It was an embarrassing moment for the New Jersey borough of Helmetta, a viral video showing one of their cops saying he doesn’t have to follow the Constitution because President Obama doesn’t follow the Constitution.
The video forced Helmetta police officer Richard Racine to resign from his part-time job, where he was double-dipping into taxpayer’s money while collecting a pension after retiring from another New Jersey police department.
Now the Helmetta borough council figures it doesn’t have to follow the Constitution either by introducing an ordinance forbidding photography and video recording inside government buildings.
According to the official council minutes posted online, the ordinance is only a “first reading” and needs to be approved by borough attorney David Clark, who apparently hasn’t brushed up on Constitutional law considering it has even gone this far.
* FIRST READING OF ORDINANCE – 2014 – 7
This will be an Ordinance prohibiting taking of pictures and recordings in the buildings of
Helmetta and will be supplied by Borough Attorney David Clark.
Steven Wronko, who recorded the video of Racine, said it needs to go through a second reading before it passes, which takes place next month.
So that gives us an entire month to remind the idiots in Helmetta that they still live in the United States. Here is their contact page.
Thanks to Wronko, who recorded the initial video of Racine, we now have another embarrassing video to watch as the council unquestionably and unanimously approves of the first reading, not stopping for a second to question the Constitutionality of such an ordinance. The clueless attorney was also in attendance.
Wronko also recorded a longer video below of the meeting where he spoke about his Constitutional rights being violated, but none of the council members had anything to say about that.
The video also shows them swearing in a new cop, Stephen Gallo, which is obviously done for ceremonial purposes only as that entire town is a Constitution-free zone.
A local news report, which falsely stated that the ordinance passed (but also stated that it was only being discussed), provides us with background on what led to the tensions between Wronko and the borough.
This drama all began at the Helmetta animal shelter where Wronko adopted a dog that turned out to be very unhealthy, costing him over $4,000 in medical bills.
“She had four different types of parasites, she was anemic, she had to have a blood transfusion and the same goes for her mother and also all her siblings that we’ve been in touch with,” Wronko explained.
Wronko went to city hall to file an OPRA request related to the animal shelter because he suspected neglect. That is when and where officer Recine made the remarks about not following the Constitution. Recine has since resigned.
After attending last night’s meeting, Wronko is questioning whether this new ordinance that passed is also unconstitutional.
“It’s going to be against the law to record in public which I brought up is against the law. You’re allowed to record public officials and public employees on public property, that includes a public building. They ignored me,” Wronko said.
Here is the Facebook page they created to document the issues they are having with the local animal shelter.
Update from another local news site with more details:
Under the proposed ordinance, a permit would have to be secured and approved by the borough before any photographs or videos could be taken on the interior of any public building. The proposed ordinance does not apply to the taking of pictures and videos at any meetings which are held in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act.
The first reading of the proposed ordinance was unanimously approved at Wednesday’s council meeting. A second reading is scheduled for the Sept. 24 meeting.
“Some pictures that have been taken are misleading,” Councilwoman Yvette Bruno said. “Some pictures have been taken of underage children volunteering at the shelter. It needs to be addressed.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey said the ordinance could be problematic.
“We think it’s inappropriate to have such a broad based ban that would include public nonsensitive areas of public buildings,” Edward Barocas, legal director at the ACLU-NJ, said.
The ordinance also states that the permit holder “shall not obstruct or impair any Borough employee from carrying out his or her duties, or interfere with the normal course of Borough business operations” and “shall not obstruct the investigation or prosecution of a crime by any member of the Helmetta Police Department.”
The ordinance further states that “during the course of taking photographs or video, the permit holder shall not harass, intimidate or threaten any person, including borough employes, borough officials or private citizens.”
If convicted of a violation, a person is subject to a fine, fixed by Municipal Court Judge of no more than $2,000; or not more than 90 days of community service or imprisonment in the county jail for a term not to exceed 90 days.
According to the ordinance, “the borough recognizes that the taking of photographs and video inside public buildings may raise certain concerns of public importance including, but not necessarily limited to, violation of privacy rights of employees, breach of government security or the interference with the normal course of business operations… .”
The ordinance further states that “the borough acknowledges that private individuals may, in certain circumstances, have rights to take photographs or video in public places; and “these public and private rights should be balanced in determining the course of conduct to be permitted with regards to the taking of photographs and video inside public buildings in the borough.”