Montclair Township Council: It’s a Wrap for 2014

The Montclair Township Council, minus Councilor-at-Large Rich McMahon
The Montclair Township Council, minus Councilor-at-Large Rich McMahon

The Montclair Township Council conducted its annual finance meeting early in the evening on December 22, the last meeting of 2014. Councilor-at-Large Rich McMahon was absent owing to a family emergency.  Although the meeting lasted half an hour and yielded eight unanimously passed resolutions,  issues regarding the zoning board and affirmative action in the township’s  judicial offices led to some extended discussion on re-appointments of Municipal Prosecutor Joseph Angelo and Municipal Public Defender Peter Russo (no relation to Deputy Mayor Robert Russo).

Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville asked if Angelo, who is also the township’s assistant township attorney, if Angelo’s original appointment to the post of municipal prosecutor had been an interim one.  Township Attorney Ira Karasick explained that Angelo had originally been appointed on an interim basis to replaced Kenneth Strait after Strait was appointed municipal judge, but he was appointed as the regular prosecutor, and so this resolution continued the status quo. Similarly Karasick said that Peter Russo’s re-appointment as the township’s public defender was an endorsement of the status quo, recognizing the council’s desire to keep him on. Dr. Baskerville asked if any affirmative action laws were being violated as a result of retaining Angelo and Peter Russo in their respective positions, and Karasick re-assured the council that the council can keep incumbent appointees without having to send out requests for services, and it would only be an issue if the positions were open or if the council sought to replace the incumbent appointees, which, he added, the council had every right to do.

Dr. Baskerville, satisfied that the re-appointments could go ahead, voted with mayor Robert Jackson and the other four council members present to re-appoint Joseph Angelo and Peter Russo in their respective posts. Deputy Mayor Russo asked about compensation for Angelo, and Karasick explained that the prosecutor was paid by the session, so a substitute can step in when Angelo is unavailable or has a conflict of interest and get paid instead of Angelo. This, Karasick said, ensures that two people don’t get paid for the same work, saving the township money. The same process also applies to the public defender’s office.  (Karasick himself was also re-appointed by resolution at the meeting.)

The council hit a snag with a resolution making appointments to the Board of Adjustment, o zoning board.  The resolution called for Thomas Reynolds, Michael Kenney, and Harvey Susswein, currently serving as alternate zoning board members, be appointed as full members of the board to four-year terms ending on December 31, 2018. The appointments have been recommended by Board of Adjustment Chairman William Harrison.

Mayor Jackson said it was important to fill the alternate vacancies created by the appointments in the resolution. “The problem is numbers. All we did was just move them from Column A to Column B,” he said of the resolution before the council. Now there are vacancies; we need bodies on the Board of Adjustment.” Deputy Mayor Russo said he hoped to see more women, particularly female architects, apply for alternate positions and bring more gender diversity to the board. The council agreed to postpone the resolution and seek new alternate zoning board members for appointment by its conference meeting on January 6 to get all of the vacancies approved at once so Harrison can be assured a regular quorum at zoning board meetings. The first meeting of the Board of Adjustment for 2015 is January 21.

Among the other resolutions passed was an authorization for  Montclair to enter into a cooperative pricing agreement with the Middlesex Regional Educational Services Commission (MRESC) for the purchase of furniture for the Cultural Affairs, Recreation, and Health Departments.  Acting Township Manager Timothy Stafford said that the items were available through the MRESC at a low cost, with a wide selection of items necessary.

William Scott, the only resident in attendance, wished  the council a happy holiday season on public comment. Following their own holiday greetings, which included a wish for a happy Ramadan (which actually took place in July) but included neither wishes for Boxing Day nor for St. Stephen’s Day (both on December 26), the mayor and council adjourned for the year, wishing all a good night.

 

 

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Ramadan is in July? But I’ve had my Eid al-Fritr sign and three-tiered moon set out all week already! How embarrassing.

  2. Glad to see the council has their priorities….

    1) Dr.Baskerville worrying about affirmative action in the township’s judicial offices. Dr. Baskerville asked if any affirmative action laws were being violated as a result of retaining Angelo and Peter Russo in their respective positions.

    2)Deputy Mayor Russo said he hoped to see more women, particularly female architects, apply for alternate positions and bring more gender diversity to the board.

    3)In their own holiday greetings, which included a wish for a happy Ramadan (which actually took place in July) but included neither wishes for Boxing Day nor for St. Stephen’s Day (both on December 26)

    Oh yeah … Last week Attempted Carjacking at Fullerton Deck

    Merry Christmas !

  3. Zoning Board of Approval’s 2013 Annual Report… overlooked in 2014 and needs to be added, along with the 2014 Annual Report, to the Council’s and Planning Boards’s 2015 to-do list.

  4. “Oh yeah … Last week Attempted Carjacking at Fullerton Deck”

    —thank goodness mr. hotel is around to remind us what we want from city governance—a fear-based, utterly reactive organization that will make its first priority the most heinous item from that week’s crime blotter…

  5. Ah .. I can see some of the residents are finally seeing the light.

    I’ll give it up for heinous, haven’t heard that since I got my SAT results… probably because I didn’t know words like heinous.

  6. Edward you you clearly don’t watch enough Law and Order: SVU. I’m not especially worked up about affirmative action in this case. Dr. Baskerville was doing due diligence in a fairly ho-hum government process. At least they are trying to save us a few dollars.

Comments are closed.