Bad Faith in Mahwah

Tensions are running high in Mahwah and a meeting was scheduled to foster open dialogue and negotiation on August 15th, between the Eruv Association, the Mayor, members of the Town Council and Mahwah Strong (a resident group).

Two choices were presented.
Decision by the Town Council of Mahwah to issue summonses or hold off pending meeting

If you are going with option 1, you are Robert Hermansen and the Town Council in Mahwah, NJ.

You can listen to the vote to issue the summonses here: Read More “Bad Faith in Mahwah”

Lawsuit: BERGEN ROCKLAND ERUV ASSOCIATION, INC. et al v. THE TOWNSHIP OF MAHWAH (updated 8/15/17)

LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST MAHWAH, NJ (click to see documents)
U.S. District Court
District of New Jersey [LIVE] (Newark)
CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 2:17-cv-06054-JMV-JBC

BERGEN ROCKLAND ERUV ASSOCIATION, INC. et al v. THE TOWNSHIP OF MAHWAH
Assigned to: Judge John Michael Vazquez
Referred to: Magistrate Judge James B. Clark
Cause: 42:1983 Civil Rights Act
Date Filed: 08/11/2017
Jury Demand: None
Nature of Suit: 440 Civil Rights: Other
Jurisdiction: Diversity

Read More “Lawsuit: BERGEN ROCKLAND ERUV ASSOCIATION, INC. et al v. THE TOWNSHIP OF MAHWAH (updated 8/15/17)”

Robert Hermansen and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Censorship

This post is a bit more personal than the others I’ve written, about the situation going on in Mahwah, NJ.

You can find my previous posts here and here.

In this post, I’d like to talk about the civic violations taking place in Bergen County, where I live.  How my rights and the rights of others have been and continue to be violated, and exactly what that means for society when these types of infringements go unchecked.

On July 27, the Town Council in Mahwah held a hearing (the video for a portion of the meeting can be found here and here) in which the public portion of the meeting, which by statute is  “for public comment on any governmental issue that a member of the public feels may be of concern to the residents of the municipality” was censored for several speakers.  Nylema Nabbie, Mahwah’s attorney from the law firm of Gittleman, Muhlstock & Chewcaske, LLP stated:

“I do not want a situation where I sit here and I allow comments to come in to create a record that can then be used against this body in a subsequent litigation. That is the purpose of restricting comments.”

With that, she cut off comments that were disapproved of by the governing body and wouldn’t allow people to voice comments on several governmental issues that they felt may be of concern to residents of the municipality.  If she felt it may lead to litigation or problematic outcomes, it was verboten. Read More “Robert Hermansen and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Censorship”

The lie that launched a thousand fears (updated with maps)

Fear has gripped the areas of Mahwah and surrounding towns in Northern Bergen county.  As was mentioned in my previous post on the unconstitutional actions taken by Council President Robert Hermansen, the township has restricted public comments in their meetings (in violation of statute) on topics of public concern, they have attempted to ban certain groups from public parks and they have taken the extraordinary step of even subordinating their top police official (to the ire of the law enforcement community as can be seen in a post by the local PBA here) when he refused to put nefarious political moves ahead of public safety.

Comments at the local town council meetings referenced “invasions” and harassment of residents (although Open Public Record requests indicate no complaints were lodged with township police or officials). Allegations of “blockbusting” (and worse) permeated Facebook posts and online forums, as residents scrambled for answers and all the while, “leaders” such as Robert Hermansen, the Council Preisdent of Mahwah, stoked fears and resentment. Read More “The lie that launched a thousand fears (updated with maps)”

Mahwah: Stop calling this anti-semitism; it’s about (((codes))) and (((code enforcement))) (and Jews) [UPDATED with OPRA response]

On July 27th, 2017, I attended a public session of the Mahwah Town Council.  These were the ground rules: no mention of religion and no mention of the Eruv.  The claim was seemingly simple – the meeting is about ordinances and enforcement, not antisemitism or Eruvs, so there is no reason to permit comments that may reflect poorly on the Township.

Mahwah’s Council through their lawyer stated that not only council members, but even members of the public, were not permitted to utter such comments.  Regardless of whether an issue was one of public concern or related to items on the agenda, mentioning such topics as religion, the Eruv, a letter received by the Bergen County Prosecutor and several others, was verboten.

