Happen to catch the April 16th Special Council meeting on TV? The meeting where they discussed the proposed Veterans Field renovation with the Recreation Director and Commissioners? Oh that’s right, that meeting wasn’t recorded or televised. I guess it wasn’t special enough. But as you can see by the accompanying photograph, the hard working Councilman/TV man has come up with an ‘upgrade’ not unlike his audio ‘upgrade’ of previous weeks. You’re in for a treat! But until he gets all the bugs out don’t hold your breath to be well advised of the goings on with your Government. Just be glad he records one meeting a month.
I guess at the beginning no?
The April 3rd Council meeting wasn’t much different then other past mundane meetings, except maybe for the impromptu last minute middle finger move. That ill-advised and rash decision has already been addressed.
Council President ‘By-A-Hair’ Cimiluca, who happens to have personally experienced how much each vote can count, opened up the public portion of this meeting by making an appeal to the public asking that when they approach the podium to ask their questions, they refrain from disparaging remarks and stay clear of politics. He made mention of their monthly podium visitor, Mr. Larry Ratajczak, and that he is the President of the Saddle Brook Democratic Club. Cimiluca said that most people speaking at the podium ask their questions as concerned citizens and not as political pendants, inferring of course that Mr. Ratajczak is therefore not a ‘concerned citizen’. Cimiluca further stated that after all it is an election year and they (the council) can do without the politicking.
Firstly let me say that hearing a politician say ‘there should be no politicking’ is in and of itself an oxymoron. But to his point, it should be acknowledged that the podium at a council meeting is not the preverbal soapbox to stand on in Town Square. Valid questions should be asked minus the hyperbole often invoked by Mr. Ratajczak. But that is not to say however that Mr. Ratajczak is not a concerned citizen. Less the politicking and unnecessary insults, Mr. Ratajczak more then not, does express valid questions and legitimate concerns. Concerned citizens become local politicians and / or get involved in political campaigns. I would imagine that is why Mr. Cimiluca did. It is not the job of Mr. Cimiluca or anyone else to stifle Ratajczak although toning him down a trifle wouldn’t hurt. In a true and fair environment, people of opposing views can have discussions in a civilized manner. However a council meeting is not meant to be the place for public discussions, let alone political ones. But unfortunately the Township affords no other.
A point well made by Mr. Ratajczak was that it has been established in other municipalities and courtrooms that a mayor or a councilperson is not considered a municipal employee. I say ‘well made’ because that is the very foundation by which the township Attorney formulates his argument sighting Pension laws and White Collar contracts as the validity for their entitlement to healthcare benefits. By-A-Hair continually brings up the fact that if you were to look for a Township ordinance stating their entitlement you would be unable to find one. We already know that! Knowing that has been the case almost from the inception of this argument. Mr. Ratajczak then asked how it is possible for the council to amend an ordinance that ‘legalized’ mayor / council benefits if no original ordinance existed. What was not made clear during this exchange was that the council made a decision to bypass the intent of the citizen’s petition for a ballot referendum to vote on mayor / council entitlement and then amended the petition, not an ordinance, to entitle themselves (and no one thereafter).
While you were watching this meeting and taking notes I’m sure, did you happen to notice that at this meeting, as well as in the recent past, the abhorrent demeanor of both Township Attorney’s, Mr. Muhlstock & Mr. Chewcaski; arrogant, argumentative, and downright unprofessional. God forbid they be forced to deal with the likes of Mr. Ratajczak. Not a whole hell of a lot of confidence can be gained from a legal firm who doesn’t know how to just do their job and stay out of the fray. The council would be wise to ‘instruct’ them as to proper decorum, and not just the public, before meetings begin. However you were spared the verbal assault on TV due to the marvelous ‘upgraded’ TV sound system.
Still during the Ratajczak / Council theater the consideration of applying Astro Turf for Veterans Field came up. Ratajczak’s contention was that the $600,000 dollar cost is ludicrous and should not even be entertained. Later in the meeting it appeared the council came to their collective senses and opted to look into alternative measures. I just happen to have found it funny that, although I agree 100% that spending that amount of money on a ball-field is beyond irresponsible and am fully aware it was most probably just an election ‘feel-good’ ploy, that exact amount of $600,000 dollars could be had in 4 short years if the mayor/council, past and present, did not receive healthcare and lifetime healthcare benefits.
