Who created the Cannabis Survey and sent it out to residents?
Who created the Cannabis Forum at the Rodda Center?
Who directed employees to attend / work at the event?
The answers matter, because Council may only act as a body, not as individuals or even a subcommittee (a group of 1-3 members of council formed to discuss issues)
“It is the intention of this article that the municipal council shall act in all the matters as a body, and it is contrary to the spirit of this article for any of its members to seek individually to influence the official acts of the municipal manager… The council and its members shall deal with the administrative service solely through the manager and shall not give orders to any subordinates of the manager, either publicly or privately.”
source: NJ Rev Stat § 40:69A-91
Faulkner Act Form of Government
Teaneck operates under a type of government called the Faulkner Act. The township council appoints a manager to handle operations and the manager hires and fires employees.
To ensure that the council (a legislative body) doesn’t interfere with employees, the State enacted NJ Rev Stat § 40:69A-91 (2013) (Municipal council to act as a body; administrative service to be performed through manager; committees or commissions)
It is the intention of this article that the municipal council shall act in all the matters as a body, and it is contrary to the spirit of this article for any of its members to seek individually to influence the official acts of the municipal manager, or any other officer, or for the council or any of its members to direct or request the appointment of any person to, or his removal from, office; or to interfere in any way with the performance by such officers of their duties. The council and its members shall deal with the administrative service solely through the manager and shall not give orders to any subordinates of the manager, either publicly or privately. Nothing herein contained shall prevent the municipal council from appointing committees or commissions of its own members or of citizens to conduct investigations into the conduct of any officer or department, or any matter relating to the welfare of the municipality, and delegating to such committees or commissions such powers of inquiry as the municipal council may deem necessary. Any council member violating the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction thereof in a court of competent jurisdiction, be disqualified as a council member.
The Survey and the Forum
As you may be aware, the current council sent out a survey seeking comments regarding cannabis zoning in Teaneck.
(Note: The original page with the survey has been deleted from the Township website, but is available here via archive.org
The survey indicates it is no longer open or available:
“The form Township of Teaneck | Cannabis Zoning Survey | January 2023 is no longer accepting responses.”
That survey had raised many questions (see our former Mayor Dunleavy’s post here), and open public records act (OPRA) requests seeking to find the derivation of the survey have thus far gone unanswered (the post will be updated if any responses are received).
Deputy Mayor Danielle Gee promoted the forum as well as the survey
When some residents questioned the validity of the survey and forum held by the township and sought information about cannabis zoning & council actions on Facebook, the husband of deputy mayor Danielle Gee responded, indicating:
“Just to be clear, only Mayor Pagan, CW Goldberg, and CW Belcher along with the Manager etc were involved in planning this forum.”
This again raises several questions, namely:
- Who planned the forum?
- Did the Subcommittee take action outside of a council meeting?
- Who directed town personnel to hold the forum?
- Was Council involved in the decision to hold the forum?
The clerk’s office responded:
“This was discussed at the Jan. 10, 2023 Meeting. The subcommittee report and accompanying minutes may be found here: http://teanecktownnj.iqm2.com/
Citizens/default.aspxThis the record responsive to this portion of the request.”
The minutes for the 3 meetings held this year do not indicate any vote for the survey, its language, or the forum (page 24 of the minutes from the 1/10 meeting indicates it was already scheduled). So who is running the show?
An email from Councilwoman Goldberg states:
“The current cannabis subcommittee planned and executedthe successful Town Hall which tookplace on January 25th at the Rodda Center, with more than 100 attendees in person andonline, marking the first such event held by the township in several years. Thank you again toDean, Tom Rowe, Doug, Ronn Goodman, MIS, and the panelists and participants for all of thehard work that went into planning and executing the event.” (emphasis added)
also from the Goldberg email:
“Additionally, a google doc survey was created by the cannabis subcommittee and shared with residents. Several
hundred people submitted their responses and the results are still being collected and reviewed by the subcommittee.
The feedback we have received from the town hall, the survey, comments at good and welfare, conversations andemails from residents and stakeholders, as well as consultation with experts including our planner and the explorationof retaining legal counsel will all be used to determine next steps.” (emphasis added)
[W]e have asked the attorney to draft an ordinance to limit publicconsumption of cannabis in public spaces.”
The subcommittee, apparently through some authority has:
- Planned and executed events on behalf of the municipality including the direction of township personnel
- Created documents sent and shared with residents
- Directed the town attorney to draft ordinances
The official actions of the township are recorded in the minutes, passed by the council as the official actions of the municipality.
They are located here:
What authority does the subcommittee have and where did it come from?