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Thursday
Aug272015

Unread Letter

I knew the following letter was written but not until today was I able to read it. If nothing else, this letter can’t help but make you question both the council’s integrity and/or its political motives.

The Letter - Written by Councilman Andrew Cimiluca and posted on NJ.com:

The following is a statement which was prepared prior to the August council meeting, which I could not attend. I had requested that it be read into the record. CP Mazzer did not permit that. I sent it to the Community News, which did not publish it. I will read it into the record myself at the September council meeting”:

I apologize for not being able to attend tonight’s meeting. I have asked that this statement be read into the record in my absence. Unfortunately, my main emotion for this month is disappointment.

The first issue is the failure of the council to introduce, never mind pass, an anti-nepotism ordinance. The 2012-2014 council members were discussing this issue at great length. Many members of the public were calling for it. The 2014 election campaign featured a Democratic platform highlighting the need for an anti-nepotism ordinance and, as we know, the Democrats swept that election. The ordinance before the council is a scaled back version of the ordinance which I had originally proposed. It now affects a much smaller group of potential employees. The prohibition on hiring only affects the direct family members of the Mayor, Council members, department heads and division heads, whereas the previous version affected extended family members and any employees in a supervisory capacity. I feel that it is a sound ordinance and one that ensures the public of transparency and honesty in governmental hiring practices. I do not at all agree with the argument that the police department should not be subject to the anti-nepotism policy. Although police candidates do have to take and are graded on a civil service exam, this town is well aware that the “rule of three” applies and a candidate can be jumped, regardless of his or her test score. In addition, once a family member is hired, there is the likely potential that nepotism may play a part in the assignments given to that person. All in all, I am disappointed that some eight (8) months after this new council was sworn in, the anti-nepotism ordinance has not yet been passed and appears to be doomed to failure.

I thank you for indulging me and I wish all present and all viewing a pleasant rest of the summer.

Andrew M. Cimiluca

NOTE: Two additional issues were discussed by Mr. Cimiluca within his letter. To read his entire letter CLICK HERE

One can’t help but question why Council President Mazzer would not allow this letter to be read at the August meeting. I “heard” her argument was that if she read Cimiluca’s letter then she would have been forced to read a residents letter. Well, two more questions then: what was so bad about the residents letter that it couldn’t be read and number two, wouldn’t it have been only proper to recognize a follow council persons request?

Knowing what I know and being able to prove it without putting anyone else in jeopardy, is not an easy thing to do. I DO know Ms. Mazzer, after conversations with others, did not want to allow the anti-nepotism ordinance anymore public discussion time, and therefore scrutiny, then necessary. I also know that the mayor had applied political pressure to see to it that his version, and his version alone, would be the only ordinance that was passed. Knowing the internal turmoil surrounding this ordinance, did the mayor discuss with the council president what should or shouldn’t happen during the public council meeting? More importantly, did she listen? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, backroom political deals are being made for the upcoming council elections. The truth will become more evident down the road.

Mr. Cimiluca’s statement of “I do not at all agree with the argument that the police department should not be subject to the anti-nepotism policy” and how that impacts the mayor/police chief’s agenda, is very much the crux of this problem.

I hope Cimiluca’s statement of “the anti-nepotism ordinance has not yet been passed and appears to be doomed to failure” is just born out of frustration more than reality. Though this mayor and council has made a mountain out of a molehill with this subject, there is always more time to acknowledge and fix their mistake.  

Wednesday
Aug262015

Enough To Make Your "Blood" Boil

 Looking at the Township website makes me cringe whenever I see politicians kissing each other’s rear ends. And it appears to me that if Mayor Robert White isn’t taking a selfie with the police chief, he is taking pictures of himself with every Tom, Dick, and Harry politician that will stand still long enough. If he were any farther up their poop shoots you wouldn’t see him at all. Congressman Bill Pascrell, County Executive James Tedesco, Assemblyman Tim Eustace, Joseph Lagana, just to name a few. Are we supposed to be impressed that White rubs elbows with these people? Sure politicians have to pump each other up since most other people will not, but enough is enough already. Always seems like Mayor White MUST be next to someone he perceives to be of impotence only because he himself is not. A little less campaigning and a bit more management would leave a better taste in my mouth. 

