If you were out shopping or busy cooking or at the movies on Christmas Eve, you may have missed Ted Mattox getting the Phil Read treatment. From the Star Ledger, here are the highlights…
Last week, the confrontation was ratcheted up when in a counterclaim, his colleagues assert that Mattox is “unfit to fulfill his oath of office.” In the legal papers, Mattox is accused of offering to pay off his slate’s old $13,000 campaign debt if Remsen would get “on board” with Mattox’s idea to increase councilor’s salaries from $5,000 to $20,000. The counterclaim likens it to a bribe.
Mattox has denied ever making such an offer. In an interview last week, he said his proposal was only to double the salaries to $10,000 and that he never offered anyone money to support the plan.
In July, the exchanges got particularly heated.
Gerald Tobin, the deputy mayor, demanded an apology from Mattox for publicly accusing his colleagues of a “cycle of corruption.” Mattox refused. A debate about the definition of corruption ensued.
“Not doing things by the letter of the law,” Mattox said. “Corruption means the erosion of protocol.”
Tobin, an attorney, shot back: “You have your own definitions. It means taking money illegally.”
Here’s the definition of corruption if it will help. Meanwhile Mattox has kept his sense of humor, says Read. Remsen? Not so much…
Once, limping into the elevator on his way to a public meeting, Mattox offered up an comical explanation for his injury, fictional but on point about how strained his relationship with Remsen has become.
“Ed pulled a Tanya Harding on me,” said a smiling Mattox, a reference to the champion skater implicated in a scheme to have her opponent’s knee whacked.
Amid all this, Remsen — other than an obvious rolling of the eyes at Mattox’s barbs — said he simply tries to plow ahead with the council’s agenda, including an “inclusionary zoning” ordinance that funnels money into affordable housing and a re-zoning intended to discourage teardowns.
Yet, the frustration is evident.
“Who is he to preach to us?” said Remsen, who has more than six years of council experience behind him. “I’ve never seen it get this personal. I’ve never seen it get this nasty .. the personal attacks, calling people crooks. I’ve never seen a level of righteousness, that he’s the hall monitor, that he is right and everybody else is wrong.”
Meanwhile, in this Star Ledger piece (not written by Read), Remsen explains why we never heard about the alleged “bribe” that’s part of the countersuit.
The mayor said he and his allies never referred the alleged bribe at tempt to law enforcement authorities because they were hoping Mattox would be a team player and they did not want a distraction from township business.
“We sort of chalked it up to a rookie mistake,” he said. “If we hadn’t been sued, we probably never would have brought this up.”
Wow — so was it a rookie mistake or a bribe? What other mistakes can folks make and be kept hush-hush? Montclairions would like to know.