Fanale steps down

Public, borough officials called for his resignation the night before

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Photos



  • Photos by Scott Baker Hundreds gather outside as the municipal building is filled to capacity.




  • Members of the Morris County Pipe and Drum Band look over some of the news on Councilman Dave Fanale.




  • The municipal building is filled to capacity.



BY LINDA SMITH HANCHARICK AND ALEXIS TaRRAZI

Councilman David M. Fanale resigned from the Borough of Franklin council Wednesday morning, the day after borough officials and members of the public called for his resignation following outrage over posts he made about police on social media.

According to Borough Administrator James Kilduff, the borough clerk received a letter from Fanale, citing excessive stress to his family and loved ones, as the reason for his resignation.

Facebook posts
Fanale first came under fire at the March 11 council meeting for criticizing Patrolman Rafael Burgos, who was injured while on duty at a structure fire at Franklin’s Pet Center on Feb. 25, on his Facebook page.

“A police officer who decides to enter a hazardous situation without proper training, without proper equipment, where no human life is at risk, isn’t a hero, he’s a fool,” Fanale wrote.

“He delibertaly placed himself in a dangerous scenario, unnecessarily placed his well-being at risk, and is NOT deserving of ‘hero’ status, but rather, disciplinary action,” Fanale’s post continued.

Fanale was again criticized recently for another post on his Facebook page. The post depicts a cartoon character urinating on a symbol that is often used to represent Law Enforcement Officers who have fallen in the line of duty. The cartoon character is also displaying his middle finger.

Fanale's tenure on the council was short. He was elected last November and sworn in in January after serving a couple of months of an unexpired term.

Call for resignation
Hundreds gathered at the Franklin Borough Municipal Building to call for the resignation of Fanale at Tuesday night's council meeting. Dozens of police, fire and rescue department members from across the state joined local residents to show their solidarity in asking Fanale to step down or be removed from office. "Clowns belong in the circus, not on the council," one sign said. "Stop the hate, Fanale must go," read another. According to Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #57 president and Franklin police Det. Nevin Mattesich, Fanale was absent from the meeting.

No support for Fanale
Mayor Paul Crowley, who has supported Fanale's first amendment rights, called for his resignation Tuesday night, Kilduff said. Other council members did the same. Crowley also said the council had no authority to take action on Fanale.

About 20 speakers went to the podium addressing the issue. Kilduff said most called for Fanale's resignation.

"I don't recall anyone supporting him," said Kilduff.

According to Kilduff, the crowd at the meeting was very cooperative. Because the meeting room was at capacity, speakers left after making their statements, allowing others to enter. The borough's fire marshal was present making sure the room did not get overcrowded.

Crowley said the public portion of the meeting would be extended if necessary to allow all those in attendance to speak. It wasn't necessary. Those who spoke were done in under an hour. Many of the speakers read from prepared statements, Kilduff said. Some spoke as private citizens; others said they represented groups.

Reporter denied access
A reporter for the Advertiser News South was denied entrance into the meeting Tuesday night. Franklin police Det. Mattessich told the reporter that a press release was sent to news organizations requesting advanced reservations as there were only 10 spots for media personnel.

The Advertiser News South never received that press release. Kilduff said he was not aware of any press release being sent from the township regarding press at the meeting. Messages left for Mattessich and other police representatives were not returned at press time.

— Additional reporting by Scott Baker

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