One from Assemblyman Biondi

A walk down Memory Lane . . . and past Civility Park . . .

Remember when Assemblyman Biondi wrote this gem?

for Hillsborough

I can no longer sit by without comment and allow Hillsborough, which I have loved and served for so many years as mayor, freeholder and assemblyman, to be led to an ill-considered change of government, the mayor-ward council form, by a small cabal of self-interested and egomaniacal individuals.

I don’t know if the assemblyman included me in the “small cabal” of “self-interested and egomaniacal individuals.” Or Glenn for that matter. How civil.

As a former mayor, I am quite familiar with the various forms of government available to New Jersey municipalities, particularly with the strengths and weaknesses of each. There are some equally strong pluses and minuses in those charters in which the mayor is directly elected, and specifically in the so-called “strong mayor,” or mayor-council, form of government.

This paragraph says nothing. “Civil Pete” Biondi is basically trying to pretend to knowledge about the Faulkner Act, when he spent his entire local government career in a NON Faulkner Act form of government.

However, there are no pluses and no benefits in wards. In political entities as large as a country or a state, election of representatives by district is essentially unavoidable.

Mostly because Constitutions are written that way, right? So what politicians do to get around that is gerrymander the districts, and pump a ton of “speech”-money into every competitive race (the ones where the politician isn’t in a “safe” district—one where a party is so strong the outcome is determined before the vote is taken.

Yet, even there, it is a detriment, as “pork barrel” politics fills our federal and state budgets with untold millions to billions of dollars of waste.

Somebody on NJ.com has been posting about how Pete Biondi was able to secure, through special request, a $50,000 van for a community group. While it sounds like a meritorious government expense, I have to wonder what Pete’s “untold” list of pork has been from Trenton . . .

On the scale of municipalities, it is a truly unnecessary, and expensive, curse. The extra layer of ward politics is toxic and corrupt, breeding infighting and tax-hiking backroom deals among the council members and animosity between residents of different wards.

Here is what would have happened. Hillsborough would have adopted the same government as Bridgewater. Exact same powers of the mayor. Exact same powers of township council. But PART of the Council would have been selected by election districts, called in the state statute, wards. (Or “wards!” as I like to refer to them now, since that is the childish way the anti-reform people spoke of them last fall.)

Pete Biondi is basically elected by a “ward!” of New Jersey. The 16th.

So four of Hillsborough’s seven Council members would have been selected by “wards!”, and the other three at large.

That’s it.

Mayor still would have had the 2/3rds power over the budget. No chance to add on spending by “WARD Councilmembers!”. In fact, what Hillsborough got stuck with this year is a form where ANY three committeemembers can add something to the budget.

Which is more “toxic”?

Pete goes on:

But does it at least necessarily lead to a more equal representation? No. In a setting in which the wards are more important than the town as a whole, it would be possible for one ward to elect the mayor, the three at-large councilman and their own ward councilman. That’s right, five of the eight elected officials, controlling both branches of government, could still be from one ward. And they’ll have four-year terms to do what they want, with the mayor being unbeatable at the polls anyway, because of his massive campaign fundraising advantage.

In the form of government Hillsborough is stuck with, all five of the committeepeople can live right next door to each other. 100% in one neighborhood.

In the rejected system, at least three of eight live elsewhere in the township in a least-diverse scenario.

Listen to this bullshit:

It took us 30 years to come together to the point of getting our own post office. Will we now throw away our hard-fought community identity and split up again, this time into wards? I hope not.

“We are united by a common zipcode!” Doesn’t that sound like a government bureaucrat. I hear that many people in Hillsborough liked their OLD, distinct zip codes —- which they now have to rent a post box ($75/year) to keep.

I wonder what Pete Biondi’s position would be about Martinsville’s (08836) separate zip code in Bridgewater Township (08807). Would Bridgewater be better off “united”?

What does it really have to do with seating a township council, Pete??

We need a publicly elected charter study commission to select the right form of government for us to vote on, a form that will bring us together, not set us at each others’ throats. I encourage the people of Hillsborough to vote against the ward system of government, and vote “no” on the Hillsborough question on the ballot.

PETER J. BIONDI
assemblyman
16th Legislative District

It’s going to be interesting to see what this “publicly elected charter study commission” comes up with in 2007. I suspect it will be a form that Pete Biondi is politically comfortable with.

Given how “wards!” were so maniacally lied about last fall, and yet the Faulkner Act proposal managed 48% of the vote, I sure hope that committee does a thorough study of why district representation is good or bad.

It’s clear that “Civil Pete” did not.

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