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In Our Opinion: Scrap The Monument Park; No Reward For Prasad’s Bad Behavior

The Township Council at its Sept. 25 meeting is apparently set to create yet another “Citizen’s Committee” to discuss the proposed “Peace and Nonviolence” monument park, targeted for some township-owned open space at Route 27 and Cortelyous Lane.

This is the “start from square one” approach that several council members advocated at the Aug. 14 council meeting, after the council in general, and Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad – the project’s champion – in particular, was lambasted by the public for the mishandling of the idea of planting two bronze statues and two bronze busts on an ornate granite platform.

We don’t know the details of how this new committee will be formed – if past is precedent, it will be comprised of the same recycled group of  residents who are blessed by the Democratic Party and end up on various boards and commissions. God forbid new people should be brought in with fresh outlooks. (That’s not a dig at the residents who sit on those boards; your work is very much appreciated, and we know how hard you work and how dedicated you are to what you do.)

But the makeup of the committee should be a moot point – it should not even be discussed – as should the whole idea of what we like to call “Prasad’s Park.”

That last point bears repeating: The idea of a “Peace and Nonviolence” monument park should be scrapped – regardless of its purported benefit – because of the underhanded way Prasad has sought to get it approved and built.

In our opinion, the councilman, through his actions and words, has forfeited his privilege to sit on any elected governing board, let alone see a pet project to fruition.

Prasad has not hesitated to stack the deck in his favor at council meetings to ensure supporters of the project would speak when opponents didn’t even know it was going to be a discussion item, let alone the subject of a council vote.

(In fact, supporters of the project are doing the same thing now, having started a robo-call campaign designed to get as many people as possible in the council chamber to speak in favor of this granite elephant, and advocate that it be built quickly.)

He flat-out lied about the validity of a 2007 Township Council resolution supporting the placing of two statues on an Easton Avenue intersection. Prasad’s declaration that the resolution “has never been rescinded” notwithstanding, resolutions die at the end of the year in which they are passed.

Prasad has also not hesitated to flash his race card in arguing for an aspect of the project. He told the person handling image  licensing issues for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. estate that his project is being opposed by “Trump emboldened Republicans who do not want any colored statues in town.”

(Prasad used the race card three years ago, in smearing opponents of Catalpa Park, which resulted in our first call for his resignation. He told his colleagues in an email that anyone who opposed cricket or Hindu temples is a racist, and said the primary opponents of the park could be forming a racial hate group.)

The monument park agenda item for the Sept. 25 meeting popped up in the afternoon of Sept. 21, when Prasad added it as a discussion item, which conveniently for him falls after public comment. He also attached a site plan for the park.

Then, in the morning of Sept. 24, the item’s title was changed to add “Citizen’s Committee.”

Even later in the day, the site plan attachments were removed.

Prasad has demonstrated that he has nothing but contempt for the normal process of how a project like this should be approved, and how an elected official should behave. His attitude has pushed the conversation from being about the merits of such a park to his actions in seeking its completion. At the risk of being repetitious: The issue is no longer about the desirability of such a monument park. The issue is Prasad’s actions in ramming it through the approval process.

At the Aug. 14 meeting, the Township Council was woefully silent on Prasad’s action in hiding the agenda item from the general public. Mayor Phil Kramer and Councilman Ted Chase – the only one to suggest Prasad resign, and we commend him for that – were the lone voices of responsibility in taking Prasad to task.

Now, in light of Prasad’s insistence on trying to get this project on track again, and the robo-call campaign started either by him or on his behalf, the rest of the council on Sept. 25 must join them in condemning Prasad, and must call for his resignation.

Not only should Prasad resign his seat, but this talk of “starting from square one” must stop, and this project shelved.

Doing anything other than tossing the project would be rewarding Prasad for his bad behavior; we don’t do that with children, and we certainly shouldn’t do it with adults.

 

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