For most of the past year, we’ve been pursuing the truly outlandish circus act surrounding Councilman Joe Longo’s residency, and the Council’s claims that they didn’t know one of their own elected officials was no longer living in Belleville, but 1200 miles away in Florida.
If you’re not already aware of it, you can get up to speed on the backstory and how we arrived at this glorious moment by reading this article first:
No doubt sensing what was coming after months of intense pressure from citizens and the Watch, last week Councilman Joe Longo made an attempt to resign from the Belleville Council.
Exactly one week after we published our in-depth report on his whereabouts and the Council’s clear attempts to cover for him all these months, the Township finally received his resignation letter on September 19th.
Meanwhile, we arranged for News 12 New Jersey’s Walt Kane to be present at the next Council meeting, which was just held Tuesday evening (Sept 26th).
With Walt Kane observing and his News 12 cameraman focused on the Council, Longo’s resignation letter was read into the record by Town Clerk Kelly Cavanagh. Longo requested to remain in office until October 31st, more than a month away.
The clerk barely had time to finish reading the letter when Councilman Kennedy abruptly made a motion to remove Longo from office immediately for violating the New Jersey First Act – the exact same argument we made in our report.
Signed into law in 2011 by Governor Christie, the New Jersey First Act essentially requires both public employees as well as public officials to maintain primary, defacto residence in the state of New Jersey.
As Kennedy made his motion to remove Longo, the rest of the Council practically fell over themselves, each trying to be the one to second the motion. Pretty comical stuff considering it sure looks like they were in on the act the entire time. They even helped make the deception possible by passing an ordinance out of nowhere this past January allowing councilmembers to call into meetings, rather than requiring them to be physically present.
How did they know 9 months ago when they passed this ordinance that Longo might want to secretly phone into meetings from Florida? It’s almost as if they knew all along he would be living out of state, in violation of state law. The Belleville Council constantly does so much out of sheer coincidence, it’s almost supernatural.
Regardless, the vote on Kennedy’s motion was unanimous. Longo’s resignation letter was rejected, and he was removed from office effective immediately. The Council’s ridiculously obvious charade is over, along with Longo’s political career in Belleville.
Last night, Walt Kane aired his coverage of Longo and the Council’s residency scandal on News 12 NJ.
With all Longo has done to the residents of Belleville while on the infamous 2012-14 Board of Education, as well as on the Town Council, this has been a long time coming. Longo’s political career in this town met exactly the ending it deserved – wretched, undignified, and forced on him against his will by the very citizens whose trust and tax dollars he abused time and time again.
Another small measure of justice brought to this corrupt town by decent people who care about Belleville. Special thanks once again to Walt Kane and his team at News 12 New Jersey.
So long, Flash. We hope to see you in the news again someday soon.