed, that’s all. Okay, anything else on the bills?
APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETINGS
June 22, 2004 Present: President Rattner, Mr. Guenther, Mr. Buell, Mrs. Labow, Mr.Greenbaum, Mr. Elms, Mr. Perkins
July 13, 2004 Present: Mr. Buell, Ms. Labow, Mr. Elms, Mr. Rattner, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Guenther
Absent: Mr. Greenbaum
Aug. 24, 2004 CS Present: President Rattner, Mr. Guenther, Mr. Buell, Mrs. Labow, Mr.Greenbaum (8:03pm)
Absent: Robert Elms, Mr. Perkins
President Rattner: Okay, we have Approval of Minutes for June 22nd, July 13th and the Executive Session on August 24th. Mr. Buell, do you want to make that motion?
Mr. Buell: I move to approve the Minutes of June 22nd, July 13th, and August 24th.
Mr. Guenther: Second.
President Rattner: Any corrections or explanations necessary? Seeing none, Roll Call.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously, except Greenbaum abstained on July 13th
LETTERS FROM RESIDENTS
1. Letter received August 22, 2004, from combined citizens Liaison Committee of Mine Hill / Drakestown Road regarding list of items to consider before repairs begin.
2. Letter received August 30, 2004, from Chris Bruno, Budd Lake regarding property maintenance issues.
3. Letter received August 30, 2004, from Viola Milano, commending two Employees of the Township for resolving property maintenance issues.
4. Letter received September 3, 2004, from Tammy Lyn Jones, Budd Lake regarding Property Maintenance issues.
5. Letter received September 8, 2004, from Richard A. Stein (Laddey, Clark, and Ryan) regarding Borough of Stanhope – New York Folding Box Co. Premises: 4 Waterloo Road, Block 106, Lot 1 Mount Olive Township.
RESOLUTIONS, ORDIANCES, COORESPONDENCE OTHER TOWNS
6. Resolution received August 20, 2004, from Borough of Lincoln Park requesting Governor McGreevey to Implement a State Sponsored Financial Aid Program for Military Reservists and National Guard Members Deployed in the Global War on Terror.
7. Resolution received August 22, 2004, from New Jersey Society of Municipal Engineers regarding 75th Anniversary and New Jersey Municipal Engineers Week.
8. Notice received August 25, 2004, from Township of Byram regarding Notice of Byram Township Village Center Designation.
9. Resolution received August 26, 2004, from Township of Hanover regarding the Township Committee of the Township of Hanover urging the New Jersey Legislature to Strengthen the Balanced Budget Provision of the State Constitution.
10. Resolution received September 1, 2004, from Borough of Kinnelon regarding Petitioning Members of the Morris County Legislative Delegation to Introduce and Sponsor Legislation transferring the local government employer’s share of the PFRS and PERS pension retirement system costs to the State government so that it is consistent with the educational system pension program.
11. Resolution received September 3, 2004, from Borough of Riverdale regarding transferring the local government employer’s share of the PFRS and PERS pension retirement system costs to State government so that it is consistent with the Educational System Pension Program.
DOT / DEP / LOI
12. Letter received August 26, 2004, from the State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection regarding Robert Tonczos, Enforcement Action File #: PEA040001 – 1427-02-0007.1 Block 8100; Lot 7 (369 River Road, Budd Lake)
13. Letter received August 26, 2004, from the State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection regarding Highlands Sewer Service Area Mapping.
14. Letter received August 26, 2004, from the NJ Transit regarding NJ Transit to Deploy 300 Extra Customer Service Reps for RNC.
15. Letter received August 30, 2004, from Jack Lettiere of the DOT regarding study of safety problems on Route 46.
16. Letter received September 1, 2004, from the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental protection regarding Letter of Interpretation – Line Verification / Applicant: Speicher Excavating Inc., c/o Michael Speicher Block 400; Lot 3 (223 Waterloo Valley Road, Budd Lake)
17. Letter received September 1, 2004, from Robert Rogers regarding NJDEP Application for Freshwater Wetlands Letter of Interpretation Mount Olive Township, Block 4200, Lot 16, 17, 18, (58 Old Ledgewood Rd.) Applicant: Joseph Bucci, 234 Midland Avenue, Pompton Plains, NJ
18. Letter received September 7, 2004, from State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection regarding Amended Notice of Civil Administration Penalty Assessment, The Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act, NJSA 13:9B-1 et seq., and Rules NJAC 7:7A-1.1 et seq. File #1427-03-0007.1 Block 8100, Lot 58 (1 Joy Drive)
19. Letter received September 8, 2004, from State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection regarding Letter of Interpretation – Line Verification Applicant: Paramount Self Storage, L.L.C. – Dominick Paragano, Managing member Block 5401; Lot 15 (241 Route 206, Budd Lake)
20. Letter received September 8, 2004, from State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection regarding Letter of Interpretation – Line Verification Applicant: Seneca Hills Corp. Block 900; Lot 39.01
21. Letter received September 10, 2004, from State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection regarding Morris County YMCA Dam.
22. Letter received September 10, 2004, from State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection regarding Renewal of a Recycling Center General Approval for a Class B/C Recycling Center Morris County MUA- Mount Olive Recycling Center Lot 4, 1, 3; Block 400, 401, 500.
LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES
23. Letter received August 22, 2004, from Morris County League of Municipalities regarding Information on Morris County Visitors Center and Morris County Improvement Authority Freeholder Program.
24. Letter received August 24, 2004, from New Jersey State League of Municipalities regarding League Seminar “Turning Brownfield Sites into Community Assets: How State Funding Sources can Jumpstart your Investigation and Clean Up.
25. E-mail received September 1, 2004, from New Jersey State League of Municipalities regarding Announcement to update the NJLM Web Site.
26. Letter received September 7, 2004, from New Jersey State League of Municipalities regarding League Labor Relations Seminar “Interest Arbitration Strategies”.
27. FSA Newsletter received August 22, 2004, from United States Department of Agriculture regarding County Committee Election Process, Acreage Reporting, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, NAP Coverage, FSA Farm Loans, CRP General Sign up 29 Starts, and Dates to remember in 2004.
28. Letter received September 7, 2004, from Morris County Green Table regarding “Heritage Tourism.”
29. Letter received September 9, 2004, from Meyer Rosenthal regarding Municipal Mechanics Lien Claim of Advanced Scaffolding Services against Public Library (Blackstone Group, LLC – Contractor)
30. Fax received August 30, 2004, from Comcast regarding NFL Network.
31. Letter received September 1, 2004, from Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, PA regarding Teleport Communications New York / Mount Olive Township.
LETTER FROM LEGILATIVE REPRESETATIVES
32. Letter received September 1, 2004, from Assemblyman Littell McHose regarding the New Jersey State Capitol Complex and the New Jersey State House guides.
33. Minutes received August 22, 2004, from Morris County Planning Board regarding the June 17th meeting.
34. Minutes received August 22, 2004, from Morris County Planning Board regarding July 15th meeting.
MSA / MUA
35. Minutes received September 7, 2004, from Musconetcong Sewerage Authority regarding the Meeting of August 4, 2004.
President Rattner: Okay, we have 35 items of correspondence we received since the last public meeting.
Mr. Guenther: Regarding item 1, I would like to ask the Administration if they’ve studied this letter to see how that fits in with their plans for repairs and try to reconcile any concerns they have with what the plans are.
Mr. Ruggierio: Yes, Mr. Guenther, we invited all of these residents, they weren’t all our residents, they were residents of both Washington Township and Mount Olive, to a meeting that our Director of Public Works hosted the other night and answered….I’m sorry, the Mayor was there, too. I’m really going to get fired tonight…and the…all their questions, as far as I know, were answered.
Mr. Guenther: Mr. Ruggierio, did that include the representatives from Washington Township, as well?
Mr. Ruggierio: Well we, as a courtesy, invited representatives from Washington Township, but no they weren’t there. We hope to keep everyone down there informed about the ideas we have for this project, and as you know from my report at the Workshop Meeting, one of the things we need still to put in place is some type of an inter-local agreement which is at the….was at the top of my priority list this week, but other things sort of took over.
Mr. Buell: 5, 21 and 29. It just….a question, the letter is from Stanhope and….about a…it’s about an easement, or they’re billing work on an easement, or digging up an easement, what is it…why did we receive this? Yes, evidently we’re…the folding box company is digging up an easement, it’s their easement….is this on our property, or is this in our township that they have an easement, or…..I said it’s just a question of…
Mr. Ruggierio: I don’t remember reviewing this correspondence, so I would only be speculating about….I’ll take a look at it and give you an answer.
Mr. Buell: On 21, letter received September 10th, the Department of Environmental Protection regarding the YMCA Dam – what’s happening there?
Mr. Ruggierio: Well, under the Dam Reconstruction Act and the Dam Safety Act, a lot of these dams are being inspected by the DEP and it’s my understanding that this is an enforcement action attempting to deal with what might be perceived to be dam problems…you know, problems with the dam, and so part of the DEP regulations are that we be copied on those types of correspondence and that’s what you’re seeing here.
Mr. Buell: Is that dam dangerous?
Mr. Ruggierio: I don’t know, I mean, obviously it can be studied. You know, the documents that are on file with the DEP, any enforcement action they’ve taken, and the engineering information submitted by the owner of the dam, all those documents can be studied, but they don’t accompany the correspondence that we get.
Mr. Buell: And the Mechanics Lien, number 29, the letter…the Mechanics Lien on the Advanced Scaffolding Services at the Public Library, what’s the implications of that one?
Mr. Ruggierio: Well…
Mr. Dorsey: I just wrote Sherry a letter. We will not pay anymore bills to Blackstone until the issue of this Mechanics Lien, involving scaffolding, is resolved. There’s two ways to resolve it, either Blackstone agrees to have the Township pay it, Blackstone pays it, or they post a bond in double the amount of the lien claim. The lien claim is for $21,050. It has happened a couple of times during the construction of the Library, and we’ve managed just fine, without paying any Township monies.
President Rattner: And this has happened on other contracts. It’s not as ominous as what it appears. If you’re doing work and you’re worried about getting paid, you put a lien right on it, this way it guaranties that money would be left so you can be paid. So, it’s not something that’s nice, but it’s not necessarily something that really is that much unusual where it would stop the project.
Mr. Buell: Okay, that’s all.
President Rattner: Okay, anybody else?
ORDINANCES FOR PUBLIC HEARING
President Rattner: We’ll go to Ordinances for Public Hearing. I open the hearing to the public on Ordinance #22-2004, entitled:
Ord. #22-2004 Bond Ordinance Providing for Various Improvements to the Water Utility in and by the Township of Mount Olive, in the County of Morris, New Jersey, Appropriating $55,000 Therefore and Authorizing the Issuance of $52,250 Bonds or Notes of the Township to Finance Part of the Cost Thereof.
President Rattner: Is there anybody from the public who would like to address the Council on this ordinance? Seeing none, I’ll close the public hearing and ask Ms. Labow to move it.
Ms. Labow: I move for adoption and final passage of Ordinance #22-2004.
Mr. Guenther: Second.
President Rattner: Is there any discussion?
Mr. Guenther: Are these the meter pits?
Ms. Jenkins: This is for a portable generator and an interconnect with Mount Olive Villages.
Mr. Guenther: Okay.
President Rattner: Anybody else? Roll Call.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously.
President Rattner: Ordinance #22-2004 is passed on second reading and I hereby direct the Clerk to forward a copy of the same to the Mayor and public notice of adoption as required by law. I now open the hearing to the public on Ordinance #23-2004, entitled:
Ord. #23-2004 Bond Ordinance Providing for the Acquisition of Equipment for the Sanitation District in and by the Township of Mount Olive, in the County of Morris, New Jersey, Appropriating $506,000 Therefore and Authorizing the Issuance of $481,000 Bonds or Notes of the Township to Finance Part of the Cost Thereof.
President Rattner: Anybody from the public like to address this ordinance? Seeing none, I’ll close the public hearing and ask Mr. Guenther to move it.
Mr. Guenther: I move for the adoption and final passage of Ordinance #23-2004.
Ms. Labow: Second.
President Rattner: Any discussion? Roll Call.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously, except Mr. Rattner voted No.
President Rattner: Ordinance #23-2004 is passed on second reading and I hereby direct the Clerk to forward a copy of the same to the Mayor and publish notice of adoption as required by law. I now open the hearing to the public….
Mr. Buell: Steve, are these first or second?
President Rattner: Second.
Mr. Dorsey: Well, I’m afraid that 23-2004 doesn’t pass, because it requires five votes. Unless someone would want to modify their vote.
President Rattner: No.
Mr. Dorsey: Well then I think you have to announce that the vote is 4 to 1 and it doesn’t….
President Rattner: Okay, the vote was 4 to 1, the capital ordinances require what they call a super majority, that would require five votes. Since there’s only five of us up here, the one vote means that that fails at this time.
Mr. Greenbaum: I would ask that the matter be relisted at the next Workshop for discussion when the full Board or at least more Council members are present.
Mr. Ruggierio: Perhaps the party that voted against it, could move to reconsider it. This is important and I don’t know how serious….
President Rattner: Well, as I explained when we had the first reading and the discussion, I disagree with the amount of equipment that we’re buying for there and I just think it was too much, I think it’s more than we can afford, that I didn’t agree that we needed two additional packers plus the other equipment that was put in there and I haven’t changed my position on that.
Mr. Ruggierio: Would you be willing to hear a justification from our Public Works Director, because I think you’re injuring the Department if you maintain that position….
President Rattner: If there’s anything that’s different from what happened the last time, we have three routes, one truck gets used on a part-time basis, and we were buying additional trucks so we can have it for the future. I said if we need it for the future, then we buy it in the future and I just disagreed with buying things when we know that it’s really tight and that’s what my concern was. I don’t think he’s going to say anything different, because he said the same thing at that time. If he has any new information, I’ll listen to it, but if it’s nothing different……well, yes, I’ll let him speak.
Tim Quinn, Mount Olive Township, Public Works: Good evening. Part of the reason for replacement of the trucks is the age of the majority of our vehicles. What I’m looking to do, is also streamline the fleet. I’m looking to do away with five of the aging packers, replace them with two packers and one roll-off type piece of equipment. The other two trucks are cabin chassis for my recycling trucks. There is not an increase in size of the recycling fleet, but it’s a replacement of worn-out trucks. The basic problem with the old equipment, there’s a maintenance starting time in the wintertime, but now the time we lose man hours for trying to get the equipment running in the wintertime, and I’m just trying to decrease the size of my fleet.
President Rattner: Increase…no…
Mr. Quinn: Decrease, I’m looking to do away with five packers and replace them with two.
President Rattner: Okay. How many garbage routes do we have today?
Mr. Quinn: We have, all together with recycling needs, we have five.
President Rattner: How many packers…I’m talking recycling is not…we don’t use packers for….
Mr. Quinn: For some recycling needs, I do use packers for, my container usage, I use packers. We do a total of fifty nine-yard containers a week, we do schools, we do private businesses for recycling, which I use the packers for, we do leaf pickup, grass pickup and that’s pretty much year-round.
President Rattner: You made the representation that we have three regular garbage routes and we have two that are only a couple days a week, so you have it there, so I don’t take that as needing five new trucks.
Mr. Quinn: Well, I said that the routes are increasing pretty much on a monthly basis with the increase of the size of the township. At the present time, we’ve got…we’ve probably got about four packers running on solid waste four days a week, I’ve got a grass, leaf or brush truck out every day of the week, and the other truck picks up my recycling needs from the companies around town. So, basically all my trucks are running. They will be running if I get the three packers….the two new packers to replace the five older packers I’m looking to do away with, which range from a 1981 Mack up to 1986 Western Stars. The money I’m spending on these trucks to keep them on the road and the problem I’m having keeping them running in the wintertime, it’s just getting kind of futile.
President Rattner: When you made the presentation last time, you said you had three routes that you used the packers for each day, not four, I assume that was….
Mr. Quinn: Well, I was saying three routes for solid waste needs, I didn’t break it down the proper way to include my recycling and to include my grass and brush pickup. What I was talking was solid waste with the three packers, which half the time we’re using four packers for those runs, but I’ve also got recycling needs and I’ve got grass and leaf pickup, which we do pretty much the majority of the year.
President Rattner: I’m not ready…you know, I just disagree with the fourth packer. If we can get in agreement that we don’t buy that other packer right away, I mean, just not to slow down the….and I’ll have to trust you, the Administration, so we get it through, but I’m still not sold….I’m still looking, you know, we’re working on what the budget looks like for next year, and it’s not pretty. I mean, for a whole lot of different reasons, and what I’m really concerned about is maintaining services and maintaining our employees and if costs go up a certain amount, and we’ve gone through that in every past decade. I believe in 1991, we had a major lay-off, you were here for that, we also had major lay-offs when there’s a downturn in the economy and the ratables slow down, that was exactly the cause each….the major cause each time, and the time before that was 1984, and I have a real concern, and when it means buying a new truck or keeping a person, skin and bones, on the payroll, I would rather the person on the payroll and we’ll get by. You know, you’re asking for…what is it, five trucks in the department in one year, that’s a heck of a big thing that every vehicle there is ready to fall apart. I just don’t go with that route of thinking. I really have a real concern that with the capital, remember we have the capital, we have to start paying it back next year, and that’s going to be in the tax rate for the next ten years or whatever we have as the pay-back period.
Mr. Guenther: What is the age of those five trucks that you’re trying to eliminate?
Mr. Quinn: The five trucks I’m looking to eliminate, one of them is a 1981 Mack and the rest are approximately…are 1986 Western Stars and I believe there’s one or two 1987 Western Stars. The trucks are fifteen to eighteen years old, possibly more. My main concern is service to the community. I can’t service the community if my trucks are sitting down on the line. I’ve got two packers that are deadlined already and the others are not too far behind. I’m spending a lot of money maintaining these trucks, I’m spending a lot of time with down-time on these trucks, having my good trucks doing double runs to pick up the slack on the trucks that are not running. The two recycling trucks are not complete trucks, we’re keeping the bodies on these trucks, I’m looking for replacement cabin chassis, one of these trucks is also deadlined because of conditions of the vehicle, it’s an unsafe vehicle and it doesn’t run. So, my fleet is getting smaller even though I say I’m doing away with five trucks, I’m not using all the vehicles that I have due to the condition of these vehicles.
President Rattner: Right now you’re serving the public, yes or no?
Mr. Quinn: Yes, I am.
President Rattner: And you’re saying that if I get four trucks, I can’t do it, I need the five trucks to continue to do it. I don’t understand that, regardless of how bad the trucks are, and I don’t disagree with you…..
Mr. Quinn: What I’m trying to say is I want to continue servicing the community as best I can. When I’m juggling trucks every morning because I don’t know which is going to start or which is going to run, I’ve got manpower standing around waiting to get a vehicle to use to service the community with these older equipments, it just makes sense to get rid of the old equipment, to get new equipment so I can keep running and keep servicing the community as we are now.
President Rattner: That’s great if we have an unlimited amount of money, but still the fact is that you’re servicing today, you get four trucks, the service is going to go down unless you get the fifth, but you’re operating today. I don’t understand that.
Mr. Guenther: Are these packers used for snow plowing in the wintertime?
Mr. Quinn: That is correct, yes they are.
