ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury’s Republican-controlled township council reorganized the local government Tuesday and angered its sole Democrat by naming him to only a handful of extracurricular activities
At issue was the appointment of council members to various township advisory committees, liaison posts and other panels. These appointments don’t bring any extra money to council members, but they do offer input, influence and a measure of smalltown status.
They can also be helpful come Election Day. If a council member is on a committee that works on finding grants that help bring sidewalks to a neighborhood, he or she can point to that effort when seeking re-election.
The appointments list, hammered out before the reorganization meeting, found Mayor Mark Crowley in 11 of these positions. Roxbury Councilman Bob DeFillippo’s name also appeared next to 11 of the panels, boards, committees and posts.
But Roxbury Councilman Dan Kline, the only person on the 7-member panel who isn’t a member of the GOP, found himself on only three.
“I think the message is very clear,” he said after the meeting. “New year; same policies … I look forward to the day where the council will include me as a fellow council member instead of isolating me because of their fears of my political ideology.”
During last year’s reorganization, Kline was totally left out in the cold: He was named to no liaison, committee or advisory board posts.
A week later, Kline was allowed in the door, but only as far as the lobby. He was named to the township Water and Sewer Committee from which Crowley resigned.
He ended up with two more posts last year: A seat on the energy aggregation review committee and the role of liaison to the Roxbury Board of Education. The council, on Tuesday, voted to return Kline to those three positions.
Click Here to see the appointments.
Kline, who represents Ward 4, took it as an insult based on petty local politics.
“It’s very disappointing,” he said. “Ideally, it would be where I would be on more meaningful committees, like economic development or CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) … instead of taking the committee (seats) left vacant due to a council member leaving or those created to get me onto a committee.”
Kline did not express his feelings during the council meeting. However, three people in the audience spoke up on his behalf.
“I’m kind of disappointed,” said Succasunna resident Corine Borrero. “Actually, I’m really disappointed to see that Dan Kline is not on more committees. Can anyone explain to me why that is?”
Crowley said committee, liaison and other post appointments are usually re-appointments from the prior year. He also noted that most of the committee meetings are open to the public, so Kline – and anyone else – can attend.
Also speaking up during the public session was Minnie Borrero of Succasunna. Noting she is not related to Corrine Borrero, she said she found the appointments “a little bit unfair” and possibly not in the best interest of Roxbury residents.
“We have this young, spry guy over there and we should be using him for more,” she said, referring to Kline, the youngest member of the council. “It doesn’t seem it is equitable, at least from what I can see.”
Crowley stressed that the school board liaison post is very vital, given the tax impact of schools. That was a point reiterated by DeFillippo in a post-meeting interview.
“It’s an important position,” he said, suggesting that Kline might want to embrace the role more. “It is what you make it. It’s not about just going to the meetings. It’s about working with the (school) administration and the board of education … You get the amount of committee appointments you can handle. “