BOE Candidates on Vaccine Mandates for Staff and Mask mandates for students [Yoni Bak]

This is a guest post from reader and group member Yoni Bak.


Vaccine Mandates and Mask Requirements

I reached out on facebook to the candidates for BOE about their positions on vaccine mandates for staff and mask mandates for students. I asked in a neutral way to try & get their honest opinions. Presented without comment are the responses I received from Victoria FisherLori FeinYassine S. Elkaryani & Rachel Schiffman Secemski.

 

Continue reading “BOE Candidates on Vaccine Mandates for Staff and Mask mandates for students [Yoni Bak]”

Breaking: Victoria Fisher’s Running Mate Officially Out Of BOE Race

As previously reported, Mr. Shamiq Syed who submitted petitions with Teaneck Board of Education Trustee Victoria Fisher and Jonathan Rodriguez, was preliminarily removed from the BOE race when it was determined he may not have met the one-year residency requirement.

Since that time, Mr. Syed provided various documents to support his claim / establish proof of residency.

Among the items received by the county were:

  • “Notice to Vacate” his prior residence (in Weehawken)
  • A bill of lading for the shipping of a motor vehicle (Porsche 911) from Vancouver to Teaneck in September 2020
  • 2 Paychex reports mailed to Teaneck
  • Information relating to purchase of a property in Teaneck by Mr. Syed’s father (including various financial documents associated with the sale)
  • Certifications from Mr. Syed and his family members

Continue reading “Breaking: Victoria Fisher’s Running Mate Officially Out Of BOE Race”

CCA Update: Petition Deficient [Clerk’s Response attached]

Community Choice Aggregation

As previously covered, some members of the community have been working on a program call Community Choice Aggregation (“CCA”).  The program uses credits from renewable energy providers elsewhere to “transfer” that energy (via credits) to our area.

The net result is that energy is purchased at lower rates (through aggregating demand).  The program has positives and negatives (which I’ve covered in the post linked here.

On July 15, 2021 the petitioners submitted their petitions (with an enclosed ordinance to be proposed for the ballot).

The clerk issued a response, which can be found here:

Unlike the One Town, One Vote petition, the CCA petitioners do both

  1. enclose the required ordinance and
  2. cite the correct Statute for initiating a petition (N.J.S.A. 40:69A-184 ).

Why was the petition rejected?

Among the reasons for rejection:

  • The petition did not contain the requisite number of signatures.

There’s little the clerk can do if you don’t supply the signatures required.

  • The petition contained electronic signatures which were not authorized to be accepted.

Due to the pandemic, Governor Murphy issued a series of Executive Orders.  Among them was EO 132 which allowed petitions such as an initiative or referendum to be accepted by a municipal clerk in electronic form.  EO 132 was further modified by EO 216 which extended the rule through the end of the Public Health Emergency.

On June 4th, Governor Murphy announced EO 244, which ended the public health emergency.  Had nothing else happened, the authorization that permitted a municipal clerk to accept an electronic petition would have ended that moment.  However, the Legislature enacted P.L. 2021, CHAPTER 103, (approved June 4, 2021) which extended the EO 216’s operation for 30 days.

Petitioners were noticed and should have been aware that the authorization for acceptance of electronic signatures ended on June 4th.  They also should have been aware the extension for such authorization was extended 30 days past June 4th.  That would enable the clerk to be authorized to accept electronic petitions (assuming they were in the proper form) only until Sunday, July 4th. Being generous and giving them an extra day until Monday, July 5th, they missed the deadline by 10 days, having only submitted the petition on July 15th.  Without express authorization by Statute or Executive Order, the clerk is not authorized by statute to accept the petitions.

The Cure Period

As indicated in the clerk’s notice, “[p]ursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:69A-188, the Committee may amend the Petition at any time within ten days from this Notice of Insufficiency.”

How many more signatures are required?

The following signatures were submitted

  • Electronic: 614 total (52 contained deficiencies as listed below):
    • 1 was deficient for not being fully completed (e.g. missing printed name, address, signature)
    • 8 were deficient for providing information not corresponding with voter registration information (e.g. name, address)
    • 32 were deficient for not being registered voters or not being registered voters in Teaneck
    • 11 were deficient for being duplicates
  • Hard copy: 263 (76 contained deficiencies as listed below):
    • 2 were deficient for not being fully completed (e.g. missing printed name, address, signature);
    • 50 were deficient for providing information not corresponding with voter registration information (e.g. name, address
    • 17 were deficient for not being registered voters or not being registered voters in Teaneck
    • 3 were deficient for being duplicates;
    • 4 were deficient for being illegible

As electronic petitions are not permitted, the balance of valid handwritten signatures stands at: 187

How many signatures are required to have an ordinance placed on the ballot?

