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Monday
Jan262015

Mayors Winter Storm Briefing #1

Click below to read the most recent statement from Mayor Robert White  

(Unfortunately for people who don't have internet access they're S%$t out of luck!)

Read HERE

Statement #2 HERE

Friday
Jan232015

Niche Or Nitch? 

Either one as long as it’s on your radar. 

What should be made from the Niche School Rankings? I’m not sure. Out of all the schools ranked in New Jersey Saddle Brook received a score of 174th. Unfortunately way off from the 100 best ranked schools in New Jersey. Better than some surrounding communities yet much lower than others.  

Since school systems impact municipal taxes more than anything else and their quality relied upon more then anything else by prospective homebuyers, which in turn generates more or less ratebles, how concerned should anyone be that the Niche ranking was so low? 

It is not like Saddle Brook residents are against funding their schools having passed the recent school budget. And after all this is but one survey. But I would go so far as to say this ranking is still a red flag. 

From the methodology explained on how this ranking was developed, it appears the opinions of many Saddle Brook parents and children affected the outcome. That is not a good sign I wouldn’t think.   

We all want the best for our children, the Superintendent, School Board, and facility, being at the top of the list. But how to get there is always a debatable question. One in which would behoove every parent to keep a closer eye on. 

More HERE and HERE

Wednesday
Jan212015

Special Council Meeting Reminder

Though most of the interesting stuff will happen behind closed doors you can still go to tonight’s special council meeting and at the very least see some new faces there; more new then old! 

Public discussions will center on the following agenda: 

1. APPROVE ANNUAL CONTRACT WITH MUNIDEX, INC. FOR SOFTWARE

 MAINTENANCE - $14,055.20

2. APPROVE CONTACT WITH Rx REINS FOR STOP LOSS INSURANCE - $5,300.

3. APPROVE EXPENDITURES OVER $2,500.00

4. APPROVE PAYMENT OF BILLS

5. APPROVE REDEMPTION OF LIEN – BLOCK 01514, LOT 12, 36 GRAHAM

 TERRACE - $1,604.25

HORIZON BLUE CROSS RENEWAL

 VETERANS FIELD UPDATE 

The closed portion of the meeting will include: PERSONNEL, CONTRACTS AND TAX APPEAL 

I haven’t heard either way if this meeting will be recorded for future broadcast so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Saturday
Jan172015

Head Scratcher

“Please take notice that the Township Council will hold a Special Public Meeting on January 21, 2015 at 7:00 PM at the Municipal Building, 93 Market Street, Saddle Brook, NJ. The agenda will be closed session – tax appeal and personnel, payment of bills, annual contract renewals, purchases over $2,500. Other items not specifically listed may also be acted upon. Portions of this meeting may be held in closed session. Formal action will be taken at this meeting.”  Posted on SB official website 

I’m a bit confused. I’d be the first to admit that I am not well informed on the NJ Sunshine Laws and Open Meeting Act. But I would assume these laws follow a philosophy of government transparency aimed at allowing the general public to stay aware of their government’s actions. I understand that examples like a council meeting must be advertised within a specific time table, or three or more council people cannot physically meet without being considered an official council meeting, or certain council meetings discussing certain topics (personnel etc) are allowed to be closed to the public. What I don’t really understand is when these ‘special meetings’ are closed, yet the council, as stated in the first paragraph, acts upon ‘payment of bills, annual contract renewals, purchases over $2,500’ etc., can be considered transparent.  

Of course there are meeting minutes taken at every meeting. Shouldn’t these minutes then become public so residents would know what was paid for, how much, and to whom? Who received contracts, which didn’t, how much has been committed and why. Not unreasonable questions I wouldn’t think; but since August 7, 2014 there hasn’t been any minutes of any meetings available online. Have they been transcribed and just not posted? That would just lead to next question, why not? I do believe it makes sense that mayor and council discussions regarding personnel should be behind closed doors but the outcome of their discussions still have to be public, if they are to claim transparency. This premise would also hold true for any of the topics being discussed at any meeting.  

I am not for more moment insinuating there is ‘hanky panky’ going on behind closed doors. But at the same time that accusation could be made anytime transparency is lacking. In 2015 Saddle Brook had a change of government personnel. I sincerely hope there will be a change in transparency as well. 

