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Oops! Typos Dominate Conversation

Planning Board Terms Still Front and Center • See related documents at the end of this article.

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez

Councilman
Fernando
Gonzalez

PERTH AMBOY – 8/8/16 Caucus: Communication No.11: Mayor Wilda Diaz appointing the following to the Planning Board effective immediately: (8/1/16) Thomas Hudanish – Class IV, expires 12/31/20; Sergio Diaz – Class IV, expires 12/31/20; Edwin Arlequin – Alternate #2, expires 12/31/18.

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez stated that he received a letter from the Mayor in reference Planning Board Members term limits. In this letter it stated that two of the appointees had an expiration date of 12/31/20. This prompted Business Administrator Adam Cruz to state at the Meeting that the date of 12/31/20 was a typo. “It should be 6/30/20 and a letter of correction should be sent out to the individuals.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez answered back, “We keep making errors on top of errors.”

B.A. Adam Cruz responded back, “I call it a typo.”

Gonzalez stated, “We need to  look at the law.”

This prompted Councilman Fernando Irizarry to state, “According to the Planning Board Attorney, appointments can’t be from January to January.

Councilman Bill Petrick (who was appointed Acting President in Lisa Nanton’s absence early in the Meeting) corrected Irizarry. “It’s a four-year term.”

After Petrick spoke, Law Director Arlen Quinones Perez said, “This is based on the Municipal Zoning Law by stature which is January through December or July through June.”

Councilman William Petrick

Councilman
William Petrick

As a parting shot in response to comments being shouted out by members of the audience, she told the Council, “You can listen to the law or the gallery.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez emphatically stated, “I believe we should get another legal opinion.” He read an ordinance pertaining to Municipal Board terms. “We need another opinion to see if terms can be changed.”

Council President Lisa Nanton came late to the Meeting. Later that evening she read a letter (see Page 3) about the two Planning Board Members whose terms were not extended. She also said that Hudanish’s term should end 6/30/20 and not be extended six extra months but Garcia and Kubulak’s terms should be extended to 12/31/16.

B.A. Cruz again reminded the Council and those present that it was a typo with Hudanish’s and S. Diaz’s terms and both their terms should end on 6/30/20.

Councilman Bill Petrick believed that it’s silly that former Planning Board Members Maria Garcia and Karen Kubulak were not given a six month extension as were the other members.

During the Public Comments, Resident Alan Silber came up to speak about Municipal term limits. He read from the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law Ordinance. He also made comments about what B.A. Cruz called a “typo error.” Silber stated, “It’s not a typo (stating that T. Hudanish and S. Diaz having their terms extended by six months). This concerns me with having the Business Administrator making things up. I put in an application for the Planning Board. I sent it in before the August 8, 2016 deadline. Mr. Diaz filed his election report over 50 weeks late. The DeCotiis Firm and the Hoagland Firm gave donations to him.”

Maria Garcia came up to speak next. She was concerned  that an Alternate was voted as Vice-Chair of the Planning Board which is a violation of the Land Use Law Ordinance (which was read earlier at the Meeting by Silber and again by Garcia).

Resident Susan Batista came up to speak stating that she put in application to the Planning Board and wondered if interviews will be held for applicants. Batista also stated, “Law Director Quinones could not sign the Resolution removing me from the Planning Board.”

Resident Virginia Lugo went up to speak next. “The Mayor is now being very particular about dates of Municipal Board Members. She was not following the rules before. With the BID, Barry Rosengarten appointed the Mayor and the Mayor appointed him for their respective positions. Garcia and Kubulak are being removed (from the Planning Board) because of not agreeing with the Mayor.”

Business Administrator Adam Cruz

Business Administrator
Adam Cruz

Karen Kubulak came up to speak about her removal from the Planning Board. She stated, “This is not a typo issue (the expiration date of 12/31/20 for S. Diaz and T. Hudanish). On August 1, 2016 this was sent (the letters) by the Mayor and these people were already sworn in. The December 31, 2020 date was sent on all of her correspondence (Planning Board terms). Over 2/3 of the property in the City is redevelopment property. The Mayor is packing the Planning, Zoning and Redevelopment Boards. This Council should have taken action in July. There were never funds for the Master Plan. The entire downtown is looking at a lot of density. The Mayor has other agendas. All these appointments should be null and void since they were made before the August 8, 2016 application deadline.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez spoke and said, “The situation with the Planning Board should have never taken place.”

Councilman Joel Pabon was absent from the 8/8/16 Caucus Meeting.

The discussion continued at the 8/10/16 Council Meeting.

Resident David Caba came up to speak. At the 8/8/16 Caucus Meeting, Caba had asked Councilman Irizarry if a speech he had given was actually written by him. Irizarry was offended by Caba’s remarks and rattled off his teaching experiences and the College Degrees he which he had earned.

