Passaic City Councilmen Munk,Schwartz,Schaer Skip Council Meeting For Their Own Agenda

25 01 2008

PASSAIC — The City Council will try again next week to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of a disgraced councilman.

Mayor Samuel Rivera said he will call a special meeting for Monday so the council can vote on the appointment to the seat formerly held by Marcellus Jackson, who resigned in December after pleading guilty to a federal corruption charge.

The council had put the appointment of Terrence Love, a teacher at School 8, on the agenda for Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting, but the absence of three council members forced the meeting to be canceled for lack of a quorum.

Absent were Chaim Munk, Daniel Schwartz and council President Gary Schaer.

Munk said Wednesday that jet lag prevented him from attending the meeting.

“I just got back from Israel. … I was knocked out,” he said, adding he had returned home Friday.

Schaer and Schwartz did not return phone calls for comment.

Their absences angered fellow council members and some city residents, who felt their lack of attendance was an attempt to thwart Love’s appointment. On Jan. 8 the council deadlocked on Love’s appointment, with Schaer, Schwartz and Munk voting against it. If the council deadlocks in a 3-3 vote on Love’s appointment, the mayor must cast the tie-breaking vote, according to municipal law. Rivera attended the meeting ready to cast a vote.

On Wednesday, Rivera said he believed Schaer wanted to avoid making a decision about the appointment because he feared controversy. Many in the African-American community support black activist Jeffrey Dye’s bid for the seat. At the Jan. 8 meeting, a number of residents told the council they supported Dye’s bid. Love, 37, who is black, ran for the council in 2005 but lost.

“Gary has his own political agenda,” Rivera said Wednesday.

The three council members who showed up — Joe Garcia, Gerry Fernandez and Maritza Colon-Montanez — expressed frustration with the members’ absences.

“I guess some of my colleagues don’t care what’s going on in the city,” Fernandez told dozens of annoyed residents before canceling the meeting.

Afterward, Fernandez said, “Were they all sick? Is there a sickness going around Third Ward Park?” The three absent members live in the area. “It’s a clear attempt to put their agenda ahead of the city’s business,” Fernandez said.

E-mail: mandell@northjersey.com

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