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Nov. 5th Council Meeting

The November 5th Council meeting was essentially no different than any previous meetings of late. The usual components were all there: awards, Larry Ratajczak segment, Councilman Camilleri’s thanking everybody for everything, and Councilman Accomando leaving no insight to anything

On the other hand, I did notice some stark differences that got my attention. Council President Mazzer seemed to not fully grasp her responsibilities as president by making light of Councilman Cimiluca’s lack of brevity during his comments. Mr. Cimiluca’s lack of brevity is what actually does allow some insight for the viewer. His explanations, and the average person’s understanding of what and why something occurred, is exactly what I would expect a person watching a meeting, has come there to learn.  While I do understand that Ms. Mazzer was not intentionally trying to insult Cimiluca, making fun of his inclusiveness was losing sight of what they are really there for.

You didn’t hear anything of value from Councilman Accomando, not that he or anyone else is required to make notable statements every time they speak. You just don’t learn anything from them either. This is where I believe the general public would be better served to have caucus meetings covered on TV; where ideas are discussed and each councilpersons ideologies are expressed. A council meeting has become nothing more than a place where the entire council is legally allowed to assemble, pass or reject an ordinance, while putting on a show to entertain the public, yet structured to have absence of detail.

Mr. Cimiluca once again, brought up the issue of the anti-nepotism ordinance. But this time he stood alone. No backing from two council people, D’Arminio or Accomando, who campaigned for this ordinance. They’ll say they have been on the record as wanting this ordinance but, since it hasn’t passed when twice tried, no sense voting for it now. But, if D’Arminio and Accomando had sided with Cimiluca, it would have been a 3-2 vote and passed. Mr. Cimiluca took his time and explained the many issues as he sees them. Agree or disagree, he was articulate enough to educate the people on the subjects at hand. If nothing else, that should be appreciated. 

This ordinance is not a matter of trust in the mayor, as Mr. Ratajczak would like you to believe. No one is saying they don’t trust the mayor that he will abide by his own Executive Order. In effect, the mayor has even said that he enacted his executive order because he has come to believe, changing his initial feelings, that it is best for the community which is another way of saying it should be an ordinance. The council and the people trust the mayor. But laws are passed to keep everyone in check and don’t rely on people’s word.

As usual, Mr. Ratajczak brought up both good and old talking points during his monthly segment. He was right on the money when it came to the building inspector relying on squealers to find infractions of the law rather than his responsibility to find them. He also, as usual, lashed out at his political enemy, Mr. Cimiluca, a Republican. Contrary to the ladies opinion who spoke after him, Mr. Ratajczak doesn’t have personal vendetta against Mr. Cimiluca, as much as a political one. You have to constantly remember that Mr. Ratajczak is the Democratic Club president. There is a method to his madness. While Ratajczak continually berates Cimiluca on the health benefits issue, he also continually neglects to mention that one from his own party, Ms. Mazzer, is equally responsible. 

The last thing I need to mention is the mayor’s comments referenced to SB-TV (I will not include Community in their name) and myself, though not included by name.

I’d like you to watch and listen to his comments before I comment.

As the mayor stated, the Saddle Brook Board of Education videotapes both their caucus and general meetings on a monthly basis. More than not his statement is correct. However, where he is I not forthcoming is that the video is uploaded to, and shown, on YouTube. From there the board embeds that video onto the school district website, and therefore is not housed on any township owned hardware. Then he says “copies” are being posted on a regular basis on a “particular internet blog which is “not illegal”. He is speaking of course, about THIS particular internet blog. He has “no problem with that”, he says. Well I’d have to ask then, why bring this up in the way he did,in the first place? He doesn’t like that many residents come to this blog, probably for no other reason than to view the BOE meetings. I understand that. He believes they should be on TV. I agree with that! As matter of fact, what the mayor will never admit too, is that I have for many years now, pushed for BOE meetings to be on TV. Ever since 1999 when I started SBC-TV in fact. Furthermore, during the years Mayor White was president of the BOE, I continually pushed and advocated to him personally, for their meetings to be on TV. He yes’d me to death for years. Now all of a sudden he gets this bright idea to put them on TV? Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that he wants too. I just wonder why it took him so many years to get there.

