Earl Teasley

Middletown Township Committee Meeting - January 22, 2008

Good Evening. My name is Earl Teasley and I represent, as chairperson, the Monmouth County Human Relations Commission.

I’m here, because as chairperson of the Monmouth County Human Relations Commission, we discussed a number of matters related to the reappointment of Carolyn Schwebel and, quite frankly, I myself was amazingly shocked, quite disconcerted that she has not yet been reappointed to the Middletown Human Rights Commission.

At the January 6th meeting, the mayor stated that commissioner Schwebel was not reappointed due to “her litigation against the township that isn’t settled,” which indeed had been settled on August 1st, 2007 .

I, myself, am particularly distressed that it appears very clearly that Commissioner Schwebel’s non reappointment is retaliatory for her long standing activities involving advocacy for access and compliance with ADA guidelines.

As chair of the Monmouth County Human Relations Commission, which was formed by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1990 to combat the causes of bias and discrimination that result in acts of violence, vandalism, and violations of civil rights, I am concerned about this action and the reasons that have surrounded Commissioner Schwebel’s non reappointment as they ostensibly represent violations of her rights.

What is further disturbing is that anyone would find Commissioner Schwebel’s activities as an advocate troubling. The denial of access is truly a form of hate and bias and those who bring access issues to our attention and to the forefront of our consciousness should not be punished but applauded.

One of my favorite adoptive personal principles that I like to quote comes from Mahatma Gandhi who said: "Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress." 

I would think that a most effective committee charged with service to its citizens would certainly welcome concerns raised by a diligent and responsible human rights commission or even a concerned individual for that matter.

As we all know, the ADA certainly has clear guidelines for access and it is incumbent upon officials to be compliant.  Anything less than compliance is indeed a violation of the law.

Finally, it is important to note that the Middletown Human Rights Commission has been a model to other human relations and human rights commissions throughout the county, until now. The Monmouth County Human Relations Commission has not played a big role in issues of inequities in Middletown . The non-partisan participatory nature of the Middletown HRC has truly been on par with its founding principles.

Indeed, as chair of the Monmouth County Human Relations Commission, I urge you to reset the wheels of justice, put them in forward gear instead of backwards drive, and reappoint Commissioner Schwebel to the Middletown Human Rights Commission.

Commissioner Schwebel, as you know, has been quite an able and capable leader and surely retaliation against her is an affront to all for whom she advocates and other supporting citizens. And such retaliation only opens the door for many others, in and out of Middletown , myself included, to come forward to advocate on behalf of the victims of injustice and inequity in Middletown .

You have the power to fix this less than just situation and I urge you to please do so.

Thank you.