When Teaneck met Lord Chesterton (on reducing bureaucracy)

For several years I’ve been working at revising certain sections of our Township code. One of the sections I’ve focused on, concerns our sign ordinance and specifically, “uniformity”.

Teaneck’s Code Sec. 33-18(c)(5)(e)(6) reads:
Uniformity. Business signs for each occupant in a building with multiple occupancies shall be uniform and compatible in height, placement and design and to the extent possible color and letter font type.

In the back of my mind whenever I ask to remove or alter a statute or ordinance that we have on the books is the parable of Chesterton’s Fence1.  The ordinance was created for a reason, after all.  And unless one understands the history and background, removing it may make you understand that the alternative to bad can sometimes be worse.  This wasn’t something taken lightly. Read More “When Teaneck met Lord Chesterton (on reducing bureaucracy)”

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)”

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]”