Sharp-Elbowed Dodd Heads Bitterly for the Exits in Dover

Insider NJ's Fred Snowflack looks at recent issues between Dover Mayor James Dodd and a meeting requested by the Morris County Board of Elections to discuss several allegations of Election Day irregularities.

DOVER – Outgoing mayor James P. Dodd is leaving with a bang.

The soon-to-be former mayor posted a lengthy missive on the town’s website that among other things,


suggests that the political group poised to take control of Dover in a few days “could care less about the people of Dover.” He continues that the group, which obviously includes Mayor-elect Carolyn Blackman, plans to run the town based on settling grudges and carrying out “vendettas.”  And Dodd adds, “That’s what it’s all about.”

So there.

There is nothing all that unusual about bitter political feuds among local politicians.

In Dover, this one has been ongoing for a few years. It culminated – or maybe it did not – when Blackman eked out a narrow win over Dodd in the November election, a victory that didn’t really become official until all absentee and provisional ballots were tabulated. In case you forget, Blackman was the Democrat in the race. Dodd, who said he still considered himself a Democrat, ran as an independent.

Blackman did not immediately reply to a question about the mayor’s letter.

In it, Dodd blamed a number of people or groups for his political demise. That included former friends, who became political adversaries; a common occurrence in municipal politics

But he also blamed Gov. Phil Murphy, state Sen. Richard Codey and Chip Robinson, the chair of the Morris County Democratic Committee. Dodd’s assessment was correct, but the reasons why his detractors arose is not necessarily nefarious.

Dodd endorsed Chris Christie for reelection in 2013. He did have a relationship with Christie, a fellow Morris County resident, but he says the real reason for the endorsement was the state’s aid in helping Dover recover from Sandy. On this score, Dodd was – at least at the time – on safe ground. Christie was lauded for his work with Sandy recovery and many Democrats endorsed the Republican’s reelection, or at least did little to help Democratic candidate Barbara Buono.

Still, as time wore on, and Christie’s star began falling, it was understandable that the endorsement created political problems for him. So, it probably was no surprise that Morris Democrats had no plans to give Dodd the “line” in last June’s primary. Well aware of that, Dodd eschewed the Democrats and ran as an independent.

It was these series of events that resulted in Murphy coming to Dover three days before the election to campaign for Blackman. As for Codey, he visited Dover, which isn’t in his district, more than once on Blackman’s behalf. In truth, Codey’s animosity toward Dodd seemed a bit over the top.

The dispute stems from Codey’s visit to a rooming house in town. In his letter, Dodd said the following, “My administration worked with all parties involved to correct and improve the matter, but the senator never acknowledged our efforts and the relationship was never able to be restored.”

That was clear as Codey talked often during the campaign about the need to “beat Dodd.”

The mayor’s farewell also mentioned a number of success stories, including ending “corruption” in the police department, expanding the fire department and attracting a healthy number of redevelopment projects to town. No one should minimize redevelopment. That is probably the only way to make Dover more attractive and viable. Dodd also took credit for keeping property taxes low relative to the rest of the county and for expanding such services as recreation and recycling.  A lot of that, Dodd alleges, is now at risk.

Looking ahead, the mayor speaks of “dire consequences” for 2020 and beyond as he warns darkly that “local people” will no longer be making the decisions.

Taking all this in, I could not help but recall seeing a message board in town on which Dodd expresses gratitude to residents for allowing him to serve as mayor.

It’s a nice message and one in great contrast to the sentiments on the town’s web page.

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One response to “Sharp-Elbowed Dodd Heads Bitterly for the Exits in Dover”

  1. He has been a cancer in that town for years. He claims he rid the police of corruption? How many officers were arrested, charged and convicted of the allegation of corruption? Answer 0. What he doesn’t report is that it cost the taxpayers over 2 million dollars in civil settlements and attorney fees to remove officers that refused to be part of his dog and pony show. That is not ridding a department of corruption. One officer remained on the books for 5 years at a cost in excess of 150,000.00 dollars plus medical benefits, accurred vacation, sick days and holidays. If that wasn’t a big enough settlement that officer was award about 170,000.00 dollars for missed overtime. This all while the officer sat at home and receiving pay and benefits for just waking up in the morning. that just one, Another officer was paid 426,000.00 to sit home, another one was paid 375,000.00 dollars. There are other settlements as well.

    There are also other lawsuits pending while under the administration of Dudd and his cronies. Officers were promoted against civil service rules and those positions must be vacated if officers did mot qualify under civil service. Upon learning of the unlawful promotions civil service forced an exam and results will be out in early January. Even his two top officers tried to extort 82,000.00 dollars each for not suing the town, A vote to pay them was abruptly added to the last meeting agenda. The meeting did not happen due to no quorum.

    What a crime fighter ex-Mayor Dudd is.

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