LIVINGSTON, NJ — When longtime Livingston Cpl. William Brennan passed away in November of 2015, many residents disheartened to find that the U.S. Flag was not lowered to half-staff and caused the Livingston Township Council to pass a resolution formalizing the rules for when the U.S. Flag will be lowered in Livingston in memory of designated individuals.
The resolution was revisited on Monday, when the council discussed its two options moving forward: to lower the flag for all township employees, which was previously met with positive feedback from the public; or to add a discretionary clause to an existing list of specific township employees, leaving other residents up to the discretion of this or future councils.
“We just wanted to put something on the books,” said Mayor Al Anthony. “Of course, we’re always about keeping conversations going and being flexible and talking things through—we’re always open to better ideas and willing to tweak things to make them better.”
Anthony said that the council added this resolution to the agenda this year because the majority of public opinion after Brennan’s passing was that the flag should have been lowered. The resolution, although it can be amended at any time and will likely be tweaked by this or future councils, was passed so that the council will have guidance going forward.
“We recently had an unpleasant moment last fall where an officer had passed away and it was very painful for all of us to witness that,” said Livingston resident Robert Hunter. “I know everybody wanted to do right for someone who had given his whole life to this town—so now we’ll have a clear way to handle it.”
The current resolution consists of categories of township employees who automatically get the lowered flag, which is a list that can be amended at any time, and includes the discretionary clause as a category. The list includes: former and current mayors, current council members, past and present town managers, past and present fire and police chiefs, active officers, active firefighters and active first aid squad.
Although there was some discussion earlier this year, the council unanimously agreed on Monday to keep the resolution in open discussion with the option to expand on or change it later.
“The truth is I’m not married to it because a council on a later date, if they feel like they want to extend this, someone can change this resolution to however they want to do it,” said Deputy Mayor Shawn Klein.
“The resolution does list a number of different positions that will lower the flag,” said Councilman Michael Silverman, who voted to have the resolution passed and on record with the option of changing it down the road. “But please know that should someone else in our community not on that list—someone of stature, someone who has given their time and effort to the community—pass, the purple and black bunting will be displayed throughout town.”