At the December 6th Mayor & Council meeting, Resolution 342-18, which would permanently appoint Michele McGlynn LoManto as Roselle Park’s Clean Coordinator, brought out the politics which – if not kept in check by residents – will become the environment in which municipal government is going function in 2019.
The appointment of the Clean Communities Coordinator has been an annual one. A review of records since 2007 reveals that Alex Balaban was appointed as the coordinator from 2007 through 2014. In 2015 and 2016, Dan Petrosky was the Clean Communities Coordinator. The last two years Ms. LoManto has been in that position. The coordinator is paid an annual stipend which ranged from $,599.08 to $1,817.68 during the eight years Mr. Balaban was appointed; $,1854.03 to $1,891.11 for Mr. Petrosky; and $1,928.94 and $1,967.52 during the two years Ms.LoManto has been the Clean Communities Coordinator.
The move by council – which currently is a 4-2 Republican majority – was a pre-emptive measure to try to stop the incoming administration which would have 4-3 majority with Mayor-elect Joseph Signorello III from appointing someone else other than Ms. LoManto. This last-minute changing of policy and practice was notably most recently done in Wisconsin by outgoing governor Scott Walker and the Republican majority legislature which passed laws that would limit the powers of incoming Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Mayor-elect Signorello asked that the matter be table until 2019. He commented on the resolution, stating, “Just conceptually I don’t love the idea of indefinite appointments. I understand some of the concepts around indefinite appointments but at the end of the day I think that terms are there for a reason and at the end of terms people should be evaluated on their performance.”
He publicly stated that this was not a commentary on Ms. LoManto and her performance to date. Privately he has told several people that he was not going to appoint her next year. The reason given by the mayor-elect to two independent sources was related to her comments on social media about him during the election campaign. It had nothing to do with her performance, effectiveness, or productivity.
The resolution was later pulled off consent and during the discussion Councilman-At-Large Joseph DeIorio stated, “Michele McGlynn has done an incredible job serving as Clean Communities Coordinator this year. Prior to her service in the borough this year and last year, Clean Communities was a political football — both Republicans and Democrats. It would change with the whims of who was in control of the governing body. We have someone that’s really good.”
Council-At-Large DeIorio went on to speak about the Farmers Market coordinator, Antonette Signorello. She is the mayor-elect’s mother. Councilman DeIorio said, “I was in full confidence of [Antonette’s] ability as a volunteer and then changing over to a permanent appointment as the Farmers Market Coordinator. We made it permanent so there wouldn’t be changes just at the whim of whoever was in charge. She was passionate about the position. I supported her then just as I’m supporting Michele today because these two ladies do an incredible job.”
Antonette Signorello was appointed in May of 1998 and has held the position of Farmers Market Coordinator for 20 years.
He added, “[I’m going to] vote in the affirmative for someone who’s going to not only lead us in Clean Communities events, lead us in the Green Team, but also avoid what’s happened in the past. Prior to her we had a political appointment, Dan Petrosky, the Democratic Chairman. We almost lost the grant. I don’t want that to happen again so I fully support Michele’s appointment today.”
When the vote was taken, it went down party lines with the only two Democrats on the governing body – Second Ward Councilman Joseph Petrosky and Fourth Ward Councilman Michael Connelly – being the only two ‘no’ votes for the resolution.
Late in the meeting, Maxine Padulsky, Dan Petrosky’s girlfriend who is also a member of the Roselle Park Democratic Committee, a write-in candidate for the school board, and a candidate for first ward council last year, addressed Councilman DeIorio, “Mr. DeIorio, if you’re going to state facts please make sure that they’re true before you state them. Mr. Petrosky did not almost lose the grant. In fact, you can speak to Joanne McDonald and she will give you all the facts you need. She sent a letter to the mayor and Ken Blum assuring them that the money was never in jeopardy.”
“We did receive reports from the state that he was extremely delinquent in submitting those reports. Is that correct?”, asked Councilman DeIorio.
“No . . . and Alex Balaban never did it either so…”, remarked Ms. Padulsky.
“And that’s why we’re correcting it now,” answered the council-at-large.
A review of New Jersey Clean Communities’ contact information showed that Joanne McDonald is the coordinator for Adopt-A-Highway which is another program Dan Petrosky had taken part in his capacity of the Roselle Park Democratic Committee.
An OPRA request submitted by Roselle Park News two years ago in 2016 shows, in fact, that New Jersey Clean Communities sent a letter to the municipality that the legally required statistical reports were not completed by their due date. These reports show how municipalities spend Clean Communities grant funds. A copy of that letter is included below.
Download NJ Clean Communities Letter (August 25, 2016)
Even though this resolution – and permanent appointment – is in place, for now, it can very easily be rescinded next year when the new administration is sworn into office.
As to the question of whether Ms. McGlynn is an effective Clean Communities Coordinator, if her performance has been lacking, that has not been addressed in specifics. A review of her work product shows someone who – as a resident – started up a group called Roselle Park Renovations and cleaned up downtown and around the borough with a group of others; specifically they picked litter throughout Roselle Park every Saturday for months. As coordinator, she has maintained the educational and volunteer aspects of the position and has been instrumental in helping the municipality earn Bronze certification under Sustainable Jersey – a program that provides funds, training, and grant opportunities to municipalities that work at achieving sustainability programs. She has also planted flowers in the downtown area to dissuade people from using them as garbage bins, purchased 25 TerraCycle cigarette recycle receptacles, printed tri-fold brochures for business district merchants that outlines the borough’s litter and waste ordinances, initiated a mini-grant program for the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, adopted the Roselle Park train station and coordinates four (4) clean ups and plantings a year there, filed state reports in June, purchased new recycle stations for the borough, and purchased 15 portable trash bag holders for use during car shows, Arts in the Park events, the Christmas Tree Lighting, and the Roselle Park Arts Festival. In reaching out to Ms. LoManto, she stated that she uses her stipend to purchase flowers that are planted throughout the borough.
With both sides – yet again – making the position a political football, will the best person for the position who will most benefit the residents of Roselle Park be appointed?
That question will be answered in 2019.