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GannettUSA Today

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Keyport mayor in denial

Keyport Mayor John Merla is the only elected official charged in the FBI's Operation Bid Rid corruption investigation last year who still remains in office. He has steadfastly rejected calls that he step down after being accused of taking about $23,000 from undercover agents and a cooperating witness and extorting $1,000 from the owner of a solid-waste disposal company doing business with the borough. Now he's talking about staying on even longer by seeking re-election to another four-year term.

When will Merla realize that staying in office while his charges are unresolved casts a dark cloud over the town he supposedly loves? His time is better spent preparing his defense. But if he insists on continuing in denial, sticks with his re-election plans and doesn't stand trial before Election Day, Keyport's voters will get the chance to issue their own verdict at the polls. He'll undoubtedly learn that the voters don't appreciate having their mayor indicted in a corruption probe. They deserve better; Merla isn't delivering.

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