EAST ORANGE, NJ - East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor, sent a letter to the members of the East Orange Water Commission. The letter indicated Mayor Taylor’s displeasure with the overall performance of the Commission during his time in office. The mayor said ”specifically, the Commission has been plagued with issues that have resulted in reduced water quality, citywide water-usage restrictions, costly litigation, as well as excessive fines and penalties assessed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. He continued by saying “Many of these issues could have been abated had you, performed your duty of governing the East Orange Water Commission’s operations. Instead, you chose to allow these matters to compound into a $3.2 million deficit heading into Calendar Year 2014".
Mayor Taylor’s letter indicated that such a deficit of this magnitude may have devastating impact on the residents of East Orange potentially causing massive lay-offs, significant service reductions, tax increase, etc., that may result in a litany of negative results. The Mayor appeared before the Department of Community Affairs, Local Finance Board on behalf of the East Orange Water Commission (EOWC), in support of the City’s $3.2 million refunding bond ordinance application. It is not clear whether or not the president of East Orange Board, Roger Rucks was in attendance during the DCA meeting.
It appears that Mayor Taylor was particularly annoyed with the EOWC because they failed to hire a qualified Executive Director or to retain the services of a management firm to manage the EOWC day to day operations. Mayor Taylor closed his letter by saying they simply neglected to advertise the existence of the vacancy until approximately one (1) week ago; and clearly the EOWC has little chance of success if the Board of Commissioners fail to see the importance of retaining a qualified Executive Director/Management Firm to run the daily operations. In driving the point home the Mayor relied upon phases like gross mismanagement, gross lack of oversight, impaired judgment and apparent disregard for the residents of this City through inaction and continued malfeasance.
Mayor Taylor closed his letter by telling the EOWC Board that all of this has caused him to lose confidence in their ability to continue to represent the City of East Orange and it residents as a Commissioner of EOWC. He asked for the resignation of all five (5) Commissioners immediately; "should you fail to provide same within seven (7) days, I shall proceed with removing you for cause”.
There is a rumor that 3 out of the 5 Commissioners have tendered their resignations as of Friday, June 20, 2014. The resignations were received inside of the 7 day deadline the Mayor offered to them.