Aberdeen – Hazlet – Holmdel – Keyport – Matawan - Middletown
February 27, 2008
Not good news ...
In neighboring Middletown, things aren't quite as clear. Since its January reorganization meeting, the municipal government has been embroiled in the controversy surrounding the Township Committee's decision not to reappoint human rights activist Dr. Carolyn Schwebel to the Human Rights Commission (HRC). A wellknown advocate for the disabled, Schwebel has been a member of the HRC for 17 years, the last three as chairwoman.
The controversy stems from the fact that she was a plaintiff in a lawsuit brought against the township over compliance issues with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. This year when it came time to repopulate the municipal committees and commission, the Township Committee balked at Schwebel's reappointment. According to Township Attorney Bernie Reilly, the litigation is still pending - a disputed point - and precludes her serving on the HRC.
Schwebel says she is devastated by the committee's action, likening it to being violated. (Story, page 1).
The committee's treatment of Schwebel is, frankly, a black eye for the township.
This perception is compounded by the lack of response to those advocating for her - first and foremost, the members of the HRC who want her reappointed.
Also, the representatives of two respected human rights groups who have come to plead on Schwebel's behalf. Earl Teasley, chairman of the Monmouth County Human Relations Commission, and Julius Ramsey, founder of the Freehold chapter of the NAACP, have separately urged the committee to do the right thing and return Schwebel, a member of both groups, to the HRC.
The Township Committee should avoid being a party to what some see as a violation of Schwebel's rights, end the impasse and restore her place on the HRC.
In the words of filmmaker Spike Lee, "Do the right thing."