Veto Override Fails In Brick Restructuring Vote

Councilman forced to abstain after legal opinion

An attempt to veto Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis' veto of a controversial ordinance that sought to restructure Brick's municipal government failed Tuesday night.

A pair of ordinances that made up the restructuring both passed in 4-3 votes last month, but a supermajority of five votes was required for the override resolution to be passed by the township council.

Though one of the three council members who voted against the ordinances last month – Councilman Bob Moore – switched sides and voted in favor of the override, Councilman Dan Toth was forced to abstain after Acropolis delivered a lengthy legal opinion from a conflict attorney advising Toth against voting on the measure.

The lack of Toth's vote meant a supermajority of council members voting in favor of the override was not achieved.

The ordinances have proven controversial, with opposing views on whether they would save money or cost money. Council President John Ducey said the restructuring was "simple math," eliminating several positions and adding fewer new ones, which would save $418,000. But administration officials said when factoring in bumping rights and employee benefits, the move could have cost $130,000.

But the biggest surprise of Tuesday night's vote was Toth's abstention, which came after the entire council, plus the mayor and township attorney, held a closed-door executive session meeting after Acropolis revealed a legal opinion rendered by Toms River attorney Robert C. Shea.

Shea, a conflict attorney for Brick, rendered the opinion that Toth should not vote on the matter because of allegations by the mayor that he lobbied the township building department to expedite permits for businesses in town – Joe Canal's and Tenali Wines – that eventually became his clients.

The six page opinion, of which Brick Patch obtained a copy, contends Toth may have violated state ethics laws and the matter should be referred to the state Local Finance Board as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office. The document also states Toth should "recuse himself with regard to any issues relative to the land use department, the building department or certainly any issues involving the employment of [name redacted], or for that matter, any of the employees of the building department and/or the land use department."

The redacted name in the document is presumably that of building department head and deputy township administrator Juan Bellu, whose job would have been eliminated in the restructuring process.

Toth, after returning from the executive session, said he decided to abstain from the override vote "based on an opinion that was drafted today by a local attorney."

He also said his abstention went beyond the potential conflict issue.

"Some things aren't worth the fight," said Toth. "I just don't think it's worth putting the township through any financial problems."

Earlier in the meeting, township attorney Jean Cipriani said future disputes over the restructuring could have been decided by an Ocean County Superior Court judge.

Moore did not explain his reasoning behind switching sides during the meeting.

The failure of the override vote visibly angered Councilman Jim Fozman, who expressed his displeasure with the outcome.

"People are arguing about cutting and saving money," he said. "It's ridiculous."

Ducey, who spearheaded the override effort, was also upset with the outcome.

"We're up here trying to save money," he said. "He's over there trying to spend money," he said, referring to Acropolis.

"We'll look at other ways to save money and we'll come up with other ideas," Ducey said.

Toth said near the end of the meeting that Shea's legal opinion accused him of "everything except kidnapping the Lindbergh baby," and that he has helped "hundreds" of constituents navigate the red tape of municipal government.

"No matter what the mayor says, I will always be here to help any constituent," said Toth.

With the override resolution failing, the restructuring issue is effectively dead.

Sal Petoia October 18, 2012 at 07:00 PM
For all you people who posted: If you are so dissatisfied with all the incumbents, you should petition for a change to non-partisan government, and if the referendum is approved, the door will open for new elections where anyone, not just the party handpicks, can run. Maybe then we will get representatives who will stand up for the people
disgusted homeowner October 19, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Is another corruption investigation just around the corner in good ole Bricktucky????????????????????????????????????????
disgusted homeowner October 19, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Chas Forth, you mean disabled ex-cop Brando who collects a FULL DISABILITY PENSION, draws a FULL TIME SALARY from the BTMUA and recently started up his own business????? I wish i was so disabled. He looks in good health at the coucil meetings..............................
disgusted homeowner October 19, 2012 at 01:13 AM
@BW, are you referring to the aging self proclaimed real estate queen Helen Fayad, 1 time brick councilwoman??? Wouldn't it be funny if she got pissed at the mayor and raised the rent on the gop headquarters.......HAHA mayor steve. BOOOOOO!!!!!
Fed-Up October 20, 2012 at 02:25 PM
The government in our town is an EMBARRASSMENT! And this same old nonsense has been going on for years. Both parties are and have been the culprits that the citizens keep on financing. As a Rep. myself who (sorry to say voted the mayor) and has witnessed even before that time the back and fourth, tit for tat between the two parties. I would swear the Brick government spends more time on personal agendas then the well being of our town. I can recall b/4 the mayor was elected how the cat and mouse game were regular occurrences. Then the mayor was elected (his turn) as he proceeded to conduct his business dwelling on the past. Eventually the mayor gained more control and assembled a new poesy that just continued to try and one upping the the Dem.. over, and over. Now back in January the tables turn again and here we our in October and business is still as usual. In the meantime we have a revolving door of attorneys lining up at the town mac machine, elected officials with positions in someones MUA, trans dept, etc. appointed and or hired employees throughout that have a relationship with someone on the inside.And now this most recent episode this article is written about. Shame on both parties involved now and in the past. Business as usual and we are footing the bill. It's time for all of them to go! We need to stop funding this 3 ring circus and start campaigning for officials not in the current "membership" Don't know about you but I'm Fed-Up!


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