Your Opinion: Time to Overhaul Borough’s Legal Counsel Staff

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Hopatcong’s Borough Attorney’s Contract is Up for Renewal on December 31st – It is Time for an Overhaul on Our Borough’s Legal Counsel Staff and Mending a Public Reputation. Listen to John Ursin deny duo representation.

Editor: Hopatcong Lake Regional News reader Michele Guttenberger has submitted the folowing article as "Your Opinion" on our site. As a courtesy to our site members, we always support your ability to voice your opinions to our readers.

Hear AudioLet’s heed the lessons learned from Sussex Borough back in 2014 when Councilwoman Linda Masson imparted her words of wisdom that the borough officials were entitled to have an "attorney who represents Sussex Borough 100 percent without having to worry about incestuous relationships with other entities."

Hopatcong has experienced significant “incestuous” relationships in its governance for almost a decade that have been politically self- serving and have managed to be the adversary to the very taxpayers who pay their wages. The Sylvia Petillo administration was strongly influenced by higher county politics.  The Petillo Enterprise Inc of Kenvil, NJ were generous contributors to the Sussex County Republican Party for over a decade and attorney John Ursin was a key officer of the Republican Skylands Victory PAC.   Together the Petillo/Ursin partnership was the anointed elite force that thought they could take short cuts and bypass the laws on ethics that protected the welfare of a borough from going into decline.   Petillo/Ursin were part of the top political power cartel who boasted about their attendance to Hopatcong’s billionaires sports club and their highbrow charity fetes.  When Petillo attended Hopatcong’s largest landholder’s private mansion lodge -   she was Petillo Enterprises Inc.  And John Ursin was not Hopatcong’s Borough attorney but, the law firm that represented the Wall Street globalist billionaire on property matters in Hopatcong, Andover and Byram. 

Being the go between dealmaker for the needs of the one percent of the one percent embedded in Hopatcong and Sussex County has endowed John Ursin with an arrogant and intimating demeanor.  His notorious enraged bullying stance he inflicted on those who question his actions has been recorded and broadcasted by the New Jersey Herald. You can listen to it at this location

Now is the time for the Hopatcong Council and Mayor Francis to find genuine caring legal counsel -  the kind that is respectful to all borough council members’ concerns, trustworthy, free of conflicts of interests and less abrasive to the greater public.  Both Petillo and Ursin were caught up in ethic issues and that will always leave a taint on their intentions and integrity to many.  It appears that their cavalier attitude helped to provoke ethic complaints and law suits against our borough.  The biggest fiasco that continues today was the ad hoc firing range that defied so many rules and policies but most of all was remiss of a committed budget that should have been presented to the council as an amended budget.  In 2014 the Hopatcong Borough was caught in a lie on how this firing range was funded.  The residents of Maple Grove (impacted by the noise of loud gunfire) had inquiries on the Borough budget for this new firing range and all the associated expenses. This was after the indifferent comment by Borough Attorney John Ursin that there is, "no (public) notice requirement for development of municipal property."  But this range wasn’t just on municipal property, it was also on designated park property which the Borough thought it could be made undesignated again (wrong).  They were even given further false statements by the Mayor - that Sheriff Police Forfeiture funds were covering these expenses. However, David Danzis’ New Jersey Herald posted Mar. 29, 2016 article entitled “Thousands in assets and property seized by Sussex County law enforcement” contradicts Major Petillo’s statement: “Hopatcong has spent only $9,605.65 since 2012 on two purchases: a high visibility police banner in 2014 and an updated video recording system for interrogations in 2015. Comments were made recently by the borough's council that should the police department's firing range need funding, money would come from their forfeiture account. To date, the prosecutor's office has not authorized any of Hopatcong's funds to be used for that purpose. “

The legal counsel of John Ursin has put Hopatcong Borough in the thick of things.  Isn’t it time for the Council to stop being the backroom fix it crew on the carelessness and self-serving political tactics that have disadvantaged us with questionable contracts and conflicts of interest that has brought on more collusion than conclusions to our borough problems.  If we are going to have a firing range, then we should present a legitimate budget for it and stop playing these shell games on how Hopatcong spends taxpayers’ dollars.  Starting a with a zero budget for John Ursin’s services who hasn’t committed 100 percent to Hopatcong would be a good start for 2018 and making good on a promise of better transparency on how our Municipal government is serving its citizens.       

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