As has been reported in the media, the Mayor has been at the Montclair Farmer’s Market, and throughout town, circulating a petition to have the issue of “changing the election date” be put on the ballot this November. This is in direct opposition to the majority of the Council, which passed a Resolution creating a commission to study this matter and prepare a report before putting the issue on the ballot in 2012.
As part of his petitioning process, the Mayor has also initiated a widespread email campaign offering to provide a petition for signing, and outlining the procedures that must be followed.
I have also heard that the email campaign has been sent to at least some BOE employees, and members of boards and commissions appointed by the Mayor and Council.
Under State Statute, any resident can do what the Mayor is doing. The statute contains regulations that include who can sign a petition, the certifying process, and the number of signatures necessary.
So one could argue that the Mayor is within his rights to do this petition.
Unlike a voting booth, where you close the curtain and no one knows how you voted, signing a petition is a very public act. Everyone knows you did it, as the petition is a public document. And not only does everyone know you signed it, the person who asked you to sign it certainly knows.
And the Mayor isn’t just “any” person. He is the MAYOR. So when he asks you to do something, like sign his petition, or circulate his petition, people are probably going to think twice before refusing.
Let’s be frank. If you know the issues, and you honestly disagree, isn’t there some part of you that’s going to think, “What’s going to happen if I don’t sign?”
Because although the Mayor has limited official powers to appoint, as he has reminded us often during the last three years, he has the “bully pulpit” and thus considerable power to influence, horse trade, etc. Also, two other Council members openly support his petition.
This is not to say that anything has been specifically said, or have promises been made. That would be illegal.
But if you have your eye towards a BOE appointment, or an appointment to another committee, or if you have been, or might in the future be, a beneficiary of some “stipend,” might you think twice about upsetting the Mayor?
I am not against holding a Referendum and giving the public a chance to vote. I am against not allowing people sufficient time to discuss and understand the issues.
What’s the rush, Mr. Mayor?