Ever hear of “The Bloods”? In the late 1960’s was the creation of exactly what would certainly be among one of the highly fierce plus ruthless African-American street organization in the history of Los Angeles, The Bloods. With the advent of Hip-Hop culture, drew youth away from gangs and channeled their time on the streets into a variety of different art forms such as graffiti, break dancing and rapping. The competitive nature of hip-hop caused it to flourish during the 1980s in New York, but by the early 1990s, a new generation of youth were forming street gangs again*. 

Nothing to worry about in Saddle Brook right? Think again! 

On August 23rd at 2:34 in the morning a classic 2003 high-end restored Mercedes Benz was captured on videotape by a Saddle Brook resident’s home security system, driving down the street. What was not normal was the fact that this beautiful automobile was not being driven by its owner. It was operated by an African-American male with a second occupant in the passenger seat. The owner, Former Mayor Louis D’Arminio, was fast asleep along with his wife, Councilwoman Karen D’Arminio. This vehicle was being stolen right from their driveway on Avon Lane. Some 12 hours later it was learned that this Mercedes Benz was located in Montclair NJ, disabled with severe damage after being involved in a police pursuit. 

After learning of this incident I quickly called the D’Arminio residence to express my condolences. Mr. D’Arminio explained to me that what has him more upset then having his car stolen, is that it was stolen by ARMED members of The Bloods. Montclair police reported to D’Arminio that when his stolen Mercedes became disabled, the two occupants of his vehicle forcibly hijacked another vehicle by brandishing a weapon. D’Arminio was concerned for the welfare of the other victim(s) involved and questioned why The Bloods were in Saddle Brook in the first place, plus whether his car was “targeted”. 

Since this is not at all a “usual” occurrence in Saddle Brook, I asked what Chief Kugler or Mayor White may have had to say about this incident. To my total shock and dismay, Mr. D’Arminio said he has not heard from either the chief or the mayor during the first 24 hours of this incident. I wanted to ask Mr. D’Arminio if he found that somewhat disconcerting but also felt a question like that may put him in awkward position, so I didn’t ask.

But Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, as a former mayor, public safety director, brother police officer and husband of a sitting councilperson, you would think both the mayor and police chief would have had the common curiosity, if not the concern for a residents misfortune and wellbeing, to at least lift an elbow and make a phone call.

To say I am flabbergasted would be putting it mildly. Liking them or hating them, or being on the opposite side politically, has absolutely no bearing on what ‘the right thing to do’ is. If the mayor or chief cannot find it within themselves to go just a tiny bit out of their way for two people who have served their community for so many years, and still do to this day, I could only hesitate to wonder what they might or might not do for the “average Joe” in town should he/she suffer similar circumstances. 

As we have all seen for some time now, the mayor and the police chief are closer than two peas in a pod. They do everything together. They cover each other’s back, go to every single function or ceremony that they can together, take hundreds of pictures together, as well as change the course of township ordinances together. Now, apparently, they ignore a prominent resident . . . . Together. 

Not that most people will even understand, but you don’t treat a “brother” police officer this way. Montclair PD showed more respect to this brother officer, than Saddle Brook did! How embarrassing.

Frankly I’m surprised at the police chief. I certainly have more respect for him then I do the mayor. I would have thought the chief would have been a little more on the ball with this. But by his actions with me and others, the mayor has shown absolutely no loyalty and little respect to his “brother officers” and many others for that matter. Now that he has been elevated to #1 from #2, he thinks who the hell he is. Though, in my opinion, his elevation is by title only. He still seems to walk in the shadow of the chief.

