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MARCH COUNCIL MEETING

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Monday
Mar302015

Caucus Meeting – The Real Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday
Mar282015

Enlacosa Video Productions Presents

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

P.S. Nice to see Bambi back again!

Tuesday
Mar242015

Special Meeting – Very special!

Twp. Website: The Meetings tentatively scheduled for March 24-26, 2015 have been cancelled.” It was special because they got it so right that there would be no need for additional meetings. What did they get right? Who knows, this Special meeting was not videotaped by the newly contracted Enlacosa Video Productions. I was told there were very few people in attendance so find out what you can by word of mouth or wait for the meeting minutes to be posted online while dying of old age, which ever comes first. Maybe Enlacosa Video was just waiting for their check to clear (or Omar’s 10% commission) before attending. 

Don’t worry; the mayor will lift the veil of transparency sooner then later. He should have made the Police Chief tape it like he did for his swearing-in ceremonies.  

Friday
Mar202015

Special Meeting – Better Pack A Lunch!

UPDATE: This meeting 'should' be videotaped and available shortly.

On Township website:

The Township Council has scheduled a Special Public Meeting for March 23, 2015 and, if needed, March 24, 25 and 26, 2015 at 7:00 PM at the Saddle Brook Municipal Building, 93 Market Street, Saddle Brook, NJ. The agenda will be the 2015 Municipal Budget. Please contact the Township Clerk at 201-587-2909 Tues- Thurs. between 8:30 AM and 4:00 PM for any changes or cancellations of meeting dates or the Township website. 

Plus the inevitable CYA: Other items not specifically listed may also be discussed and acted upon. Portions of these meetings may be held in closed session. Formal action may be taken at these meetings. 

I promised myself I would refrain from posting SBC-TV stuff from this point forward since its now water under the bridge. But now seeing that they will be discussing the Township budget, devoting several days if necessary, makes me wish they did this before passing the consent agenda this past Thursday. The foundation of the mayor’s insistence on a third party vendor instead of operating a resident based TV station is predicated upon financial constraints. Had this conversation become public before their vote, there would have been time to question that very contention. My argument has always been that the money is there for SBC-TV, 10-fold. It is not the lack of money that kept or now keeps SBC-TV in the 20th Century. It is the lack of desire, fortitude, forward thinking, inclusiveness, and caring, of the mayor and four other council people who refuse to roll up their collective sleeves and properly fund SBC-TV. Had I had the opportunity I would have made this argument once again. 

I’ll preface my argument by saying that I realize not every resident (taxpayer) would agree with me or feel that the TV station is something worth funding. It’s a nice thing and all that but nowhere near the top of any priority list they may say. I understand that. But the crux of my argument is based upon two important factors: one, the general knowledge that the previous administration has left the township in pretty good financial shape, and number two, SBC-TV is self-funded; yes that is correct, it would not cost the township a dime to handsomely fund SBC-TV. Its six people who have just decided not to fund it. Two sitting council people have verified my argument privately. Publicly would be another animal entirely. 

Briefly, both Cablevision and Verizon FiOS, pay a yearly franchise fee to the township that amounts to 3% of their incomes derived from each and every household having either service installed at their home or business. If you look at your Cable/FiOS bill you’ll see a ‘municipal tax’ applied. Last years budget (2014) which is officially listed on the township’s official website under the heading of ‘Current Funds – Anticipated Revenues, states Cablevision of N.J. paid the township in franchise fees $126,616. Verizon paid the township $60,156.35. Combined is a total township income of $186,772.35 for the year 2014. 

To be clear, the Township of Saddle Brook is NOT obligated by law to spend any of this revenue on their TV station. They deposit this $186,772.35 into their General Fund and then divvy it up any way they please. For the past 10 years they have spent this money on God knows what, police cars, recreation, healthcare benefits, stipends, who knows. The powers that be have just plain decided to NOT spend any of it on the TV station. It is NOT financial constraints that hamper funding SBC-TV, it’s six people. Although they have already committed this $186,772.35 to other projects, some to a rainy-day fund, it is my contention that a little creative financial budgeting could spread the wealth more evenly to accommodate more of their constituents needs. 

