The Ongoing Circus in Rockaway ‘Clownship’

Rockaway Township Mayor Michael Dachisen is no longer staying silent.  

For the last few months, Council President Jeremy Jedynak has been sending out periodic electronic messages highlighting what the council majority is doing and invariably, criticizing the mayor.

The most recent missive from Jedynak says that the mayor is improperly trying to stop council members from talking directly with municipal employees.

It ends thusly:

“I guess this is what happens when old-time politicians like Dachisen stay in office for too long – they think governing is about them rather than the people that they should be serving. What is Mayor Dachisen trying to hide?”

The mayor is now responding.

Dachisen just dispensed what he calls his “first state of affairs message.”

And it’s a beauty.

The mayor takes aim at the five-person council majority, suggesting that “Council President Jedynak has turned our governing body into his personal realm.”

The lengthy message claims that council meetings have devolved to the point where residents who dare criticize the council majority face expulsion. 

The mayor brings up an ongoing legal matter now in state Superior Court in Paterson that centers on a proposed council resolution to investigate the town attorney and former business administrator. The mayor is challenging the resolution in court.

Meanwhile, Dachisen says that former administrator Adam Brewer, who resigned, is threatening to sue the township. Dachisen said Brewer has filed a tort claim with the municipality, a procedural step when preparing to sue a public body.

A good part of the mayor’s letter also criticizes the council majority for its hiring philosophy and for not conducting town business. The mayor says that in one instance, the council majority simply left an ongoing meeting via the back door. 

He also takes aim at John Inglesino, a former mayor and county freeholder now representing the council in the court case with the mayor.

“It (has) long been known Mr. Inglesino is Mr. Jedynak and Ms. (Councilmember Patty) Abrahamsen’s choice for our town attorney, but not mine,” the letter says.

In digesting what is a very lengthy statement, it becomes hard to realize that we are talking about Republicans fighting Republicans. 

Township Democrats probably can’t contain their glee at how GOP elected officials are attacking each other – again and again.

And some Republicans are clearly unhappy with their GOP brethren as well.

Just today, GOP councilman Mike Puzio, who is not part of the council majority warring with the mayor, joined two township Democrats in endorsing Democrat Mikie Sherrill for Congress in the 11th District.

In one part of his message, the mayor says, “Now, I assure all residents, I will do my best to see that all this is concluded quickly and we do not retain the name ‘Rockaway Clownship’ as one resident referred to our town at a meeting.”

That’s going to take some doing, as things may be getting worse.

The council majority camp this week dispensed a now-deleted post from a former township employee that called Jedynak the “Hitler” of Rockaway Township.

Ugh.

It’s always distressing when people bring up Hitler in fighting contemporary political battles that should never be mentioned in the same breath as the evils of Nazism. 

This type of stuff – sadly – happens all the time. Evoking Hitler is usually a great way to demean your own position and to lose the argument.

But it also exacerbates tension and hard feelings.

And that is the state of politics these days in one of Morris County’s largest towns.

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