This appeared in the January 1st edition of The Community Life .
It concerns me deeply that a citizen of our town can be as vicious as Mr. O'Brien was when writing about the ethics investigation of Mrs. Howley. He accusing her of downright stealing from the borough which is untrue and un fair because Howley did in fact pay for the items in question, so the borough didn't give her "something for nothing".
She did the honorable thing by inquiring on how she could pay the back taxes, which to me seems to amount to pennies on the dollar. Is this what politics in Woodcliff Lake has come to?
Howley said she may have saved $5 or $8 over the course of five years by using the Borough's discount card. Let's be clear taxes on these items go to the State of New Jersey , not the Borough of Woodcliff Lake. I don't see the tax collectors knocking on Mrs. Howley's door over something so minor. She openly admitted she used a lack of judgment, something we all do from time-to-time and came clean about it. Mrs. Howley paid more than the back taxes O' Brien sees only this says the ethics laws are black and white, but any lawyer would argue all laws are up for interpretation.
Mrs. Howley did in fact breach ethics laws, but instead of making excuses she admitted her mistake and did everything in her power to fix them. She did this only after an extensive review of her actions. Not because she was avoiding the issue, but she wanted to make sure all of the facts were on the table before she commented. With all the talk about government responding hastily and without all the facts, I would think Mr. O'Brien would at least acknowledge Mrs. Howley's thoroughness on this issue. O' Brien asks "Where are the financial checks and balances?" I ask where is the call for the CFO's resignation? It was his responsibility to review the purchases, point out Mrs Howley's errors and gave her a chance to correct them.
I have known Mrs. Howley all my life. She has been an asset to Woodcliff Lake numerous volunteering ventures to her kindness to citizens. She has done so much for this community for so long I fine it very difficult to believe she is capable of doing this on purpose.
Community Life Online Letters for 12/31/09