West Windsor Council unanimously approved Resolution 2012-R189 containing the Transparency in Government Petition at the July 23 Council meeting. The Mayor stated approval. This resolution clearly states in writing that it is to be sent to the Mercer County Clerk to be placed on the November general election ballot. The petition, itself, states in two places that the more than 500 voters who signed the petition want the petition on the ballot for all voters to consider.
So why has this duly processed petition not been sent to the County Clerk? The Mayor’s counsel, Mr. Herbert, currently states that West Windsor Council passing the resolution petition is sufficient for the petition language to become effective and thus doesn’t need voter approval. The petition clarifies a West Windsor ordinance that will enable Council members to send a written question to the Mayor and get a written response to the question asked within 30 days.
Mr. Herbert has flip-flopped on his opinions. First he said a Council vote could make the clarification change to the ordinance. Then he said the petition must go to the voters, which is what the resolution petition passed on July 23 said in writing. Now he is reverting to his original position.
Which of Mr. Herbert’s opinions is correct? What will happen if he changes his mind again after the fast-approaching deadline for submission of items for the November ballot passes? Could it be he wants to change his mind again so that nothing happens? Could it be he wants to miss the November ballot?
Passage of the petition by the voters would insure that the Transparency in Government clarifying language would be in effect for at least three years and then could only be modified by the voters themselves. Simple Council passage of an amended resolution/petition would only be in effect for one year and could easily be reversed by Council.
An open, transparent, and communicative government is one of the foundations of democracy. Best practices for running any organization, private or government, include openness, transparency, and excellent communications.
Bryan Maher and Linda Geevers put forward a new resolution at the August 6 Council meeting directing the clerk to send the unanimously passed resolution petition from July 23 to the ballot, regardless of Mr. Herbert’s changing opinions. George Borek, Kamal Khanna, and Kristina Samonte voted no. Are these three Council Members actually against Transparency in Government?