Clark Council Approves Civil and OPRA Settlements

 

By ISAIAH JACOBO
For Union County HAWK

CLARK — The Clark Town Council agreed by unanimous decision on Monday night to approve three outstanding settlement agreements as part of its special meeting agenda.

The first, DiIorio v. the Township of Clark, stems from a 2015 incident wherein Antoinette DiIorio was injured after an altercation with police. According to nj.com, a grand jury declined to charge the officers involved, with then Acting Prosecutor Grace Park saying that the police use of force was “legally justified.” Multiple reports at the time stated that Ms. DiIorio lunged at and grabbed an officer who was arresting her son following a motor vehicle stop. Township Attorney Mark Dugan said Monday that more details, including the dollar amount, of the civil settlement would be forthcoming once the papers were filed with the court.

“[These decisions] frequently boil down to economics and risks,” Mr. Dugan said. He also offered to have the attorney from his office who handled the matter go over the issue after the papers are filed with the court.

The council also decided Monday to settle its legal issues regarding OPRA (Open Public Records Act) requests that were denied in the matters of John Paff (which pertains to a request made in connection to a settlement reached between the township and Clark Police Officer Antonio Manata) and Rise Against Hate (which stemmed from a request made for police summons records). The Clark Police Department remains under the control of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office. The requested records will now be released at the township’s expense in accordance with the settlement.

During the public-comment portion of the special meeting, Mayor Sal Bonaccorso and resident Michael Shulman, a write-in candidate who will be vying for a seat on the township council in November, had an exchange of words after Mr. Shulman expressed his “surprise” at the amount of detailed information that was provided by the council in relation to its agenda items. The mayor, who repeatedly interrupted Mr. Shulman’s time at the podium, said, “[These types of explanations have] been happening for 21 years,” and “we don’t need your dramatics.” He was gaveled by Council President James Minniti for interrupting and Mr. Shulman asked for the mayor to be removed. Council President Minniti warned the mayor that if he interrupted Mr. Shulman again, he would be asked to leave. Though Mr. Bonaccorso offered to remove himself from the proceedings, he ultimately stayed for the duration.

The council also voted as part of its special meeting to reject the bids that have been received for the 2022 NJDOT Roads contracts, due to the fact that, as the agenda states, even “the lowest bid substantially exceeded the cost estimates.” The project will now go back out to bid.

The council then moved on to its regular workshop meeting, which was held immediately after the conclusion of Monday night’s special meeting.

Two new ordinances — one that would prohibit local residents from feeding wildlife and another that would seek to bring the township into compliance with recent changes to the state’s rental property laws — were brought to the table for discussion. The rental ordinance, Township Administrator Jim Ulrich said, pertains to a recently-adopted New Jersey state statute that requires all rental units to be both “lead safe” and “lead free.”

According to information provided by the state, the new law, which goes into effect in July of this year, will require lead-paint inspections in all rental units constructed before 1978. Going forward, landlords will be required to complete these inspections before being allowed to turn over any such unit to a new tenant.

Additionally, the council raised the option of awarding a contract to The Standard Insurance Company in the amount of $42,456.32 to cover a variety of different policies for township employees. If approved, the contract would represent an annual savings of $29,195.33 over the current provider.

To view more stories like this, please SUBSCRIBE.

Tags:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram