LINDEN — Moments after Mayor Richard Gerbounka, Council President James Moore and others were sworn into the offices to which they were elected in November with a clear mandate for change, status quo advocates effectively seized control of the city.
Six members of the governing body re-appointed City Attorney John Hudak without public input or discussion and over the strong objections of some officials.
Gerbounka previously vetoed Hudak’s appointment while Moore and Council members Derek Armstead, Rhashonna Cosby Hurling, Jack Sheehy and Bob Fraizer all voted against a resolution proposed by newcomer Peter Brown Jr.
Observers say Brown, who ran on the slogan “Democrat for Change and Action” clearly betrayed that promise by leading the charge to prevent reformers from replacing the politically-connected lawyer whose part time job costs taxpayers more than $100,000 a year.
While some argue about whether the action was even legal, it is indisputable that such naked power has rarely been wielded at the outset of a new term during a largely ceremonial municipal reorganization meeting.
Typically during a municipal reorganization meeting the agenda is more ceremonial and controversial matters are put of until a regular session that follows an informal workshop where Council members may discuss and debate the impact of policy matters that will be raised.
Brown, who was joined in preserving politics as usual by Council members Christopher Kolibas — who was not in attendance but participated by telephone — Richard Koziol, Robert Sadowski, Michelle Yamakaitis, and Richard Puschel, vigorously defended his actions and denied that his motive is to ingratiate himself to party bosses.
Gerbounka is an independent while Moore, Armstead, Cosby Hurling, and Sheehy all ran on the Democrats for Change line in the primary, upsetting candidates backed by the regular political organization.
The lawyer’s son, Christopher Hudak, is chairman of the local party machine and he was recently picked to replace newly-elected Rahway Mayor Rick Proctor as a member of the county freeholder board.
The elder Hudak also has lucrative political appointments in Roselle and other municipalities, school boards and various taxpayer funded entities.
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