What Happened at the June Hainesport Township Meeting

Thanks to all the concerned citizens of the town who came to the June Hainesport Township Meeting. For those who weren’t able to make it, here’s a quick summary of the facts:

  • Maclachlan & Boettcher refused to approve the minutes of the May meeting, because of an unauthorized expenditure to an employment lawyer of >$4000 on the bill list. They had not approved this and did not know what it was about.
    • The minutes were approved 3-2
  • The 3 incumbent committee members (Dickinson, Fitzpatrick & Porto) introduced Ordinance 2016-9-6 which will eliminate healthcare benefits for retiring committee members if adopted at the July meeting
    • This effectively forces Boettcher to retire BEFORE the July meeting (he is retiring anyway in December) if he wants to keep his retirement healthcare benefits
    • Boettcher’s benefits are the cheapest of the 5 committee members and were awarded him at a time when it was common for part time officials to receive benefits. This is no longer true.
    • If Boettcher retires, the Hainesport Republican party get to replace him immediately with a candidate of their choice
    • This would give the committee a 4-1 mandate on all decisions between now and the election.
    • A 4-1 mandate is necessary to pass certain ordinance types such as those involving the firing and hiring of township personnel
    • This ordinance was passed 3-2
  • Bruce Maclachlan tried to counter this by proposing an amendment to the agenda which would introduce a different ordinance immediately removing all healthcare benefits from all 5 committee members
    • This agenda amendment was defeated 3-2
  • During the Public comments section of the meeting, many concerned citizens (including myself) addressed these topics:
    • We commended and thanked Bill Boettcher for his 24 years of service to Hainesport
    • We repeatedly asked the committee WHY they were introducing this ordinance and why NOW?
      • If the goal is to save Hainesport money, Maclachlan’s ordinance makes more sense
      • Dickinson, Fitzpatrick & Porto refused to answer. They were silent.
    • We repeatedly asked the committee to explain the unauthorized $4000 expenditure
      • Ted Costa claimed attorney-client privilege on this.
    • We repeatedly applauded suggestions by township citizens that the committee should not take healthcare benefits, demonstrating overwhelming public opinion against this.
      • Dickinson, Fitzpatrick & Porto again refused to answer. As in, they were silent.
  • At one point there was a very heated exchange between Porto and a township citizen. This exchange is available on Youtube.

I am attempting to present these facts without judgment or editorializing, and am avoiding personal insults. I would like the citizens of Hainesport to read this and judge for themselves what is going on with the committee, and whether they are happy for it to continue. I would also like to implore everyone to come to the July Meeting at 7.30 p.m. on July 12th, when Ordinance 2016-9-6 is up for Public Hearing and Final Adoption. Thank you!

July Hainesport Township Meeting

This summary of the July Hainesport Township Meeting will restrict itself to controversial topics, namely the Public Hearing and Final Adoption of Ordinance 2016-9-6, and Public Comment. Ordinary township business, including an excellent NJSP report by Trooper Storm Colleton, proceeded as normal.

Ordinance 2016-9-6

This ordinance was given its first reading and introduction at the June Township meeting. The townspeople widely objected to it in June’s Public Comment. However it was nevertheless passed to the second stage 3-2.

The Ordinance is disguised as a cost saving measure and a “step in the right direction” towards the elimination of Health Benefits for the current Committee, as it eliminates “Healthcare Benefits for Members of the Governing Body Retiring or Ending Service.” In practice, what it means is that Bill Boettcher, who has served Hainesport faithfully for over 25 years and is in his 80s, will be forced to retire before the end of his term (within the next 20 days) in order to keep his and his wife’s healthcare benefits. It will not save Hainesport any money if he retires within the next 20 days. What it will do, is vacate his position on the committee so the Republican Committee Chairman (Deputy Mayor Porto) can appoint someone more likely to agree with the three incumbents.

