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Friday
Apr172015

300 Years And Counting - Pt.2

Photo: Glenn Toepert (got to be a Kugler in there somewhere!)

As I left off in Part 1, I have no idea how things were done 300 years ago in New Barbados or sixty years ago in Saddle River Township. But I DO question how certain things were done in Saddle Brook in 2015.

We can forget about the last eight years since that is all water under the bridge now. I question how things are being done now only because of what information I was privy to during the “White for Mayor” Campaign; information only the pundits would have any knowledge of.

It was considered by a wide consensus of pundits that Mr. White ran a tight ship with a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude and would only accept what he believed to be helpful information, from a very small number of people. A good example would be that no one, absolutely no one other than White, appreciated Mr. Omar Rodriguez’s input or even appearance at campaign meetings, not even the other two candidates. In many ways I could respect White’s attitude of taking charge, steering his campaign in the direction he believed it should proceed, though I didn’t see the need to be quite so pompous in his demeanor or attitude.

He would remind his two fellow candidates how he was “in charge”, and “they”, in his own words, “would only win on his coat tails”. He insisted that if any resident refused a campaign sign on their lawn because the names ‘D’Arminio or Accomando’ were on that sign, he would simply offer them a campaign sign with just “Robert White For Mayor” displayed. Smart campaigning? Maybe. Arrogant? Most definitely. Surely a move you wouldn’t consider from a “team player”.

He worried about his perceived problem that baggage may be associated with the name ‘D’Arminio’ and the naiveté of Todd Accomando. There is a long history between the D’Arminio’s and Omar, not a particularly healthy one at that either. Legitimate reason’s on the D’Arminio’s part for having distrust for Omar that any fair-minded person would understand and agree. Anyone but White that is. His “winning at all cost” took precedence over any discomfort anyone else was experiencing.

White dangled his carrot (that doesn’t sound so good) in front of Mr. Accomando feeling Todd wouldn’t know any better and would blindly follow his lead. A savvy politician or an obnoxious and manipulating human being? That is up to individual interpretation.

As has been stated to many times to count, I feel White lead me in one direction while having a totally different direction in mind. We disagreed, nothing wrong with that. But purposely misleading, knowing full well he had no intention to follow my recommendation’s, showed me a lack of integrity I was totally blind-sighted by. However, sooner than later, he proved that in other ways as well.

As we all are keenly aware, politicians take care of their own. When not illegal, it is usually understood and accepted. When however, it is done in a way that spits in the face of one to further a politicians political needs and kiss the a$$ of another, it becomes untenable.

Another example would be the mayoral appointment of former Councilman Joseph Setticase as Director of Recreation. When Councilman Setticase was the President of the Democratic Club, he endorsed Joe Scarpa, a Republican, who was running for the Assembly Race in the 38th District. Scrapa was running against Tim Eustace and Joe Lagana in an expensive tightly close race. The Race was not decided until days later. The Democrats were extremely unhappy and the club asked Setticase to step down as president. Now Setticase is persona non grata within the County Democratic Organization yet White goes against the political grain, and his party, and appoints Setticase anyway.

Mr. Lou Verile was commissioner of the Challenger League and worked recreation for many many years. He was also a prominent and helpful member of the White for Mayor Campaign. All those within the campaign believed he was more than entitled, and they assumed White would appoint him as the next director. Setticase being known as ‘No Show Joe’ at council meetings or Bambi for short (Deer in headlights), certainly would not be White’s pick, they assumed. But it didn’t happen that way, did it? Rightfully or wrongfully?  I don’t know. Strong leader or disloyalty? Just another cold towel in the face cementing proof of White's lack of loyalty far as I am concerned.

The mayor and police chief vehemently argued with the previous administration, (I know Mr. Cimiluca hates that expression. Sorry), regarding police promotions, yet did a 180 degree turnaround when no one could stop them. Was this turnaround because now the mayor could promote the officer HE wanted while then being against the officer Mayor Chamberlame wanted? Taking charge or being conniving? Your call! 

