November 10, 2008
Greetings from the November 10 council meeting. We know we haven't sent a report in a while. But the thought of Maureen Holtje rejoining the council was enough to rouse us from our slumber.
Speaking of Moreen (as she was spelled in her literature), she graced us with her presence at the meeting. She and her sidekick José Vidal spent the meeting sneering at other members of the public. Think of a spiteful, mixed-gender Laurel and Hardy and you get the picture.
Our good friend Phil, "The Man Who Billed Too Much," Boggia was MIA. He sent his half-prepared understudy, Joseph Voytus, in his place. Phil's not exactly a tough act to follow, but Junior hasn't yet mastered the art of exuding confidence while making things up as he goes along. And, he forgot to insult members of the public from the dais. Maybe next time.
One thing Joe was able to tell us about is a paper street on Leary Lane. A paper street is land set aside for a street but never used. We're giving away our easement west of the retaining wall to adjacent landowners who will waste no time putting up townhomes and incorporating their newly-expanded lots into their density calculations. As a kicker, the infamous Edgewater tax map says it is a street. Mary inquired about the discrepancy and got a BS answer.
The borough is appropriating a $41,250 open space grant for improvements at the marina. None of us attending were inquisitive enough to ask what those improvements might be. Oops - or as Neda spells it, Upps. We learned afterward that we're dealing with an $82,500 clock and that the town and county are splitting the cost. Yes, a clock. Yes, eighty-two-thousand five-hundred dollars. No, we're not kidding, nor do we know who thought this one up, though we can guess. Based on long, unfortunate experience with Edgewater, we figure the clock will stop shortly after installation and Neda will be quoted in the Bergen News crowing how it's still right twice a day.
The council also introduced ordinances for dredging and for "upgrades to the new municipal complex." We didn't ask what those might be, and now we're almost afraid to.
The council approved $15,000 for Voytus's female counterpart, borough planner Kathryn Gregory. Gregory exudes confidence mainly via long hair and short skirts. If you remember our July 16, 2007 e-mail, available below, she is the one who advised the council that the solution to large houses on small lots is to increase the minimum lot size. Anyhow, Kathryn has been coming up to speed on affordable housing obligations at borough expense - she's billed us for her training - and is going to do a "3rd round certification."
There were two tax appeal settlements on the agenda. The main problem is they were mighty big dollar amounts and Voytus had mighty little information on them. The Dems as usual gave the Independents a hard time. Jordan wanted to just get on with it and vote, but David pointed out that the numbers didn't add up correctly. Then they went into closed session. When they came out, amazingly, the dems agreed with Beatrice and David that there weren't enough facts to vote.
The fire department requested a new SUV (there are now at least two for personal use, but that's a story for another day). Neda Rose, whose family vehicles are rolling evidence lockers, asked if it would be flex-fuel. Greg Franz said no, but he'd be happy to have the Chief waste his time looking for one.
In more matters we're afraid to ask about, Denis inquired what happened to housing trust funds that were supposedly set aside. They've been brought up at several council meetings lately. Greg Franz says the records are in a box. You ever hear the joke about the balloonists who land in a field after getting blown off course and ask the farmer where they are? Farmer Franz tells them, "You're in a balloon."
Denis also asked about DEP approval for the ferry. This story is rather complicated, but the short version is the State gave us a lot of money in return for setting aside open space, there can be no commercial activity on this land, and the ferry landing just happens to be on this land. We're told the DEP, which administers the money, is OK with that. Unfortunately, that approval doesn't seem to be in writing.
Beatrice asked what bank the borough keeps its funds in, since they don't share that with council members. Matter of fact, the council gets a list of bank account numbers, but not the bank. Hmm. The actual answer is several banks, but Greg didn't say which ones.
Only other tidbit of note is John Carbone, the guy who's pinch hitting for Boggia in the case against Beatrice, hasn't submitted a bill since April. Edgewater now has two attorneys playing games, plus a third one who was recently indicted. We sure can pick 'em.
Many of your fellow concerned citizens spoke, too many too list. Mary Hogan called the dems out on their phony claims from the great sewer plant giveaway. At a previous meeting, Mary said they had claimed a million dollars per year savings and borough auditor Steve Wielkotz contradicted her. Mary didn't think she had hallucinated the figure, and the copy of the Edgewater Tide she brought in backed her up. Merse is supposed to clarify. Can't wait.
