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South Jersey Citizens Want Clerk to Clarify Problems with Pay to Play Petition

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South Jersey Citizens calls on Gloucester Township Clerk to stop using taxpayer funds to continue blocking Pay to Play reforms.

Gloucester Township, NJ – April 5th, 2012 – South Jersey Citizens (SJC), a non-partisan “good government” local government watchdog, is calling for the Gloucester Township Clerk to reconsider her decision to not certify the “Pay to Play” ordinance petition due to arbitrary and capricious legal arguments made by the municipal solicitor.  This is a final step to avert costly litigation over an attempt by the solicitor to use his authority to protect the best interests of his political party over the will of the people. 

During the summer and fall of 2011, SJC collected the signatures of over 1350 people in support of this reform ordinance.  The clerk certified 1091 of these as qualified, registered voters of the township – enough to move the ordinance forward.  Township solicitor, David Carlamere, in our opinion used legal arguments not based in law to pressure the clerk into not certifying the petitions.  As a result, South Jersey Citizens has engaged the services of New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center, a champion of good government and grass-roots reforms throughout the state, for assistance because citizens have limited means of redress from their local government.  NJ Appleseed reviewed the solicitors opinion and has determined the arguments against the petition are “arbitrary, capricious and not in accordance with the law.” 

The members of South Jersey Citizens wish for a reasonable and amicable resolution of this matter outside of the courts but that is now in the hands of the township clerk.  The 1091 voters of the township who support this initiative through their signatures should not be disenfranchised by a solicitor using narrowly constructed arguments and incorrect facts.  SJC does not want to burden the taxpayers of Gloucester Township with the cost of defending these arguments but is fully prepared to litigate this matter.  Said Executive Director Tom Crone, “We will not be deterred by an arbitrary opinion of a political appointee, the sole purpose of which is to subvert the will of the people and disenfranchise voters.” 

To avoid the costs of a trial, SJC has presented the Clerk with a copy of the thorough and compelling legal analysis by NJ Appleseed regarding the solicitor’s opinions and asked her to reconsider her decision in light of this analysis.  It is now her decision whether this lawsuit proceeds at taxpayer expense.  She has until April 12, 2012 to make her decision.  South Jersey Citizens calls upon the leaders of Gloucester Township government to hear the voice of the people and allow the democratic process to happen in Council chambers and/or at the ballot box, not in a court room at taxpayer expense.

South Jersey Citizens is a grassroots citizen organization dedicated to educating the public and enacting "best government" reforms on issues related to local government and politics including school boards, town councils and agencies.  Pay to Play is the practice where local governments solicit donations for political campaigns from government contractors.


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