Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST
Transparency of Local Government
Where is the Harinet, ponytie or hair restriction device? #abovethelaw
Transparency is an important principle of good governance since a degree of clarity and openness about how decisions are taken can help to build the capacity of the poor and/or marginalized to play a role in policy formulation and implementation; to influence these decisions that affect their lives; and to encourage.
Excessive secrecy can undermine the quality of public decision-making and prevent citizens from checking the abuses of public power. This can have a corrosive effect on virtually all aspects of society and governance. Transparency -- in terms of both information disclosure and dissemination and access to decision-making -- is therefore very important as it better enables civil society to:
• hold government and/or key decision-makers to account;
• promote good governance;
• improve public policy and efficiency;
• combat corruption.
Recently I sent in two OPRA requests. One for the gun range, the other for emails related to the Synnergy project. April 2018 I sent these to the clerk’s office. I got responses, however they refused to share any of the information. They said none exists. This is a preposterious response by the town.
The township has broken their contract with the residents. They have forgotten that the resident’s matter, that we pay their salaries. The level of disrespect that the Mayor’s office has for residents, the negative culture they have created for the township employees has bred a dangerous environment for all those involved. The oldest and simplest justification for government is as protector: protecting citizens from violence. The idea of government as protector requires taxes to fund, train and equip an army and a police force; to build courts and jails; and to elect or appoint the officials to pass and implement the laws citizens must not break. The leaders also need to not break the laws, they are not above them. Elected Officials' have very clear Duties & Responsibilities. It is the duty of the mayor, clerk, and councilmembers to ensure the city fulfills its duties under the law and lawfully exercises its powers. When they do not, there must be accountability. Recently, our MCPO held employees of the township accountable. Our Mayor refuses to accept this accountability. That is not acceptable and is preposterous.
It also is preposterous, that I had to push back a total of 5 times collectively on the two recent OPRA requests. Asking the clerk’s office, “I respectfully ask you to reconsider and re-evaluate your response.” They sent one piece of information to me after the 5th request. The residents took the only route available to them – they went to court. Residents are fed up with this approach by the Mayor’s toxic culture. The one OPRA request asked for all invoices for the firing range behind American Metro Way for the last few years. Two years ago we asked for the same information. The response to that OPRA request was, “there is no firing range.” UNREAL! Now, at least they are acknowledging the existence of the firing range, but only would send an invoice by GRES paving for the years we asked, and its well aware to all that there was a lot of work done there over the past 3 years. Do you think that is representative of transparency? You be the judge.
The other OPRA request we sent up we asked for all of the emails between the Mayor, and all her directors, between Synnergy and their attorney over the past few years. They came back with there are no emails in existence, even after we pushed back several times. Do you think that is representative of a transparent government? How can there be ZERO emails between all those people for the last several years. (solar project on Sweetbriar ave)
The rise in government secrecy carries a big cost. When governments have to defend lawsuits or other proceedings challenging their practices, the public bears the expense. When governments fail to post documents on a website and instead respond to repeated queries from the public by photocopying the same material again and again, there is waste. Perhaps most significantly, lack of transparency poses a major risk to good government: When the public is shut out and information is hard to get, governments can mask poor practices, corruption, waste, fraud and abuse.
The blame game continues as Republican Mayor Kelly Yaede rebukes her GOP opponent and political adversaries for filing Open Public Records Act requests.
The increase is because of a failure in transparency. Taxpayers have the right to information. This administration simply cannot accept that residents will not accept their lack of transparency. Taxpayers have the right to information. This administration simply cannot accept that.
Mayor Yaede’s poorly thought out press releases are consistent with her other actions. In 2016, Mayor Yaede and the council correctly put into place an . However, . In other words, Mayor Yaede circumvented the very law she put into place. Even worse, Mayor Yaede sent a message that it is better to obtain pets from shady pet stores rather than saving lives from the town’s animal shelter. If that was not enough, Mayor Yaede brought her dog to a park where dogs are not allowed. Even worse, said Mayor Yaede contacted the Hamilton Little League President to make excuses for the mayor. While I do not approve of banning dogs from parks, Mayor Yaede’s total disregard for the law and her attempt to get others to excuse it speaks volumes about her character. Remember the photo opp she took at the local sandwich shops opening, where she made her own steak sandwich. No hairnet, no hat above the grill. All food handlers must have their hair covered. There is not a clause in the law that saws, except when Mayor Yaede is at the grill.
Article on the HAIR issue below from 2015….
Mayor Yaede’s team overseeing the shelter proved the current team running the facility lack the ability to impact positive change. In order to solve a problem, one must acknowledge the problem exists. She refuses to acknowledge a problem existed at the shelter, ever. But remember the playgrounds…again “best playgrounds in the county”. Remember when she denied that there was a gang issue a drug issue in our town. When she nicknamed our town the “Big H”, all the while acutely unaware of the street name for heroin was the Big H. Let’s not forget the famous, ”Crime as low as 1977 she trumpeted for quite a long time. There is a disturbing pattern here.
