By: Julie Allen & Colin Stephenson
At a work session of the Glen Rock Borough Council before their joint meeting with the Glen Rock Board of Education Monday night, Republican councilman Art Pazan attacked Democratic mayor Bruce Packer for not informing the council that he was joining the ClimateMayors.org movement and later called the mayor “divisive” after he tried to get the council to pass a Welcoming Communities resolution that would effectively make Glen Rock a safe haven for undocumented immigrants.
“I took offense that I found out about you joining Climate Mayors through reading the (Glen Rock) Gazette,” Pazan said at the start of the meeting. Councilman Skip Huisking, a Democrat, agreed with Pazan that he was taken aback by not knowing until he read it in the Gazette that Packer had agreed to join Climate Mayors, and said an email in advance of Packer’s announcement in the paper would have been a better way to go.
Packer said he “was going to join no matter what. No discussion was needed,” and the fireworks continued when Packer tried to get someone to make a motion to adopt the Welcome Communities resolution and Pazan read a proclamation where he accused the mayor of trying to get overly involved in national politics — in this case, immigration — instead of focusing on local issues that more directly affect Glen Rock. He called Packer “divisive” and “a weak mayor.”
Republican councilmen Mike O’Hagan and Bill Leonard also challenged the mayor by saying a resolution might put Glen Rock in the position of establishing policy that may, at some point, prove to be counter to the policy of the federal government. Each of their statements was met by applause from a few members of the audience.
Packer gave up on trying to bring the resolution up for a vote, but in a closing statement just before adjourning the meeting, he shot back at his critics.
“I resent that some our council members took a resolution that was a yes or no proposition and used it to make statements saying I was divisive,” Packer said. “You made it about me. And it wasn’t about me.”
“You very easily could have said, ‘Mr. Mayor, I don’t see any reason for this resolution and therefore I vote no,”’ he continued.
Also at the meeting, the council voted unanimously to allow Naomi Gamorra, of the Friends of the Glen Rock Arboretum (FOGRA) to look into filing for permits to allow the borough to build the Arboretum Trail, which was designed by Eagle Scout award winner Eric Boyer. The council had approved the project but didn’t file a permit application with the Department of Environmental Protection to build the trail on wetlands.