Litigation

Back to square one, now with state monitoring

This Thursday, the Mahwah council is set to discuss one of the first steps required by the agreement with the AG.

During the eruv controversy last year, Mahwah adopted an ordinance (#1816) making it forbidden “to run or string any public service utility” near a park (as well as dozens of other actions including “abetting” the playing of ball games).

While this ordinance was not the subject of a civil rights lawsuit, it contained provisions that might have been construed to target an eruv or selectively target (((people using parks))), as we mentioned last year when it was adopted.

Confirming the problematic nature of the ordinance, exactly one year ago, Chief Batelli informed Eruv Litigation that, despite the vague language of the law, “officers would not interfere or take any action against anyone who was simply tossing a ball back or forth with someone.”

As part of the AG settlement, Mahwah must clarify this ordinance to remove the possibility of it being applied to an eruv. Instead, general development codes would apply, which have never prohibited the attachment of PVC pipes to utility poles in Mahwah.

A year later, and we are back to the same spot where we began.

If only Mr. Hermansen and the Council heeded the warnings we provided.

1816_changes pursuant to AG Settlement

Mahwah Settlement with AG

Below is the settlement between Mahwah and the NJ Office of the Attorney General. This closes the lawsuit brought last year by previous Attorney General Christopher Porrino over what he saw as a civil rights violation and attempt to ban Orthodox Jews from the township’s public parks.

Mahwah agrees to:

  • Not violate NJ’s Law Against Discrimination in any future decisions
  • Notify the AG before introducing any new laws affecting access to township parks.
  • Notify the AG before introducing any new laws affecting posting on utility poles.
  • Modify township code to make it clear that devices on utility poles other than signs are unregulated
  • Make a public statement against discrimination and harassment of others in township parks
  • Keep records of complaints related to existing ordinances governing township park use and present a quarterly report on their enforcement to the AG.
  • Allow lechis to be installed on utility poles in the township and investigate any damage to them as a criminal offense.
  • Make a suspended payment of $350k to the AG for legal fees and penalties. The payment will be cancelled after four years if no evidence of further discrimination is found, at which point notifications and quarterly reports will no longer be required.

 

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Breaking: Challenge To Mayoral Recall Filed (document embedded below)

As the Bergen Record posted yesterday: Mahwah mayor files 12-page challenge to recall petitions.

We have obtained the letter and posted it in full below.

“The recall petition has been reviewed by the best election law firm in the state of New Jersey,” Laforet said in a statement. “They have concluded as a matter of law that the recall effort fraudulently solicited signatures and collected petitions. The Recall Petition needs to be dismissed.”

This is a developing story and as more information is received, we will post it.

Stay tuned.

Breakdown of argument in the Mayor’s objection:

  1. Recall Petitions must be signed by all people collecting signatures and this was allegedly not done here.
  2. If a statement is made in support of the recall, the subject gets to include a statement in response.  Since no statement was included, no response was permitted either. However, the Mayor has provided a document (attached as Exhibit A) that allegedly accompanied the recall petitions.
  3. 25% of the registered voter total must sign recall petitions.  This threshold was allegedly not met after “reviewing the Recall Election Officials own notes, as well as the elimination of duplicate signatures, unregistered individuals, those who are otherwise unqualified, false indorsements where someone appears to have signed on behalf of a purported voter, and those not registered to vote as of the date of their indorsement, the number of qualified signatures drops below the aforementioned threshold.”
  4. The Mayor alleges that Township officials, including the clerk have failed to remain neutral in the process of the recall by their “failure to maintain copies of government records, and in allowing the Recall Committee to modify the Recall Petition following its filing.”
  5. The Mayor alleges that political opponents “are driving the Recall Petition efforts behind the scenes in an attempt to defy the will of the voters of Mahwah who twice elected Mayor Laforet”. That petitions were misrepresented as “polls” or that signatures were needed to get his name on the ballot, in addition to other improprieties.
2018-07-25_Objection to Petition to Recall Mayor Laforet

The High Price of Hate

AG Lawsuit Update and Invoices for Northern Bergen County related litigation

Mahwah was in court this week having settlement talks with lawyers from the NJ Attorney General’s office. The township council was charged with discrimination after passing an ordinance aimed at banning Hassidim from their parks & trying to prevent the final segment of the Rockland Eruv from running through a corner of the township. These actions have cost Mahwah dearly, both monetarily and in terms of reputation. Bordering Upper Saddle River has also rung up high legal costs, while nearby Montvale emerged relatively unscathed overall.