The township has not had a CFO or more to the point, a Township Business Administrator, since the D’Arminio administration. Meaning no disrespect to either the present Township Clerk/Administrator or the mayor, neither man can claim to have the expertise of an educated and certified business administrator. Creative financial budgeting of some $20 million dollars is not the same as managing their household budget. Yes they have ‘professionals’ guiding them, but they are more a legal CYA then an employee who can only keep his job as an administrator if he/she can manage their money in a way that best serves the residents. 

The mayor’s now accepted third-party vendor approach would cost the township at a minimum $19,992.00 to record and broadcast JUST council meetings and any special meetings. Additionally they will post bulletin board information when given information by the township while not soliciting any additional information that may be of interest to the residents. Events such as the Easter Egg Hunt, Easter Hat Parade, the town picnic, fishing contest, Halloween and Christmas parties, tree lighting, Memorial Day Parade, Veterans Day, and holiday home decorating contests to name a few, would only be covered at additional cost. That cost being either $100 or $300 per event additional (it is not clear which cost would be applied to which event). Therefore it would be safe to assume the cost of videotaping would increase $1000 to $3000 or somewhere in-between. The lowest cost being approximately $21,000.00. 

I maintain that hiring a part-time employee at a reasonable salary of $25,000 to $30,000 who could get volunteers of residents and kids from the school system, working 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, and have township pride in their work, would be much more advantageous and cost effective then an outside vendor getting paid $1,666.00 for one days work. The township would receive a better service by allowing resident involvement and a desire to do more then an outside company who would prefer to do the least possible for the amount they’re paid. 

The mayor could do a lot more with the money spent, especially when the money IS there, should he choose to be more resourceful. He, along with the council, could make SBC-TV something homegrown, something to be proud of, a community activity, and more inclusive to the people who pay for it every month. He, and they, choose not too. Innovation does not have to hurt the bottom line; it should be made to become part and parcel of it. 

Thursday
Mar192015

Silence 

Wow has it been quiet! I haven’t heard from a single politician in a few days now. Wonder what happened. I’ve tried hard to think back in an effort to recollect what may have transpired in the last few days. On wait, I remember something now . . . . the Epiphany blog post, that’s right!! I remember now that I did hear from one who shall remain nameless. This person sent me two Facebook messages. The first was: “i see you can't help yourself!!!” where I replied: “sorry u r pissed ******* but u can't say any of it is not trueand the second was: “only half truths and not the full story”. My reply was: “full story would have taken a book”. Funny, I never heard from them again. 

This person used the word half-truth what I’ll take to mean only half the story. A half-truth is a statement that conveys only part of the truth and like everything else there is more then one side of a story. More then obvious is that people will believe their own side of the story is the more factual one. I’m sure should I speak with any of the politicians I mentioned in the 3-part blog post, they would each have a good explanation for their acts and motivations. I’m equally sure they would each be political answers and I don’t give a hoot about political answers. I understand perfectly why they all did what they did and that is exactly my point! Because of their temporary power they can screw with anyone and everyone they like in the name of politics. But expecting the people that got screwed to accept it in that vein is either being incredibly stupid or lost in their narcissism. 

But to say I didn’t see the writing on the wall would also not be true. I chose to dismiss it. A recent case in point would be November 4, 2014 at the White campaign headquarters when Mayor-elect White made his victory speech to his supporters. Then he thanked each of his supporters by name. When he got to me something he said rang a bell with me though I chose to not hear it. He thanked me for all my work with his campaign website and the videos I produced. He then mentioned that he appreciated “people like me who don’t hold their opinions back and let him know when they may disagree”. I took that as a compliment. I innocently believed you owe that to a person you support. I failed to remember that when I was, in his opinion ‘to honest’; he’d change the subject or got off the phone. 

My point to all of this is simple. I’m not 100% correct and all of these politicians are not 100% wrong but some are a hell of a lot more wrong then others. I concede they have every right in the world to do as they see fit. I just also firmly believe it better they be a bastard or a bitch and be truthful, as opposed to being a kiss-a$$ liar. Each and every one of them crave power and some demand respect. Respect begets respect. They would do well to keep that tidbit under their political hats.

Tuesday
Mar172015

All In Lockstep 

I would be remise if I didn't acknowledge the Holiday! 

 

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

 

Sunday
Mar152015

Epiphany - Preponderance Of Evidence – Part #3

The road or steps as I have called them was more of years in the making rather then in one evening if I’m to be truly honest with myself. As I referenced in Part #2, this last council meeting was more of a manifestation of years culminating into a crescendo by the end of that evening, the epiphany. 