Caba addressed Irizarry’s remarks by asking him why he didn’t question a law that was being broken. “You should ask your running mate if she (Mayor Diaz) has a degree. You should have questioned (B.A. Cruz) on the typo error. Tommy Hudanish said Joel Pabon should resign (because he’s running for Mayor). Now, he (Hudanish) is being put on the Planning Board. Maybe he should ask the Mayor to resign. Hudanish supports whoever is currently in power.”

Virginia Lugo came up to speak. “I have appointment letters for BID Members. Some of these Members appointed themselves. The Mayor made these appointments (Planning Board) before the deadline (application). Four months were added to two new Members taking time away from Maria Garcia and Karen Kubulak. The Council should vote to annul.”

Resident Susan Batista commented that it should have been explained to the audience members that it’s the Mayor who makes the Planning Board Appointments (not the Council).

When Resident Sharon Hubberman came up to speak, she made remarks about people who want to serve on Boards. “Are applications maintained? Why do we have these ordinances if they are not being followed? This way people will be put in that will be rubber stampers. You (the Council) are not being checks and balances. Look at the files. See if people who applied for these positions are being notified of these vacancies.”

When Maria Garcia came up to speak, she mentioned ordinances pertaining to nonpartisan municipalities and the MLUL (Municipal Land Use Law). “There’s a violation of the Vice-Chair under the Sunshine Law. Members of other Boards had their terms extended for four more months.”

During the Council Comments, Fernando Gonzalez stated, “There seems to be illegal changes (pertaining to Communication No. 11 Planning Board Appointments) that are not kosher.  We need another legal opinion. This is happening too often. Is it (term limits) four years or four years and four months? I’m becoming very mistrustful.”

Councilman Joel Pabon wondered about the letters sent out that were dated August 1, 2016 (for the Planning Board vacancies).

B.A. Adam Cruz said, “There were two posting’s of the Planning Board vacancies. The first one was either June 29, 2016 or June 30, 2016 for the deadline of July 31, 2016 for the applications. That was for the vacancies of the first two Planning Board Members. Then a second posting went out on July 6, 2016 when a third vacancy became available.”

After B.A. Cruz spoke, Councilman Joel Pabon asked if people that were on the waiting list for these positions considered.

Cruz answered back, “Sergio Diaz was on the Board already as an alternate, so he was pushed up.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez was still not happy. “I believe it was illegal the way this was done.”

There was a motion moved by Bill Petrick and seconded by Fernando Gonzalez to get a second opinion from another lawyer.

Fernando Gonzalez showed his frustration by stating, “I am mistrusting of all the legal advice from our attorney.” He referred to the statement by the B.A. about the typo of the 12/31/20 expiration date of the appointments.

Councilman Joel Pabon agreed, “Everyone that was on that Board should have gotten a letter. I didn’t get one and my term was extended.”

During the second public portion, Susan Batista stated, “There was no jurisdiction to remove me from the Zoning Board. I filed my financial disclosure. I sent them a letter of people on that Board who had not filed their financial disclosures or filed theirs after I did, but they were not removed from the Board. I had been on the Zoning Board for 18 years. When I first filed a lawsuit to the City, it was with the State Courts. Nothing was done, so it was moved up to the Federal level.”

Resident Alan Silber came up to speak next. He stated that the Business Administrator wanted to read a complaint that was made about two Planning Board Members. “He should refrain from doing this. You (the Council) need to have another legal opinion. It’s very confusing. I think you should have a vote of no confidence. She (Law Director Quinones) has behaved unprofessional many times. There should be an investigation and a legal opinion.”

Maria Garcia came up to speak. “I was let go because of my term limit. Now, they want to read a letter from 2014 from the Wilentz Firm. This went on for two years. Now, all of a sudden we were let go because we were fighting for the City. We were the only two Members (Myself and Kubulak) who knew everything about Harbortown that was not in compliance. The City Clerk is supposed to put the openings (Municipal Boards) on the website. Emails were not being received by Municipal Board Members except for the Members who were removed (From Boards). Then the Members who were removed from those Boards had their email addresses removed immediately.”

Virginia Lugo came up to speak and told the Council, “Sometimes you are frozen by fear. There should be a vote to nullify these appointments. The Mayor has the power to do what she wants – no she doesn’t.”

When Resident David Caba came up to speak, he had several issues on his mind. One was about an $850,000 lawsuit against a Police Officer. Caba told the Council, “The issues that we need to be informed about are not publicized. He then turned his attention to Councilman Fernando Irizarry and stated, “I just wanted to know if the statement you read  in at a past Meeting about putting the City first came from your heart. Now, you did a 360 turn. Mr. Pelissier (Former B.A.) said that we (those who speak out at Council Meetings) don’t volunteer. Mr. Silber put in an application for the Planning Board. Was he  (Silber) called or was his application reviewed?”

Council President Lisa Nanton turned to B.A. Cruz and asked if he would like to answer that question.

Cruz simply replied, “This is the public comments part of the Meeting.”

Sharon Hubberman made some comments, “It’s evident and clear that their ordinances are being violated. Let’s conform to the law. The governing body is supposed to be the checks and balances.”

late starter1bb nanton letter 2

 

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