Mr. Guenther: Now, as I…and just for seeing the activity of the squirrels in my yard, and you think it’s funning, but supposedly that’s an indication of how hard a winter you’re going to have, seriously.
Mr. Quinn: I’m agreeing with you.
Mr. Guenther: They are….and everybody predicts this. If you have a…was it 1981?...that’s a 23 year old truck.
Mr. Quinn: Yes.
Mr. Guenther: I’m sure it’s got some rust on it….
Mr. Quinn: That truck is deadlined, it’s unsafe for use, it’s sitting behind Fleet Maintenance.
Mr. Guenther: Okay, you answered my question.
Mr. Quinn: I’ve got another one sitting next to it. I’ve got two packers down right now, I’m making ends meet with the fleet that I have, I don’t know how much longer I can keep giving the service that we’re giving, with a fleet that’s falling apart. The trucks are old, they run all the time, they are a major part of my snow removal. Each truck had its own run, each truck that goes down, I’ve got to pull another truck to cover that run. It just delays getting my trucks out to clear the roads.
Ms. Labow: This might be a silly question, Tim, but the new vehicles….you’re talking about getting brand new vehicles, correct…versus one twenty years old, what’s the fuel efficiency?
Mr. Quinn: I will have to get that information from the dealer.
Ms. Labow: Okay, but….
Mr. Quinn: It would be better, yes, absolutely. Yes, and emission controls on the vehicles is there are many more standards that are in act right now, that were not back in those days.
Ms. Labow: So, with the cost of about $2.00 a gallon, or more, I don’t know what it is for diesel…..
Mr. Greenbaum: Steve, either you’re going to change your vote or you’re not going to change your vote, and whatever it is, I respect that position, but let’s move past this issue. If you’re not going to change your vote, let’s relist it for Workshop, let’s come back with two different bond issues next time, one with five trucks, one with four trucks, so that we can make a decision at the Workshop as to which one we have five votes for and let’s move on to the next issue if you’re not going to change your mind.
Mr. Guenther: Just a quick point, and I know we’ve had this discussion before considering capital and mostly in relation to the police vehicles, and I know…and you’ve been around a long time, Steve, you’ve been around here and you know more of the history of this than I do, that there was a time when we were, you know,
Mr. Guenther(cont’d): apparently in a pinch and we didn’t replace certain vehicles and then we tried to play catch up later, and it created a fiscal crunch. I, again, I have to trust our Department of Public Works Director to give us sound advice on this. I think replacing vehicles slowly as you go along is the proper course. One of the primary functions of the township is to provide sanitation services for the health and welfare of the public, and I think that’s part of it. So, I would strongly urge you…well, you’re not going to change your mind, but as Mr. Greenbaum said, I think we bring it up, we schedule it for the next meeting, when we hopefully have the fifth vote.
President Rattner: This shows what happens when you don’t have a full contingent up here, but I just want to go back in history. Four years ago, the Administration came….I guess about four and a half years ago, about the same thing about what was wrong with the trucks, and it was told that they wanted to go out and buy three packers. I asked what’s the age of the other trucks, are the parts interchangeable, and they said no. They said when are you going to buy the other two? At the time, they wanted five….they said next year. I said that doesn’t make any sense, can we get a better deal and just get all the new trucks, one set of filters, one set of everything else, it made sense, and I did a cost analysis and it made sense if we were just going to go and bond the money the next year. So, we put the money in. Remember when Mr. DiGianaro came on? Where are the five trucks? Two months he went out there…we kept sending him back out…where are the five trucks? Well, they didn’t buy five packers, we didn’t need five. They probably came back, and it was something that came before us in something…I mean, it wasn’t all done that I probably forgot. We needed two…we wanted to buy three other recycling trucks. So we’ve been buying trucks along, and now we’re buying some again, so I’m just bringing that up that we thought we put away the money, no we really don’t need it. The problem we have with our…..one of the issues we have with our taxes, is that we borrow every bit of money for each one of these capitals. We put down the 5%, which is the minimum, and we have to pay it off, and we’ve been doing that for a while, so our debt keeps going up. I’m not saying we wasted the money, the Municipal Building, Turkey Brook, other improvements, water improvements are needed, but once you put the debt on…and our debt payments are over $3 million a year, now. This year we’ll collect about $12 Million in property taxes for our use. You see the connection, one quarter of what you pay, of the tax levy, goes to debt. When that levy either levels out or goes down a little bit, because of ratables or something else, we can’t…just like if you had an equity loan, you can’t cut back on that, because they’ll take away your house, so you have to cut back on the necessities, and that’s why we ran into lay-offs in 1991 and in 1984, that’s why I have a concern. Not that we said that we wasted it, I mean, we borrow the money because we have to…the items last. What we have on tonight, I have a problem with the next one, most of it I agree with, so even though I was prepared to vote no, because that’s higher than the number I wanted and I made that very clear, however, most of that stuff is needed and I know it and it has to do with safety also, but we’re putting $2 Million on….$2 Million more debt on top of what we had. Our debt payments, because of other financing, is going up next year anyway, if we don’t have new taxes coming in, we have a problem, and I do have a worry that we may see lay-offs or cut-backs or cut-back in services or in recreation or something else that’s not an absolute necessary, because if we have a rough winter, energy costs go up. We have no control over that. It snows eight feet over the course of the winter, we have to go out there and clean the road every single time. Gas goes up to $2.50 a gallon, we still have to put it in the vehicles and all our trucks, but we don’t have necessarily the ability to pay for it, and it’s not just our taxes, if ratables stay level, can you imagine what it’s going to do to your school taxes, as they keep spending more money, it’s a cumulative effect. That’s why I have that concern. I will reconsider my vote, but I’m saying that…and I’ve seen, you know, I’ve seen some of the projections we’re working on, which you’re going to present next week to the Council about some of the issues we see, just what we already know about for next year. It’s not something that can’t be managed, but I have to watch every nickel and dime. No different than your kid coming….well, if I get this new shirt or sneaker, I’ll play better basketball, but you can’t buy it every single time because you’d go broke, and that’s just what the concern I have. You need that….every department you know comes in with exactly the same thing. I see Bobby Sheard in the back, he’s going to come up and tell us there wasn’t enough in there because of the safety equipment and this and that and it’s the lives of my people, and he’s not wrong, but then you have to start putting priorities, because a lot of people have the different issues and that’s what I have. I will call another vote, I will ask because once we approve it, it can go out, unless it comes back as a bid…..
Mr. Dorsey: Wait a minute…you voted no, you should make the motion to….
President Rattner: Yes, but I…but I want to say what I’m doing. I don’t want that other packer, however, there’s not a way I can stop it other than vote against when the bid goes out, but if the rest of the people want it, it doesn’t matter any way, or you get another one. So, you can get the rest of the equipment, which I did buy on to. So, I will make a motion, I guess, to take a….
Mr. Dorsey: You make a motion to….
President Rattner: Reconsider the vote?
Mr. Dorsey: No…to adopt Ordinance #23-2004 as the critical vote, who voted in the opposite fashion.
President Rattner: I make a motion to recast….
Mr. Dorsey: No, you make a motion to adopt Ordinance #23-2004.
President Rattner: Okay, I move for adoption of Ordinance #23-2004.
Mr. Guenther: Second.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously
President Rattner: Okay, now I open the hearing to the public on Ordinance #24-2004, entitled:
Ord. #24-2004 Bond Ordinance Providing for Various Capital Improvements of the Township of Mount Olive, in the County of Morris, New Jersey, Appropriating $1,321,580 Therefore and Authorizing the Issuance of $1,219,401 Bonds or Notes of the Township to Finance Part of the Cost Thereof.
President Rattner: Is there anybody from the public that would like to address the Council at this time?
Bobby Sheard, Chief, Budd Lake Fire Department: I’m here tonight to discuss this capital, particularly one item of our capital budget, which was a SCBA replacement, Scott Airpacks, which our members wear into the structure fires, HAZMAT incidences, things of that nature, LEDH’s. When I came to the Council at our original budget hearing, I had requested $160,000 to replace our SCBA’s, as well as purchase a refill compressor to refill our bottles with a containment fragment system, in case a bottle exploded. During our capital discussions, it was brought to my attention, if I could reduce that, we discussed a number of $120,000. My officers and I have gone back, instead of replacing our packs, we are going to refurb them, update them with whatever we can get to bring them into compliance with NFPA compliance, to the most recent compliance, but we do need a containment, but I see, when the ordinance was supplied to me, it was only for $80,000….$40,000 short from what we had discussed at the budget hearing. I’m here tonight to request that the $40,000 be placed back in, for the SCBA, so that we can purchase the new air compressor, which is 20 years old, and a containment system for fragments of the air bottles.
President Rattner: Thank you. Anybody else like to discuss anything on this capital ordinance? Seeing none, I’ll close the public portion and ask Mr. Greenbaum to move the ordinance.
Mr. Greenbaum: I move for adoption and final passage of Ordinance #24-2004.
Mr. Buell: Second.
President Rattner: Any discussion?
Mr. Buell: I went back and listened to the tapes of March the 6th and listened to Bob’s discussion, and he’s essentially correct. What we agreed to was that he would delay the purchase of half of the air packs, or the bottles, for $45,000 less than the $160,000. However, he also, in the budget, got $14,000 that he agreed to drop for the rope and the pagers and the radio, and, you know, I’m very sympathetic, I do not want to hold this ordinance up because we obviously did not appropriate enough money. I think we need to rediscuss the rope and the pagers and the radio, because I talked to Bobby last night and Bob indicated to me that they do need some of these pagers and radios. My recommendation, at least in this issue, is to go ahead and pass it and then ask us to bring it back to a public hearing and discuss it further and possibly…and pass a second ordinance later.
President Rattner: Well, it would be an ordinance modification. You remembered what we did do is, in the budget, because we wanted to leave a little bit of flexibility, because there’s always issues that you don’t know what’s going to come up and there are certain problems, and I made sure we built that in. Now you see why I did that and watching the nickels and dimes. We appropriated, in the budget this year, $75,000 for capital. That buys us a million and a half dollars, using the nickel down. We only are appropriating $1,321,580, which we felt was the most important to get it moving, we all were in agreement, but I mean, this is what we agreed to. That means we still have approximately $177,000 that we can go back. There were a couple of other issues that did not make the cut that we said maybe will, we just needed more information, but I think we came to an agreement on this. So, I think that will be something and we’ll look at that when we look at the other, you know, any other items that may be necessary. I think one thing this Council and every Council before has President Rattner(cont’d): always done, is they do not take the chance with the safety of our employees, of the public and especially our volunteers, and we’ve bought a lot of things just based on…they said it’s really needed for the safety either when we go into something for saving lives, or just protecting our men when they go into a dangerous situation. So, we’ve always been able and we’ve always found ways when it was absolutely necessary even when there wasn’t money in the capital, but I think we had that conversation Friday night, and you know we always have, whether it be we’re short on rebuilding a truck, or anything else. So that’s exactly what we’ll do, we’ll move this ahead so at least these things can go, because if we want to make a modification, basically we have to start all over again, that’s what has to happen and we need the five votes, so we can’t have any disagreements.
Mr. Sheard: Mr. President, just to go along with what Mr. Buell said, you know, you guys forgot, I forgot the…I believe it was $5,000 for the rope rescue upgrades, and I said I would take that out, I will reduce that to the $35,000.
President Rattner: Well, we’ll just talk about…..
Mr. Sheard: Just so you understand.
President Rattner: Alright, we’re just going to have to talk about the whole thing.
Mr. Buell: You still need the radios and the pagers.
Mr. Sheard: Yes, the pagers we need, we did cut $25,000 out for the exhaust system, so that would be $30,000 that we cut overall from our budget, plus the additional $40,000, so we lowered out budget $75,000 compared to what we requested originally. I thank you for your time.
President Rattner: Thank you for your time. Mr. Greenbaum, you wanted to say something? Okay.
Mr. Buell: Second concern with the ordinance, not necessarily with this particular issue, but the Flanders Fire Department, at the February 21st budget hearing, there was originally requested, I think, $170,000 or $180,000 for turnout gear at the Flanders Fire Department. At the 21st….the Chief, Fred Detoro, indicated to me that….or indicated to all of us, that he could do without $66,000 for the turnout gear, or the balance of the turnout gear, because they received a grant of $37,000. That still has not been discussed, and this is one of the issues that I know you and I, Steve, wanted to discuss with Administration, which we never got around to discussing. I specifically asked Fred Katona….Mr. Detona and ….. no, Fred…Ed Katona, when he was acting Administrator, discussed this issue with him and I indicated to him that we need to further discuss this $66,000. I talked to Sherry Jenkins about it also, I thought we had an agreement that we were going to discuss it. We agreed to leave the $66,000 in the capital budget, but the discussion never occurred. I subsequently talked to Mr. Detoro and he said that he needs some of the $66,000 because of the increase in homeland security training, but he doesn’t need all of the $66,000. So, we are now approving somewhere from zero to $66,000 more in capital than we need, without having enough knowledge to know how much to put in or how much not to. I’m not, again, not going to vote against this tonight, but I think we need to discuss this additional turnout gear at the Flanders Fire Department.
President Rattner: Anybody else? Roll Call.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously
President Rattner: Ordinance #24-2004 is passed on second reading and I hereby direct the Clerk to forward a copy of the same to the Mayor and public the notice of adoption as required by law.
ORDINANCES FOR FIRST READING – (2nd Reading October 26, 2004)
President Rattner: Okay, now we have an ordinance for first reading. The next item is Ordinance #27-2004, entitled:
Ord. #27-2004 An Ordinance of the Township of Mount Olive Establishing Drakestown Road and Mine Hill Road as a Stop Intersection for Westbound Traffic.
Mr. Greenbaum: I move for adoption and final passage of Ordinance #27-2004.
Mr. Guenther: Second.
President Rattner: Any discussion? Roll Call.
Mr. Buell: Is this for first reading?
President Rattner: Yes.
Mr. Greenbaum: Oh, it’s for first reading. I apologize. I move that Ordinance #27-2004 be introduced by title and passed on first reading and that a meeting be held on October 26th, 2004 at 7:30 pm at the Municipal Building, 204 Flanders-Drakestown Road, Mount Olive, New Jersey for a public hearing, consideration of second reading and passage of said Ordinance, and that the Clerk be directed to publish, post and make available said Ordinance in accordance with the requirement of law.
Ms. Labow: Second.
President Rattner: Any more discussion? Roll Call.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously
President Rattner: The next item on the agenda for first reading is Ordinance #28-2004, entitled:
Ord. #28-2004 An Ordinance of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing Certain Stop Intersections and Specifically Amending and Supplementing Ordinance No. 52-2002.
Mr. Buell: I move that Ordinance #28-2004 be introduced by title and passed on first reading and that a meeting be held on October 26th, 2004 at 7:30 pm at the Municipal Building, 204 Flanders-Drakestown Road, Mount Olive, New Jersey for a public hearing, consideration of second reading and passage of said Ordinance, and that the Clerk be directed to publish, post and make available said Ordinance in accordance with the requirement of law.
Mr. Guenther: Second.
President Rattner: Any discussion? Roll Call.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously
CONSENT RESOLUTIONS AGENDA:
Resolutions on the Consent Agenda List are considered to be routine and non-controversial by the Township Council and will be approved by one motion (one vote). There will be no separate discussion or debate on each of these resolutions except for the possibility of brief clarifying statements that may be offered. If one or more Council member requests, any individual resolution on the Consent Agenda may be removed from the Consent Agenda List and acted on separately.
1. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive to Foreclose In Rem Certificates Held by the Township of Mount Olive (Block 5401 Lot 24).
2. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive to Foreclose in Rem Certificates Held by the Township of Mount Olive (Block 1201 Lot 9 and other lands).
3. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Requesting the Mayor to Enter into Negotiations with the Mount Olive Child Care and Learning Center for the Leasing and/or Purchase of the “Old” Library Located on Wolfe Road, Budd Lake, New Jersey.
4. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Approving Change Order No. 1 (Final Change Order) and Final Payment No. 1 to Tony’s Concrete Construction, Co., Inc., Relative to the Installation of Sidewalks Along Route 46 in Mount Olive.
5. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Requesting Approval from the Director of the Division of Local Government Services for Insertion of a Specific Item of Revenue into the 2004 Municipal Budget ($2,000.00 for a Flow-Through Grant from the County of Morris for Infrastructure for Bioterrorism Preparedness).
6. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Observing the 75th Anniversary of the New Jersey Society of Municipal Engineers and September 26th to October 2nd as New Jersey Municipal Engineers Week.
7. Resolution of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Cancellation of the Sewer Assessment Balance for Block 3507 Lot 1 Otherwise Known as 35 Timberline Road.
8. Resolution of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Omission from Tax Sale of Certain Properties.
9. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Cancellation of Water, Sewer, Sewer Assessment and Tax Receivable Overpayments and Balances $1.00 or Less.
10. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Cancellation of a General Capital Ordinance Balance and Corresponding EPA Receivable.
11. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Awarding a Contract to Mt. Olive Auto Body for Collision Repairs.
12. Resolution of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Filing of a Statewide Livable Communities Grant.
13. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Adopting Modification to MOTPEA Collective Bargaining Agreement.
14. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Disapproving the Removal of Frank Wilpert as Director of the Department of Social Services and Health.
President Rattner: Now we come to the Consent Resolution Agenda. Anybody want any of the fourteen resolutions taken off and put on non-consent? Mr. Guenther.
Mr. Guenther: Number 13.
President Rattner: Anything else? I’ll also request 14 to be put on non-consent so we can modify it slightly. So, Ms. Labow, would you move consent resolutions 1 through 12.
Ms. Labow: I move for passage of consent resolutions 1 through 12.
Mr. Guenther: Second.
PUBLIC PORTION ON CONSENT RESOLUTIONS
President Rattner: Okay, anybody from the public like to address resolutions 1 through 12? Mr. Bonte.
Richard Bonte, Budd Lake: I would like to address resolution #3, which deals with the Mount Olive Child Care Center. I don’t believe that there is enough direction in this resolution to give the Administration to bring forward what I would hope would be the Council’s views, certainly it would be my views. In the fourth whereas, it discusses the lease and/or purchase of the Old Library upon reasonable terms. I think upon reasonable terms is too vague a statement, it leaves open to the Administration too much leeway. I would like to see more reference made to an either fair or reasonable market value and I would also like to have addressed in the resolution, if you could include what the Council’s feelings are and what direction they would like the Administration to follow in terms of negotiating an agreement, with reference to maintenance, repair and alterations to this facility, as to who’s responsibility those items would be. I think they should be clearly annotated in this resolution so that the Administration has no latitude or can come back later and say that, well, I didn’t understand you to mean that. So, if it is the Council’s intention that maintenance and repair and alterations of the facility are going to be the Township’s responsibility, then we should so state, and if they’re going to be the responsibility of the tenant, that should be clearly annotated in this resolution, and my own personal opinion is that if we’re going to do this, that the Township not be responsible for maintenance, repair or alterations of the facility, as well as any of the utilities. That would be the responsibility of the tenant to
Mr. Bonte(cont’d): provide utilities, and if, for some reason the tenant is not occupying the building but has taken the lease, that they assure that the utilities remain on so that no damage is done to the facility during the winter weather. Thank you.
President Rattner: Thank you. Anybody else from the public like to address anything on the consent resolution? Seeing none, I’ll close the public comment portion.