Wednesday
Jan142015

There Goes The Judge

Governor Christie has notified legislative leaders that he will nominate nine attorneys to fill vacant Superior Court judgeships in Bergen County, a strong sign of hope that emergency procedures put in place months ago to ease a crippling case backlog could soon be lifted. Read The Record article here 

Well another WIN for Saddle Brook but not in the way you might think I mean. I am glad to see this particular Judge will be going Bye Bye.  From what I have learned this has been in the works for some time with Senator Bob Gordon pushing the deal. This is excellent news in that she won’t be in the Saddle Brook Court any more. But it might be bad news if you ever have the misfortune of coming in front of her in Superior Court. It may not be good for you if you were on the other political side of her agenda and that of her Network. 

Everything is political when it comes to how most things work in government. Starting with any issue it’s always what’s best for the politician before any other considerations are weighed for the common person. However this time this judges political ‘bump’ is also doing the residents of Saddle Brook a favor. 

Saddle Brook has had more than its share of ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ for a long time now. I’m glad to see that this time it works best for all involved. I wish her only the best in her rise to fame and fortune; the further away she rises the better. 

Monday
Jan122015

Chief . . still want to chat? 

Way back in the beginning of 2013 I innocently started a controversy commonly known now as ‘Chief’s Chat’. Then Chief Kugler and myself thought it was an innovative idea to develop a police initiative where the chief of police would address the people of Saddle Brook during a monthly online show. He would be able to inform his public on the status of crime, programs and other initiatives, and accept live phone calls from residents to answer any of their questions. 

As we all know this police initiative was brought to a sudden and extreme halt by then Mayor Karen Chamberlain when she issued a ‘cease and desist’ order to Chief Kugler. The NJ Police Chiefs Assoc., Bergen County Chiefs Assoc., township civic organizations, and even The Record Newspaper, were all public advocates of this concept.  Only the previous mayor and council were against it. Old news now over two years later, I know. 

Now in 2015 where the relationship between the mayor’s office and the police chief is much more cordial and seemingly determined to actually be transparent, I wonder if revisiting this initiative isn't a bad idea once again.  

Though I haven’t as yet broached this subject with either the mayor or the chief, I am fairly confident entertaining a revisit would be well received. 

 I foresee 2015 as a new era for Saddle Brook. Technology, and all its possibilities, has largely been left behind within the township, mainly because of shortsighted people unwilling to commit or embrace a cost-justifiable endeavor, all to the detriment of its residents. Embarrassingly there was more access to technology and therefore transparency back in 2000, then there is today.  

There are many many things to be fixed by this new administration. I hope this is just but one small part that will be addressed positively. 

 
Sunday
Jan112015

Change, Love It Or Fear It? 

The Saddle Brook School District will host a common core/PARCC information night for parents on Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the High School Media Center. 

How familiar are you with the concept and principles of Common Core? If you are not well educated in its theory you should well take advantage of the School districts offer of getting more acquainted.  

To say the Common Core way of teaching is controversial would be an understatement to say the least. Though many communities are deciding to go this route many parents are still filled with certain trepidation. The Common Core Standards will be a tremendously difficult adjustment for students and teachers initially many say. It is not the way many teachers are used to teaching and not the way that many students are used to learning. There will not be instant results, but instead will be a slow process. Standards are vague and broad and are not particularly specific. Others say the Common Core Standards will costs schools money to update the technology needed for the Common Core Standards Assessments. Most of the assessments will be online. This will create many districts issues in that they will not have enough computers for all students to be assessed in a timely manner. These Standards will lead many current textbooks to be obsolete. This will need an expensive fix, as schools have to adopt new materials that are effectively Common Core ready. 

The Common Core Standards currently only have skills associated with English-Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. There are currently no science or social studies Common Core Standards. This leaves it up to individual states to have to develop their own set of standards and assessments for these topics. THIS begs the question; ‘Are there really any social studies that are common to all States; or for that matter, Cape May schools vs. Rockleigh NJ and every community inbetween? In my opinion there is definitely something to be said for local socialization and standards.  

There is a lot to digest here and with good reason. There is a common worry that the Common Core Standards will likely cause many outstanding teachers and administrators to pursue other career options. Many veteran teachers will retire rather than adjust the way they teach. The stress of getting their students to perform will likely cause more teacher and administrator burnout

How much of these kinds of questions are simply because of fear of the unknown? How many of these questions have validity? 

Seems to me parents can’t easily answer these serious questions without having a good grasp of what is being implemented in their schools. Your school system is making a attempt to make you feel good about these changes. You owe it to yourself and your children to go to this meeting and see if that is how you feel when you leave.