WEST WINDSOR: Morgan files lawsuit over ordinance

By Charley Falkenburg, Staff Writer
   WEST WINDSOR — It appears the legal disputes between former councilman Charlie Morgan and the administration aren’t over. Mr. Morgan has filed another lawsuit against the mayor and others.
   Mr. Morgan’s third litigation, filed against Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh, Township Clerk Sharon Young and Township Administrator Marlena Schmid, seeks to put a recently adopted petition ordinance on the November ballot.
   On July 9, the council unanimously passed the petition, which requires the mayor to respond within 30 days either by e-mail or in writing to information requests — eliminating the need for a voter referendum, according to a state law.
   However, the resolution contained erroneous language that said the question would go on the ballot either way — a mistake Township Attorney Michael Herbert accepted the blame for and said the resolution would be amended to accurately reflect the council’s vote.
   The error sparked much debate at the Aug. 6 meeting, with the public and Mr. Morgan asking the council to give voters a referendum, as was originally passed. Some council members appeared to have second thoughts and were concerned with the petition’s “time difference.”
   According to a state law, the petition would be locked in for three years through a voter referendum, while only one year through the council’s vote.
   The public hearing on the amended resolution was scheduled for last night, after the Packet’s press time. If the council voted it down, Mr. Herbert said a voter referendum would still not be definite.
   ”The council members were sworn in to uphold the New Jersey state law and the New Jersey law says you can’t send it to the ballot,” said Mr. Herbert. “If they choose to send it to the county clerk, I don’t know if the clerk would accept it because it’s not legal.”
   He added that to put the question on a ballot would cost the town several thousand dollars.
   In a teleconference on Aug. 15, Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson dismissed Mr. Morgan’s request for immediate action on the case and ruled the petition would not be going on the November 2012 ballot.
   Mr. Herbert said the case will reappear in court in late September and estimated a decision would be made by the end of this year.
   Mr. Morgan’s legal battles with the town include two previous lawsuits and two appeals — all of which have been dismissed by judges.