Hainesport Township Meeting October 10th

Citizens’ Media TV’s Coverage of the Township Meeting was sponsored by Hainesport Democrats.

After a presentation by Doug Heinold of Raymond, Coleman, Heinold, representing Hainesport Truck and Auto, the committee voted to waive the Performance Bond requirement for their upcoming site improvement project. The business has been in Hainesport since 1988, while the project should be finished within 12 months and should have minimal impact on residents.

Correspondence logged and filed included Mayor Porto’s letter to the MHMUA regarding the billing costs, which was originally brought to the township’s attention by Anna Evans, and a letter from the NJ General Assembly “encouraging homeowners to plant native plants that support bee populations.”

Public Comment

  • Kitty McNelis
    • Asked for a list of the plants that support the bee populations.
    • Reminded Committeeman Fitzpatrick that he should not be taking his medical benefits out of Hainesport Property Taxes and requested that he give them up by the end of the year.
  • Anna Evans
    • Thanked Mayor Porto for his action on the MHMUA billing issue which she had brought to the township’s attention on August 16th
    • Observed that she had seen many of the feral cat populations while campaigning, and that she was in favor of the TNR measures presented at the August meeting.
  • Luis Lopez
    • Asked to have the MHMUA letter read and was told he could have a copy.
    • Asked for an explanation of Ordinance 2017-13 (To Amend the Flood Drainage Prevention Ordinances) and was told it was being passed statewide and had to be done by the end of the year.
    • Stated the number of viewers for his video of the previous township meeting and thanked Ted Costa & Lee Schneider for their support. He added that Costa & Schneider would be great future leaders for Hainesport.
  • Florence Stackhouse
    • Complained about the house next to hers which has been in foreclosure for 3-4 years and is an ongoing problem for debris and lack of maintenance.
    • Asked if the neighboring fence on her other side could be pulled back from the road now the occupant has passed away, as it causes visibility problems leaving her driveway. Paula said that employees are already addressing the former property thanks to the new Abandoned Properties Ordinance, and that she would look further into the latter.
  • Ted Costa
    • Commended the Committee for their letter to the MHMUA but suggested they join forces with the committees of other towns to address the bigger issue of the huge difference in costs versus Mt. Holly residents.
  • Lee Schneider
    • Asked what was happening with the speed bumps that were supposed to be added on Bancroft Lane. Several residents had complained to her about cars or mailboxes being hit. She was reminded that the township had purchased a speed radar machine for traffic calming instead, and it had been placed on Bancroft for its first few weeks.

Comments from Administrator Paula Kosko

  • The best practices spreadsheet has gone to the CFO and will be filed by the due date of Oct 20. Hainesport expects to receive as much as $300k in state aid thanks to its high scoring.
  • The DOT Municipal Aid for the repair of Phillips Road is another $250k
  • She suggested another possibility for the next County Park Grant application would be to replace the decking and stairs at the park by the municipal building as there are liability/exposure concerns.
  • Fall Clean Up Day is Saturday October 21 from 7-12

Comments from the Committee Part 1

  • Leila Gilmore
    • Talked about recycling issues she had covered on her Sept 18 visit to the Robert Shinn Recycling Center. People are breaking the rules and future offenders may have their bins tagged and left unemptied. Only numbers 5, 2, and 1 should go in bins.
    • Thanked everyone for making Hainesport Community Day such a great day.
    • Said she had attended the Annual Senior Citizens’ Luncheon on September 28, and that there was a meeting on October 26th. Kitty McNelis reminded her there is also a movie on October 12th.
    • Said she had attended the wonderful retirement party for a senior Hainesport EMT
    • Thanked our volunteers for all they do.
    • Said she had met with our new Affordable Housing group, CGP&H on October 4th.
    • Reminded everyone about the TNR meeting on October 11th at the Street Center

Deputy Mayor Masciocchi and Jeff Epstein of CMTV

Hainesport Township Meeting October 10th
Deputy Mayor Masciocchi and Jeff Epstein

The Deputy Mayor took issue with the article written by Jeff Epstein, “CITIZENS’ MEDIA TV ALTERED OUR FOOTAGE BECAUSE THE NJ STATE POLICE TOLD US TO. WE SHOULDN’T HAVE.” He argued that the order of the symbols at the top of the article implied relationships which weren’t there. He added that CMTV had been requested to remove the material, not ordered to. Next, he complained that CMTV had accused the Committee of attempting to discredit the Democrats in the article, but had not interviewed any of the Committee members directly. Finally he asserted that there was absolutely zero surreptitious motive involved here.

He called Epstein (who was videoing the meeting) to the microphone to respond, and a question and answer session ensued. Epstein conceded Masciocchi had made some good points, but defended the article as a whole. Epstein said that CMTV had reported on speculation made by their sponsors, the Hainesport Democrats, and emphasized that CMTV itself did not accuse the committee in anyway, nor support or endorse this conclusion. Masciocchi demonstrated his considerable skill as a trial lawyer, making quick fire points. Masciocchi told Epstein that since Epstein and his editor were [Bernie] Sanders supporters, they saw all Republicans as enemies. Epstein objected to this assumption. Masciocchi also stated that Paula had acted independently, that the Trooper should have approached CMTV directly, and that the Democratic candidates are not mentioned in the article.

Furthermore, he accused Epstein of biased reporting, given the sponsorship by the Democrats. Epstein stated calmly that disclosing CMTV’s sponsorship is necessary, and that his readers could judge if his reporting was affected by it. He added that the use of the logos at the top of the article was random placement, and he apologized for not approaching anyone on the Committee directly. He had believed in dealing with the Administrator, the Committee’s representative, who saw several versions of the article, he was covering his bases with the township. He agreed there was no evidence to support the speculation.

Masciocchi returned that saying there is no evidence is not the same as saying there’s nothing wrong and that Epstein was still tainting the committee.

At this point Hainesport resident Deborah Plaia, a practicing attorney, rose from her seat and approached the microphone. She argued that she would like to object on behalf of Epstein. She asserted that Masciocchi was using his position to bully and blindside Epstein and that Epstein’s First Amendment rights were being trampled upon. Township Committee members took exception to Ms. Plaia’s comments, at which time a verbal altercation occurred between Ms. Plaia and the Committee, with Mayor Porto using his gavel several times. Ms. Plaia eventually sat down and also instructed Mr. Epstein to sit down as he has a First Amendment right to free speech and free press.

Comments from the Committee Part 2

  • Mick Dickinson
    • Thanked everyone for a great Community Day
    • Observed that he had talked to Jeff Epstein about the article and as a result Epstein had made some changes. [Note: After various rounds of clarification, it transpires Dickinson meant changes to the Facebook post, not the article itself, which is indeed true.]
  • Michael Fitzpatrick
    • Said that everything he wanted to say had been covered by Leila Gilmore
  • Mayor Porto
    • Repeated that it had been a great thing to honor Steve, the retiring EMT. He had attended over 5000 calls since records began
    • Thanked the Fire House for last week’s Open House
    • Thanked everyone for participation in Hainesport Community Day
    • Said that he had also been disappointed by the CMTV article and that he felt it was a courtesy to try to work with the NJSP
    • Concluded that he appreciated all the candidates for Committee who were sticking their necks out by putting their names on the ballot