BRADLEY BEACH — A Superior Court Judge has ruled that the Bradley Beach borough council exceeded its authority by attempting to introduce appointments of an engineer, auditor and labor attorney in May without recommendations from Mayor Larry Fox.
The mayor had responded to the attempt by filing a legal complaint seeking to enjoin the borough from approving the proposed appointments.
In an opinion issued on Aug. 16, Judge Richard W. English cited state law on the borough’s Small Municipality Plan of governance, one of several models detailed in New Jersey’s Faulkner Act.
“Accordingly there is no legal rationale to permit the Borough Council to take action to appoint Borough officers without the Mayor’s input as executive of the Borough,” Judge English stated in the 26-page opinion.
Declaring that such action violated both the Faulkner Act and the Bradley Beach borough code, the judge stated, “While the Borough Council may exercise advice and consent under certain circumstances, it cannot unilaterally make those appointments without the Mayor’s input.”
Both sides quickly claimed victory in the legal dispute, with the mayor noting that his executive authority had been upheld and borough council members pointing to the judge’s confirmation of their power of “advice and consent” on appointments and his rejection of several other allegations in the mayor’s legal complaint. These allegations included a violation of the Open Public Records Act and a claim that the council action had been driven by Councilman Al Gubitosi’s desire to retaliate for his loss in the previous race for mayor.
The release of the opinion and the competing interpretations followed a contentious Aug. 16 borough council meeting marked by criticisms of the mayor from council members, including Mr. Gubitosi and Councilwoman Jane DeNoble.
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