Morristown PBA blasts mayor, wife with signs at the Green

Morristown PBA Local 43 President Dennis Bergman, in front of sign truck calling for the mayor's ouster, April 1, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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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.

A sign truck takes aim at the mayor and his wife in Morristown, April 1, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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.

A digital sign, endorsed by the Morristown PBA, blasts development, April 1, 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. In the words of George Kent, “You can’t promote principled anti-corruption action, without pissing off corrupt people”

  2. Congratulations Morristown PBA!

    Its about time someone shed some light on this situation and stood up to this bully Mayor.

    Morristown PD is one of the lowest paid departments in Morris County. Please tell us Mayor, how much their base salary is, not including construction detail that is paid by the construction company. Or the overtime some officers make choosing to work 7 days a week

    The construction company is also required to pay a percentage into a new car fund for the PD, please tell us where that money is Mayor? Our PBA had to sue you to find out what happened to it, and the right amount hasn’t been given back to the PBA yet.

    Who is despicable Mayor?

  3. I am surprised that people are allowed to comment anonymously on this site. I think names should be required.

  4. Continue to be proud of our Morristown police force but I’m surprised that the PBA is not respecting the dignity and reputations of the men and women they represent.

  5. Oh Kevin, Happy April Fool’s day! Although I think Dunkin’ Donuts could file a suit for trademark infringement.

  6. You don’t have to be a labor relations specialist or a student of the “labor wars” to recognize what is going on here. It’s sad, frankly, and disappointing that the police union would take to “the streets” to influence bargaining over its contract. Morristown residents want to have confidence in their police, to respect them and support fair compensation and benefits for them but we do not want to see the union that represents them conducting what is, essentially, “a street fight.” I lament attacks on our elected mayor and his family; that is inappropriate. Citizens will cast their votes based on the mayor’s record, not, I trust, on the trashing by those, evidently, who have their own set of interests. And, while contract bargaining is generally better done without public oversight, it seems that, now, with the effort to direct our attention to the mayor’s performance rather than acknowledge that the union and the town’s bargaining representatives appear to be at a stalemate, let’s have the public in on the conversation. What is being asked and what is being offered? After all, we pay the salaries.

  7. It’s very disappointing to see how the current administration is and has been treating the local PD.

    The quality of life we enjoy in Morristown is a direct result to the hard work and sacrifice the MPD makes on a daily basis.

    I want to thank our men and women in Blue for their diligent work and dedication to keeping Morristown and its residents safe!

    The unethical behavior that is running rampant in town hall, is a direct result to the lack of term limits on elected officials. It’s time the public send a message to town hall – that 4 term politicians are not welcome in Morristown.

  8. Term limits are a necessity. We all know it. Not sure why the council is not making this happen.

  9. Blasting your opposition with billboards in the town they live and work in is low class. Shame on the PBA. Sounds like dirty tactics from entitled government workers who want to be paid more money. I doubt these digital billboards bring each other closer to an agreement, and just gets everyone riled up. So stupid.

  10. And, just like that, no one wanted him for ribbon cuttings at grand openings, or as Santa on the fire truck. The jig is up.

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