To the Editor:

Do you think that Hopewell Township Mayor Kristin McLaughlin and her township committee majority can fool the public with her claim that they are “committed to open and transparent governance?”

In her recent letter to the editor that appeared to be her goal.

She certainly was not committed to open and transparent governance at the Feb. 25 Special Township Committee meeting when she, her committee majority, and her township attorney illegally silenced the public’s right to free speech during the public comment period of the meeting.

According to the New Jersey Supreme Court, “the First Amendment gives people the right to express disagreement with government policy, whether on the national, state or local level, (including) sharp attacks on government and public officials.”

They not only trampled on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; New Jersey Constitution, Article I, paragraph 18; and Open Public Meetings Act, but did not even comment when confronted with irrefutable proof of their violation of open and transparent governance.

She certainly was not committed to open and transparent governance at recent township committee meetings when members of the public repeatedly have to ask the same question, which repeatedly goes unanswered.

She certainly was not committed to open and transparent governance when the public asked for a thoughtful, comparative cost-benefit analysis of payments-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT), including expected future costs based on projections by the School Board and Fire District, to justify township tax breaks to multi-billion (with a “B”) dollar greedy developers.  The public only received a biased, conclusory, one-sided defense of PILOTS that focused on township revenue and ignored complete costs to the public.

I would have thought that we previously established that trying to revise easily proven facts is never a good idea. Maybe Mayor McLaughlin and her township committee majority were too busy fooling themselves, and trying to fool the public, to pay attention.

Harvey Lester



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