June 19, 2024


AF-NE Activism Continues to Make a Difference in New Jersey

By: Anthony Miragliotta

Since December 2023, I authored two pieces for the AF Blog on the proposed payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) programs in Parsippany Troy-Hills, New Jersey, where AF-NE Board Member, Justin Musella, who is fresh off being inducted into the 1995 Society, is continuing his fight to lower taxes in his town. If you have not read the two prior pieces, AF-NE Members Lead Charge Against Taxpayer Handouts in New Jersey and AF-NE Activism Makes A Difference in New Jersey; I would highly consider reading those two pieces first before reading this one.

On June 10th, 2024 at Parsiappny’s Sheraton Hotel, Mayor James Barberio held a Mayor’s Roundtable discussion featuring himself and Mayors from surrounding towns. The roundtable was moderated by NJ 101.5 FM Radio Host Bill Spadea, who announced his run for Governor of the Garden State on June 17th. Joining Barberio on the roundtable was Hanover Mayor Thomas Gallagher, East Hanover Mayor Joseph Panullo, Mount Arlington Mayor Michael Stanzilis, and Florham Park Mayor Mark Taylor. Outside of the hotel was a large group of angry residents protesting Barberio’s PILOT plan. One resident held a sign that said “PILOTS: Who Benefits? (They Do) Who Pays? (We Do!) and another read “MAYOR BARBERIO SOLD OUT PARSIPPANY to INGLESINO! Inglesino is referring to John Inglesino, who is a top political ally of Barberio who plans to bill Parsippany residents approximately $100,000 for tax appeals and open public relations acts (OPRAs) while also receiving millions of lucrative PILOT contracts fo his developer buddies.

Justin Musella led the effort to send the message to Barberio that Parsippany residents do not want to pay more in taxes for extreme overdevelopment. “I was proud to stand with the residents who came out to protest against taxpayer-funded overdevelopment.” Said Justin. “The Mayor can recruit all of the out-of-town allies he’d like to help sell his failed policies but we will continue to hold him accountable.”

Before the discussion began, Barberio had some choice words for those who were unhappy. The Mayor accused the anti-PILOTS crowd of “spreading misinformation” and “misleading the residents of Parsippany.” “What I don’t like is my residents being lied to.” Said Barberio.” I will not stand for it, not one bit.” What makes this so ironic is Musella is being accused of causing overdevelopment in Parsippany. Meanwhile, he is doing everything he can to stop extreme overdevelopment, lower taxes, and ensure the school system stays funded in town.

Justin has been the lone voice in this fight to stand up for what the majority of the residents want. Our AF-NE Hub Manager, Grant Van Eck, went through a similar situation while on the Oakland, NJ Borough Council. “When you are principled and stand up for truth, do not shy away from facts.” Said Van Eck. “Deliver on the promises you made during your campaign. It typically upsets entrenched establishment types, unelected burearcrats, and those who enrich themselves by feeding off of government. When I was in Oakland, I found it as the greatest endorsement by doing these things. I slept well at night knowing, by doing the right thing, the people who were against me were really against the citizens and taxpayers of the community. Through activism like Justin’s, this unfortunate element in all of our communities in New Jersey expose themselves and show their true colors. They are self interested, involved in politics or public service, for all the wrong reasons.” Grant added, “It was an honor for me to have that opportunity as I know it is for Justin.”

It is important to stand up for what you believe in. Even if you stand alone. Being in the minority of public opinion is never easy. However, the best way to sway people to your side is to find common ground with that individual. In addition, all politics is local. It is easy to get caught up in the chatter happening in D.C. when people should focus on those who will tackle local issues. If every local councilperson was like Grant and Justin, we would have a government that can be relied on.