If he wants to take all the credit, that’s fine with me. But his stated reasons for doing so is what shows me he still has a bug up his a$$. The prelude to his announcement was uncalled for and added no legitimate reasons to wanting to do what should only have been done originally. If hadn’t posted the videos, would he have cared so much?  

As I stated in my previous rant and will not go into detail again, is that if the mayor wants more activities on TV, sports and school events, as any resident would, get the township people involved. Why didn’t the mayor ask parents who tape their child’s football, soccer, basketball games and the like, to contribute those tapes to the township for TV airing? Probably for two reasons. The mayor still doesn’t understand the capabilities SBC-TV once had and could have once again. And, using ‘his’ Enlacosa Video Company, would cost money for each editing and airing of resident tapes.

The mayor spoke of the township taping and airing the BOE Meet Your Candidate show as if this was a novel approach for educating the public. Been there, done that, in many years past. New for the mayor maybe but certainly nothing new.

I’ve already had my rant about the mayor’s lack of understand regarding resident involvement on local access TV, as well as, the lack of leadership of the BOE and its administration by not developing a curriculum for TV & radio production. But the mayor brought this up this time, not me. If you are going to speak about this Mr. Mayor, speak truthfully and not insinuate something, no matter how inadvertently, that isn't the real truth; no matter how good it may make you look.  



Why are Township videos audio so bad, and videos so short? Well let’s look at the evidence. Mayor White chose to hire a 3rd party, out-of-town company, to replace SBC-TV. Not uncharacteristically, they hold no allegiance, loyalty or commitment, to the people of Saddle Brook.  Their work-ethic is therefore limited to doing no more than necessary to earn their contracted salary of $1,666.00 per month. There is simply no reason to go ‘above and beyond’ when they don’t have a horse in the race, --that is, they don't stand to gain or lose anything by its outcome.

The mayor’s mindset was to keep costs down, a lofty goal to be sure. At the contracted yearly cost for Enlacosa Video Productions of $19,992.00, the mayor considers that a steal. The Townships budget for what they still call Saddle Brook COMMUNITY Television, is $35,000 for 2015, leaving approximately $10,000 to “play” with. Since the adoption of Enlacosa Video Productions, there has not been one single resident involved in any pre or post-production event. Saddle Brook COMMUNITY Television it is not.

The average Cablevision/FiOS monthly bill is approximately $75 to $120 per month. Included within that monthly bill is a municipal franchise fee, usually around $5.00 to $6.00 per month. In 2015 the Township of Saddle Brook has collected franchise fees, paid by you, exactly $135,236.00 paid by Cablevision, and $74,943.00 paid by Verizon FiOS, for a total of a whopping $210,179.00. Obviously, the townships television budget is only a measly 16.6% of its potentially self-sustaining income.

From 1999 through 2002, two television studios were built in Saddle Brook, one replacing the other. As a P.E.G. (Public, Education, Government) Access channel (77 & 38) defined by both the F.C.C. and the Bergen County Board of Public Utilities, how many Saddle Brook residents have had access to, and utilized, their personally paid for television studio? How many residents have produced their own public access television shows? None would be the answer to both questions. As the mayor has said numerous times to me personally and publicly as well, he is not in favor of the public doing their own shows. He didn’t like it when it was done in the past and prefers to not have it done now or in the future.

Mayor White argued with me before Enlacosa Video Productions was hired, that SBC-TV studios only had old equipment and that Enlacosa Video Productions would use state-of-the-art, high definition cameras. Well mayor, please take note, Enlacosa Video Productions uploads ALL videos in 480p maximum resolution, which is not high definition. Further, neither Cablevision nor Verizon FiOS, transmits high definition television for public access channels.

