At the June 26, 2020, Mayor and Council Meeting, the Atlantic Highlands Republican-controlled Borough Council voted to illegally defy Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 114, which orders the flag of the United States of America and the flag of New Jersey to be flown at half-staff at all State departments, offices, agencies, and instrumentalities indefinitely, starting on Friday, April 3, 2020, in recognition and mourning of all those who have lost their lives and have been affected by COVID-19.
This political move introduced by Councilman Brian Boms, chairman of the local GOP, was offered after public comment on agenda items, was neither submitted in writing nor shared with council members from the Democratic party prior to the council meeting, and certainly not shared with the public in advance meeting materials. When questioned as to why Councilman Boms neglected to work across the aisle to consider a compromise, no clear answer was given, although there was some conversation from Councilman Boracchia suggesting the current pandemic was “over.”
Putting aside Mr. Boracchia’s short-sighted commentary, the lack of transparency in making this out-of-the-blue motion deprived Atlantic Highlands residents the opportunity to make their opinions heard by their elected officials prior to a vote. Additionally, when Borough Counsel Mr. Jason Sena was asked what the potential repercussions could be if the council voted to defy the Executive Order, Mr. Sena noted that the Governor has recently taken legal action against Asbury Park, whose council voted to reopen restaurants prior to the reduction of restrictions under other Executive Orders. When asked if Atlantic Highlands would be considered an “instrumentality,” and in violation of the Executive Order if the motion was passed, Mr. Sena’s opinion was, "yes."
Responsible governing requires the input of the public when making decisions that could bring about litigation against our town.
Where will the Atlantic Highlands GOP stop? Will they continue to use their majority to force Atlantic Highlands into legal action?
What does this mean in terms of Atlantic Highlands' Republican leadership and their blatant disregard for public opinion and the law in service of personal political gains?
Make no mistake, local Republican politicians don't seem to care about what the town constituents think or have to say. This is the third attempt this year to limit public comment (they've twice been voted down when proposing limited speaking time during council meetings). They appear to lead with an authoritarian approach-- similar to the current White House inhabitant.
Atlantic Highlands Democratic Club