Edison, NJ - Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey issued a statement this afternoon regarding several reports that residents who signed a petition, that could trigger a public vote on whether the township should have permanent, public ownership, operation and management of its essential water and sewer systems, were visited by representatives from the Edison Utility Improvement Program inquiring about whether they actually signed the petition and why they signed the petition.
"The Township does not have an 'Edison Utility Improvement Program,' and it did not authorize a door-to-door residential canvass,” Mayor Lankey said. “We do not want our residents bothered. The Township will not tolerate this type of disturbance.”
The petition will be on the Township Council’s work session agenda Monday, June 24; and will be considered for action at the Council’s public meeting on Wednesday, June 26.
“The Township has learned that the Suez/KKR joint venture hired a private firm, without the Township’s knowledge or consent, to confirm the authenticity of petition signatures,” Mayor Lankey said. “The Township took swift and immediate action to stop these activities. If canvassers persist, residents should alert the Mayor’s Office at (732) 248-7298.”
Organizers of the petition drive complained that workers from the Edison Utility Improvement Program were intimidating petition signers.
“A group of people saying they are the "Edison Utility Improvement Program" is going around talking to the Edison water & sewer petition signers, urging them to sign an affidavit that challenges whether or not they signed the petition, or if they were misled in some way to signing the petition,” said Junior Romero, a Regional Organizer for Food & Water Watch.
“Food & Water Watch believes this effort to intimidate and challenge the public's petition of their government is an attack on Edison residents, and their mandate to keep local control of the water & sewer systems,” he said.
There have been calls for an investigation into the "Edison Utility Improvement Program."
“We need to find out who is behind this, who is paying for this, whether the law was broken,” said Councilman Ajay Patil earlier this morning. “I am renewing my call for an investigation of the Suez deal so we can use the power of the subpoena to investigate this.”
“I am calling for the Edison Police Department to investigate the activities of the so called Edison Utility Improvement Program” said Councilman Joseph Coyle. “If Edison residents are being intimidated or harassed there needs to be immediate action," he said.