This reorganization meeting on July 17 followed the election of two new council members and the council’s vote to continue Mr. Mohammed Hameeduddin as Mayor. The reform-minded Senator Loretta Weinberg, a Teaneck resident, had endorsed two other candidates who lost, leaving the mayor and his supported council members in control. In the past Hameeduddin has complained about Weinberg’s “continuous meddling in Teaneck elections,” which she probably holds as a badge of honor. Resident Margot Fisher sought the council to censure the Mayor for his “hateful and libelous comments” about the two council candidates who lost – a brave move.
After months of delays and inaction the council passed its 2018 $70 Million Appropriations Budget, but not without complaints and controversy. It continued its four year practice of “0% budget increases.” To achieve the goal, in part, it reduced the 2018 Anticipated Surplus to $4.9 Million from the 2017 $5.7 Million. One resident testified that the council was ignoring important infrastructure needs for the municipality’s facilities.
Teaneck resident Art Vatsky complained there was too much juggling in the budget, and said, “I can read a federal budget but not Teaneck’s budget.” Resident Dr. Chuck Powers’ public testimony began with “I am completely confused about where we are with this budget.” He pointed out that between the budget resolution amendment during the last meeting, the posted Public Notice, and the last minute further changes there were numerous embedded but unclear alterations. He felt this lack of transparency made it impossible for residents to comment on the final version. That did not stop the council from approving the budget with one abstention.
Two impassioned speakers were in support of an ordinance against puppy mills. Catherine Gibson proposed “Sparky’s Law,” named after her dog she purchased from a pet shop and originating from a “puppy mill.” She said she spent $50,000 on medical bills over her beloved pet’s truncated life. “We must protect consumers and the puppies,” she added. Larry Cohen documented past abuses of NJ pet stores linked to large mid-west for-profit commercial breeders. Currently there is a state law which does not go as far the one they proposed.
There were some 50 or more residents attending the meeting and close to 200 at the last meeting. Although these may not seem like high numbers, a political consultant pointed out to me that many municipalities typically have a considerably lower attendance. Teaneck residents can be rambunctious, outspoken folks.
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You can view a video of the part of the meeting open to the public here.
Preview image above of a 2017 Teaneck Council meeting. ( Photo: Megan Burrow/NorthJersey.com)