GLEN ROCK, NJ - "This is just housekeeping," Mayor Kristine Morieko said of the first reading of an ordinance encompassing disorderly conduct in which descriptions of various behaviors will be stricken if the amendment is passed upon second reading and a public hearing in July.
The amendment to the ordinance has become the subject of intense commentary on social media, according to the mayor. The ordinances, originally introduced in March, just prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, are of particular interest because of several peaceful protests in the borough in weeks prior regarding societal racial prejudice.
The amendment to the ordinance deletes a section of seven points, all characterizations of negative behaviors that could occur in the street.
"All [are] being removed as they have no value and are merely words on a piece of paper and [not] enforceable," Morieko said in an email to TAPinto several days after the June 24 virtual council meeting.
Morieko put up a slide she called the "School House Rock" version of how a bill becomes a law to explain the ordinance had not gone through all the steps to get to "law" status and therefore, become enforceable.
Ordinance at the subject of social media discussions introduced upon first reading on June 24:
- Ord. #1823 – First Reading - AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 141 ENTITLED “DISORDERLY ACTS AND CONDUCTS” TO DELETE SECTION 1
141-1: Prohibited disorderly acts and conduct. No person shall commit any of the acts enumerated below, each of which shall be deemed and considered disorderly conduct or a breach of the peace:
A. Make or assist in making any improper noise, riot, disturbance or breach of the peace in the streets or elsewhere within the Borough.
B. Create or cause it to be created a danger of the breach of peace.
C. By his/her actions cause a crowd to collect, except when lawfully addressing such a crowd.
D. Interfere with any person in any place by jostling against such person or unnecessarily crowding him or by placing a hand in the proximity of such person's pocket, pocketbook or handbag.
E. Station himself/herself in any place or follow or accost any person for the purpose of obtaining money or other property from said person by any trick, artifice, swindle, confidence game or in any other illegal manner.
F. Stand on sidewalks or street corners and make insulting remarks to or about passing pedestrians or annoy such pedestrians.
G. Accost or approach another unknown to him/her, on a public street or other public place in the Borough, and then knowingly and by word, sign or gesture attempt to speak to or become acquainted with such person against his will, except in the transaction of legitimate business.
The mayor noted the ordinance, originally introduced in March, garnered little if no public interest at that point in time.
The ordinance was re-introduced on Wednesday, June 24. "Not one ticket was given out because of these ordinances," Morieko said, explaining the ordinances were never on the books, in spite of showing up in the online code book. As a matter of enforceable law, she said, it "does not exist."
"We received some rather inflammatory, some accusatory emails," Morieko said. "We're not encouraging riots to occur."
Council President Amy Martin said there were many conversations on Facebook, and while she said such social media can be used for "great networking," some comments "can become misleading."
"There were suggestions the Council wanted to move toward inciting violence," Martin said. "I was outraged and very offended."
Mayor Morieko said the former mayor, Bruce Packer, "liked to address Facebook goings-on, but I'm not Bruce."
Morieko said if residents want to address local issues, in order to get the most accurate and timely answers, they should email the mayor and council. "We're very dialed in," she said.
The second reading and public hearing of the revised ordinance is scheduled for July 22.