Commentary: Morris Township committeeman should give thanks for video

Morris Township Municipal Building. Photo: MorrisTwp.com
Morris Township Municipal Building. Photo: MorrisTwp.com
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Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect those of this publication.

By Melanie Hostetter

On Feb. 17, Mr. Caffrey’s commentary was published.  In this commentary he stated that “Ms. Wilson emailed her constituents and asked them to attend the Planning Board meeting and be an obstructionist over an issue.” 

This is so far from the truth. I was one of those attendees and proud of it. The attendees that I know were there to learn about the Master Plan as well as ask questions to gather information and make the Board aware of current concerns.  

Morris Township Municipal Building. Photo: MorrisTwp.com
Morris Township Municipal Building. Photo: MorrisTwp.com

Without Cathy Wilson to share information about the importance of the Master Plan that the Planning Board was to discuss, I would have been unaware of its integral necessity to the future of my community, Morris Township. 

Since there had been no obvious notice from the Township Committee about this important document I feel that Cathy Wilson is due much gratitude for bringing this to our attention.

The Master Plan provides an outline of goals and objectives for a community which includes commercial and housing developments, farming, open space, recreational areas, environmental resources, historic and cultural resources, transportation corridors, and utilities. 

In other words, this plan will impact our daily lives. I encourage other residents to attend these meetings and learn about the plans that will be put in place for at least the next six years.  In fact, the 2003 Citizen’s Guide to NJ Municipal Master Plans details an entire section on the Importance of Community Input. 

The Morris Township government should be more welcoming of residents at their meetings. When more people become engaged in the process, the result is a stronger and inclusive community. 

Mr. Caffrey also stated that Cathy Wilson videotapes the Township Committees meetings. However, he neglected to state that Cathy Wilson had approached the MT Committee numerous times to video tape the meetings itself, as other neighboring towns have been doing. 

After being rebuffed by the Committee, I am so thankful that Cathy Wilson has pursued this on her own.  Cathy Wilson has personally spent many hours and her own money to videotape the MT Committee meetings. 

My understanding is that her goal is to have transparent and open meetings for all constituents.  We all realize that everyone cannot attend the Township Committee meetings.  Any constituent can now go to YouTube (Friends of Televised Access in Morris Township) and watch the segment he/she prefers such as accommodations, public comment, ordinances, commentary, etc. 

The MT Committee not only refuses to acknowledge this effort but works to suppress it.

So instead of name calling, how about commending this exemplary constituent who cares about transparency and civic engagement? Cathy Wilson’s example is one for all of us to follow.

Take the high road, Mr. Caffrey.

Melanie Hostetter has lived in Morris Township for over 20 years with her husband and son. She has been a member of the Morris Township Democratic Committee for five years.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. “of our One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    Cathy Wilson is that person. She’s a champion and advocate for MT residents. She deserves praise for the numerous hours she has spent trying to bring about open government in MT. If you haven’t checked out the videos of MT Committee meetings yet, here’s the link: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCQFH1RFrH-59gPGpiMoaHgQ

  2. Well said, Melanie! Interested participation is not obstruction. I no longer live in the Township, but do notice what goes on there. Government should not discourage participation!

  3. Although I am not a resident of the Township but a very interested neighbor in Morristown, I think that what Cathy Wilson is doing to facilitate more and more residents of the Township to be able to take part in their civic right to participate as much as possible in the growth and governance of the Township is laudable. Cudos also to Melanie and Jody for helping to spread the word and give much need support. This is how “government” will be moved away from the remote and seemingly clandestine entity it has become to assume it’s rightful place as the transparent instrument the people elect to be the government of the people by the people and for the people.

  4. Well put Melanie! Hazzah. Cathy is an asset not an agitator, one who engages people in the community to care about their community and work for the whole of the community.

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