The 2013 Annual Re-Organization Meeting marked the second consecutive year that Mayor Joseph Accardi violated municipal law and appointed the Council President without having council elect one as stated in Chapter II, Article I, Section 2-6 of the General Ordinances of the Borough of Roselle Park. The relevant sections of the borough code read:
“At the organizational meeting the Council by a majority vote shall elect from their number a President of the Council, who shall preside at all of its meetings when the Mayor does not preside . . . If the Council at its annual meeting fails to elect a President, the Mayor shall appoint the President from the Council and in that case no confirmation by the Council shall be necessary.“
Last year, during the 2012 Annual Re-Organization Meeting, the mayor plainly stated without moving the appointment before council, “At this time, I’d like to move along with the agenda and I’ll begin with my selection for Council President, Modesto Miranda.”
Although no council member which was contacted for a comment had any personal objection with Modesto Miranda as the Council President, the ordinance violation was a noticeable issue.
Recently re-elected councilman Michael Yakubov stated, “Obviously, we have ordinances on the books for a reason. They need to be followed or complied [with] properly. I am not sure if this was an oversight or intentional. I am however, happy with Councilman Miranda as the Council Presidents and he has my support and vote . . . However, the proper protocol should have been applied.”
First Ward Councilman Andrew Casais responded, “Unfortunately, I forgot that this appointment required a majority vote. If I had, I would have said something. However, I fully support Councilman Miranda as the 2013 Council President.”
Council-At-Large Carl Hokanson commented, “Let me start out by saying that the year 2013 is politics as usual. I have a lot to say but I am trying very hard to keep my campaign promises that I made when I took office. As far as Council President, I am okay with Moe doing it but I . . . feel that mayor and council should do what the BOE and Freeholders do, [which is] rotate it [the position].”
Third Ward Councilwoman Tanya Torres stated that Mayor Accardi did ask at a caucus meeting if there were any objections to Councilman Miranda remaining Council President and no one objected.
Newly elected Second Ward Councilwoman Charlene Storey took issue with the mayor’s actions, “The ordinance looks clear to me; a vote should have been taken. I believe the appointment made by the mayor is invalid. Councilwoman Torres [said] the appointment was announced by the mayor to no opposition in a party caucus. Even if all the Republicans on Council were present — and I don’t know if they were — that is irrelevant. The ordinance calls for a vote by the Council, not by the majority party in a private meeting. That’s not how our method of government works.”
Although it could be argued that the appointment was a simple oversight or procedural misstep, there is evidence that the mayor – himself an attorney – was aware of the code and its conditions two years ago during the January 20, 2011 Mayor & Council meeting. During that meeting, which was his first meeting as mayor, Mr. Accardi appointed the Council President but waited until the meeting after that year’s Re-Organization Meeting to do so, in line with the borough code.
“I’m going to make my selection now of Council President. I select Modesto Miranda as my Council President. This appointment does not require the approval of council but I will entertain any comments if somebody wants to make a comment,” said newly-elected Mayor Accardi. When a question came from a member of the dais off-mic regarding the appointment at that time, the mayor repeated, “It does not require approval of council.”
Mayor Accardi did not offer any comment for the article.