Pierce is Ousted as Safety Head

Camden Courier-Post – June 10, 1960

Amid cheers and boos from spectators, Mayor Pierce was switched from director of public safety to public affairs director at a commission meeting Thursday night.

Pierce lost control of the police and fire departments by a 4-1 vote. The motion to divest the mayor of the public safety department was made by Commissioner Abbott and seconded by Commissioner Garrity. Pierce cast the lone dissenting vote against the change.

At 8:25 p. m. after the commission had gone through the routine business, Commissioner Shepp handed a sheaf of papers to City Clerk John T. Odorisio. Odorisio started shuffling the papers when Shepp told him to read them in the order he gave them to him.

Cheers, Boo’s

The resolutions read by the clerk first changed the duties of the various commissioners. The more than 500 spectators cheered then booed as Pierce cast the only dissenting vote.

Then Odorisio read the resolution which then transferred four of the commissioners.

Garrity, who was public affairs director, was named to succeed Pierce as public safety director in charge of the police and fire departments.

The public affairs directorship was a sharply curtailed one as contrasted to what Garrity had. Assigned to the department of public affairs was the director’s office, the revaluation program, visiting nurses, public assistance, the Camden County Historical Society, charitable institutions, the Parking Authority, Civil Defense and celebration of public events, anniversaries and holidays.

Garrity retained the health department, sanitary control and cemeteries.

Taken away from the department of public affairs and given to other commissioners was the plumbing inspector, municipal court, Municipal Hospital, Convention Hall, city clerk, elections, city property, bureau of tax title perfection and redemption, municipal welfare and Radio Station WCAM.

Commissioner Abbott was designated director of the department of public works; Frank Italiano was named director of public parks and property, while Shepp retained the department of revenue and finance. Pierce again cast the lone dissenting vote.

Declines to Make Statement

At the close of the meeting a Courier-Post reporter asked Commissioner Italiano why he had I voted to strip Mayor Pierce.

“I’d rather not make any statement at this time,” Italiano replied. “I may make a statement later.”

The reporter pointed out that whatever the commissioner had to say should be in today’s newspaper. Italiano repeated: “I’d rather not have anything to say right now. I may have a statement in a day or two.”

Commissioner Garrity left the meeting room while the reporter was talking to Italiano.

Contacted Again

Again, this morning, a reporter contacted Italiano and asked him if he would explain his vote. He replied: “No comment.”

Commissioner Garrity, reached at his home today, also was asked if he had any statement to make concerning his vote to strip Mayor Pierce.

“I haven’t prepared any statement as yet,” Garrity said. “I will have one later. I am figuring it out in my mind.”

Solicitor Quits

Following the changes, Michael J. Piarulli, city solicitor who would have reported to Shepp under the realignment, resigned. He previously was under Pierce‘s office.

“I cannot, in good conscience, continue to work as city solicitor in a department headed by Commissioner Shepp,” Piarulli said. “I have nothing against Shepp. In due fairness, I do not feel I could do justice to the job.”

The meeting was thrown open to the public and many persons present spoke against the action of the commissioners in taking the department of public safety from Pierce.

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