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Councilman: 'It's Not a Good Situation Right Now'

Codey's dismissal unlikely to be rescinded.

The agenda for Monday night's borough council meeting remains unchanged and the is unlikely to be rescinded, officials said this weekend.

According to Borough Attorney Joe Mezzacca, an updated agenda will be posted Monday on the borough's website. Mayor Bob Conley said the meeting, which will begin at 8 p.m., will remain in Council Chambers with with additional seating set up in the hallway, if necessary.

The agenda still contains two resolutions pertaining to the Feb. 27 surprise move to consolidate the borough administrator and assistant borough administrator positions, Conley said. The first resolution will be to dismiss Codey, who was fired in a 4-2 vote at the Feb. 27 council meeting and the second to appoint Assistant Administrator Jim Burnet in his place.

There is also an ordinance to lower the borough administrator’s salary from what Codey earned at $154,000 to $95,000, Burnet’s current salary. Conley estimated that public comment on the job consolidation and salary could start around 8:30 p.m.

Citing efficiencies, Council President Jeannie Tsukamoto motioned to consolidate the positions during a budget presentation on Feb. 27. The move was supported by fellow Republican councilmen Rob Catalanello, Bob Landrigan and Donald Links.

Vincent Esposito and Carmela Vitale, the lone Democrat on the council, voted against the consolidation. As a result, Codey was immediately removed as the administrator. Conley's attempt to re-appoint Codey was also voted down, 4-2, and Codey's offer to continue working during the 90-day period the borough is required to pay him approximately $38,000 was also rejected.

The Republican council members maintain that by consolidating the two positions the borough will save $100,000 this year and $200,000 in future years and that Codey’s dismissal was not politically motivated even though Codey is the cousin of State. Sen and former Democratic Gov. Dick Codey.

By this consolidation, they said this year’s municipal tax increase would be reduced from 3 to 2 percent, saving the average homeowner with an assessed home value of $400,000 about $73 with each percentage point worth $36.50.

Who seconded the initial Tsukamoto motion to remove Codey has been misunderstood, according to Catalanello's wife, Brenda, who contacted Patch via email. She said it was not her husband and instead Landrigan, a Republican councilman elected in November.

Landrigan said Saturday he was not sure whether he was the one who seconded the motion.

“I’d have to go back and look at the videotape, because I know there were a number of motions,” Landrigan said.

Landrigan said there has been no mention of possibly rescinding the move to dismiss Codey. Landrigan said he's “not even been approached about that. I didn’t even know if that is possible.”

“As far as me reconsidering, I don’t know if that is doable,” Landrigan said. “ I don‘t know what I can talk about,” adding that “all discussions have to be forwarded to the borough attorney."

“It’s not a good situation right now,” he said.

Mezzacca, who was consulted by Tsukamoto several times during the course of the Feb. 27 meeting on how to handle the dismissal motion, said she had asked him to look into how to construct the motion “at least a few days”  before the meeting. She implied, he said, that she was asking for the majority of the council.

Mezzacca pointed out that RICE notices had been sent out to “all supervisory employees including Ray Codey in connection with that.”

The borough attorney said it's unlikely the dismissal can be rescinded.

“I think the fact he was terminated…I don’t think they could rescind," Mezzacca said. "I think they could rehire him."

Mezzacca said he has not received any calls from members of the council to alter the agenda items for Monday night.

