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Watchdog Group's Pay-to-Play Petition Dead

The pay-to-play ordinance proposed in a petition drive organized by five township residents will not make it to the November ballot.

A watchdog group that sought to enact a local pay-to-play ordinance in Gloucester Township learned Tuesday it has lost in its last-ditch effort to see the measure put to voters this November.

A three-judge New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division panel on Tuesday upheld a Superior Court judge's earlier decision to exclude hundreds of signatures collected by the group, denying the emergent appeal of petitioners Tom Crone, Joshua Berry, Beth Holzman, Robbie Traylor and Donald Choyce—all members of conservative watchdog group South Jersey Citizens.

"Very satisfied with the order that came out of the Appellate Division," Township Solicitor David Carlamere said on Wednesday.

The Appellate Division judges—Jack M. Sabatino, John C. Kennedy and Marianne Espinosa—affirmed Superior Court Judge Louis R. Meloni's decision that Township Clerk Rosemary DiJosie, the named defendant in the lawsuit, acted appropriately in rejecting 11 petition forms on technical grounds.

"We agree with the trial court that the attempted corrective action unilaterally selected by plaintiffs here to cure the defective circulator affidavits was inadequate under the relevant statutes and was reasonably rejected by the municipal clerk," the judges' decision reads.

(Editor's Note: The entire decision is available in PDF format to the right.)

The circulator affidavits in question initially were notarized by a Pennsylvania-licensed notary public—a violation of state law—when submitted to the clerk on Feb. 13, and were rejected by DiJosie. The petitioners had the affidavits re-notarized by a New Jersey notary public, but not in DiJosie's presence, as she had requested in a March 1 letter sent to Crone.

The affidavits, while numbered to connect them to numbered petition forms, were not attached to the forms when Crone and Berry submitted them to DiJosie on March 9, nor were the notary or circulators present. Those forms were again rejected.

Tuesday's decision means the SJC petition committee fell short of the required 1,047 signatures necessary for residents to advance proposed legislation to the Council and, if necessary, the ballot.

Reneé Steinhagen, of New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center, represented the petitioners in their legal battle. She issued the following statement late Tuesday:

"We are disappointed in the outcome, and feel that the court unfairly burdened the Committee of Petitioners (COP) with knowing the types of additional information that they should have provided to the Township Clerk in order to prove that they used an appropriate process when correcting their circulator affidavits. It is our position that the method employed by the Committee of Petitioners to correct the affidavits was proper, and if the Clerk had doubts that they had signed and notarized the affidavits in the presence of copies of the petitions, then she should have questioned the notary or the circulators or asked the Committee to produce the copies during the review period rather than rejecting otherwise valid signatures of voters.  

"In this matter, the Township set up numerous hurdles for the COP to overcome, rather than processing their petition in a neutral manner. The Committee beat back in court allegations of fraud and the Clerk's rejection of 299 signatures because they were not circulated by the Committee of Petitioners themselves—a requirement that had no basis in law. Unfortunately, the Township and Court decided not to accept a correction method used by petitioners in other municipalities, and thus deprived the citizens of Gloucester Township of their opportunity to vote on pay-to-play reform in the upcoming general election."

With a mid-September deadline to have measures put on the Nov. 6 ballot, there is seemingly no way the SJC group will get the measure to the Township Council for its consideration at a public meeting. Council would have had to have refused to act on the proposed measure, or significantly altered the group's intent, in order for it to have been put to voters as a ballot question.

In publicly labeling Carlamere a pay-to-player on several occasions in recent months, SJC members and Republican operatives have questioned the solicitor's credibility on the proposed pay-to-play ordinance.

Tuesday's ruling served as vindication, of sorts, for the solicitor.

"The affidavit of the clerk, at the lower Superior Court level, as well as at the appellate level—because her affidavit was referred to in the Appellate Court's decision—clearly sets forth that the clerk sought my advice on issues that dealt with the legalities of the circulators and the affidavits and what have you," Carlamere said. "And the Court felt that she was proper to do that and, obviously, because of the end result, that my advice to her was correct advice because they upheld the clerk's actions as not being abusive, as being within the mandates and dictates of the statute. So, my advice to the clerk, and guidance to her, was appropriate."

At its July 9 meeting, the Township Council approved on first reading its own version of pay-to-play legislation, written and moved by Councilman Dan Hutchison and targeting Super PACs.

The governing body pulled the ordinance from consideration at its July 24 meeting, and the same ordinance has become the centerpiece of another petition drive—this time by Democrats.