As this was the Public Hearing, township residents were entitled to comment. Comments were plentiful and vigorously negative. Many wanted to understand the Committee’s motivation for introducing this Ordinance, given the likely result of Boettcher’s resignation/ no money saved. Others asked who had introduced the Ordinance. The Committee gave no answers. As usual, many residents questioned the Healthcare Benefits of all Committee Members and said they would be happy if everyone lost benefits at the same time. A Hainesport lawyer also questioned the legality of the Ordinance with respect to the State. It was observed that a super-majority of 4-1 is needed to fire township personnel.

Once the Public Hearing had ended, Committeeman Bruce MacLachlan also spoke for his permitted 10 minutes. He tried to introduce a motion to amend the agenda to present his own Ordinance (which removes Healthcare Benefits for all Committee Members) but was voted down 3-2. Ordinance 1016-9-6 was proposed, seconded, and passed 3-2.

Here is a link to a video of these two motions on YouTube.

If you agree with me, and the vast majority of township people present at the meeting, that this Ordinance is suspect, cruel to Bill Boettcher, and likely represents a hidden agenda on the part of the three incumbents, I encourage you to contact the township.

Public Comment

Township_Meeting
Showing the Kermit Meme to the Audience

During public comment many residents made additional observations relevant to Ordinance 2016-9-6, especially the lawyer who was not permitted by Ted Costa to fully explore her questioning of the legality of the Ordinance during its Public Hearing. The issue of the Employment Lawyer consulted privately by just two of the Committeemen at an unauthorized cost which has now reached $6000+ also came up again. Bill Boettcher was repeatedly praised for his service to Hainesport.

I then spoke about my Citizen’s Complaint against Deputy Mayor Porto for the sexist & misogynistic Kermit the Frog meme that he posted briefly on Hainesport Happenings, and then deleted but posted instead on both his own and Committeeman Fitzpatrick’s page. I read some key sections from the complaint. I should add that those present who wanted to were given poster-size copies of the meme to hold up in silent protest whenever Deputy Mayor Porto spoke. The NJSP were made aware of this protest and approved it. I was told that my complaint is still under review by the township’s labor attorney.

After I spoke many people who came up to make other comments also expressed their disgust at the meme and dissatisfaction with Deputy Mayor Porto. When pressed by Mark Murdy (who confirmed that he, his wife Deanna, and their son had all seen the original post on Hainesport Happenings) Deputy Mayor Porto said that he regretted posting the meme, although he denied that it was directed at anyone personally or that he had put it on Hainesport Happenings. Murdy encouraged him to apologize to me after he, Murdy, was finished speaking. This did not happen.

The new turn arrow at the junction of Hainesport Mt. Laurel and 38 was praised, and Rebecca Porto commended her husband for taking 3 hours out of her birthday celebrations on July 4th to save a township dog.

Towards the end of Public Comment people who came up often shared their disappointment that both Committeeman Fitzpatrick and Deputy Mayor Porto had displayed arrogance and contempt in dealing with township people during the session. Porto was described as “smirking” more than once. Several residents said they were ashamed of Porto and/or Fitzpatrick.

Meeting Conclusion

Bruce MacLachlan chose to make a speech during Comments from the Committee. He explained that he had hated coming to the meetings for the last few years and had only continued because of the benefits. He criticized Mayor Dickinson, Deputy Mayor Porto and Committeeman Fitzpatrick for being self-serving. He added that now, not even the benefits made it worthwhile, and walked out. It was unclear whether this constitutes resignation.

Bill Boettcher thanked Hainesport for being allowed to serve the town and was given a standing ovation.

Mike Fitzpatrick chose to make a speech also. In a remarkable display of what my teenage daughters call “sub-tweeting,” he implied without naming me that I was a rumor-monger and a hate-spreader, citing the admitted misconception I voiced yesterday that the Committee had been asked to move the meeting to a venue with a greater capacity, along with my theory that the 4-1 super-majority was required to fire township administrator Leo Selb, possibly replacing him with Fitzpatrick. He also reminded us all that everyone knew about his Healthcare Benefits when we voted him in last November. He did not mention that he told people I know that once he was re-elected, he would fix this.