COUNCIL COMMENTS ON CONSENT RESOLUTIONS
Mr. Greenbaum: Yes. I would just like to respond to Mr. Bonte. To the extent that I can only speak for myself, I agree with you wholeheartedly in terms of the responsibility of maintenance and utilities, and that the Township, in the event that it enters into such a lease-purchase agreement, should not have financial responsibility for the building, and that was always my intent, and it was always my intent that whatever deal is ultimately struck, that it be done at fair market value or reasonable market value, as I have discussed all along. That is my intention. However, the resolution I think, for the purpose of that which we need to do as a Council, is sufficient, in terms of its vagueness and that the specific details of an agreement, which would have to be ratified by this Council, will have to be more specific and I believe those concerns, while they need to be addressed, don’t necessarily need to be part of the resolution, and certainly will be addressed at the time if and when such an agreement is ever…..ever comes to be between Mount Olive Child Care and the Administration.
President Rattner: Okay. Anybody else from the Council want to comment? Seeing none, Roll Call…this is on 1 through 12 on Consent.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously, except Mr. Rattner abstained from #3
13. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Adopting Modification to MOTPEA Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Mr. Guenther: I’m just kind of drawing a blank as to what we discussed at Workshop on this, I thought we really sort of didn’t come up to a conclusion what we’re going to do here, on this one, because there was some discussion about doing this for a limited period of time, rather than just imperpetuity and, as I said, I’m drawing a blank here.
Mr. Ruggierio: I understood that my direction, you had one form of a proposal in front of you in Executive Session, and for the, you know, public’s information, one of the objectives that I think is a collective objective of both the Council and the Administration, is to see that we can make some type of a stipend available to our employees within the Water and Sewer Department of Public Works so that they’re motivated to get licenses which are valuable to the township and that’s really what motivated this. The topic came up during the budget discussions and, at some point, a modification was drawn, I think a redraft of that was given to the Council. These were all discussed in Executive Session, and then, just to answer Mr. Guenther’s question directly, one of the things that…this is the third iteration of that proposal and I think the principle differences between this and what you looked at before are that with respect to these licenses that only the person who is the licensed operator, the person that would…for whom….or about whom, the township would be using the person’s license in our operations, would get the annual stipend and then all others would only get a one-time stipend in the amounts listed in this proposed contract. The idea being that, I guess that you are thinking….I thought it was your collective thought that you would be motivating people to get the licenses, but if we weren’t actually utilizing them in our operations, then we would not be paying for them on an annual basis, and really that’s what the modifications that were made. I also eliminated the retroactivity element of it back to 2002 and made it effective in January 2003, which I believe was my instruction concerning the redraft of this and they’re the changes.
Mr. Guenther: Okay.
President Rattner: You know, Bernie, everything in here, I mean, we all had our own ideas and this wouldn’t be exactly the way to write it, however, I believe that he got the answers also that it would only be paid at the highest, not a cumulative effect of every license that was put on there. I know I didn’t want to differentiate whether to use it or not, because I thought there was a value in having it, but I believe this is what the consensus was and I believe he got the consensus down.
Mr. Guenther: Okay.
President Rattner: Bernie, you want to move it.
Mr. Guenther: I move for passage of resolution #13.
Mr. Buell: Second.
President Rattner: Anybody from the public like to address this resolution? Seeing none, we’ll close the public hearing. Any further Council discussion? Roll Call.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously
14. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Disapproving the Removal
of Frank Wilpert as Director of the Department of Social Services and Health.
Mr. Greenbaum: I move for approval of resolution #14.
Mr. Guenther: Second.
President Rattner: Okay, before we move forward, I would like to suggest that we make a modification in the fourth whereas, take out any reference….
Mr. Dorsey: Let me do it for you quickly. The fourth whereas clause, the fifth line down, everything stays the same, then it will simply read “Mayor is inappropriate” and everything else after that is stricken. In other words, is it a personal line or political vendetta, etc. is stricken, but it has the same result.
Mr. Greenbaum: I’ll accept the modification.
Mr. Dorsey: Move it.
Mr. Greenbaum: I’ll move it as modified.
Mr. Guenther: Second.
President Rattner: Okay, Roll Call on the modification and then I’ll open it up to the public.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously
Mr. Guenther: Again, repeat that…after which word in that paragraph?
President Rattner: Why don’t you just read that whole paragraph again, so the public can hear exactly what you’re doing.
Mr. Dorsey: Alright. The paragraph will read then: Whereas the members of the Township Council have carefully considered the removal of Mr. Wilpert, who has served the Township for the last seven years in a distinguished and most satisfactory basis, together with the fact that, although the Mayor seeks to terminate Mr. Wilpert, no reasons for termination have been provided to the Township Council, hence leading to a conclusion that his removal is inappropriate. And everything else is stricken.
President Rattner: Would anybody from the public like to address this resolution?
Mr. Bonte: Over the last six or seven years that Mr. Wilpert has been here, I have found him to be very helpful, professional in nature, and it saddens me to think that the Administration, the Mayor, would like to remove him as the head of the department. However, I also recognize that there are certain positions within the township that are the Mayor’s prerogative to fill and to not continue an appointment at his discretion, whether or not those positions…the termination of those positions are for political purposes or other. What complicates the issue is that Mr. Wilpert has been held over for about nine months, and I had spoke about this many months ago, that the Mayor should have had in mind, last year when he was running for office, who his team was going to be. This is the way most people run for public office, they know what they want to do, that’s why they run, and they know who they’re going to bring in. So, it’s unfortunate that we find ourselves in the position now with what is, in my estimation, a very well qualified, learned, courteous township employee placed in this position. I also…
and again, as I said, I recognize the Mayor’s right to do this. I think it would be very fitting for the Mayor if he wants to carry this action out, to at least explain to the members of the community and the Council, the real reasons why he would like to remove this person. Under normal circumstances, if the Mayor came in office on January 1st and said I’m not appointing Mr. Wilpert, I’m appointing Mr. X, it would be accepted as a transition Mr. Bonte(cont’d): of power, this is what normally happens, but we’re nine months into the year, I have not heard for the last nine months any verbal dissertation by the Mayor that he was planning on doing this or his unhappiness with the present Health Department head. So, it comes as a surprise to me, maybe it doesn’t to everybody in this room, but it certainly does to me, and I think that the members of this community who have dealt with Mr. Wilpert for many years now, or at least offered an explanation more than what I heard tonight, because I can’t accept the statements that I heard tonight, because there have been contradictions by the individual that made those statements this evening, in the past. So, I don’t view that as weighing my opinion one way or the other. So, Mr. Mayor, if you could at least afford the community some insight as to why you’d like to see this person not be employed by Mount Olive, other than what I read in the paper that he’s not a team player, because some times you need some people who are not team players to make sure that public’s interest is being served. Thank you.
President Rattner: Thank you Mr. Bonte. Anybody else?
Mark Kana: I’ve been a Mount Olive resident for the past 29 years. I’ve also been on the Board of Health, Mount Olive Board of Health, for the past nine years, and I’ve had the privilege and honor of working with Mr. Wilpert for seven years. I would like to say that I think he is a man of responsibility, I think he is a man of integrity, I’ve never known him to waiver in responsibilities to the citizens of Mount Olive and in performing the duties of his office, and I would certainly hope that the Administration and the Council would continue to seek his services for the years to come, because I think Mount Olive citizens would be suffering if he were to leave. Thank you.
President Rattner: Thank you. Ms. Uhrmann, as long as you don’t repeat the stuff that you’ve already brought up.
Ms. Uhrmann: No, not a word. Earlier Mr. Bonte made reference to…and then continued to make reference to basically my credibility, when Mr. Bonte said he’d like to check the minutes to see whether or not I had mentioned oil tank tapes. I provided him with those minutes, and it does not even support him, but it does support my allegations. So, I didn’t alter these minutes, I’m sorry Mr. Bonte, and those…and I do take exception to those comments. What really concerns me, and you have to really think about this, in light of the limited amount of people that had the guts enough and stand up here and to complain, you would think we have got the esteemed members of the Board of Health here and still, notwithstanding they’ve heard several issues that Mr. Wilpert has not either completed, addressed, or even covered, and yet they stand here and instead of saying, you know we might have some concerns, they show us, the citizens, a blind eye and say, you know what – it didn’t even really….it must not have really have happened, because we still support it, instead of asking the appropriate questions. I believe, wholeheartedly, that if I sat on the Board of Health and I saw what you saw today, I would say, Mr. Wilpert – what happened here? I have worries, but that’s not the way we are operating as a government, it’s a good old boy system and sometimes, when it comes to people’s health, we need to stop this now, because it did come. I didn’t know anybody, I had no reason to be vindictive or hateful towards anybody, I didn’t know a soul. So, this is totally ludicrous, and I think what we should do, instead of sitting there trying to cover up all of this information, we ought to ask the appropriate questions why, how did it happen, and how can we better ourselves, because if we don’t ask those questions, Mount Olive will not be better, it will be worse. Thank you.
President Rattner: Thank you. Anybody else?
Eugene Terreza, resident of Mount Olive Township for the past four years: One thing is, in reference to this appointment, I dealt with Frank on several different occasions, both professionally and personally. Frank’s been involved in the community, good representation for the township, okay. As far as the Board of Health goes, I am an appointed member of the Board of Health. As far as the allegations and stuff, yes we did see a video tape, it showed issues, apparently, that involved with the landlord. It was attempted to a landlord, apparently the parties did not get satisfaction. It was brought up with DEP, it was brought up to a prosecutor’s office, with no satisfaction. I find, really, a waste of township money that now we’re going to continue until a personal party can use the township to go through lawsuits and everything for removal of our individual appointed by the Board of Health, if there was issues, alleged allegations of non-compliance, misconduct, being brought before the Board of Health. As far as the Board of Health members standing up here defending Mr. Wilpert, that’s not necessary, there’s nothing to defend. As far as anything being brought to the Board of Health, I’ve been on the Board approximately four years now, no allegations and any wrongdoing was brought forth to Mr. Wilpert. There’s proper channels, if people choose to go through back doors to try and get around…skirt around issues, you know, you should not use the township, you should not put the township in the situation where we’re going to go through lawsuits and stuff for a personal vindictiveness and because, apparently, Frank Wilpert is not on the same ball team as the Mayor. I’m sorry, sometimes you do need
Mr. Terrezza(cont’d): professional people in there….ball teams have nothing to do with it, we should be professionals, we should appoint the best candidate possible, and that’s why we should have Frank Wilpert in there. He’s well respected in the County, as far as all the Health Officers go. Thank you.
President Rattner: Thank you. Anybody else like to address the Council?
Dennis Leonard, one of Mr. Wilpert’s attorney: I would just like to point out to the Council two points. One, Mr. Wilpert is not in holdover status, Mr. Wilpert is a tenured Health Officer. New Jersey law provides that after the completion of five years of service as a Health Officer, tenure is attained. I would direct the Council’s attention to NJSA 26:33-26. Secondly, I would point out that the decision as to…whether or not to retain Mr. Wilpert as the Health Officer, is a decision of the Board of Health, respectfully not a decision of the Mayor, respectfully not a decision of this Council. What we have here is a situation where he is the head of an autonomous body, and I admire the citizens who have spoken out here today regarding the necessity for such an autonomous body, health is a non-partisan issue.
President Rattner: Thank you. Anybody else from the public like to address the Council? I’ll close the public portion and ask for any Council Comments.
Mr. Greenbaum: Thanks to Mr. Wilpert, I was given the opportunity to review his personnel file, which is maintained by the Administration, and one would suspect that within that file are all of the documents related to performance reviews and complaints related to Mr. Wilpert. I can tell you that there was not one negative performance review of Frank’s abilities as doing his job in the health field, not one, only positive, to the extent that there were any. You would suspect that someone who is coming in to evaluate Mr. Wilpert, such as a new Mayor, who’s unhappy with the new Mayor….with the department…the Director of the Department of Health, would have placed something in the file to the extent that he had some problem with the way that that job was performed. There was nothing, there is absolutely not one shred of anything from this Administration with respect to the reasons why they are attempting to terminate Frank Wilpert as Department Head, and I agree with you, Rich, that the Mayor does have the right to appoint department heads, maybe not so in this case, as Mr. Leonard indicated, where it may be attached to a tenured position through the Board of Health. That I can’t answer, it’s a legal question. Notwithstanding that, you know, when you get a letter from the Mayor….cc’d on a letter from the Mayor, to Mr. Wilpert which simply indicates that there are philosophical differences and that’s the reason for the termination, it makes you think, especially in light of the fact that there was an obvious problem right from the get-go. You know, everyone understood, sitting up here, at least I understood, that there was a problem between the Mayor and Frank right from the get-go and in terms of the Mayor reappointing Frank, it never happened. So, the facts also indicate that there was a problem right from the get-go and I think we all know what the problem was and where it emanates from, I mean, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. Now, I don’t think I need to get into credibility issues in terms of comments which were made here tonight, but the bottom line is whether or not that particular one issue was handled appropriately, or not appropriately, I can’t answer that question, all I can say is that, from my review of Mr. Wilpert’s file, from everything that I’ve heard from any individual, his job performance has been nothing but exemplary. Absent some other issues related to Frank, which I am unaware of, I can only assume that the reason for his termination is inappropriate and that is the reason that I decided to offer this particular resolution.
Mr. Guenther: I’m Chairman of the Board of Health and the way I view…I didn’t realize this when I was named Chairman, the Board of Health….not the Board of Health, the Health Department in this town, I would say, is probably let’s say the second most important department in town, because it deals directly with the health and welfare of the citizens of this town and there are certain regulations that the Health Director needs to follow and he has to be licensed, by the way, by the State, and he needs to follow those and they’re mandated by the State…it’s mandated by statute, and that Health Director….and that statute, as Mr. Leonard correctly pointed out, indicates that the Board of Health names that particular individual….the Health Director….I’m sorry, the Health Officer. I get my terminology mixed up. The head of the department, Mr. Greenbaum’s right, you know, technically he can remove him, but there is also a township ordinance that clearly states, and I read this last week into the record, that states that it is the township policy to appoint the Health Officer as the Director of the department. So, the township ordinance is clear and the State statute is clear. Now, getting specifically to the charges being made and, obviously, we’ve heard this before, I’ve had the discussion….we’ve had the discussion before with Ms. Uhrmann, I…on the bottom line, I think hearing it again, her beef is really the DEP. One of the points that was made initially, regarding underground oil tanks, is that it is the purview of the DEP to investigate those and not the local health department. The DEP came in, granted, the Uhrmann’s were not satisfied that that happened quick enough, but they did come in, and I have a letter, I’m not prepared tonight…I didn’t bring it with me, I didn’t realize this would come up, I have a letter in my file that clearly states that they found no evidence of the tanks. It’s their opinion there were none, and also that there was no video tape, as had been claimed by Ms. Uhrmann, on a prior occasion. We also advised Ms. Uhrmann, if she had serious charges, if she felt she was wronged, to go to the prosecutor, which I believe she did. Now, it’s my understanding there Mr. Guenther(cont’d): were no pending allegations coming forth from the prosecutor’s office and no charges are being pursued, that’s to the best of my knowledge. So, I just felt I had to make that comment as being the head of the Board of Health and I feel that’s….there’s an unjust….it’s not a political position, I think this was pointed out before, it is for the health and welfare and that’s why the State mandated the Health Officer positions being out of the political realm, you want to take it out, because you don’t want to play politics with the health of the public.
President Rattner: Thank you Mr. Guenther. Ms. Labow.
Ms. Labow: Thank you, Mr. President. I just want to say that, when I first came to office, I did review the entire file, I didn’t get into the mold issue, because that was…the situation had been remediated. As far as the tanks go, and looking back, what I saw in that file was a lot of, what I say his T’s were not crossed, his I’s were not dotted, there was some miscommunication, what I saw was a lot of really bad record keeping. My belief is that, at the time that…as many times as Ms. Uhrmann came to the Council and to the Administration, I believe, I don’t have facts, but my belief is that Mayor Licitra did kind of sit on a lot of that and, in retrospect, since I do find out now, and I’ve asked many, many questions, what’s the procedure with oil tanks…I still have not gotten an answer to that, there should be a set procedure, there apparently is not. So, I would have to say that I really do not believe that Mr. Wilpert was totally remiss in this situation, I think there was a lot of things, and also being in government, I see a lot of things. If you don’t keep after them constantly, you get put by the wayside. I do want to just correct Mr. Guenther. The letter he is referring to does clearly state that the DEP believed there were two tanks, they just did not see evidence of oil, there had been rain.
Mr. Guenther: That’s what I meant.
Ms. Labow: The other thing I do want to say on behalf of Mr. Wilpert, there was another situation that came about in town, a resident had come to me with a situation that they were concerned of contamination of the wells, and Mr. Wilpert acted on it promptly, and not only did that he also, instead of just taking the required tests that were suggested, he actually went another step further and went above and beyond to help to satisfy the resident’s needs. Now, I found that to be a very good thing for our residents, for our community, that he didn’t just stick with the exact thing he had to do, he went one step beyond, and I do applaud his efforts for that. One last thing I do want to say, for the one gentleman who came up, Mr. Terrezza I think it was, and mentioned one thing I was not aware of but I learned tonight, I guess maybe some of us learned, that Mrs. Uhrmann and Mr. Uhrmann had problems with the mold and so-on and so-forth, on Mr. Wilpert’s performance, I guess you should have gone to the Board of Health and made your formal complaint in that direction. The very last thing I want to say is I’ve never heard any results of the outcome of the case that came to prosecutor, I can only assume from the little bit that I did hear, that Mr. Wilpert was not found guilty of any wrongdoing. Thank you.
Mr. Buell: I’m going to use a word that Rob used previously, I’m seriously troubled by this. I think the Uhrmann’s have brought forth serious charges that should have been…should be investigated. I think there should be an investigation, obviously the prosecutor did not find enough evidence to pursue, or whatever, because they didn’t bring charges, but I think the investigation should be conducted by the executive branch of this government, by the Mayor. I’m sure the Mayor has been aware, Mayor De La Roche has been aware of all of these issues for a long time and so has the Business Administrator, and yet there is nothing in the file, and as far as I know, Mr. Wilpert has never heard…has never had any discussion with the Mayor or the Business Administrator, who want to fire him, about any of these issues and I think that’s, if the Mayor wants to do what he wants to do, I think that’s where he has to start. I think even a holdover department head in a municipality is owed due process. There is a process by which you would terminate an employee that you would find wanting or who needs improvement and that is the process of giving the employee due process. I do not see that in this particular case at all. In fact, I heard from a newspaper editor that the Mayor and the Business Administrator have only spent….said 27 words to him in the last nine months. So, I think an investigation should be made by the Mayor and evidence should be gathered, and a performance appraisal should be made to Mr. Wilpert so he is aware of the issues that the Mayor feels are at issue, so he has a chance to defend himself, provide evidence and discuss it with the Mayor rather than being stabbed in the back. Mr. Wilpert, when the Rosewood Ditch was brought to his attention, immediately reacted, called the Mosquito Control Commission, got the Mosquito Control Commission out the next day for a site visit, got the Mosquito Commission to place mosquito traps on the Rosewood Ditch, and acted in a highly responsible way in terms of, I think, his job. The other day an additional issue came up from another resident of the Cloverhill development. He immediately reacted, it was a boat in somebody’s backyard that had been there for fifteen years, it was filled with water. He heard the complaint, he went out to the site, he had the people empty the boat and we’ll hear more about that issue. So, I see nothing wrong that Mr. Wilpert has ever done, in fact, I found him to be a courteous, excellent Health Officer. I’ve heard lots of compliments about him from many of the residents and I’ve talked to many of the residents of this town, and so I see no way that he is not performing his job, unless someone comes to me with evidence to the contrary, and so I will vote for this resolution tonight.
