HILLSBOROUGH: Democratic supporter wonders how Republicans won


Submitted Content
To the editor:
In a town where there are approximately equal numbers of registered Republicans and Democrats, with the largest group being unaffiliated voters, why did the voters choose again to elect solely Republicans to represent all the rest of us, despite pending ethics complaints against town officials and related signs of decline in the town?
The all Republican township committee rarely has meaningful debate where differences of opinion are openly expressed and even rarer differences of opinion among its members when voting on important local issues – almost all votes are unanimous with all members following votes by the others.
The ethics complaints against two members of the township committee are good examples of how the lack of Democratic and unaffiliated voices on the committee ends up permitting members of the Committee to abandon their obligations to the community without others on the committee objecting.
One ethics complaint charges Committeeman Burchette with ethics violations for participating in the process to determine if Hillsborough’s EMS should be replaced despite his business interest repairing EMS vehicles. Burchette put his personal financial interest ahead of his duty to only act in the town’s interest when he failed to recuse himself from the start of the process. His personal interest was to increase his income by selecting a new provider of EMS services which would provide more EMS vehicles for his business to repair than the local EMS. Despite this apparent conflict of interest, and the influence it also had on other committee members, nobody else on the township committee ever objected.
To this day, neither Mr. Burchette nor the committee acknowledge how his participation violated ethics laws and denied the town an impartial decision.
Burchette’s personal interest did indeed influence other committee members and blinded them from seeing how his influence relaxed the necessary diligence needed in making sound and impartial business decisions. None objected to choosing and following the recommendation of consultant, Fitch Co., even after learning it was being paid by Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) to manage its EMS, and biased in favor of eliminating Hillsborough’s EMS in favor of its own customer RWJ EMS.
The same is true with respect to Committeewoman McCauley’s unchecked unethical behavior. Despite her denials of the obvious, there is no denying that her conduct of engaging in a profitable real estate deal with Township Administrator Anthony Ferrara, while also voting in favor of giving him a generous pay raise, should have been an obvious sign of ethics violations to anyone with their eyes open.
However, McCauley, Ferrara, members of the committee, and Township Attorney William Willard either did not see or chose to ignore this sign of misconduct. The denials claimed that since neither individual would admit that the business profit and vote to raise Ferrara’s salary influenced either of their judgment in their official duties, it was not illegal. But if that was the standard used to judge ethics violations, an accused person could escape being found guilty by merely denying their conduct influenced their judgment. And that is why this is not the standard, and the denials by McCauley and Ferrara cannot excuse their misconduct.
Apparently McCauley, Ferrara, and Burchette need ethics training, but who will give it to them, since nobody on the current committee ever dares disagree with another member?
But we citizens of Hillsborough can trust our own eyes to see this unethical conduct and signs of decline in our town it has caused. Trust our eyes when we see numerous vacant storefronts, and no stores choosing to fill the vacancies left by stores like Stop & Shop and Cost Cutters. Trust our eyes to see approval of three story multiple family rental buildings packed into our countryside. Trust our eyes to see whether local officials’ boasts about Money Magazine’s past rating of Hillsborough as one of the best places to live in the country is still true. Then demand better behavior by our town officials by voting in 2018 to change the membership on the township committee.
Roger Koch