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Letter to the Editor: Disappointed By Public Comment Limitations

Resident expresses frustration with amended bylaws.

The following is a Letter to the Editor submitted by Debbie O'Neill, a Bloomingdale resident.

Dear Editor,

To say I was disheartened and disappointed with the turn of events at meeting would be a gross understatement.  

Since, shockingly, the motion to amend the bylaws banning the public from engaging the council in dialog passed, my question to you now is, what plan do you have for providing the public with an opportunity to dialog with you? Are you going to have monthly town hall meetings in which the public may come before you and have open, unlimited dialog, should they choose to do so, since this will no longer be allowed during the town council meetings?

Just for the record, Mayor Dunleavy, I was proud of you last night– you passionately represented (or tried to) the interest of those you serve. Thank you for that; I respect and admire you. I sincerely hope that Councilwomen Huntley, Pituch and Shortman will follow your shining example of leadership and begin putting the needs of the community they serve over their petty, bitter need to grind their ax. And I wish we could put an end to the constant references as to what past administrations have done. We need to be moving forward and we cannot do that when some of you are forever trying to bash prior mayors and council members.

A very obvious example of that is this issue with the contracts. There is clearly no real value to the community to pursue this, as Mayor Dunleavy very professionally and eloquently pointed out. Yet, Councilwomen Huntley, Pituch and Shortman have a pathetic need to use this issue to try to discredit a prior administration. If by pursuing this witch hunt you are only adding a financial burden in the form of litigation costs to the borough and not gaining anything by it, then please help me understand why you continue to push the issue? I would much rather see the time you wasted arguing this issue, Councilwoman Huntley, given back to the public dialog.

In a last-ditch effort to appeal to Councilwomen Huntley, Shortman, and Pituch, I would ask you to (independently and separately) think long and hard about why you ran for office. Think about whether you truly wish to serve the community or your own agendas. Because what I have been seeing concerns me greatly about your motives. I am sure you are all capable of serving the community in a fair, impartial, and intelligent manner. Please begin to do so. Please stop your political machinations –they serve no one, and frankly, they discredit you and our town.

Thank you for your attention. Please provide me with feedback regarding my question regarding a monthly Town Hall meeting, etc. Perhaps it is something that can be added to an upcoming meeting agenda.