Meloni, the Superior Court judge, sided with the SJC committee during a July 10 hearing regarding several residents who claimed their signatures were improperly collected or forged during the months-long petition drive.

 

Read more about Gloucester Township Patch’s coverage of the pay-to-play issue:

 

Do you have something to say about pay to play? Do you support South Jersey Citizens, the Township Council or neither? Consider writing a letter to the editor. Send it to sean.mccullen@patch.com.

ymbdfa August 11, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Well NaPauleon sorry you were homeschooled but, even though I pity you for that, I am not about to translate words I use into a3rd grade vocabulary just so you can comprehend it. As far as the lies your spreading it is of no surprise you refuse tell us where these quotes came from since doing so would be impossible considering I never said things the way you quoted them. It’s sad that you would continue to go down this road of deception but there is one easy way to end it, STOP LYING!
Paul J. DiBartolo August 11, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Your "Caps Lock" key is stuck on...or did you do that on purpose, YAMMBY? Are you now resorting to yelling while you write. That's the understood meaning of all caps. Chill out, YAMMBY.
ymbdfa August 11, 2012 at 10:31 PM
NaPauleon, I never saw a 4 year old with a grey beard before, guess there is a first for everything!
Jimmy August 11, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Crooked judge Sabitino - Camden county appointee All crooked connected judges, mayor and council. Birds of a feather protected and connected for the time being.
Darren Gladden August 12, 2012 at 03:22 PM
You use a fake screen name and you say you are the truth give me a BREAK CAUSE YOU WROTE this and think you tell the truth you are nothing but PROBLEM and for HEAVEN sakes I hope one day Karma smack you did in your LIEing mouth ....... This is what you wrote "Now next time you broker a deal with Crystal maybe you should make her drive instead making her duck and bob her head in your white van in the municipal parking lot. You do know that whole lot is on camera right? Well now you do and soon well let’s just say it's going to get fun. Not that you didn’t already have fun".,,,,,,,You scum wrote that on PATCH ......Get a LIFE and stay off da sauce ...........Just care , I do ....... You Loser YMBDA nothing but a Chicken do
Paul J. DiBartolo August 12, 2012 at 04:11 PM
There's not a whole lot to say about YAMMBY until she posts her picture and real name. But then we know, coward that she is, that she will never do that because the gig would be up. Get back into your coffin, YAMMBY, the sun is beginning to rise and I think I hear your masters calling you. What does it feel like to be a shill for someone else and not be real to yourself? You must be shameless. It's gotta be tough being you but, hey, somebody's gotta do it, right?
N/A August 12, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Darren and Napoleon you too must be so proud of yourselves bulling a 22 year old girl. I have to sat its pretty comical watching you two comment after comment attacking young girl like you do. It's also comical that you both attack over and over with such ruthless comments then say she's a coward for not posting her picture? Seriously? Why in her right mind would anyone want to be subjected to the things you to do to her? She is a hero not allowing you two to abuse her like you do. I comment her for even having the guts to subject herself to all the make calling lying and manipulations of everything she has to say, you to do this and you don't know who she is, one can only imagine how ruthless you two would become if you did. The only cowards on here are you two what you think your big men because you have your picture on here, That makes you more of the coward picking on a woman, two grown men and this is how you act, it’s disgraceful. Now I’m sure you will both attack me to so go ahead give it your best. Don’t forget to somehow work into the mix that I am YMBDFA seems to be the best you can do.
N/A August 12, 2012 at 04:49 PM
And yes I have some typos NaPauleon deal with it call me names show us how much of a man you think you are. You seem to be able to understand the jibberish Gladden writes if you can't understand my writing I could care less, to bad for you.
Darren Gladden August 12, 2012 at 05:03 PM
O "POOR old YMBDA is 22 GIRL , Now NA put down da bag of chips your waist line is growing everyday . Maybe some Up , Downs will do you some good . and by the way I learn how to write in the Best Education money can BUY in New Jersey were the crooks get all their money from .........Now NA you need a tissue for any of your fake issues By the way you got a problem you now were I live and what I look like come talk to me 'MAYBE
N/A August 12, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Darren don't you have a toilet to clen oh wait you couldnt keep that job eithor nowonder your such a miserable waste of life.
Paul J. DiBartolo August 12, 2012 at 05:18 PM
I don't think I'm that much of a man, N/A. If I did I would post under a false name and remove my picture. Everybody on this site who uses their real name and picture are cowards, correct? You, on the other hand, like your alter-ego YAMMBY, are the real man, or is it woman? You're not afraid to conceal your identity and hide behind a rock while you insult and and engage in name-calling. Isn't that the mark of real citizenship in Gloucester Township? You're a legend in your own mind, YAMMBY. Oh, I forgot, you have your hat turned around and are posing as N/A/ now. So sorry.