And frankly, why am I writing about this? The mayor and the police chief should be on every street corner, shouting with a bullhorn, in their duty to enlighten as many residents as possible, to this incident. The Bloods being in Saddle Brook is no small matter. This only goes to prove that EVEN IN SADDLE BROOK, all residents must be vigilant and shows no one is immune from being violated; violated by the worst of the worst criminal elements.

I don’t believe it behooves you to just read about Congressman Bill Pascrell, County Executive James Tedesco, Assemblyman Tim Eustace, and the like, on the township website. It behooves you to know exactly what the hell is going on in this town so you can keep your car in your driveway and you and your family safe.

Adding insult to injury, the two top cops who did and are running this town and all you get to read is political bull$hit. Their first duty is to you and your safety. Falling short would be an understatement. 

Saturday
Aug082015

History Has A Habit Of Repeating Itself

"I think it should be all in or nothing."

The problem is that the "all or nothing" approach is a poor way to govern. So says The Record Newspaper editorial dated August 7th, titled: “All In The Family”, which referenced Councilwoman Karen D’Arminio statement above.

The Record further wrote: “An anti-nepotism ordinance covering elected officials and department heads would have been preferable. But in the absence of that, banning the relatives of just elected officials from getting town jobs would have been a step in the right direction.

On the surface, The Record’s argument seems plausible. The problem with The Record making a statement like this is that The Record Editorial Board doesn’t live in Saddle Brook, doesn’t know the history of Saddle Brook political abuse, and apparently hasn’t listened at all to D’Arminio’s comments on this subject. Had they, they would have been well aware that Councilwoman D’Arminio was not at all suggesting what The Record is implying.

D’Arminio has been a staunch advocate of an anti-nepotism ordinance. I believe her reference to “all in or nothing” is because she knows damn well that a watered down, politician only ordinance, will not curtail the nepotism abuse that has been occurring for years. She has to be further aware that once a toothless ordinance is put in place, it would be next to impossible to enforce it and will NEVER be upgraded to a real anti-nepotism law. The something better than nothing attitude is a political whitewash intended to give the appearance the government has taken action, when in fact, nothing will change except the appearance.  Even The Record realizes “Arguments against restricting nepotism are seldom persuasive. Councilman Todd Accomando said he would oppose any nepotism ordinance putting hiring restrictions on the Police Department. Why?

Why should D’Arminio or any other councilperson for that matter, be forced to accept a half-assed law and go along to get along, when they know damn well it would only be a “feel good’ law with no teeth. The PD and the DPW have over and over again been burdened with nepotism. Anyone not knowing this has either just moved into Saddle Brook or their house was built under a rock.

The police chief has been very public in his opposition to this law being allowed to affect his department. The mayor has been very transparent in changing his opinion once the chief went public. The mayor said once this watered down ordinance is passed, they can then look to improve thing “way down the road”. WhyTF does this council have to accept mediocrity as the only way to govern? They’ll be no “down the road”.

There is no earthly reason why an ordinance covering all areas of where nepotism could show its ugly face, not be written and passed. There simply is no “justifiable reason”. There are however many unjustifiable reasons when backroom politics gets in the way. And I’ll assert to you that that is exactly what is happening here!

There is more happening here then we are meant to see. Votes are being bought and sold for reasons not obvious to any of us. And when certain council members go against the grain and stick to their beliefs, there is usually political hell to pay somewhere down the road.

It would be well to take note that, in his statement of justification, the mayor said there “may be a problem” or conflict with an anti-nepotism law and Civil Service regulations. How preposterous!!!!!!!!!!! Civil Service does not and cannot supersede a bona fide legal law. Any impropriety found within a law would be settled through the courts and not subject to sanction by civil service. This kind of hyperbole is exactly the example that epitomizes why “down the road” will never happen.

Things are too much into the weeds here and therefore the reason why The Record is unable to see the forest through the trees.

The mayor apologized to Councilwoman D’Arminio during the August 6th Council meeting by stating that he never meant to infer that any councilperson ever approached him to have anyone hired as an employee. The mayor said he is now going to write an Executive Order, which can only apply to him since he is the one and only appointing authority, stating he will not hire anyone that fit the criteria outlined within the anti-nepotism ordinance that was just voted down.

