HACKENSACK’S MUNICIPAL MANAGER FORM OF GOVERNMENT
The City of Hackensack operates under a Municipal Manager form of government. As described by the League of Municipalities, "The 1923 Municipal Manager Form of Government... is the early predecessor to the Faulkner Act’s Council-Manager form and is reflective of the Progressive effort to bring a more businesslike, professional approach to local government. In effect, this form separated policy making (council) from policy implementation (manager). By law, a municipality can adopt through a referendum, a three, five or seven-member council, elected at large in nonpartisan elections. The mayor is selected from the council but the duties associated with the title are essentially limited to presiding over and voting with the council and a handful of appointments. The manager serves as the chief executive of the municipality. The manager ideally is politically neutral and operates the municipality in a businesslike manner. The manager prepares the budget for the council, oversees the negotiation and implementation of contracts and handles most personnel matters." The purpose of Hackensack's form of government is to ensure stability since the full time City Manager is responsible for the day-to-day activities of running the city. The role of the elected officials on the governing body is one of oversight. They enact local laws and review the City budget before enactment to protect our hard-earned taxpayer dollars. The City Manager is legally bound to make decisions solely on a governmental basis, free from political considerations. The City Manager and Council receive legal advice from the City Attorney, who obviously is supposed to advise them based on the law and legal precedent, not on political expediency.
THE LABROSSE POLITICAL MACHINE'S FORM OF GOVERNMENT
In one four year term in office, the Labrosse Team has gone through 5 City Managers and 3 City Attorneys. During a span of 12 prior City Council administrations over a 48 year period, the City employed a total of only 6 City Managers. Also, during the previous 6 City Council administrations encompassing 24 years, the City had only 2 City Attorneys.
As City Managers were asked to carry out unlawful requests by Mayor Labrosse and they refused, they were simply replaced. The same for City Attorneys. In one instance, a City Attorney was forced to resign for refusing to unlawfully retaliate against a City employee who the Mayor identified as a political adversary. In a startling display of their intimidation tactics, Mayor Labrosse and Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino co-signed a public letter threatening to fire the City Attorney if he didn’t resign. The attorney, a well-respected former N.J. Superior Court judge, denounced the “political pressure from some members of the Governing Body,” obviously referring to those who had publicly tried to discredit him.
That episode involving the City Attorney prompted a Record editorial entitled “Hackensack council shot the messenger,” in which the editorial writers reminded the Labrosse Team that the job of a City Attorney is to give “legal advice unencumbered by political concerns.” They needed a newspaper to tell them that?
One of the City Managers who was fired by Team Labrosse filed a lawsuit specifically describing how Labrosse and Canestrino threatened him “to force him to violate state law.” Team Labrosse paid him over half a million dollars of Hackensack taxpayer money to settle his lawsuit against them.
Residents throughout Hackensack have complained about the deterioration of City services under the Labrosse Administration. That’s no surprise when the City management team is pressured, intimidated and then fired by Labrosse before they can even learn the streets of our City.
A FAKE POLICE COMMISSIONER AND THE N-WORD
Upon taking office four years ago, the Labrosse Team immediately appointed Councilman David Sims as Police Commissioner. The “Commissioner” had fancy business cards printed at taxpayer expense identifying himself as Police Commissioner, listing the Hackensack Police Department address and phone number, and depicting the Hackensack Police insignia. The “Commissioner” frequently handed out his cards, proudly identifying himself as Hackensack’s Police Commissioner. The only problem? There is no Police Commissioner under our form of government and every time Councilman Sims impersonated one, he committed a fourth degree crime. It gets worse.
“Commissioner” Sims was so impressed with his imaginary position that he approached an actual Hackensack Police detective, handed her his Police Commissioner business card, and introduced himself as “the Head [N-Word], it don’t get no higher than me.” In her official police report documenting the incident, the detective stated that she was “truly appalled” and described it as a “terrible experience.”
Councilman Sims’ actions so inflamed the community, that a Record article described the following City Council meeting as similar to the set of “The Jerry Springer Show.” Councilman Sims said he thought the “residents’ strong reactions” were “inappropriate.”
In an apparent attempt to avoid future problems and unlawful representations, the City Attorney publicly advised Councilman Sims that “there is no Police Commissioner” under our form of government at the September 2, 2014 City Council meeting. The result? Councilman Sims unlawfully represents himself as Police Commissioner to this day.