Former Mayor Appointed to Ethics Committee
Three council members also appointed to committee
Three members of the public, including a former mayor, and three council members were appointed to the township's Ethics Committee this week.
A majority of council members voted in favor of appointing Janet Sofield, Delores Runetta-Radice and former Mayor Daniel Kelly to the committee, which hears complaints filed against sitting council members.
The township's ordinance also calls for three current council members to serve on the committee; council members Susan Lydecker, John Ducey and Jim Fozman – all Democrats – were appointed, despite objections from Republican council members Joseph Sangiovanni and Domenick Brando.
"We have four elected Democrats and three elected Republicans, yet the three people on there are Democrats," said Brando, who voted against the appointment.
"Nothing against any of the people, but we often speak of open transparency, and I think everyone should be involved," he said.
The committee, which was created in 2007, has essentially no legal power to adjudicate complaints against council members, but it is charged with sending complaints considered valid to a state agency that would have such legal authority.
Ethics complaints against municipal council members are handled statewide by the Local Finance Board, an arm of the state Department of Community Affairs, though that agency is largely unknown outside government and political circles.
The existence of the committee does not preclude members of the public from bringing their concerns directly to state agencies.
But the committee continues to exist in an informational role. For example, if a citizen wishes to file a complaint, it would be forwarded to the township clerk, who would then present it to the committee for consideration on how to proceed, officials said.
Ducey, who has served on the council since Jan. 2012, said the committee never had a meeting over the past year since no complaints were filed.