Bloomfield Township Administrator Yoshi Manale has resigned from his position, apparently forced out of office by the township’s lawmakers.
At a special meeting Monday night, the town council convened to discuss whether they would accept his resignation. They did, by unanimous vote after the Council gathered for a closed-door session.
Lawmakers declined to disclose the reason for Manale’s resignation. However, in an interview with Patch, Manale said he felt he was dismissed because he wanted more accountability for Bloomfield’s spending. One target, he said, was the township’s Open Space Trust Fund, though he said he ran into opposition on various fronts from township officials throughout his 17 months on the job.
Mayor Raymond McCarthy commented that Manale was "a young guy with energy, who wants to get things done. He's got a bright future ahead of him." He also noted, “He will be missed. He was a smart kid. He was connected politically and could have helped us.”
McCarthy said a new Township Administrator will be hired; in the interim, he will fulfill Manale's duties himself.
Preceeding the meeting, Manale had written a letter to the Mayor and Council dated July 2. “It has come to my attention that the Township Council has asked for my resignation," he wrote. "With that understanding, I tender my resignation effective immediately.”
Manale listed as his conditions a request to be paid an additional three months salary “waiving any and all claims I may have against the Township arising from or related to my employment.” His request was granted by a four-vote majority, with McCarthy and council members O'Boyle-Dunigan, Bernard Hamilton and Elias Chalet voting yes. Manale also asked to retain his iPad, but that request was denied.
Manale spoke with Patch about the reasons for the resignation, and about why he fell out of favor with the council.
PATCH: Are you surprised by the council’s decision?
MANALE: This has been happening off and on since I got here. It was just a matter of putting a coalition together [to make it happen.] It’s their prerogative to replace me.
At the end of the day, the [council members] run the town. Everyone likes to blame the mayor but it’s really not about him. It’s never been about the mayor. It’s all about those four votes -- who controls the four or five vote majority.
PATCH: Why do you feel this happened?
MANALE: I’m not being replaced for job performance, that’s for sure. I think it’s because I stood up for what’s right one too many times. I haven’t pushed people’s agendas.
PATCH: Such as?
MANALE: I’ve been going after the Open Space Trust Fund. That’s why Joanow wanted to get rid of me. Ask him, what’s better, to have taxpayers continue to pay into a $2.2 million Open Space Trust Fund or to lower property taxes? One penny of every taxpayer dollar goes into the Open Space Trust Fund. Taxes could be lowered by $400,000 if Joanow had allowed it.
PATCH: What other issues were you at odds with the council about?
MANALE: The idea of stopping the town redevelopment to do another fiscal impact study. It's ridiculous. I can’t even believe Joanow would suggest that. What does he get out of that? He has his own personal agenda. Good luck to Bloomfield for having a councilman who doesn’t have its best interests at heart.
I’ll be honest, I was frustrated. The whole time I was there I watched them fight over the smallest, dumbest things. Why argue over who’s appointed to the Parking Authority when Bloomfield is in the situation it’s in?
PATCH: What would you say are the key issues the town is facing?
MANALE: I was trying to create rateables so we can lower property taxes without losing income. I really felt this [position as Township Administrator] was an opportunity to make some improvements, do what the township needed. The township’s in need of real leadership.
PATCH: Looking ahead, what do you see?
MANALE: I’ve already talked to the township about each of the departments and my projects and how far along they are. I had a vision for the township. I’m not sure [township officials] shared my vision. Otherwise I’d still be there.
I learned a lot in Bloomfield. Every town is jealous of Bloomfield for its location and its proximity to New York. For having the potential to develop [into a great town.] Why is it that ten years later nothing’s happening?
This [resignation] has been a couple of weeks in discussion. I’m young and I have plenty of opportunities and I’ll move on.
HERE to blog on Patch