Marlboro GOP Chairman Christopher Dean filed an ethics complaint against Mayor Jon Hornik, Councilman Frank LaRocca and Councilwoman Randi Marder last October. To date, no action has been taken by the Marlboro Ethics Board.
The complaint involves the Township doing business with a company owned by Marder and her husband on a “no-bid” basis.
Dean was a candidate for Township Council, running against LaRocca and Marder, when the complaint was filed. He and one of his running mates, Craig Marshall who ran for Mayor against Hornik, are continuing their fight for ethical government in Marlboro, despite their loss at the polls.
Members of municipal ethics boards are appointed and approved by the Mayors and Councils of their respective communities. Of the 566 municipalities in New Jersey, only 37 have their own Ethics Boards. Of New Jersey’s 21 counties, 7 have Ethics Boards.
In a January 26 letter to the Marlboro Ethics Board, Dean asked that his complaint be referred to the State Local Fiance Board rather been heard by the local board which is comprised of personal friends of the Mayor and Council members who are subject of the inquiry.
Marshall questions the objectivity of the board’s new attorney. In a Letter to the Editor published in the Marlboro Patch, the former mayoral candidate notes that the attorney, Ken Biedzynski, earned $221,146 last year as a Marlboro special council for affordable housing, an appointment he received with the approval of the subjects of the pending ethics complaint.
All government officials should recuse themselves when faced with a conflict or the very appearance of a conflict. This is especially so for an Ethics Board and its attorney. In this case, there is enough of an appearance of conflicts or potential conflicts to warrant recusals.
Even if the Marlboro Ethics Board were to hear the case, which they could have done in the last four months, and found that there was no ethical violation, Dean and Marshall are going to appeal to the Local Fiance Board anyway.
The fact that this issue is still dragging on after four months with multiple attorneys raises questions about the impartiality of the board.
The Marlboro Ethics Board would be wise to refer the matter to the Local Finance Board when they meet on March 14. Hornick, LaRocca and Marder would be wise to publicly call for such a referral.
Let both sides make their cases to the Local Finance Board and put the matter in the rear view mirror. That’s going to happen eventually anyway. The delaying tactics only raise more questions.