To the Editor:

Charles Cunliffe is suing every woman, man and child in Barnegat Township. When you file a lawsuit against our town, that is the long-and-short of it.

Mr. Cunliffe alleges he has been wrongfully denied the ability to comment at township committee meetings. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like any resident, Mr. Cunliffe had equal opportunity to submit his comments and have them read into and made part of the official record.

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Mr. Cunliffe would have his neighbors believe that he was denied the ability to interact with township officials. Again, this is false. The email and business telephone numbers of every official, administrator and department are conspicuously posted on our township’s website.

Why, then, is Charles Cunliffe suing all of us? Why then – at a time when many Barnegat residents are struggling to keep the lights on and put food on the table would Mr. Cunliffe turn a deaf ear and blind eye to the plight of his fellow residents and go into court claiming he has suffered “substantial damages’?

What “damages” has Mr. Cunliffe suffered? How has he been harmed? How have his rights been taken away from him?

We live in a time of potentially fatal pandemic. All of us are working together to combat this invisible, potentially lethal, enemy that has taken a toll on Barnegat and our nation.

We have been unable to enter houses of worship. Restaurants, gyms, beauty salons and more remain shuttered, for the most part. We are living in hell.

How many reading this have taken salary cuts? How many have no job to return to? How many are already in arrears on mortgages, car payments, taxes, etc.?

But Charles Cunliffe, a man who alleges he was an effective mayor in nearby Lakewood, thinks this is a perfect time to impose additional financial burdens on those whose votes he seeks. Truth-be-told, a petition for the recall of Charles Cunliffe was circulated by Lakewood residents while he was in public office. A salient portrait if ever one existed.

No need to delve into Lakewood. Those familiar with the chaos (to include the murder of a young police officer) know of the social unrest, crumbling infrastructure, sky high taxes and questionable quality of life in that town. I wonder if that’s why Mr. Cunliffe broke away from his roots, bailed out and moved to Barnegat?

Charles Cunliffe’s lawsuit against all of us is brutal and unnecessary. If he has concerns, he needs to discuss them with public officials factoring in that this is a time of masks, gloves and social distancing. Mass public meetings are unsafe and carry the real threat of spreading COVID-19.

The recent results of the primary election for township committee in Barnegat had Mr. Cunliffe finish dead last among four candidates. And that was before he took his neighbors into court seeking to put his hand into your wallets.

Through it all, Barnegat’s public services move forward without interruption. Our town is safe thanks to our police. Garbage and recyclable collections happen as scheduled. Public works crews tend to our infrastructure. And much, much more.

Charles Cunliffe must be held accountable. The township must file an answer to his absurd claims already filed in court. That means potentially substantial legal fees that could impact the tax rate by making it go higher.

Kicking people when they are down is despicable. And that is precisely what Charles Cunliffe is doing.

And it stinks.

Fred Rubenstein

Barnegat Township