Along with Enlacosa Video Productions being contracted to cover Regular and Special Council meeting, they are also contracted to cover additional township events, when requested, at an additional cost. Below is a list of these events. Take notice of the length of each of these videos:  

Halloween Trunk or Treat - 4:27 min

Saddle Brook Street Fair 2015 - 7:36 min 

St Philip's 56th Annual Festival of Fun Saddle Brook Carnival - 11:05 min(Contains a copyrighted audio track. Due to a claim by a copyright holder, this audio track has been muted.) 

Fireworks Show - 30:08 min

Veterans Field Rededication Ceremony - 19:50 min

Saddle Brook Memorial Day 2015 - 53:39 min (Parade was over 2 hours long)

Saddle Brook Easter Celebration - 8:14 min

Spirit Leaders Pizza Party - 9:33 min

This is what you are getting for $23,000-$24,000 a year.  Each and every one of these event videos is missing precious moments, if not hours, of people and children left on the editing room floor. As I said, “There is simply no reason to go ‘above and beyond’ when they don’t have a horse in the race, --that is, they don't stand to gain or lose anything by its outcome.” I can safely guarantee you that this would NOT be the case if Saddle Brook residents, parents and volunteers, ran or participated in Saddle Brook Community Television.

Mayor White said in his MAYOR’S MONTHLY UPDATE OCTOBER, 2015, “We look forward to your interest and participation in our special 300th anniversary celebration.” Even if there is a video made, will it be 8, 12, 15, minutes long?

I harp on this subject quite frequently not just because it is near and dear to my heart, but because there is absolutely no excuse for this incompetence in the 21st Century. Yeah, it’s not the end of the world. The mayor, and the township in general, has much bigger fish to fry. However, it does show a systemic problem that a half-assed way of doing things is, and should be, accepted as adequate.

For years now, both in the Chamberlain and White administrations, trying to listen to a council meeting, has been futile at best. Even the School System can’t muster the wherewithal to create a curriculum where students can learn the trade of video production, web and video streaming. A vocation that will only grow in leaps and bounds over the next generation. Their audio is inaudible and they can’t even color-correct their camera.

This is NOT brain surgery for crying out loud. What is it with these people who are “in-charge”? Saddle Brook Pride was the Chamberlain administrations slogan. PRIDE, pride in your community, in oneself. Doing the best you can do. Being the best you can be. Where is the motivation to be proud?

I’ll yell, I’ll scream, I’ll pull my hair out, God knows I sure have enough of that, until someone steps up to the plate, proudly beats their chest and proclaims, wow, look at what we can do, isn’t it great? 


Fought for God, Country, and . . . FOR YOU!

Many videos have been posted on Facebook as well as other social media, Countrywide. Here is one which most closely says how "I" feel.


Silence of the Hams

I can no longer hesitate to say what has become eerily deafening. With all of the clamor, innuendoes, speeches, rumors, and now a TV news report regarding Franklin School, why is it that we have not heard from the two people who, by the very nature of their important positions, places them on the top of the “should hear from them” list?

If we try to unclutter all the inaccuracies and misplaced arguments spewed from all corners of this incident, the one thing that stands out the most to me is, where the hell is the mayor and police chief on this issue?

If one were to rely on the argument that the school administration and board are an autonomous body and therefore cannot be interfered with, they would be utterly mistaken. When it comes to a crime, potential or otherwise, law enforcement has the ultimate responsibility. Neither the school administration nor the board of education, may do the sole investigation. As was done for this particular incident, the Saddle Brook Police Department, with the Bergen County Prosecutors Office knowledge, investigated. It should never be left to Superintendent alone, to decide the severity of this type of incident.

All the public as seen so far with regard to this police investigation is their report, which was made public both here on this blog and elsewhere. As stated previously by me, this report cannot be considered thorough or detailed, when it alone, does not shed light on the intricacies of the incident for either the victim’s parents or the public at large. This report simply invites more questions.

So who better to answer some of those questions than the Chief of Police? Further stating the obvious, who is the director of public safety in the Township and ultimately responsible for ALL of the public’s safety? The mayor, Robert White, of course.

