Spencer Peck: One-man government

Spencer Peck has been on the Clinton Township Council less than a month and he already thinks he’s running a one-man government. Having promised to make sure the people are involved in all decision making in his campaign, he has already cut the people (and the mayor and council) out of government decisions, behaving as though he is the government.
At the Dec. 9 Clinton Township council meeting, the council disavowed policy statements that newly elected councilman Spencer Peck made to the County Freeholders.

Peck claimed he was acting “on behalf of the Mayor and Council” but had no such authorization. (See The HC NewsLETTER TO EDITOR – recycling out of CL TWP, 12/5/09. The letter also appeared in the Hunterdon Review, titled “Clinton Twp. Council blasts freeholders on recycling” and in the Hunterdon Democrat.)
The letter opens: “The following statement was made at the December 1st Freeholders meeting” by Peck, “on behalf of the Mayor and Council.” The letter/statement listed 7 recommendations to the county relating to recycling, formulated by Peck himself.
Peck’s recommendation #5 is to create a county “Solid Waste Administrative Commission” that would be “responsible for the budgeting and disbursement of all recycling related moneys (sic)…” This would create a new county agency that would control and spend public tax funds. It would be another layer of government that would be controlled by officials who are not elected by the people. Spencer Peck is designing and promoting bigger government that takes control away from the people.
This is something Peck and his “YourCouncilTeam” partners Jim Imbriaco and Peter Marra promised not to do.
Members of the council stated that the council did not discuss or deliberate over the recycling recommendations that Peck made to the county. Councilman Charles Howard asked that the Township send a notice to the County that the Township Council has not yet prepared a position or recommendations about recycling, and that councilman Peck’s statement does not represent the mayor and council. The council authorized Township Administrator Marvin Joss to send the notice to the county.
Spencer Peck is known for passionate speeches about the importance of “the people” having input in government decisions, and about the importance of full public disclosure of government business. Yet less than a month after being sworn in, Peck personally wrote and delivered a policy statement “on behalf of the Mayor and Council” to the Hunterdon County Freeholders without any public deliberation or any opportunity for the public to provide input. In fact, not even the council itself had an opportunity to provide input.
When confronted during the council meeting with his action, Peck responded that he delivered the recommendations to the freeholders because “it was a short fuse situation” and he had to act, and stated that he was elected by the people to represent them.
Peck claims a doctorate degree. How is it he has not studied the rules of serving on the council? No individual council member represents the mayor and council without authorization by the rest of the body.
But the real problem with Peck’s action lies in his personal agenda for bigger government. Peck’s recommendation #5 would create a new government entity responsible for managing and spending public funds and for policymaking. The entity would not comprise publicly-elected representatives, but rather appointed officials. In his campaign for office earlier this year, Peck promised less government and more decision-making by “the people.” Now he recommends to the county freeholders — and drags the mayor and council into his recommendation — more government by unelected officials who will control public funds, without bothering to consult the public.
It is perhaps no surprise that councilman Peck also advocates against dissolving the Clinton Township Sewer Authority — a body of appointed officials managing public funds. It seems Mr. Peck is working double-time in his short time on the council to promote and create more government, more layers of bureaucracy, and more costs to taxpayers, while Governor-Elect Chris Christie has warned municipalities that NJ government will shrink dramatically, sacred cows will be slaughtered, and that everyone had better get ready to give up some special interests — for the sake of smaller, more efficient government.
Peck regularly holds forth with authority about government, democracy, and the Magna Carta. Yet it seems he has not bothered to the time to study the rules and process of government — to properly execute the responsibilities of an elected official. It seems that Peck believes his personal position on a policy matter supercedes — in fact, stands in for — the council’s and that of the voters who elected him.
On the council less than a month, Peck has already disregarded and dismissed public participation in decision-making, and already Mr. Peck has attempted to misrepresent his personal agenda as that of the mayor and council. Peck’s term ends at the end of 2010. He is up for re-election in the coming June primary.

(Facts are facts and opinions are the prerogative of the editor.)

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