When questioned as to why this policy was created, Nylema Nabbie, Mahwah’s attorney from the law firm of Gittleman, Muhlstock & Chewcaske, LLP stated: “I do not want a situation where I sit here and I allow comments to come in to create a record that can then be used against this body in a subsequent litigation. That is the purpose of restricting comments.” Read More “Mahwah: Stop calling this anti-semitism; it’s about (((codes))) and (((code enforcement))) (and Jews) [UPDATED with OPRA response]”

Lawsuit: FRIEDMAN et al v. THE BOROUGH OF UPPER SADDLE RIVER et al (updated 8/17/17)

LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST MAHWAH, NJ (click below to see documents)
(If you are interested in documents from the Tenafly litigation, click here)

U.S. District Court
District of New Jersey [LIVE] (Newark)
CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 2:17-cv-05512-JMV-CLW

FRIEDMAN et al v. THE BOROUGH OF UPPER SADDLE RIVER et al
Assigned to: Judge John Michael Vazquez
Referred to: Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor
Cause: 42:1983 Civil Rights Act
Date Filed: 07/28/2017
Jury Demand: None
Nature of Suit: 440 Civil Rights: Other
Jurisdiction: Federal Question

Read More “Lawsuit: FRIEDMAN et al v. THE BOROUGH OF UPPER SADDLE RIVER et al (updated 8/17/17)”

Supporting the unpopular because it’s [a] right.

On Tuesday, May 23rd, the township council is set to pass ordinance 13-2017  (“An Ordinance Regulating Roadway Solicitation by Charitable Organizations”) on second reading.  On its face, it’s a minor ordinance that probably wouldn’t ruffle anyone’s feathers, let alone raise alarm.  But it’s likely an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment and this should not be permitted to pass without inspection.

The issue begins with the state of New Jersey’s statutory ban on solicitation for money in roadways.  The statute has an exemption for towns to permit charitable organizations to collect funds in roadways, if they so desire to enable the exemption.

You can find the State statute (NJSA 39:4-60), here. It says, in relevant part: Read More “Supporting the unpopular because it’s [a] right.”

Want a common sense reform: do something else!

Highlights:

  • Stop the attempts to incrementally limit guns for everyone and focus on the right populations
  • Realize why these legislative attempts fail to adequately address the concerns of people on all sides of the debate
  • Proposed steps to make it easier for law abiding citizens to purchase firearms
  • Proposed restrictions to make it easier to prevent prohibited persons from easily purchasing weapons

After every mass shooting, there’s a call for some kind of reform. Typically, it’s mandatory background checks, secret lists or bans on certain firearms and now there has been a lot of talk about a proposal to start using secret lists created by unaccountable bureaucracies that deny due process, all in the name of safety and security. If we are going to open this conversation for reform up again, let’s not blow it by doing what we’ve done and expecting a different result.

I have watched both sides in the “debate” try to explain their positions, with very little willingness to agree on, well, anything. Some of this is because of a lack of knowledge of culture and terminology – if you don’t understand the terms of the debate, it can be infuriating when you call for a ban or restrictions on something that won’t actually make any difference or something far beyond what you actual mean to say. Let’s say your solution is a ban on “Assault Rifles”? Imagine someone calling for a ban on “attack dogs” after a pit bull is reported to have mauled someone. When someone asks, what is an assault weapon, they aren’t (merely) being snarky, they are asking the equivalent of “what is an attack dog”?

Details matter.

Perhaps the worst problem is the call for “common sense” proposals which tend to favor some kind of an incrementalist approach. Read More “Want a common sense reform: do something else!”

Just Because I’m Paranoid: Addressing Obstacles to Gun Control

The story of Joseph Pelleteri and others like him create one of the biggest obstacles to “commons sense” gun legislation — the fear that otherwise law abiding citizens will be snared in a law enforcement nightmare.  It is that fear, embodied in the prosecutions of people attempting to navigate a labyrinthine system of regulations that dooms most gun control measures.

Imagine winning a brand new sports car with a V8 engine in a contest hosted by your local police department.  You keep the car in your garage, never driving it, and one day while the cops are at your home on an unrelated issue, they arrest you.  V8’s you are informed were made illegal in the time between winning the car and today.  You find it a bit absurd, after all, since the same police arresting you were the ones that gave you the car.  You’re less amused when you find out you’re sentenced to jail for many years.

This sounds absurd.  Surely, no one would change a law and then arrest you for breaking it.  But for Joseph Pelleteri, it was no joking matter.
Read More “Just Because I’m Paranoid: Addressing Obstacles to Gun Control”