They say there are always three sides to every story: yours, theirs, and the truth. I have learned to go by what I see and not what I have been told. 

I have no idea how good or bad politics was 300 years ago. What I do know is they aren’t so pretty now and could sink a ship!

 

 

 

Thursday
Apr162015

300 Years Ago - Pt.1

I wonder what politics was like 300 years ago in New Barbados Township, which became Saddle River Township in March of 1716. The township was created during that year, making it one of the oldest townships in Bergen County.  Saddle River Township derived its name from its resemblance to a saddle before its boundaries were changed, which reminds me of that old joke: “How come Italy is shaped like a boot? Because you can’t fit all that $hit in a sneaker!” Political bull$hit that is! (I’m Italian so I can say that!!) But I digress.

Saddle River Township was quite large in those days, taking up a considerable amount of Bergen County. It was bounded on the north by Ridgewood, south by Lodi, east by the Saddle River (named from the Township), and west by the Passaic River*. Just imagine your township officials being in-charge of that amount of people and/or land nowadays.

The remaining portion of Saddle River Township was changed to Saddle Brook, which adopted its current name by a referendum passed on November 8, 1955. I was 3 years old then. One of my fondest memories from those days is that my dear mother, Mary, was so proud to have come in third place in a contest to rename the township to Saddle Brook. I think Chamberlame was mayor then too, not sure.

I just can’t help but think about how our politicians conducted themselves in those days. Were they as cut throat then as they seem to be these days? Worse, some might say, since there was less transparency then there is now, if you can believe that one. When I created SBC-TV in 1999 and suggested to the then mayor and council to record and broadcast council meetings, you would have thought I had asked them to do it naked, they were so appalled. Almost 16 years later and they have barely scratched the surface, but it is slowly getting better.

Many may say I ‘think’ too much, but the key to powerful thinking is powerful questioning. When we ask the right questions, we succeed as a thinker, for questions are the force that powers our thinking. Thinking, at any point in time, can go off in thousands of different directions, some of which by the way, are dead-ends. Questions define the agenda of our thinking. They determine what information we seek. They lead us in one direction rather than another. They are, therefore, a crucial part of our thinking*.

When you investigate the history of Saddle Brook, as well as surrounding communities, you learn many things that bring into question why certain issues were dealt with in the way they were. Case in point: As in all Faulkner Act municipalities, of which Saddle Brook is one, citizens in the mayor–council system enjoy the right of initiative and referendum, meaning that proposed ordinances can be introduced directly by the people without action by the local governing body. This right is exercised by preparing a conforming petition signed by 10% of the registered voters who turned out in the last general election in an odd-numbered year. Once the petition is submitted, the local governing body can vote to pass the requested ordinance, and if it refuses, it is then submitted directly to the voters* (wikipedia.org). If wikipedia.org is to be believed then why was this directive, after receiving a bona fide resident petition requesting a change in the law to eliminate healthcare and lifetime healthcare benefits for the mayor and council, not followed by the previous mayor and council, as underlined above? Thinking such things begs the question but never produces an answer. Asking a question isn’t disrespectful when a simple coherent explanation may get you the answer you seek.

I have no idea how things were done 300 years ago in New Barbados or sixty years ago in Saddle River Township, but I DO question how certain things were done in Saddle Brook.

I’ll ask those questions in part #2. 

*wikipedia.org

Tuesday
Apr142015

Mayor White Loses Another First Lady

PHOTO/NICK MESSINA

*The Record Newspaper

Former Saddle Brook Councilman, Omar Rodriguez, who played a prominent role in Mayor White’s election campaign last year, has landed a $70,000 city job as the mayor’s aide, according to local officials. 

DON’T PANIC!!!! The above should say, Former Saddle Brook Councilman Omar Rodriguez, who played a prominent role in Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ election campaign last year, has landed a $70,000 city job as the mayor’s aide, according to local officials.  Saddle Brook’s former First Lady was hired as the mayor’s aid in PATERSON, NJ, not Saddle Brook. “If I were to describe his job in one word, it would be expeditor,” said Torres. The mayor’s aide will follow up on the mayor’s decisions to make sure things get done the way he wants. 