Why have these men been silent on this subject? Why hasn’t the mayor taken the bull by the horns, spoken to all involved and saw to it that the school administration and school board, are doing everything possible to put in place stringent protocols, policies, and procedures, overseeing the entire process, and then spoken publicly to keep the townspeople informed. Is the mayor too close to board members after holding the office of the president of the BOE?

More than not, the mayor is often seen in the presence of the police chief. When it comes to the political arena, they are practically attached at the hip. Why not now, now when it actually means something, something important to the people they serve, to be front and center on this issue.

This entire subject can’t be pooh-poohed and relegated to a “no big deal” incident. The outcome this time was without further incident. But what about next time? As I write this blog right now, 5 students were just stabbed on a California campus. A student was quoted as saying, "You see this stuff all over the news and stuff and you see it happen to all these other schools," but you don't expect it to happen at your school, said Lopez, 21.

I am surprised, bewildered, and disappointed, that both the mayor and police chief can’t rise to the level necessary when so much is potentially at stake. Neither man even had the common courtesy to speak with the victim and his parents. The least that should have been done.

Both the mayor and the chief are not ignorant men. They have a combined investment of over 50 years in Saddle Brook. Top law enforcement men. But their combined silence is deafening to the many residents who need both answers and consolement.

Leaders lead. Many are waiting. 


News At Eleven

WPIX Channel 11 to be exact. This evening, at 5: pm, Channel 11 broadcast their story of the incident that occurred at Franklin School on October 6, 2015. Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised that all they really needed was 2 minutes and 26 seconds to concisely and succinctly explain the issue. There were no answers to be found within this report but it most definitely explained the gravity of the problem.  

Because of this news piece, Mr. Luis, the victim’s father, was afforded a greater audience to be aware of this incident, and hopefully drive home the point that this incident cannot be kept under the carpet nor not publicly addressed. As this news piece made abundantly clear, this wasn’t something that the school board or the school administration can just simply say “oops” and then be done with it!

I don’t know who the producer of this news clip was but was happy they took the time to find then use the statement made at a school board meeting on October 19, by Superintendent Dr. Katz, where he acknowledged that “he made a judgement call, it was the wrong call in this case, and I accept responsibility for that”.

The problem I see with Dr. Katz acknowledgement is that, according to two school board members, there will be no ramifications for Dr. Katz “wrong call” nor alter in anyway his severance package negotiation. The problem being that what he said and did/didn't do, didn’t mean squat!

Even this reporter acknowledged that the facts of this case are always kept behind the vail of privacy. Though I do understand we are talking about children here, I still strongly believe the public, especially the parents of Saddle Brook school children, need to be made acutely aware of exactly what transpired, how it was miss-handled, and what will be put in place to make sure, with certainty, that it cannot happen again.

Scuttlebutt around town has been that a few board members, especially the board president, has a great affinity for Dr. Katz. Why I don’t know. The man is on his way out the door, favors have no reciprocal advantages. I don’t advocate burning him at the stake, but he made a gross error. That error, in my mind, should most definitely be reflected in his severance package.

However, punishing people for any and all errors made in this incident, will not fix the problem. As this news piece pointed out, this was and is no small problem. If, because of the complexity of laws and privacy issues, the board cannot easily be more transparent in their investigation with the public, then they will have to take extraordinary measures to make sure they can put the public at ease with their new polities. I say “new policies” because that better happen pronto!  



Politics As Usual

That title should mean that it goes without saying about what I am going to say. Meaning I shouldn’t be surprised at all that Mayor White is no different than any other politician. Suffice to say, regardless of the derriere from which it emanates, crap is still crap. I have made no bones about the fact that I personally believe most politicians are just uncovered derrieres with an ego problem.

I certainly don’t mean to suggest that every politician is an ass. Just by and large, more are then are not. So then, to expect a new politician to act any differently than a more seasoned one, would give the impression you are asking too much. You know, the definition of insanity?

Well then, I was insane. I was because I genuinely believed this time would be different. The majority of residents also believed that, and because they did, you have a new mayor with an opposite political party running the Township. However, when it comes to backroom politics, the backstabbing and cutthroat wheeling’s and dealings has been essentially no different than any other time before the present.

