The Jersey City Council is no longer planning to vote on dueling Civilian Complaint Review Board proposals after Denise Ridley and James Solomon, who represent Wards A and E, respectively, both agreed to pull their ordinances in hopes of reaching a compromise earlier today.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“I asked James if he wanted to pull both of them last week, and he wanted to move forward, but after the council caucus meeting I guess he got a little spooked,” Ridley said this morning, referencing colleagues who said that wouldn’t support Solomon’s ordinance.
Nevertheless, the Downtown councilman decided not to stand and trade on this one.
“Councilwoman Ridley and I introduced ordinances which share the same goal and many of the same provisions. It makes sense to take the next week or two to determine if we can reach common ground,” he said.
At Monday’s caucus meeting, Council President Joyce Watterman urged her colleagues to reach a consensus instead of putting forward competing legislation, but neither Ridley or Solomon appeared interested in balking, as HCV first reported.
Ridley’s ordinance calls for nine CCRB members, including one from all six wards, with the selections to be made by the city council.
On the other hand, Solomon’s aimed for 11 CCRB members, with seven being selected by community organizations such as the Jersey City NAACP, ACLU-NJ, and Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition.
In each scenario, Mayor Steven Fulop would have to give the final okay for each board pick, and in Ridley’s draft, would have the ability to name the chair and vice chair – which she noted is a part of Assemblywoman Angela McKnight’s bill (D-31) to give CCRBs subpoena power.
While the two council members didn’t engage in any back and forth at Monday’s caucus, Ridley expressed obvious frustration over the fact that cooler heads didn’t prevail sooner.
“I don’t want people to feel that we can do something that we can’t. First of all, we’re already jumping the gun because that state bill is going to change again … it would be illegal to form a CCRB right now,” she exclaimed.
“We’re rushing this, for what? To have a headline that says ‘hey guys, we tried?’ Realistically, what are we doing here? I expressed to James that I had some concerns, other council people did to, so why move forward when you know your colleagues aren’t happy, why put it up?”
As Watterman alluded to on Monday, McKnight’s bill must be approved by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) before CCRB’s can have subpoena and disciplinary power, as well as budget protections and a “trigger mechanism” – which both Ridley and Solomon’s proposals included.
This is a necessary step following a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling last month that hindered the powers of Newark’s CCRB.
Ridley said that while she understands that some people don’t not want the mayor involved with this board at all, that’s what state law mandates at this time, noting that her initial draft had the council being the sole appointees until she discussing with McKnight, along with corporation counsel from both Jersey City and Newark.
Beyond that, the councilwoman indicated that she is happy to sit down and engage with any dissenters on this topic: as long as they have read the state bill and understand the limitations it presents at this time.