ATLANTIC CITY, NJ -- Elected officials from Scotch Plains and Fanwood this week were among the 17,000 participants at the 104th annual New Jersey League of Municipalities, the nation's largest municipal conference, at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, who just concluded her one-year term as president of the League of Municipalities, hosted a panel discussion on the effort to legalize recreational marijuana, which stalled earlier this year. In the meanwhile, legislation was approved expanding the State’s medical marijuana program.
Experts on the panel included Assemblyman Joseph Danielson (District 17), Jeff Brown, Asst. Commissioner, Medicinal Marijuana Program, and Fruqan Mouzon, an attorney instrumental in developing cannabis legislation. Mouzon called the 67-page bill a "masterpiece of social and economic justice" and said that people of color have been disproportionately arrested for crimes related to pot possession and distribution. High O'Beirne, president of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association, said that laws need to change and that eventually we may see home delivery of marijuana made by pharmacies.
Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith and Tom Strowe, coordinator of downtown redevelopment for Scotch Plains, attended a panel entitled "Affordable Housing Update: What Comes After Settlement?" Following the prolonged and costly Court process, about 300 municipalities have entered into settlement agreements or have a court determination of their affordable housing obligations, including Scotch Plains (450 units). Now the municipalities must put plans into action and attempt progress before this round expires in 2025. This session explored the landscape of affordable housing policy and compliance. Presenters included Steven Warner, Esq., Ventura, Miesowitz, Keough & Warner; Christiana Foglio, CEO/Founder, Community Investment Strategies; and Donna M. Blaze, CEO, Affordable Housing Alliance.
The conference also featured a keynote speach by Governor Phil Murphy and a Women in Municipal Government Awards event hosted by Colleen Mahr.
TAPinto.net founder Mike Shapiro led a panel that discussed digital media and how municipalities can do a better job of getting information to the public through news sites, such as TAPintoSPF.
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