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From the Sidelines: Are Montville Township Voters Apathetic, Disinterested or Just Uninformed?

Residents have to decide to engage in democracy. They are part of government, too.

Thomas Jefferson said "The strongest bulwark of a democracy is an informed and enlightened citizenry." Government works best when people pay attention and nowhere is attention more needed than at the local level. Over the past several months it has been revealed that Montville Township has a $4.8 million surplus sitting in the Water and Sewer accounts. That is money that has been paid by rate payers in what can only be called money government didn't need and taken out of the pockets of the people for whom they provide a service.

Last month the governing body passed a resolution to purchase land from at least two people who have been politically and potentially economically involved with members of the governing body. Records show that one of the sellers, Bob Gannon, was Jim Sandham's campaign manager and has other interests with Sandham. Sandham pushed very hard at the public hearing to justify the $1.8 million value. They applied and been given a grant from the county for $1.3 million for the purchase of 35 acres of floodway, wet lands and some uplands. An appraisal was done back in 2009 when the application was submitted and approved but it was based on a Montville Township engineer's own estimate of how many houses could be built. It has to be the first time in history that a buyer worked so hard to increase the value for the person they were buying from.

Here is the kicker on this whole sordid affair. Just last year after getting the biggest gift of an appraisal the sellers made a tax appeal and the county tax board reduced a portion of the land down to $600 thousand. Now the sellers are getting paid at a value of $1.8 million barely six months later. Ron Soussa, one of the owners at the time the grant was given has been at various times the Republican Club secretary, amember of the open-space committee, a member of the economic development committee and State Senator Pennachio's landlord. He also hired one of the township committee people as a contractor for another building while this application was progressing. He launched phony websites to get rid of elected officials he couldn't control and it certainly seems he has a much friendlier governing body now but who is really to blame? Last year's general election brought out a whopping 25 percent of the voters. Seventy-five percent sat on their butts and didn't bother. School Elections rarely top 25 percent even though schools take 65 percent of the property tax dollar. This year all the best people will come out because, after all, it is for president.  

The Tea Party launched a full out attack on the Towaco Fire Department over $75,000 and the township committee cut their budget. Here we are talking about $ millions in either incompetence or cronyism or worse and how does the public react? Not at all. Not a peep from the Tea Party. Not a peep from Republican Club Officials who apparently condone this behavior so that they can keep power and not a peep from every day citizens.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lisa Piernot April 30, 2012 at 03:47 AM
"Among the mysteries: MTPO filed with the IRS as a 527 organization, but did not file any sort of incorporation papers. A search of NJ Business Gateway yields only one result: for TMTP. At first, TMTP's listing included the word Organization in its name, but Richard T. Luzzi, listed as President of TMTP, changed that in fairly short order. (A "previous name" search on the phrase "Morristown Tea Party Organization" also leads to TMTP.) Furthermore, MTPO has not reported any contributions, or any disbursements or other expenditures, since its founding. Yet as this Federal Election Commission report states, Weingarten made a $700 contribution to the political action committee (PAC) of Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC-2), the congressman who famously shouted, "You lie!" at President Obama while Obama was addressing a joint session of Congress. That contribution came after Wilson appeared at an October event arranged by Weingarten for the MTPO. In addition, Weingarten's Web sites have donation links available, thus raising the question of where the money is flowing if it is not actually flowing to something called "Morristown Tea Party Organization." A legal source told this Examiner that if a corporation, trust, or not-for-profit organization has not filed for any sort of charter with any State's Department of State, then legally it does not exist apart from its founder."
Lisa Piernot April 30, 2012 at 03:48 AM
"Weingarten filed his lawsuit, as mentioned, on or about March 28. He listed TMTP (which he called an "impostor organization"), three named defendants (Luzzi, Janet Cornish, and Lisa Piernot), and ten "John Does" as defendants. He alleged misappropriation of a trade name, unfair competition, defamation, injurious falsehood, "intentional interference with prospective economic advantage", prima facie tort, and breach of fiduciary duty. The last count is alleged against Cornish, who originally had been listed as the Vice-President of MTPO and one of three original persons (along with Weingarten and Denyce Lucatorto) authorized to sign checks drawn on the MTPO bank account. That authority was withdrawn in an e-mail addressed to Cornish and obtained by this Examiner. TMTP sources have previously told this Examiner that they were forced to start all over with their fundraising for last year's Independence Day Tea Party on the Morristown Green."
Lisa Piernot April 30, 2012 at 03:49 AM
"All these legal filings cost money--and if MTPO (assuming that it legally exists apart from Weingarten) has been paying the legal bill, then apparently it has not been reporting its expenditures to the IRS. Commentators on this on-line forum have noted the mysteries surrounding MTPO's failure to report any amount of contributions or expenditures. But some have asked why TMTP is not currently listed as a 501(c)(3) organization, which is how Richard Luzzi has sought to run his organization. A possible explanation, which the commenters might not be familiar with, is that 501(c)(3) organizations are not required, and might not even be allowed, to file for 501(c)(3) status immediately upon their incorporation or other legal creation. This IRS publication gives full particulars on who may file for 50(c)(3) status, when, and how. Weingarten has been representing himself as the head of all Tea Party activity in New Jersey, and has built a Web site having links to multiple Tea Party groups. But, with the exception of his own MTPO (which exists as another page on his NJTeaParty site), none of those organizations link back to his page, and indeed some have requested that he de-list them."
Lisa Piernot April 30, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Max, how is this for your brain? Read it.
Lisa Piernot April 30, 2012 at 03:54 AM
He sued me and LOST! I was not in the TEA. I published his public record that he was a drug dealer! lol. http://newjersey.gov/education/legal/sboe/2003/oct/sb4-01.pdf


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