AF-NE Activism Makes A Difference In New Jersey
In the waning days of 2023, the residents of Parsippany, New Jersey crowded a near-full capacity gymnasium at the Parsippany Police Athletic League (PAL) headquarters. Many residents brought signs calling on the council to not vote for the PILOT programs. Many were even calling on Parsippany Mayor, James Barberio, to resign in disgrace for selling out the residents. If you have not read the first part of this story, you can check it out here before you read this one.
When James Barberio was introduced by the Municipal Clerk, he was loudly met with boos. There were multiple times throughout the meeting when the crowd booed and chanted “shame on you“ to the Council. What further antagonized the public was the Council President’s unilateral move to reduce resident speaking time from the customary 5 minutes down to 90 seconds. Resident after resident pleaded with the governing body not to pass these PILOTs but were rudely shut down or forcibly taken away by the police. Unfortunately, the PILOT programs were passed by the Council. AF Member Justin Musella was the lone Councilman to vote against the PILOT programs.
“Parsippany residents are outraged as Barberio and this lame duck council inflicted irreparable harm to the township in open defiance of the wishes of the public and the alternate solutions instead of PILOTs before them,” stated Councilman Musella. “By making it more difficult for working families to attend because of the meeting time as well as the 90-second limit on public comments – my colleagues on the council showed that these PILOTs were a foregone conclusion and that the chorus of outrage directed towards these developer tax breaks was nothing more than a nuisance to them.”
Musella is not the only one in the AF Community who sees what is going on behind the curtain.
“It is a slap in the face to everyone who pays the standard rate,” said Grant Van Eck, AF-NE Hub Manager and former Oakland, NJ Councilman. “It is putting a compromised political finger on the scale, picking favorites, giving out favors which have yet to work out. It removes the incentive to succeed and if a project can’t stand on its own it will fail in the end no matter what acronym you give it. To play on the acronym, the big government cockpit pilots are crashing the plane and the residents and companies playing ratables whether it has been 1 year or 50 years and everything in between are the passengers speeding towards financial doom. Central planners always lose and the free market always wins.”
One of the big reasons why the PILOTs were overwhelmingly rejected by the public was because it was rushed in addition to the Mayor and Council throwing every procedural maneuver to ice them out. Van Eck added, “The way this is all being rushed is terrible. It is a ‘ready, fire, aim’ situation in Parsippany. This is unacceptable for leaders to behave like that when nearly a thousand residents make their voices heard in opposition to a bad policy like these PILOTs.”
Incidents like these leave a bad taste in the mouths of residents regarding our beyond-corrupt political system. If elected officials are unwilling to do what the majority of their constituents want, what is the point of electing them to begin with? We need more young leaders like Justin leading the charge in restoring faith in our system.