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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.


That Was the Month That Was – June

Unlike the first few months where relative calm allowed the new mayor and council to get their feet wet, June was a tumultuous one. A four and one-half hour council meeting culminating into yelling, screaming and near blows free-for-all afterwards, because of hot tempers arising from major concerns of parents involved in the Township recreation program.

A tough position for the council to be in since their hands are tied when it comes to appointments within the Rec Dept. Those appointments and sanctity of the Rec Dept. fall on the shoulders of the mayor and mayor alone. Some questioned the correctness of discussing this issue in public with a governing body that has no jurisdiction. Yet many involved had concerns that they were not being addressed by the mayor, and therefore needed to be brought to the public’s attention, to force a fair resolution.

The mayor announced his decision at the July meeting, and because parents pushed the issue to the forefront, the council is now much more aware of their constituents concerns. The mayor felt that after the attempts of both the Director and himself, the issue was “unmanageable”, they could not “reach a compromise”, and therefore their attempts to defuse and satisfy most were “unsuccessful”.  Saying that, the mayor made his decision apparently based upon what he was told by unnamed others who back the commissioner. The mayor followed his recreation director’s recommendations when the director himself is not above reproach. I believe the mayor had no choice but to back his director, a political move, to solidify his appointment as director, when that is a controversy in and of itself, giving politics more weight than what parents had to say.  

On Monday, June 29th, a coyote seminar was held at the Senior Citizen Center. The seminar was said to be very informative and well attended. This problem seemed to be quickly addressed giving insight to residents on how to cope with this problem. It was also good to see that this meeting was videotaped by Enlacosa Video Productions to be disseminated on YouTube and TV. I won’t mention the quality however, as I’d just be beating a dead horse.

The Flood Committee’s first meeting was held on Tuesday, June 23rd. The meeting was said to be very productive in that there was meaningful dialogue about the flooding problem. I’m sure there was “meaningful dialogue” during the past administrations eight years with little however, resolved. An ongoing problem for many many years with the previous mayor having to fight with local, State, and Federal agencies to even be acknowledged. This, by no means, is a new fight. I sincerely hope this time they are fighting with new techniques.

The mayor announced that the township website re-design continues to move forward. Knowing the owner of JKO Consulting, the township website webmaster, I have no problem believing the new website will be a considerable upgrade and one more fitting and useful, for township residents. I hope all organizations take the mayor’s lead and involve themselves, which will greatly enhance its usefulness. In that vein I hope Enlacosa Video Productions also adopts taking over a webpage where they can post a TV schedule of events (times & dates), where residents would be able to learn when a particular show will be aired. They’ll probably call it an SBC-TV webpage but that would be a misnomer at the very least.  

An ordinance restricting overnight parking on Orchard Lane also became a major issue in June. The mayor asked the council to consider Police Chief Kugler’s recommendation to pass the ordinance; however, it was defeated (3-1) with one abstention during the July meeting. The mayor’s contention was that Orchard Lane is unique in that it is a very small cul-de-sac situated off one of the most dangerous curves along Saddle River Road. Wanting to be a people-pleaser, I think the mayor failed to realize that there are many areas of the township that have “unique” parking problems and therefore, to address one area, would demand addressing all areas of concern. The council, using some foresight, made the more fair and clear decision, to not impose any parking restrictions.

At the end of the month the mayor attended a reception in honor of Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco at the Stony Hill Inn. Seated at his table were, immediately to his left, “The Shadow”, Police Chief Robert Kugler, and “The Podium Pipers” Ratajczak, and Rodriguez. To his right, Council President Florence Mazzer and Councilman Tod Accomando. As I have said previously, since these six people have no problem breaking bread, why is there such a problem every month at council meetings? All being Democrats attending monthly Democrat Club meetings, why aren’t they able to get their collective act together and come to an agreement on issues, instead leaving their pissing matches to Council meeting? It is uncalled for, a waste of time for residents, and shows the mayor’s lack of control of his party.

As you are probably aware, the Recreation Trilogy continues during July and, from what I hear, August as well. We shall see. 



