“Before we go on, I just want to make a comment,” Mayor Joseph Accardi stated during the January 17, 2013 Mayor & Council meeting, “I admit when I make a mistake and I made a mistake at the last meeting. There was a question about the council president. I have nominated Moe Miranda as my Council President for the third year in a row and I would still like him to be my council president.”
Mayor Accardi was referring to an article written by Roselle Park News regarding his violation of Borough Code 2.1.2-6 which deals with the appointment of a Council President.
“I say ‘my’ because he is my right-hand man,” The mayor continued with his explanation, “I have to count on them to fulfill all the duties and responsibilities as I would fulfill if I were not available.”
The mayor’s reasoning is contradictory to what Roselle Park has as its form of government which is the Borough Form (N.J.S.A. 40A:60-1) or – as it is often referred to – ‘strong-council, weak-mayor’. In such a government, which is the most popular form of local government in New Jersey with over 200 municipalities using it as their style of governance, council is the legislative body of the borough and all executive responsibilities not placed in the office of the mayor by general law or the borough law remain with the council. The purpose of the Council President is not to be a mayor’s right-hand man (or woman), as Mayor Accardi sated, but to have members of council appoint someone – in line with the powers given to them – to preside over council meetings and have authority over all general law in the event the elected mayor cannot perform such duties due to absence or legal inability.
This is not the first time Mayor Accardi has tried to enact or appoint a position to tailor a different form of government other than ‘strong-council, weak mayor’. Last year, mayor Accardi tried, and failed, to appoint a Chief Administrator Officer (CAO) to answer to him as his ‘person on the ground’ with respect to the day-to-day operations of the municipality. Under N.J.S.A. 40A:60-1, a CAO would still have to answer to council and not the mayor since council holds all the executive responsibilities and they, not the mayor, may appoint an administrator and delegate all or a portion of the executive responsibilities to him or her.
“With that said there is an ordinance on the books that says if council chooses to elect a council president they may do so at the re-organization meeting,” Mayor Accardi continued, “or at the second meeting I have the right to appoint automatically.”
The mayor touched upon his actions, particularly in 2012, when he stated, erroneously, that the Council President was appointed due to the mayor selecting councilman Miranda and no one from council nominating him. Continuing with his statement, Mayor Accardi stated, “In 2013, I made the comment that the Council President does not require a vote and, in a way, it was a mis-worded sentence. What I was getting at was that I thought that councilman Miranda had the support of council but nobody moved his name and that was the re-organization meeting.”
Offering an explanation that he believed he could now appoint the Council President, Mayor Accardi said, “In the interest of fairness I offered up to anybody else if they want to nominate anybody else for Council President.”
Councilman Andrew Casais made a motion when Mayor Accardi asked if anyone wished to move Councilman Miranda for Council President. The motion was seconded by councilwoman Tanya Torres.
“Any questions or comments or concerns about the procedure?” asked the mayor before calling for a vote.
With no one from council commenting on either the violation of law or the mayor’s explanation, all six (6) member of council voted unanimously to appoint Modesto Miranda for Council President.