We should all be happy for Mr. Rodriguez, as well as for Saddle Brook. Paterson got him and Saddle Brook got rid of him all in one fell swoop! Maybe White just couldn’t get away with paying Omar that kind of money. We all should be thankful Mayor White leans toward the cheap. 

Does this now mean we are stuck with only Mr. Larry Ratajczak at the podium every month? Time will tell I guess, although I’m sure Mayor White will still tap Omar Rodriguez’s opinions before making any substantial decisions. I mean the first part of the first paragraph of this post is still very much true for Mayor White, as well as for Mayor Torres. Although Omar has lost just as many elections as he has won, he seems to be batting a thousand by getting two mayor’s elected. 

For the life of me though, I can’t understand how Paterson can get away with this, but officials there stated, “The city did not advertise for applications for the mayor’s aide position.”  Business Administrator, Nellie Pou, said that it was because of the position’s “personal” connection to the mayor.” So now that should mean that the vacancy for Saddle Brook’s First Lady is an open field for anyone interested with no resume necessary. 

When you’re a political whore, you sell yourself to the highest bidder. This, of course, would not apply to the First Lady position. 

Monday
Apr062015

Your Right Speaker Not working?

When you watch these council meetings on YouTube, do you notice that almost all the sound emanates from the left speaker? Hardly any sound from the right speaker, except when the mayor speaks deep-throating the microphone (I only say that because I said the same thing about Former Mayor Chamberame and was accused of being sexist lol).  Apparently on this issue, the present mayor was told to back off, and actually decided to listen.

Well, what I said above is not really true because Enlacosa Video Productions does not record meetings in stereo. I’m merely noticing that comments, opinions, and explanations are only coming from the seasoned council people on the left side of the dais. Although, I very well understand that the new sitting members are just that, new, but not hearing from them causes me to feel as if we are still in 2014. I mean the people thought little enough of the previous mayor and two councilmen to throw them out of office hoping to hear from some new blood with fresh ideas, but so far S.O.S.  

Then of course you have noticed that in some small respect, the bloom is off the rose with the mayor and his First Lady. Since they ran White’s campaign arm in arm, and then his transition team together, I can’t quite understand why Mr. Rodriquez was at the podium going on and on about permits and licenses when he already knew White was not interested.  White also did not apparently agree with the Misses regarding snow removal around fire hydrants which, in my opinion, is ludicrous. Adopt an Ordinance with penalties for homeowners burying hydrants in the snow. Do not force responsibility upon homeowners to make sure they are cleared. I find Mr. Rodriquez’s constant appearance at the podium now odd considering he worked so hard to get his man White elected. It may be “telling" of an orchestration of sorts. It reminds me of years ago when Mayor Chamberlame would often have Mr. Carl Esposito come to the podium and make remarks that seemingly had no rhyme or reason. His political purpose was to ‘drop a dime’, or state a rumor. No matter whether true, factual, or fabricated, the purpose was to get the word out there. Much like asking someone, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

However, the benefit of the doubt must be given to all new politicians. It would not serve any purpose to contemplate conspiracy theories (yet). Being inexperienced as the new mayor is, it would only be fair to cut him some slack. A perfect example would be how he totally changed his tune while at the same meeting.

While speaking to a resident about construction noise on Saturdays, the mayor made the blunder of saying, (paraphrased), “after not enforcing a law for so many years it wouldn’t be fair to start enforcing it now” while having just reminded us he was a police officer for 33 years. Obviously, being an officer for so many years, he would know that you enforce the law, period! However, at the end of the meeting when Council President Mazzer mentioned that this ordinance should be revisited, the mayor and ex-police officer recanted, realizing it was the smarter thing to say.

