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Commission welcomes new member previously forced to resign from Township planning board

It's no secret that the Jackson Township GOP is fractured. On one side is Mayor Michael Reina, Council President Jennifer Kuhn and Council members Scott Sargent and Mordy Burnstein, on the other side, the old guard of former GOP municipal Chairwoman Clara Glory and former GOP Club President Todd Porter. Glory and Porter led the campaigns of failed Mayoral candidate Marty Flemming and current Council members Steve Chisholm and Nino Borelli.

All of them have their fingers in the pie at the Jackson Township MUA despite the authority's charter to operate independent of the Township.

Current MUA Executive Director David Harpell, who earns $171,000 per year, is slated to retire and the Authority embarked on a search for a new Director that elicited over 20 resumes. According to sources however, Commissioners had already settled on appointing one of their own, William Allman. Those same sources indicated that outgoing commissioner Clara Glory, who was not reappointed at the expiration of her term, would be named as Allman's assistant.

Last night the Commissioners met and the meeting agenda included resolution 2024-12 which read “Resolution of the Jackson Township Municipal Utilities Authority Appointing an Executive Director to the Jackson Township Municipal Utilities Authority and Authorizing the Execution of up to a Three-Year Contract with the Appointee.” At the last minute the Commissioners tabled the ordinance and will consider it again at it's next meeting in February.

The move to table the ordinance may have been motivated by recent action of the Township Council which not only refused to reappoint Glory and instead put longtime Mayor Michael Reina ally Richard Egan on the Authority, but also appointed an additional alternate member to the Commission.

According to Township Councilman Mordy Burnstein, “More residents on that board means move oversight and more transparency. We have recently received a lot of questions about the MUA and the process going on over there and we decided it would be better to make sure the council enables proper resident oversight on that board.” Burnstein did not mention whether the questions came from Township residents or political power brokers.

It's also possible that the ordinance was tabled due to a possible conflict of interest for Allman, which residents have raised in the past.

Allman, currently serving as a commissioner and the heir apparent to Harpell, is the owner of a competing septic business in Jackson Township. As such Allman currently has a vote on the Commission that enables him to deny sewerage to proposed developments, thereby creating prospective customers for his own business. As Executive Director Allman would have the power to influence Commissioners decisions on similar development proposals going forward.

The MUA did seat new Commissioner Richard Egan last evening, that move also raised eyebrows.

Egan was forced to resign from the Jackson Township planning board and environmental commission in 2019 after making inflammatory comments about the Township's growing orthodox Jewish community that appeared in the Department of Justice's lawsuit against Jackson Township. Egan was also slammed for attending CUPON meetings and decrying development while simultaneously sitting on a land use board.

More recently Egan has, according to Jackson resident Randy Bergman, displayed a troubling “bigotry on his Facebook page that should disqualify him from serving in any capacity in Jackson municipal government.” Bergmann referred to several Facebook posts that Egan authored depicting President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama as gay lovers and featuring other bigoted images, one of which attacked the Mormon faith.

The current make-up of the MUA Commissioners still favors an Allman appointment as Executive Director but with the seating of Egan and a new alternate member, the February meeting, normally attended by one or two members of the public, will likely be a crowded one with residents demanding answers.

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