Tag Archive: Rockaway

Remembering a Progressive hero: Frank Herbert’s story

promoted by Rosi

Yesterday I had the pleasure of catching up with one of the best public servants New Jersey has ever produced.

He is not well-known even in Democratic circles, let alone the state of New Jersey, and he last served in public office when Leonid Brezhnev was Premier of the USSR.

Frank Herbert, however is definitely not someone to forget, particularly if you’re a New Jersey Democrat or – even more so – a progressive.

You see, Frank Herbert did 2 things that New Jerseyans and progressives should forever be grateful for:

1) He pushed for and got the Legislature to pass the law that created New Jersey Transit, a system that provides business and social lifelines for hundreds of thousands of our residents.

2) He is the only candidate in New Jersey history to win a Federal election as a write-in candidate. In doing so, he saved the Democratic Party from nominating a Holocaust-denying, KKK-loving extremist.

His story is in the extended section below.  

Surprise: Republican rules for Republicans in Rockaway

Like we didn’t see this coming when the seat opened up.  After the newly elected Democrat on council resigned before being sworn in, this is what the Republican Borough Attorney in Rockaway had to say a few weeks ago:

Since Hiler wasn’t sworn in, borough Attorney Edward Wacks said the seat remains Republican, and the term will be filled after the local Republican Party submits three names for the council to consider. One will be appointed, and then there will be an election in November to fill the unexpired term.

So he kept an open mind, carefully considered the arguments and…. ruled the exact same way he said before he even examined the issue:

Before the council went behind closed doors to discuss who should fill the vacant seat, borough attorney Edward Wacks told members it should be filled by a Republican since it was last officially held by one.

This is what I said at the time:

So the Borough Attorney says he will hear what both sides say, even though he seems to have decided he likes the Republican argument more before they start.  Does it matter what the voters said, or do we just disregard their opinion?  The guy was the 2nd highest vote getter in an election where nearly 3/4 of the voters turned out.  The next highest vote getter was also a Democrat.  The voters sent a message and someone needs to listen.

Apparently the answer is we disregard the fact that Democrats were the 2nd and 3rd highest vote getter. All the Democrat had to do was get sworn in and none of this would be an issue. The Democrats would have been the last party that held the seat and therefore have a name chose from their list of three. Now they are left to possibly challenge the ruling in court. The Morris County Democratic Chair has already indicated they may pursue that course of action. Nobody really wins though, because both the town and county party will have to pay legal fees to solve this problem.  After twenty years, Democrats are going to have to wait longer to get some representation on Council in Rockaway.

Democrats have to fight for seat they already won

They were supposed to have the first Democrat on council in Rockaway in twenty years, but something happened on the way to the swearing in:

Scott Hiler, 28, was the second highest voter-getter on Election Day, behind Republican Thomas Mulligan, who took the oath of office with his family by his side.

Snyder read into the record a letter dated Dec. 31, 2008, from Hiler, who wasn’t at the meeting, prior to Mulligan being seated.

“For personal reasons I will not be able to fulfill my upcoming duties for the borough of Rockaway,” Snyder read. “Therefore, I am submitting my notice of resignation effective immediately.

The guy couldn’t even show up at the meeting to resign, he had to have someone read a statement? And because he wasn’t sworn in before resigning, the Democrats now have to fight again just to keep the seat.  Here’s the Republican argument according to the GOP chair:

“The law is clear,” Sette said. “There never was an elected Democrat in office. He never took his seat. The last person to serve was a Republican who was in office until Dec. 31. So it’s a Republican call for a replacement.”

The Democrats disagree with that assessment of the situation:

“I would tell you I was blindsided by this,” said Morris County Democratic Party Chairman Lewis Candura. “I wish he would have spoken to me first and had taken office.

“But state law says because he was a Democrat and elected by the people, even if he did not take his seat he should be replaced by a Democrat,” Candura said.

The Borough attorney will have to decide between the two arguments, even though it seems like he already has his mind made up:

Since Hiler wasn’t sworn in, borough Attorney Edward Wacks said the seat remains Republican, and the term will be filled after the local Republican Party submits three names for the council to consider. One will be appointed, and then there will be an election in November to fill the unexpired term.

So the Borough Attorney says he will hear what both sides say, even though he seems to have decided he likes the Republican argument more before they start.  Does it matter what the voters said, or do we just disregard their opinion?  The guy was the 2nd highest vote getter in an election where nearly 3/4 of the voters turned out.  The next highest vote getter was also a Democrat.  The voters sent a message and someone needs to listen.

Quote of the Day

Nothing draws a crowd like intolerance. The anti-Muslim bigots came out in force last night in Rockaway to protest a proposed mosque. Some pointed to increased traffic concerns, but when one of the locals let slip their real reason for opposing the mosque, the crowd concurred:

Fred Horn was greeted with loud cheers from many in the audience when he rhetorically asked, “Why are all these people here tonight? Not the Muslims but the people of Rockaway Borough? They do not want a mosque in Rockaway.”