Darren Gladden August 12, 2012 at 06:09 PM
You hurt my feeling .........I'm going to cry . Now listen up WINJOB no life is a waste . See I even feel scumbums like yourself can even take up some air.......OMG you Fake wannabees are starting to bug .
N/A August 12, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Yep NaPauleon, It's like clockwork when you can't defend your own ludicrous comments you resort to name calling racist remarks next Jimmy, Michael, Alex Allen, and a multitude of your other aliases using fake names and dead people’s names will be here to hurl insults. As always anyone that opposes you according to you is the same person because let’s face it any rational person knows there is not only 1 person in all of GT that reads Patch that opposes your ridiculous comments. But for the sake of ending your brain dead tyrants I will make you feel better about your illustrious detective work and say yep NaPauleon you got me if you want to believe I am YMBDFA, I’m Ric I'm ., and every other person that opposes you, I will not deny it anymore. Does that make you feel better? It doesn't change the fact that you’re delusional to think that. Keep picking on the 22 year old girl I guess that makes you a man because you put your picture on your posts, you’re not a man doing things like that you’re a joke. That said you must be the most delusional person in all of Gloucester Township. Keep embarrassing yourself making the racist and degrading comments about a woman, guess the South Jersey Citizens must be real proud your own their side, as if they don’t have enough problems as it is.
N/A August 12, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Darren only a true low life scumbag would continuously insult a woman with racist degrading insults and that does bug me, when people like Napauleon and you do that. Why do you care so much that she said Crystal was in your car? Are you that embarrassed getting seen chauffeuring her around? YMBDFA did not make up that story many of us laughed about it when we saw it. I wouldn't say it was anything sexual like your comment tried to make it seem, or was it? Do you just have a guilty conscious? Personally I was hysterical laughing because everyone could tell Crystal was just as embarrassed then getting caught in a car with you as you are now. She was trying everything possible to hide from view but that mop on the back of her head kept sticking up no matter how far into your lap she dug her head. Every time she popped her head up to see who was watching her expression was like a deer in headlights. It was pretty comical. I'm not sure about the video tapes Yammy claims exist but if they do I’ll ask for a copy to post them for you. Would that make you feel better?
KC August 12, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Can someone give me a laymen's terms sort of explanation of what this "pay to play ordinance" entails? I've given up trusting either political side, as when it comes to politicians it boils down to; "I vote for the thief, you vote for the crook: we both lose" & while I can follow all the links & what not, I jus want to know what these folks are trying to do? Just what is trying to be done? Can anyone keep it simple? I don't care which political party you support, nor which you despise, I'm just trying to make sense of this pseudo-journalism which has a lot of fluff, but no meat. Please enlighten me...
Pete Heinbaugh August 12, 2012 at 07:59 PM
KC - Pay to Pay Reform is: "An Ordinance Establishing That A Business Entity Which Makes Political Contributions To Municipal Candidates And Municipal And County Political Parties In Excess Of Certain Thresholds Shall Be Limited In Its Ability To Receive Public Contracts From Gloucester Township in Camden County" One would hope that, with an honest, trustworthy municipal government, such an obvious ordinance would be unnecessary. But, alas, many NJ towns have already enacted Pay to Play Reform ordinances. In GT, we have two competing political groups: 1)"the group that owns the political/government power" ; and 2)"the group that does not, but desperately wants to". IMO, Each group is proposing legislation carefully worded to hurt the other group, while still allowing activities that enable themselves to operate in the gray areas of the rules. You would be wise to not fully trust either group, and decide for yourself who truly has in mind the best interests of GT's 65,000 citizens.
N/A August 12, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Darren, nobody said you wee in a car with "Councilwoman Evans" the correct statement was you were in a van with Crystal. I guarantee you that nobody cares enough about you to want to attempt to decode anything you write.
Michelle Wolfson August 12, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Any chance of closing this thread to comments? Clearly, nothing being posted has anything to do with the article at hand any longer. It's simply become a free for all of name calling and nonsense. Or shall we just ignore it and let the kids fight it out in the sandbox? Maybe, for those actually interested in what the new petition put forth by the dems is really about, we could get some follow-up elsewhere?
