The Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, February 19, 2014, was a shameful illustration of the dictatorship that is the current governing body of West New York.
Before a packed room of residents, most of whom attended to voice their objections to Resolution # 20, which proposed to move the School Board Election from April to November of this year, the mayor, supported by town attorney Gil Garcia, refused to let the citizens be heard prior to voting on the resolution. This was met by an angry verbal protest from outraged citizens who are fed up with the mayor’s bullying and lack of respect for the law and the people.
The purported reasons for moving the election to November were the cost of an April election and the claim that more voters would come out to vote in November. The credibility of these reasons is, of course, undercut by Roque’s history of squandering taxpayers’ money on illegal and unnecessary jobs and perks for his cronies without concern for the cost to the people, and his lack of interest in collecting the $1m in fines owed by his friend Acosta for his illegal residential conversion. And since Roque did precious little to publicize the January school board election and make citizens aware of it, his sudden desire to have more people come out to vote is disingenuous.
Everyone knows that Roque’s only reason for wanting to move the election to November is to keep his appointees in office for another year and thereby maintain control of the school board – in complete contravention of the will of the people who voted overwhelmingly for an elected school board. The resolution was opposed only by Commissioner Wylie, who asked that it be removed from the consent agenda – which was refused – and who expressed the feelings of many in the audience, as stated above.
While moving the election to November is financially advantageous and should be done as early as next year, at the present time it is simply wrong, for doing so delays the implementation of the people’s referendum for almost a year. Even assuming the mayor’s reasons were to be believed, the will of the people and the democratic process must not be subjugated to less important considerations such as money. Democracy must never be impeded, even for the most worthy of reasons, and certainly not to serve the political and personal interests of a corrupt administration.
Unhappy with the people’s demands to be heard, and in a shameful display of cowardice and arrogance, Roque got up and left the meeting, actually complaining the the people were not showing respect. He needs to realize that respect must be earned, something he has failed to do. The other commissioners, except Wylie, left soon after, and the meeting was never properly adjourned. I believe the vote is invalid and should not be implemented.
It was heartening to see so many people in attendance. If people continue to speak out and assert their rights and demand that the mayor fulfill his duties or else resign, the untenable situation that currently exists in Town Hall will change.
Joan Palermo, Trustee, WNY School Board
“The within constitutes my personal opinion and does not purport to represent the opinion of the WNY School Board or any of its members”.