Madison Station March 12, 2012 at 03:13 AM
110 people? Oh, they're going to need to move this meeting out to the steps of Hartley Dodge. I think 1/4 of the town plans to show up. I've talked with a lot of people who think they're going to get their 3 minutes...
Larry Bruce March 12, 2012 at 11:28 AM
To the steps and into the street.
Larry Bruce March 12, 2012 at 11:32 AM
It's amusing to see these two (with spousal aid) try to make it seem like it has any relevance as to who seconded the motion but the best part of this article is the last sentence.
Karin Swenson Szotak March 12, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Well at least Landrigan was willing to talk. But he doesn't know if it is possible for him to reconsider. If they have to vote again, it must mean the original vote was invalid, right? And according to Joe, he thinks they can rehire him. 12 hours and counting.
Steve Wells March 12, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Mrs. Catalanello's public posturing on this, however weak, illustrates why it would NOT be advisable to have the spouse of a Council member serving on the Board of Ed, as I pointed out during her unsuccessful campaign to do so last spring. Given the strong feelings of most BoE members against the actions of her husband -- especially by Lisa Ellis and Tom Haralampoudis -- can one imagine how this issue could negatively impact the workings of the BoE were Mrs. Catalanello an elected member?
Larry Bruce March 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM
"He doesn't know if it is possible for him to reconsider". Does he have to check with his wife first?
Larry Bruce March 12, 2012 at 12:38 PM
My gut response was to say that you don't have to worry about anybody named Catalanello being elected to anything again in this town but after watching the tape again last night I'm not so sure. Mr. C seems to combine the qualities of two of the leading politicians of our time - Christie's bullying tactics and Romney's concern with those making over $250,000.
Steve Wells March 12, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Only thing that could make the name viable politically again in Madison, Larry, would be him admitting his mistake and publicly apologizing...and I don't see that in his character. I would like to be pleasantly surprised...it just doesn't match the DNA.
Larry Bruce March 12, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Watch the video again. That's obviously not happening.
Robert McDowell March 12, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Boy, Landrigan sounds like one of those old NYC movies "I dunno nuttin", gives me a lot of confidence. Not a good situation eh Bob? You should have voted with Esposito!
Sam Cavaliere March 13, 2012 at 12:36 AM
I don't live in Madison any longer so it goes without saying that you can take this with a grain of salt, BUT, what I know of Bob Landrigan is that he is a good man. He cares about the town enough to devote an awful lot of his personal time towards it. My thought is that whatever the argument was, it was about it being in the best interest of the town. Bob Landrigan never struck me as being politically motivated and I believe it now still. I was floored to see Ray dismissed as I consider him a class act and a gentleman that Madison was lucky to have regardless of where his relative's politics lie. I think the turn of the conversation here is bad for the town. Look for solutions and not stonings.
Sam Cavaliere March 13, 2012 at 12:41 AM
and Mr McDowell, having been on the tough side of a political discussion myself as a new political figure, its sometimes hard to come up with the "correct sound bite" especially when talking about personnel matters that are subject to certain confidentiality. Note that despite the backlash you don't see comments from Doc or Carmella. Not to their detriment.
DidUReallyJustSayThat March 13, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Cheap shot Mr. McDowell. Sour grapes?
Patrick Franklin March 13, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Well, the bottom line is Landrigan said he was his own man and would make his own decisions. Now he's not even sure what decision he made.
Patrick Franklin March 13, 2012 at 01:46 AM
I must have missed the cheap shot. Landrigan isn't sure what happened. He's checking the tape.
DidUReallyJustSayThat March 13, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Doubt most councilpersons could tell you what motions they seconded. I'm sure they all know how they voted though.
DidUReallyJustSayThat March 13, 2012 at 01:49 AM
The man didn't say, "I dunno nuttin."
Patrick Franklin March 13, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Well, he said wasn't sure whether he seconded the motion or not. So in other words, he dunno nuttin.
DidUReallyJustSayThat March 13, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Mr. McDowell - Sounds like you have your campaign manager for Run #3.
Larry Bruce March 13, 2012 at 03:40 AM
My observation on tonights council meeting. Stealing from Warner Wolf - If you had Tsakamoto for reelection, you lose.
Anonymous March 13, 2012 at 05:18 AM
A Warner Wolf fan . . . that explains it all.
Patrick Franklin March 13, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Clearly, the joke went over your head.
jerry stevenson March 15, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Thanks Sam for your comments. Nice to hear a voice of reason. Hope life is going well in San Diego,,,its a lovely part of the world.
Devilsfan100 March 16, 2012 at 05:04 AM
Let's get over this and let Ray go away and get on with getting our town back on track! I think we have beat this up enough. I don't think the 150-200 people that showed up are going to make any bit of diffrence. Does anyone think Ray would want to come back to this BS! I wouldn't, maybe he will come back and then resign and see how things go. I think Jim Burnet said Ray is the best person for the job because he cannot handle the job!
Larry Bruce March 16, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Getting back on track is a reasonable goal but ignoring the voice of the people, both Rebub & Dem, is not the way. Getting rid of the source, those who tried the blind ambition power play would be a better method. Just my non-anonymous opinion.
Karin Swenson Szotak March 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Budget meeting on Wednesday at 7:30. Will it draw the same crowd? http://newjerseyhills.com/madison_eagle/news/madison-council-schedules-special-public-meeting-on-budget-for-wednesday/article_407b6330-6ed7-11e1-869f-0019bb2963f4.html
Steve Wells March 16, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Cynic that I usually am, Karin, I don't think this issue is going away until the Madison 4 rescind (not just table) their egregious act of hubris. In other words, the borough better be prepared to use the Presbyterian Church again. What's amazing to me is that there are still some Republicans who prefer to tacitly approve the actions of the Madison 4 rather than apprise them of the moral, ethical, and political imperative. What's not so amazing is that NONE of them have had the courage to stand up in a public forum and argue that what this bunch tried to pull off was justified and correct.
Karin Swenson Szotak March 16, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Steve, you a cynic, talk about an understatement! But Devilsfan asks a reasonable question, does anyone know if RC even wants to return, let alone is willing to. I can only imagine he is overwhelmed by the support the town has shown for him and his collegue JB, but is he willing to work with/for the council after what happened? My guess is the turnout will depend on the action items listed on the agenda.
Steve Wells March 16, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Yes, he'd return, Karin. Think he'd let the likes of Tsukamoto and Catalanello intimidate him? Please. But again you miss the point...whether he'd return or not ISN'T the issue here. The issue is abuse of power, and THAT'S what has people so incensed. And if you think people will go by what's on the agenda, then you're conveniently forgetting that the Codey ouster wasn't anywhere on the Feb. 27 agenda. In other words, the Madison 4 have lost the trust of the people, so they'll be there in droves to make sure another fast one isn't pulled.
Devilsfan100 March 17, 2012 at 02:41 AM
I think any person that was treated like Ray was would never consider comming back to work for this screwed up governing body! I have been in this town for 25 years and never remember things being this bad. I think the only way to fix it is MOVE OUT!!! Politics suck, just do what is right for the people that put you there!!!!!

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