A dispute between Morristown PBA Local 43 and Mayor Tim Dougherty’s administration got personal on Thursday afternoon.
Parked near the Morristown Green, a truck flashed digital signs accusing the mayor and his wife of corruption, and mirrored a call for term limits from a mayoral challenger. Dougherty seeks a fourth term.
The truck was a joint venture of the PBA and an anonymously hosted website that is pressing for Dougherty’s ouster, said PBA President Dennis Bergman.
“Normally, police should not get involved in politics…but at this point there isn’t any other way to show people what’s going on,” he said.
The mayor called the PBA action “despicable and disgusting.”
“As I have said before, we will not be extorted by the PBA leadership into giving them large salary raises. The Morristown residents will not be fooled, especially when they find out what the officers make,” Dougherty said.
The PBA is working without a contract. Bergman, a veteran of more than 16 years on the police force, described the mayor as “untrustworthy” and said he is not interested in negotiating a new contract with his administration.
“I don’t want to do anything with this guy,” the PBA president said.
In a pending lawsuit, the union alleges officers were assigned to nighttime foot patrols last year as punishment, for balking at orders to bolster pandemic-strapped revenues with a ticket blitz. Police were not pressured to write tickets, the mayor has said.
One sign on Thursday showed a coffee cup emblazoned with “Dunkin Dougherty” — an apparent reference to Mary Dougherty’s implication in a state pay-to-play investigation.
She was charged with taking bribes, initially delivered in a coffee cup, during her unsuccessful 2018 campaign for Morris County freeholder. She pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced last month to a year’s probation.
Another sign showed mug shots of the mayor’s wife and four former public officials under indictment in the same probe. Another insinuated Tim Dougherty is “Individual No. 1” — an unnamed person in the case who also supposedly took money from Morristown attorney Matt O’Donnell, the “cooperating witness” at the center of the sting operation.
The mayor has told Morristown Green he is not Individual No. 1.
“I am not surprised” by the PBA tactics, the mayor said. “They told me if they don’t get what they want, they will get dirty.”
Other signs took aim at Morristown’s rapid development. One showed a street sign warning “Term Limits Ahead.” Democratic primary contender Esperanza Porras-Field has made term limits part of her platform.
Bergman expressed concern over the town’s threat to condemn a vacant building on Washington Street, suggesting it’s part of a town hall push to overbuild the downtown. “I don’t think anybody wants Morristown to be Jersey City,” he said.
Designating the property for redevelopment, the town council last month noted the former law office has sat empty for a decade.
This story has been updated with the mayor’s response.