As it sometimes happens, I found myself thinking of police officers, the special ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Remembering that New Jersey is in-line with the higher statistics of the 50 states, losing three officers so far this year. In the past month five officers answered their last call. 

•  Scranton Police Department
Pennsylvania ~ July 12, 2015
•  Bakersfield Police Department
California ~ June 26, 2015
•  San Angelo Police Department
Texas ~ June 25, 2015
•  Hutto Police Department
Texas ~ June 24, 2015
•  Kentucky State Police
Kentucky ~ June 23, 2015
I just felt it fitting to post a remembrance, lest we never forget.



July Council Meeting Analysis 

It’s very hard for me to be objective when watching these meetings only because I have had an earful of attitudes from each and every one of these council people, as well as the mayor, during the past election campaign. It would not be inaccurate for me to go out on the limb and say that, with the exception of Councilwoman D’Arminio and Councilman Cimiluca, much of what I hear now has no resemblance to what I heard then. My only excuse for not realizing the true character of most, was twofold. Number one was my blindness to wanting Karen Chamberlain defeated at all costs, and number two, my naiveté when it came to the loyalty of, and belief in, the words of others.

As I watch these meetings now, the phoniness of the mayor and most of the council is not just objectionable, it’s sickening. Of course I wouldn’t expect anyone to believe this unless you sat where I sat over the March 2014 through November 4th time period.

What I see more than anything else are people who are trying to play politician, being smug, having an attitude of moral superiority, when they are simply just another resident who happens to hold all the cards for the moment. Duty, what ought to be done and their moral obligation and responsibility to get it done, can’t hold a candle to their ability to always cover their a$$. 

There are a few things I know that I cannot say nor prove, but I still know them. Some of what has been said are outright lies. Not unusual since that is how most people cover their a$$. I shouldn’t care as many have pointed out, since I don’t live in Saddle Brook anymore, “shut up already” they insist. But since I have both lived and worked in town for some 50 years and have observed similar breaches of trust during those years, I have a propensity to express what I know, hear, and see. 

The meeting

At the risk of repeating myself, Ad infinitum, the production values of the videos produced by Enlacosa Video Productions, have deteriorated to the point of embarrassment. Obvious to me is that lowballing their price to get their contract has predictably ensured they’d cut corners whenever and wherever possible. Former Councilman Anthony Halko did the same job better, at one quarter the price. The audio sucks. A point made by the mayor was that hiring a company to do the videos would negate the cost of having to purchase equipment. If that is the case,’ then why isn’t Enlacosa using their own audio equipment when we all know damn well the townships audio equipment is useless? Another argument the mayor gave was that Enlacosa would use HD (high definition) cameras. YouTube videos are uploaded at 480p which is NOT HD quality and both Cablevision and Verizon FiOS do NOT give HD video capabilities for Public Access television. Also, either the cameraman fell asleep, wasn’t behind the camera, or thought Omar Rodriquez is 5 feet taller than he is.  

Lastly on this subject, not a single bill has yet to be paid to Enlacosa or has been on any township bill list. According the Enlacosa’s contract with the township, they are to be paid monthly. Why hasn’t that happened? Because what is said by the mayor is not necessarily what happens? You’re going to get hit with an unexpected bill come the end of the year? Who knows? Who cares? You should be told the truth!   

Recreation Fiasco 

I’ll say nothing more than this about that. The other side had its say, a good thing. Mayor White gave his pronouncement at the beginning of the meeting. He stated that after the valiant attempts of both the Director and himself, he feels this issue is “unmanageable”, they cannot “reach a compromise”, and therefore their attempts to defuse and satisfy most were “unsuccessful”.  Saying that, he made his decision apparently based upon what he was told by unnamed others to back the commissioner.

My way or the highway is definitely a way to end a controversy. The buck stops at the mayor’s desk. Putting his foot down will, to some, show the use of his authority and perceived no nonsense decision-making prowess. To me it shows a quitter.

