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Covering Hamilton and Robbinsville townships in-depth for The Trentonian. I can be reached at (609) 989-7800 ext. 207 or (609) 468-6962. Email me at mmacagnone@trentonian.com or follow me @awisefool.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Councilwoman Kelly Yaede selected to succeed Bencivengo at contentious meeting


Hamilton council selected its first female mayor to replace convicted former mayor John Bencivengo.

After a meeting that lasted more than three hours, the council voted to approve Councilwoman Kelly Yaede as the mayor to serve until a special election next November. She promised to move the township forward and "start a new chapter in Hamilton township."

“People come first, politics come second,” she said during her interview with council. “We all stood shoulder to shoulder in good times and bad.”

The confirmation did not come without its controversy; Yaede herself chaired the meeting after Council President Kevin Meara recused himself. In addition, only two of the three nominees received a second for a vote. The other two nominated were Councilman Ed Gore and David Maher, a former freeholder candidate and Notthingham fire commissioner.

Meara said he felt that a meeting all the council members had attended, which was supposed to discuss poltical matters, had talked about township business and recused himself.

At one point, the meeting broke down over a contentious exchange between Councilman Dave Kenny and former Councilman Vinnie Cappodano. Cappodano said he thought the process had violated the Open Public Meetings Act.

“You are going to choose an illegitimate mayor,” he said. “It’s a farce and a joke.”

Kenny said Cappodano had a motive of becoming closer with Meara, who has served as temprorary mayor since last week’s resignation of Bencivengo.

“You want to become part of Meara’s inner circle,” he said.

Several members of the public commented on the “cloud” hanging over the township in regard to the Bencivengo scandal. Councilman Dennis Pone, among others on the council, bristled at questions about the conduct of the township and the politicians.

“It’s patently unfair and it does upset us because we have done such a good job,” he said. “Believe me we are outstanding public servants.”

“What is the secret here? What is the difficulty of responding to questions about Marliese Ljuba?” said George Fisher, a former candidate for the school board. “Why couldn’t those questions be asked?”

Fisher and others questioned the timing of the meeting, which had been originally scheduled for Dec. 20. A petition by Councilman Dave Kenny moved the meeting to Friday.

“Allowing the public to participate, let them ask their questions. They want to have confidence in you,” said Mark Cuverle. “I don’t understand the rush.”

Bencivengo was convicted of taking $12,400 in bribes from the government’s cooperating witness, Marliese Ljuba, in exchange for his influence with the Hamilton Board of Education, so that she could keep her lucrative health insurance brokerage for her employer, Allen Associates.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did I miss when Vinnie Cappodano was appointed township spokesman? There are 90,000 people in Hamilton Township yet he's the only person on the Trentonian's rolodex?

November 30, 2012 at 7:33 PM 

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