Eruv Litigation has obtained invoices from each town. These invoices are presented below, but in general reveal a few interesting facts:

  • The three towns were in communication from the beginning, and spent time analyzing each other’s legal filings and developments.
  • All three towns received subpoenas from the NJ Attorney General’s office around the same time, but in the end only Mahwah was sued by the State.
  • Special counsel worked on auxiliary items such as reviewing OPRA requests and advising on police reports (a number involving Facebook Group “Citizens for Better Upper Saddle River” founder, Erik Friis).

Mahwah

Mahwah unleashed its actions amidst an outpouring of hate and bigotry, egged on by their council. To defend against the two federal court cases (see here and here) that it faced as a result, Mahwah hired a bevy of law firms with random specialties.

The eruv case was handled by three separate law firms, who together never made a single filing or motion in court for any of the cases against the Township:

  1. Municipal law experts Cleary Jacoby, Mahwah’s usual special counsel, who billed a total of $69,690.65 (invoice)
  2. Securities and commercial law firm Holwell Schuster, who billed a total of $37,402.44 (invoice), and
  3. First amendment lawyers Nelson Madden Black, who billed a total of $40,912.5 (invoice)

The still ongoing Attorney General suit, currently in settlement talks, is being handled by two firms:

  1. Cleary Jacoby again, who have billed a total of $43,826.62 to date (invoice), and
  2. Methfessel & Werbel, who work primarily in insurance law and have billed a total of $19,563.16 (invoice) to date

When including the $10,000 paid by Mahwah to cover the eruv association’s legal costs in a settlement, this is a total of $221,395.37 spent on litigation (to date) due to the town’s actions. Note that this number will increase as the Attorney General lawsuit progresses, and may include a penalty paid if the case is lost or settled.  Mahwah’s request to file for dismissal of the suit was denied this week and the case is currently set for fact discovery which is to be completed by September 30th, 2018.

Upper Saddle River

In addition to having the best case (see here), USR had a veritable anti-eruv dream team working their defense:

  1. Bruce Rosen, hired as lead attorney, is the only person to ever have any measure of success against an eruv; his legal arguments won the first round in 2001 in favor of the town of Tenafly before the ruling was reversed on appeal. His firm billed USR a whopping $402,521.48 (invoice), which included writing extensive legal briefs and a few appearances in court.
  2. Joining as adviser was Marci Hamilton, professor of constitutional law, and the lawyer who had the predecessor to RLUIPA declared unconstitutional. She billed only $5000 (invoice) for her involvement, although she tried to cash in on the esteem of her University.
  3. Finally, Joel Kurtzberg from Cahill Gordon provided auxiliary support to the USR litigation team, billing $97,958.80 (invoice)

After a disastrous preliminary hearing, Upper Saddle River settled, agreeing to allow the eruv to remain if moved as close to the NY border as possible, and pay $75,000 of the eruv associations legal costs. This brings their total costs to $580,480.28.

Montvale

Among the three municipalities, Montvale took a different path. The town administration signaled their willingness to settle their case first, with Mayor Mike Ghassali holding a two hour town hall where he said they will “accommodate their neighbors to the north”. The town used only their usual township attorneys, Boggia and Boggia, who billed just $8,148 (invoice) to negotiate an agreement.Combined with the $10,000 settlement they paid, they spent only a fraction of what the other towns did at a total of $18,148. Montvale’s settlement was essentially the same terms, if not better, then the others, but they paid far less and really did not end up caught up in the controversy at all.

Why hasn’t the NJAG case concluded against Mahwah?

On October 26, 2017 the NJ Attorney General filed a Civil Rights suit against the Township of Mahwah and the Township Council members.  The suit alleged discriminatory animus infused in ordinances related to a parks ban (since repealed) and a proposed ordinance which would have implicated an eruv (the Township has since promised never to enact such a ban in the future).