His decision was based upon what he has been told by others, including his director, and thereafter giving more weight to their opinions then people on the other side of the argument. Seems to me, if he were to be fair to everyone, including the “children”, he should have applied himself more as a negotiator or arbitrator, then a judge. His ‘job’ was to negotiate with two opposing factions of concerned parents and come to an acceptable agreement between the two. Just because he couldn’t “manage” it doesn’t mean the situation was unmanageable. As mayor, he owed it to ALL of the parents involved, to give their arguments equal credence and find a middle ground. Not throw up his hands in frustration and decide a “one or the other” decision was better than a compromise. More hurt and frustration will now be felt by many parents then necessary. 

The mayor followed his recreation director’s recommendations when the director himself is not above reproach. To back his director is a political move to solidify his appointment as director when that is a controversy in and of itself. 

It has been confirmed that both D’Arminio and Accomando received a letter from one of the, I’ll call litigants, of this issue. The mayor claims he never received this letter. Though it has not been confirmed whether he did or did not, it would be preposterous to believe the mayor was not in the loop from the get go, regardless of what he claims.  

Orchard Lane Ordinance

Ordinance #1596-15 was defeated by a 4 to 1 vote. The one vote in favor was cast by D’Arminio who reasoned that if the police chief, after investigation and consideration, filed a report in favor of this ordinance, she would follow the recommendations of the man in-charge of public safety. It is an unspoken joke that over the years Saddle Brook as built homes anywhere a builder could line the pockets of the people who have a say. Five homes were built where only three were approved. The township was and is at fault for the situation that now exists. To now create an ordinance that would compound an error, would only add insult to injury. Not following the suggestions of both the mayor and the police chief, was a correct decision of the council. 

Anti-Nepotism Ordinance

Councilman Cimiluca once again showed his frustration with the lack of movement of the council on implementation of an anti-nepotism ordinance. It is almost like nepotism is what is holding back the writing of a law. Some apparently want to either not be held to its demands, or at the very least, loopholes included to give them an out. It would not be so hard to word this ordinance unless those were your desires. 

The mayor stated that he “still has issues” with the way in which the current proposed ordinance has been written and wants further discussion. This begs the question, what exactly are his concerns and do they have anything to do with his shadow, the chief of police? I think it’s about time we get to hear exactly how this sausage is made and not simply have to live with the end product. 

Transparency was the overriding theme of this new administration. I don’t see it, do you? 


July Caucus / Council Meeting

It wasn’t another marathon. More like self-indulgence by some, pep rally for others, and threats by one. Yes, the July Council meeting was a continuation of the June meeting with the other side having its say.

Councilwoman D’Arminio explained her position then respectfully apologized for not answering a registered letter she received, which was admirable. Councilman Accomando was threatened with a lawsuit, and Mayor White defended his Recreation Director’s appointment without explaining his thought process. Meanwhile the director himself, Joe Setticase, was present but mute doing the entire proceedings.  

Again, a council meeting was all about the recreation department where the councilmembers themselves have little, if any legal standing, to remedy this onslaught of public outcry.

The mayor is an invited guest at council meetings. He doesn’t have to show up or speak if he chooses not to. Unfortunately, the decision to appoint a recreation director is his and his alone. He has every right to not be transparent in his decision-making process if he decides that is in his best interest. In this regard “my way or the highway” works in his favor.

You will also see that that ORDINANCE #1596-15 –SECOND READING, AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 196 OF THE TOWNSHIP CODE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF SADDLE BROOK (PARKING RESTRICTIONS- ORCHARD LANE) was defeated by a 4 to 1 vote against. The one vote in favor was cast by D’Arminio who reasoned that if the police chief, after investigation and consideration, filed a report in favor of this ordinance, she would follow the recommendations of the man in-charge of public safety. At the same time, in my opinion, she probably felt the responsibility would then fall squarely on the chief’s shoulders and would be answerable should this manifest itself into a town-wide fiasco.

Personally, I’m glad to see the majority of the council voted in favor of the law of the land that streets are public property, available to anyone and everyone, yet somewhat disturbed that, of all people, the police chief didn’t see it that way. Mayor White had voiced his opinion before the vote that he was in favor of its passing. Not surprising in that what the chief wants the mayor is in favor of.

