June 16, 2016 Mayor & Council Meeting: One For The History Books

Subsequent articles will provide more detail but last night’s Mayor & Council meeting was one filled with important topics and issues regarding Roselle Park’s present, past, and future. Some of the many highlights are summarized below.

After a long absence, the governing body brought back “Business Of The Month” and made Joe’s Rotisseria June’s BOTM. Robert Gordon Elementary School fifth-grade student Sebastian Saavedra was recognized for his 2016 Union County Arbor Day Poetry Contest award-winning poem. Mayor Carl Hokanson notified residents that PSE&G will be cutting vegetation along the railroad tracks from Laurel Avenue to the end of Seaton Avenue this summer. A listing of acceptable bulk items was announced. The Roselle Park Fire Department Chief Joseph Signorella again postponed discussion on moving the fire siren from its current location to Borough Hall while being approved this year for a new chief’s vehicle which was scheduled to be purchased in 2019.

A major discussion was had on a proposed ordinance that would have, according to its sponsor Fourth Ward Councilman Mohamed ‘Gino’ Elmarassy, raised the contribution limits for political candidates. Although he admitted that the ordinance was written by a ‘friend’, the councilman never revealed that friend’s name nor that person’s intention for the change. At one point during the discussion, Councilman Elmarassy stated that the change would result in “unlimited contribution and I believe it’s good for both parties”. After long discussion on whether to table it, a vote was taken to approve the first reading – or the legal introduction – of the ordinance. It was voted down 4-2 with only Councilman Elmarassy and Councilman Joseph Petrosky voting to approve its introduction.

Then, for the first time in as long as anyone can remember, a municipal employee took advantage of what is known as a Rice Notice Letter and opted to have what is usually kept from the public as a closed session item discussed in an open meeting. The issue was a charge of insubordination brought by First Ward Councilman Eugene Meola against the Department of Public Works Superintendent Mark Pasquali. THe councilman charged that the superintendent hung up on him when Mr. Meola asked for a list of questions to ask potential candidates for open positions on the DPW. He alleged that Mr. Pasquali said that the interview process was over then hung up. The matter continued at a Public Safety meeting when the councilman stated he was told by the DPW superintendent to mind his own business. After discussions from the dais a vote was taken and by a 3-2 vote, council opted to take ‘no action’ against the superintendent. Councilman Thomas ‘Thos’ Shipley and Councilwoman Charlene Storey voted for a written reprimand while councilmen Ryan Kelly, Joseph Petrosky, and Mohamed ‘Gino’ Elmarassy voted for no action.

Finally there was additional discussion on the proposition from Word of Liquors to add an additional one or two reserved parking spaces at the current rate of $4,000 a year. Currently, the local business is paying that much for five (5) parking spaces and requested additional spaces at no charge. The municipal parking lots are free to the public since last year.

The meeting, including a closed session, went till 11 o’clock in the evening.

Below is the video of 22-minute discussion on Ordinance 2464: