Jackson Council President Resigns, Second to Do So in Six Months
Citing personal considerations and denying that accusations of anti-Semitism or entanglement in ongoing lawsuits against Jackson played a role in his decision, Barry Calogero announced his resignation from his town’s council presidency last week. The move makes him the second council president to step down in six months.
“The time has come to announce that I will be stepping down as a councilman effective May 13, 2020. Let me address the rumor mill clearly. This decision is not a sudden one. I have been pondering it for several months; however after much discussion with my wife and children, I have decided it’s time to focus more on my personal life and health,” Mr. Calogero said in a statement he read publically. He also cited his struggle with Parkinson’s disease as a contributing factor to his decision.
In addition to pressure from ongoing litigation against Jackson over de facto bans on eruvin and the construction of new schools, Mr. Calogero faced recent accusations of anti-Semitism when he implied that the National Guard should be called out to enforce stay-at-home orders following a set of isolated incidents of non-compliance with social distancing guidelines in Lakewood.
“Unfortunately, not everyone is following the law of the land, unfortunately, there are groups of people who hide behind cultures and religious beliefs, who put themselves, our first responders and quite honestly all of Jackson and all of the bordering towns at risk… [with]their selfishness, irresponsibility, and inability to follow the law put in place by President Trump and Governor Murphy,” he said several weeks ago. “How in G-d’s name can civilized people disrespect their neighbors, the President and the Governor’s orders? It is with a sad heart I implore Governor Murphy to set aside politics and use your power and authority to call out the National Guard to enforce the law and protect Ocean County from those who cannot seem to follow our laws.”
The comment was widely condemned as anti-Semitic.
In an interview with the Asbury Park Press following his resignation announcement, Mr. Calogero denied the comment or any of this decisions on the council were guided by bias against Jews.
In his statement, he emphasized that his moves have been determined by concern for local residents and efforts to preserve Jackson’s rural character.
“I can say with absolute honesty that every decision I have made and every vote I have cast was based on my morals and ethics for the best interest of all of the residents of Jackson,” said Mr. Calogero. “Whether it has been carefully analyzing a piece of property, asking for a zoning variance or voting on an ordinance to govern our community, I have carefully researched, consulted with experts and sought to learn the needs of our residents.
He also referred to comments that have circulated about him, particularly on social media, claiming that they are false accusations.
“This is an area where the selfish, the misinformed few, the pretend media and the losers hiding behind fake names on social media attempt to take a fundamental disagreement over our land use rules and turn them into disgusting accusations and weaponize phrases that are too disgusting to mention,” he said.
Some aspects of his decision to step down sound a familiar note with the move his predecessor, Robert Nixon, took this past December. At that time, many speculated that the sudden move was the result of pressure from several prominent organizations at which he held posts to distance himself from the contentious nature of ongoing struggles in Jackson.
Mr. Calogero has served on Jackson’s town council for several years and took over as president after Mr. Nixon’s abrupt resignation this past December. In 2017, he was appointed by the Trump administration as state executive director for the USDA New Jersey Farm Service Agency.
A new president has not yet been formally appointed.
OCHD Gives Pointers on Safe Errand Running
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) issued guidance on how to safely carry out essential errands that require going to public places.
“For most of us, there is no way getting around going out to buy groceries and run other essential errands such as banking, take-out food orders or doctor visits,” said Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator/Health Officer. “The only way to accomplish these tasks and feel safe from catching the COVID-19 virus is to strictly adhere to following all the social distancing measures.”
Most recommendations have become all too familiar; remaining six feet from others, wearing a face covering, washing one’s hands before and after shopping, and not venturing outside if one does not feel well. Other suggestions include making an exact shopping list at home to minimize time in stores, sanitizing shopping cart handles, using automatic check-out when possible, and for high risk individuals, to take advantage of stores with special hours set aside for them.
“It may be a bit of an inconvenience, but following these guidelines can really help save lives,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “We really are all in this together. Let’s not only think about protecting ourselves, but let’s follow these measures for our neighbors and community while we attend to these essential errands.”
Rep. Kim Named to Coronavirus Committee
Congressman Andy Kim (D-NJ) has been named to the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, where he will serve as one of twelve members tasked with oversight on programs aimed at ending the COVID-19 pandemic and helping address its economic impact.
“We are in the midst of the largest national security crisis to hit our homeland, and we are responding with the largest emergency response package in or nation’s history. We have one chance to get this recovery right; our actions will either help put an end to the pandemic and get people back to work, or we’ll throw billions in taxpayer money away to waste, fraud and abuse,” said Congressman Kim. “As a member on this important Select Committee, I will fight every day to make sure every hard-earned penny from American taxpayers is spent wisely and impactfully to support families in dire need. This is not a time for partisanship. I will take on this assignment with the same approach to service as I did when I worked under both Republicans and Democrats as a national security official. The mission is to save lives and help American families, including those in Burlington and Ocean counties, at their time of most need.”
Among its duties, the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis will provide oversight over taxpayer funds spent to help businesses, crack down on price gouging and other abuse by companies, and work to ensure the federal response to increase testing and contact tracing.
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