The case was transferred to Federal Court in November and is still pending.

Why?  The eruv action has settled.  Why hasn’t this action?

On December 4th, Robert Moss sought to intervene in the action to protect Green Acres funding on behalf of the public.  Today, the AG and other plaintiffs opposed the intervention.

“Plaintiffs oppose the application on the grounds that it fails to make a sufficient showing under Rule 24, Moss’s intervention will unnecessarily complicate and delay resolution of this matter, Plaintiffs’ position. adequately represents the interest of citizens who seek preservation of open space in New Jersey, and the motion is premature as Defendants have yet to file their response to Plaintiffs’ Complaint and the true issues in controversy have not yet emerged.”

What are the “true issues in controversy”?

Stay tuned… perhaps this case isn’t wrapping up after all.

[SHOCKING VIDEO] Mahwah Resident unleashes accusations of corruption by Township attorneys at Council meeting.

Mahwah Resident Jessica LoPiccolo openly accused Township attorneys of corruption for their ties to Lakewood, NJ

Last night, the Mahwah Township Council allowed several questions regarding the settlement agreement signed between the Township and the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association to end the ongoing Civil Rights litigation.

Resident Jessica LoPiccolo stated to the council that there could be a “conflict of interest” and a “breach of confidential information” based on the fact Mahwah’s attorneys represented Lakewood, NJ in unrelated tax appeals.  She stated that she “also had legal representation look at this and attorneys and all of them also saw a conflict of interest here.”

[ed note — representing another town in an unrelated action is not a conflict of interest in any way.  These are serious accusations and were proffered without a shred of evidence]

The episode was reminiscent of Mahwah councilman (now resigned) Steven Sbarra claiming that a Holocaust survivor addressing the council was a paid actor and imploring those in attendance to “follow the money, folks“.

This was too much for even Township attorney Brian Chewcaskie to take. Chewcaskie responded:

“What does the town of Lakewood have to do with anything?  Besides the fact that it has a Jewish community. Is that your point?”

Council President Robert Hermansen doubles down on the Jewish Conspiracy Theories

At the end of Ms. LoPiccolo’s comments, Council President Robert Hermansen connects the dots from (((Tracy Zur))) to the (((Simon Wiesenthal Center))) to (((Michael Cohen))) and then to Mahwah Mayor (((Bill Laforet))).

Hermansen stated:

“I found out about something also afterwards.  I found out about Chairwoman Zur and how she was involved with the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation too. And it just was miraculous that all of a sudden that we ended up with one thing having one thing to happen and before you know it we had someone who was representing them who was on the same board as she was, here, which just so happened to be someone else’s best friend who is sitting on our dais.  There was a lot of miraculous things starting to occur that I find out afterwards. Piecing things together, that’s all.”

Tracy has always been an active member of her community by serving as a Board Member of both the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey as a Women’s Philanthropy and Executive Board Member, as well as being an active member of the PTA. In addition, Tracy sits of the Board of Trustees at the Gerrard Berman Day School, and has volunteered for Alternatives to Domestic Violence and Meals on Wheels. She also serves as an NLC and Simon Wisenthal Center mentor and serves on the Board of both Emerge NJ and Women for Progress.

  • The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Mision states:

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a global human rights organization researching the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context. The Center confronts anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations.

Is it any stretch of the imagination that an organization whose mission is combating hate in a contemporary context, sent a representative to speak at a Town, whose council has been described as “entertain[ing] – and act[ing] under the influence of – public comments rife with hate and bias”, by the State of New Jersey?

The action against Mahwah and the Town Council has not yet been resolved.  I wonder what the reason could possibly be?  Perhaps Hermansen isn’t the only person that can connect some dots.

The AG Lawsuit against Mahwah and its council can be found here.


I reached out to the firm of Cleary Giacobbe Alfieri Jacobs, LLC, Mr. Olear and Council President Hermansen.
Mr. Hermansen responded via text “please go away”. I have not yet heard back from the law firm or Mr. Olear, but will update the post if they wish to comment.

Mahwah’s problems are just warming up

Mahwah’s problems are just warming up

The weather is getting warmer and with the welcome change in seasons comes the pitter-patter of kids feet in municipal parks. Normally, this is my favorite time of year.  Nature is basically beckoning the kids to come outside and play.  But what happens in Mahwah, when they do just that?

It was barely a year ago when the subject of Hasidic children in parks became such a contentious issue that the Township of Mahwah literally tried to ban them from coming.  At the time, Chief Batelli noted that there were 35 calls about Hasidic people in the park the day before the ban was set to take effect.  Due to the highly problematic nature of the ordinance, it caught the attention of the County Prosecutor (and current Attorney General) Gurbir Grewal as well as the State of NJ, which still has a pending lawsuit against the Township of Mahwah and its Town Council.

The Council should be aware of what is coming

Following the calls to the police department, councilman David May, who was re-elected this past November noted that “a lack of a response at a field being used by non-NJ residents could lead to additional issues with residents”.

 

In September, Mahwah’s attorney Brian Chewcaskie advised the council:

In light of the fact that the Division of Civil Rights is seeking any and all documents relating to Ordinances 1806 and 1812, it is my suggestion at this point in time that the Township does not introduce or adopt any ordinances until such time as the review by the Attorney General’s office is complete.”

Despite advice from the Mahwah Township attorney, Brian Chewcaskie that the Council should not pass any legislation during the pending litigation, the Council brought forward and passed Ordinance 1816, which amended section 9-1.4 of the code establishing 38 prohibitions in parks.

I wrote this (about ordinance 1816) just 7 days after Chewcaskie sent that letter to the council:

Legally, you can’t just pick and choose what to enforce or whom to enforce it against.

What will happen if a kid tosses a tennis ball to his dad? (violation of #25)
What will happen if a toddler digs up a rock (violation of #3) or his sister climbs a tree (violation of #6)?
What will happen if a teen rides a bike to the park and leans it against a tree? (violation of #14)
What will happen if MahwahStrong members try to sell t-shirts in Winters Park (again)? (violation of #30 and #34)

These are normal things that normal people do in parks.  They generally harm no one. Will there be a zero-tolerance policy on all of them?  Perhaps only certain ones?

Time will tell if section 9-1.4 will be applied neutrally.

The weather is starting to warm up and kids will be in Winters Park again soon.  While the vast majority of Mahwah’s residents are wonderful neighbors, experience has shown that there are several that will call the police on (((certain))) kids if they see a violation, even one as silly as leaning a bike against a tree or playing unauthorized ball.

We saw this when a resident created a “neighborhood watch group” and brazenly explained that he was targeting Hasidic stores.  But the police are subject to the Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) and the Constitutional protections of citizens.

If residents will be calling the police to report on these “illegal actions” taking place in the park by Hasidic children, what will be the response?

Will the police issue summonses?  Will they do so to every kid that “abets ball playing” or just those for whom they are called over?

Does the council realize the Attorney General hasn’t dismissed the Federal Civil Rights action currently pending against them?

Mahwah officials should act now, before this becomes an issue.


(We have reached out to Chief Batelli and will post any comments he may have)

[UPDATE][Settlement] MONTVALE SETTLES ERUV DISPUTE (eruv stays)

UPDATE: On Feb. 15th, Judge Vazquez entered a retention order and closed the case.  Normally, after a case is over, a new action may be necessary to enforce the terms of the agreement.  This order lets the court retain jurisdiction so that if there is a need to enforce the settlement, a letter can be filed asking the case to be re-opened.

UPDATE 2: Information and paragraph numbers in the settlement were added for ease of reading.


In settlement papers filed with the court today, Montvale has given up on their six month campaign aimed at prohibiting an eruv in the Borough.

The agreement contains an Exhibit A showing the agreed upon path of the Eruv through the Borough.

In a vote yesterday, the Montvale Council agreed to settle claims brought by the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association against the Municipality for threatening to prohibit an eruv erected in a section of the Borough.

Within 30 days, the Borough will pay the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP $10,000 to cover some legal costs, pursuant to paragraph 20 of the agreement.