Ms. Labow: I just want to say one thing, one thing I forgot to mention. In coming into office for the first time, and, you know, getting to meet all the employees and the department heads and so-on/so-forth, I will say that there was only one department in the whole entire building where the employees actually came up and said very, very nice things about Mr. Wilpert and I just found that was, you know, very refreshing and warming that he’s well respected by his department.
President Rattner: I just have a few comments. One, obviously this thing was mishandled, you have to separate the different components, but I don’t know if it was mishandled necessarily just in the health department. I think everybody remembers when I was sitting on the other end of the dais, I was frustrated in that when we asked the previous Administration, proof of like the records that I felt were public records, and that’s where things started rolling down hill. There were specific allegations that I felt were credible, there was no doubt about that, but as it went further, and it was…and I was frustrated because I couldn’t get some of the information going through…as similar to what it would be today…going through the Administrator asking for the different items, because that’s the process you go through. Then there were also comments from other departments, other people that went down, and I won’t name them, about specific items, their observations that I was told by the Uhrmann’s, and when I went back and talked to those people, those conversations were held, and the subject matter was discussed. However, what I came back with is, you know, you always hear there’s always two stories and the truth is somewhere in the middle. Now, while certain observations, when I talked to those people, were actually there, the conclusions that we heard and some tonight, were not necessarily there, like being able to identify where the oil came from. There was oil on the street, there was also a lot of major equipment, you know, that went up and down, and his equipment wasn’t in the best shape, that was one thing we all noticed, those type of things. So, I think that’s what happened, but to say it’s all in one area, you know, when you have a two-family house and it shouldn’t be two-family, that’s Zoning, that’s not even Health. I mean, some times you find out through that light, but that is a completely different department. The last thing is is what Mr. Wilpert’s attorney happened to mention, and I’ve been on the….the Chairman of the Board of Health a few different times and I always looked at it, when nobody was listening to me here, I found out that I could get things done over there, including trying to go after the quarry when we were having problems figuring from a Health Department nuisance, maybe a Health Department can do something. The first person to come up with the idea that when we couldn’t get some drainage fixed by the County, is call the Mosquito Control, and that was Mr. Robertson’s property about five years ago, and had everybody out there and found that’s what we would get done and I found that anything that I wanted to do and everything that I asked for, he provided no matter how dumb he thought I was, but he felt his responsibility was reporting to the Chairman. The last thing is is that being an autonomous Board, being hired by that Board, that we really don’t have the authority. This is just something again where the Administration is trying to show or expand their authority past what the statutes probably allow. When you have a holdover position, it’s usually because you’re waiting to find a replacement. I think everything would have been a lot more palatable, done a while ago, if there was somebody presented to us and said here is a great Health Officer, here is somebody I want. I mean, that doesn’t get into the fact that the Board of Health hires the Health Officer and there’s a conflict in the law, which we probably have to work out, that the Mayor appoints department heads and which one or do we have two. We have that same issue now, that the Mayor is proposing in the Police Department, that the Police Chief is not the Department Head, but that has tenure, that gets appointed and then you have a separate Director of Public Safety. So, it sounds like, you know, if you’re going to play the game, you have to be consistent, but there was really nothing here, we don’t have another Health Officer, one hasn’t been proposed, so I think after eight or nine months, especially when we’ve been given no reason, if we were given credible reasons, we would have had one heck of a time sitting up here trying to defend it if it was presented right in front of us, and we don’t have it. So, with that, I don’t think there’s any other way that we can act, I don’t think there is any other action that we can take that would serve the current Health Officer for what he deserves…the way that he should be handled. So, with that, I will take a Roll Call.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously
President Rattner: With that, Mr. Dorsey, now what is it basically….
Mr. Dorsey: He continues in his holdover position, as the Head of the Department. Mr. Wilpert continues in his position, as a holdover, as Head of the Department of Health and Social Services, or I think it’s Social Services and Health, period. This issue as Senior Services, is just Senior Services and he continues as Health Officer, as that appointment is made by the Board of Health.
Mr. Ruggierio: The Administration does not recognize that, based on the case of Mealy versus Fahey, which indicates that the Council has no right to pass such a resolution in connection with a holdover, and I think that Mr. Dorsey must know that case very well, because it was cited in the attempt to remove him and Judge Bozanelis made it very clear that, in the case of a holdover department head, there was no removal because it was really not a reappointment, and the Council, therefore, has no right to save the department head on a two- Mr. Ruggierio(cont’d): thirds vote. That’s the position of the Administration.
President Rattner: I guess we’ll be back in that courtroom again.
Mr. Ruggierio: And I know you know that case, Mr. Dorsey.
RESOLUTIONS NON CONSENT
President Rattner: Okay, moving right along, we have another non-consent resolution. Mr. Greenbaum.
15. Resolution of Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Terminating William Ruggierio as Business Administrator, effective immediately pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:9-137
Mr. Greenbaum: I move for passage of resolution #15.
Mr. Guenther: Second.
PUBLIC PORTION ON INDIVIDUAL RESOLUTIONS
President Rattner: Okay, I’ll open it up to the public. Anybody from the public like to address this resolution?
Richard Bonte, Budd Lake: This must be a record for potential constitutional crises in Mount Olive this evening. Mr. Mayor, is it your intention to terminate the employment of Mr. Ruggierio?
Mayor De La Roche: No.
Mr. Bonte: Mr. Rattner, is there some type of, other than what I read in this resolution, wrong-doing or criminal involvement that I’m not aware of or the citizens of this town are not aware of, or broad misuse of powers or derelict in duties that we don’t know about that would cause you to take this action, which I’m not so sure you have the capability of doing, if the Mayor has confidence in his Business Administrator.
President Rattner: I think we do not have confidence in the Business Administrator at this point and we believe that the statute is very clear and very distinct that we do have the ability and we are going to act on it as such.
Mr. Bonte: You know, I hate to say, in the thirteen years I’ve been here, I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen this Council conduct investigations and nothing ever done about any of the Business Administrators we’ve had. I’ve never seen this happen and I’ve seen a lot worse than what you’ve got in this document tonight. I’m really concerned over this cross-pollination of powers that’s occurring here in this town. This is the third major event this year and….of all of them, this is the one I can’t support, because I haven’t seen something that would, you know, be indictable or that there has been misuse of funds, or anything like we’ve had over the last few years, I mean, we’ve seen a lot worse. So, I just don’t understand where this is going, the Mayor says….
Mr. Ruggierio: I’m putting that on my next resume, “I’ve seen worse.”
Mr. Bonte: You know, I’m not here to say good things about Mr. Ruggierio and it’s only because I don’t know the man well enough to be able to stand here and support him as I supported Mr. Wilpert. I just don’t see the A. urgency, or B. severity for this Council to take this type of action at this time. Show us something that really gets to the meat of the matter here that’s worse than what we’ve seen over the last ten years and I’ll support you, but right now I don’t see it. Thank you.
President Rattner: Anybody else? Ms. Uhrmann.
Charlie Uhrmann, Mount Olive: I just have a kind of a question, I’ve read over this and a lot of it is, is that y’all have a kind of a problem with his conduct, things that he has misquoted, misrepresented, whatever, you know, he was mean to an employee, or he said something derogatory about a Council person. This is my
question, are you saying that your conduct could be perhaps compared or should be equivalent to his, because the way I see it, some of the Council members, when they joint-write editorials against residents, people that they’re supposed to represent, and when they attack people on-line, and when they do all of these other things, it is absolutely no different than what you’re accusing Mr. Ruggierio of. I have countless pieces of document to show how certain residents get totally maligned and tarred and feathered, so I think when it comes to it…..and another thing I’m very…very surprised at, is the…the comment here…it says “whereas, after five and a half
Ms. Uhrmann(cont’d): months of being in the position of the Administrator, well we knew about this in June that y’all were going to do this, that’s not five and a half months, that’s unfair and that’s untruthful. We knew as of June y’all met and you discussed the removal of this man, because I was told by a Council person that you met, and I think that when you’re going to judge a person in the way he reacts or he doesn’t react, maybe you should look in the mirror and you ought to think of your own actions and some of the different things that you’ve done. Thank you.
President Rattner: Thank you. Mr. Jones, then Mr. De La Roche.
Dave Jones, Route 46, Budd Lake: I have to say that I think the Council has been through a lot and I support their decision 100%, whatever that may be. I would also like to say that I don’t support, you know, any employee who wouldn’t show up for work, you know, on numerous occasions and I find it very disturbing. I would also like to say that I received a letter from the Business Administrator, you know, asking for….well, actually my wife received the letter, asking for a period of time and, you know, a plan and everything like that, to clean up our property and I haven’t….I believe it was political vendetta, and, you know, through the Mayor and the Administrator, and we haven’t seen type of plan or anything like that to clean up the old Municipal Building, and it’s just…things haven’t been getting done, and I agree with the Council 100%. That’s it, thank you.
Ronald De La Roche, Wynnwood Road, Mount Olive Township: Is that a personal vendetta, Dave, the Mayor who appointed you to the Library Board and also who you helped to elect last year, but that’s another matter. I would like to discuss the removal of the Business Administrator. If everyone in the audience who has that resolution, if they could turn to the second to the last page, as well as the Council members, Section VIII, at the top. The Administrator has consistently acted in ways contrary to the advice of our township attorney, believing himself to be Township Attorney. The focus of his actions have been to the detriment of his managerial responsibilities at town hall. The worst of these actions came with regard to the salary ordinance where he threatened to sue the Township Council in the event that we usurped the Mayor’s rights under the Faulkner Act. This after ignoring the advice of the township attorney and auditor who received confirmation from the Department of Community Affairs as to actions prepared by Township Council. I believe it….it is my belief that this has to do….first of all, I would like to direct a question to Mr. Dorsey. Mr. Dorsey, who wrote this resolution?
Mr. Dorsey: I wrote part of it and other parts of it came from the Council President.
Mr. De La Roche: Okay, and do you see that as a conflict of interest, Sir? You also represent the Administration, is that correct?
Mr. Dorsey: I represent the Council, I represent whomever asks me to draw a resolution and this was requested by the Council.
Mr. De La Roche: Do you represent the Administration, Mr. Dorsey?
Mr. Dorsey: I have represented the Administration when I’ve been asked to do so to draw resolutions and to represent the township in connection with lawsuits.
Mr. De La Roche: And are you also quoted, in the Mount Olive Chronicle, as saying that Mr. Ruggierio likes to play township attorney?
Mr. Dorsey: I don’t think that’s a correct quote, I don’t know whether I’m quoted in that fashion, or not.
Mr. De La Roche: I person….I personally feel that this is something personal with regards to the township attorney. Thank you for your time.
President Rattner: Thank you. Yes sir.
Rob Pierson, Treetop Road, Budd Lake: Good evening. So much seems so very personal here tonight and they wonder why Mount Olive has issues with the way it conducts its’ business. This is my very first time ever up to the podium, I’ve lived in Budd Lake on and off for the last eleven years. One of my first questions is to Mr. Rattner, or anyone on the Council really, but Mr. Rattner, does the conduct of the Business Administrator…does it require criminal conduct to request his removal?
President Rattner: No.
Mr. Greenbaum: Can I answer that?
President Rattner: Wait a minute, I have the chair still, you have to listen to me. Mr. Greenbaum.
Mr. Greenbaum: Thank you. The particular statute, which is a State statute, and I don’t have it in front of me so I can’t read it verbatim, but it’s going to be fairly close to what it actually says, and it says that the…that two-thirds…with a vote of two-thirds of the governing body, the governing body can remove the Business Administrator of a municipality, period. Cause does not have to be given, for whatever reasons, justified……I’m sorry, Mayor, that you find this funny, perhaps you could turn to Mr. Ruggierio, who will give you a better explanation from a legal standpoint.
Mayor De La Roche: I’m an attorney and longer than you are, and I can argue any case you want to argue, that’s for sure.
President Rattner: Okay, you’ll have a chance to make a statement.
Mr. Pierson: A citizen is still here, maybe….yes, Rob is still here.
Mr. Ruggierio: I would be happy to read the statute.
President Rattner: Let the gentleman speak.
Mr. Pierson: Look, I don’t think it’s gotten beyond anybody here, that there is obvious issues with the management of the town. I don’t know Mr. Ruggierio very well, I can’t speak for or against him, but to site an example of what we’ve seen going on with Mr. Wilpert, I do recall the one article that Mr. Bonte had mentioned….I’m sorry, I don’t know if it was you, Mr. Bonte, forgive me….about a statement about the Mayor getting rid of Mr. Wilpert for….he’s not a team player and what I saw on the Council tonight is…and in the citizenship….is that Wilpert, if he’s been called not a team player, well it seems like the team is behind him and, as such, I think it’s not exactly beyond us to at least give some trust to the Council’s, you know, advice on the issue. You know, we elect you guys to do these very things and, frankly, this isn’t about the Council, this is about us, this is about…this isn’t about managing a political office, this isn’t about holding an office, you people are answerable to us, and I don’t care if you are a lawyer and can argue any case with anybody, Mr. Mayor, but you answer to us, okay, period.
Mayor De La Roche: That’s exactly true, I do answer to you, that’s why I take the actions I do, I don’t answer to anyone else but the people.
President Rattner: Okay, Mayor, let the public finish their public portion.
Mr. Pierson: Thank you, and I think in the case where there has been summary dismissal, and I think where there has been a case where certain reasons have not been given for the dismissal of one individual in an office that has obvious autonomy, I think the issue is not in the management of the Health office, perhaps it’s, you know, like the old saying goes, the bottle neck is always at the top, alright. So, I guess, you know, my problem here is, it is all getting very personal. I know, Mrs. Uhrmann, I’m very sorry you’re going through what you’re going through, I know it must be really tough with the illness that you’re dealing with. At the same time, although you question the Council’s desire to remove Mr. Ruggierio due to certain behavioral issues, you had no problem seeking the removal of Mr. Wilpert due to his inactivity, as well. So, you know, put both shoes on both feet, I think it’s all in good fairness that this be given it’s due attention and, in fact, if there aren’t issues with the management of this township, for goodness sake, get something done about it, instead of just spinning around it all the time, because I think that’s what we’ve seen in the past nine months, I think that’s what we’ve seen for years, frankly, in Mount Olive, and it just has to stop. Things have to get done, things have to get done actively and I’m sure Mr. Ruggierio is going to come up here and he’s going to give his piece, and I think at the end of this evening, at the end of all things, what has to be considered is what’s good for us, what’s good for the town, and if the Business Administrator that is currently in office is not good for the town, then it is appropriate to
seek and effect his removal, if it isn’t, then he should stay, but the Council should be given good preview in this and ultimately….and I don’t know why in God’s name, or in anyone else’s name, on a local level, politics, in any way, should play rule over how we are managed, I’m sorry, how our affairs are managed, because then balance is lost, okay, confidence is lost, and I think that’s already been done. Just look…have you seen the clippings about Mount Olive Township the past several months, okay? So, I think what’s happening here is we’ve lost perspective, we’ve lost focus and we need to get it back on track and we need to do it right and, if Mr. Pierson(cont’d): that means getting rid of people, fine get rid of people, but, as in the case with the Health Officer or the Health Official, forgive me if I’m getting the title wrong, if you are going to take such a summary action, then, my goodness, for the sake of the town, have something immediately and appropriately important put in place instead of waiting nine months, alright? So, if the issue is with management, and that starts at the top, something has got to be done about it, and, as my first time standing up at the podium, all I can say is that America happens here in the local community and we need to have confidence in you guys and we need to have confidence in our Mayor, we need to have confidence in our Business Administrator, because you know what, it’s not so much about how things happen, it’s also about having pride in our community and you know, I think we need to regain that. Thank you very much.
President Rattner: Thank you. Anybody else from the public like to speak at this time?
COUNCIL COMMENTS ON INDIVIDUAL RESOLUTIONS
President Rattner: Are there any Council comments? Go ahead, Mr. Ruggierio.
Mr. Ruggierio: Let me just first set the record straight about something before I go with my prepared remarks, which I probably left up there. The ordinance or the statute that governs this situation is not as Mr. Greenbaum has stated it and, as a matter of fact, I’ll read it, it’s very short. It says that the Council may, by at least a two-thirds vote of the whole number of the Council, I’m sorry, remove by a two-thirds vote of the whole number of the Council, any municipal officer other than the Mayor or a member of the Council, for cause upon notice and opportunity to be heard. Now, that’s what the statute says….
Mr. Greenbaum: No, that’s the local ordinance that you’re talking about.
Mr. Ruggierio: I read the statute, sir.
Mr. Greenbaum: That’s not 9-137 is it?
Mr. Ruggierio: It’s 40:69A-37.
Mr. Greenbaum: No, we’re moving under 40A:9-137, which specifically addresses the removal of a…
Mr. Ruggierio: Which does not affect this form of government and I think that maybe your lawyer can tell you that.
Mr. Stefiniw: Excuse me, can we clarify that, does it affect this government or not?
Mr. Dorsey: I believe it’s a general statute that affects every municipality that has a Business Administrator, or a township Administrator.
Mr. Greenbaum: I asked that question.
