Council sending letter to Newark

| 25 Oct 2012 | 01:13

— The township council agreed Wednesday night to send a letter to Newark Mayor Cory Booker explaining its position regarding denigrating comments made by a resident during Gov. Chris Christie's town hall meeting last week.

The comments came from Judy Ziegler, owner of the Town Tavern here in West Milford. Ziegler, frustrated by her property tax jump and the City of Newark's appeals which have resulted in less taxes on its watershed property to the township, mentioned evening out the playing field by instituting a surcharge on the water. But she characterized the residents of Newark as people who "sit out there on their stoops in the summertime, smoking pot, drinking booze and collecting food stamps." The governor corrected her on the spot, saying it is unfair to characterize the people of the city as she did and that New Jerseyans should not be pitted against each other.

Councilwoman CarlLa Horton drafted a letter and brought it to the council Wednesday. In it, she acknowledged residents' freedom of speech but stressed that the comments do not reflect the opinions of the council nor the rest of the community.

"We are aware of comments that were made by a member of the public at a recent Governor’s Town Hall meeting held in our municipality," says the letter. "The person who spoke expressed individual opinions that do not reflect those of our governing body or this community as a whole."

"The goal was to make clear it was not the reflection of the township," said Mayor Bettina Bieri after the meeting. "I believe it is totally appropriate for our elected officials to speak on behalf of West Milford residents to make it clear one individual exercising her freedom of speech does not represent the views of our community or this governing body."

In a letter to the Messenger, Councilman Mike Ramaglia said that both municipalities need to work together.

"We are all in it together, whether you are a resident of Newark or the Township of West Milford," said Ramaglia in a letter. "I hope that both municipalities’ goals can be met and obtained as we simply need each other. The recent public attention regarding comments relating to the City of Newark are not ones which myself, nor I believe any of my colleagues, would subscribe to. We need to work together at this critical time."

For the entire text of the letter from the mayor and council, go to Be sure to add your comments.