Have a pleasant Thanksgiving.
September 17, 2007
The meeting began with borough auditor Steve Wielkotz discussing the proposed budget and fielding questions from the council. As with the last meeting, a good amount of the discussion concerned the marina and ferry, specifically the net cost after grants, and operating costs. Some members said there was a $4 million benefit from the ferry, and that in any event, the ferry project brought in grants that could be applied to the marina and which the taxpayers would otherwise have had to fund. The $4 million, or whatever the excess is, cannot be used to pay down the bonds issued for the project.
While taxpayers fund the marina, it is actually run by a marina utility and still has a surplus. Wielkotz said there is no business plan for the marina and he can’t say when it will be self-supporting. New York Waterway is responsible for the ferry business plan.
The council voted along party lines to introduce the budget.
The council voted to introduce an ordinance establishing a “Cap Bank.” The bank reserves appropriations for future years in case the town needs them to cover a budget shortfall; it is a “rainy-day” fund. There is no cost associated with it.
The borough only received one bid for the marina dredging, from Disch Construction, for $2.78M. With the recommendation of the borough engineer, the council awarded the contract. Because this project is in a redevelopment zone, presumably there is no limit on change orders. The council also awarded its engineer, Neglia, a $19K contract to manage the dredging.
The council adopted an ordinance appropriating $25K for revision and codification of the borough’s ordinances. I believe this project will ultimately make them available on line.
There were several resolutions of note. The town memorialized a consensus for defense of the SGS matter, with a cap of $75000. The attorney, John Carbone, is getting a pro bono rate of $150/hr, which translates into 500 hours, or a little less once expenses are included. The borough attorney did not explain how he selected Carbone. He also said he recused himself because of the potential for him to have to depose council members; he previously said he recused himself because of a personal relationship with Joe Burgis. Councilman Gallagher asked if the award is subject to the fair and open bidding process. It is not, because attorney services are excluded.
The council increased the cap on another attorney, Mark Ruderman, who is defending the borough against a suit by Chuck Batch. The total amount is $7.5K.
The architect working on the new Borough Hall was awarded another $43.5K.
Neglia was awarded another contract, for $149K, for contract management of the sewer separation project.
The council appointed Steve Curry as fire sub-code official.
Under old business, Councilman Gallagher brought up a Cliffside Park house that extends into Edgewater. Councilwoman Robbio asked about the borough engineer's inquiries to North Bergen regarding the Riverview project on our southern border. The inquiries have not been answered. She also asked about the status of the borough planner's review of the zoning ordinance.
Councilwoman Robbio asked about the St. Moritz affordable units. They were finally advertised. She also brought up televising council meetings. Time Warner does not tape meetings. She advised the council she was going to tape them herself and upload them to YouTube. The council questioned whether that is legal and the borough attorney is researching it. Finally, she motioned to refer both Councilwoman Rose and Councilwoman Holtje to the Local Finance Board for ethics violations; both motions were approved.
Many members of the public spoke.
Joe Burgis's attorney, Robert Zeller, addressed the council regarding statements made to the press by council members. He alleged they have damaged his client's reputation and implied the town would be sued if a council member’s quote was actionable.
Donald Kopczynksi spoke about zoning violations.
Michael Trachtenberg spoke about the SGS lawsuit and efforts to have the town enforce the steep slope ordinance on SGS’s property.
Susan Loesser complained that people speaking about the SGS lawsuit before the council were treated unequally; people blaming the $75K on Robbio were allowed to speak and people criticizing the expenditure as excessive were not.
Mary Hogan disputed the amounts some council members said the borough received from the Port Authority. She said the amount was $6 million, not $8, and that the balance had been spent on escrow payments. She added that various things done to the marina were done specifically for the ferry, such as modifying the entrance and driveway so buses could turn around. She objected to the $75K.
Valory Bardinas also disputed the Port Authority amount, noting that not only was several million spent on studies and professional fees, but there was no leftover money and the council had to trim various items such as a fountain. Regarding SGS, she said the council cannot spend money by consensus and that $75K is overkill for a $5K case. Finally, she criticized the borough attorney for ethics violations, claiming he had donated to political campaigns while he was a municipal judge, in violation of court rules.
