ROSELAND, NJ – In a continuing effort to address the controversy arising this year from last summer’s problematic exchange of text messages between Roseland Borough Councilmen Thomas Tsilionis and David Jacobs, the Roseland Borough Council approved Mayor John Duthie’s request to form a committee that will oversee Roseland’s Community Conversation program.

Members of the council unanimously voted at its meeting on Tuesday to create this committee, which will focus on issues of inclusion, diversity and sensitivity.

Duthie said this committee will be led by a professional who deals with diversity and sensitivity issues. Its membership will include two community members, a government official, a representative from law enforcement, a religious leader, a civic leader, a high school student, and a representative from the education field.

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Councilwoman Michelle Tolli, who previously served on an ethics committee for the borough, was appointed to serve on the new committee.  

The forming of this committee follows the mayor’s action to ensure that all borough employees, including council members, attended a recent seminar on sensitivity and diversity. Members of the borough’s police department do their own training in this area.

In his mayor’s report, Duthie said his efforts to create a more transparent town government will be furthered on May 6, when Roseland’s first Public Information Open House Meet & Greet will be held at the 19 Harrison Fair Grounds from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. He said that all borough departments will be represented at this event. He is donating $50 gift cards, which will be given away to event attendees every half hour.

The mayor and Emergency Management Director John Matheis thanked ADP for donating $12,000 to Roseland. The borough’s police department, fire department, first aid squad and Office of Emergency Management will receive $3000 each.

“I appreciate ADP’s support, and wish we had more corporate partners like them,” said Duthie.

In addition, he thanked Sheryl Ryan for her service to the borough for the past 15 years after resigning as the co-chairperson of the Municipal Youth Guidance Committee. Duthie said he would like to give Ryan a proclamation at a future council meeting.  

The mayor also congratulated Stella Marano on being named the borough’s Senior Citizen of the Year.

Councilman Jacobs read a proclamation lauding the police work of Police Chief Richard McDonough and Sgt. Livio Cioffi to provide reliable intelligence to the City of Newark that additional security measures would be needed to ensure the public’s safety at a Prudential Center event that was being attended by Hell’s Angels.

“It is wonderful to see these officers being recognized for their exceptional work,” said Jacobs. “It sets the pace for how our police officers protect Roseland.”

In addition, Jacobs announced that two new police officers will be sworn in on May 1.

During public comment, resident Joann Yates accused Borough Administrator Maureen Chumacas of telling members of the Department of Public Works (DPW) to remove copies of the “The Progress” from the Roseland Public Library. Chumacas denied these allegations, and said this was the first time she had heard about them.

“That is absolutely false,” said Chumacas, who called the library after the meeting and was told that copies of “The Progress” were there.

Resident Eileen Fishman questioned the mayor and council about engineer Stephanie Cuthbert’s involvement in assessing the borough’s water and sewer systems. Cuthbert provides her services to both the engineering firm of Remington, Vernick & Arango and to American Water Resources. Fishman said this could present a conflict of interest. The mayor said this issue was looked into by lawyers, and that no conflict of interest was found.

Resident Jean Friday asked the council if the borough has looked into using PILOT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) funds to go partially to support the schools.

Council President Mark Vidovich said this issue has been reviewed and that the borough is looking into everything possible to protect its schools.