Mr. Ruggierio: I’m glad you asked it, because it’s actually the statute that governs the removal of what’s called an ordinance administrator. So, proceed on that basis, if you wish, you’re proceeding on the wrong basis and to the extent that Mr. Dorsey is giving you legal advice that is erroneous legal advice. Now let me go a little further than that before I talk about these prepared remarks, because one of the things I was going to say to you was that, when you look at this statute requires notice, cause and the rest of it, it was confusing to me that I got a letter from Mr. Rattner expressing some personal opinions to me on Friday, concerning his view of how things had gone over the last six months since I’ve been here, and then I got today at 4:15 in the afternoon a resolution which listed 51 claims, if you break them down into a and b and the rest of it. Many of them are totally and completely false and some of them are, you know, in a word, ridiculous, but my point about…my point about that resolution is, if that resolution was drafted by Mr. Rattner and it’s his, you know, personal point of view, he is certainly entitled to it and he can present it to the Council, but I think what you’re obligated to do, under this…under this provision of the law is to adopt the notice, give it to me and then, at some point, I am entitled to a hearing and I don’t know what that consists of, but notice and opportunity to be heard, and I can only be
removed for cause and that’s number one. Excuse me. You know, I heard Mr. Pierson and I thought I was going to agree with a lot of what he said until he sort of said it’s okay to get rid of Ruggierio and please keep Wilpert. I have to tell you that, you know, I’ve spoken to many people about Mount Olive Township and they tell me things like, geez you know, Mount Olive has been like this for years. The things that go on in Mount Olive are always like that and you’re never going to change it and I don’t know if that’s true, because, you know, I’ve been here six months and I don’t know if it can ever be changed. The one thing I will say is that an Mr. Ruggierio (cont’d): image that a town has, you know when lawyers get together in a courthouse and they say, oh my office is in Mount Olive, or I was in Mount Olive Municipal Court, and they start bad-mouthing the town, it kind of filters up in such a way that other government officials, you know, in the County and the State, they start to see us in a certain negative way. Other….like certainly the judges that have to hear Mount Olive cases start to see us that, and I have personal experience with this because I was, for twelve years, the in-house full-time lawyer for Mount Ol….for Old Bridge Township. When I went there, they told me no place could ever be worse than Old Bridge, you know, which, you know, may or may not be true, based on my perspective at this point. One of the things that I found was that the judges often…used to often repeat to one another how terrible things were in Old Bridge, and we had this image, and we suffered because of it, and, frankly, if it’s just on the basis of, you know, the kind of economic development we attract, having the kind of image that Mount Olive has, on the basis of things that are going on here, is not good. So, to the extent that Mr. Pierson was trying to, you know, express that point of view, I’m going to agree with him and, you know, I know that Mr. Bonte wasn’t making a, you know, I mean, he laughed about it when he said, you know, this is the third potential constitutional crises that we have, to me it’s not a laughing matter and I don’t mean because, you know, my personal circumstances are tied up in this resolution, and I guess that I’ll take…I’ll go to the points that I want to make in a second, but I’ll take one of the points out of order because I think it fits in with this comment. I, you know, I had a choice about a year ago, when I realized that the Mayor that I worked for wasn’t running for re-election and she probably would…she was a Republican, she probably be defeated by the Democrats in town, and that changes would occur and I had a choice to go to a job in the private sector which would have honestly paid about $35,000 or $40,000 in coming here to Mount Olive. It would have been in the field of practicing law, a field that, you know, I liked and I spent my time in my whole life, but, you know, for twelve years I was in Old Bridge and I really got a charge and I got satisfaction out of the idea that we pulled people together, we formulate…we approach municipal problems, we solve problems as a team, so, you know, any of you that saw that term, “members of team”, you know, that’s what it really referred to and I have to say that I was quite successful and I’m sure it pained Phil Garber to no end to have to say, in his first article that he ever wrote about me, that the people in Mount….in Old Bridge had reported that Administrator walks on water, I mean, I really thought that nobody could live up to that billing and that I was doomed to failure with that, but that’s actually the headline and some of the things that happened and that’s because the people in Old Bridge said some very good things about me and I can also tell you that, when I was in Old Bridge and about to leave, I got a lot of…I got a lot of spontaneous comments from people who were citizens of the town, they gave me…they gave me…I have letters at home that were written, thanking me for my service. The Mayor was a Republican and, you know, some of the Democratic people that worked in the campaigns…they actually came up and said that they thought that, you know, I had done a lot for the town, and that’s my background. So, it was natural for me, and this is what I’m trying to convey, it was natural for me to want to stay in municipal government because I felt A. I was good at it; B. I was a leader in the things that I had done; and C. they weren’t ready….really very many municipal problems that I hadn’t seen before. Now, you may be asking yourselves why is this action occurring and I’m going to tell you what I believe is the truth, at this point, and, obviously, others will have things to say about it.
First and foremost, I don’t think there’s any question that…that there are elements on the Council, and I don’t want to paint everybody with a broad brush, but certainly at least three or four people on this Council who have it as their ambition to cripple the Mayor and make him ineffective. Now, I know that some of you had dealings with the Mayor and some of those dealings may not have been to your liking, and I can’t really…I’m not here as an apologist or a defender of the Mayor, but I do know that I have only been here six months, I came here in March, and I know that the Mayor was a person alone. Now, why was he a person alone? Well….and I have no idea what the details of this are, but this is the….this is the truth that not many people will deny because it’s been admitted too many times. Mr. Buell and Ms. Labow ran with the Mayor and Mr. Elms, they won the election, some people say they won it for some reasons, other people say that they hated the other guy so much that, you know, that they elected these people. I have no idea why the people of Mount Olive selected this group, but I will say this, that it is well-known, and it has been admitted, that Mr. Buell, even before he was sworn in to office, decided that this Mayor should be driven out of office, even to the point of recall. You heard the word recall in January and February before I ever got here and this was Mr. Buell, and when you ask the other Council members about it, they’ll go…oh, the recall, that’s Buell’s thing, he’s organizing that, but soon….but it’s not hard to see what has occurred with respect to this issue, the attempt to cripple the Mayor, that Ms. Labow and Mr. Buell were sort of, you know, dissenting member of the Mayor’s own party, and it makes sense that some other members of Council, maybe the ambitious ones, might want to go along with it. So, the first….as I said, the first issue was an attempt to cripple the Mayor. Now, I know that, and anybody who wants to look at coincidences, can come up with this conclusion, I know that the idea of removing the Business Administrator came about when the….right after Frank Wilpert was spoken to about the fact that the Mayor was not going to retain him, and that discussion occurred and then after that, when it was clear that Frank didn’t want to move on voluntarily a letter was given, and that letter went out and, as soon as that happened, the next Council meeting, it was Mr. Greenbaum who said, okay I want a resolution removing the Business Administrator. You know, you take our guy out, we’ll take your guy out, these kinds of things…it’s really
Mr. Ruggierio(cont’d): destructive to the township and it has no basis. The…and the third thing, the third reason that this has come about, has to do with John Dorsey, our township attorney. Now, I know that the Mayor, before I got here, did not want to reappoint Mr. Dorsey, I know there was litigation over it, I wasn’t involved in that litigation and it wasn’t until recently I actually looked at the decision of Judge Bozenalis and read some of the cases that were cited to him, and I did that because I knew that this action was going to be taken with respect to Mr. Wilpert and I wanted to make sure that we were at least proceeding on an ostensibly correct basis. Mr. Dorsey represents the Board of Health and he represents the township, and he, in the case of Mr. Wilpert, is in an extreme conflict of interest. Thirteen resolutions appeared on the Board of Health agenda, amended agenda, last week, shortly after Mr. Wilpert was spoken to. Now, why…how does thirteen resolutions, including one appointing Mr. Wilpert, appear on the Board of Health agenda unless Mr. Dorsey and his firm are complicit in the idea that they want to undercut what the Mayor is seeking to accomplish in terms of the replacement of Mr. Wilpert, and yes, I did say that, yes I brought it to the attention of Mr. Dorsey and, as a result, you know, I think that this is occurring. Mr. Dorsey is also aware that we have discovered over billings in connection with developer’s agreements to the tune of $4,900 in total, a little better than $4,900 and, again, this action that’s being taken today is in connection with the protection of Mr. Dorsey and I can tell you, Mr. Dorsey, it’s not going to work, no matter whether I’m here or not. Now, let me finish with just a few points and I’ll give you some data that you can freely look at. I think that if the purpose of the Council was to disable the Administration to make it ineffective, the mere fact that this resolution has been introduced is almost sufficient to accomplish that, and why do I say that? Well, you know, I have been very grateful to the employees of this township who have been team players, who have jumped in and decided that they thought that the interests of Mount Olive were the most important thing to them. I’ve assembled them in a way that I feel very good about what we’ve accomplished, and for those that are team players, you know, I thank you, but there’s a….you know, there’s a broad number of employees out there and they have to be saying to themselves, you know, where does the power lie, does it lie with the Council, or does it lie with the Mayor, and this is not something that’s like unheard of, the Council knows that this is occurring. So, as a result of what’s been done here alone, you know, the undermining of the Administration has occurred.
Now, there is a long list of charges here, I have them, and they would be difficult to, if not impossible, to respond to, especially given the fact that I got this 4:15 in the afternoon, but let me just, you know, mention a couple of these things because, you know, just to say to the public how silly some of this is. I am said to have been insubordinate by issuing disparaging remarks via e-mail to township employees regarding a Council member. I have multiple copies of the e-mail in question and, frankly, and I have no reason to think that Mr. Guenther, who was the subject of this comment, you know, is the fellow that’s pushing this, and I don’t mean to suggest that he is, and I certainly would hope that he isn’t because I thought that he displayed a sense of humor after the fact, but I did send an e-mail to one employee who was on my senior staff, and, you know, in the most bonehead move of probably, you know, last few months, instead of sending it to that employee, I responded to Mr. Guenther. Mr. Guenther was raising a number of points about Turkey Brook Park and he asked that, you know, he said, for example, that the…diplomatically, the condition of the park did not project the image for the town, and here’s what I said to this employee: “please get me prepared to respond to these issues” and it was a long e-mail, “perhaps a written response to each point. I’m sure it will come up on Tuesday, our Council meeting. It would be good to respond in the AM given B. Guenther’s tendency to be Mr. Grump.” Now, that’s what they call was a personally disparaging remark. I apologized to Mr. Guenther about it. Frankly, you know, if you have a sense of humor, is it really something that you’re going to get that crazy about? It isn’t, and I think most people, you know, would see that. Alright, it said, in these charges…among the 51 charges, that I rejected two written memos asking for the appropriate procedure for contacting department heads, with no response. Now, these are memos that refer to Ms. Labow’s memos to the Business Administrator. I have carried these memos with me to every single Council meeting, because I thought, at some point in time, this would come up, because in the beginning of this Administration, it was death by e-mail, it was death by memo. The Council knew what they were doing and Ms. Labow and Mr. Buell were certainly complicit in this and they would send e-mails, on top of e-mails, on top of e-mails just asking for, in many cases, the same information and at some point I got an e-mail that I just refused to answer. It’s dated April 27, 2004, and it’s long, and I have multiple copies, I would be happy to give it to you, but, you know, I think that….I think that I’ll just give you a few tastes of this memo. It asks such things as: “please respond in writing concerning the proper procedure for contacting the Administration, how can I make inquiries?” and then it says, and it’s two pages long, “do we need permission to walk into the Tax office and pay our bills, do we need permission to register for a recreation program or are we allowed to walk into the Recreation Department and sign up for whatever we want. Please put in writing the proper procedure the Council is to follow and please include procedural answers to all my
questions. Once we receive permission to ask a department a question on the subject we are inquiring about, are we allowed to ask a question about something that comes to mind while we’re speaking with them? And if the answer is no to question number three, then what is the procedure? Do we hang up the phone and send another memo, call the Administration and ask to call the employees?” I don’t know, you know, does this seem silly to you, because it sure seems silly to me. Now, let me tell you something else, Ms. Labow recently has been disparaging the Mayor, suggesting that people, in a program called the Teen Scene that some of you may be
Mr. Ruggierio(cont’d): familiar with, should go and check with the township to make sure that the funds that are collected in that fund, are really being dealt with and she essentially accused the Mayor of being, you know, some kind of criminal trying to steal money from these teenagers, and then, just to show you how this whole thing works out, I get an e-mail from one of my employees, and those employees…one of those employees…they don’t want to tell me that Ms. Labow has made an inquiry concerning this subject matter, so what they say is, “you know, I had a call from a parent involved in the Teen Scene, who was concerned about who has access to the funds that the group raised” and then my employee suggested that maybe we could change some procedures and they said, “oh, by the way, some Council people have gotten the whiff of this situation.” So, when I tell you that Ms. Labow and Mr. Buell are on an absolute campaign, and if any of you have ever talked to them, you know what I’m saying is true, thirty seconds, you talk to them, they have something bad to say about the Mayor. Now…and going back to what I said to you before about the image that Mount Olive has, you know, pox on all your houses. I mean, you may say the Mayor is a guy I can’t agree with on a lot of issues, but this is a calculated campaign against the Mayor and what they want to do is deprive the Mayor of his Business Administrator. I know I’m taking an awful long time and, again, I haven’t had time to completely absorb these things, and there are many things that are just as silly as some of the things I have just mentioned, but let me talk about something on the positive side, because, you know, I can’t let too much go by here in terms of…..well, I’ll talk about Mr. Wilpert and then I’ll talk about things on the positive side. Mr. Wilpert…it has been proposed to have him not be reappointed and he has a hearing to try to, you know, talk us out of that on Wednesday, I believe it is. In….the Mayor can read to you, or I’ll be happy to read to you and distribute copies, of the case that I was referring to when Mr. Dorsey…when I was talking to Mr. Dorsey earlier, and that case basically makes the following case. It basically says this that the Mayor, under this form of government, is entitled to have his department heads, to work for him, to follow his programs, to promote the things that he thinks are important. That’s an essential element of this form of government. When I came here, in March, of….and I’ll grant Mr. Bonte’s point if you want to say, geez, you know, you should have thought about this after you got…you know, you had your victory party over and you should have figured out who your department heads were going to be, maybe that’s a fair point, I’m not going to argue that, but when I got here in March, I had no ability to make those kinds of judgments. So, what we did, and we did it formally, we issued a six month plan, and part of that six month plan was that by September 15th, we would make decisions about the…whether or not department heads would be retained or would not be retained. I made a recommendation concerning our very fine Finance Director, that she be retained, that was supposed to be on the agenda tonight to be passed, and one wonders why it wasn’t…why it wasn’t on the agenda tonight. I gave a recommendation concerning Ms. Jenkins and how good she was and how helpful she was to the interest of the citizens of Mount Olive back in July, so a part of the excuse that was given for taking that off the agenda was that “we hadn’t given an evaluation of Ms. Jenkins” but when it comes to Mr. Wilpert, you know, I’m not….if a case could be made concerning Mr. Wilpert’s conduct, we certainly wouldn’t make it in this forum and we certainly wouldn’t make it at this point. The thing that I think needs to be said about the Mayor’s right to have department heads, is the same thing I was talking to you before about, how we have a group of really good committed department heads and supervisors who are participating with the Administration in trying to get a program together, and some of the things that I’m going to give you in a second and talk about, are accomplishments that were accomplished with that department head and I know, Ms. Uhrmann, you’re not going to like what I say in this connection, but it’s the truth. I said to the Mayor, when we had this big file of the Uhrmanns, that the Uhrmanns gave us, concerning the removal of the tanks and the mold and so forth, and I said to the Mayor, you know, I could digest this file, I could, you know, understand every part of it, I could call Mr. Wilpert in and I could talk to him about, you know, whether or not it was true or not true and hey, did you ever see the tanks, and did you get this memo and did you back date things and all the things that, you know, Ms. Uhrmann was talking about, but, you know, Mayor, and this is what I said to him “at the end of the day, when you…suppose you find Mr. Wilpert not guilty of these Uhrmann complaints, would you still want to retain him? Is he a person that participates in, you know, making your Administration better?” Now look, I know that there is this legal issue about….out there about the Health Officer and the department head, but believe me, the Mayor has a right to remove a department head and along with what I said before, the…Mr. Dorsey’s firm has apparently given erroneous advice to the Board of Health, because there are people in….well, there are people in the paper, if you read the paper, but there are people on the Board of Health today who believe that Mr. Wilpert is paid as the Health Officer and that just plain isn’t true. Now, how could I say that it’s not true? Well, I collected every bit of information, I collected every oath of office, I collected every minute of the Township Council, I collected minutes of the Board of Health, I looked at the law, I made an inquiry as to….I looked at every salary ordinance…how is Mr. Wilpert paid? He’s paid as the Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, that’s what the department is called in your ordinances and that’s how he’s paid. So, I’m not
approaching this issue of his status as Health Officer, which I think, you know, it’s a little bit of a….it’s a little bit of evidence to you that the Board of Health, last week, had to pass thirteen ordinances…that’s sort of shutting the barn door after the horse is out, but I’m telling you that he is paid as the Director of the department, a position that the Mayor has a right to replace. I have here, and I will lay them in front of anybody who cares to look at them, seven pages of accomplishments that I will briefly highlight and then conclude my remarks. When I got here, and this…and again, I trust that you remember that I have been here six months, we have
Mr. Ruggierio (cont’d): reviewed all non-union salaries, we’ve reviewed all union contracts. Union contracts expire this year, we are in the midst of the renegotiation process for those union contracts, it’s my responsibility to enter those negotiations. Come November, we’re obligated to start to conduct our Budget hearings for the 2005 Budget and what is being proposed here is to deprive the Mayor of a Business Administrator to accomplish that. Everyone knows that I came up with a proposal, that the Mayor accepted, concerning new leadership, and not reorganization, but organization for the DPW Department, and I don’t think anybody can dispute the really great choice that Tim Quinn is, in connection with that position. He has the support of his men, he shows loyalty to them, and he is a team player. I have a….I issued, and the Mayor issued, a six month plan of action. Among those plans of action, the idea that we were going to review the strengths and weaknesses of department heads, that’s been done, you asked us to do it, we’ve done it, and I suggest that you need to accept our decision. Something that was said, or…by the Council members, in an attempt to see things through a negative prism, that the 58 acres in BASF was excluded from the Highlands….was included in the Highlands Preservation Area, therefore, taking 58 acres of potential land out of the hands of economic development and thereby hurting the town. As it turns out, you know, I haven’t heard an apology, but the truth is that those 58 acres were in the…were, in fact, in the plaining area and the expansion area and not in the preservation area. We’ve made changes in our telephone system, since I’ve been here for six months, and those changes will result in, our current calculation is, $33,548 per year. We have…I have a lot of detail about that and I won’t…I won’t go over that, but it’s here for anybody that wants to read it. We’ve identified, through the mechanism that we’re going to come up with for our change in phone systems, the elimination of twenty pots lines, you know, the standard kinds of lines that come into the building, saving $5,000 a year. This is since I’ve been here, in six months. We’ve met with GTI and negotiated the removal of unnecessary dial-up services, and, as a result of changing some of the way we access the internet, we have a cost savings on that alone of $3,500 a year. We’ve changed the process of dial-up for the internet, as I said, and the storage space changes that we made, and that, together, the savings are $3,500 and $1,200. We had a problem and we have a problem with employees of both the Council and of the Administration accessing the internet inappropriately…. inappropriately going to the internet for, you know, sites that they shouldn’t be going on, and we have put in place internet blocking software, something that’s never existed here before. Most of you know that the Board of Education needs an access road and needs a diversion from Green Acres, we’ve been extremely involved in the negotiations associated with dedicating the old fields at Flanders….the old Flanders school, and also in dedicating property that would allow us to acquire this diversion. Most of you, although it sounds like distant history, because six months goes past, remember that the Lutheran Social Ministries came here with the idea for a new building at the Mount Olive Manor. It was the Administration that processed that after two meetings, it was me that got appointed to this Board that is involved with that, and so, we have done that. In terms of acquisition and clean-up, and let me try to address what Mr. Jones said, in his recent change of heart, you know first he loves me and then he hates me, he loves the Mayor and then he hates him, and I don’t….I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t deal with Mr. Jones in that connection, but I can tell you that, yes, he does have a property that…and I haven’t publicized this, as you might know, but he publicized it, yes, he does have a property that needs to be cleaned up that has a number of zoning violations and, I don’t know what you think, but I think it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to go