East Brunswick Council Honors Attorney Michael Baker’s Retirement and Addresses Local Concerns Amidst Global Issues

In a recent East Brunswick Township Council meeting, members and residents alike paid tribute to retiring Township attorney Michael Baker, who concluded 40 years of service. The council also engaged in discussions concerning local governance and contentious global issues, including conflicts in the Middle East and the township’s role in international matters.

The meeting opened with the appointment of the township council president and vice president for the year 2024. Councilman Behal nominated Councilman McEvoy for the president role, and Councilwoman Winston nominated Councilwoman Zimbicki for the vice president position. Both were appointed without contest. The council proceeded with the resolution to adopt the minutes from the previous meeting, though briefly interrupted due to a misplaced oath of office, which was subsequently located and administered to McEvoy and Zimbicki.

The central focus of the meeting was the retirement of Township attorney Michael Baker, who was honored with a resolution of commendation presented by David Lonsky. The resolution recognized Baker’s four-decade-long commitment and his legal contributions to East Brunswick. Additionally, state legislators sent a resolution to honor Baker’s exemplary career and dedication. The council granted their gratitude and well wishes to Baker upon his retirement.

The meeting continued with the presentation of a plaque to Baker, acknowledging his contributions and leadership. Baker expressed his gratitude and reminisced about his early political involvements and his 40-year tenure. Furthermore, Mayor Brad J. Cohen and the newly appointed attorney, Anthony Aoka, gave speeches commending Baker’s humility and public service. Council Vice President Zimbicki and Council President McEvoy spoke about their commitment to respectful communication and diligently addressing township issues.

Practical township matters such as garbage schedule changes, recycling pickup, and board appointments were addressed. Business Administrator Chris Kasic underscored the importance of utilizing the Recycle Coach app for accurate service information. Township Clerk and new attorney Anthony R. Cooke offered no reports during the meeting.

The public comment section featured a notable plea from resident AA Ganja, who implored the council to reconsider their previous decision to disregard a resolution on the situation in Palestine. Ganja presented data on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and stressed the necessity of a ceasefire.

The council’s involvement in international affairs was further scrutinized through discussions about the sister city proclamations with Rivne, Ukraine, and Yavne, Israel, signed in the previous year. Mayor Cohen explained the potential benefits of these agreements, particularly aiding Ukraine during the ongoing conflict. Residents voiced differing opinions on the Israel-Palestine conflict, with impassioned speeches from Norman Finlin, Khed Zad, Joshua Zuk, and Mark Melinger, each offering a unique perspective on the matter. Residents debated the council’s role in addressing such international conflicts, with some urging action and others advising focus on local issues.

Hassan Sayin delivered a speech about the effects of Islamophobia in the community, calling for justice and unity. Other residents, including Ralph Rosenau, spoke against the council taking positions on international conflicts. Sammy Kadovic and Joel Yavin shared personal stories of discrimination and the local impact of hatred. N. Sohail, from the Township’s human relations council, recounted her experiences of acceptance and recent concerns over Islamophobia.

Art Kagel and Aaron Beerstein spoke about the Middle East conflict’s local repercussions, with Kagel urging the council to support initiatives for community safety and Beerstein challenging the council to address the Democratic Party leadership’s stance on Gaza. Council President Cohen reaffirmed the council’s primary focus on local township welfare and underscored their non-involvement in legislating international issues.

The meeting concluded with Mayor Cohen sharing an anecdote about the town’s unity, as evidenced by an elderly woman’s positive experiences with her Muslim neighbors. A representative from TapInto East Brunswick expressed appreciation for their role as a community voice, reflecting on the publication’s reach and influence.

Did we get something wrong? Let us know.
Brad J. Cohen
City Council Officials:
Kevin McEvoy, Dana Zimbicki, Dana Winston, Dinesh Behal, James Wendell

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