Ratajczak then asked the mayor if she would be able to run her business with a 0% budget increase as she is preparing to do for the township by not raising taxes or was that just another political maneuver during an election year. The mayor was quick to respond with a definite Yes. I don’t know but that attitude might be the reason for the rumors being spread around of possible financial problems at Kim-Bridge Cardtique and Florist. To my knowledge that is only speculative rumor with no basis in fact however.
For the rest of the Council Comments portion of the meeting you heard what has become the norm, defensive posturing. Not that that shouldn’t happen mind you, you’d expect to hear their take on any given subject. Just seems to me that we wouldn’t hear their motivations or reasoning at all if it weren’t for their need to ‘better’ explain themselves. One would think if done correctly and openly the first time around there would be no need to explain ad infinitum.
Councilman Camilleri was woken up and asked to make a comment where he congratulated the wrestling team and thankfully not himself. Mazzer voiced her usual fluff piece and thanked everyone for everything, and re-election hopeful, ‘which way did he go George’ Conte appeared to catch the ZZzzz Camilleri was rudely taken away from.
While bouncing in his chair with enthusiastic anticipation, Google Halko had to wait his turn while By-A-Hair had first dibs. One of the nice things to hear from Cimiluca was the Townships attempt to receive 3 grants, welcomed news. Then we had to hear his absurd reasoning regarding a ‘janitor’ receiving a salary of $90,000 to answer a question initially brought up by Mr. Ratajczak. Apparently Cimiluca agrees that $90,000 is way to expensive to pay a janitor but since he mows lawns and drive a bus on occasion it is then more then justified. It may well be justifiable if it was accurately and completely explained, but it was not. This is where they continually get themselves into a mess and then wonder why they are constantly being questioned. Answer questions unequivocally and there would be no doubt about their judgment, that too much to ask?
Question, do you feel sorry for Councilman Halko now? I mean Geez, running that TV station is hard work spending “countless hours” apparently. But the trooper he is keeps him marching on, going where no man has gone before! He promised during his previous campaign he’d bring back the TV station and unlike other promises, he delivered on this one. His messily salary of $4,750.00 is certainly no match for the two men that have ‘gone before’ him, $100,000 they paid me as a police officer or the $65,000 they paid the director after me, Bob Duthaler. Well I would say that it is quite evident there is no comparison, not in salary OR workmanship. I would be remiss not to acknowledge that Halko said to me while I was producing two political campaign videos for him, Cimiluca, and a third running mate, that he wanted the TV station back in operation. He believed it important and as necessary as I. And now he has seen to it that it is in fact up and running. However what he fails to admit to himself is that he has absolutely no idea what he is doing artistically. Where are all his volunteers? Where are all the residents who would like to participate and learn television production? My volunteers managed to have nearly 100 advertising bulletin boards from every conceivable school, organization, and township group on TV advertising their activities, now there are how many, 2, 3? I had upwards of 30 volunteers during my creation of the station and tenure. Mr. Duthaler, while employed by BOTH the Township and the B.O.E., had almost as many. Apparently Halko had one volunteer and blames me for losing his sole companion. What he doesn’t explain (because they NEVER tell the whole, complete truth) is that his volunteer was once a volunteer of mine who was ceremoniously let go due to circumstances that were kept confidential. His subsequent interference during a time when he was a Township volunteer and I was broadcasting meetings live online, is what caused this volunteer to once again become disruptive. Anything said by me on this blog was never abusive or, as Halko would like to say, bullying. Anything and everything said is posted within this blog and available for everyone’s perusal and judgment. Mr. Halko can blame me all he wants but it is impossible for me to be at fault for the lack of his own talent. He is a councilman, he has gotten the station up and running. Now find people that are talented, know what they are doing, and let them run with it. You did your job Mr. Halko and now its time to move aside. And although Mr. Halko already knows this but would rather you didn’t, during the time I was a Police Officer, created AND ran the TV station, I was still a cop answering calls, called in for overtime, and supplemented shifts, all 3 shifts. Don’t you dare try to tell me Mr. Halko how hard you are working, how hard it is, or how much time you are putting in. I’m not looking for praise here, not at all. You manage to do things slipshod and half-assed but you get it done. That is about all the praise you deserve. I’m not the reason for your inadequacies, you are.
It’s ALWAYS someone else’s fault with this mayor and council. I can only image their upcoming re-election campaign slogan.
