Mayor McCarthy's Veto Power Challenged in Appellate Court
Hearing comes after council members appeal lower court's ruling upholding Mayor's power to veto.
The issue of whether Mayor Raymond McCarthy can veto resolutions appointing several key township employees landed in a New Jersey appellate court yesterday.
McCarthy's lawyer Mathew Priore, appearing before a three-judge panel at the William J. Brennan Jr. Courthouse in Jersey City, contended because Bloomfield was designated as a special charter municipality by the state Legislature, the mayor has the power to veto council resolutions. Priore said a revision made to the Town Act in 1988 prohibiting a mayor from vetoing resolutions does not apply to Bloomfield.
"I think the law speaks for itself," Priore said after the hearing. "Had they intended to change Bloomfield's special charter in 1988, they simply would've included language in the statute itself to make those changes."
Attorney Robert Renaud, representing Bloomfield, argued the special charter, adopted by the town in 1955, does not explicitly grant the mayor power to veto resolutions. The revision "simply changed the powers the mayor had as prescribed by general law," he said.
"If this charter supplement, for example, said the mayor has the power to veto resolutions … then we wouldn't be here," said Renaud.
Renaud could not be reached for comment at his office after the hearing.
McCarthy, who was reelected to a fourth consecutive term in November, has been at odds with Bloomfield after he vetoed eight resolutions beginning in February 2009, according to Township Administrator Frederick Carr. McCarthy overrode resolutions appointing replacements for Information Service Director Tim Kane and Township Attorney Brian Aloia. He also vetoed a resolution appointing Mark Leonard as police chief and another hiring Campbell Ortiz LLC. as the township's worker's compensation firm.
But the council adopted several resolutions without McCarthy's signature, prompting the mayor to file a lawsuit against the council. Superior Court Judge Michelle Hollar-Gregory ruled to uphold McCarthy's veto powers in February, resulting in several employees being reinstated. Soon after that decision, council members appealed the case.
A ruling from appellate division judges Dorothea Wefing, Edith K. Payne and Linda G. Baxter is not expected soon.