More Articles Click

Concerns Over Transparency & Decision-Making in Harrison

Nov 16, 2023
Town Hall of Harrison NJ

In a series of recent developments that raise questions about transparency and decision-making, the Town of Harrison, NJ, is witnessing a troubling trend in its local governance. A critical look at these events reveals a pattern of special meetings, failure to notice a Mayor & Council meeting, cancellation of meetings, and significant changes in public services without adequate public disclosure.

Mayor & Council Meeting

A prime example of this opaque governance is the Mayor & Council meeting that occurred on Thursday, November 2, 2023. Remarkably, this meeting was not listed on the Town of Harrison's official website calendar. This omission not only goes against the spirit of open governance but also deprives residents of their right to be informed about and participate in the civic process. The Agenda for the meeting was uploaded but the meeting was not listed on the official Town of Harrison website calendar. As of the date of this article, the meeting is still not on the calendar.

Series of Cancellations


Adding to the concerns, two significant meetings scheduled for November 15, 2023, were canceled without any explanation. Both the Harrison Redevelopment Agency and the Harrison Zoning Board meetings, essential for town planning and development decisions, were called off. Such cancellations, especially without providing reasons to the public, contribute to a growing distrust in the town's administrative processes.

Controversial Shift in Emergency Call Handling

The upcoming Special Meeting on November 28, 2023, is another focal point of contention. Mayor James Fife is expected to introduce a resolution to outsource 911 call handling to an entity in Bergen County. This decision, as reported by The Jersey Journal, includes discharging the current Harrison Police Dispatchers.

The lack of transparency surrounding this significant change is alarming. There are no details about the company or municipal entity that will assume these critical responsibilities. Such a major shift in emergency services should ideally be preceded by thorough public discussion and disclosure, ensuring that residents and public safety personnel Police, both Fire and EMT personnel safety and well-being are not compromised.

The recent actions and decisions of Mayor James Fife are concerning. The failure to notify the public of an important meeting, the scheduling of a series of special Harrison Redevelopment Agency and Mayor & Council meetings to provide further extensions for a developer who has failed to meet numerous prior extensions, cancellation of scheduled meetings, and the significant changes in emergency services without adequate public discussion or information are indicative of a governance style that lacks transparency and accountability.

In addition, Mayor Fife's continued silence on the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to use the former PSE&G Gas Works property on South Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. between the Harrison Path Station and the Jackson Street Bridge which is now a residential community for the dewatering of toxic dioxin laden Agent Orange sludge, can only mean that he is favor of the project. Such practices not only undermine public trust but also threaten the democratic principles of local governance. The residents of Harrison deserve a more open, participative, and transparent administration that prioritizes their right to information and involvement in decisions that affect their community.

Let Us Know Your Thoughts on our Community Discussion Board.  If you have not signed up yet to participate you can Sign Up now.