Former councilman starts petition to reinstate administrator

| 11 Feb 2019 | 10:08

    WEST MILFORD – Former Township Councilman Mike Hensley is going to the people of the community to get Anotinette Battaglia her job back as administrator.
    “This was purely political,” Hensley said of the Township Council’s 5-1 decision on Dec. 19 to terminate Battaglia from her administrator duties.
    His being the only dissenting vote, with former Council President Tim Wagner, councilmen Lou Signorino, Peter McGuiness, Andie Pegel and Patricia Gerst voting to end Battaglia’s dual role position.
    Battaglia still serves as township clerk, but took on the administrator functions for $38,000 per year during the term of former Mayor Bettina Bieri, a Democrat.
    Bieri resigned during the summer and was replaced in November by Republican Michele Dale, who is filling the last year of Bieri’s unexpired term.
    Dale, who beat out Wagner, who ran as an independent and Democratic challenger Chris Garcia in a special election, has also said that she was “blindsided” by the council’s move at the last meeting of 2018.
    “We the undersigned concerned citizens, voters, taxpayers, residents and fair-minded people are being ignored by the West Milford Town Council. By signing below, we are petitioning those council people who fired our town administrator on December 19, 2018 (Lou Signorino, Pete McGuinness, Andie Pegel and Patricia Gerst) to listen to our voices and reinstate our clerk to her dual position of administrator/clerk” the online petition reads.” If you don’t already know why people are so outraged and before you sign, we urge you click on the link below and watch how they fired her from her job six days before Christmas, two days after she closed on the MUA sale and on the second meeting chaired by our new mayor. Clearly, this is political, personal and egotistical. This is not representative of the integrity of WM residents.”
    Hensley said the petition has garnered more than 100 signatures so far and will also be sent out in a hard copy form soon for people to sign.
    Three of the council members still on the governing body, Signorino, McGuiness and Pegel, said Wednesday night that they did not know how many names would need to be on the petition for them to reconsider their vote on the matter.
    All three said it was the first time they were being made aware of the petition, and would have to look into it.
    Signorino said he is always willing to listen to residents, but could not say how many it would take for him to change his position.
    He brought the matter up at the Dec. 5 meeting, asking for Battaglia to be given a “Rice” notice that the council would be discussing her position and possibly her performance at the Dec. 19 meeting.
    He cited the need for the town to have a full time person in the role, but did not raise any performance related issues to her work at either that meeting or the following one where the vote to terminate her was made.
    Mayor Michele Dale said Wednesday night that she has fielded “hundreds” of emails and other communications from residents opposing the action.
    Several members of the public have also spoken out against the decision during recent meetings.
    The online petition is available at