I am writing to express my dismay at the New Providence Council’s actions at its February 12th meeting. The council voted to allow up to three council members (up from 2) to attend committee meetings. Because of Sunshine Laws no more than three can attend a meeting. In my opion, the objective was to squeeze-out Mayor Morgan from committee meetings. Without going into much detail, a major reason stated for this was that Council member Gennaro said Mayor Morgan and his wife have contacted town staff, rather than going through the Town Administrator with residents’ concerns and for other reasons. One specific issue was the claim that Christine Morgan contacted a staffer requesting banners be purchased for a Diversity Committee event. Since the meeting, a former staffer wrote on social media, “The mayor's wife did NOT "(take) it upon herself to incur an expense on the borough...without proper authorization." Councilman Gennaro mis-characterized the mayor's wife's involvement at the February 12th council meeting. My Dept and the Diversity Committee officially co-sponsored the event.” So, at least one claim by Council member Gennaro appears to be inaccurate AND this event was over two years ago.
I found several things stunning about the council’s actions. When asked why they were doing this Council member Munoz said, “Because we can.” I assume that’s true, but this despite the objections and concerns of those residents present at the meeting.
Second, from my view, Mayor Morgan is an enthusiastic supporter of New Providence residents, businesses, and volunteer events and committees. As he said at the meeting, he is the town’s executive. He should be able to attend committee meetings to hear first-hand what’s going on.
Third, mentioned above, Council member Gennaro implied the mayor and his wife have been out of line in contacting staffers instead of contacting the Town Administrator. He claimed one staffer threatened litigation. There seemed to be a lot of innuendo without substance. It was unfair to the mayor and his wife.
Fourth, when it was clear the public attending the meeting was against this move, we were accused of "coordinating" our opposition. I knew four people in the room. I'll tell you what...even if we did "coordinate", so what? Is democracy allowed in NP?
Finally, I attended the meeting, which I rarely do, because the volunteer members of the Diversity Committee, who have provided fantastic events to celebrate diversity in New Providence feel their work is not respected by some council members. They are concerned the mayor, a major supporter of their work, will be squeezed-out of their meetings. I was there to offer support.
I value volunteers, especially the mayor and council. They spend countless hours doing their best to make New Providence the great town it is. I think, though, the council handled this issue very poorly. They upset the mayor and the residents who value his work. I hope the council reconsiders this action; and that, if the mayor or his wife have contacted staffers in the past, that instead going forward, they contact the Town Administrator instead.