Selena Keesecker said she had never received a response to her complaint about speeding on Undercliff. She also noted the various broken sidewalks throughout town and said she had trouble pushing a cart on them.
David Weschler spoke about the borough’s debt. He said was it was $30 million, or $10 thousand per household. The interest expense is immense and reduces the money available for other services. He said the council should come clean regarding the ferry finances. He also said the town shouldn’t be borrowing more money while reducing taxes.
Katie Jones complained again about construction sites not being enclosed, and thereby posing a hazard. She also said that the council people repeatedly questioning the borough auditor about the budget was helpful to the public in gaining an understanding of the town’s finances.
And that's the news from the trenches.
Letter to the Edgewater View
Voters should remember whom Dems hired
The recent disclosure by The Record that Democrats on the Edgewater Council voted to hire a consulting firm that’s lead employees were convicted criminals is an embarrassment to our community. The action by the Governing Body demonstrates their lack of judgment.
It is my understanding that a principal in the firm, who is Edgewater’s new borough engineer, has contributed thousands of dollars to various Democratic campaigns.
Mayor Merse cast the tie-breaking vote because the firm had supposedly been “vetted” by Councilwoman Holtje. Ironically, Holtje chairs the council’s police committee. Did she ever ask whether the persons who would administer contract monies, which amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, had criminal records?
Edgewater should not give people convicted of theft and fraud access to public funds. Residents should remember this debacle when they vote in November.
Letter to the Bergen Record
It is my position that we have far too much undeveloped land in northern New Jersey. Why must our ears be assaulted each day by the twittering of beaks and the chattering of spastic rodents as we walk to our cars (which are covered in droppings)?
I propose that each municipality should have one tree, something small and inoffensive. Ideally, it should be placed indoors, perhaps in the lobby of the public library. At the very least, a town should have more cellular towers than trees.
I envision a future where our state is unburdened of this arborous blight, where each day greets us with a 360-degree panorama of urban development unobstructed by trees or flora of any description.
Thank goodness we live in New Jersey, where politicians can still be bought. I urge the reader to deliver a check or wad of cash into the hands of the local land developer and gently remind him that you vote. I fear we are becoming far too complacent tolerating all these undeveloped parcels of land. Please do your part!
Letter to the Edgewater View
Robbio says her record is `impeccableŽ
Your article last week, "Possible ethics misstep may be alleged against Robbio" fails to explain why Thomas Tansey, Mayor Nancy Merse and Councilwoman Maureen Holtje are determined to smear my impeccable record. It only demonstrates the lengths they will go to assassinate the character of any one who stands in the way of their cozy clique of criminal behavior.
Former Mayor Tansey is not the innocent citizen you have portrayed. As stated in the New York Times, he is a convicted felon who served 18 months in a federal penitentiary for "racketeering, various counts of extortion, mail fraud and bribery" with members of the Genovese crime family. In my opinion, it appears that his interest lies in protecting those who "took care" of his family while he was in prison. In other words, payback, pure and simple. Your article fails to convey that Mr. Tansey's political history is devoid of integrity and honesty, and neglects to give readers the full context of his litigious statements. His words, as his accusations, are worthless.
Regarding my so-called "conflict" your article states that Mayor Merse, "did not indicate whether she believed that represented a conflict of interest" and Council President Holtje "laughed and joked" about my personal life. This clearly illustrates how they recognize the lack of seriousness of their own allegations. This is nothing but political theater designed to distract citizens from the Democrats' own poor and criminal records that I have uncovered since elected by the people in 2005.
In short, the allegations made by Merse, Holtje, and Tansey, are not only categorically false, but are designed solely to deceive your readers. The Democrats may believe that such vicious personal attacks will gain them cheap political points, but they should realize by now that Edgewater's Independent representatives will not be bullied nor intimidated by their trash-talking tactics.
Letter to the Edgewater View
What is Mayor Merse thinking?
The lead article in The Edgewater View edition of July 27 concerning Councilwoman Beatrice Robbio "Possible ethics misstep may be alleged against Robbio" contained glaring omissions concerning the background of her accuser, former Mayor Thomas Tansey.