Oh my God, does this man really believe most people are stupid? An Executive Order has no legal foundation whatsoever. He can follow it or not follow it and either way no one can say or do $hit about it! Why enact ordinances (laws) if the powerful mayor can just write Executive Orders until the cows come home? They mean nothing.  He doesn’t even need two people, one to lie and the other to swear to it. He can do it all on his own.

You need laws, laws that have enforcement criteria written within it, and well-articulated punishment for violations.

The mayor is blowing smoke. And when there is smoke, there is fire! 

Friday
Aug072015

Caucus Meeting - August 4th

Well, if the Council Caucus meeting of Tuesday night is any indication, tonight’s Council meeting should prove to have at least an equal amount of entertainment value. Unfortunately, since the contentious and often nonsense arguments made by some members of the mayor and council will not repeat itself, their arguments amounting to the council “killing” the anti-nepotism ordinance for the near future, there would be no reason to argue more when the anti-nepotism ordinance is no longer on tonight’s agenda. However, I have a funny feeling this argument isn’t over yet. Nor should it be!

If you happened to read The Record article “Saddle Brook shelves reworked anti-nepotism measure amid differing views”, AUGUST 5, 2015, 6:44 PM    LAST UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5, 2015, 6:44 PM, BY JOHN SEASLY STAFF WRITER | THE RECORD, you did not get the full story.

It became more than obvious that Mayor Robert White desperately wants and is applying pressure, to force the council to adopt only a watered down version of an anti-nepotism ordinance, his arguments being a 180 degree reversal of his stated belief’s and goals during his campaign, as well as, his written statements on his campaign website.

Though there is no proof to the contrary, one can’t help but wonder if White’s complete back peddling has something to do with his past boss and political advisor, Robert Kugler. You’ll remember Kugler made, as some call it, an impassioned speech at the May 4th Council meeting. Using VERY strong words the chief said: “It’s not for me.  My daughter was already violated by the previous administration. She has no indication, no desire to come here. That spark was put out a long time ago.” How does that statement fit in with the matter at hand?

As I had previously said, if one were to look at this objectively, the first question that should come to mind would be, why is a subordinate department head, the chief of police, publicly questioning his superiors about anything?? There is no question that he should have been stopped in his tracks by at least two different people, Council President Flo Mazzer, and / or Mayor Robert White. The chief was totally out of bounds spewing his two cents publicly, accentually putting his superiors on notice. Who is running the show here anyway? Is Mayor White so used to being number two that he automatically falls back to his past practice of following his previous number one? The mayor’s authority was diminished by a subordinate (chief), and the mayor did nothing about it. Unless of course the mayor and his shadow were working together. Whatever the case, their strategy worked. Now the mayor had an argument against an ordinance that he strongly campaigned for because his mentor doesn’t want to be locked into a law that prohibits his wiggle room. There could be no other reason why the chief of police would be against an anti-nepotism policy that effects the police department unless that were the case.

Both Councilmen Accomando and Camilleri were against including the police department within this ordinance initially. Their disapproval lies in their self-interest. Both had previously said that, in the future, should their son or daughter want to be a police officer in the Township of Saddle Brook, they would not be allowed if they, Accomando and Camilleri, were councilmembers. It is therefore easy to see that their self-interest is clouding their judgement. If it were that important to either of these gentlemen to have their siblings become police officers in Saddle Brook, and their true feelings were that their children are the most important thing to them, then they should resign from the township council and take care of their family. But they want their cake and eat it too. Their blinders of self-interest stop both men from seeing the bigger picture. And they are there, in the capacity of councilmen, to see the bigger picture; for the township’s benefit and not simply their own.

To some extent Camilleri has since reneged on his original thought process but Accomando has not. And as I have said numerous times, Mr. Accomando is extremely wet behind the ears and naïve when it comes to his responsibilities on the council. A case in point of his naivety is a statement he made on a different subject this evening.