As of this posting the tired, beleaguered Ad Hoc television aficionado, bouncing Councilman Google Anthony Halko, (gees, he’s got a lot of prefixes huh?) burned the midnight oil and uploaded the April 3rd Township Council Meeting onto YouTube. Try as he might the audio still sucks but I can’t be to hard on the man since he might run away like his mentioned volunteer and then God only knows we’d be stuck with Camilleri bringing his wrestling mats to SBTV to edit. (Couldn’t be much worse 1’m afraid)
Watch the meeting here, as painful as that may be, and pay attention. I’ll dissect the whole painful ordeal in a future post.
Though you haven’t seen the April 3rd Council meeting on TV yet, largely because in his own words Councilman and TV Man Anthony Halko has said running the station is hard work and the reason he takes his stipend, you have undoubtedly heard that the councils decision to, in one full swoop, create and vote on an ordinance to eliminate the future position of Deputy Police Chief.
Unprecedented in the arbitrary, self-centered, negligent, and discourteous way in which it was done, has left many with their mouths wide open in disbelief. This has also caused me to feel it necessary to speak with the two gentlemen who were ceremoniously left out of this decision. The cause and effect of this rash move needs to be investigated with a lot more time, discussion, and forethought, then it so far has been given. While the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker may run this town, the Township actually has a few very well-educated men who have made it their life’s work, and education, to live and breath law enforcement everyday of their adult lives. I would not be going out on a limb to say that the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker cannot hold a candle to the law enforcement knowledge base they have at their disposal, one they chose to ignore. A critical decision which needs to be questioned at the very least. Though their actions were unprecedented in its speed, they were not when based upon past practice. When they want something like for example Healthcare and Lifetime Healthcare benefits, they can move very quickly and decisively without due consideration of any one or any thing else.
Public Safety Director Louis V. D’Arminio had this to say: “It is not good policy for the township council to introduce ordinances that change the T/O (Table of Organization) of a police department without discussion with the Mayor, Police Director and Police Chief, it is ill advised. Whether you agree or disagree with the Deputy Police Chief position, actions taken without careful thought and planning have a domino effect in a police organization such as who will be filling the responsibilities and duties that were performed by the Dep. Chief. This is a bad knee jerk decision that would better be left to professionals that know this business. I will ask the council to delay any further action until this matter can be discussed in the proper forum.”
Police Chief Robert Kugler: “I am disappointed the Council President didn't provide me the professional courtesy to have input on something that directly impacts the police department. As the chief of the department for 20 years, I've never seen such a dysfunctional relationship as to not have open and simple lines of communication!”
I for one believe that the word, dysfunctional, just about says it all. “Silly season” my foot, this is turning out to be the stupid season and it has only just begun! This entire episode just doesn’t fly with previous statements and moves made by this mayor and council in the recent past.
Case in point: Do you remember the mayor, along with the approval of the township council, was so quick to fill a 3rd Captain position in July of 2013 (once again without any input or even notice to the Chief of Police). If they feel the police department is too top heavy and in need of eliminating an administration staff position then why the hell would they have made that promotion? Remembering that was done at a time when the department was at a severe staffing shortage of only 22 officers. To the laymen it would definitely seem as though they make political decisions to reward the ones they like, and not necessarily the right decisions in the best interests of the PD and the community.
It would simply be wrong to not question both the actions and intelligence of this mayor and council when they repeatedly make such ‘out of left field decisions’ and then have the audacity to be insulted when questioned. Just take into account an ‘off the record’ comment made to a resident by Halko where he said: “they (Council) proved they can work with less men in the police dept.” What a completely stupid, unprofessional, uneducated, AND irresponsible statement that was!! What was this . . . a test? Allowing the department to fall to dangerously low staffing levels and SEE WHAT HAPPENS? An asinine statement at the very least and certainly not one worthy of a leader of the community.
Disclaimer: Yes, everyone knows I think Mr. Bouncing Google Halko is a pompous ass and these kinds of statements just further support those beliefs. As far as the mayor goes, she has no problem deep-throating that microphone when she feels the need to ‘make things clear’, but not a peep was heard this time around. And for the rest of the council, following the leader is the only game they know. God forbid they think for themselves!
The goings on at last nights council meeting should largely to taken as an exercise in political posturing, it is after all what the mayor likes to call the “silly season”. It is a time when the claws come out, political maneuvering begins, and the ‘all for one, one for all’ goes right out the chamber door. Considering it is still quite early in the game, we are already seeing a self-distancing of one incumbent candidate from the other. Not unusual at all but not a particularly healthy atmosphere either. Certainly not one conducive to a government for the people – by the people.