As indicated in the clerk’s response:

“There exists a legitimate question of what the statute means by the “total number of votes cast” but giving the statute the most liberal reading possible, the best reading for the Committee would be based on the total number of voters who voted at the last election at which members of the General Assembly were elected in Teaneck, which figure was 7908. Thus, the total number of signatures required to submit an initiated ordinance pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:69A-184 is 10% of 7908 or 791 signatures.”

As 187 is below the threshold level of 791, the petition was found deficient.  Petitioners may amend and cure deficiencies within 10 days of being notified.

Community Choice Energy Aggregation: Coming soon?

A statement by Paula Rogovin, one of the Petitioners appears below:


Further explanation regarding electronic signatures for petitions

What does the Executive Order authorize?

EO 216 says in relevant part:

1. “The… municipal clerks… shall allow for any… initiative, referendum, or other petition required to be filed prior to an election to be submitted by hand delivery and
electronically.”

2. The… municipal clerks…  shall accept petitions with hand-written signatures and signatures collected via an online form created by the Secretary of State.

4. The requirements of N.J.S.A. 19:23-7, N.J.S.A. 19:23-15, and N.J.S.A. 19:13-8 that a candidate provide a notarized oath of allegiance shall be in effect regardless of whether a petition is submitted by hand delivery or electronically.

9. This order shall take effect immediately and shall apply to any petition that is due or may be submitted during the Public Health Emergency, first declared in Executive Order No. 103 (2020).

Clerk’s may only do what they are authorized to do by Statute.  Here, the EO (132, supplemented by 216) authorized the clerk to allow for any initiative to be submitted (paragraph #1) on a form created by the Sec. of State (paragraph #2) with the necessary oaths (paragraph #4) and applied to any petition that was due or submitted during the Public Health Emergency (which ended via EO 244 on June 4, 2021).

Once EO 216 ended, paragraph #9 meant that the public health emergency no longer allowed clerks to accept submitted electronic petitions.  But, they got a 30 day extension, via legislation.  That extension was on notice to the public (including petitioners).

Therefore, after the 30 days extension elapsed (on July 5th, 2021), the authorization to accept the petitions ceased and the clerk was precluded from doing so.

To be clear: the clerk was not authorized, absent express authorization to accept electronic signatures.  It did not exist on July 15th.

 

Petitioners and EiC Hillary Zaer-Goldberg: Apologize For Disparaging Town Employee

“Which office do I go to get my reputation back?”
– Labor Secretary Raymond Donovan after acquittal


Speaking freely on topics of concern is important.  Having smart people discussing issues on both sides of an issue and opposite ends of a spectrum informs the electorate about various issues.

But when petitioners choose to smear an employee merely for doing his job and an “editor-in-chief” decides to allow their publication to smear an employee to a larger audience, it does nothing to foster debate, argue issues, or help the community.

As you may have seen, the Township clerk replied to a petition submitted to his office.  The reply is posted here and you can read the entire thing for yourselves.

Petitions chose to issue a statement, in which they imply that the Township Clerk acted inappropriately.

Ms Goldberg then chose to describe the issue thusly:

Teaneck Clerk Tries to Thwart popular Grassroots Initiative” and has sent out the following to her mailing list:

In the email, Goldberg includes the petitioners’ press release, without the letter from the clerk stating the statutory deficiencies of the petition effort, which says in part:

“It is no surprise that the One Town One Vote petition is being challenged by the Township Clerk, who is appointed by the Teaneck Township council. The council majority has been fiercely opposed to the proposed change to the status quo.”

The clerk did not “thwart” anything.  He did his job.  If there’s a disagreement over how he did so, there’s an appeal process.

To make such a claim, absent evidence is bad enough.  To disseminate that statement, without corroborating it, compounds the injury.

One reader of Teaneck Today wrote me to say:

“I don’t know the town clerk, I don’t care what his politics are. He had a right to do his job free from abuse or being used as some kind of a tool, and he in turn has an obligation to carry out his duties in accordance with the law and free from bias. I have never heard otherwise. This nonsense all started with Ron Schwartz forcing him to pose for photos as if he was receiving the civil rights act.”

Petitioners, Ms. Goldberg, and any others that shared this should immediately apologize to the Clerk.  He did his job.  He should not be scorned for doing so.

UPDATE: Meet the 2021 BOE Candidates

Subject to certification by the County Clerk, the preliminary list of BOE candidates for the 2021 November election appears below:

If you’re a candidate and would like to participate in a “virtual” Meet & Greet to introduce yourself to Teaneck Today membership, please let me know. A formal invitation to all candidates will be going out as well.

  • DENNIS KLEIN [BRIDGING GAPS]
  • DARRYL F. GREENE
  • ROMAINE L. HASSANAH
  • RACHEL SECEMSKI
  • YASSINE ELKARYANI
  • LAURA E. FEIN [KIDS COME FIRST]
  • VICTORIA FISHER* [TRUST EQUITY ACCESS]
  • JONATHAN RODRIGUEZ [TRUST EQUITY ACCESS]
  • SHAMIQ SYED [TRUST EQUITY ACCESS]

* Indicates Incumbent

(three positions are open and brackets listed were chosen by the candidates)

UPDATE:

Please note that while Mr. Sahmiq Syed submitted an adequate number of petitions, he has been disqualified for not meeting the minimum residency requirement of living in Teaneck (1 year).

