ROSELLE, NJ - On Wednesday evening Roselle residents entered the council chambers to participate in the scheduled Council meeting. Minutes prior to the meeting, Mayor Dansereau received a letter from borough Deputy Clerk Lydia Agbejimi, stating the meeting was to be canceled.
The letter sent by Council President Kim Shaw informed the Mayor that four of the council members would not attend the meeting due to grave concerns of safety and dignity at the bi-monthly meeting as well as noting a concern that the meeting would be attended by individuals seeking to further their own agenda prior to the upcoming election.
Four of the six council people did not attend the meeting although they had previously attended the pre agenda meeting. The four council members who abstained from the meeting were Council President Kim Shaw, Council-at-Large Reginald Atkins, Councilman Samuel Bishop and Councilwoman Carla Walker.
Councilwoman Andrea Staten(3rd Ward), who is currently up for re-election and Councilman Yves Aubourg (1st Ward), who’s term will be ending when his seat becomes available in the next election, claimed no knowledge of the letter or the decision to have the council meeting canceled.
Mayor Dansereau immediately questioned the Borough Attorney and Business Administrator David Brown as to the legality and repercussions of such an action. “David Brown told me that in all his years as BA, he has never seen such an action taken by a council,” stated Dansereau.
A statement was submitted by Mr. Brown's publicist, "Mr. Brown, while having a privileged and confidential discussion with the Borough mayor, with the Borough attorney present, stated he has never before seen a town council meeting canceled because of politics. Yet, he maintained, he did not have any reference to provide such an opinion."
In respect of the residents that came out, the Mayor adjourned the council meeting, stepped off the dais and sat in the general seating area to converse with those in attendance. She asked Brandon Bernier and Denise Wilkerson who Chair and co-chair the monthly Conversations with the Community meeting, to help answer any questions anyone had.
Former Board of Ed Member Anthony Esposito, read aloud the letter penned by Council President Shaw, detailing their decision not to take the dais. Shaw voiced safety concerns stemming from the prior meeting where there was an alleged altercation in the hallway between her husband, Recreation Director Donald Shaw and several citizens. That altercation is currently under investigation by the Roselle Police Department.
The prior council meeting was videotaped for public reference and the link can be viewed here. Roselle Council-Meeting 4-19-17 Ends with NO QUORUM
Several members of the audience questioned the actions of the Council in avoiding tonight’s meeting just weeks prior to the June 6, Primary election in which two seats are up for grabs.
To view comments made by residents after the meeting was abruptly cancelled can be viewed below.
“What happened tonight is wrong on many levels. Firstly, this “no show” stunt is a disrespect to the residents that pay the council members’ salary to conduct borough business. Secondly, millions of dollars were connected to items on the meeting’s agenda, including the bill list & a $5.5M bond. None of these items were addressed tonight, because of the reckless behavior of the majority of the council. Lastly, I believe the Sunshine Act was violated tonight, which is another example of this council circumventing democracy!,” stated Wilkerson.
The possibility of a special meeting as requested by residents was discussed by the group and will be addressed at a later point in time.
Editors Note: In a Facebook posting by Assemblyman Jamel Holley (and tagged to my “Personal FB Page”), I and TAPinto Roselle/Roselle Park were unfairly attacked and I feel the need to respond.
As a TAPinto Publisher, we are objective and do not have an editorial page - we do not tell you how to vote or what to think. I attend and report on as many events as possible, including the most recent “Ground Breaking Ceremony” in which I took full video and photos of the event which involved the Assemblyman and his candidates. I also attended the B.O.E. Summit that the Assemblyman (and his candidates ) was a major part of and again took video and photos. In fact, when Assemblyman Holley was Mayor Holley, I covered him hundreds of times and he didn't have a negative thing to say. The Wednesday night meeting was a general Council Meeting and all that was reported at TAPinto Roselle/Roselle Park was what happened at that town meeting, which also included a copy of Councilwoman Shaw’s letter explaining why the meeting was canceled.
As for the Assemblyman's statements on the “Public Information Officer” position, I was asked if I was interested in the position. After heavy consideration, I decided to withdrawal my application primarily because I did not want to ever even be perceived as having a conflict of interest. I have worked closely with the new appointed Public Information officer, former Councilman Ron Hayman, to make sure to get his information out to the public as that is the end goal, to inform the community.
Regarding Holley's allegation about the advertising contract, it is actually a renewal on a contract that had been signed the previous year by Mayor Holley himself. With the renewal contract, it allows for some additional advertising services for some of the smaller non profits to post their events. It also includes a free standard ad to the Roselle Chamber of Commerce to help promote the business community.
Regarding Holley's allegation that I pimp my press badge in partnership with the Mayor, if you call covering Council meetings, B.O.E. Meetings, School events, Fires, Accidents, Ground Breaking events, etc, as “pimping my press badge” what can I say? That is what I am supposed to do, report the news.
Regarding Holley's allegations regarding my spouse, yes, my spouse is running for a seat on the Democratic Committee, not on Council. She has a right as a Roselle taxpayer to have a voice and run for an office just like anyone else.
Regarding Holley's other charges, they are similarly misleading and unfortunate.
With accurate facts, our tens of thousands of readers can make up their own minds. They don't need me to tell them how to vote or what to think.