Of course you will also get to hear the usual from Ratajczak and Rodriguez, the frick and frack of Saddle Brook know-it-alls.

What you won’t get to see or hear is the brouhaha that occurred outside the chambers after the meeting ended. Screaming, yelling, threatening, and a general “you suck” from one side of the recreation isle to the other.

“My way or the highway” ain’t the best way to quiet a storm! 


Dog Day's of Summer 

Since the nay side of the controversial Recreation Director controversy had their say at the June Council meeting, it would only be fair that the Yay side has their turn. Apparently from what I hear, that will be the case tomorrow night at the July Council meeting.

There has been much talk around town since the initial comments were made publicly at the June meeting, some believing a council meeting was not the place to air dirty laundry. Others felt since an appointment of the director is at the lone purview of the mayor, not needing advice and consent (from the council), therefore allowing people to speak their mind at the meeting was a mistake in judgement.   

Due to the seriousness of the complaints mentioned at the June meeting, I believe it was prudent of the concerned parents to inform the council of their concerns regardless of the council’s lack of power to “officially” remedy it.

The other side of the coin will apparently have their say tomorrow night which is fair and considerate to both parents taking offense to what was said in June, and the director himself.

From what the official agenda says for the Council Caucus/Council meetings, this issue will be the only one addressed from what was discussed at the previous June meeting. Unfortunately this is the way important topics usually fall through the cracks. Any given ‘hot topic of the month’ usually gets lost in the sauce when a new topic of the next month takes its place.

No mention is made of discussions regarding Lifetime Health Benefits for the some of the present and former mayors and council, or the Anti-Nepotism Ordinance, Veterans Field vs. building two new ones at additional cost, or even a completion date with the former township engineer’s Veterans Field contract. There is however a Resolution labeled: APPROVE PAYMENT OF BILLS – COSTA ENGINEERING. So maybe we’ll get some incite from this.

The council is to vote on ORDINANCE #1596-15 –SECOND READING, AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 196 OF THE TOWNSHIP CODE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF SADDLE BROOK (PARKING RESTRICTIONS- ORCHARD LANE). But under ITEMS UP FOR DISCUSSION it also states:  ORCHARD LANE PARKING ORD. – AWAITING CHIEF KUGLER’S REPORT, which makes it unclear if there in fact will be any informative discussion this month.

As with all things half-assed, since other items up for discussion have the words “see attached” adjacent to each topic (on the Agenda), with no attachments actually attached to the Agenda’s web version, it would be impossible to glean any information from what is supplied via the Township website.

Will this meeting be another 4+ hour marathon? I don’t know. But maybe that was discussed over dinner (see previous post). 


The Round Table

In case there is any question as to whom you should be rubbing shoulders with if and when you need something done in town, this “odd” compilation of people should clarify any uncertainty.

Since the new mayor is a bachelor now, I’m beginning to wonder if the police chief is bunking with the mayor in his empty house, considering I hardly ever see a picture of either one of them without the other.

Then to the right of the picture you see the “monthly opposition” to the two people sitting on the left and middle. You think they might have some conversations regarding the Recreation Department, or more specifically, the Director, or the Anti-Nepotism Ordinance, or the parking situation on Orchard Lane, or maybe the lifetime healthcare benefits for the some of the present and former mayors and council, or the two backstops at Veterans Field vs. building two new ones at additional cost, or even a completion date with the former township engineer’s Veterans Field contract?

My question would be: where are they putting on the airs? At these types of political dinners where the peons get to feel they are the bigshots, or at a council meeting where some appear to either not have the answers or know the answers better than everyone else?

If they can all break bread together then one would think they can actually speak to one another and do the job of governing. Apparently White appreciates and therefore associates himself with the likes of Kugler, Ratajczak, and Rodriguez, not allowing himself to be further from any of them then necessary.

Kugler, Ratajczak, and Rodriguez weren’t elected yet they are all the choir that continually sings the mayor’s song. Of course the mayor has the right to have dinner, share a beer, or rent out rooms, to anyone he likes. But personally I’d prefer to see him stand alone for the next few years where he can define who he is and not continue to lurk in the shadow of others.