Need to correct misleading claims

| 26 Mar 2024 | 06:58

    On March 20, the Township Council meeting included the public hearing on the two ordinances that change the mayor’s position.

    The discourse in this meeting got quite contentious at times, and Mayor (Michele) Dale accused the opposition of spreading disinformation.

    We, the petition writers, would like to say that we don’t condone personal attacks or threats, but since we were accused of distorting the truth, we feel compelled to set the record straight as we found many of Mayor Dale’s claims to be misleading.

    Some of the misleading claims:

    1. We have a weak mayor.

    Our mayor has weak administrative powers and strong executive powers. Some documents that explain the Faulkner Act (one of the sets of laws determining how municipalities can govern) describe our mayor as “weak.”

    This term is used to compare our model of government, Mayor-Council-Administrator, with the Mayor-Council model. It uses the term “weak” to describe our mayor’s administrative powers, like budgeting. This makes sense given that our model requires an administrator while the mayor can act as the administrator in the other form.

    However, the terms “weak” and “strong” also commonly describe the extent of a mayor’s executive powers, specifically, whether a mayor is independently elected, has veto power and can make appointments (subject to legislative approval, of course, like all executive branches). We were referring to our mayor’s executive powers.

    2. We already have bipartisan ward representation.

    Our town council consists of members-at-large, not ward representatives, and they are currently all Republicans. Mayor Dale was referring to the organized political committees in the county - the Passaic County Republican and Democratic committees.

    Members of these committees are elected every three years in their wards, with West Milford having 13 wards. The role of committee members has nothing to do with the running of government. They are elected to work for the political party - picking candidates, running campaigns and raising funds, etc. They have no official capacity in the West Milford or any other government.

    3. Only 72 percent of the petition signatures came from the three ZIP codes within West Milford.

    However, there are five ZIP codes in West Milford, and many signers who vote in West Milford may have a different location on the website.

    West Milford - 07480

    Hewitt - 07421

    Newfoundland - 07435

    Oak Ridge - 07438

    Stockholm - 07460

    4. Mayor Dale cited a list of projects undertaken or completed while she was in office. While not a rebuttal, we were disheartened that she didn’t mention or thank the many other government officials, the township staff and the numerous volunteers whose time, effort and perseverance were instrumental to obtaining the grants and continuing the progress on these initiatives.

    We still maintain that these ordinances are not in the best interest of our residents, despite being approved, and that if we need to change our government, we should let our residents decide in a referendum.

    Karen Phelan, Renee Allessio, Laura Ashtyani, Laura Slott and Mary Granata

    West Milford