Lastly, the mayor stood by his convictions encouraging the council to pass the Nepotism ordinance while justifiably acknowledging Councilman Camilleri's argument that there are good and bad points on both sides of the issue. But in this case, I happen to agree with the mayor. Though this law may unfairly stifle some, the mayor and council should worry about the bigger picture and perceptions. Let’s face it, politicians don’t have the best reputation when it comes to fairness or being above-board. Anything they can do to eliminate the perception of political hanky panky can only be a good thing. 

Afterthought: Councilman Cimiluca explained in some detail item #27 of Resolutions where Bergen County is developing AN ACCESS FOR ALL COMMITTEE (ADA). Believing that this would be a perfect place to get disabled residents involved in SBC-TV, I reached out to Councilwoman D’Arminio with some ideas. Closed captioned for the hard of hearing and narrated bulletin boards for the visually impaired are but two avenues that should be explored. SBC-TV, located at Coolidge School, is handicap accessible. Plus, the new bulletin board system, purchased at the direction of then Councilman Halko, is also remotely accessible allowing the disabled to enhance the TV bulletin board system. These are the types of community activities SBC-TV, and not Enlacosa Video Productions, could and should, be offering. Local access TV is not what Enlacosa Video Productions puts on TV. It should be what local people want on their station to enrich their community and they should be given the opportunity to do so themselves. 

Friday
Apr032015

Happy Easter!

At Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his ascension to Heaven

Monday
Mar302015

Caucus Meeting – The Real Meeting

The April Township Council Caucus meeting will be held tomorrow evening, 6:30pm at Townhall (Read agenda here). Items up for discussion are listed as: ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION 1. WEBSITE PROPOSAL – JKO CONSULTING 2. BID RESULTS – SEWER PUMP STATION VALVE 3. ANTI-NEPOTISM ORDINANCE-COUNCILMAN CIMILUCA 4. ACCESS FOR ALL COMMITTEE- COUNCILMAN CIMILUCA 5. VETERANS FIELD UPDATE 6. 2015 BUDGET as well as two Ordinances for vote on Thursday: ORDINANCE #1590-15 – SECOND READING AN ORDINANCE ADDING CHAPTER 51, ABANDONED PROPERTY OF THE TOWNSHIP CODE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF SADDLE 2. And ORDINANCE #1591-15 – SECOND READING AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 154 OF THE REVISED GENERAL ORDINANCES OF THE TOWNSHIP OF SADDLE BROOK ENTITLED “PROPERTY MAINTENANCE” TO REQUIRE CLEANING OF SNOW AROUND HYDRANTS.

One of the more interesting topics to me is the Website Proposal from JKO Consulting. The owner of this company was one of three participants in the White for Mayor Campaign’s transition team’s Technology Committee Assessment along with Mr. David Gierek, the President of the Saddle Brook Board of Education, and myself. A forward-thinking man, he very much wanted to see Saddle Brook have a first rate website that provided a lot more information then it presently does. Mr. Gierek was equally onboard with improving by leaps and bounds Saddle Brook’s entire technology encompassing TV, websites, and all social media outlets. To read the Transition Teams report CLICK HERE.

JKO Consulting’s proposed budget was commonly considered on par with the amount of work involved; not far from the present cost of Enlacosa Video Productions.

At the time of the presentation of our proposal then Mayor- Elect White gave the impression he was totally onboard with our suggestions. But what has become obvious is what Mayor White said then and what he does now could very well be two different things entirely.

Good enough for Government work seems to be the mantra of the present mayor. In the short term I can maybe understand his hesitance to not jump in with his two feet. But, laying back and playing it ‘safe’ anyone can do. A leader grabs by the horns and makes things work.

I sincerely hope the mayor is still inclined to listen to people that know better than him and stop believing ‘his way (or Omar's, not sure which) or the highway’ is the best management skill for a good leader. 

Saturday
Mar282015

Enlacosa Video Productions Presents

Not the way I would have liked to see this done preferring to use township residents operating SBC- TV,but nonetheless it was done well (by Enlacosa Video Productions, not SBC-TV). $100 - $300 and counting. 

P.S. Nice to see Bambi back again!