January 15, 2006

How the Union County Democrat Aristocracy Invites Anarchy

YOUR TIME IS UP! Freeholders called the cops to take County Watcher Tina Renna away when she went a minute over time discussing the boy the county government allowed to die.

At an April 10, 2001 Elizabeth city council meeting, Councilman Tony Monteiro was removed in handcuffs and subsequently arrested. It has been reported that Monteiro was arguing with then council president Patricia Perkins-Auguste about a proposed spending plan. Perkins-Auguste accused him of being behind anti-budget fliers distributed before the meeting, and Monteiro reportedly interrupted her. She ruled him out of order and ordered him to keep quite. Monteiro refused and Perkins-Auguste ordered officers to arrest him. He was led from council chambers in handcuffs.

Monteiro was later cleared in court of the disorderly persons charge. Perkins-Auguste’s excuse for his removal and arrest was that she has the right to maintain order at council meetings. Perkins-Auguste tried to shut up an elected official and
he wouldn’t cooperate. In a healthy democracy Montero would have gone on to a long political career as a beloved mayor, but this being New Jersey, Monteiro never ran for municipal office again.

What about the rights of Monteiro’s constituents? They elected him in a democratic fashion to speak for them, not to be put under the thumb of the majority on the council. After his arrest Monteiro asked for an apology from Perkins-Auguste and Mayor Chris Bollwage; when none was given he moved forward with a law suit.

In March 2004 a federal jury eventually ruled that Perkins-Auguste had violated the First Amendment rights of Monteiro and awarded him $10,750 in damages. Perkins-Auguste, with the blessing of the mayor, appealed. So far the city has spent nearly $124,300 arrogantly defending Perkins-Auguste right to shut up a fellow council person.

At a December 19, 2004, Union County freeholder meeting, I was removed while making a public comment regarding the death of a juvenile at the county-run detention center. Although I was speaking peacefully, two county police officers were called forward and pinned my arms behind my back and physically moved me out of the room even though I was not resisting them. My offense was that I spoke one minute and six seconds over the allotted five minutes a citizen is given to speak.

Like Perkins-Auguste, freeholder chairman Angel Estrada, also claimed he had a right to keep order during meetings and that I was out of order for going over the time limit. I knowingly went over the allotted five minute speaking time because I wasn't done with what I had to say and other speakers at the meeting that night were allowed to go over their five minute time limit.

A copy of the VHS taping of the meeting obtained through the Open Public Records Act shows the freeholders and county manager didn’t keep themselves in order during my removal. You can clearly hear the freeholders and county manager laughing and joking while I was being roughly shoved out of the room by their security guards.

Not one to have anyone shut me up, I shouted “its Christmas can't you offer Eddie Sinclair’s mother your condolences for the death of her son?” Sinclair’s mother had spoken earlier and was interrupted repeatedly by freeholder Estrada who was trying to shut her up as well. The appointed county manager's, who just happens to be state Senator Raymond Lesniak’s nephew, response to my request was “I’d like to offer my condolences to Joe Renna" (my husband) which was followed by hoots from the freeholder board.

The death of a juvenile and his mother’s grief is a huge joke to our county government which controls a quarter of our property tax bills. The joke is obviously on the taxpayers because since Sinclair's death all who were up for re-election sailed back into office and we are facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit stemming from the mismanagement of this facility and the utter lack of regard for basic human rights shown by this autocrat-appointed and controlled, legalized-organized crime family.

The Union County Democrat machine with their autocratic ruling power and disregard for basic human rights is inviting every man to become a law unto himself; they are inviting anarchy.

Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the
omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. “ Justice Brandeis
--Olmstead v. United States (1928)