So, there you have it. Feel free to comment here or on Facebook.

 

When a Republican Primary Causes a Split

Read a factual account of the Hainesport Township meeting.

AYRPBR African Bush Elephant or Savanna Elephant (Loxodonta africana) bulls fighting, Etosha National Park, Namibia, Africa

Yesterday’s township meeting was unremarkable in many ways. The usual suspects talked about the usual subjects. But what was unusual was the way in which Deputy Mayor Masciocchi seemed determined to attack Committeeman Dickinson wherever possible. He went after him once for “over-reach” in the matter of the Fostertown/Rt 38 traffic light, and the second time, harder, for “misleading the public” in the matter of shared services.

We could be charitable and assume Masciocchi’s hostility toward Dickinson is simply him making good on campaign promises to think independently. We can note that his campaign literature declares he “will support shared service agreements that save taxpayers money” and argue that he is concerned his own reputation may be tarnished. Or, we can wonder if this is anything to do with the upcoming Republican Primary.

The Republican Primary

On June 6th, New Jersey will go to the polls for its Democrat & Republican Primary Elections. Outside of the excitement over the Governor’s race, Hainesport has its own contest, with long time incumbents Mick Dickinson & Tony Porto running as the “real” Republicans against “reform” Republicans Lee Schneider & Ted Costa. All 4 candidates have baggage: Dickinson has the Health Benefits; Porto has that, plus the Frog meme; Costa is the former Township Solicitor and Republican Party Chair who was ousted from both positions by Tony Porto; and Schneider is the sister of Natalie Schneider, two-time Democrat candidate for Hainesport Committee.

Noted Alliances

Porto, Gilmore & Fitzpatrick colluded in the baseless charges which were brought against me, as previously discussed. Gilmore & Masciocchi have not seemed particularly chummy since their campaign. Dickinson & Porto were out and about in District 4 last weekend campaigning as a unit, although the previous week Ted Costa was spotted visiting Tony Porto’s house. Former Committeeman Bruce MacLachlan, also ousted by Porto, is rumored to be supporting the “reform” candidates, and has been seen campaigning with Lee Schneider. Interestingly, Masciocchi & Costa are both solicitors who live on Parry Drive. A quick search reveals that they are, not surprisingly, Facebook friends.

What if Masciocchi were backing the ‘reform’ candidates in the Republican Primary? Or at least, Ted Costa? It would certainly then make sense to try to discredit Dickinson in public.

Furthermore, I received a Facebook Messenger message a few days ago (obviously from a fake profile) accusing me of having an affair with Mick Dickinson. Once you have stopped laughing, let’s consider who would benefit from that slur. Obviously, the ‘reform’ candidates, by attacking two birds with one stone. In addition, using “sock puppet” Facebook profiles is totally in the Republican playbook, as we saw during the last campaign.

Obviously I’m not an authority on what is going on with the Republicans, but I do know what I observed at the Township Meeting last night. And Masciocchi attacking Dickinson less than a month before the Republican Primary is the opposite of supportive.

Fortunately, I have a solution for you if you are tired of these plots and squabbles: ignore the township Republican Primary and simply vote Democrat For Hainesport Committee in November 2017.

 

 

Tony Porto’s Violation of Hainesport’s Employee Handbook

Guest post by Deborah Douglas Plaia

Tony Porto's ViolationAlthough I couldn’t make Tuesday’s township meeting, because I had a trial that I was preparing for, I have read Anna Evans’s account of the meeting, and also the subsequent discussion on Hainesport Happenings, and feel compelled to address the legal issues that have arisen with respect to Tony Porto’s posting of the Kermit meme last June.

