New Hillsdale Council Members Take Seats, Kelley Named President
The Hillsdale Council held its reorganization meeting Sunday.
Hillsdale's four newest council members took their oaths of office and Tom Kelley was voted as the council's president during the borough's annual reorganization meeting Sunday.
Officials were positive about the past year and optimistic for 2013. Mayor Max Arnowitz spoke about some of 2012's big issues, including Hurricane Sandy, improvements to the borough's finances and the decision to keep emergency dispatching in the police department. Despite some disagreements over appointees, Arnowitz was also positive about working with the four Democrats now sitting on the council.
"While the makeup of the council has changed, I'm sure the accomplishments of the past three years will continue and expand," Arnowitz said.
Council members also said they wanted to work together to do "the best things for Hillsdale" and unanimously voted for Tom Kelley to take the position of council president for the next year.
"I feel privileged to have been picked," Kelley said.
Still, there were some disagreements. Arnowitz said he was "disappointed" that the council replaced seven of his nominees for various positions with different appointees.
Councilman Doug Frank questioned why the council majority decided to replace so many of the borough's professional staff, including the borough labor attorney, who had worked for Hillsdale for more than 20 years, according to Frank.
"In business, you generally wouldn't get rid of somebody unless they were doing a bad job," Frank said.
Councilman Larry Meyerson defended the changes, noting that they had used the same process for hiring professionals that the council uses every year.
"The people voted for change, so we affected that change," Meyerson said, referring to the November election in which Democrats won all four seats.
Frank also raised concerns about new borough attorney Eric Bernstein, a lawyer who has lots of municipal experience but is based in Warren and also has represented pornographic websites. Bernstein has previously lost some of his positions representing municipal governments because of his other work, according to a 2007 report on PolitickerNJ.
Meyerson said he asked Bernstein about the issue while interviewing for the positon and was satisfied Bernstein's qualifications.
"As an attorney, we represent our clients," Meyerson said. "We don't vouch for what they do.".
Still, officials were optimistic about being able to get along as they begin working on the annual budget. Meyerson thanked Frank for "keeping us on our toes."
"I think we will find a lot more places to work together than to not work together," Frank said.