Municipal ID ordinance passes 4-1

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Township Council approved on second reading an ordinance to create a municipal identification program at its Oct. 3 meeting, with Councilwoman Michelle Casalino again casting the only opposing vote. The ordinance had been through several rounds of revisions before passing on first reading at the Sept. 19 meeting, and was delayed due to the legal issue that the version advertised for the Sept. 19 meeting was different than that appearing on the agenda.

The program will create a way for West Orange residents to obtain identification cards that will display their name, photograph, home address, gender, date of birth, eye color, height and signature. The card is targeted to people who don’t have easy access to verifiable forms of identification, allowing them to use these cards to gain access to township recreation programs and the community pool.

Essex Rising, a local social action group, spoke at the council meetings at which the ordinance was discussed because they had concerns about the privacy of those receiving the card and the language used in the ordinance. Assistant township attorney Kenneth Kayser and representatives from the group met to compromise on the ordinance, as well as address the concerns of council members.

Casalino said her reason for voting against the program on both readings was the same, saying “I’d rather see us change the policy for our residents to utilize our pool and our rec programs rather than go with the ID.” Casalino also had concerns about nonresidents trying to obtain the identification cards to take advantage of them, and worried the cards will be used as a form of identification for the school district.

“It’s not the folks from in town, it’s the folks from out of town that will try to utilize this in the wrong way. Call me paranoid, but it’s just from my experiences with how people bypass to enter the school system,” Casalino, who served on the West Orange Board of Education for 10 years, said. “Newark and the other cities don’t have the residency issues we have, we’re getting kids from cities coming into the township school district and they’re not having that issue with residency that we are with the schools.”