The residents of Hainesport should read the Hainesport Township Employee Handbook.  The handbook specifically prohibits sexual harassment and states: “The Township expects all employees, Township Officials, Department Heads, supervisors, to treat other individuals including other employees, volunteers, guests, business invitee, vendors, suppliers, contractors, other non-employees and others  not directly connected with the Township  (collectively referred to as “non-employes”) with respect and courtesy,  both in their speech and in their conduct.”

It goes on to state:

Tony Porto's Violation“THIS POLICY APPLIES TO ALL INCIDENTS OF UNLAWFUL HARASSMENT OR DISCRIMINATION INCLUDING INSTANCES WHICH OCCUR OFF PREMISES OR OFF-HOURS. ALSO, IT DOES NOT MATTER WHETHER IMPROPER CONDUCT TAKES PLACE ON OR OFF TOWNSHIP PREMISES OR BEFORE OR AFTER WORK HOURS SINCE. WHILE THE CONDUCT MAY NOT BE UNLAWFUL, THE EMPLOYEES BEHAVIOR NEGATIVELY REFLECTS UPON THE TOWNSHIP.”  

The Handbook explains that unlawful discrimination or harassment includes, but is not limited to comments, jokes, insults, slurs, derogatory statements, drawings, pictures or cartoons, innuendos, etc. Tony Porto’s violation, whether it was on his private Facebook page, in his home or not, was sexual harassment and not only in violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination and Federal law, it violates Hainesport Township’s own employee policy handbook. Every resident, male and female should be outraged. It exposes the Township to lawsuits. 

Where sexual harassment has occurred, the law REQUIRES management to take prompt and adequate remedial action. Under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, where upper management, in this case, the Mayor, knows about an alleged sexual harassment and fails to take prompt and effective measures to stop harassment, the employer (in this case, Hainesport) may be found liable for sexual harassment.

Deborah Douglas Plaia has lived in Hainesport since 2004, but her family moved to Mount Holly in 1966.  Prior to becoming an attorney, she worked in the insurance claims industry. In her last position, she was a field examiner with 4 regional reporting to her on their catastrophic claims -Woodland Hills, Ca, Denver, CO, Des Moines, IA and Raleigh, NC. During that period of time—mid-1990s—there was an explosion of claims involving sexual harassment and discrimination. Thus. she has had exposure to that area of the law for over 20 years.  In 1998, she graduated Rutgers School of law and became licensed to practice.  Her areas of practice include construction defects, employment law, workers compensation, personal injury and insurance coverage matters.

How the Smear Campaign Worked

How the smear campaign workedMake no mistake that the glossy 4 mailer smear campaign run against me 2 weeks ago DID work. It suppressed the vote for me compared with my running mate Natalie by 60 or so votes. But this post isn’t about handwringing. It’s about educating people as to how these things operate so they have better resistance to this tactic in future.

The mailers were supposedly paid for by a Super PAC called “Preserving Our Communities for the Future.” Super PACs have to file a Political Committee Registration statement giving a purpose, an address and the Treasurer’s name, so when the first mailer appeared I naturally searched the database to see if I could find this Super PAC, but I couldn’t. It was eventually found by another Democrat candidate, who was being attacked similarly in another town, under a subtly different name, “Preserving Our Communities for Tomorrow.” {Note: using a different name on the mailers is an election violation, and I am in the process of filing a complaint.)

The Treasurer for “Preserving Our Communities for Tomorrow” is Joseph Lisnak, the Tax Administrator for Burlington County. County positions like the Tax Administrator’s job are often described as “patronage” jobs, because they are appointed by the elected officials, who frequently make partisan choices. Joseph Lisnak, whose Riverton house was in foreclosure 2 years ago, is family friends with Bill Layton, the Chairman of the Burlington County Republican Committee. His Super PAC attacked only Democrat candidates in Burlington County townships (Moorestown, Chesterfield, Hainesport, and we later discovered, Eastampton). I think it is clear that the Burlington County Committee directed and funded the attacks. But why Hainesport? I got the second biggest attack—Kati Bonelli-Angelini, in Moorestown got 5 smear mailers—but I’m in the smallest town. Hainesport is hardly strategic. I can only assume that someone had a personal grudge against me.

