In addition to the technical difficulties that we had during the last meeting, it must also be noted that Mayor Chukwueke ended the meeting prior to allowing every member of the public that wished to speak the opportunity to. I sent him an email the following morning, because I did have things to discuss at the meeting, and wasn’t allowed to. The response that I got was significantly lacking, which shouldn’t surprise anyone that knows how things run here. Because my questions and comments were omitted from the public record, I have decided to post them publicly, along with his response, and my response to his response.
My initial email:
Following the events of last night’s meeting, as was stated on the record at that time, I was denied the opportunity to speak, which is a violation of my rights under the OPMA, by your suddenly ending the meeting. ALL members of the public are entitled to the right to speak at ALL public meetings, and this was denied to me. I do not recall hearing a vote on your motion to adjourn.
To that end, please find included, my list of questions, comments, and suggestions.
1) With regards to the OPMA, the Borough is regularly in violation of adequate notice. Seriously, look at the law (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B62zIy-MpCRodi1PZFg3MUJVTHc/view). Sure, your solicitor likes to point out that it is not the Borough’s responsibility to make sure that it gets published, but this is a garbage answer, and we all know it. Even if the Borough was doing as it should, then it would indicate that these two newspapers are incapable of providing notice, but that would be ignoring the fact that other local municipalities DO NOT HAVE THIS PROBLEM, nor does Woodlynne’s own Planning Board. The sensible solution in this instance would be to change how the Borough is handling notice to ensure that adequate notice is getting out. The failure of the newspapers to print these notices IN TIME are the direct result of the Borough failing to provide it to them completely and IN TIME. It also goes to show that the Borough is failing to follow up and make sure that these notices are getting published. If private residents are able to determine that this isn’t happening, then surely trained clerk staff can figure this out, or failing that it falls to Mayor and Council. As it stands, the following is a list of actual notices that made it to the papers regarding meeting dates/times:
12/27/19 – Retrospect – Public notice of the Reorganization meeting on 1/6/20. This is a Special Meeting, and requires 48 hours advance notice. This was the only notice for this meeting.
1/24/20 – Retrospect – Annual Meeting list. This was the only notice, and it did NOT show up 7 days after adoption, so this ALSO fails notice.
4/8/20 – Courier-Post – Change of Venue and Time for 4/9/20 Meeting. This notice was published < 48 hours prior to the meeting, failing notice.
4/10/20 – Retrospect – Change of Venue and Time for 4/9/20 Meeting. This notice shows up a day after the meeting. Failure here too.
5/8/20 – Retrospect – Change of Venue and Time for 5/14/20 – Meets notice requirements.
5/12/20 – Courier-Post – Change of Venue and Time for 5/14/20 – Meets notice requirements.
5/22/20 – Retrospect – Budget and Meeting information for 6/11/20. – Meets notice requirements.
That’s it. For the year-to-date. The Reorganization meeting counts as a Special Meeting, since it does not appear on an Annual Notice. 48 hours notice is required. It failed to meet that requirement, and thus it was non-compliant. The Annual Notice had 7 days to be published after adoption in order to meet this requirement. It made it to a single publication (late). This fails compliance, and this being the case, you need to have 48 hours lead notice for everything now, which you are consistently failing to do. Your lawyer arguing with us does not change the fact that notice is NOT being served.
2) Stop gaslighting us. The intersection of Powelton and Woodlynne is a dangerous intersection, with obvious sight-line problems, and has been for a long time. Multiple residents have come to meetings and spoken up about it. I also personally make use of this intersection, and it is very difficult to do so due to sight-line issues.
3) The intersection of Parker Ave. and Woodlynne Ave. is a dangerous intersection, and the actions “taken” in the illegal vote of Ordinance 2020-2 will not solve this problem, as per two different paid professionals, one of which under the employ of the Borough. Further, removing that parking does not make pedestrian traffic any safer when crossing the Woodlynne Ave from the northern side, since that has no impact on pedestrian ability to see oncoming westbound traffic. This is largely due to the parking spot on the corner there, which violates state traffic laws, and has been brought to your attention at least twice in the last three months. Council President Earley’s response the first time was that she’d have Public Works look at it. And they did… They re-painted the yellow curb, which still, obviously, extends into the parking spot. The spot is still there, and still hindering line of sight.
4) Councilwoman Torres moved out in March. Several residents have spoken to the landlord regarding this matter, and she has indicated that due to Ms. Torres’ non-payment of rent (extending back months prior to her leaving the house), she was in danger of actually losing the house, and that her lease would not be renewed in April. As indicated, Ms. Torres left in March. It is now June, and she does not live in the Borough. Her residency in the Borough is a REQUIREMENT for her holding her seat. If she is no longer a resident, then she should not be holding this seat. Furthermore, last night’s meeting was her first appearance at one of these meetings in months. Last I heard, after she misses so many of them, she is required, by law, to pay back a portion of her Council salary. Furthermore, she is supposed to be the head of the Public Safety Committee, right? Isn’t this the committee that oversees the police department? Where exactly was she when Officer Dubiel was allowed back on the street, and where was she during the aftermath of the attack? Further, we have documented evidence that she submitted her resignation to you last month, and then tried to recall that as she was being offered a place to live in town by Mr. Fuentes, where she is still not living.
This is another point of contention with the solicitor as he keeps indicating that the public is asking after her personal affairs. We are not. Personally, I don’t care what’s going on in her personal life, but she is supposed to be a member of Council. If she does not meet the requirements to hold this seat, then it is our RIGHT to know this, just as it is your (yours and Council’s) DUTY to make sure that the seat is held by a qualified resident. The solicitor, finally, admitted on the record that personal matters do NOT supercede the residency requirement to hold this seat, so it doesn’t matter what her personal problems are. If she does not meet the requirements for the seat, then it needs to be vacated, and filled by someone that does meet the requirements. Continued attempts to hide this, or deflect resident inquiry, further indicate complicity.
5) To the best of my knowledge, the Municipal Clerk is still failing to attend meetings. Let me direct your attention to the law regarding this position:
Title 40A – MUNICIPALITIES AND COUNTIES
Section 40A:9-133 – Municipal clerk, appointment, duties
Please pay specific attention to the following:
e.The municipal clerk shall:
(1) act as secretary of the municipal corporation and custodian of the municipal seal and of all minutes, books, deeds, bonds, contracts, and archival records of the municipal corporation. The governing body may, however, provide by ordinance that any other specific officer shall have custody of any specific other class of record;
(2) act as secretary to the governing body, prepare meeting agendas at the discretion of the governing body, be present at all meetings of the governing body, keep a journal of the proceedings of every meeting, retain the original copies of all ordinances and resolutions, and record the minutes of every meeting;
I have brought this up numerous times over the months, with the solicitor’s argument being that the clerk can fulfill his duties with the recording of the meeting. That said, that does not mean that he gets to ignore the law. By holding this position, the law states that he SHALL by present at all meetings. Now, I know that lawyers like to argue the meaning of the word “shall” but in statute, the courts typically find that “shall” implies the imperative, meaning that this is a mandatory requirement. Further, after speaking with the Deputy Director of the Division of Local Government Services, it is YOUR responsibility (along with Council) to make sure that he is fulfilling his duties as defined. He is not, as the law clearly shows.
Mayor Chukwueke, the Borough is already being sued for doing things that it shouldn’t. Your continued use of the “Mute” button during May’s meeting almost got you another one. That being said, if I am EVER denied my right to speak again by this body, or if I am muted again during my “turn” to speak, I will bring another suit, and in addition suing the Borough, I will be suing you, directly, as you and you alone are making the decisions and taking the actions that are resulting in my censorship.
Woodlynne is watching
Mayor Chukwueke’s response:
The public section of the meeting was voted to close and the meeting was voted to adjourned too. Woodlynne is the only Borough that allows her resident the free ample of time to voice their opinion during our public meeting without time limit, our meeting lasted for three hours and compare that to other town.
FYI:- Through the appropriate channel, proper notice was given out to the public for all our public meetings. Finally I do not and will not entertain your baseless accusation as I look forward to seeing your suits.
Be blessed and remain blessed.
MAYOR OF WOODLYNNE BOROUGH
My final response:
1) The Meeting did not last three hours. The recording, which was longer than the meeting itself was not three hours.
2) I was not provided time to speak, so saying that the time was provided for me to speak was false. You also made a point to instruct residents to wait their turns. I did as requested, and was still denied the opportunity to speak.
3) FYI:- the “appropriate channel” is failing somewhere. No other nearby government body is appearing to have this problem, so the failure must lie here. If these newspapers are failing to provide notice, then it is your duty to find two that will, but as I said, the evidence suggests that the problem is not with them. As the OPMA itself states, the right to attend these meetings is pointless without adequate notice.
Finally, my “accusations” regarding your denying my right to speak are not baseless. There is ample evidence from May’s meeting, where you muted me three times during the period in which I had the floor. There is evidence from this meeting, where I stated on the record that I had not been given a chance to speak.
Woodlynne is watching
That’s right, neighbors, of all of the perfectly valid points that I brought up, our Mayor chose to focus on how we have ample time to speak (unless they don’t want to hear from you) and to re-iterate that they are *sending* the notices to the paper, and that’s the limit of their obligation. Never mind the fact that the Borough is the only body that appears to be having problems getting notices published on time. Never mind that any body with actual integrity would see that problem for what it is and take the necessary steps to correct it. Woodlynne Borough? Nope.