Last February, after 10 consecutive years of the Mayor and Council repeatedly granting itself the privilege to annually exceed the State’s mandated spending limits, more than 25% of Byram’s voters participating in the last election quickly petitioned their government under the Faulkner Act to finally give up this wasteful habit. However, Byram refused to even consider the voters’ petition on the ground of legal technicalities by having the Township Clerk and its Attornies block the presentation of the petition to the Council.
Those legal machinations were then followed with continued frivolous legal maneuvering designed to grind the Petitioners down, to unnecessarily increase their cost of obtaining judicial review, and for the purpose of delaying an Appellate decision which might allow a public referendum challenging this continued spending in excess of the State’s mandated budget cap.
Byram’s latest venally motivated courtroom antic sought to require the Petitioners to produce an expensive transcript of lower court proceedings that was not merely superfluous, but the provision of which would have been expressly contrary to applicable Court Rules which specifically require that the oral argument of parties and counsel be redacted from transcripts submitted to Appellate Courts.
In the case now pending, the record below consisted ONLY of oral argument prohibited from inclusion in an Appellate transcript, but Byram’s lawyers nevertheless improperly insisted that a complete transcript of that earlier proceeding should have to be produced at the expense of the Petitioners.
Appropriately, last week the Appellate Court ruled against and rejected Byram’s latest legal tactic to prevent voter access to the referendum process, declaring that a transcript was entirely unnecessary. But it required (2) motions by the Petitioners, and a Notice of Frivolous Litigation threatening to impose sanctions against Byram’s attornies for such improper conduct, and the consumption of 3 additional months of delay before Byram rescinded its legally improper position, which was clearly calculated only to improperly obstruct the Petitioners’ access to the Faulkner Act Referendum process.
The lingering questions that remain are these: Should Byram’s management of its legal affairs and the expenditure of its considerable legal budget be squandered on improper gamesmanship in trying to block voter access to the Referendum process? And should the Mayor and Council be wasting taxpayer money on improper legal tactics like this one to obstruct the manifest will of a clear majority of the electorate, who desire only a decent respect of the taxpayers from their government, and a diligent and cost effective provision of municipal services?
Harvey S. Roseff
Member of the Committee of Petitioners
Byram Township, NJ