No Surprises in Lakewood Elections
Election Day results went off uneventfully in Lakewood with incumbents to the local offices returned to their positions with comfortable margins.
In races for the New Jersey State assembly, Republicans Sean Kean and Edward Thomson garnered 8,197 and 7,889 votes respectively, while Democrats Steven Farkas and Yasin Celik took 2,568 and 2,354 each.
Two of the five seats on Ocean County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders were up for election. The Board’s President, Virginia Haines and John Kelly, both Republicans, garnered 72,867 and 72,573 over Democrats Jean Czarkowski and David T. Wright with 36,809 and 36,200.
The only member of Lakewood’s Town Council running this year, Republican, Isaac Akerman, defeated Democratic challenger Moshe Raitzik 5,539 to 1,555.
Meir Grunhut, Issac Zlatkin, and Shlomie Stern ran unopposed for their seats on Lakewood’s Board of Education.
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Enclave Development Ordered to Pay Attorney’s Fees
A court has ordered the Enclave at Fairways retirement community to pay over $86,000 in attorney’s fees to a group of Orthodox residents who sued the resident’s association alleging religious discrimination. The group has since reached an agreement with the community which addresses their complaints.
The Enclave is a senior community located off Cross Street near Prospect Avenue. In recent years, as more Orthodox couples bought homes there, the homeowners association took moves that were widely seen as attempts to stymie this trend.
The present complaint was filed last year by nine Orthodox residents who claimed that the association was unreasonable in its refusal to grant accommodations to religious practice such as providing a way for residents to leave on Shabbos and Yom Tov without using the electric gate.
According to a report by the Asbury Park Press, the Enclave is now home to some 200 Orthodox residents and, since the time of the complaint, several new members have been elected to its governing board.
Earlier this year, the Enclave agreed to a court endorsed consent order. Among the points of the order was an agreement to leave a pedestrian gate unlocked during Shabbosos and Yamim Tovim, to allow for minyanim in residents’ homes given certain guidelines, and to establish regulations that would govern construction of sukkos.
Jackson Hit With Additional DOJ Subpoena
A Freedom of Information request revealed that Jackson Township received an additional subpoena from the federal Department of Justice this past spring.
An email between attorneys working for the township dated May 6 asks that the relevant parties surrender all emails to and from their personal accounts dating back to 2007 dealing with two controversial ordinances that restricted the construction of schools and dormitories as well as those relating to dorms for staff at the Six Flags amusement park, located in its borders. The request also asks for emails relating to the Agudath Israel of America and a private development company, both of which are presently involved in litigation against Jackson over the aforementioned ordinances and another that banned the construction of eruvin.
In 2017, shortly after the Agudah initiated its legal challenge, Jackson Township began receiving information requests from the DOJ for communications and documents relating to land use.
Over the past two years, the DOJ has taken a strong interest in religious land use discrimination issues.
Rep. Kim Votes to Open Formal Impeachment Inquiry
Congressman Andy Kim (D-NJ) cast a vote to formally open an impeachment inquiry regarding President Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate dealings by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
The congressman framed his vote in far more neutral terms than many of his Democratic colleagues in Congress.
“My vote today is a vote for transparency, accountability and responsibility to the Constitution,” he said. “The role of Commander in Chief is a sacred duty of the Presidency, and any allegations of abuse of power must be investigated with seriousness and purpose.”
Seemingly concerned with accusations that the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is overly focused on its investigations at the expense of constructive legislation, Rep. Kim closed his statement pointing to his recent record.
His statement on the impeachment inquiry ended with a comment that his “focus remains on fighting for the people of Burlington and Ocean Counties,” and brief discussion of bills he recently sponsored, one addressing health-care costs and another designed to help small businesses.
Assemblyman Dancer Introduces Bill to Protect Free Speech on Campuses
Assemblyman Ron Dancer has introduced legislation that would require public institutions of higher education to adopt policies protecting freedom of expression.
“Any effort to censor philosophies that might differ from ours is in direct violation of our Constitution,” said Assemblyman Dancer (R-Ocean). “College campuses should be a place where students feel safe to express their views and invite speakers from all backgrounds and beliefs, because we cannot start putting limits on free speech.”
In recent years, several colleges have caused controversy by blocking speakers and marring the operation of campus organizations-largely conservative-leaning ones.
Dancer’s bill aims to counter efforts to stifle free speech at college campuses.
The legislation would call on public colleges to create policies that would welcome all forms of protected speech. Outdoor areas of the institution’s campus would be considered a public forum for members of the campus community and invited guests. Those who block a person or group’s freedom of speech would be subject to discipline.
Additionally, the bill would require each public institution of higher education to appoint an independent committee on free expression and submit a report to the governor and Legislature detailing the institution’s steps towards implementing freedom of expression policies.