Board of Ed incumbent Victoria Fisher acknowledged in a social media post yesterday that the “campaign won’t be easy”.
Apparently, this is the first setback for the “Trust Equity Access” team.

 

Moving Elections to November: The part they won’t mention

Those that care about local issues will no longer hear about them
Those that do not care about local issues, won’t vote in council / BOE races anyway (look at the numbers)

Township managers must remain independent of party bosses’ influence

There’s a move underfoot to move non-partisan Council elections (held in May) to November, to coincide with general partisan elections.

We moved the election from November to May in 1930, when Teaneck was nearly bankrupted by partisan forces.
Since then, powers in Trenton have tried many times to move back to partisan elections, with a first step of moving the Municipal Elections to November. Continue reading “Moving Elections to November: The part they won’t mention”

May-November Relationship: Does the turnout argument have merit?

The questions I raised about the referendum to move Teaneck’s non-partisan Council elections to November, should be looked at carefully.

1) Does moving the elections increase turnout and reduce costs?

2) What has happened in places that moved elections to November?

One argument put forward is that the BOE has already done this.
Let’s take a look at the data.


Did moving the BOE vote from April to November drive up turnout?

Not every November election is the same.  Let’s examine the three basic types of November elections:

  1. Presidential election years
    (I looked at 2016, a very large turnout election since 2020 was vote-by-mail & very abnormal).
  2. Even year non-Presidential elections 
    (I looked at 2018 for this type of race – note: 2014 was uncontested)
  3. Non “even-year” elections
    (I looked at 2019 for this type of race, although the data is similar in 2017 and 2015)

The Data

For each type of November election, I looked at three metrics:

  1. Number of Voters: What was the total turnout?
  2. Number of Votes (expected): How many BOE votes could have happened (# of Voters x 3 positions available)?
  3. Number of BOE Votes (cast): How many BOE votes did voters use for BOE candidates?

This chart represents the results: Continue reading “May-November Relationship: Does the turnout argument have merit?”

A May-November Relationship

UPDATE #3: Clerk’s Amended Response Letter to Petitioners

UPDATE #2: Clerk’s Response Letter to Petitioners

The clerk of the Township of Teaneck sent the following response to petitioners on Tuesday, August 17th.

Petitioners have brought suit in Bergen County Superior Court.

In the clerk’s letter, several deficiencies in the petition are noted.

In the lawsuit, the petitioners seem to agree there are deficiencies, but ask the judge to “liberally construe all such petitions“.

We will continue to monitor for developments.


UPDATE: Clerk’s Response Letter to Petitioners

The clerk of the Township of Teaneck received the petition on July 9th.

The review then commenced and his office responded to the petitioners within the 20 days allotted by statute.

The letter below lays out the information as to why his office was not permitted to certify the petition and gives the petitioners 10 days to cure the defects.

 



Keep Teaneck Non-Partisan

You may have seen them with the clipboard already.  There’s a proposal underfoot to change the way elections are done in town.

Save money and get more people out, what could you possibly have against it?

As far as pitches go, this one is fairly simple – and the clipboard is currently seeking signatures to move Council’s non-partisan elections to November.

But we should remember H.L. Mencken: “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

Why are Non-Partisan Municipal Elections in May?

We moved the election from November to May in 1930, when Teaneck was nearly bankrupted by partisan forces.  Since then, powers in Trenton have tried many times to move back to partisan elections, with a first step of moving the Municipal Elections to November.

Attacks started right away.  By 1938, this was reported:

As of 2021, Teaneck has always resisted the move to November.

In 1942, the Bergen Record published a major editorial entitled: The Battle of Teaneck.

They decried the possibility of a return to partisanship, concluding:

Some 20 years later, here’s what Mayor Matthew “Matty” Feldman had to say in 1962:

“In order to continue attracting the Werner Schmids [ed note: Mr. Schmid was the manager after Paul Volcker reitred], the Clara Christensens and the Marion Browns to Teaneck’s employ, we must maintain our aloofness from partisan politics.

This is not to suggest that Teaneck’s citizens are to isolate themselves from the mainstream of American politics; on the contrary, we have active Democratic and Republican Clubs, and that is all to the good. But we cannot permit the intrusion of these political groups into our Councilmanic elections. Under our form of government, there is no room for politics and this is a concept which we must guard jealously.”

Continue reading “A May-November Relationship”

League of Women Voters: 2021 Democratic Primary Guide and Debate [video + pdf]

Voter’s Guide from the League of Women Voters is available below

Download the entire guide here: LWV 2021 Primary Candidate’s Voter’s Guide