That’s Not An Election Law Violation; THIS Is An Election Law Violation

It’s “Silly Season” again when people start thinking up scurrilous attacks to throw around.

First, out of the gate, this year goes to Margot Embree Fisher through the local chapter of LWV of Teaneck, where she sits in violation of the by-laws of her own organization:

[It’s a shame that an organization with such a wonderful national presence has been reduced to sniping like this on the local level, but here we are]

The LWV Teaneck chapter sent a letter (see pdf below) to the Bergen County clerk claiming that last November Councilmember Keith Kaplan “was inside and outside of the Rodda Center polling place “for much of the early voting week” and that he “was talking with voters and handing out business cards inside the 100-foot boundary set for purposes of preventing electioneering.”

Of course, he was.

Residents at the time were writing me and other council members personally and posting all over social media about — all sorts of problems — they were having with the new touchscreen voting machines.  So he and others went to see what was going on and talk to the people running the show.

Councilman Kaplan met with Howard Cramer, the representative from Dominion Voting and he gave out his card (link).  Kaplan gave him back his own.  We also met with the head of Bergen County’s Board of Elections, Richard Miller.  He too gave us his card and we gave him one of ours.  Knowing the rules, if a resident asked to speak with one of us, we told them it wasn’t the right place to talk about such things, but they could email and we could talk another time.  I gave them a business card too.

These are intimidation tactics now?

Maybe the local LWV is just so successful they routed out all nefarious conduct?

But that’s not true, you see!

Because this actually *IS* a violation of NJ Election Law, only it’s not Kaplan violating it.  It’s LWV board member, Margot Embree Fisher (who was on the ballot that day, too!

Watch Margot Embree Fisher chatting up voters on the way in to vote IN THE PROHIBITED ZONE, in the district where she was on the ballot:

But there was an allegation that someone else did the bad stuff.  Who made that allegation?

From the police report filed by Officer Apreda that day:

Officer Apreda responded to the polling place after police dispatch fielded a telephone call from a concerned resident who reported harrassment occurring within the polling location. The caller, Margaret Fisher, was not located upon Officer Apreda’s arrival.

and

Shortly thereafter, I contacted Ms. Fisher via telephone. She informed me that she did not observe any acts of harassment or electioneering. She stated that she heard of Mr. Kaplan’s presence at the Rodda Center from an unidentified third party, and contacted headquarters because she was concerned that he would engage in these acts based on her estimation of his past history. I advised Ms. Fisher, who wished to retract her involvement, that any witnesses or victims of the alleged acts could contact the police department.

Got it – so the person doing actual violations called in a report to send armed agents of the State to attack someone who campaigns against her.

I join the LWVT’s call for routing out election law scofflaws.  But you might want to look in your own ranks, first.

Like I said: It’s silly season.

Letter from LWV to Bergen County:

Mayor’s Statement on Referendum Questions 1 and 2

PRESS RELEASE
Mayor’s Statement on Referendum Questions 1 and 2:

November 4, 2021

It is now clear that the majority of township voters who cast their ballots on November 2, 2021 chose to move our Council elections from May to November. Voters also voted in the majority to have the township pursue energy aggregation opportunities for our residents. Thus, the 2022 council elections will convert to Bergen County control in November, rather than the traditional month of May. Continue reading “Mayor’s Statement on Referendum Questions 1 and 2”

2021 General Election Results: ?

Here’s what I know as of 7am on 11/3:
The ability of the County to add 3 numbers and provide a “Total” does not appear to be a thing.

The County has results of various sorts listed here:

Election Results

As per the “Unofficial General Election Results link, the winners are currently Klein, Rodriguez and Greene.

But….

The link appears to only show two of the sets of numbers above.  There are three:

  1. Early Voting
  2. Election Day
  3. Vote by Mail

Adding the election day totals and early voting totals appears to give the results that the County is currently posting on their site and that I posted last night.

When adding the Vote by Mail at the link above, the results change:

Why didn’t the County add the VBM to the results?

Were these all of the VBMs?

Are there more VBMs coming in?

These are open questions and I do not yet have the answers.  But these are the links and numbers available thus far.

 

Mayor Dunleavy on Teaneck Referendum Questions 1 and 2: Fixing Things or Causing Confusion?

By Mayor Jim Dunleavy

Teaneck Voters have started going to the Polls to vote for our Governor, Senate and Assembly Candidates, Board of Education Members, and State & municipal questions. I wanted to explain why I am opposed to both municipal questions.

Question 1 calls for the township to move our Council elections to November, joining the BoE, county, state, and federal elections, and questions on one ballot.  I have heard the reasons being primarily to increase access.  It is important to note that access to the polls in NJ follows the same rules for May and November Elections.  Others mention the change could lead to increasing the number of votes cast in our elections. While certainly more people come to the polls in November, especially in presidential election years, the data show that the majority, unfortunately, do not vote down the ballot to local issues.  I would submit that yes, they are coming to the polls, but not because they want to vote in their local elections.

I believe the move Question 1 is asking for has more political rather than altruistic motives.

Remember, BoE elections were moved to the Fall when then-Governor Christie waved the carrot of not having to get their budget approved via voter referendum, allowing the District to raise school taxes up to 2% per year without direct review of the voters.  The change was not to increase voter turnout, but to control finances. I believe the move Question 1 is asking for has more political rather than altruistic motives. Some have stated what others have been thinking, that more votes will result in a different outcome for certain candidates – namely, those candidates that the group who petitioned for this referendum wish to retain. We have seen many different sets of statistics regarding this proposal, but my vision of Teaneck is not one where our residents are put in a position where local elections are an afterthought.  Having attention split between our local candidates and questions amid state and federal elections does not allow the Teaneck voter to focus on what we need to decide for ourselves. This type of conflict is not necessary. We will also lose the ability to design the ballot for our township elections, a factor that has contributed to the issues with early voting on the new voting machines. A ballot that covers several pages that the voter has to scroll through is not progress. These new machines will be the ones used in future elections. It may also be worth noting that since 10 years have passed, a group has been seeking support for moving the BoE elections back to the Spring, enabling better options for budgeting for the sake of the students.  Obviously, this would also let the public have greater input and control of their school priorities.

my vision of Teaneck is not one where our residents are put in a position where local elections are an afterthought

Question 2 calls for the township to pursue an energy aggregation supplier in the hopes of increasing renewable energy in Teaneck and the state. I do not know about you, but the more I read, the more confusing this system is. Some key questions every voter needs to ask themselves:

  1. “Will this energy aggregation program increase renewable energy sources that are homegrown in New Jersey”?
    The answer is No, it will not. PJM, our regional transmission organization has had to buy RECs (renewable energy Certificates) which are “tradable, non-tangible energy commodities in the United States that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour(MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource (renewable electricity) and was fed into the shared system of power lines which transport energy. (Wikipedia accessed 10/21)”.
    They use these to meet the state mandate of 25% renewable power. PJM has the largest inventory of un-renewable inventory of all the regional transmission providers in It is also the ONLY interchange in the country that does not have a majority of clean sources for energy
  2. Will my energy bill go down?
    Well, maybe.
    Savings have been seen in some towns, while others have not. The township will contract with an energy supplier recommended by a consultant. If the consultant cannot find a company that beats PSE&G’s price, everyone will remain with PSEG. I have seen average #s of $100-$150 savings over the course of these contracts (1-2 years) but there is no way to know until a contract between Teaneck and the aggregation company is completed. There is also the possibility that what happened in towns like Maplewood, could occur here – namely after their first contract was completed, they could not find a bidder for their second round. They had to move back to PSE&G only to have to change again a few months later. The residents then go through the same review of the new plan in order to determine if they want to opt-in or opt-out. This has happened in other towns as well.
  3. Will everyone be automatically “opted in” the program.
    There will be a window of time for you to take action to opt yourself out, otherwise, you are opted into the aggregation program.I’d also like to note:

    – The township and four other New Jersey towns are being targeted by Food and Water Watch, an international environmental group that is supporting the referendum efforts. Part of their activities includes soliciting dollars for their PAC, which, anecdotally, I have heard, has already started. In addition, a recent report from a fact-checking organization, Food and Water Watch – Media Bias/Fact Check (mediabiasfactcheck.com) states:
    Overall, we rate Food and Water Watch left biased based on environmental positions that always favor the left. We also rate them Mixed for factual reporting due to not always adhering to the consensus of science and the use of poor sourcing techniques.

    – Our current chair and a previous chair of the environmental commission have already stated their misgivings about the program and both recommend against it at this time.

 

In conclusion, we have a program proposal that is confusing, does not guarantee savings and incentivizes profits which inhibit the creation of renewable energy sources in New Jersey.

This will not affect our environment here in Teaneck.

Instead, we need to fully examine whether this is right for Teaneck. Realize also that this is not the only chance to enter into an energy aggregation program.

Do not feel time pressure. We can start it at any time without a referendum when we see that it is right for Teaneck.

Like you, I want all the sources of our energy to be renewable. However, when I see PSEG pouring billions into meeting their goal of a 50% reduction in their carbon footprint by 2030, 5 years earlier than the state goal along with township initiatives such as putting in electric charging stations, I see better in-state solutions that will have more positive impacts on our environment here in Teaneck and New Jersey. Seeing our money going to out-of-state energy providers with no impact on our environment is not what we need.

I urge a NO vote on both questions.

Why Vote NO on Municipal Questions 1 & 2?

There are 2 Municipal Questions on the Ballot this year.

Question #1: Moving the date of Council Elections

  • Local elections deserve attention
  • Very little focus on local issues in November amid Presidential / Congressional races
  • Traditionally nonpartisan races were in May and Partisan Races were in November to remove crossover influence
  • While turnout can be higher in some November races, the votes for non-partisan (e.g. BOE races) do not increase proportionately as voters skip these important races.

 

Question #2: Community Choice Aggregation.

  • This proposal allows for the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to offset energy use
  • This does NOT change the energy content in our area
  • This proposal typical enriches the lobbyists that create the programs, creating bad incentives to actually create clean energy in our area
  • The PJM interchange (which handles our area) is the ONLY interchange without a majority of clean energy content
  • The current and former chair of the Teaneck Environmental Commission expressed reservations about this plan.

Follow the Science — Vote No on Municipal Question #2

Current and Former Chairs of the Environmental commission weigh in on the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) proposal:

These days, there’s a lot of misinformation and it’s very hard to know what to believe.

For Municipal Question #2, Community Choice Aggregation, here are the experts:

“I think it’s important we’re careful with our language. Community Choice Aggregation [CCA is Municipal Question #2] will not improve the environment of Teaneck. It will support renewable energy credit swaps which overall, in the long term, can help mitigate climate change. The more that we’re encouraging renewable energies um – and I think for the broader environment – absolutely makes a huge difference.

But it’s not gonna affect Teaneck’s environment, in any way um — measurable way.

Joseph Gillers
Chair, Teaneck Environmental Commission
(October 20, 2021)

“What seems like a good idea, with a very small actual impact on climate change, is structured in such a way that a small group of former utility officials stand to benefit handsomely if this legislation passes for a dubious amount of actual work. That seems wrong to me. There are far better ways to incentivize local green energy purchases than enriching people who were once the regulators and grouped NJ with the highest polluting states, all coal dependent. We need a disinterested 3rd party to analyze this and given the animosity between the Council majority and proponents on both of these measures, it is hard to see how this helps or hurts. At this point, I would vote NO, but reserve judgment on the idea itself.”

Michael Rogovin
Former Chair, Teaneck Environmental Commission
(October 22, 2021)

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.