The fact is that Tansey, who has become the unofficial spokesman for Mayor Nancy Merse's administration, is a convicted felon.
In 1988, Tansey was indicted for bribery and extortion and was accused of accepting payoffs while serving as Mayor from the developers of a condominium project in Edgewater, which had been approved by him and the Planning Board, which he appointed. The developers were also indicted. But this was not the ordinary case involving payoffs by developers to a corrupt official.
Also indicted with Tansey and the developers were Anthony Salerno, who was then head of the Genovese crime family, and Matthew laniello, Salerno's deputy. It turned out that organized crime was involved in this development and that payments on a regular basis had been made to Tansey to ensure that the projects received all required approvals
Tansey ultimately entered a plea of guilty to the charges and served 18 months in a federal penitentiary.
Mayor Merse, who is running for re-election this year, should be asked why she has acted to resurrect our former corrupt Mayor from oblivion and has designated him to be the spokesman and character assassin for her campaign
Letter to the Edgewater View
Residents should be concerned
The allegations made by former Mayor Tansey against Councilwoman Beatrice Robbio has led Tansey's allies, Mayor Nancy Merse and Councilwoman Maureen Holtje, to raise issues of ethics and conflict of interest. Putting aside the innuendo, truth twisting, and outright falsehoods, the following facts are uncontradicted:
Residents need to be concerned about the politics of personal destruction engaged in by former Mayor Tansey, his former colleague Mayor Merse and the local administration. The record of criminality and ethical lapses by Edgewater Democrats borders on the legendary. One wonders whether they have targeted Councilwoman Robbio because she has uncovered and made public many of their misdeeds, including most recently Merse's action to hire a grants consultant whose leading members had criminal records.
Tansey, Merse and Company should put their own houses in order before trying to destroy the reputations of others.
Letter to the Edgewater View
Trachtenberg: daily ridership won't be 2,600 anytime soon
This is in regard to two related articles in the July 27 edition, "Borough takes $9.5K from ferry tickets" and "Dozens of slips remain empty at marina." Like the Edgewater View, I have been following the growth of these projects, using data provided by the borough.
Going forward, it would be helpful if the Edgewater View focused less on ridership extremes and more on the big picture. Paid daily ridership in June averaged about 560 people and has been growing 13 to 15 percent per month. The ferry may reach the 2,600-rider mark you noted, but not soon. Morning rush hour ridership has remained markedly higher than evening, and New York Waterway does not seem to be doing anything to capture that business, let alone weekend riders.
It would also be helpful if your paper analyzed the costs associated with generating the revenue you cited, such as operating the jitneys. I believe they're at least double the revenue.
Finally, the Edgewater View reported June revenue of $2,908.50 for June, which translates to 11,634 paid riders. The figure I have from the town is 11,761 riders. A minor difference, to be sure, but one of those instances where you wouldn't expect to see a difference at all.
Regarding the marina, Councilwoman Maureen Holtje's statement that the borough had trouble filling the slips because it was unsure whether the marina would be operational, is disingenuous. Most of the slips are silted in and need to be dredged, which requires a permit. The borough intentionally delayed seeking a dredging permit because it didn't want the permit review process to delay the ferry. That's too bad, because marinas on both banks of the river are humming and Edgewater's could have generated substantial revenue this season if it had been fully operational.
August 15, 2007
The following are most of the meeting reports I owe you all. Very sorry to be so long in getting them together. It's campaign time, and there aren't enough hours in the day.....
June 4. Main item of business was $3.1 million worth of bonds for our sewer system.
Under old business was the Myrtle Avenue Preservation Committee. Her honor claims it was never meant to be Myrtle Ave. only, which is dubious considering her colleagues voted down Beatrice's proposal for an Edgewater Preservation Committee at a previous meeting. The council is bringing in Grant Morgan and the planner at a work session.
Neda Rose complained about visual blight in town. Most of us thought she was talking about Lois Fein's bus shelter ads, but she meant graffiti. The PD is photographing it and working with street gang experts. Those gangs better start contributing to the Dems, yo'.
Denis asked about riparian rights. Her honor says it has been beaten to death, which is Demspeak for "our favorite developer wants it and stop being tiresome."
