Oops! Tom Borkowski’s January 7 letter to the Hunterdon Democrat reveals once again that he belongs to a school of politics founded on an age-old idea: If there’s nothing in your opponent’s record that you can attack, lie and make the attack personal. Because people will believe what they read.
There is nothing in my public record that Borkowski can attack, so he makes things up. I challenge him to substantiate his claims. Let’s look at Borkowski’s claims and at the public record.
Borkowski says my administration was ethically challeged, yet like his buddies Spencer Peck and Lou Reiner, he offers no public record or evidence to support his accusations. Frustrated by the truth, he lies. Borkowski claims I hired Steve Balzano. The public record — the minutes of the town council meeting — show that as required by law I recused myself when the council voted to hire Balzano.
While I was mayor, my municipal attorney served on the N.J. State League of Municipalities Ethics Committee. NJSLOM further recognized her with its 2008 Award for Ethics in Municipal Government.
What about Borkowski’s municipal lawyers? Donald DiFrancesco was recognized by the New York Times, which noted “in 1998 that he had violated legal-ethics rules and should be removed from his job [as municipal attorney of Scotch Plains].” DiFrancesco’s firm continued to represent Clinton Township throughout Borkowski’s term.
Borkowski claims I moved our COAH obligation out of my back yard and into someone else’s. Our affordable housing has to be built somewhere. In 6 years as mayor, Borkowski never did figure that out, and consequently at the end of his term COAH acted to rescind our substantive certification due to his administration’s failure. The public record shows that the COAH plan my administration submitted to the state includes affordable housing “in my back yard” on the Windy Acres property. How much lying is Borkowski willing to do to cover up his own failures? My administration cleaned up the COAH disaster Borkowski left behind.
He claims I turned the administrator’s position and police director into political appointments. The administrator is hired by the mayor and council, just like Borkowski’s adminstrator was. While Borkowski was mayor, he was also Public Safety Director, which means the police chief reported to him — the mayor.
While Borkowski was in control of the PD, it was such a shambles that it was constantly under investigation by the county prosecutor. I quickly eliminated the mayor’s individual power over the police department by shifting the title of Public Safety Director to the township administrator. When I was mayor, I was not in charge of our cops like Borkowski was. It’s on the public record. Why does Borkowski claim otherwise? It’s simple Machiavellian tactics: Falsely accuse your opponent of your own misdeeds to deflect attention from yourself, and trust that people will believe you.
Borkowski claims that people won’t run for office for fear I will attack them. Yet when the Republican Committee voted on Kevin Cimei’s replacement for Council, over a dozen candidates turned out — because I encouraged them. Henry Kuhl said that never in its history has the County Committee had so many people step up to run. Far from discouraging people from politics, I spurred them on and angered the Committee by breaking its lock on elections. That’s the public record.
Borkowski says I “bully with my pen and my computer.” America has a proud history of literate pamphleteering. (Perhaps Spencer Peck can educate him about that.) When I see lies and wrongdoing, I turn to the public record. I hold it up. If Borkowski has a lousy public record, that’s his doing, not mine. Is anything else in Borkowski’s letter believable?
He says I didn’t look him in the eye recently at a meeting. In fact I did, and I shook my head at him. He has devoted himself to dishonestly trashing me and my administration because his own was such an abject failure. After six years in office, he left Clinton Township a massive mess. I challenge him to back up his accusations with evidence. The man is a lawyer, he knows what evidence is. As a lawyer, he also knows when you have no evidence, you grandstand.
As for Borkowski’s campaign for freeholder, it was similar to all his campaigns — loaded with misrepresentations. Oops! He did it again.
Citing his high fiscal principles, Borkowski attacked the freeholders’ exorbitant employment contract for attorney Guy DeSapio. Yet his public record shows that while he was mayor of Clinton Township, Borkowski gave an exorbitant sweetheart deal to Al Steinberg, the CFO he hired. That contract is part of Borkowski’s public record. He cannot hide from it.
What’s in the contract? If you pay taxes in Clinton Township, it’ll make you weep. Wouldn’t you like a contract where you get paid $63,554 — to work 2 and a half days per week, from home or anywhere else you like, get lots of benefits, a virtually unlimited expense account, and the right to cancel your contract without penalty?
Look carefully at the golden parachute on page 3. If the Township terminates Steinberg at any time, Borkowski made the Township liable to pay Steinberg “dollar for dollar” for the entire 38-month contract. That’s Borkowski’s public record. That’s who ran for freeholder on “his history” of fiscal responsibility, saving taxpayers money and “ethics.”
In 2006 Borkowski’s Director of Public Works, Charles Cerami, was indicted. One of his leading supporters, former Sheriff Bill Doyle, was indicted last month. As mentioned above, the head of the law firm he hired to represent Clinton Township, Donald DiFrancesco, was exposed in the N.Y. Times for unethical municipal dealings, resulting in DiFrancesco dropping out of the race for N.J. governor. It’s in the public record.
I offer no apologies for pointing out Borkowski’s public record — or that of any other public official who mismanages our government and our public funds. I’m still waiting for Borkowski’s buddy Spencer Peck to show proof of his claims that I “raided the public till” and “violated the law” while I was mayor. These are the ongoing pathetic accusations of a pathetic bunch of frustrated politicians.
When Borkowski and his clan are confronted with their lousy public records, they cry they are being attacked and bullied. When I shine the light on their records, they claim I am “negative.” Because there’s nothing in my public record to attack, they lie. They call that “positive campaigning.”
The trouble with politics is that anyone can lie. Bad people get elected when too many voters believe the lies they read. They don’t look at the public record. That’s the shame of Clinton Township.