All it took to reach my conclusion was to look back on past years starting with early 1999 until present for the evidence to be crystal clear. As we get older we all in retrospect look to the things that happened wondering if we should have done things differently. I often wonder how much I have added to my own grief. If I had not said this or done that, would things have worked out more favorably?  Poor poor me is certainly not without responsibility. Though for sure I could have fought more diplomatically, I’ll never believe I shouldn’t have fought. I just never saw the real enemy. It wasn’t the people per se (mayors and councils), it was the ‘politics’. Politicians are a special breed but that being said does not mean they are special people. They have to be able to play the game of politics yet still be able to live with themselves. To make themselves feel better they must follow the mindset of Mr. Spock: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” However the “many” is their voting block, usually not their constituents. Who they feel they must please to get them the votes to get to where they feel they need to go. . . . politically. As I have said earlier I don’t have much need for or respect for most politicians. In their minds there is a right way, a wrong way, and a political way, to do things. I see it as purely black and white. And because I do I believe I was always destined to be disappointed. 

1999 – In those days I was very much a friend of the Chamberlain family. Helping her to computerize invoicing, billing etc. for Kim-Bridge Cardtique & Florist, I became close to her late husband Bruce, her children Kim and Bridget, and her now deceased father. While in the throngs of copping with the devastation of Hurricane Floyd I suggested to the new mayor, Karen Chamberlain, the creation of a public access television station since reaching the public with emergency information was critical yet extremely difficult during that time. She was in favor of my plan and proceeded to help me work out a proposal to present to the town council. This was then completed within 2 short months and I promptly started to build SBC-TV.  

Within the next three years SBC-TV flourished with local TV shows, hundreds of bulletin boards by every conceivable club, organization, and individual residents, plus government shows such as: Chief’s Chat, Mayor’s Forum, The Councilman’s Corner, and others. The one remaining problem I felt I had was the difficulty getting the Board of Education involved. The ‘political’ problems began to arise when the ‘star’ of Councilman’s Corner, Councilman Lou D’Arminio, decided to run for the office of mayor. Remember now that I was a police officer and both D’Arminio and Chamberlain were my bosses, Chamberlain being my ultimate superior. In short (hard for me lol), the mayor did NOT want the councilman to have a TV show. “he comes across a lot better then me” was her complaint. She asked me to kill the show but I said no. No because that wasn’t the right thing to do. I told the mayor I would help her come across ‘better’ on TV but that wasn’t good enough. THAT was the first political nail in my coffin. 

The last nail and final straw was my commenting publicly that the then Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Groveman, was very much in favor of creating a curriculum in the High School to teach video production, editing, web streaming; many different aspects of multimedia, to expose juniors and seniors to high tech vocations in this field while the Board of Education had consistently dragged their feet and essentially has done nothing to advocate for this concept. The real short to this is, the then President of the BOE was also the campaign manager for the mayor, who has since passed away in jail while serving time for corruption, insisted the mayor remove me from SBC-TV if she wanted her parties support. Mrs. Chamberlain explained to me that she wanted my resignation because she needed her parties support to be re-elected and that re-election would guarantee her years in office to be eligible for her life-time benefits. She wanted me to understand that she had to do this but it was only for ‘political’ reasons. I refused to resign and the township made untrue accusations to justify my removal. If I were to stop producing The Councilman’s Corner there may be room to talk.  

In hindsight I could have played ball and none if this would have happened. Did I make the wrong decision? No I did not. I gave up something I loved to do because I felt I had no other choice. Its all just black or white to me. 

In 2002 V.F.W. Post #3484, Saddle Brook, came to me to help them produce a video of the Traveling Wall That Heals, a ½ scale of the Vietnam monument in Washington, D.C. SBC-TV was now being run by both the Township and the BOE in a 50/50 cost/use agreement. It should be remembered that I solicited and received $20,000 from the VFW to purchase cameras in 2000 when I started SBC-TV. When I asked the BOE for permission to use the stations equipment to produce the VFW’s video I was flatly denied by the then BOE present, James Galbo. I became incredulous as to how they could possibly deny the VFW their own purchased equipment. Politics apparently has a long memory. 

