Councilman William Gaughan began the meeting by moving to table the appointment, describing Brower as not being in the best health, noting eyesight problems. At that point Cunningham entered the council chambers, followed by a large group of citizens who noisily backed the mayor's request for Brower's appointment.
"The council cannot bee seen as obstructing the functioning of the city government," said Cunningham about the move to table the appointment. "I am asking you to do the right thing."
Cunningham expressed his displeasure with the direction the JCRA is currently headed, adding that the agency had to be staffed by people who have the best interest of the city in mind.
"Rev. Brower will respect the mandate of his position and work for the best interest of the city," said Cunningham. "I do not see why Rev. Brower cannot be approved by the council."
Brower is a Methodist minister who serves at St. Michael's Church in the city. He served previously on the JCRA for eight years, starting in 1979. He was the agency's first vice president.
With the completion of Cunningham's protest to the council, which was punctuated by cries of support from the crowd gathered in the back of the chambers, the council voted 4-2 to table Brower's appointment. Council members Peter Brennan, Steve Lipski, Gaughan, and E. Junior Maldonado voted to table the appointment, while Viola Richardson and Council President L. Harvey Smith voted against it. Council member Mary Donnelly abstained and Mariano Vega and Jerramiah Healy were absent for the vote.
Before leaving the council chambers, Cunningham accused Smith of betraying the city, a sentiment echoed by the citizens who had arrived with Cunningham.
"The mayor's behavior was despicable," said Lipski after the meeting. Lipski added there was nothing about Brower himself that kept the council from approving his appointment.
"Rev. Brower is a pillar of the community," said Lipski. "But what is his vision for the JCRA? Just because someone is a pillar of the community it does not mean he can serve on the JCRA."
When asked about Brower's previous experience on the JCRA, Lipski replied that it was certainly a plus, but the council needed to know more about Brower's views on redevelopment.
Smith declined to say anything on Cunningham's remarks.
"It is really unfair to comment at this stage," Smith said. "It would be incorrect for me to make a statement at this time."
However, Smith did remark that he had voted against the tabling of Brower's appointment, which he would not have done had he planned to betray the city as the mayor accused him.
When asked about the next possible move by the mayor's office in regard to the Brower appointment, the mayor's chief of staff, William Ayala, stated that going to court was an option. "When there is a difference between the legislative and the executive, you go to the judicial," said Ayala.
Brower himself was unperturbed by the tabling of his appointment. "Well, I'm still preaching," said the 86-year-old Brower. "I'll still go to my office every morning."
The tabling of the Brower appointment is another episode in the ongoing battle between Cunningham and the City Council. The struggle stems back to Cunningham's support of Bernard Hartnett for county executive. The City Council backed former Jersey City mayoral candidate Tom DeGise in his bid to take the county executive seat early in the year.
Land use for TV tower authorized
In other business before the Jersey City council Thursday night, the council passed the resolution authorizing the change in the general land use plan for the proposed location of a 2,000-foot television antenna at Liberty State Park.
According to Michael Mark Munley, director of the Jersey City Housing Department, the proposed transmission tower would be located in the area south of Mill Creek and north of Johnston Avenue and Zapp Drive.
"By city ordinance, the tower would have to have a public observation deck," Munley said. "We estimate revenues brought into the city by the tower on land taxes and fees would be $5 million."
The tower, which would replace the television transmission tower destroyed when the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11, would be constructed by Metropolitan Television Alliance, a group of 10 New York City TV broadcasters, according to Munley.
The proposed tower first came before the Jersey City Planning Board in June of this year, where Chief Planner Robert Carter recommended the board accept the proposal. The Planning Board gave approval of the tower in a short meeting held Sept. 11 and the resolution moved to the council. The resolution urges Metropolitan to "immediately undertake construction of the broadcast television antenna in the City of Jersey City."
The project still needs site plan approval from the Planning Board. - Don Kelly