out there and say “you know what, other people have really properties, so I should be allowed to go along and have mine be, you know, treated the same”. Look, I’ll be frank with you, we’ve had a number of what I would consider to be politically motivated complaints about people, and a lot of non-political complaints, I mean, the Elms Tower, when that came up, you know, it wasn’t hard to see through that, that that was something that, you know, that somebody had brought up for political reasons. We’ve had complaints against another Council person, we have the Jones case, Mr. Jones has been involved in politics, but I have a paper trail that I will show anybody and I have instructions to the relevant people, that I will show anybody, that says this: you know, everybody, everybody gets treated the same when it comes to Zoning violations. If you’re a friend of the Mayor, you don’t get a break. If you’re a foe of the Mayor, you don’t get extra…you don’t get prosecuted extra. Everybody gets treated the same, and I will stake my life, and on any career that I might have, on the fact that that is true, and it’s true of Mr. Jones and it’s true of anybody else. We have cleaned up, without a lick of township funds, a tire…you know, an old tire repository that is on Route 46. We have done a number of sewer and water improvements, including the meter pits, the Drake Brook pump replacement is now authorized, the Wyndham Point sewer project is not something that… the turnover of that system is not something that happens just as a matter of somebody giving you a deed, it’s very complicated and we’ve been very much involved. We have formed…I’m very proud of the fact that we formed a capital projects group that monitors capital projects that are either on-going or predicted, in connection with the government and one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve updated the security system in this building. We had a system that was basically going to fail at any point in time, we’ve, of course, if you’ve been following it, we have a proposal for a DPW garage, which we’re taking to the voters in November to try to avoid some of the costs associated with the compliance with the Highlands. We have removed the files from the ITC on an emergent basis and we have at least dealt with the digital elements of file…of Building Department file storage by coming up with bid specifications to try to get a large document digitations of the…of those files. We have installed a new fire suppressant system in the server room, in the Clerk’s office, where they store their files, no longer will it rain on our computer servers, if a fire event should occur and I think that’s a good thing. Now, for Mr. Ruggierio(cont’d): years, no decision was made about the Old Municipal Building, it was….this capital projects meeting that I’m talking about, that first dealt with those issues. Vandalism at Budd Lake, you know, somebody took a big chunk of land with glass in it, and so-forth, and deposited it on our beach, and that’s being actively investigated and pursued by the Administration. I said I wouldn’t highlight this, but I seem to be going through it, so let me just move ahead. The Jennies Lane paving that I know Ms. Uhrmann will probably be interested it in, having lived on Jennies Lane, you know, the reason that that happened was because we took aggressive action and made sure that it happened. You know, would it have happened otherwise, I don’t think so, I guess people could debate that. Drakestown-Mine Hill Road, for years this has been in the shape that it’s been in and it is this Administration, and my personal participation that has led to the point that we are now, we’re on the prefaces of an agreement concerning that. The Village Green water tank painting project, I think was probably something well contemplated before I got here, but it became complicated and it was this Administration that dealt with it. Turkey Brook Phase II, I asked the Council to please put that on tonight, but they wouldn’t, we just got the bids in on September 8th, and Turkey Brook, I know, is controversial, and I won’t belabor this but we did feel that the health, safety and welfare issues relating to that site had to be dealt with and it was this Administration that basically got it to a point where we identified the things that had to be done and did the necessary work associated with coming up with bid specs and now that’s being presented to the Township Council. Some of the things that we’re interested in in terms of the future, the Seward Mansion, that’s one of the things that we feel needs to be preserved and, as it now stands, I think that the Seward Mansion may well be destroyed in the future and we want to find a way to preserve that, so that our options are open in the future. Now, people may say, geez, I don’t think you ought to put your…I don’t think you ought to put your money into this, we’re trying to get grant money so that our options remain open with respect to the Seward Mansion and that it doesn’t continue to deteriorate. What’s going to be the future use of the old Library, I know that there’s a large support for the Mount Olive Child Care and Learning Center and Mayor De La Roche has indicated that, from his perspective, he is also in support of their use of the building, but I will tell you this, and this is what I told the Mayor and I’ll tell the Council, you know, I am positive that if we tie up that building for twenty / thirty / forty / fifty years, that there will come a point in time when the municip….since it’s right now municipal neighborhood, that the municipal government will need to use that building, and tying up the building on that long term a basis, as deserving as this outfit is, I believe will….eventually we will want to kick ourselves about it and nobody will be here, so, you know, there will be nobody to blame, because we have taken a municipal asset and we have taken it away from public use, and at some point…with all the Highlands regulations, we will have to build something to replace it. The Flanders tennis courts, I know that, you remember that there was a $40,000 repair that was going to be required, those two tennis courts were closed and out of business. It was my cooperation and my leadership that said, hey, couldn’t we do something on an interim basis to just at least get those tennis courts back in business, you know, they split the loaf, we actually got one tennis court back in business, based on the things that I did. Flanders Park lights…I don’t think anybody has moved that issue along as far as we have, we haven’t met the finish line, and I…but I expect that to happen, if I’m still here. With respect to the Flanders School, it’s not our problem, about the continued use of that building, but it may well become our problem and I think that our purpose is to show some leadership. We bid auto body repairs for the first time in the history of this township. We’ve done….we’ve gotten approvals for improvements to Lou Nelson Park. I have collected, but not yet finished Turkey Brook ordinance rules and regulations, you know the first draft of the ordinance, it was drafted by a lawyer, it was not acceptable to the Council, and I said okay, I’ll take the lead, I’ll collect all the comments from everybody, and we’ll come up with a new ordinance. The….I guess the last thing I want to say has to do with, you know, some of the commentary that was made about, you know, how great it was…I heard the comment, that Mr. Wilpert had responded to an a salt situation, I don’t know if you got the whole jest of it, but basically, there was a woman who complained about the storage of salt on a property. The reason that Mr. Wilpert went out and made the tests that he did is because I asked him to do it. Now, I know that the people that were commenting on it up here at the Council want to say great job, Mr. Wilpert for doing that, but they don’t want to say great job, Administrator for making it happen and I think that that sort of displays the inequity that exists here. With respect to the other thing that was said about Mr. Wilpert and the mosquito problem out at Rosewood Ditch, Mr. .Wilpert was told that he was going to be relieved of his position, by the Mayor, and lo and behold, the next Saturday, he was out at the site of the Rosewood Ditch with Mr. Guenther and Mr. Buell and some other Council people and I don’t know what they talked about, at that time, but I do know that what happened at that point was that people from the County Mosquito Control Commission were there and so-forth, and suddenly it’s a wonderful thing that the Mosquito Control Commission was out there, even though the Mosquito Control Commission was notified many times before and it was me, it was nobody else but me that made it an obligation to tell the residents about the discovery of the West Nile Mosquito. Now, that’s debatable because some people said, hey, do we really want to like spook people and tell them that there’s a mosquito out here that’s been discovered with West Nile virus, or can we maybe in the…you know, just sort of tell them…give them a general warning and, you know, my response to it was that I felt that, if I was a parent and I was given an opportunity to get some information, that it was our obligation to tell the public about those things. So, I…as I said, I will lay these things out so that everybody can read them. We have a long list of accomplishments and I think they’re quite credible and quite long for only having been here six months. I certainly didn’t cover all of them, but you’re free to read them. Mr. Ruggierio(cont’d): That’s what I have to say. I don’t believe that I have received notice sufficient to allow me to deal with this matter on the basis of cause. I think that this action that’s being proposed here tonight is unfortunate for the people of Mount Olive. I will certainly abide whatever the legal outcome of it is and I’m sure everybody else will suffer through that, as well. Thank you.
President Rattner: Mr. Guenther, you’re not going to go point by point….
Mr. Guenther: I think…I’m not going to go point by point, I’m just going to make several points. He pointed to his accomplishments in Old Bridge and I want to point out, he was the township attorney there, not an administrator. My question would be, if he is such a great administrator, why couldn’t he commit to….communicate to Mr. Wilpert what the goals and objectives were that he was supposed to be a team player of and those were never communicated to Mr. Wilpert. In a lot of cases, my opinion is, he says we are trying to cripple the Mayor, a lot of the times the Mayor has crippled himself. Now, regarding what he mentioned….my name and that little remark, he never apologized to me, he only apologized for the fact that he sent it to the wrong person, he never apologized for making the remark. Secondly, he accused me of lack of respect for all of his employees, he didn’t go on to read the other e-mails he had where he accused me of disrespecting all the employees in town – the people that work for him, and that has never happened, and I have worked in this town as both…as a professional dealing with the people in this town, I have always dealt with them with an utmost respect. He mentions a lot of these as being silly. I don’t think the arrogant attitude that was taken in the negotiations regarding the BASF and the school, and he takes credit for this school land swap was initially there was a lot of resistance and the feedback I get is that the meetings with the Board of Education were not the most pleasant. The Elms Tower, that’s not a political thing, there were accusations that were made by the opposing party in the last election, the scurrilous accusations of corruption and things of that nature. If Mr. Elms has not complied with the Zoning regulations, it’s a very fair comment. We’re still waiting for the report from you regarding the outcome of your investigation. The Turkey Brook ordinance….the Turkey Brook ordinance was, you mentioned that we didn’t like it and you went back and redrafted it, I’m still waiting. I mentioned it last week that I’m tired of waiting for that ordinance. We had a….Ms. Labow pointed out the terrible parking problem we had up there last weekend, because no signs are up there to direct people where to park, and it’s a major issue. That ordinance should have been passed a long time ago. Actually, the reason the ordinance was….he was directed to reply to us, by the suggestion of someone from the audience, and probably got some merit to it, to do a general park ordinance instead of just a specific Turkey Brook ordinance; but we could have passed the Turkey Brook ordinance, just to be able to get the signs up and then re-done a general park ordinance later, because Turkey Brook is really the issue right now. Then, just one thing on the board….I could not contain myself on this one, on the Rosewood Ditch. I, as Chairman of the Board of Health, asked Mr. Wilpert to do that and bring in the Mosquito Commission. It was as a result of that….as a result of his refusal and having made the statement to a Council member, that the Administration was not going to do anything about the Rosewood Ditch, and there was a concern regarding health, regarding the mosquitoes, and that’s brought in at my insistence. So, to say….to make the accusation that Mr. Wilpert only did that because he was given notice that he was going to be terminated, is completely untrue.
President Rattner: Thank you, Mr. Guenther. Anybody….Ms. Labow, then Mr. Greenbaum.
Ms. Labow: I just want to make two points. Mr. Ruggierio points out my lengthy memo, which I did have to send two times. The reason why I sent it is we were told that we had to follow the Mayor’s directive, which I don’t disagree with. The Mayor wanted to know what the Council was asking of the department heads, and he should know. The whole thing was…it became…it got more and more involved, and I wanted to know, look… if I’m setting up….first of all, it took forever, too. We sent a memo, it took forever to get an answer, well then it instituted more questions. My question was, you start to talk to somebody, something else comes up, unrelated matter, the idea is that the Mayor knows what’s going on, so do we send another memo, can you talk about it…I just wanted to have some guidelines set forth. The reason being, Mr. Buell had a situation that he had contacted the Administration numerous times, finally went ahead and called the Zoning Officer himself, and got a very scathing letter from the Mayor that he was out of line. So, I just wanted to have some directives laid out. The next thing I really resent is, Bill, absolutely resent this completely, the Teen Scene. What happened with the Teen Scene is it’s been going on for a long time, there were no set directives or where the money was going. Some of the money was going in the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Fund. As we all know, in April…mid-April, we found out in Council that the Mayor had requested a refund from the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Fund. Come to find out, it was matrimonial donation, fee, whatever you want to call it, cash that was put in there and the Mayor asked for a refund, a personal refund check made out to him, because he was putting the money in his own personal account. He said….supposedly, he has subsequently…since then, he has refunded the money, although we have never seen any proof. With the Teen Scene, nothing was set up with that directly, some money went into one account, and some money went into another account. I volunteer at the Teen Scene, as a chaperone, they’re planning on funds for a trip they want to take in October, and I said to them, you know, well, where do you have the money, it should be in one account…..I do believe that some of it might have gone in the Ms. Labow(cont’d): Mayor’s Youth Advisory Fund, and unless you have spoken with the Mayor and have an agreement, he can….it’s within his privy to spend that money any way he wants. After that, from what I understand, the whole thing got straightened out and all the money was put in the right spot, and….because there were some questionable things that I guess last year they were pretty upset that Mayor Licitra had used money that was supposed to be for the Teen Scene, to buy pizza for another organization, or whatever, so this time I believe the money is all set up correctly. That’s where that comes from, right there. I never accused Mayor De La Roche of being corrupt, I never….
Mr. Ruggierio: Tell the truth, now…tell the truth, now…we have a statement about what you said.
Ms. Labow: I am telling the truth. I never accused him of being corrupt, absolutely not, I said you don’t have an arrangement with this Mayor, you don’t know where…he can go in, he can put that money to anything he wants to put it towards, if he doesn’t know where it’s supposed to go. That’s what I said. You disagree?
Mr. Ruggierio: I have proof that that’s not true.
Ms. Labow: It is true, there were people standing there.
President Rattner: Let’s not….Colleen, let’s not….we’re not getting on there…..Mr. Greenbaum.
Mr. Greenbaum: Yes, Bill, let me start off by saying that personally I think you’re a really nice guy.
Mr. Ruggierio: I like you, too, Rob. I do….I tell people all the time, I mean….
Mr. Greenbaum: And you’ve never been anything but respectful to me, and I hope that I have extended you the same courtesy, I’ve tried, anyway.
Mr. Ruggierio: I think you have.
Mr. Greenbaum: And the major problem that I have, and it was a major concern at the beginning of your tenure, was your legal background and your experience as a lawyer for a municipality, especially in light of, you know, the whole situation with the Mayor not wanting to appoint John, and the Council wanting John, and there were a whole bunch of issues related to that. I find your legal analysis to be very interesting, you know, obviously I don’t know whether you’re right, I don’t know whether John’s right on certain issues, and probably your wrong on certain issues and John’s wrong on certain issues, you know how the law is…
Mr. Ruggierio: It’s happened.
Mr. Greenbaum: The law is whatever a judge decides on a particular day, right? So, if this is the wrong ordinance to move under, and you’re right and John’s wrong, you know John certainly had some questions when I asked him about it and said how do you want to move, and my suggestion was to move under this particular ordinance. You may be right, John may be wrong, but that was a decision that at least I had some part in to say let’s move under this particular ordinance…statute….State statute, thank you John. The problem, really, that I have with your tenure is managerial. I don’t think you’re a good manager and that’s the problem that I have. I think you spend way too much time on the Mayor’s legal business, for instance, with regard to Mr. Wilpert, to the extent that the Mayor wanted to find out exactly what the issue was with regard to whether Mr. Wilpert had tenure, how is it…how is Mr. Wilpert to move forward with this particular issue. The Mayor should have gone to Mr. Dorsey’s office rather than to you and for you to spend your time on that as opposed to spending the time on some legal issue and, ultimately, we have to spend a lot of time on that issue. That’s one instance. The salary ordinance, it boggled my mind when you told me that you didn’t want to have to bring an action against Council. You’re not the township attorney, I understand that you have a close relationship…working relationship with the Mayor and you need to be able to put into place the goals and the objectives that the Mayor has, but not at the expense of Council. You represent the township, I thought the individual, when you got up and spoke, I thought it was great, I thought it was great, and, you know what, the fact that this comes up at the time that Mr. Wilpert’s issue was discussed, I would have to say that that has some impact on it and, Ms.
Uhrmann, the fact that we got together in June to discuss removing Mr. Ruggierio, is hogwash. You know what, it may have been discussed among individuals, I won’t disagree with that, because we were all having problems at the time, but to think that we all got together in this grand conspiracy out there, never happened, never will. That’s not what this is all about, and I’m sure Steve will impart some information about the issues that he had from the managerial perspective, as Council President, with the Administration missing deadlines, missing meetings, and the like. So, I’ve had problems with your managerial experience. The things that you’ve done from the manager’s perspective, we get capital ordinance projects before us which don’t have detail, we’re Mr. Greenbaum (cont’d): asked to vote on things, it goes back six times, I blame that on you. You may blame that on me, but I sit up here as an elected official, so I make that decision, that’s where person….and to speak of the Frank Wilpert situation, I think that was handled terribly. I understand that you have the obligation to take care of whatever the Mayor directs you to do, and that was not your decision, necessarily, to not reappoint….in fact, it’s not your decision to reappoint or not reappoint, so….
Mr. Ruggierio: No, I concur with it.
Mr. Greenbaum: So, you went to Frank and it was….I just thought it was handled terribly, terribly, from a managerial perspective, terribly. I understood that you had to impart the information to him, I just didn’t like the way it was done, and, you know, I can’t do anything about the Mayor, and I don’t know how the Mayor directed you to deal with this situation, but you, as a professional, should have dealt with it in a more professional manner, I think, from what I’ve heard, obviously I have limited information
Mr. Ruggierio: Yes, from what you’ve heard, I think that’s part of the problem is that people hear a lot of things and they don’t really know what the facts are.
Mr. Greenbaum: But I know what the facts are that I see, I know what the facts are that I see and it’s from that managerial perspective, that I don’t….I come into the building, you’re not here, I’m at the 911 Memorial, you’re not here, I was here today to review a file, you’re not here, I mean I hear that you’re never here, I don’t know whether or not that’s true, but I’m in the building, you’re not here. Now, I’ve heard that you keep unusual hours, which may be the case, and I’m not saying that you don’t work hard at this job, but from a managerial perspective, how can you manage during the working day, if you’re not here, that’s when the employees are here.
Mr. Ruggierio: No, I don’t accept the premise and I, you know…
Mr. Greenbaum: You may not accept the premise, but that’s what I have heard.
Mr. Ruggierio: I don’t, I don’t. Right.
Mr. Greenbaum: So really, you know, that’s where I’m coming from at this point, and yes, one can connect it to the whole Frank Wilpert situation, it’s not retaliation, but that was the straw that formalized, in my mind, that it was time to make a change in the township.
Mr. Ruggierio: Right, and so the town will be better off now that the Mayor will be without a Business Administrator, and…
Mr. Greenbaum: The Mayor has, the Mayor has….
Mr. Ruggierio: And we’ll have like really a good opportunity to have people apply for Business Administrator under the circumstances that you have conducted yourself?
Mr. Greenbaum: I understand your point.
Mr. Ruggierio: I know you would, I mean, you know, your obligation, and I’m no one to lecture you, but your obligation collectively is to do what’s best for Mount Olive, and, frankly, putting the Mayor in this position I know that it fulfills certain person’s objectives, or stated objectives, but it is a bad thing for Mount Olive and I don’t…and just for the record, I don’t accept the…and, you know, again, I haven’t had time to go all through this resolution, we got it at 4:15 and it was read to me over the telephone while I was trying to prepare for tonight’s meeting, that’s why you didn’t see me in the Municipal Building. I realized that I had to do some preparation for this, but the idea that I’m not here and I’m not here long hours and that I have bad managerial skills, I don’t have to satisfy Mr. Rattner’s view of how things are to be managed. I understand that he has strong views about things and I understand that may be faced some day with a managerial job, he may well be tested in that area, but the bottom line is I have to satisfy the Mayor and I feel, just based on years of experience in municipal government, that you, the Council, and I, you know, I want to exclude those of you that deserve to be excluded, I just don’t know who you are, you the Council have an obligation to refrain from the kind of conduct that you’re engaged in right now, if it disrupts our ability to put together the kind of team work that we’re looking at. I know you don’t like what happened with respect to Mr. Wilpert, and if the decision is sustained, come Wednesday, you won’t like it even more, but, you know, part of, I think, will bring peace…peace to this form of government are two things: One is an acceptance of the other branch of government’s power. When I talked to the Mayor about the fact that he should maybe bring some legal action Mr. Ruggierio(cont’d): in connection with the salary ordinance, let me tell you exactly what went through my mind on that. The first was, if I asked John Dorsey to answer this question, am I likely to get a legal answer, or am I likely to get a political answer. Is somebody going to give me the what, or the who, and I decided that it’s probably that I’m going to get the who, but do I have a choice but to ask John Dorsey for this opinion? I don’t have a choice because he is the lawyer, I have to ask him for this opinion. So, I ask him for the opinion and I get a written opinion and, if you were here last time, you know that that opinion…Mr. Dorsey you remember what he kept saying, but I agree with, I’ve agreed with you, I’ve agreed with you, I’ve agreed with you, okay, and I said well, you’re agreeing with me, but it sounds to me like you’re like sort of, you know, walking in the other direction as you try to satisfy Mr. Rattner, who is a very strong person, and God it pains me to say this, Steve, but you’re very bright, and, you know, you’re very articulate, and I’m sure that you’re, you know…..it does, it pains me to say that….
