Anyone who has been brave enough to sit through a typical West New York Board of Education meeting knows the session could last anywhere between four and five-and-a-half hours, and that’s largely due to the antics of renegade trustee Matthew Cheng.
Cheng, who was one of the two trustees elected in January (along with Joan Palermo) – with the help of Freeholder Chairman Jose Munoz – quickly gave headaches to the Mayor Felix Roque allies of the board who were used to getting their “yes” votes in and calling it a night early.
Taking a page out of District 2 Freeholder Bill O’Dea’s playbook, Cheng has made it a point to question anything and everything in front of the board he believes isn’t done by the book.
This hasn’t made him very popular with the various Schwartz Simon Edelstein & Celso attorneys that have represented the board this year, or with current board president Steven Rodas.
In September, three months after Superintendent of Schools John Fauta announced that the Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance (OFAC) was investigating the board for the way insurance firms were appointed, Cheng completely lost his cool when the board refused to terminate their agreement with Alamo Insurance.
Cheng, who was rumored to be the ghost writer behind an ethics complaint against Rodas and trustee Adam Parkinson back in October, is expected to run in the May municipal election – if Munoz decides to run.
In the event Munoz sits this one out, don’t be surprised if Cheng starts campaigning for re-election early: he will be on the ballot again in November 2015.