I approached then Councilman D’Arminio, candidate for mayor, to help me re-negotiate with the BOE since he had originally helped me get the funds from the VFW. He knew the players on all sides of this problem; Mr. Galbo, Mr. Kowalski, VFW commander in-charge of this project, and myself. He knew the right thing to do but I have to assume it was not the right thing politically since nothing was done. I rented professional equipment from a N.Y.C. broadcast house for $12,000 for the four day shoot, plus 1 million dollars worth of insurance, paid for entirely by VFW Post #3484, and the ceremonies were recorded. In later years Mr. D’Arminio has said he regretted not doing more at the time. I guess I should understand that too. 

In 2008 and after the then town council put SBC-TV in mothballs, I voluntarily videotaped and streamed live, council meetings for Mayor D’Arminio. In return I asked that he fight to reinstate SBC-TV before the $100,000 dollars of township equipment falls to pieces, never to be affordable to replace again. He gave it lip service but didn’t have the ‘political’ capital to make anything happen. 

A few years later I was approached by candidate Anthony Halko and Andrew Cimiluca to produce two videos to help with their campaign. Produced, edited, and shown on SBC-TV, they were happy with the outcome. Again, though not promised, it was intimated that they would like to have me run SBC-TV once again. But ‘politically’ the mayor, Karen Chamberlain, would not let that happen. Of course I’d have to understand. 

2014 – The chief and deputy chief of police approach me to help with the White, D’Arminio, Accomando, campaign. The chief reminds me of the good old days when I ran the station; his Chief’s Chat show, DARE videos, and the like. The deputy wants a website for his campaign. Mrs. D’Arminio, always a friend of mine, feels deeply that SBC-TV should be back up and running under my direction. Believing in White and D’Arminio to be light-years better for the community, how could I say no? Though new to me, Mr. Todd Accomando quickly became someone I equally believed in and found to be most honest. As I have said many times before, no promises were ever made to me regarding SBC-TV. It was never discussed openly, but it was always an undertone, a: ‘goes without saying’ intimation. It cannot be misconstrued when Mr. Kugler SENIOR says to me after the election: “we are expecting great things from you!”. 

February 2015 – I meet with the mayor. I have already explained in detail what occurred. While always during the campaign he made me believe he was totally in agreement with me regarding how SBC-TV should be, he now believes he knows better and has a better way. This is politics now; I have to understand why things have changed for him. He needs a persona of thinking about the people and being prudent. I’m a square peg he can no longer try to fit in a round hole. Nothing personal, its just politics. 

In recent weeks I have made my last pleas to all five members of the council. Verbally at a caucus meeting and written in 2 emails. Through the grapevine of council people I was told they were all in agreement with suggestions and disagreement with the mayors approach to SBC-TV. As stated in Part #2, there was a 4-1 vote in favor of the mayor’s recommendations. Succinctly said, Cimiluca surprised me with his integrity allowing him to vote with his conscious, Mazzer, apparently having no faith in her constituents by saying at the caucus that people won’t volunteer, Camilleri shaking my hand after the meeting saying absolutely nothing because he couldn’t explain, Accomando I’ll take an educated guess, felt he was to new at all of this and it better to not make ways, and lastly my strongest supporter, D’Arminio. Though she always said she 100% agreed with me in everything I have said, another educated guess, it was not in her political interest to vote as she made me believe she would. Her biggest voting block and the people closest to her heart, are the senior citizens in town. Being the Chairperson it would not be wise for her to throw a monkey wrench into getting the TV up and running when those seniors have been hounding her that the meeting on TV are the only way they know what’s happening in town. Given the choice of which to throw under the bus was easy, politically speaking of course. When approached by me and asked why didn’t she at least express her feelings much like Cimiluca did, her answer was: “sorry” as I then watched the back of her head as she left the building. 

My father, God rest his soul, said to me on more then one occasion that: “If you think you are right and everyone else is wrong, you must be wrong.” So I guess I should resign myself to the fact that I have always been wrong. And I must understand the plight of the politician. I don’t hate these politicians, I HATE politics. Have I learned my lesson, no I have not! Things will always be right or they will be wrong. There is no gray area for me. Politicians can still do what they feel they need to do but be honest at the same time. Politics does something to good people and apparently I’ll never understand why. 

Was this an Epiphany? More likely just the Preponderance Of Evidence.