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  • Writer's pictureAmalia Duarte

Speaking Out Against the Jan. 6 Siege

What an awful week, our country has endured.

On Wednesday, we witnessed an assault on the core values of our democracy, an attempt to stop the peaceful transition of power to President-Elect Joe Biden.

It was heartbreaking to watch on television and later to see additional videos taken inside the Capitol that showed the full extent of the violence, mayhem and terror. The image that has stayed with me is of lawmakers hiding in the gallery, some laying on the floor, clutching gas masks. There is also a video in which representatives are urged to remove their Congressional pins, so they won't be targeted by the mob. In the midst of the siege, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, a New Jersey native, gave his life in the line of duty.

That afternoon, I immediately posted a statement on my Facebook page condemning the terrorists, and I am hoping the Township Committee will pass a similar Resolution or Proclamation at our meeting on Jan. 11.

This is a time when all Americans of good conscience, and especially elected leaders, must speak out.

On Facebook I wrote, "Every elected official should be condemning the assault on our democracy that we are watching unfold in our nation's capital. This is a horrific scene. Voters might be disappointed in the outcome of an election, but this lawlessness is frightening and has no justification. I hope that leaders across the political spectrum will condemn this attack on our democratic institutions."

Silence is complicity.

Recap of Reorganization Meeting - On a happier note last week, I was excited to get sworn in for my second term on the Township Committee!

I was passed over for mayor, deputy mayor and a seat on the Planning Board, but that will not prevent me from continuing to work on behalf of the community. I plan to keep focusing on communications; open and transparent government;

partnering with other towns for shared services to lower taxes; ending the stigma around mental health issues and substance use; and supporting diversity and inclusion.

The Township Committee meets on Monday, Jan. 11, at 7:30 p.m.

We start off with the reading of a Welcoming Proclamation. This is the third year in a row that we, as a Township Committee, reaffirm our commitment to diversity and inclusion. It states that, "We desire to make our community the kind of place where all people feel valued and want to put down roots." In addition, it says, we "will continue to be welcoming of people of all races, ethnicities, and faiths."

Under Resolutions, we will vote on appointing Township Committee members as liaisons to the various sub-committees; volunteer first-responders organization; the schools; library and departments. These appointments are essentially our portfolios for the year, and there is always some give and take on assignments.

Later in the meeting, we will hear an update from the Interim Township Administrator on the budget process and upcoming meetings; the status of the municipal building renovation; and Mendham Sewer East, which serves Drakewick.

We also will vote on introducing two ordinances:

Stormwater Management - This ordinance replaces the existing one and stems from updated state regulations as related to major developments. The changes go into effect in March.

Finance Committee - We backwardly appointed members to this sub-committee and now will introduce an ordinance to establish the structure, scope and mission of this standing committee. My only concern is to ensure this sub-committee remains subordinate to the Township Committee and does not lead the budget process. The Township Committee, as elected representatives of the community, should be immersed in the process and make decisions about how our tax money is spent. This sub-committee should only act in an advisory capacity. They should not have access to more detailed financial information than the Township Committee.

There will be public hearings and final votes on both ordinances at the Jan. 25 meeting.

Jan. 11, is the first day for the pick up of glass, plastics, metal and cartons. Residents must have your recycling at the curb by 6 a.m., to ensure pick up.

This new schedule is part of a dual-stream recycling program with the Morris County Utilities Authority. Look for a Webinar coming soon to offer residents a chance to ask questions about the pros and cons of single-stream and dual-stream recycling. With dual-stream, the recycling is "cleaner" and has a greater chance of being recycled. Paper and cardboard will be picked up next Monday, Jan. 18, and this alternating schedule repeats for the rest of 2021. Read more.

Finally, Saturday's Styrofoam Recycling Event was an enormous success! All morning, there was a steady stream of residents dropping off Styrofoam packaging and coolers. Kudos to the Township Environmental Commission and Mendham Borough Environmental Committee for partnering on this project. It shows how our communities can work together for the benefit of all!

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