The subject came up about anonymous people writing whatever they liked regarding township politicians on the NJ.com Saddle Brook website forums. Councilman Accomando asked the ridicules question (paraphrased), can’t we have an ordinance that forces people to post their real names on this website?” Anyone with even a meager grasp of free speech, the law of the land, and / or reality, would know better than to ask a question like that.  They always say that when learning, there is no such thing as a stupid question. But there are limits and he soared past that one!

Accomando hasn’t learned how to play chess yet. He still has to develop a sense of how to see three moves down the road to understand how his decisions may affect the township in days to come. He really has to learn that making things the way HE would like it, isn’t what he should be using as his barometer. He refuses to vote for any anti-nepotism ordinance that includes the police department. Has he been blind to the past 10 years? Or, being so new, is he, without reasoning or questioning, just following the mayor’s desires?

And now the mayor’s desires have changed. What he said many many times during his mayoral campaign are now nothing more than empty words. Of course he is entitled to change his mind. But no one is asking the question: “What changed your mind”? Absent that answer I can only think of less than ethical reasons.

The mayor wanted a watered down version of this ordinance to pass this month. He thought he had the votes. To his dismay, obvious anger in his face, he did not get what he wanted. So HE declared an anti-nepotism ordinance is dead and will not happen. I hate to clue the new mayor who may not yet be well versed in parliamentary procedures, but the COUNCIL will decide if/when an ordinance is dead. The Council makes the laws and the mayor enforces them, not the other way around. It won’t be voted on tonight but I am fairly confident it definitely will resurface in a few months.

I am confident because of the sincerity of two people, Councilman Cimiluca and Councilwoman D’Arminio. Mr. Cimiluca has proven that, despite political opposition, he fully intends to re-write the ordinance until it passes and unlike White and Accomando, Councilwoman D’Arminio intends to fulfil her campaign promises.  

It is ironic that a campaign promise by three democrats has now turned into a rift between the majority democratic council. This simply should not be so hard to do if they were all sincere in keeping nepotism out of Saddle Brook. It has only become hard because unequivocally that is not everyone’s intention. 

Monday
Aug032015

August Council / Caucus Meetings 

Council Caucus meeting is shaping up to have some interesting topics for discussion. Also waiting to see how watered down this Anti-Nepotism ordinance becomes, as well as, if the threat made by an outraged Recreation Commissioner wanna-a-be comes to fruition. You know this recreation debacle isn't over yet.  

ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION

1. BONDING DISCUSSION FOR CAPITAL PROJECTS

2. REVIEW OF TOWING ORDINANCE

3. ADA BID RESULTS 

4. VETERANS FIELD UPDATE

5. ANTI-NEPOTISM ORDINANCE – COUNCILMAN CIMILUCA

6. PROPOSED ORD. RAISING AGE TO BUY TOBACCO PRODUCTS TO 21 – COUNCILMAN CIMILUCA

7. UPDATE ON CODIFICATION OF ORDINANCES

8. SENIOR HOUSING UPDATE 

Full Caucus/Council meeting Agenda's here. 

Sunday
Aug022015

National Night withOUT- 2015

It is with discouragement that I once again write on this blog that there will be NO “National Night Out Against Crime” event in Saddle Brook this year.  

It could very well be longer, but I believe there has not been an NNO event in Saddle Brook for the last five years. I had always assumed, and you know what they say about “assuming”, the reason for no NNO celebration was largely because there were not enough police officers within the SBPD to be able to justify the time or manpower necessary to pull it off.