Mr. Greenbaum: I don’t get a bright and articulate also?
Mr. Ruggierio: You are bright and articulate, Rob, and you have always treated….you always have treated me as a professional, and I appreciate that, but let’s not deny this, I mean, Mr. Rattner was pushing Mr. Dorsey, and
unfortunately, Mr. Dorsey was not speaking with great clarity and that’s what a lawyer is supposed to do, and that’s the second problem of what I want to say, that in addition to accepting the role of the Mayor, in this form of government, and the Mayor accepting your role. For example, do you remember, before I got here, there was this whole debate about who appoints the auditor, well I think the Mayor, if I can say this…I may be getting myself in trouble, you know, I think the Mayor will tell you that I’m the first one that said to him Mayor, I don’t think you have the right to appoint the auditor, and that’s kind of the way it went out and, you know what, the Mayor and I have had some pretty heated discussions where I’ve had the same kinds of confrontations with him about getting it right legally, because you know what, if you get good legal advice from your attorney, and this is why I urged you to sort of work out your differences about the township attorney, if you get good legal advice then this issue about what the Mayor’s power is and what the Council’s power is, it will all be worked out. Now, with respect to that salary issue that you raised, I did say to the Mayor, you know, look, I went to Dorsey, I asked him for an opinion, he gave me an opinion, he agreed with me, I brought the agreement to the meeting, and then, when we got to the meeting, Mr. Dorsey, who is being pushed by Mr. Rattner, got weak in the knees...
Mr. Dorsey: You know, that’s not true.
Mr. Ruggierio: I’m speaking now….got weak in the knees and started to give conflicting advice, and then, Mr. Rattner, you can’t possibly deny this, because everybody that I’ve spoken to at Local Government Services will tell me it’s true, but you pushed the auditor to go down and speak to Local Government Services about trying to get an opinion that will sort of bolster your point of view about….
President Rattner: No, that is absolutely not true. What I told them to do is make sure you dot your I’s and cross your T’s…I wanted…if that’s what it is…
Mr. Ruggierio: You pushed him to get an opinion.
President Rattner: You go to….I said go to DCA, because I wasn’t just taking his, find out from DCA whether there…..
Mr. Ruggierio: I went to the Director of Local Government Services. Local Government Services does not give legal advice, okay. They do not give legal advice to auditors and they do not give legal advice to township Councils, but you see, the point that’s to be made here is that it’s you that was pushing the envelope on this in order to get your point of view across. You’re smart, you’re articulate, you’re a pushy guy, but the bottom line on this, Mr. Rattner, is that you were trying to promote this contentious relationship as opposed to resolving it. Now, Mr. Dorsey came in our office and he sat down and we had a discussion, and he said to me, look, maybe we don’t have a….maybe we don’t have a dispute, maybe when the ordinance is adopted…presented to the Township Council, if it says what the Mayor says should be the salaries for the people over which he has control, maybe what will happen is that the Council will adopt it and it just won’t be controversial and I’m willing to accept that, like why should we make a controversy where one doesn’t exist, but the problem is that I had to be ready and advise the Mayor to be ready for giving advice that was not proper, because the Mayor deserves to have the power that he has, and the Council deserves to have the power that it has. Believe me, it’s not hard to negotiate that if we all act in good faith toward one another and see to the other that you have the right to appoint the auditor, you should cooperate and appoint the township attorney. Listen, I don’t know, I haven’t gotten a lawyer’s diary lately, but there’s got to be 10,000 lawyers in New Jersey and, with all due respect to Mr. Dorsey, there’s got to be one, there’s got to be one that you all can agree upon who will serve both your interests, who will tell you the truth, who won’t look at things through a political prism, and part of Mr. Ruggierio(cont’d): what’s going on right now is that Mr. Dorsey knows that we’re investigating his $4,900 in over-charges, he knows that and he also engaged in a conflict of interest before the Board of Health and he knows that, because Mr. King gave advice to the Board of Health, which is exactly opposite than what is true, and you get annoyed at me for being a diligent Business Administrator, I collected every bit of the information, the oaths of office, the salary ordinances, the rest of them, I looked at it, and what Mr. King told the Board of Health in January is just not true and I don’t know what he’s telling them lately, because they went into Executive Session.
President Rattner: Mr. Buell, do have anything that you want to say?
Mr. Buell: I have lots of things, but I don’t need to say them.
President Rattner: Okay, just so you know, if you go back and talk to the auditor, the first time he called DCA, and he does it almost every single time I have a question, the recreation utility…..
Mr. Ruggierio: He did it on his own?
President Rattner: The first time he didn’t do it on my….the second time when he called, I asked him and I asked him to call down there and if they gave you that…when he did the recreation, he calls DCA, when I’ve asked him budget questions, he says he calls DCA for the Financial Services. The second time, I said well then get it in writing because I wanted to make sure I have all the I’s dotted, all the T’s crossed. The way I work, is I want to make sure that the answer is absolute and everybody’s in agreement before I bring it out.
Mr. Ruggierio: You wanted the answer to come out the way you wanted it.
President Rattner: No, I didn’t ask him…
Mr. Ruggierio: Yes you did.
President Rattner: I didn’t ask him the first time, he gave me the advice….
Mr. Ruggierio: Everybody knows this, Mr. Rattner.
President Rattner: He said the question….well, you can say everybody knows it, just like you said why … you don’t know why the CFO’s appointment wasn’t up tonight…you know exactly why it was. A couple Council members, last Tuesday, said we want to see the appraisal, we’ll get it by the end of the week and we’ll get it on. We didn’t get it, you got it in the last day or so….
Mr. Ruggierio: You could have told me that at the last meeting, I would have given you the evaluation…..
President Rattner: It was at the last meeting….
Mr. Ruggierio: It was not stated. Go look at the minutes, it’s not stated, that is absolutely not true. It’s absolutely not true, and in order to accomplish that….
President Rattner: Mr. Buell.
Mr. Buell: It was stated…it was asked for, I think, three meetings ago, or two meetings ago.
Ms. Labow: And last meeting.
Mr. Buell: And last meeting also.
President Rattner: And last meeting, because you and then Mr. Guenther said he would also like to see it.
Mr. Ruggierio: You did not condition the idea of voting for Sherry Jenkins on that.
President Rattner: Well, we said exactly what it is. Do you think it’s any better…I’d like….you give us last week….
Mr. Ruggierio: Was it three meetings ago when I was in Italy?
Ms. Labow: No, last week.
Mr. Ruggierio: Okay, so it was last week.
Ms. Labow: Both weeks.
President Rattner: It was last week, and there are no minutes because that was a Workshop and we have…it’s just a tape, if you go back to the tape, it’s on the tape.
Mr. Ruggierio: It was not said last week, it was not.
Ms. Labow: Yes it was, yes it was.
President Rattner: Just like Suburban Consulting, I’m withdrawing it. No, I said make sure to put it on, get the contract to us by the end of the week, I even called Suburban making sure that we have it right, so that when it comes I was sure, because I said that I would work on the Council, because I was concerned that you needed the tools to sell the Public Works Building.
Mr. Ruggierio: Yes, but there wasn’t support for that.
President Rattner: And that’s what it was. You didn’t give us….
Mr. Ruggierio: You just wanted the…
President Rattner: You didn’t give us the contract and then all of a sudden we get a letter saying you decided to withdraw it, it’s because we didn’t get it on Friday.
Mr. Ruggierio: Because there wasn’t support for that and all you’re going to do is use it….you were going to use it to basically beat up the Mayor again.
President Rattner: It was three, three. I did not, I said I agreed with the Mayor.
Mr. Ruggierio: No you did not, you were going to, so….
President Rattner: Well, now you’re making assumptions.
Mr. Ruggierio: Yes it is an assumption.
President Rattner: You just have an opinion so you don’t want to work, because you think you know what’s in my mind.
Mr. Ruggierio: It’s not hard to see.
President Rattner: And this Turkey Brook improvement plan, that you had to make sure to speak loudly into your cell phone when you called Gene Buczynski right there, so anybody who was around can hear it. We have enough problems with Turkey Brook, you know that for the last couple of years I fought it and voted down a number of appropriations. I come in tonight and we get a half a million…almost a half a million dollars and we’re told, can’t you just put it on, I got Gene Buczynski coming…three pages that….I don’t know if this is exactly what we agreed to, there’s a problem that there isn’t enough money, we may have to take one of the options off….
Mr. Ruggierio: Your Turkey Brook Development Committee asked that we expedite this and put it on because the winter is coming and I said I would.
President Rattner: Well, why didn’t we get it before right now? And we’re supposed to vote on a half a million dollars with all the problems we’ve had with Turkey Brook and then you’re there…and you have to sit there, well no, the Council doesn’t want to put it on. This is what we’re talking about, if we got this on Friday and had it over the weekend, there probably wouldn’t have been a problem, any questions would have been resolved on Monday, we agreed…I agreed right off the bat with the Mayor when he said he wanted to handle certain safety items and certain things that had to be done, maybe one or two things we may have had a concern about…..the money….but you don’t….
Mr. Ruggierio: Well, you might have been cooperative…put it on to ask questions about it, but you said no.
President Rattner: You give a half a million dollar thing and say just vote, don’t really look at it, we won’t have time, just vote on it …
Mr. Ruggierio: I’ll be happy to justify that.
President Rattner: Then you sit over there and you make sure… that’s not cooperation, that’s because you’re trying to position, well Rattner said it’s not going on, because he has an alternative motive to go after the Mayor. Well, I’m not going to vote on a half a million dollars on a project that I had concerns about as it goes….not from you, but from going past. You don’t give something like this and then try pressure and say do it right away, because we need it. There’s no excuse…if this came to you last Thursday we could have gotten it over the weekend.
Mr. Ruggierio: The bids were open Tuesday, Mr. Rattner, Tuesday, they were open Tuesday.
President Rattner: What’s open Tuesday?
Mr. Ruggierio: The bids for that. We couldn’t have done it any sooner, we didn’t….we wouldn’t know what the bids were.
President Rattner: How come it’s….
Mr. Ruggierio: So Council might say, you know, look, we think we’re being pushed to do this too quickly, and I could understand that, but you refused to even discuss it tonight.
President Rattner: Because there isn’t enough information here, I don’t have my stuff to go back and see if this is what we agreed to.
Mr. Ruggierio: We can have a conversation about things.
President Rattner: You received this on the 9th, it wasn’t opened, it was on the Tuesday, you could have gotten this to us, say we want to go with it. All you did was put a cover letter on top of Gene Buczynski’s letter, that’s exactly what the problem is. We have deadlines, you very rarely meet it, we want time, most of us work, we have full time jobs, we want to do the analysis, we get it by Friday, I don’t think that’s unreasonable, we have time to look at it over the weekend, if we have any last minute questions, we can ask you, but getting something right before a meeting, and while we’re discussing something else, let’s look at it, or you’re saying that a five minute discussion for a half a million dollars, let’s just go ahead, because the Committee is pushing you, then the Committee should have pushed you earlier.
Mr. Ruggierio: Well, as I told you, Mr. Buczynski was going to come in, we had our Finance Director here and he was going to explain it to you. You said no, you weren’t going to consider it, so I called Mr. Buczynski and said don’t come, they won’t consider it. I think it’s very simple.
President Rattner: That’s right, because we don’t get rushed into something that’s this important, we make too many mistakes by putting…forced into it, that’s not the way we operate, we told you that’s not the way we operate, we put in the deadlines for a reason, so we have time for analysis. If you really look at what our responsibilities are, we’re supposed to evaluate what you give us, not make snap judgments. If you want us to give a snap judgment, then you definitely don’t understand the way we operate, and maybe that’s one of the problems. Does anybody have anything else to say?
Mayor De La Roche: I have a question.
President Rattner: Let the Mayor…the Mayor has a comment, he’s been quiet.
Mayor De La Roche: Well, this evening has been very interesting, I’m sure, for the public to hear this, right, but what I want to say to you is a number of times I’ve heard well why did he wait so long to make his choices, right. I looked at it from an employee viewpoint. I said, if I was in their situation, would I rather be unemployed or a holdover, I’m seeing…and I personally thought I’d rather be a holdover, because I have an income, I have medical benefits, I have all these things going for me, right, and don’t….I can’t be the only one, because Mr. Dorsey, who’s financially quite secure I’m sure, he prefers to be a holdover than cut loose and I Mayor De La Roche(cont’d): think I owe that same thing to every employee here. I didn’t say well, let me go in and scorch the earth, right. I said let me be compassionate, let me take time to evaluate every human being, because that’s what human beings are supposed to have done for them, right. I didn’t…Mr. Ruggierio is a Republican, I could care less, right, he was the best qualified man for the job and I chose him, right. I have no problem with these things. I made a decision, I may be wrong, maybe I’m being too humane, is that my criticism, that I’ve been too humane to employees, would they rather be out looking for work now, or would they rather be a holdover and being evaluated, and I think that I’ve done…what I consider to be honorable, I don’t know why I’m criticized constantly because I did what I would like to have done to me, treat others as you would like to be treated, and that’s the philosophy I followed, right. I didn’t come in and say, the first day, get out, as many administrations do, I showed compassion to people and if you think that’s wrong, I’m sorry then, that’s my policy and I can’t help it if that’s the way I am and I do not apologize for it. I’ve given everybody a fair evaluation and I think that that’s the way it should be done. I could have come in here as I’ve said before, just do it, that’s what they do in most administrations, and now I’m apologizing for the fact that I was humane, I mean, this is ridiculous, in my opinion. So, I don’t intend to apologize for it, I’ve done what I feel is ethical and appropriate and I will not apologize for giving people human consideration over political consideration, so…so be it.
President Rattner: Thank you, Mayor. Go ahead, Mr. Dorsey.
Mr. Dorsey: Sometimes, Mr. Ruggierio, you give me more credit than I deserve. First place, I want to make it absolutely clear, that since the Mayor became Mayor and you became the Business Administrator, I have done everything I could to cooperate with you. There has never been a request from my office for a resolution or opinion from either…primarily from you, your office, or the Mayor, that I have not responded to, and I have not at any time, in any way, disrespected you or the Mayor. Secondly, if you have any thought that I had…that I requested from the Council this resolution tonight, you are absolutely wrong. It was requested of me by the consensus, at least two very specific Council people, and the specificity in it is not mine and I have to say I had an experience where I worked with a business administrator who was appointed by a mayor who, for eight years probably would have rather that I was not here, and we worked very well. There was not this give and take that apparently there is and always kind of generated by you than by myself. And secondly, when we came to the issue of the salary ordinance, I never changed my position. My position was, and I agreed with your legal analysis that you sent to me, that the Mayor had the right to set the salaries for the supervisors. I was simply trying to mold that fact, the Mayor’s right to do that, into the other requirement that this township have a salary ordinance that included all the employees and the Council people, etc. I thought we worked that out, and it was not….and I never changed my position, you changed the question from time to time. We have represented the Board of Health for twenty years, we have done that on a nominal fee. The Board of Health asked for a series of resolutions dealing with things that I believe are clearly within their purview, such as the appointment of the Health Officer, well of course they’re going to get that resolution, the same as you had asked me for a resolution on some other item, and, as far as this investigation of my fee on developer’s agreements, I don’t know about this. This is the first time that I’ve heard you say that you are investigating my fees in connection with….
Mr. Ruggierio: You wrote to me about it.
Mr. Dorsey: Excuse me, could I finish?
Mr. Ruggierio: Yes.
Mr. Dorsey: I didn’t interrupt you.
Mr. Ruggierio: Yes, you wrote…yes, that’s true.
Mr. Dorsey: In the first place, everybody should understand that the fees from the developers, for the developer’s agreement, are not paid by the taxpayers of Mount Olive, they are paid from funds that are required by the Planning Board, under the applicable ordinances to escrow funds to pay for my services in connection with developer’s agreements, the engineer, etc. etc., and for twenty years before you got here, I have been drawing those developer’s agreements, I have billing in accordance with my system, all of those bills are sent to the Planning Board and, in turn, are sent to the developers who have the right to object to the amounts, and I have never…I can never recall an instance where anybody objected to any amount I charged. The beginning of this year, or the beginning when you came here, you asked what my system was, and I said for developer’s agreements it was a fee that ranged between zero, for such things as churches that got site plan approval for charitable organizations, or individuals that had very minor developmental approvals, to people like Toll Brothers, which were at the upper end of the spectrum at $1,000. At one point you said to me you wanted to put a cap on it at $750, and I said fine, and from there…
Mr. Ruggierio: Your contract does that.
Mr. Dorsey: Excuse me.
Mr. Ruggierio: Your contract caps it at $750.
Mr. Dorsey: And from then on, there was not a charge above $750, but let’s make it clear, the Toll Brothers agreements, which were charged $1,000, are so totally off the spectrum in terms of work that is required to protect the township’s interest, you can’t compare that with the other ones, but whatever those fees are, they have never been objected to by the developers who pay them, and they are not from monies from this town…from the taxpayers of this township and I….you know, I really feel sorry tonight, you blame me because I have not spear headed whatever the result is here tonight.
President Rattner: Okay, Roll Call.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously
President Rattner: Okay, next we have Raffle Applications, Mr. Guenther.
1. Approval of Raffle Application #2048 and Bingo Application #2049 for the Budd Lake Volunteer Fire Dept. and Raffle Application #2050 for Noah’s Ark Animal Welfare Association, Inc.
Mr. Guenther: I hereby move the approval of Raffle Applications #2048, 2049 and 2050.
Mr. Greenbaum: Second.
President Rattner: Thank you, any discussion? Roll Call.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously
2. Approval of a Renewal of a Peddler’s Permit for Edgar Garcia.
Ms. Labow: I hereby move the approval of Renewal of a Peddler’s Permit for Edgar Garcia.
Mr. Guenther: Second.
President Rattner: Any discussion? Roll Call.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously
3. Bill List
President Rattner: Okay, we come to the Bill List, Mr. Greenbaum would you move it?
Mr. Greenbaum: Have all the questions been answered, or do I move it first?
President Rattner: Well, we’ll open it up to the public, because we usually have some questions.
Mr. Greenbaum: Okay, I move the Bill List in its entirety.
Mr. Buell: Second.
President Rattner: Anybody from the public have any questions on the Bill List? Seeing none, I’ll close that
public portion. Roll Call.
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously
President Rattner: Okay, Administrative Matters.
Mayor De La Roche: I would like to invite Mr. Dorsey to come down to this end of the table once in a while, since he represents both of us, or that we might change the seating arrangements, where I sit along side of him and the Council President on the other side, so then maybe I might be available to get legal advice from Mr. Dorsey. You put up that image of being so aloof from the Administration, I think we ought to take a look at this, but, you know, so be it.
