Kelly: Prasad, Danielsen Should Resign Over Catalpa Flap

Mayor Chris Kelly

Mayor Chris Kelly has called for the resignation of Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad and township Democratic chairman Joe Danielsen over the Catalpa Park controversy.

Mayor Chris Kelly ( R) has called for the resignation of a Township Councilman and the head of the township Democrats over a controversy concerning opposition to the proposed Catalpa Park.

Kelly said that Councilman Rajiv Prasad (D-At Large) should resign because of comments he made at a July 27 meeting of the Human Relations Commission, in which he said that some social media opposition to Catalpa Park is race-based. Prasad’s statements propelled the commission to decide to issue a statement condemning the “racially insensitive language” used by some commenters on the site, a Facebook page called Tranquility Protection Alliance of Franklin Township.

Prasad later denied making the statements, then apologized for making what he said “may have” been “inappropriate” comments.

“Elected officials should listen to their constituents and not label them as racist, or propose legal action when they voice their opinions regarding a legitimate issue,” Kelly wrote in a statement. “This is a democracy not a dictatorship.”

” These abhorrent allegations of racism leveled at this grassroots movement and the residents involved are outrageous and outright fabrications,” Kelly wrote. “This was said solely for the purpose of political cover from self-described ‘fallout’ that the council is getting from their decision to press ahead with the development of Catalpa Park against many residents wishes. He used these baseless accusations of racism to silence opposition and to stifle the vocal opposition which got uncomfortable for him.”

Kelly noted that Prasad at one point denied having to apologize for the comments.

“This kind of talk over false accusations is not worthy of a Councilman and thus he should resign,” Kelly wrote.

Danielsen, who is a state Assemblyman, should resign as the township’s Democratic party head because he “forced his political influence” into the Human Relations Commission, influencing the commissioners to “change a resolution that they voted on and passed unanimously.”

Kelly was referring to the statement condemning the language used on the Facebook page.

“Chairman Danielsen pressured the commission to ignore their unanimous resolution for the purpose of stopping further discussion on the controversial park development,” Kelly wrote. “In his words, this is for political advantage of his council candidates running for office. It is also to stifle public’s ability to redress their government peacefully, as well as to help keep the donations he received from the park engineer out of the public eye.”

Kelly said Danielsen’s Assembly campaign accepted donations from the engineering firm CME Associates. CME is the firm engaged by the township to design Catalpa Park.

“Chairman Danielsen has shown that he cannot separate his roles or responsibilities as Assemblyman and Franklin Township Democrat Municipal Chairman,” Kelly wrote. “His decision to push the development of Catalpa Park, designed by his financial donors is at best, inappropriate and will cost Franklin millions of dollars need to be investigated.”

Danielsen declined to comment for this story. Prasad did not return requests for comment.

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