The expensive mailers (large and glossy) are professionally designed by outfits like Chris Russell Consulting. You will see some of the dog whistle code words and idiosyncrasies from my mailers on the mailers in their portfolio. Let’s now examine the distortions that the mailers contained.

Anna Evans, Liberal PoliticianHow the smear campaign worked

I am many things: I am a mom, a wife, a published poet, an editor, an educator, and what my husband fondly calls “Vice-President of Everything Else” for our small business, Global Bridge LLC, run out of our Hainesport home. I ran for political office for the first time this election season, and to that extent I am a politician. My views are somewhat left of center, but the term “liberal politician” implies a career operative whose agenda is driven by social issues. My agenda for Hainesport was transparency and accountability.

Smear 1: Double-Dip into Taxpayer Funds

I laughed out loud when I saw this. I am an Adjunct Professor who teaches at two state schools. This semester I am teaching one class at Stockton University for $5000, and one at Rowan at BCC for $2000. My “double-dipping” will net me a massive $7000. There are several other ironies here:

  1. We have two genuine “double-dippers” on the current committee. Both take full time salaries from state jobs elsewhere but get their health benefits paid for out of Hainesport’s property taxes. Just those health benefits alone are worth twice what I will earn this year from teaching, which I do for love.
  2. Committeeman Elect Frank Masciocchi is also an Adjunct Professor. I am beyond appalled that he did not come forward to disavow this ridiculous smear as soon as he saw it.

Smear 2: Taxpayer-Funded Trips to Sunny LA

Last Spring I applied for the Adjunct Opportunity Fund at Stockton, and was awarded $500 to partially defray the cost of my trip to the AWP Writers Conference in LA (total cost $1331). At the conference I worked a Book Fair table 9-5 most days. To put this into perspective, consider what it would cost to host someone in one of the corporate boxes at a single Eagles game.

Smear 3: Supports Part-Time Elected Officials Getting Lifetime Taxpayer-Funded Healthcare Benefits

This one is complicated, which immediately informs you that someone from our township was co-ordinating with Lisnak/Layton, who would simply not have had the local knowledge to apply this smear.

If you go back and read my blog entries for June and July you will get a clearer idea of the current committee’s agenda. They wanted Bill Boettcher out, and they introduced an ordinance to end lifetime benefits for elected officials, knowing it would make him resign in order to keep his benefits. I was specifically against this ordinance, although in general I am against health benefits for any part time elected officials. The accusation that the Democrats support lifetime benefits for part-time officials was first made by Deputy Mayor Porto and is in the Township Meeting Minutes for July.

How the Smear Campaign Worked

Of course, anyone who knows me and understands township politics immediately saw how ridiculous these accusations were, but not everyone in Hainesport does know me. People stood in the polling booth and voted for Natalie but chose a Republican as a second choice because they believed these ridiculous lies about me. That hurts. Coming home from my teaching jobs to find yet another glossy mailer full of lies in my mailbox also hurt. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Meanwhile, my opponents, despite never making a public disavowal of the smear campaign, were able to claim that they ran the “clean” campaign, because their names were not on the mailers.

That’s how my opposition operates. I’m sure you’ve seen attack comments on my Facebook feed by people like, most recently, Simcha Rosen. I clickbaited this profile into revealing its IP address and discovered it is using proxy servers to disguise its location, and another investigative journalist has since traced those proxies to Burlington County.

But while my opponents hide their attacks in Super PACs and fake profiles, my agenda has always been transparency and accountability. I will continue to tell Hainesport the truth, and I hope that next time people will be more able to see through the lies.

New to Anna M. Evans

New to Anna M. Evans?

new to Anna M. Evans
Anna with Piper

If you are new to Anna M. Evans & Dreaming in Iambic Pentameter, you might find it useful to visit a few of the most popular articles, grouped below according to subject.

