News broke last month regarding a lawsuit filed against the Hopewell Township Police Department and the Hopewell Township Committee alleging racism and bias within the Township police department, according to the Trentonian.
In the lawsuit, filed with Mercer County in early March, Sergeant Michael Sherman accused his co-workers in the Police Department of harassment and discrimination, specifically now-retired Lieutenant Christopher Kascik as the main offender, according to the Trentonian.
The Township was unable to give much information in respect to the privacy of both parties at the Committee’s March 25 meeting, but Mayor McLaughlin said she would address it at a later date.
“The Township does not tolerate discrimination or harassment in the workplace,” said Mayor McLaughlin. “The Township takes all allegations of discrimination and harassment seriously and employees may raise concerns without fear of retaliation.”
The tension between the Committee and the public was boiling through the public comment section and at the end, Committee member John Hart had a few things to say to Andrew Borders, who presented some of Committee Member Hart’s comments from the March 11 budget meeting in regards to the Safe Routes to School program.
Borders presented Committee member Hart’s comments regarding the Public Works Department’s involvement in the program.
“He [Borders] doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about,” said Hart. “What I said was not exactly what he said but don’t come here and tell them what the hell I said up there, okay? He’s campaigning, campaign on your own damn time.”
The Committee fielded other comments regarding an ordinance, slated for first reading, pertaining to the Township entering into an electricity aggregation program. The ordinance will “increase competition for the provision of electric power to residential and non-residential users” to potentially save residents money on their utility bills. With much confusion from the Committee and the public, Mayor McLaughlin explained that the ordinance would not commit the Township to anything, it would just allow parties to start providing residents information and be the preliminary step in the process. (For prior MercerMe coverage on energy aggregation, please see https://mercerme.com/what-energy-aggregation-is-and-is-not/)
“Every time I think that this Committee could not be less transparent, you do something to be less transparent,” said former mayor Harvey Lester.
Ultimately, the vote was delayed until the Committee’s April 15 meeting, so that more information and understanding could be provided to the Committee and the public.
“I don’t want to put something forward with so many people hesitating,” said Mayor McLaughlin. “I want to make sure people understand what they’re voting for.”
The Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for April 15 at 7pm.