Your Turn Taxpayers should not pay for petty politics

Stuart J. Moskovitz Guest Column

Stuart J. Moskovitz
Guest Column

I have been involved one way or another in politics in Manalapan for about a decade. I don’t recall ever personally issuing a letter to the editor or a Your Turn column before. There comes a point, however, when one is personally attacked to a degree so beyond reason, civility and common human decency that no alternative remains.

Such is the case with the unrelenting public attack against me by Drew Shapiro, a man whose behavior in 2005, when he was supposed to be serving the taxpayers, was so vile and unprofessional that it engendered a now famous description of him as a “petulant snip.”

Two years after Mr. Shapiro received my billings in due course as township attorney in 2005 and remained silent, expressing no particular objection to any of them, Mr. Shapiro now wishes to have taxpayers’ precious funds spent for an “investigation” of those bills.

I realize that everyone understands Mr. Shapiro is beginning a political campaign against the current sitting mayor who appointed me and approved all of my bills along with the rest of the Township Committee at the time.

But there is never any justification for unwarranted character assassination or false statements to the press, such as Mr. Shapiro’s statement in a June 30, 2007 article in another newspaper that “my firm” gave a credit to the township for any of my billings, or that there was any “review” of my billings leading to such a credit.

Those statements are unequivocally false. These defamatory and legally actionable statements do serve a purpose, however, as the perfect starting point for evaluating the veracity of any statement from Mr. Shapiro.

In 2005 I penned MARCO, the Manalapan Anti-Racketeering and Cor-ruption Ordinance. One of the provisions of that ordinance was that any former mayor indicted for a crime committed while in public office should have his picture removed from the wall celebrating Manalapan’s former mayors.

I was asked at the time by his sole ally on the Township Committee whether that provision was directed at another particular former mayor. I advised her that it was not. I advised her that it was not my opinion that this would impact anyone other than possibly Drew Shapiro.

I believe this was the reason that she and Mr. Shapiro relentlessly lobbied against the ordinance, ultimately leading to its defeat.

It is not an accident that in that same newspaper article Mr. Shapiro makes reference to MARCO. It is the genesis of all of his personal attacks against me this year, including the frivolous Dreyer tract litigation formulated by his party associates, relating solely to my complying – to the letter – with a court order secured by my predecessor.

I don’t imagine it will take the court too long to determine that an attorney who complies with a court order can’t be deemed negligent, especially if he had nothing to do with that order to begin with.

When I entered into politics, as many of you remember, it was my prime directive to eliminate corruption in Manal-apan. It should not be surprising, therefore, that Mr. Shapiro and I would end up mortal enemies.

The sad part is that Mr. Shapiro is not content to have caused the taxpayers the 28 percent tax increase we will be receiving this year due to his $1.7 million deficit last year, the most mismanaged year in Manalapan’s history.

He is not content to have attacked former administrator Alayne Shepler and recreation director Jerry Collincini, which unfounded attacks eventually led to the resignations by these superior officials.

Nor was he content to have engaged in a lawsuit with his former business partner – another official in the township, or having spent the last six years wreaking havoc in the township for which we have all had to pay in higher taxes.

Now Mr. Shapiro wants to force the taxpayers to spend tens of thousands of dollars on his personal vendetta against me in a year in which he just happens to be running for office.

There is a point at which irresponsible actions must not remain unchallenged. There is a point at which indecency must be confronted. There is a point at which defamation and abuse must be exposed for the vileness that is the essence of the attacker. There is a point at which the taxpayers must say enough is enough.

Stuart J. Moskovitz is a resident of Manalapan.