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Saddle Brook Health Benefits Ordinance Won't Appear on Ballot

A judge has denied halting the printing of election ballots for November, but has delayed a decision on whether Saddle Brook council's amendment to resident petitioners' ordinance is permissible.

Two resident-proposed will not appear on the November ballot, a superior court judge ruled Friday.

Judge Alexander Carver denied the petitioners' application that sought to halt printing of the township's election ballots and dismissed their claim that irreparable harm would result if the petitioners' ordinances were not put up for a referendum vote in the Nov. 6 election.

Carver said that because the township's part-time elected and appointed officials have received benefits for 50-some years and some current officials are nearing the 20-year service mark that endows lifetime health benefit status, the issue should be addressed in a more deliberate fashion.

With a primary coming up next summer, Carver recommended the issue be discussed more thoroughly and, if deemed appropriate, considered for the June 2013 ballot.

He did not rule on whether was permissible, as the township has argued. That issue, which resident petitioners have argued differs substantially from the intention of the original resident-proposed ordinances, will be discussed at a future hearing.

Council candidate Omar Rodriguez, who has been a leading proponent of ending health benefits for part-time officials, said he was "very disappointed" by the judge's decision.

"I believe that there shouldn’t be one more day where we keep paying for those elected officials health care benefits," he said. "I don’t think that that is right.”

Rodriguez said that, even if elected in November, he would continue to fight to end health benefits for part-time elected and appointed officials.

"I will, one way or another, put those two questions on the ballot, because this is not about elected officials losing benefits, it's about giving the residents the right to exercise the choice when they go to vote," he said. "I will drive another petition if the judge does not rule in our favor in order for those questions to be on the June ballot."

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Goodfella September 14, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Figures, thought it was the same judge that overturned Zisa's 3 out of 4 convictions!!!!!!!!! Our justice system at its best.......
Tommy P September 14, 2012 at 10:28 PM
The judge needs to be removed from office. This is an outrage! The law is very clear here. The town does NOT have the legal authority to change the ordinance. It may accept it by passing it or place it on the ballot unaltered. period. I heard earlier this year from a young friend of mine that this is coming to Fair Lawn next November. I stand with our neighbors in Saddle Brook. Fight the good fight. Zak, please post a link to the full decision.
Omar Rodriguez September 14, 2012 at 11:25 PM
As the leader of the group, I'm very disappointed and totally disagreed with the Judge's decision today because the irreparable harm comes in ways that Elected Officials will continue to have healthcare benefits until a later day in June 2013, if we prevailed in Court. There's no ordinance in place in Town to take benefits and that should be enough reason. They are claiming that "past precedence" for the last 50 years of taking benefits entitles them to keep it... I don't think so because two wrongs don't make one right ! We, the (little) People, are trying to do what the Governor hasn't been able to do and we are finding these road blocks... It won't stop us and the fight continues. Go Saddle Brook!! Sincerely, Omar Rodriguez
Tommy P September 14, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Start a recall. Remove the council members who have been around for a year more. I will send your committee a check. I'm good for $299. I would donate much more but we have stupid disclosure laws.
Omar Rodriguez September 14, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Thank you Tommy P. I know we have won on the (little) People's Court and we'll continue to fight for the rights of the residents, taxpayers and voters of Saddle Brook. All we are trying to accomplished is to give the voters the right to exercise their opinion on election day because is part of the Democratic process and we shouldn't be stopped nor block for trying to give the residents an option or to express their opinions on such important matters and specially when there's no law in place that entitles them to take such benefits... Have a nice weekend !
Goodfella October 05, 2012 at 04:53 AM
I am appalled after watching a recent council meeting at how the curent seated officials have this holyer than thou attitude. I cannot get over how they seem to miss the whole fact that they are serving the community and that is not a prerequiste as to why they should be entitiled to benefits. I cannot fathom the comments from all council members about stating about comments from the PEANUT GALLERY... WAKE UP!!!! that peanut gallery that you so love to reference are the members of your community that you serve. WE WILL REMEMBER COM NOVEMBER !!!!!!!!!

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