President Rattner: The reason why the….we can do that. We used to get complaints and Mr. Dorsey would move around to the other side. The last Administration we got comments from the audience that that was distracting and he shouldn’t do it, but this is a Council meeting and the reason why the Attorney sits next to the Council President and the Vice President, is because on procedure of the meeting, you know, that is we don’t do something right, you have to do it over again, or you could get yourself in trouble on other things. The job of the Attorney at a Council meeting is to advise the running of the meeting, however, as I said, last year and the year before, especially when it was election season, he was chastised for going down and then sitting down at the other end of the table. So, it looks like you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.
Mayor De La Roche: No, I think if you’re telling me that you can’t rearrange seats, I can’t believe that, I mean, they could do that on the Titanic, you put me in the middle, you one side, me on the other, and Mr. Dorsey in the middle. That would seem to be appropriate, I don’t see the need….since the Vice President doesn’t have anything to do with the procedures that go on during the course of the Council meeting.
President Rattner: Well, I’ll take that into consideration.
Mayor De La Roche: But, maybe you ought to take a look at it.
Mr. Greenbaum: I certainly have no problem with that.
Mayor De La Roche: I appreciate that.
President Rattner: Okay, anything else?
President Rattner: Any old business?
Ms. Labow: I have quasi old business, I’m not sure if we can act on this this evening. I asked Mr. Dorsey if he could make an emergency resolution for the situation at Turkey Brook Park. I understand that it was quite dangerous this weekend. Is there any way we can get up signs for no parking?
President Rattner: Why don’t you explain what the situation was, Ms. Labow.
Ms. Labow: The situation was that people were parking everywhere and at one point the passage to get through the loop road with an emergency vehicle, was…I was told was impossible and since we know, we still have not received our park ordinance from Mr. Ruggierio, even though we had given our suggestions two months ago and last week he was working on it during the Council meeting. We have the sports groups have started, we have other things going on, and I think it’s imperative that we have our no parking signs up.
President Rattner: Do you have a copy of the resolution that you want to introduce, or do I have both original copies?
Ms. Labow: I didn’t get them, I think Michelle gave it to you.
Mrs. Masser: They’re the originals.
Resident From the Audience: Gentlemen, can I comment? Does someone have the code book? Can they open to chapter….
Mrs. Masser: Please step up to the mike.
President Rattner: This is not….
Resident From the Audience: Inaudible.
President Rattner: Well then why isn’t the Administration administering it?
President Rattner: Okay…..it’s….you’re out of order. It’s a comment from Ms. Labow, we haven’t introduced anything yet. Ms. Labow, here it is and explain what the situation was.
Mr. Dorsey: Do you want me to read it?
Ms. Labow: Yes, please.
Mr. Dorsey: Emergency Resolution of the Township Council. Be it resolved by the Township Council, Township of Mount Olive. The Mount Olive Police Department is requested to enforce the restriction. Dealing with parking at Turkey Brook Park, specifically, no vehicle shall be parked within any place in the park except in the areas designated for parking. I got that from the Chief.
President Rattner: Now, why did the Chief have to go there? If we already have an ordinance, how come we’re not enforcing it, or do we need an ordinance? That is an Administrative question. If there was a safety issue of parking, can we address it without the ordinance?
Mr. Ruggiero: Parking regulations can’t be enforced without an ordinance.
President Rattner: Well, do we have an ordinance? If we have parking, we just heard from someone in the audience, we have parking regulations, why aren’t we enforcing them then?
Mr. Ruggierio: I think you’re assuming something. I think that the problem with Turkey Brook is that you want specific parking regulations, specific…..the Chief looks like he’s prepared to respond to this.
Mr. Dorsey: What Ms. Labow mentioned today was that people were out of it, this is true, if people were parking all over the….making it very difficult for an ambulance, if needed to get through, where people were parking, and then I spoke to the Chief. The Chief says there already are signs in Turkey Brook that says parking restricted to designated areas, or something to that effect, am I wrong, Chief?
Chief Katona: What there are, there are parking areas that are designated, lot one and lot two. The ordinance such as this, which is recommended by our Traffic Safety Bureau, would prohibit parking except in areas which are designated.
Ms. Labow: So, then they can be enforced, like right now….
Chief Katona: So then we could be enforcing it. Perhaps…
Ms. Labow: You can’t enforce it now, Ed?
Chief Katona: Perhaps we post some emergency signs, no parking on this side for this weekend, until we go ahead and check on the existing ordinance and….
President Rattner: Did we pass Title 39 Regulations for Turkey Brook?
Chief Katona: I don’t believe we did specifically.
Ms. Labow: Yes, that’s what I heard, that’s what I thought the problem was.
President Rattner: Again, because I was going to say that, if it’s just unsafe parking, but then in an emergency, if we pass a resolution, we can put up emergency signs, right, from your understanding?
Chief Katona: Yes.
President Rattner: And from your understanding. Then what is it that you have a problem with, Mr. Ruggierio?
Mr. Ruggierio: I didn’t say I had any problem, you were going to declare an emergency….
Mr. Guenther: So we need an ordinance.
President Rattner: No, if it’s an emergency, we can do it by a resolution.
Mr. Dorsey: I think you have an emergency if an ambulance can’t get through.
Ms. Labow: Well yes, and you have all those sporting teams up there….
Mr. Dorsey: That’s true.
President Rattner: So then we can do it by this and if that’s what the police need, so they can at least move the cars, they’re not going to go there with a ticket blitz. What we want to do, is just be able to tell the people to move, otherwise you will get ticketed.
Chief Katona: Correct. I don’t think we need to declare an emergency, we can simply put up the signs as informational, and I’m sure most people will comply with the no parking signs that are there, until we perfect the actual ordinance.
Ms. Labow: Well, nobody’s saying we’re declaring an emergency, just an emergency resolution, so we can have the signs up this weekend, so we don’t run into the same problem as last weekend, so it can be enforced.
Chief Katona: I don’t believe that’s what we’re discussing. We’re making a resolution declaring an emergency to post the emergency no parking?
Ms. Labow: No, that’s what Bill said, he wanted to declare it an emergency.
President Rattner: Here’s the thing, where did you get the words from, you said you got the words from the Chief?
Chief Katona: We spoke on the phone.
Mr. Dorsey: I thought you told me this afternoon, there already are signs in Turkey Brook that say where people are to park.
Chief Katona: That’s correct.
Mr. Dorsey: And, by inference, telling them where they’re not to park.
Ms. Labow: No.
Chief Katona: Correct. Well, there’s no affirmative saying do not park here….
Ms. Labow: Right, that’s what we need.
Mr. Dorsey: Well, should you put signs up for that, are you prepared to enforce that people only park where it’s designated they can park, right now?
Chief Katona: Well, that’s what…it’s not signs, what will be put up would be the yellow paint that says no parking on the grounds, we’re not going to post a sign every twenty feet that says no….
Mr. Dorsey: No, I understand, but are the yellow lines down?
Chief Katona: No they’re not.
Mr. Dorsey: Do you need any more authorization than you already have to enforce no parking at Turkey Brook so people do not park any place except in the designated areas?
Chief Katona: I believe we do. I’m not familiar with the regulation that was…someone from the audience had told us.
President Rattner: I guess the question comes up….last weekend we had what I consider a dangerous situation. Can it be addressed? We’re not going to go another weekend with a dangerous situation, we’re not President Rattner(cont’d): going to tell people don’t go to Turkey Brook, what is it that we need? I don’t think it’s that hard a question, and either you’re going to go up there and you can enforce it, you feel that you can, if not, what is it that we need right now? Can you enforce it right now?
Chief Katona: Can I enforce it?
President Rattner: Can you enforce no parking on, you know, let’s say the access road? So, vehicles can go through.
Chief Katona: I don’t know.
President Rattner: What is it that we need if we’re talking about an emergency, can we have emergency no parking until we can get something in, because it is an emergency. If we have that many people up there and an emergency vehicle can’t go in, it’s an emergency situation, right?
Chief Katona: That’s correct. If you pass it as an emergency, we will post signs and enforce it.
Mr. Dorsey: How about an emergency resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Re: Parking at Turkey Brook, and then it says no one parks except where it’s designated for parking. That will make you happy?
Chief Katona: That will make me happy.
President Rattner: That’s all we started and we had to argue about something that seemed to be very, very simple. If we weren’t going at each others throat all the time, somebody would have listened, so that’s all that Colleen had asked for.
Mr. Guenther: I hereby move an emergency resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Re: Parking at Turkey Brook Park.
Ms. Labow: Second.
President Rattner: Anybody from the public want to address this resolution?
Paul Stefiniw, Budd Lake: Gentlemen, I’m just asking, did anyone look in the code book under Chapter 176, the Parks. There is a subsection there, it’s specifically dealing with Turkey Brook, and there is a section underneath that, that discusses parking. I mean, we have codes on the books already.
President Rattner: Well, you just heard that the Chief said he can’t enforce it unless we do this.
Mr. Stefiniw: I think the Chief says he doesn’t know if he can enforce it, I don’t want to put words in his mouth, though.
Mr. Dorsey: He said he could enforce it if they adopt a resolution.
Mr. Stefiniw: So then my other question would be, then, I guess to the Chief, or then also the Council, is why don’t we enforce the no parking down in Flanders Park? My son plays basketball down there and I go down there constantly and there’s a sign down there that says no vehicles beyond this point, but yet there’s about fifteen rows of vehicles parked on the grass.
President Rattner: Well, don’t ask the Council, ask the Administration, they’re the ones who administer it.
Mr. Stefiniw: Well, I guess I have to ask the Administration and also Chief Katona, because we have an ordinance that’s indicated, we have a sign that’s there, but it’s not enforced.
President Rattner: Well, why don’t you ask them what they’re going to do about it? We can’t do anything about it, the Administration has to do it.
Mr. Stefiniw: Well, you’re taking the time to, I guess, to pass emergency resolutions, when we have an ordinance on the books. I have a problem with that, that’s all.
President Rattner: Well, then….
Mr. Stefiniw: It’s just redundant work, gentlemen, it’s just redundant work. That’s okay.
President Rattner: Well, then tell the Administration to do something. The Chief is part of the Administration and he said that with the resolution, he could do something. That’s what we’re trying to do.
Mr. Stefiniw: That’s fine. Thank you for your time.
Mr. Dorsey: Can we vote on this?
Mrs. Masser: He’s just checking the code.
President Rattner: Well, this says….vehicles prohibited exception. All motorized vehicles, of any nature, are hereby prohibited from Turkey Brook Park except motorized vehicles which are generally permitted in 176:11 of this article. Licensed motor vehicles permitted in certain areas, licensed motor vehicles are permitted to be operated in Turkey Brook only on roads and parking areas specifically designated for such use. Signage, the Administrator shall post appropriate signage noting the barring of motorized vehicles from Turkey Brook Park and designating the roads and parking areas specifically designated pursuant to 176:11 of this article, which I just read, which doesn’t say exactly where you can go, and that’s why they have a problem, and in Violations, where is it that it says where parking is allowed or not?
Resident From the Audience: Inaudible.
President Rattner: I just read….and he’s saying there’s no signs, so we have to so something to get the signs up and the signs won’t…..
President Rattner: And are you arguing with us and why isn’t the Administrator putting it up so the Police Chief can enforce it this weekend?
President Rattner: We’re not asking for a new ordinance, we’re passing a resolution, which you’re saying we have…this is our intent and we would like this action. We pass resolutions on a lot of different things which have nothing to do with what’s in the book or not in the book, as to reinforce it, we want it enforced, it wasn’t last week. The way that we get our point across is through a resolution. That’s what a resolution is and I don’t see what the problem is. The Chief said that he could use it and it would help him in enforcing it, I want to give him the tool, I don’t see any issue.
Mr. Greenbaum: You know what, it’s too late at night to be arguing about this stuff. I agree with you, that there’s an ordinance already on the books which would allow the Chief to do….I remember when it was adopted, it was before the park was even built and it was related to ATV’s, but as written, I agree with you. Steve, I agree with you in terms of the resolution, that simply us passing a resolution doesn’t change the ordinance, and perhaps the dispute relates to what the actual ordinance, which is currently being worked on, is going to deal with in terms of whether or not that would be duplicative. So, let’s vote on the resolution to have the Chief enforce the ordinance, which is currently on the books.
Mr. Bonte: You know, you wonder why citizens have disrespect of government. Well, tonight is the perfect example of what went on here the whole night and this is like the cherry on top of the sundae. You’ve got an ordinance that specifies parking at this park, this has been going on for years. All of a sudden, it’s an emergency. Don’t you think the public gets annoyed when they see emergency, this is no emergency, Steve. Maybe you need to get the signs up, if the Chief or the Administration can put up emergency signs between now and Saturday, why can’t they put up signs that state what the ordinance is and where parking is and is not allowed. This resolution makes no sense, the law is there, the vehicle is there to put the signs up, you don’t need an emergency resolution to put up signs that says there’s an emergency. There’s no emergency, you just need to put the signs up.
President Rattner: Well, why haven’t they put up the signs?
Mr. Bonte: I don’t know, but if you can get emergency signs before Friday, you can get signs that reference the Mr. Bonte(cont’d): ordinance that’s already on the books, that’s my point.
Mr. Greenbaum: I vote for Mr. Bonte’s position.
Ms. Labow: Yes, me too.
Mr. Buell: I do too.
Mr. Greenbaum: Put up the signs.
President Rattner: Please put up the signs. Any other old business? We’ve had the motion and seconded, if people want to withdraw their motion and second?
Mr. Guenther: I withdraw the motion…the motion to pass the resolution regarding parking at Turkey Brook Park.
Ms. Labow: I withdraw my second. Are we still going to get…is the parking going to get…
President Rattner: They say it’s going to happen.
Mr. Guenther: Well, wait a minute, let me ask you a question here. Mr. Ruggierio, do you feel you have the power to do it? Do you agree that the ordinance…..
Mr. Ruggierio: Well, it sounds to me, from what’s read, that we have the authority, but I would need to look at it, I mean, I don’t want to give an opinion based on something I heard read to me.
President Rattner: Well, now the Administrator is saying he doesn’t know whether you’re right. That’s why we have the issue.
Mr. Ruggierio: Well, now, you see, you want to have a kinder, gentler relationship and you start with that silliness.
President Rattner: You just heard it, it’s one paragraph. You can’t say from that, everybody else, a person from the audience said that he can read it, Mr. Bonte said he can read it and said he has everything, and I saw now the Police Chief concurring…..
Mr. Ruggierio: Can you read it again?
President Rattner: The Administrator shall post appropriate signage noting the barring of motor vehicles from Turkey Brook Park and designating the roads and parking areas specifically designated for use of licensed vehicles pursuant to 176:11 of this article. 176:11 states licensed motor vehicles are permitted to be operated in Turkey Brook only on roads and parking areas specifically designated for such use.
Mr. Dorsey: The ordinance is clear.
Chief Katona: It doesn’t prohibit parking anywhere. It says you can use the vehicles on the roadways and parking areas, but there’s no violation for parking the car on that roadway.
President Rattner: Was the road specifically designed for parking?
Ms. Labow: The loop wasn’t.
President Rattner: It says parking areas specifically designed for such use.
Chief Katona: They can use it.
President Rattner: The loop road. In other words, you term that to mean that the loop road can be used for parking?
Chief Katona: Well yes, because there’s no prohibition….
President Rattner: Then we don’t have it, then the ordinance isn’t good enough.
Chief Katona: There’s no prohibition about parking, that says they can use it. They can use it for through traffic or they can use it for parking.
President Rattner: Now we’re back at the same spot again.
Ms. Labow: All I wanted was no parking signs put on the dang loop and all the areas where people park so they don’t park so the emergency vehicles can get through, that’s all I want.
Chief Katona: So I don’t see a violation in there for parking.
President Rattner: So, in other words, the way it’s written now, you cannot enforce parking on the loop road?
Chief Katona: That’s correct.
President Rattner: And since we don’t have Title 39 in there yet, you can’t say that they’re obstructing the flow of traffic, either.
Chief Katona: That’s correct.
Mr. Dorsey: Well, if the Chief has a problem, then I think the resolution offered by Ms. Labow is most appropriate if you want to deal with the situation tonight.
Ms. Labow: Can I go to Lowes and buy no parking signs and put them up myself?
President Rattner: No, because it has to be legal signs. So what’s the pleasure of the Council? Mr. Greenbaum, what’s your opinion now, after you heard that?
Mr. Greenbaum: I don’t really care. If the Chief says he needs a resolution….I was up there this weekend, the parking was abominable.
President Rattner: So, then we do need it, so now we’re back to where we were….
Mr. Greenbaum: Well, I think we need to enforce the parking issue, whether or not we need the resolution or not, you know, if the Chief says we need something, then we need something.
President Rattner: He said that a few minutes ago.
Chief Katona: You need the resolution and signs if you want to write tickets, if you want to put signs up that are informational and move people along, we can do that too.
Mr. Greenbaum: That’s all I want to do, I don’t want to write tickets.
Ms. Labow: I have a question.
President Rattner: Mr. Guenther.
Mr. Guenther: Yes, Ed, do you…to make it effective, does a fine have to be attached to it?
Chief Katona: Fines are good things for it, but for tonight, to do something for this weekend, I’m not prepared to say lets establish a fine. We’re not going to have appropriate signage….
President Rattner: Well, what are you going to do, if you find somebody in violation?
Mr. Greenbaum: Move him along.
Chief Katona: We’re going to move them and we’re going to find out who they are. Generally, what….there is plenty of parking at Turkey Brook. I go up there, I’ve seen it through the spring soccer season and this weekend I imagine it will be no different. There’s plenty of parking, the problem is that the people want to park right here and walk to the field. The lots are designed way out of the way and nobody wants to go up there and do it. They’re parking on the grass and they’re parking on the loop road.
Ms. Labow: On the loop. So, if you put no parking on the loop, signs…no parking….
Chief Katona: Yes, if we put no parking signs along the loop road, that should direct them into the parking areas.
Ms. Labow: Right. If they’re parking there now, are you saying you can’t ask them to move, because there is no no-parking signs?
Chief Katona: We can ask them to move, but we need the no parking signs because we’re not going to be there 24-7. We’re going to drive up there twice during the day and move them along. A resolution for no parking would be helpful.
President Rattner: Why that I knew that fifteen minutes ago, that’s all we need, that’s all Ms. Labow wanted, and that’s all a resolution, it’s not an ordinance.
Ms. Labow: That’s all I wanted.
President Rattner: Can we move the resolution?
Mr. Guenther: Alright, once again, I move the emergency resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Re: Parking at Turkey Brook Park.
Ms. Labow: Second.
President Rattner: Any other comments from the public? Seeing none, any discussion from the Council?
ROLL CALL Passed Unanimously
President Rattner: Any new business?
President Rattner: Legal Matters?
President Rattner: Because of the late hour, I’m going to suspend Council Reports, unless anybody has anything really pressing?
President Rattner: Okay, final public portion. Would anybody like to address? Seeing none, I’ll close the final public portion.
President Rattner: Final Council comments. Hopefully we’ll keep that short, too.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:43 pm.
Steven W. Rattner, 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 October 26, 2004.
Lisa M. Lashway, Township Clerk