I am also probably correct when I assume that, as long as the majority of residents get their garbage picked up, pay reasonable taxes, and receive essential services when needed, don’t really give a hoot about what happens behind closed doors politically.

My most recent eye-opener, which only confirmed what I knew and said above, was the politics surrounding Mayor White’s “Re-Election Fundraiser” that took place on October 22, at Que Pasta. What you say, re-election already? No worries, the mayor still has three years left to prove himself. This was only one of many fundraisers to help stuff his coffers until re-election time; kind of like: gather ye roses while ye may.

It was a by invitation only affair. Dinner plates were offered for purchase at two price points, $100 and $300, with many seats comped. (Couldn’t be too many comped or it wouldn’t be a fundraiser). This affair was usual and customary by any definition.

What was disheartening to see but not at all unusual to occur, was with almost a year into his administration, the people that no longer are part of his click. Many longtime campaign supporters, workers, and donators, being left out in the cold. Most for only being guilty of not kissing ass good enough. Some were just common residents. Some were other politicians, while others are present members of the BOE of Saddle Brook and his previous colleagues. People that admitted they will not support Omar Rodriquez when he runs for SB council; that was an instant adios! People that would not commit their support to David Gierek, SB BOE President, and soon to be council candidate.

Personally, I don’t understand the mayors thinking when it comes to him supporting and backing TWO additional candidates, Rodriquez AND Gierek, when there are two democratic incumbents running and only three seats available. He want to force a primary?

I also hear that some township parents refused to attend because they were more than a little annoyed the mayor did not speak to, or in any way intervene, with the Franklin School issue and the safety factors involved. Frankly, I was surprised at that myself. Being a cop and all, I certainly would have thought he would have jumped on this one. Especially since, as he has said himself, “no one, with the exception of the chief, can shine his shoes.”

I don’t know who is kissing whose ass. But I’m damn sure that, as long as you pucker up and don’t make waves, there will be a dinner plate for you in the future. 



So, after 19 days of sometimes hysteria, misinformation, personal agendas, and misunderstandings of fact, where are we now? Where has all of this gotten us? Is the Township in a better position and the townspeople more informed than it was 19 days ago?

I find that question hard to answer. My knee-jerk response is yes, we now know more than just rumor and gossip. But rumor, innuendo, and downright lies still persist within the public story. We know more but not with the clarity parents should be entitled too. Though early in the game still, this isn’t a situation that should take its time to revel itself.

The last official occurrence in this ongoing saga, to my knowledge, was the Board meeting with the complainant, father of the child victim. Although he was willing to fill me in on what transpired, since I hear he was not happy with what occured, I felt it might be adding wood to the fire if I included that here.

The legality of what occurred was clearly shown within the police departments report. Within a two day period, the PD spoke to all involved, ascertained that there was no terroristic threat as defined by N.J. Statue, and therefore found no reason for a juvenile petition.

That answers the question of whether or not a crime was committed. What it does not answer, is what type of evaluation was made by the school administration? The fact the police investigated and the Board of Education was unaware of the incident, and as far as I know, still unaware of exactly what the administration did or didn’t do, has yet to be made public.

Dr. Katz, during the October 19 BOE Caucus meeting, made the outlandish statement that (paraphrased): “These kinds of things happen all the time.” Oh really? Dr. Katz did the best he could to downplay his administrations involvement after reveling he was derelict in his duties by handling this situation as he did. The consensus of his remarks were, “Trust me”, we did our job.

Well apparently you can’t trust him since he himself admitted to screwing up. Does it matter since he will be leaving the district come January 2016? Of course it doesn't.

The teachers union is using this situation to attack a board member when, for all tense and purposes, has nothing to do with the problem. It is a sideshow which can only hurt efforts to fix what went wrong. Board members and parents alike were, and still are, left in the dark.

So what’s the new plan, what new or different policies and procedures will be put in place to resolve this and make sure this will never happening again? I guess time will tell. But the more time it takes the more this will metastasize and become even harder to deal with. Transparency is the key to unlocking the answers.