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Letter: Council Should Reconsider Tenure for Public Works Director

A Toms River Patch letter to the editor

The Toms River Township Council at its last meeting introduced an ordinance creating tenure for the Director of Public Works after five years of service. According to the ordinance, the director shall be appointed by the mayor with the consent of the council. Current Director Lou Amoruso has served in the position for that long, he said at the time. The township attorney said that tenure is required by state law, but that the director could be relieved if determined to be underperforming. The council is scheduled to hear public comment and vote on the ordinance during its Feb. 11 meeting, 6 p.m. at town hall. 

Former Mayor Paul Brush submitted this letter to the editor addressing the topic:

To the Editor, Toms River Patch,

The Toms River mayor and council have undertaken the audacious task of giving tenure to the Public Works Director, no matter who he may be. Yes, there is a state statute, unfortunately, that permits it, but does not require it, although when the tenure measure was introduced and they were questioned why they would do something so stupid, they said it was mandated.  

Well, truth is, it isn’t mandated – it’s permitted which is a big difference. As a former mayor, I wondered why Mayor Kelaher would ever agree to tenure. It appears he has abdicated all his authority to the town council. When I was elected mayor in 2003, under the new form of government, I asked Professor Ernest Roeck of Rutgers University to hold a town meeting in Town Hall and advise us on the new form of government. It was an exciting time and Professor Roeck was an authority on municipal government. He made it perfectly clear that the mayor is the chief executive officer of the town and council’s role is to enact ordinances and adopt the township’s budget. Well, it’s become clear that in Toms River that the council has been calling the shots.  

Why would the mayor give tenure to the Public Works Director if he didn’t have to, unless it’s for political reasons? Just think about the cleanup immediately after Superstorm Sandy. Shouldn’t the mayor be directing the cleanup or should the Public Works director be in charge? Do you know how difficult it is to remove a department head that has tenure? Just ask Gov. Christie who opposes tenure for this very reason.

Tenure for the Public Works Director is bad public policy. In 2003 we changed the form of government and elected a mayor for four years to provide leadership and guidance through normal times. These are not normal times and Mayor Kelaher has turned over the reins of government to the Council and their friends. I urge our residents to come to the town council meeting on Monday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. and tell the mayor and council to table this ordinance – permanently.  

Thank you,

Paul Brush

Michelle Keenan February 05, 2013 at 11:41 AM
While I agree with the writer about tenure, I think he is way off base about the Mayor "turning over the reins of government to the Council." The storm cleanup needs as many hands on deck as it can get. Is the writer suggesting the Director of Public Works not be consulted or involved in the clean up? Town council members should be involved, as they, too, represent the residents of Toms River. If the writer has any credible allegations about storm clean up, he should state them. Otherwise, please step aside and let the clean up continue.
Robert Bressman February 05, 2013 at 12:24 PM
This isn't so much about clean up as it is giving a person a job that he can't be fired from, do we really want or need a position in town where are hands are tied when it comes to firing some one who may not be doing his or her job! This is the real question.
TR Grouch February 05, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Maybe we should find out if our current public works director is certified and qualified to hold the position of public works director before we grant him tenure...
shorefriend February 05, 2013 at 01:06 PM
Why does anyone who is doing their job correctly need protection, there is only one reason... they plan not doing thier job eventually! I am against these entitlements such as "tenure" and YES they are classified as entitlements. Out here in the private world do your job or get the boot!!
George February 05, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Leave the job as it is. There's no need for the politicians to go out of their way and grant lifetime security to any employee of the taxpayers. Don't these Republicans listen to the governor, who opposes tenure? It's not mandated. It begs the question: Just what are they up to?
Exit82 February 05, 2013 at 02:07 PM
You know the guy did something that warrants his firing. I heard Toms River has a serious problem with a former employee, maybe Armouso is part of that problem.
Mac February 05, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Done deal. Politicians in Ocean County never listen to their constituents when the party boss wants something different. If they do, then their name will never appear on the GOP ballot again, at the very least. And why should these elected/appointed officials care what you think? The voters are going to continue their 175-year-plus tradition of voting Republican no matter what the local politicians shove down their throats anyway. As for those few blips in which a Republican lost an election in Ocean County; that embarrassing situation was almost always corrected by the next election. Congratulations to the Public Works Director for his new official lifetime 'show-up if you like' tenured position courtesy of the Ocean County party boss. And just think: there are only 32 more Ocean County communities available to follow this newest patronage lead and enact this golden parachute reward program to further bless our standard of living throughout Ocean County. It’s so easy in Ocean County.
Mr. ? February 05, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Did you even read the opinion letter? Talk about missing the point!
Chief Wahoo February 05, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Yeah give the leech tenure. The faster these public parasites kill the host taxpayers , the better off we will be on the other side of the collapse. So give every public thug tenure and do it quickly.
Grant February 05, 2013 at 08:54 PM
This article has nada to do with anyone getting fired.
Independent Thinker in TR February 06, 2013 at 03:47 AM
The guy is a hot head and thinks he owns the town. Several people have had issues with this guy but since he has friends in town, they want to do yet another favor. Tenure doesn't exist outside of government. Labor laws are in place to protect people from unlawful firing not lifetime employment. These clowns are a joke.
Harry J. February 07, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Chief, Don't get it. I was under the impression that Gov. Christe put a stop to any State, County or Municipal employee collecting two public pensions.
Njswagg February 13, 2013 at 08:18 AM
I agree with independent thinker!!! The guy is a total hot head and believes he runs this town. I have unfortunatly been in his company multiple times. He thinks who he is. Its honestly such a shame because ive also seen and spoke to alot of public works employees and they are all very humble and nice down to earth guys. Its a shame that they have a political problem like lou running the show.
Michael Capo February 13, 2013 at 01:00 PM
Maria Maruca for Mayor
Martin February 13, 2013 at 01:44 PM
It's time for a clean slate. These politicians just don't get it.
Charles Henry March 07, 2013 at 05:24 AM
It's time for the council to forfeit their health benefits like brick has done ,they receive 20 grand for their part time service that is plenty for 10 hours a month
Charles Henry March 07, 2013 at 05:30 AM
They gave furry a position in the parks dept at 100 grand a year.not to run this is a disgrace.melanie works for givemor and conaman, Gilmore and ashbritt really screwed toms river in the wake of sandy. Now the gov wants to repave rte 35 instead of building a sea wall. Is it because they don't have a friend who does seawalls

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