The Eruv Association will attempt to use black narrow strips or black or brown color for the pvc piping on the poles (called lechis) unless required to use another color by the Utility companies.

Montvale will have 45 days to get necessary permissions to use the path identified in the accompanying map.  If they cannot get the required permission from private property owners, the BREA may use the map included in the original complaint:

Aside from the $10,000 payment, each party will bear their own litigation costs which may have been hundreds of thousands of dollars had this gone further.

Pursuant to the agreement:

  • Montvale will secure all consents necessary to allow the eruv to be constructed, and checked on a weekly bases in public areas (paragraph 9).
  • Montvale will grant any applications for new posts if necessary to effectuate the plans in the map (paragraph 9).
  • Montvale will make sure the BREA has consent to enter private properties to check on the Eruv at least three times per year, although inspections will be conducted from roadways and publicly accessible areas whenever possible. (paragraph 10).
  • If any approvals are required after the initial eruv goes up, Montvale will promptly grant the approvals (paragraph 11)
  • If Montvale and the Eruv Association can’t get a valid eruv up in 45 days based on the map provided in exh. A, the Eruv Association can put up the eruv according to the plan outlined in the original complaint (paragraph 12).
  • If Montvale ever moves to underground electric cabling, they agree to work in good faith to reestablish the eruv (paragraph 13).
  • No public funds will go towards the Eruv (paragraph 16).
  • The Borough will cooperate with BREA in any challenges brought against Montvale challenging the enforceability of the agreement and BREA shall handle the legal defense (paragraph 18)
  • Plaintiffs will not initiate any new litigation against Montvale for at least 2 years as long as they abide by the agreement (paragraph 19).
  • Plaintiffs agree not to file any further charges with any local, state or federal agency against the Township and/or any of its employees, agents or administrators arising from dealings that have occurred up to and through the date of execution by all Parties to this Agreement (paragraph 19).
  • Montvale will provide $10,000 for attorneys fees to the plaintiff’s law firm, Weil, Goshal & Manges LLP (paragraph 20).
  • Montvale recognizes the decision in Tenafly, that “the erection of the eruv is not an unconstitutional establishment of religion under the First Amendment.” (paragraph 21)
  • Montvale will not contest or challenge O&R or Verizon’s authority to enter into contracts with BREA (paragraph 22)
  • Montvale will not adopt any ordinance or resolution prohibiting an Eruv (paragraph 24)
  • If the Township violates the agreement, the plaintiffs may seek an expedited and immediate injunctive relief through an order from the court (paragraph 26).

THE CONSTITUTION WINS;  THE ERUV BENEFITS

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[UPDATE] Hermansen & Chewcaskie: How Chronic Liars Deceive You

UPDATE: After claiming the Town Hall meeting will be postponed and that they claim a meeting with the AG will happen in the next two weeks, a stipulation was filed extending the time to respond to the complaint through March 6th.

While I wouldn’t want to make any predictions, it seems that a settlement with the AG would have been an easy thing to accomplish if that’s the direction the State wanted to take.  Perhaps the State, having seen how people are treated at open public meetings in Mahwah, wants to vindicate the rights of the public?  Perhaps something else will be added to the complaint?

What will happen between now and March 6th?  We don’t exactly know.  But we will be keeping an eye on the court docket.

If you haven’t been told about this development by the officials in Mahwah, ask them why?  If you want to keep aware of new developments, follow our Facebook Group: Facebook.com/groups/EruvLitigationInfo/


This past Tuesday, the Mahwah Council abruptly cancelled a scheduled Town Council meeting to discuss the settlement agreement entered into with the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association by the Town.

Last night, the Mahwah council met at their regular scheduled meeting.  They indicated the reason for the cancellation and it doesn’t make any sense.  At the 16:50 mark of the video below, the Council President Robert Hermansen asked the Township’s attorney Brian Chewcaskie to make a statement about the Town Hall meeting.

