(SJC), a non-partisan "good government" local watchdog group, has filed a
two-count complaint against Gloucester Township's Clerk for violations of
the Faulkner Act and for violating resident's civil rights by unjustly
blocking a citizen-led initiative petition for a pay to play reform
ordinance. This suit seeks to reverse an earlier decision by the Township
Clerk not to certify a valid petition pursuant to New Jersey's initiative
and referendum laws.
This complaint is the next step in a year-long struggle for good government.
Throughout this process, Gloucester Township's Mayor-Council Team have used
numerous, and often nonsensical arguments to justify their refusal to bring
this ordinance up for a vote and have relied on intimidation tactics and
retaliation to try to silence critics of their government. For example,
members of their political party have made numerous personal attacks against
members of South Jersey Citizens throughout this petition process including
the baseless allegation that SJC lied to the public to get them to sign the
petition. Furthermore, we believe that Solicitor David Carlamere, a pay to
play campaign finance laundering PAC operator himself, used factually
incorrect and unconstitutional legal arguments to compel Township Clerk
Rosemary DiJosie to not certify the petition.
According to the brief submitted in support of this complaint, Solicitor
Carlamere's opinion "goes against all principles of statutory interpretation
as well as decades of practice in New Jersey." Accordingly, the actions of
the Clerk based on his advice are "arbitrary and capricious" and not in
accordance with New Jersey Law. Mr. Carlamere's practice of putting the
interests of the local political party ahead of the people of Gloucester
Township is exactly why Gloucester Township needs pay to play reform and why
the political machine is fighting to block it.
South Jersey Citizens has tried in vain to seek a reasonable and amicable
solution to this outside of the courts but were left with no alternative to
bringing suit when the clerk would not reconsider her position even when
given overwhelming legal arguments countering the solicitor's opinion. Said
SJC Political Director Joshua Berry, "I find it ironic the same
Mayer-Council team that argued 'voter disenfranchisement' following the 2011
Assembly race and subsequent law suit would in turn disenfranchise the
voters who signed this petition. I am appalled local officials would resort
to dirty tactics and wasting taxpayer dollars to prevent good government
reforms like this. "
This lawsuit does not seek to enact the pay to play ban but to force the
clerk to fulfill her responsibility and certify the petition as valid so the
council and/or the people can vote on this issue. Gloucester Township has
until May 31st to respond to this suit, with the hearing scheduled for June