Hainesport Township Council

Vote Evans & Schneider for Hainesport, 2016 — An introduction to me and our Democrat platform.

Hainesport Township Altercation Video — Watch Committeman Fitzpatrick intimidate me at the Primary Election Returns.

June Hainesport Township Meeting — includes video  of heated exchange between Committeeman Porto and Hainesport resident Pat Macken.

July Hainesport Township Meeting — includes video of Health Benefits motions.

Metrics and the Sonnet

Where Should a Sonnet Turn? — The turn or volta of a sonnet classically appears between the octave and sestet. Where should a sonnet turn? Examples by Shakespeare and Wordsworth suggest.

Sexy Sonnets — A look at five classic sexy sonnets, including Shakespeare’s Sonnet XX and Millay’s Sonnet XLI, that inspired me to write the Sisters & Courtesans sonnets

Female Historical Persona & Character Poems

Why Write Female Historical Persona Poems? — Sisters & Courtesans, female historical persona poems that look at history from ancient Rome to now through the eyes of nuns and women of easy virtue.

Female Historical Persona & Character Poems — Female historical persona and character poems, with examples by poets such as A.E. Stallings, Margaret Atwood, and Kevin Young.

Poetry & Alzheimer’s

Working with Poetry and Alzheimer’s

Poetry by the Sea: A Global Conference

What Poetry by the Sea 2015 Meant to Me — A description of the inaugural Poetry by the Sea 2015 Conference, which took place in Madison, CT in May 2015 with keynote Marilyn Hacker

Translation

Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, Translation of Verlaine — Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, translation of Verlaine’s essay which appears in his 1884 book Les poetes maudits.

 

The Worst Blog Hiatus Ever!!

Over three months. What can I say? It’s been a busy summer? Well, that’s certainly true–I’ve had the kids off school since June 14th. They are renovating Hainesport School and so not only was summer break extended, but there was also no township recreational program. All of which means the driving has been crazy, and I’ve had very little free time that wasn’t urgently required by editorial firefighting or ice skating.

So, what’s new? Well, importantly, I’ve just brought the new issue of The Barefoot Muse online. Do go and check it out! The featured poet is Jehanne Dubrow, and there are poems by familiar faces such as Carol Taylor, Peter Branson and Maryann Corbett, as well as some new names I think you will love, like Eric Norris, David Hirzel and Laura Maffei. My editorial also sheds more light on my lackluster blogging!

Three of my NaPoWriMo poems have already been accepted for publication! Tilt-a-Whirl took “Triple Lutz” and “Waiting for the F Train,” and US1 took “April 6th.” Soundzine also took three poems, although I don’t think the issue is up yet, and Atlanta Review took a sonnet, “The Pre-History of Music.”

My panel proposal for AWP 2011 was accepted, which I’m really excited about, and I probably have a gig teaching formal poetry at the West Windsor Art Center in the Fall.

In over five years I have never been late getting The Barefoot Muse online, and today is no exception, despite the fact that we are leaving for a ten day trip to the UK tomorrow. Let me go finish packing! When we get home and the kids go back to school, then I promise…aw, heck! No promises…!

And According to the New Rules…

Today is TRR day. I’ve caught up on correspondence and subs and updated the website. Of course, I really need to write the editorial and consider the questions for an upcoming interview feature, but I don’t really have time for either of those before the kids get home so I WILL blog!

For my local readers, I’d like to draw attention to the new Medford Arts Center, which I toured on Tuesday. I’ve been advising the Medford Cultural Arts Commission on their Literary Program since last Fall, and in June the Commission opened the new Arts Center, conveniently located on Medford High St. Plans are afoot to began a Reading Series and put together a schedule of workshops and seminars for 2010. But for now, Burlington County residents might be interested to learn that the MCAC is sponsoring a local poetry contest for the second year running. Entry is free for up to 3 poems–simply visit the Medford Township website and download the entry form. (Please note: I will be judging, so please do NOT enter if you are a close personal friend or previous student of mine.) [Read more…]