Chewcaskie said that Town Hall meeting was cancelled base on the advice of the attorneys handling the eruv litigation and the AG litigation.  He said:

the reason it was cancelled, although there was a settlement agreement entered into… there still are continuing actions being taken.  In fact, we have a scheduled meeting with the rabbi and the attorneys to discuss various alternatives they have agreed to accommodate Mahwah and do so. That meeting is scheduled the week of Feb. 20th. In addition, we have requested a meeting with the attorney general’s office.  We do not have a scheduled meeting yet and we expect that that would occur in the next two weeks. Based upon that, it was determined that it would be prudent not to have the Town Hall meeting until after those two meetings are conducted and we would expect that within the next three weeks that there would be a Town Hall meeting for any questions relating to the status of those litigation.  The matter has been resolved.”

This begs the question: didn’t that situation exist before the Town Hall meeting was schedule?

Since the ink was drying on the settlement agreement, Hermansen has been speaking about how they will be meeting to possibly move and relocate the eruv.  Now, he wants to claim that the Town Hall meeting needs to be postponed because they will be having that meeting?

Then Mr. Chewcaskie spoke about the stories people are reading from the internet:

“There’s also a series of what I would call misinformation and rumors — what’s going on, what’s being reported in the media regarding surrounding communities. The Montvale case has been resolved, it has been marked as settled and a formal resolution will be adopted on Tuesday by Montvale.”

I don’t know where he’s looking, but it’s clearly not “marked as settled” on the Court docket. The last entry sets the date to respond to the complaint:

Facts, how do they work?

Back to Mr. Chewcaskie:

“As I’ve indicated to the council, I have no problem addressing any questions relating to the settlement agreement itself, but with regard to any strategy going forward, we will not discuss that until we have some finality, which we expect we will have in a few weeks.”

So, why did the Town Hall meeting need to be cancelled?  I’m very confused.

What does the agreement say about moving the eruv out of Mahwah?

On the day the agreement was signed, Robert Hermansen took to social media to state that “the agreement permits us to have a dialogue for the relocation of the ERUV subject to the agreement of both parties”. (see image)

Does the agreement permit such a dialogue? 

Well, it doesn’t actually speak to it at all.  If that statement is accurate, so is this one:
The agreement permits Mahwah to put Hermansen in stocks and let the community light his pants on fire, subject to the agreement of both parties.

As lawyer and Mahwah resident, Jonathan Marcus wrote in his post entitled “A Lawyer’s Perspective“:

“Council President Hermansen issued a public statement on social media where he stated that one of the primary reasons the Council agreed to the settlement was that “the agreement permits us to have a dialogue for the relocation of the ERUV subject to the agreement of both parties.” This statement is simply untrue and is unsupported by the agreement itself. In fact, one could argue that the agreement states the opposite.”

and

“While Councilman Hermansen might wish to spin this language into saying that it permits the town to have a dialogue with the BREA about relocating the ERUV, the legal reality is that it does NOT. In fact, nowhere in the settlement agreement is the word “relocation” even used. The legal reality is that the only “dialogue” that has to take place results in the event the BREA (at its sole discretion) wants to modify or expand the existing eruv within Mahwah. Even then, the only dialogue required to take place relates to what route WITHIN MAHWAH such expansion or modification will take. The settlement agreement makes it unambiguously clear that the eruv is here to stay in Mahwah (and in fact, may be expanded within Mahwah) unless the BREA itself decides to remove it from Mahwah.”

It’s an excellent post, it goes through the relevant facts and cites to the settlement agreement.  It’s worth your time to read.

Having been called out, Hermansen addressed the issue before the opening of public input at the meeting:

Hermansen: “I just wanna discuss one other thing, because there is a couple of posts that are being flit around Facebook that is just blatant lies, and one of them is being sponsored, one of these lies is being sponsored by our own Mayor, by Team Laforet. So I wanna address that, have you address that about the potential of movement or potentially moving an eruv and some of things are being discussed. Because, some of the things that are being said is that there is no language in there … we can’t do this .. we can’t do that .. we’re not allow to do this … and the mayor was sitting in the same settlement negotiations, and the same meetings that we were, and somehow I don’t understand why he is sponsoring something that is just an absolute blatant lie. So I’d like for you to address that please.”

