Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Donovan, Freeholders Back in Court

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Donovan, Freeholders Back in Court

Article excerpt

Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan has sued the Bergen County Freeholders again, alleging that the board's recent attempt to rewrite the county administrative code is an illegal attempt to "hijack the county at all costs."

A judge will hear arguments this morning on whether the court should block an ordinance that sought to give the freeholders the power explicitly to reorganize county government and investigate how it is run.

Those are powers that Donovan insists the freeholders do not have under the county executive form of government approved by voters in November 1985. Donovan was a member of the charter commission that helped create the county executive form of government.

"The amendments contained in the ordinance violate New Jersey law, unlawfully derogate express authority vested in the county executive and attempt to return Bergen County for Freeholder Board control," her 21-page complaint states.

Freeholder Chairman David Ganz defended the ordinance and criticized Donovan for filing suit.

"The county executive refuses to accept that the freeholder board is the elected legislative body of Bergen County and has been entrusted by the people to govern in the best interest of our residents," Ganz said in a statement. "These changes to the administrative code passed with bipartisan support, and her continued use of lawsuits to settle personal scores shows her complete disregard for our tax dollars."

The complaint filed on Wednesday marks the third time that Donovan has sued the board since March 2012 in a continuing tug-of- war over who wields what powers in county government.

Donovan, a Republican, prevailed in two lawsuits she filed last year against a then Republican-controlled freeholder board.

One lawsuit involved the board's attempt to hire an auditor; the other was over an attempt to place a non-binding ballot referendum on merging the County Police into the Sheriff's Office.

The freeholders have appealed both rulings.

In the latest lawsuit, Donovan asked the court to overturn an ordinance that the Democratic controlled freeholder board approved by a 6-1 bipartisan vote on Sept. 17.

Donovan vetoed the ordinance amending the code, and last week the board again voted 6-1 to override her veto. …

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