Cherry Hill Democrats have taken every possible opportunity to suppress the public’ access to the circumstances that led to a councilwoman resigning for making a racist statement while moving quickly to fill her vacant council seat.
Carolyn Jacobs resigned on June 13, five days after criticizing black resident of Philadelphia seen on video looting stores in Philadelphia earlier this month.
“I think even animals know they don’t mess their own dens,” Jacobs said at the June 8 council meeting.
The circumstances of Jacobs’ resignation have been relatively clandestine. Local media missed the story completely – Jacobs’ comments were made during a public meeting that was broadcast online – and the New Jersey Globe broke the news of Jacobs’ departure late on June 19.
Mayor Susan Shin Angulo has ducked numerous calls and texts beginning at 9:08 PM on Friday evening to address conflicting timelines. On Monday afternoon, she did have an aide return a call on her behalf. The aide said Shin Angulo was busy preparing for tonight’s council meeting.
Instead, Cherry Hill officials quietly posted statements from Jacobs and local officials on their website on Thursday evening. One official said earlier statements had been posted on a local message board, although they have since been removed.
Agnes Cueto, the deputy municipal clerk, told the Globe that she was unable to confirm the date of Jacobs’ resignation. The municipal clerk, Nancy Saffos, has not immediately responded to a 1:21 PM call seeking comment.
This much is clear: none of the Cherry Hill elected officials reacted to Jacobs’ comments at the public meeting on June 8. None of them, including Shin Angulo, issued any public statements on the racist language that led to Jacobs’ resignation until June 18.
Sources speaking on the condition of anonymity told the Globe that Council President David Fleisher spoke with Jacobs on June 9 and told her she needed to resign, but others say that the conversation happened several days later.
The issue was discussed with the local Human Relations Committee last week, but not in public view.
Five calls with local Democrats familiar with the conditions of Jacobs’ resignation resulted in five different timelines and largely inconsistent stories.
Despite an effort to conceal the details of Jacobs’ departure, Democrats appeared quick to decide who would take her seat.
Before Jacobs’ resignation statement as reported publicly, the Cherry Hill Democratic county committee planned an emergency meeting to submit three names of possible successors to the township council.
The new councilman is expected to be William Carter, the planning board vice chairman and an African American.
State law requires the county committee to submit three names for consideration, and sources say the other two, 74-year-old Lorraine Maitland and 72-year-old Anna Postiloff, are simply placeholders in a predetermined process.
Maitland was one of the three candidates considered by the council following the death of John Amato in 2014. They picked Brian Bauerle instead.
The township council has scheduled a vote on the appointment for tonight, despite any genuine opportunity for public comment or recruitment.
Meryl Greene, the Democratic municipal chair, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
New Jersey law only requires that a member of the council submit their resignation to the municipal clerk. There is no statutory requirement to announce the resignation publicly.
The Cherry Hill Sun reported on the June 8 council meeting, but not on Jacobs’ statement. They did not report Jacobs’ resignation until June 20. The Courier-Post reported the Jacobs story on June 22.