The township will pay out $50,000 and spend $75,000 on special environmental projects as part of a broad settlement it reached with Save Hamilton Open Space, ending a decade-old legal battle centered around a housing development.
The township was sitting in proverbial hot water ever since the Hamilton Township Planning Board fully approved a major subdivision for developer Gres and Kaluzny Land Development in 2005, which smoothed the path for Christopher Estates to be built on a 7.68-acre plot at Laura and Evelyn avenues in the Cornell Heights neighborhood.
The developer built 16 homes and a detention basin facility, but Save Hamilton Open Space, a New Jersey nonprofit corporation, has alleged the basin was improperly designed.
This basin didn’t infiltrate because the soils were not of the right nature, Hamilton should have never approved it. But it went through.
When Hamilton Township Council authorized the settlement a few years ago, at a public meeting, the township’s then attorney, Lindsay Burbage, publicly stated that the township was “technically in violation of our permit” by approving the basin design. “It’s technically a failed technology,” he said, noting the township is committed to remediating the problem. Burbage at that council meeting also disclosed that the township is suing the builder.
“The basin doesn’t drain quickly enough, and it creates some mosquito problems. The township has filed a lawsuit against Gres and Kaluzny seeking to get the developer to bring the basin into compliance with state and local storm management regulations. This still is not done. This has caused a negative environmental impact to the community.
Defining the matter as “strictly an engineering issue,” is the position of the Gres and Kaluzny “The township engineers approved and came out on site and they signed off on everything, just like any other development would be. We build what the engineer says.”
I have attended numerous council meetings in past years as well. What is clear is that the residents are angry with the Mayor. She owns this chaos. The dishonesty, the lack of accountability, the ignoring of residents is despicable. Her responses to the recent animal shelter investigative results is in a word….certifiable and very concerning to residents.
She refuses to get in front of the town, where residents do not have to pay a fee to speak to her. This is not acceptable. She must address what is happening and stop going into hiding and trumpeting, it’s a political witch hunt.
God bless the current council, the MCPO and all the residents who joined forces to hold the administration accountable when the administration refused to acknowledge the issues.
There is a complete lack of concern for the residents and their safety. For over 10 years we have been fighting to get the tractor trailers off our roads in Cornell Heights. It took OPRA requests, letters to DOT, letters to the Governor, Congress, presentations at council to finally get a firm commitment this past week from Dave Kenny that the signage is on the horizon. I was told he stated, “this should have happened from the beginning.” I was not on the phone to hear that directly, but it should have. Why does it take ten years and fighting with the administration to make this happen? It was slated to happen with the construction of American Metro Way, who let this not happen. Why did the administration not hold the developers accountable for not doing it? Where is the series of checks and balances on the township? This however, is the typical atmosphere with the current administration…..the animal shelter, OPRA requests, construction, etc. It is not acceptable.
The residents have created a bond, a strong bond that will never go away. We will refuse to take this nonsense anymore. This is our legacy. This is our town. What will be the Mayor’s legacy. I think Newsweek did that for her this week. The resident revolution will continue, we will continue to hold you accountable for not meeting needs of the community, for illegal behaviors, for ignoring the safety of the community.
If you are honestly concerned about the anger and “civility” of residents, and I know that you are not, you should step in and meet with them directly in town hall style settings, where they could speak directly to you and get answers to their questions and concerns straight from you, not having to ask council so that council can then ask the business agent and then, if we’re lucky, we get an answer at the next meeting in two weeks or a month later. Wouldn’t that be nice, having a mayor who doesn’t hide from the people she is paid to serve, protected by an armed security detail, and using layers of buffers to shield herself from the very residents who pay her salary?
It should go without saying that candidates should definitely not steal their opponents’ yard signs. Incredibly, however, enough candidates have been caught stealing signs that it warrants a mention: don’t steal signs. Not only is it unethical, it can result in hefty fines and, frankly, it’s just bad PR. Instead of Yaede campaign stealing Henderson signs....how about they focus om the fact where they placed the sign.....and removed Dave’s sign; the grass is over 20 inches high. Did Mayor Yaede not notice that? That the resident that they had an opponent’s sign removed in in violation of a township ordinance as it pertains to lawn maintenance? Why is this overlooked? Why is the safety of the residents who are forced to walk in the street on sweetbriar where this new huge sign is by Mayor Yaede? There is no sidewalk or road shoulder in front of this vacant property and adding the tall grass growing, the large political sign, is a recipe for a future pedestrian fatality.
In closing, let’s not forget our sweet animals. The revolution to safeguard them has only begun by the residents of Hamilton. Below is a link to a story that focuses on an interview of an industry expert that focuses on the mismanagement of euthanasia at the shelter.
God Bless the residents of Hamilton, keep holding the administration accountable.