What is Mahwah hiding?

Transparency in government is very important.  As the Secretary of the Teaneck Planning Board, I made it a priority to ensure that minutes of meetings were prepared and published in a timely manner because the public has a right to know what is happening.

But the folks in Mahwah, NJ don’t seem to share that commitment.  When I requested minutes from the meeting where Ordinances 1810 (Peddling and Soliciting), 1811 (Police Director) and 1812 (Parks restrictions) were introduced, I was told that no meeting minutes were available.

It’s been 95 days since the meeting.  Is there a particular reason that they feel the Open Public Meetings Act doesn’t apply to Mahwah?  I asked the Council President at the last meeting and he said it wasn’t his responsibility. Passing the buck seems to be his preferred method of dealing with problems.

Are you trying to hide the hateful comments made from residents from the public view, Mr. Hermansen?  Or is public transparency just not high on your list of priorities? Read More “What is Mahwah hiding?”

Mahwah will reap what Robert Hermansen sowed

As previously noted, the Attorney General of New Jersey laid down a pretty damning complaint on the doorstep of Mahwah Council President Robert Hermansen and his council-members.  The accompanying press release likened the council’s conduct to “1950s-era “white flight” suburbanites who sought to keep African-Americans from moving into their neighborhoods.”

Sadly, this was wholly avoidable and Robert Hermansen, knowing the risks, chose this fight. Now he has it.

For those that may not have seen the previous posts, the Township Council in Mahwah has been attempting to use inapplicable ordinances, in a discriminatory manner, to advance an agenda fueled by hatred and bigotry. Eruvin are not signs, despite the attempts of Mahwah’s council to declare them as such and parks paid for with public funds cannot legally restrict public access. 

The rights to liberty and freedom, enshrined in our founding documents, are always under attack. I am very pleased that the Attorney General and others are standing up for those rights. The message needs to be heard loud and clear.
Read More “Mahwah will reap what Robert Hermansen sowed”

Making Canon fodder of USR’s Eruv Ban (Ordinance 16-15)

USR: Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests show that in August of 2015, the Borough of Upper Saddle River started to discuss Vaad HaEruv’s application and contract with Orange & Rockland Utlities for an Eruv covering a small portion of the borough. Records produced also show that the borough council immediately moved to draft legislation targeting it. 

Last Tuesday, a Motion for Preliminary Injunction1 was filed by Plaintiffs to issue an injunction against the Borough of Upper Saddle River’s selective and targeted behavior towards the Eruv (case documents and updates can be found here).  The request seeks to:

  1. Enjoin the municipality from removing the Eruv during the litigation.
  2. Enjoin the municipality from disrupting / preventing maintenance of the Eruv or restoration of damaged sections.
  3. Permit the Plaintiff to complete the planned expansion of the Eruv in the Borough.

Typically, in order for a preliminary injunction to issue, you must meet four criteria: Read More “Making Canon fodder of USR’s Eruv Ban (Ordinance 16-15)”

Pulling back the curtain on Mahwah’s (en)forced errors.

  • In a Facebook post Thursday, Mahwah’s Council President indicated that Chief of Police James Batelli, had issues with ordinances ( e.g. 1806 to ban all non-residents certain people, from parks and others, pulled from the agenda) but now feels confident they will be ready for the next meeting.

Sadly, he doesn’t mention what the Chief’s concerns were. Several residents at previous council meetings were asking about the reasons ordinances seem not to be enforced and Council members haven’t seen fit to publicize this information to the residents of Mahwah.

An Open Public Records Act request procured the following information Read More “Pulling back the curtain on Mahwah’s (en)forced errors.”

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”

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)”