Jimmy August 12, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Today, Leo C. Donofrio filed, with the NJ Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, an official allegation of Judicial Misconduct against Appellate Division Judge Jack M. Sabatino with regard to the initial stage of this litigation which was originally filed in the NJ Superior Court, Appellate Division. The case, having come directly from an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court is now before the the United States Supreme Court, “DISTRIBUTED for Conference before all nine Supreme Court Justices. I am very concerned that if the United States Supreme Court requests the official records of the case from the NJ Appellate Division, a fraudulent case file - not including all relevant documents - will be forwarded to the SCOTUS and thereby the case now pending might be jeopardized.
Darren Gladden August 12, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Really Michelle , Name calling is what your party is all about in GT . They are all a bunch of clueless wannbees ......... I'm tried of their BS and that why we should all fight back to get our towns and country back and I'm so sorry I attack O
Pete Heinbaugh August 12, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Wow, Jimmy. That sounds like it is probably something kinda important.
Paul J. DiBartolo August 12, 2012 at 10:05 PM
ROFL. Do you get that, N/A? It's 'rolling on floor laughing.' That's what I'm doing over your comment. And now you're pegging yourself as Ric? Hmmmmm. I am familiar with a poster on one of the other Patch sites named Ric. Admittedly, we disagree, but the individual I know as Ric at least shows a modicum of intelligence. That's how I know it could never be you. Back in the cage, N/A. A 22-year-old girl...oh, that's hilarious.
Paul J. DiBartolo August 12, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I think the point, Michelle, is that every comment posted that opposes "politics as usual" in GT brings ymbdfa and/or N/A online to end any meaningful dialog. I, for one, refuse to stand by while they do their best to close all the threads and keep any useful information from coming out. You and I have disagreed on many topics; have we ever descended into name calling? No, because we respect each other's right to disagree. On the other hand, any time I post , I can be pretty sure that one of the two named firebrands will come online with insults and name-calling. At that point, all's fair from my perspective. Try to close the thread if you like; I do know that's what ymbdfa and N/A want to do so you are playing right into their hands.
Darren Gladden August 13, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Really well I know of one woman who care's and I made her my wife and everyday Is a great day in my life with her in it . Now are you not DIVORCE . Wow!!!!!!!! Now I know why you are a creeper dude that wants to fit in some where but is so lost he has not a clue ....BOOO WHOOOOOOOOOO to you I really do feel sorry for you and by the way I hear you smell tooo ....Just care , I do ..... Now maybe you should go find Dave's Stash ,,,,,Enjoy the video http://youtu.be/tgJgy0PRaJQ
Darren Gladden August 13, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Paul you are right and Michelle sometimes you must fight fire with fire . .......Keep on care ING ;-) Mrs, Green and let's paint the picture green ..........The truth will set us all free ....Just care , I do
N/A August 13, 2012 at 10:54 AM
Jimmy before you continue to make a fool of yourself, 1. Today is Sunday, The US Supreme Court does not accept cases on Sundays unless they are emergent or life threatening. Your accusation is neither. 2. Your claim Leo Dinofrio filed a case is also unimaginable since he retired. 3 SCOTUS would not have jurisdiction on this case unless it was previously ruled on by the NJ Supreme court, or a federal disttict court. This case was neithor. Keep trying to deceive people!!
A. Carroll August 13, 2012 at 11:03 AM
GT is the disgusting poster child for nastily-embedded crony liberalism.
N/A August 13, 2012 at 11:11 AM
Darren I'm not divorced never have been whoever is feeding you your BS you need to get that one straight. So whats next? If you think I'm like Lenny your sadly mistaken, I could care less. You obviously know who, I am where I live and what I look like, but you never say any of your lies to my face, why? You constantly attempt to end things with violence, why? Oh because as always your behind a keyboard or attacking a public official in public so that you know they can't come back at you, but when you need something you have your tail between your legs asking for help.
Michelle Wolfson August 14, 2012 at 03:55 AM
I get your point, Paul. You are right-- we have agreed to disagree many times in the past and left it as such. I only wish that there were more of a mutual respect for people's differences on all fronts. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and should not be berated or belittled with personal attacks for it. Especially when said attacks have nothing to do with the topic at hand. I don't think Sean would close the comments anyway, unless posts violate Terms of Service. Instead, they just violate 'terms of civility'.
Paul J. DiBartolo August 14, 2012 at 12:34 PM
I wonder how prone YMBDFA and N/A would be to post in their usual style if they were posting under their real names with accompanying pictures like you and I? Never mind, I think we already know the answer to that.

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