JACKSON-As the situation got tense during township council meetings this summer over a battle between the Jackson Township Council and the Orthodox Jewish community regarding the construction of eruvs, emails released this week by the township reveal both the mayor and business administrator feared violence might erupt.
The response was the result of Shore News Network and JTOWN magazine asking the township if they would comment on the matter of civil disobedience should Orthodox families decide to ignore the township’s demand to remove their eruvs as commanded by the council and code enforcement.
While the township ignored the request for an answer on the subject, Business Administrator Schlegel escalated the concern to Jackson Police Department Chief Matthew Kunz, probably just to get a cad entry put into the system, a sneaky political move that has been all the rage in 2017.
On August 14th, JTOWN Magazine asked the township council a handful of questions regarding their battle against the Orthodox Jewish community in town. One of those questions was, “I have been told that the eruvs will not be removed in a show of civil disobedience to the township’s enforcement, can you comment on that?”
The township refused to comment on all questions as has been the case for many years. Those questions included requests for the number of violations issues for eruvs and basketball hoops, but Schlegel became alarmed that Jewish residents would consider defying their order to remove eruvs and likened it to the antifa related violence nationwide. The Orthodox community never went that route, instead they all peacefully complied with the September by the council order to vacate the right of way and immediately removed their eruvs when facing a thousand dollar fine and possible prison time.
Schlegel passed the email to the chief, fearful of community safety with urgency.
“Chief, For your information and review, below is an email I received today from Phil Stilton. The Mayor and I are quite concerned over the statement highlighted in red. I’m not sure if you are aware of this, however, it is a strong statement especially after the most recent events in Virginia. We have no knowledge, other than this email, of any planned actions. Please address as you deem necessary,” the business administrator, who was appointed to replace disgraced former business administrator Jose Torres, who is now facing prison time after pleading guilty to political corruption charges wrote.
I always wondered what happened to the dozens of unanswered press requests for comments sent to Jackson Township and now I have a better understanding.
According to public records, Schlegel earns a $152,000 salary from the Township of Jackson. She was hired as a political appointee after her sudden resignation as the Howell Township business administrator in 2013.
Insiders reported Schlegel had issues with the town’s mayor, William Gotto.
After working for Howell Township for 26 years, leaving behind a $141,192 in that town, Jackson Township will now be on the hook for Schlegel’s pension payments should she choose to retire after her three-year salary bump.
Schlegel was initially hired by Reina and the township council to replace Jose Torres, who like Schlegel left town essentially in the middle of the night, for an annual salary of $96,000.
At the time, her hiring was touted as a cost savings measure to Torres, who was paid $125,000 by the township. According to the Asbury Park Press data universe, Schlegel now earns at least $152,000. Under New Jersey law, pensions are calculated on a public employee’s last three years of public salary.
She was hired as interim administrator in June 2014. In December of that year, the township council made her position permanent, an offer she couldn’t refuse, giving her the maximum amount allowed by law for the position, $152,000 per year, a raise of $56,000 per year.
Her contract expires in December of 2018, but she would be eligible to receive a pension based on her three-year pension and salary bump this December if she chose to retire.
When asked about the ridiculousness of the email, Mayor Michael Reina stated that such escalation to the Chief of Police is a common practice, although said no such escalation was made after a former Jackson board member threatened death upon the township’s legal counsel and New Jersey State Senator Robert Singer or after yet another board member was charged with distributing child pornography.
The township council, two months later, never answered any of the questions.
Photo Credit: Gavin Rozzi, Gavin Rozzi Media.