Chewcaskie: “I’m not familiar with any Facebook posts, however, the agreement provides that the parties will cooperate with any modification, location, expansion, relocation, which is what the meeting [on the week of the 20th] is for.”

Hermansen: “Thank you. Therefore, I’m not going to get into the nuts and bolts of everything, of it, but I can just tell you that the township council is still trying to work with the parties, with everybody, to find something that is a best interest for both parties on both sides, so that we can do the right thing for the community, for everyone, to hopefully move on so that we can get back to the business of what’s the most important things in this town and start to function on things and start to worry about our taxes and the sewer issues that we have and the things that are going on on Chapel Road and things that are happening in other areas of this town that we need to focus on as opposed to things that have been consuming this town for a very long time.

And personally, for myself, I’ve said this before, we’re a better town than this. We’re a better town than what’s been going on, we’re a better town that what people have been talking about, we’re a better town than people have been discussing in the press and we’re a better place than … we have not been represented to be by some of the people who are sitting up here on this dais, who are not protecting this town the right way. And, I think that the right thing to do now is to move forward, find the right thing. This is where we’re at, we allow the attorneys to do what they’re supposed to do, and we move on from here.”

Having been called out, the council that scheduled a Town Hall meeting to discuss the dialogue, claims the continuing dialogue prevents them from having a Town Hall meeting.  The language they use changes to describe the settlement and those calling them out are branded as liars.

And that, is how the chronic liar of Mahwah deceives the people.

[UPDATE][Settlement] MAHWAH SETTLES ERUV DISPUTE (eruv stays)

UPDATE: On Feb. 15th, Judge Vazquez entered a retention order and closed the case.  Normally, after a case is over, a new action may be necessary to enforce the terms of the agreement.  This order lets the court retain jurisdiction so that if there is a need to enforce the settlement, a letter can be filed asking the case to be re-opened.


In settlement papers filed with the court today, Mahwah has given up on their six month campaign aimed at “keeping the poles clean” and upholding their “way of life”.

In a vote of 5-2, the Mahwah Council agreed to settle claims brought by the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association against the Township for threatening to issue summonses over an eruv erected in a section of the municipality.

Pursuant to the agreement, the Township will put $10,000 in an account to cover some legal costs*.

The Eruv Association will change the color of the pvc piping in the poles (called lechis) over the next 12 months.

The parties will also have 20 days to agree to a sum above and beyond the $10,000.  Sources tell Eruv Litigation that this was the change requested by Council President Robert Hermansen.  It is not immediately clear why an additional amount would be provided.

Each party will bear their own litigation costs which may have been at least $311,000 as of today pursuant to the agreement Mahwah signed.

Pursuant to the agreement:

  • Plaintiffs agree not to file any further charges with any local, state or federal agency against the Township and/or any of its employees, agents or administrators arising from dealings that have occurred up to and through the date of execution by all Parties to this Agreement.
  • The Township consents to the existence, restoration, maintenance, repair and upkeep of the lechis comprising the Eruv.
  • Nothing in the agreement prohibits the eruv from a future expansion and / or modification within and / or outside the Township (the plaintiffs will however confer with the town if any expansion is planned).
  • The Township of Mahwah won’t stop the Plaintiffs from restoring, repairing, keeping or maintaining the eruv.  Nor will they seek to enforce or adopt any ordinance or resolution prohibiting or impeding future lechis on poles.
  • Mahwah can request for the BREA to change the color and / or replace the lechis to better match the poles, within the next 12 months (unless the utility says they can only be a certain color).
  • No public funds will go towards the Eruv.
  • If the Township violates the agreement, the plaintiffs may seek an expedited and immediate injunctive relief through an order from the court.
  • Plaintiffs will not initiate any new litigation against Mahwah for at least 2 years as long as they abide by the agreement.
  • Neither party shall be considered a “prevailing party” and there is no admission of liability.

THE CONSTITUTION WINS;  THE ERUV BENEFITS

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* please note that a previous version of this post mistakenly indicated the purpose for the $10,000. The agreement says: “the $10,000.00 shall constitute the full and final compensation for legal fees and costs.”