The Republican incumbent candidates will be relegated to a defense posture in their attempt to justify their existence and the Democrat candidates will be forced into an offensive posture. This is after all how the system works.
Therefore what everyone should concern themselves with is not the political rhetoric that is spewed from both sides at any given council meetings but how the infighting and misinformation this atmosphere generates actually affects the governing of the Township. You are going to hear a lot of things that simply aren’t true or unfortunately drastically and purposely misrepresented. To be able to see the forest through the trees will take considerable effort by each and every voter. Not an easy task by any means.
As in the case of the rash but probably beneficial decision of the council regarding elimination of any new Deputy Police Chief position, rash, arbitrary, and political motivations for governing are not in the best interests of Saddle Brook. Incumbents using their elected position, sitting on a dais using a Township owned and operated TV station to self-proclaim their personal attributes, when it should be relegated to re-election brochures and the like, commits an injustice to the only system we have in place to intelligently and fairly decide on our community leaders.
Pay close attention to what is said and done. In the fog of war nothing is black and white. And by all means make no mistake about it, this is war!
Hot off the press . . . apparently a snap decision and vote just occurred at tonight’s Council meeting. From what I hear after the peanut gallery got the mayor and council all riled up in an attempt to have them initiate an ordinance that stated the position of Deputy Police Chief would be eliminated after the retirement of DC Robert White, the council made the unprecedented spontaneous decision to draft and a first reading of an ordinance for exactly that!
Now not for nothing but is this anyway to run a township? Get a bug up your you know what, fly off the handle without thinking about the possible consequences, make a rash decision and go with it? Maybe they have been ‘thinking’ about this for sometime but unbeknownst to everyone else there was no prior educated decision made after an intelligent discussion.
So I guess voting for Bobby White for mayor is a way of saying ‘A vote for White is a vote for saving $175,000’. ‘A vote for Karen Chamberlame is a vote for spending $175,000 for years to come.’ I don’t think either had that particular slogan in mind however.
When I asked Public Safety Director Lou D’Arminio his ‘take’ on this surprising occurrence he said: “There should be no spontaneous decisions made without proper discussion. We are still short 6 cops and the rank and file needs to be the priority. Eliminating a police position without filling the six others and say your saving money is misleading. Take that savings and use it to hire police officers.”
Surprising to me that a decision like this wasn’t even discussed and approved by the very person put in place to manage this types of issues, the Public Safety Director. Once we see this meeting on TV i'm sure we’ll understand all of this better , or will we.
It has come to my attention that Saddle Brook Public Safety Director and former Mayor Louis V. D'Arminio will be appointed by the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders to a Blue Ribbon Panel that will review the re-alignment of the Bergen County Police Dept with the Bergen County Sheriffs Department.
During the past 2 years the proposed consolidation of the Bergen County Police Department and the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department has caused quite a contentious disagreement between these departments, Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan, and the Freeholders. As recently as this past January a judge denied the Bergen County Executive’s request to block a merger of the County Police into the Sheriff’s Office until a lawsuit over the case is resolved. However because the freeholders cannot force Donovan to sign such an agreement, the merger won’t happen so long as she is county executive, her staff has said.
Within Bergen County’s 70 municipalities Bergen County Police provide those services where it doesn't make sense to have 70 bomb squads, or 70 SWAT teams, or 70 K-9 units. The BCPD chief maintained that members of the sheriff's department are essentially corrections officers, and said they wouldn't be suited to handle community policing and other issues the county police face. The debate goes on.
Director D'Arminio has 26 years law enforcement experience with the Hackensack Police Department and served as a two term Mayor. PSD D'Arminio was responsible for the building and staffing of the Saddle Brook Police Department during his tenure as Mayor and is now joined by Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli, BC. Sheriff Michael Saudino, and BC Police Chief Brian Higgins, along with former Police Chiefs and State Police members.
I have reached out to Mr. D’Arminio for confirmation but have not as yet received a reply. When received I will post an update.
While speaking with D’Arminio regarding another matter he stated he would have no comment at this time regarding the Blue Ribbon Panel that will review the re-alignment of the Bergen County Police Dept with the Bergen County Sheriffs Department -
Louis D'Arminio replies: "I look forward to working with such distinguished law enforcement professionals in in an effort to better serve the residents and law enforcement community here in Bergen County. I have had a personal relationship with both the Bergen County Police Department and the Bergen County Sheriffs Department having work with both agencies during the course of my 26 years in law enforcement. This is a very complex issue and I enter into it with an open mind."