DuPONT: CAN WE DO THIS SOME OTHER TIME?

dupont-010111Councilman Mike DuPont at Red Bank’s government reorganization meeting on January 1. (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank’s borough council is mulling a change in its bimonthly meeting schedule to accommodate a recurring conflict on Councilman Mike DuPont’s calendar.

The problem? He has to be at another council meeting, in another town, at the same time.

DuPont’s request, that the council consider moving its meeting to Tuesday or Wednesday nights, was discussed at Monday night’s meeting. But he wasn’t present. Mayor Menna had to bring it up for him.

Turns out DuPont, a lawyer, is now the borough attorney in Sayreville, in Middlesex County, which like Red Bank meets on the second and fourth Mondays of most months.

So why not ask Sayreville to change its meeting day?

“I did that,” DuPont tells redbankgreen. No go.

As head of the finance committee, DuPont is a key player in the all-Democratic governing body’s effort to forge a budget each year. But his colleagues here in Red Bank didn’t immediately rally to support the request.

While Menna noted that the meeting day has been changed in the past and that he had no problem changing it now, Councilwoman Kathleen Horgan said a change could trigger a “domino reaction” affecting meetings of subcommittees on which councilmembers serve. “I think we need more discussion on this,” she said.

A rescheduling “impacts a good number of people,” said Councilman Ed Zipprich.

Council President Art Murphy supported the move. “It’s family first, job second and council third,” he said. “It’s his livelihood.”

It’s unclear if DuPont will be present when the matter is next discussed. But he tells redbankgreen that if the Red Bank meeting schedule remains unchanged, “I’d probably have to give up Sayreville.”

DuPont says the Sayreville gig pays a flat $7,500 per month for all legal services.

“I’m just trying to make a living, in addition to being a public servant,” he says.

DuPont says there are other valid rationales for moving the meetings from their Monday slot. One is that the council members don’t receive their packages of bills, resolutions and other items to be discussed on Monday until the weekend, often leaving them feeling “rushed” as the meeting nears.

In addition, he said, the agenda is sometimes changed during the day on Monday without councilmembers finding out until they arrive at the meeting.

DuPont’s request for a change in the meeting date, in fact, did not appear anywhere on Monday night’s agenda. [Correction: the ‘Workshop’ portion of the agenda included an item, “2011 Schedule of Council Meetings.”]

DuPont, who is a law partner of former Mayor Ed McKenna, is also a commissioner and treasurer of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.