In my day, which admittedly was many many days ago, National Night Out was an important Police / Community relations activity. From 1990 when I started the event, until approximately five years ago, it became the cornerstone for educating children and adults, in the full gamut of crime prevention, fire prevention, and first aid. It was a fun-filled 2 hours of meeting officers and learning about the K-9 Unit, S.W.A.T, Bomb Squad, Water Rescue, Fire prevention, vehicle extrication, First Aid, CPR, Blood pressure, as well as so many other facets of safety. Otto The Auto taught children traffic safety, balloons, refreshments, music and more. One of the highlights for the children was getting a ride up and down Hook & Ladder Companies “Snorkel” fire truck!  In the past I could understand the police department passing up organizing this event when their manpower was dangerously low as it was. But now, when the township has gotten their act together and hired a decent amount of additional officers, and the inseparable police chief and mayor were the two top dogs of SBPD, they still decide that National Night Out doesn’t deserve their time or trouble.

I mean not for nothing, but it would have been just another place where the chief and mayor could have taken a picture together and put it on Facebook!! Apparently that seems to be first on their collective agenda.

Putting my snarkiness aside, I just feel it’s a disservice to the public that they couldn’t find the wherewithal to bring back another worthwhile summertime event to Saddle Brook. It’s not a big deal, it’s just a shame. 

Sunday
Jul262015

Practice What You Preach 

Ever since the beginning of the ongoing Recreation Department fiasco, I’ve wondered why the mayor is not following through with his campaign promises, specifically, transparency through District Specific Townhall meetings with live TV and online questions and answer sessions.

During his campaign “we”, the campaign strategists, pundits, and volunteers, all agreed, along with strong agreement from all three candidates that their administration should do much more in the way of speaking with residents regarding their specific concerns. District meetings would be one way to personally speak with residents to learn more of their personal area problems. Plus, they would have the time to explain and better inform residents in greater detail than what normally would be available at a council meeting what their Government was doing to curtail these and other problems. 

For those unable to attend these meetings, it was decided that, with the help of my expertise, meetings would be broadcast LIVE on TV and simultaneously online on the township’s website where residents could watch, listen, and call-in via telephone to ask questions.

Though I am not an employee of Enlacosa Video Productions and am not involved in the township’s television productions, I had hoped that it would not stop the mayor from moving forward with “our” idea. Admittedly, Mayor White was skeptical of using the “live” format during his campaign. He felt that way because he was afraid it would be taking a chance to speak to many residents at once, live, with the possibility of not being knowledgeable enough to answer a question or say something he would not be able to take back. Though I pressed candidate White many times to use this technology that was freely available to him and show residents his desire to be open and upfront, his fear of making a fool of himself took precedence. This of course is no longer an issue for him, or it shouldn’t be, anyway. He is the mayor now and will be for a minimum of the next three and one-half years.

As the recreation debacle has brought to light, there is a definite need for more and better interaction between residents and their government. Because I had the capability to do what I suggested above was not the reason why it was a good idea. It’s a good idea because it is a needed idea. Council meetings once a month on TV aren’t going to cut it. A council meeting is not even a meeting with the mayor. It’s a council meeting with the mayor being an invited guest. Mayor White, Councilwoman D’Arminio, and Councilman Accomando, were all adamant, unwavering in their concerns, that the previous administration was too much of a “behind closed doors” administration. They wanted to be so different in their transparency to their constituents.

The township is now paying for television services. The benefit of paying for this service was supposed to be that they can now ask for, and receive, the services they need and not be concerned with abusing volunteers.

Such lofty ideas while running for office, yet very much the status quo now that they are in office.

They were correct in their desire to do better when they had their turn. They were not naïve. They can now do what they so strongly believed then. It should not be so easily forgotten what it was like when they were on the outside looking in.

The days of the campaign brought out the best of everyone involved. It’s too early in the game to be “comfortable in their ways”.

Start planning those district townhall meetings now! Use some of the $187,000 you collected from Cablevision and Verizon FiOS franchise fees and get your TV people to work with your website people. Shoot for 21st Century type video productions in the 21st Century with LIVE video and audience interaction.

A township resident’s awareness of his or her government’s actions is just as important as any other issue the town fathers try to tackle. Government may not be able to solve every problem. However, making each and every resident aware of what can, can’t, or is being done, shouldn’t be a problem at all.