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Inclusivity (The Red Bank Government Variation)

Red Bank Government Celebrates Inclusivity... Just Don’t Disagree With the Mayor

“Welcome. We are building an inclusive community” reads the sign as you approach Red Bank from the north on Route 35. It’s a bit hokey, but I like the sign.  It makes for a nice aw-shucks moment just before Rt. 35 takes that bizarre twist and turn at City Centre plaza.  

Problem is, watch out when you pass Borough Hall a little down the road. There, the inclusivity momentarily disappears - at least when it comes to political thought. It’s like some kind of cerebral black hole, where dissenting opinions are whisked away to an imperial singularity and where not even common sense escapes the event horizon.

This is a tale involving the Mayor and our local Environmental Commission (EC), where two outstanding Commissioners were denied reappointment on January 1st.  Their malfeasance?  I don’t know, but I guess you can pick your offense.  Seems they were a bit too vocal.  Seems they were quick to vet issues in the public forum, that they didn’t instead work back channels  - how odd for those on a public body that was implemented to serve the public at large.  Seems they didn’t always go along with our all-for-one-and-one-for-all governing body.  Yes-men they were not.  Neither am I.  And this has nothing to do with my friends that remain on the EC, all great people and active in their own ways, but that’s why I resigned from the EC shortly after hearing the news and once the reasoning was explained to me.  There was no right or wrong response, just my personal choice.

Listen, I get it, the EC members are appointed by the Mayor at his pleasure.  One of the job perks, I guess.  But, I’ve vented about this lack-of-political-diversity-and-tolerance subject before, this past election cycle. Here I have to bring it up again because our Mayor is betraying the Council’s claim on an inclusive community. You may have heard the sound bites before: diversity, inclusiveness, etc.  All good stuff.  Our Council even adopted a nice Diversity Statement, as spearheaded by the Human Relations Advisory Committee.  In part, it reads, “in an effort to set an example for inclusivity, (Red Bank) adopts the broadest definition of diversity with the following statement: the dimensions of diversity shall include, but are not limited to the following: race, ethnicity... political beliefs, age, and national origin and status.”  Catch that one after the ellipsis?  Yup, “political beliefs.”

So how is that two citizen volunteers with valuable topical professional experience and genuine concern for environmental causes are not reappointed?  

It’s not like there were people waiting for the spots, willing to give up their leisure time. So, I invite the Mayor or Council to set the record straight if I’m wrong.  But to this observer, and given the limited information I have, it just seems they didn’t follow some unwritten “code” that only our Council knows about.  Because I double-checked official Borough Code and there are no EC prerequisites that involve falling in lockstep or proudly waving the local Democratic Party flag.    

I know my former colleagues on the EC will continue to look out for our in-common natural resources.  And, I hope a few citizens reading this will throw their names into the mix for the open seats.  For this is an administration whose environmental record is far from stellar, even ignoring our leadership’s lack of transparency and inclusivity on this matter.  

The whole experience made me realize that we should probably complement the Rt. 35 inclusive community sign with another.  Plant it right at the corner of Monmouth and Maple, next to Borough Hall.  It could read something like this: “Political Dissent Free Zone” or “Do Not Enter, One Way Politics.”  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Suzanne Viscomi January 29, 2013 at 01:48 AM
"One Party Council Creates a One Party Town" S. Viscomi “We have our differences,” he said. “People say it’s one-sided; it’s not. If you were ever in a closed room with us, you would see that we argue to the death. But it always seems to get worked out.” -Arthur Murphy III 10/17/12 Effects of 1 Party rule= closed room What will 2013 bring?
Brian M. Hanlon January 29, 2013 at 07:03 PM
There are residents in our "Cool Little Town" that are too busy working, have hectic schedules, raising children & prefer NOT to partake in political discord. WE ALL have a vested interest in Red Bank's future prosperity. But there are segments of Our RB Community that are either completely overlooked &/or ignored...But that just happens and we learn to roll with it... OR until our Water & Sewer Bill and Tax Assessments come in the mail, among other notifications. There are times when many of us are left scratching our heads questioning some of the proposals and what is actually passed... So, are our Elected Officials that power-hungry, petty & smug if some fellow RB residents disagree with them...? Do these elected officials really represent Our Family's best interest ? Do they represent You ? Maybe...Most likely, probably not always... Maybe a little change is in order for our "cool little town", maybe what's needed is a change agent of some sort... Just maybe that sign at the Town's entrance should state: "Exclusively Inclusive...Independence Need NOT Apply" Thank You Andres for speakin' UP !!!
Cindy Burnham January 30, 2013 at 05:19 PM
I do believe that I know alittle about having views that don't go along with this councils agenda and the wrath that comes with it. Simple stuff like: public water access to the Navesink River (Maple Cove). A community garden. So simple, but not in an un used , over grown lot along the Navesink. Fix benches at Mohawk Pond so high school kids could paint them to earn community service hours. DPW said, "We don't have money for that", but as soon as an article went into the APP, showing how this park has been neglected for the last twenty years, WOW...DPW sure came up with the money to fix & paint them. How about 51 Monmouth St. The old police station & oldest building in town. This council ALL voted to let the YMCA have it for free instead of getting it back for R would have been the RIGHT thing to do. This council has its own agenda and if you don't agree with them, your labeled trouble maker. Yes, I know about not being included. When good people, who are more than qualified to sit on a board are not re appointed because their views differ from this one party council, we ALL have a problem. We need term limits on the council to allow for fresh new ideas instead of the "Good ol boy" mentality that we have had in RB for the last 20 years.
Stone LaPierre February 01, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Fascism is alive and well in Red Bank!

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