(The following was addressed to Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr,
Fanwood's Borough Council and Borough Attorney)
I was unable to attend the Mayor and Council Meeting of October 16,
but as Fanwood contemplates spending a sizeable amount to
appeal the decision of the Local Finance Board I did want
to offer a thought.
Two weeks ago I spoke out against spending the money
on this appeal, largely because of my belief that - in the end -
competent, accountable government combined with a sensible
level of services would be recognized as worth a premium
in any FAIR presentation of the facts.
Over the past two weeks I have become convinced that
this is ANYTHING BUT a fair fight in terms of resources and funding,
and that Fred Lange is simply a figurehead for a larger agenda being
forwarded by Gina Genovese and Courage to Connect New Jersey;
he no longer even offers the pretense of being the spokesman for
his own group. More to the point, Ms. Genovese has already
drawn HER conclusion - from where she sits the objective
of the Study Commission will be to make the facts fit
Against that, SOMEONE (and it IS an open question as to who
since it was not Mr. Lange) got some 350 Fanwood residents
to sign a petition in support of his application, and that IS difficult to refute.
So, for the past two weeks I have been asking "When a fight is not fair,
what do you do?" As I have noted before, being able to appeal and
actually winning are two very different things. A loss merely
reinforces the idea of an entrenched elite seeking to preserve
its own prerequisites in the face of the people's will - the very
purpose of the enabling legislation in the first place - it strengths
CTR-NJ politically. Although I have my disagreements with the
Mayor, I agree with my Mayor and my bipartisan council that
this IS a fight about principle and not about power.
So in the end, what is good for Fanwood? This not being a playground
fight, blowing a hole in the budget to appeal serves no useful purpose
and in many ways strengthens the political hand of CTR-NJ.
Far better to continue to do what Fanwood does best: deliver good
government at a affordable, defensible price. Our Mayor (to my chagrin!)
won by a better than 2-to-1 margin last year...even I am willing to concede
that she has a handle on what is happening around town, and if ever
there was a time to trust in the wisdom of her voters this would be it.
If a referendum is defeated, the matter is closed (for awhile) and
Fanwood has a study that - if done properly - might offer insights
as to its longer-term viability as a stand-alone entity. If passed,
at the least the battle would have been fought on something closer
to a level field based on the strengths of our Borough and our
Fanwood, NJ 07023-1707
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