Clearing up the "twisted truths"

| 07 Jun 2012 | 01:16

    Last November’s election proved that West Milford voters have grown weary of divisive politics, spreading falsehoods, and twisting facts in an effort to discredit the mayor and the work she does on behalf of the citizens of our township.Yet former Councilman Dan Jurkovic, soundly defeated, has left the dais and instead turned to the editorial section as his latest vehicle to resurrect the noxious attacks on Mayor Bettina Bieri.His recent letter was so full of fabrications and innuendo, it is hard to find a starting point, but allow me to highlight just a few.

    Mr. Jurkovic blames the mayor for being "utterly oblivious" to police Chief Chiosie's retirement plans. Yet in his letter, he acknowledges the chief retired after the council did not confirm his appointment to public safety director.Is he suggesting the mayor should have anticipated the disrespect the council would show the chief; that she should have known he would retire the following week?It appears it is the council, not the mayor, that “didn’t work well with others.”

    Mr. Jurkovic claims that 6 of 7 department heads resigned since Mayor Bieri was re-elected in November. As a former councilman, he should know that by law, West Milford is limited to a maximum of six department heads, rendering "6 out of 7" a mathematical impossibility. The fact is only the administrator,health officer, and director of community services and recreation actually resigned. That is only 3, Mr. Jurkovic, not 6. Not one of the resignations mentioned problems with the mayor and two specifically commended Mayor Bieri and their excellent working relationship.

    Mr. Jurkovic also states that, “the Council recently voted to substantially increase the retainer provided to the attorney who is handling the township's defense against a lawsuit filed by former Police Chief Costello..."Then in the very next paragraph he asks "how much taxpayer money Mayor Bieri plans on spending?" By his own admission, it is the council that voted for the increase and is spending the money.The mayor has no vote on the matter.As a former councilman, Mr. Jurkovic knows this fact all too well.

    And while we are on the subject, let me remind the readers about the facts of the lawsuit. Chief Costello retired suddenly in an attempt to maximize his retirement package in the face of Governor Christie's proposed cuts. He gave one-day notice and said the town owed him over $250,000 in unused time.But in order to collect unused sick time, an officer has to retire in good standing by providing two weeks notice. Mr. Costello did not, so he was not entitled to the money and Mayor Bieri did not authorize the requested payment.

    Should Mayor Bieri have caved in to his demand and handed over a quarter million dollars of taxpayer money just to avoid a potential lawsuit? Isn't it refreshing when someone finally has the courage to say, "No, you are not entitled to the money, and I won't be bullied into handing it over.” I think most people would agree we need more, not less, politicians to take that stand.

    I understand people can have opposing viewpoints on subjects, and I truly believe working through differences to find consensus is the best way to find solutions to difficult and multifaceted problems. However, falsehoods and twisted truths are unnecessary and poison the process.Mr. Jurkovic and his friends should learn that the voters have grown weary of such tactics.

    John Richards Newfoundland