Debbie O’Neill

Cindy Keegan May 11, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Ms. O'Neill, I couldn't agree with you more! Thank you for saying exactly how I'm feeling about the situation. I appreciate your submission to the editor and can only hope the council reads this as well! Thank you, Cindy Keegan, another Bloomingdale resident.
Debbie O'Neill May 11, 2011 at 05:17 PM
Thank you Cindy - and not to worry - I e-mailed the Mayor and Council a copy of the letter. If I get the sense that it went unread, I will stand up at the next Town council meeting and read it in person : > Thanks for your support - we are all going to need to stand together and make some different decisions in November!!
paul bastante May 11, 2011 at 06:22 PM
So far, one of the strengths of our mayor has been his ability to get the public involved in the happenings of our borough. Never before has the dais been full meeting after meeting with residents participating in our local government. I dont know for a fact, but I would venture to say the public participation is far and above what other communities have seen recently and maybe forever. That being said, the level of participation has moved the council to pass this measure because they have been made to look like incompetent fools when dealing with the public. This is not good for reelection chances in the fall and the "Backdoor" republican leaders do not like this at all. It is my opinion that THAT is the reason for the ammendment to this town bylaw. I believe that those republican leaders would have an easier fix by removing these incompetent coucilpeople. Instead they deny us the opportunity to participate in our government. I th0ught when the council deposed our long standing and effective rec leaders to politically appoint their own instead (See Linda Shortman telling the whole room that, "absolutely it IS political) that they were shooting themselves in the foot. I thought that when Linda Huntley went snooping around and confronted employees about their contract status that they looked bad once again, not to mention putting our town in possible legal trouble. When attempting to reverse the prior administrations 4-day work week initiative I thought their
Theresa Merino May 11, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Thank you Mrs. O'Neill! Your letter is perfect. I was unable to attend last night but was at the previous meeting. It does get a little crazy, but that is because the residents of this town are passionate about THEIR town! I resent the Republican majority's efforts to squash that passion. I am confident that we will be heard in November.
Debbie O'Neill May 11, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Amen - I sincerely hope you are right!
paul bastante May 11, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Time could have been spent in a smarter fashion by taking care of business that actually matters and NOW...they have managed to go to the unthinkable, messing with americans ability to engage their government! This would be the last straw for this bunch of rogue council people. We are Americans! we do not take our freedoms lightly and we take 100% complete umbrage with anyone who tries to take this away. Now you have all taken a step into territory that I dont believe you are capable of recovering from. When you take something like this away from us, YOU have gone too far. You WILL be held accountable for it, and when you are gone, this ammendment will be vacated so even YOU will be able to address the new councilpeople in the future. The Mayor handled this with class and in the defense of the people that elected him to do a job. Thank you for having my back Mr. Mayor, sometimes I think that you have an impossible job, but you always rise to defend us, the people. Video taped meetings, Championing rec in our community, standing up to an unreasonable majority council, your efforts to bring revenu to our town and a sense of reason that most of the council is loath to observe. Keep up the good work and thank you for your service to the community!
Andy May 11, 2011 at 10:21 PM
Mr. Mayor, I would like to say from someone on the outside looking in, you Sir are doing everything for the right reasons; You give of yourself for the betterment of your town, your family stands behind you and endures your public abuse, why because you love the town you live in and you want to leave it better than you found it and your family loves you. You ran for office knowingly that it was going to be nothing but an uphill battle filled with mental strife and abuse but, you thought it best be endured by you than to go unchallenged. I would venture to say not many people would be that gallant towards their neighbors … I guess you’re what they call a, “throwback”. You certainly are an inspiration to me and in my opinion, quite a role model of selflessness in volunteerism. Please know that many people are watching and listening from other towns around the area and the more we read, the better you look!!! … Good Luck & God Bless. A Republican Friend from up the street…
Rich May 12, 2011 at 10:42 AM
These transgressions by the council WILL be rectified come election time. The citizens MUST unite for the next election, and put people in office who care, and WANT to listen to the residents.
Karen Dellaripa May 13, 2011 at 06:41 PM
Debbie, Thank you for saying so eloquently what so many people are thinking & feeling! I hope the council members read your letter and the comments! We definitely need to unite to make some changes to our council in November. And Andrew - I definitely concur with your opinions of our fine Mayor! Jon Dunleavy is absolutely an amazing person and someone we should all look up to as one terrific role model! Thank you again for taking the time to speak out!
Debbie O'Neill May 13, 2011 at 06:56 PM
Thank you Karen; I sincerely hope that the voters send a strong message in November!
Meredith Mascitello May 13, 2011 at 07:42 PM
This why the Tea Party got started. It's not about Republican or Democrat. Government at all levels - in both parties - has stopped listening to the people who give them power. They may have limited our voice at Council meetings, but there are many ways for our voices to be heard. It is encouraging to see more people engaged. One reason things have gotten out of control is that most of us stopped paying attention. If these are the rules they want to play by, then Jonathan needs to make sure they are playing by their own rules and call them out of order everytime they engage with a resident who is speaking. If they interrupt you while you are speaking, ask for that time to be added back to your 5 minutes. Great letter, Debbie.
Carolyn May 25, 2011 at 05:55 PM
One tenet of Conservative philosophy with which all Americans agree is that the Constitution is the foundation of our Nation and must be observed and respected. In the observance of the Constitution and the Rule of Law lies the greatness of this Nation. However, on the Bloomingdale Council, Linda Huntley and her followers have rewritten the Constitution, interpreting free speech as something which should take place, but not too much and not too often and only when the few of them deem it to be proper. Huntley and her followers, apparently disagree with our Founding Fathers and scores of Supreme Court Justices, both Republican and Democrat, who believe that one of the sacred tenets of our Country is Freedom of Speech. I studied Constitutional Law in Law School and argued a number of Constitutional issues before the Courts of New Jersey. However I really learned about Freedom of Speech at age six on the streets of Newark from my friend Joey. Joey said "Sticks and Stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me" Bravo to Mayor Dunleavy for standing WITH the people of Bloomingdale. Perhaps Linda Huntley and the Bloomingdale Council should find Joey. Joey at age six seems to have understood the Constitution far better than Huntley and her fellow Council members do now. Sheldon Bross
Debbie O'Neill May 25, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Bravo Sheldon! May I suggest that you submit this to the Editor of the Patch (Arianna Cohen) to appear as a Letter to the Editor and also to the Suburban Trends?
Carolyn May 25, 2011 at 07:26 PM
good idea

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