McDaniel v. Burgess court date moved to Feb. 22

IRVINGTON, NJ — Elouise McDaniel, president of both the Irvington Joint Block Association and Nesbit Terrace Block Association, confirmed that a new court date has been set for Thursday, Feb. 22, in response to a complaint filed against her by Irvington Municipal Council Vice President Renee Burgess. The venue was moved from Irvington Municipal Court to Newark Superior Court.

“I can’t say anything else, because my lawyer told me not to talk to the press or anyone else,” said McDaniel on Friday, Feb. 16.

Burgess confirmed this court date. The case involves Burgess’ allegation that McDaniel harassed her. Their first court date in the Irvington Municipal Court had been scheduled for Friday, Jan. 12.

Burgess’ complaint against McDaniel was issued Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, in response to alleged actions committed at the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12. When Burgess and McDaniel showed up at the Irvington Municipal Court on Friday, Jan. 12, they were informed the case had been moved out of town to avoid any perceptions of impropriety since Burgess is currently a sitting at large councilwoman.

“It was postponed while they move it from Irvington to Newark,” said McDaniel on Friday, Jan. 12.

Burgess did not have any comment for the record about either the case or the fact that it was moved to Newark.

According to the Irvington Police Department, on Friday, Dec. 15, an officer was dispatched to 101 Union Ave., on a report of harassment.

“Upon arrival, I was met by Councilwoman Renee Burgess, the victim, who stated that, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at approximately 8 p.m., she was conducting business as usual at the Irvington Town Council meeting,” a police report detailing the complaint said. “Victim stated, at the conclusion of the agenda, she posed the question to the audience: ‘Is there anyone who would like to express concerns at this time?’ to which no one responded. Victim stated she posed the question again and, since there were no citizen-raised questions or concerns, the meeting ended at approximately 8:20 p.m.”

The reporting Irvington police officer said Burgess “stated that, moments after the gavel was lowered and the meeting officially adjourned, Ms. Elouise McDaniel, the suspect, jumped from her seat and shouted: ‘What are you doing the meeting isn’t over,’ and proceeded to charge the dais where the victim was sitting.”

“As the suspect charged forward, she continued to shout: ‘I want to talk,’ and directed her eye contact toward her, stating: ‘I’m gonna get you,’ ‘you’re gonna pay,’ ‘I’m gonna get you,’” the report states. “Victim stated citizens in the audience attempted to calm the suspect down and, although she did exit the building, she remained outside the door for several minutes, shouting: ‘I’m going to get you,’ ‘You’re going to pay,’ ‘I’m pressing charges.’ Victim stated she was unable to vacate the Municipal Building for at least 20 minutes, until she was certain the suspect was gone as she was in fear for her safety.”

The reporting Irvington police officer stated that a copy of the surveillance video, council meeting and resident sign-in sheet for Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, were placed into evidence and Burgess “was advised to court for complaint purposes.”

“We don’t videotape the meetings,” said township Clerk Harold Wiener on Tuesday, Jan. 2. “There are security cameras in there, but for my purposes, they’re not part of the official record. They’re for security reasons only. We verbally record the meetings; we don’t videotape them.”

According to Wiener, the meeting did not last long. Council President David Lyons was not present, so Burgess served as acting president at the meeting.

“The meeting adjourned at 8:07 p.m. It started at 8 p.m., so it was seven minutes long. There was no public participation,” said Wiener. “There were 35 resolutions total; 32 were on the consent agenda, two were on the non-consent agenda and one was a walk-on that got defeated because it only had four affirmative votes and, according to law, it needs five super affirmative votes to pass. There were three resolutions that weren’t on the consent agenda. They took three roll call votes. Two members were absent. (West Ward) Council member (Vern) Cox and Council (President David) Lyons were absent.”

Public Safety Director Tracy Bowers has confirmed Burgess filed a formal complaint against McDaniel with the Irvington Police Department, as a result of her alleged behavior and comments at this meeting.

“I can confirm that a criminal complaint has been lodged, which needs to be adjudicated in court,” said Bowers on Tuesday, Jan. 2. “In the meantime, a police officer will be in attendance at the caucus and council meetings, to make sure that everyone is safe. Please note that a police officer at the council meeting is customary; however, at the time of this incident, the assigned police officer had not gotten there yet.”