The following letter was submitted to the Hunterdon Democrat, but was edited drastically to fit the newspaper’s “new” letter limitations. This is the full letter:
On October 13, 2010 councilman Jim Imbriaco called Clinton Township’s biggest corporate resident, taxpayer and employer, ExxonMobil, a “bozo” in a public meeting. Imbriaco’s rude, unnecessary remarks now jeopardize ongoing negotiations between local officials and the largest landowner in the Township.
According to Mayor Cimei, Exxon is considering a generous grant to the Township of a land easement to allow a second driveway out of our police department onto Valley Crest Road. This public safety improvement would permit police to respond more quickly to emergency calls in the eastern half of the Township. Funds for this project, which was conceived in 2006, were banked several years ago. Administrator Marvin Joss believes that the easement is imminent, and asked the council to release up to $15,000 of those banked funds to build the driveway, though it might cost less.
To this good news, Imbriaco said:
“You know, the thing is, I’ve dealt with Exxon, too. And there’s no certainty with those guys. They take forever to get anything done. And you may think you’re close, and then some bozo down in Texas is gonna say, I’ve got no time for this. And that’s the end of it. And that’s the facts. That’s the facts.”
Bozo? Imbriaco campaigned on “new ratables,” but it seems he forgot that you must be civil and friendly to your existing corporate ratables — unless you want them to leave!
Jim Imbriaco might revel in playing “the ugly councilman,” but he does no good to our schools, which have counted on Exxon’s generosity. And in a time when towns are dying for good corporate ratables, Imbriaco is telling Exxon that Clinton Township is the wrong place to stay and grow. Just how would he replace that precious ratable?
But councilman Imbriaco doesn’t discriminate between corporations and our neighbors. He doesn’t seem to care who he insults — even Union Township, which pays us well to share our municipal court facilities. Township CFO Kitty Colognato cautioned the council at the same meeting, “We are getting how much money per year from the Union Court? [Answer: Over $100,000 annually.] And they’re giving us formal complaints… about the original carpeting [that’s been in the building] since it was bought in ‘92. They’re very upset… it’s at the point where it needs to be tested to see if it’s got mold in it.”
Imbriaco’s response? “You know what? I don’t care.”
He then voted against investing about $10,000 to fix the rotting carpeting, thereby putting an important relationship and a $100,000 annual source of shared-services revenue at risk. Imbriaco cares no more about Union Township leaving our court than about Exxon leaving our town.
But these are not isolated incidents. Imbriaco has made it very clear that he doesn’t care a whit about keeping or generating revenue. At a September council meeting, Imbriaco voted against a new potential $1 million revenue source. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) selected Clinton Township’s police department — 1 of just 6 chosen from among 566 towns — to participate in a special taskforce. In 2010, the handful of towns that have been helping with the DEA’s statewide drug busts split over $6 million in confiscated assets. While there are no guarantees, and we can back out any time, if we’d been in the mix already we’d have about $1 million of additional revenue in our coffers. Imbriaco not only voted against joining the taskforce; he publicly denigrated the DEA and its offer. With councilmen like Imbriaco, who needs friends and shared-services partners? Who needs a police department that brings in federal revenue?
How much revenue can we afford to lose?
Many a good corporation and business avoided Clinton Township while Imbriaco was chairman of the planning board for over 12 years. His boorish, arrogant behavior was legendary, as were his drawn-out, expensive application hearings. It’s why I removed him as chairman when I was mayor, and I believe it’s why Mayor Cimei removed him from the board altogether. For years, Imbriaco fostered an image of Clinton Township as the last place to do business. He used his planning board pulpit to insult county officials, state commissioners, land use applicants, professionals and residents alike. Now he has found a new stage for his pompous playacting. He dominates council meetings, verbally attacking Township employees, abusing the Township’s friends, and even laughing off complaints from residents. Who can negotiate with Exxon when Imbriaco is calling the company a bozo?
ExxonMobil is a good neighbor and an important part of Clinton Township; a corporation that goes out of its way to cooperate with our municipality and to support important local projects. To say nothing of the fact that it is our most important ratable. When he campaigned for council, Imbriaco said he stood for “congenial” behavior in government. His public comments about Exxon, Union Township, and the DEA are shameful. Once again, he uses his pulpit inappropriately and strains the Township’s relations with our friends and neighbors. He owes multiple public apologies to those he has so cavalierly offended.
Councilman Jim Imbriaco is turning Clinton Township into a pariah among municipalities once again. He has turned one of the finest municipal teams in New Jersey into his personal punching bag. It’s no wonder morale at the municipal offices is so low. He’s killing our reputation — and our revenues.