Mary Hogan inquired tax maps, and Beatrice followed up. There is a small problem in that they're not being kept up-to-date and the town can't always tell who owns what. There is a bigger problem that the town has collected $58000 from developers to keep them up-to-date. Yes, the money is gone. No, it wasn't segregated from other funds. Greg promises they will be segregated in future budget cycles.
She also asked about as-built site plans, and whether they should depict fire exits. Mr. Boggia (my friends call me Boggy Man) opined they should. At least one 26-story building we're aware of doesn't show them on the plans, mainly because they don't exist. The owner, who shall remain anonymous, doesn't need no stinkin' fire exits.
Your neighbors complained about speeding on Undercliff, including cars getting airborne after hitting speed bumps.
Valory question the council on the Octagon. You'll be happy to know that John Candelmo, the building inspector, is on the case. That means the developer got an open-ended permit to demolish the structure, against DEP instructions, and that immigrant laborers wearing no safety equipment are working on the contaminant-riddled property.
June 18. After issuing some well-deserved awards to your neighbors, the council got down to business.
The council introduced ordinances collectively known as the "great sewage treatment plant giveaway." The lucky winners, and only ticket-holders for this lottery were the Bergen County Utilities Authority and professionals who will get the bond work. If you're wondering who the losers were, look in the mirror.
Seriously, we don't know if this was a good transaction or not. The town refused to hire an independent expert to evaluate it, instead relying on individuals who consistently put their own interests above Edgewater's. Neda Rose, Maureen Holtje, Dave Jordan, and lets not forget da mayor thinks it's a good deal, if it's any consolation to you. We don't know what Jim Delaney thinks, because he hasn't uttered a word since being sworn in!
The council adopted an ordinance to issue another $147,250 of bonds for projects that should have been fully funded the first time around. That includes $118,750 for tennis and basketball courts at Veterans Field. The more you know.
Under Old Business, Denis stole Neda's thunder by bringing up graffiti. Based on how much it pissed her off, he should do it every meeting. He also spoke about prodigious runoff from Fort Lee and Cliffside into residents' basements, and a non-functional fire exit at a certain 26-story building.
Speaking of Neda, she motioned to buy a used fire boat for $30,000 and the Dems fell over themselves voting for it. Problem is, there isn't one shred of documentation for it. The fire department never contacted the administrator or council. If you're wondering who would spend $30,000 without knowing what they were voting on, come to a council meeting some time, you'll just love Maureen Holtje. These are the same people that discuss used jitneys ad nauseum. To date, there is still no documentation.
The borough should have bids to dredge the marina by late August or early September. Old estimate was about $2 million. Since everything involving the marina takes longer and costs more than anyone expects (well, before election day, anyway) we'll go out on a limb and predict $3 million.
Valory stated that believed it is against the law for the mayor to spend tax money without council authorization. The borough attorney said the mayor can't spend money without council authorization, There seems to be a exception for hatchet jobs on borough employees, and politically charged letters to residents from the mayor.
The council authorized the mayor to convey a strip of land by the hot dog stand at the top of River Road to Bergen County. We were hoping for something in return.
Noted exercise enthusiast Maureen Holtje brought up River Road sidewalks. In a rare turn of events, we agree with her on something, namely that there should be sidewalks by the Binghampton shopping center. The shopping center owner could have addressed this as part of the Trader Joe application it was brought up at the Planning Board hearing but is one more thing that's better late than never. Unfortunately, getting anything done on a county road such as River Road is an order of magnitude more involved than a borough-owned street.
Beatrice asked about televising council meetings. Previously, someone had suggested having Leonia High School students do it. The principal suggested paying them. We're afraid this isn't going anywhere.
She also motioned to adopt an ordinance restricting pay-to-play. Amazingly, it failed 4-2 with no discussion. Keep an eye on pay-to-play legislation because it's going to figure prominently in the future.
Your neighbors reprised some of the comments they made at the June 4 meeting. Selena Keesecker gave the council a petition regarding speeding on Undercliff. The Octagon and Le Jardin also came up.
July 5 Special Council Meeting. This was a suspenseful one.
Would a bunch of Bryan's cronies at Edgewater Municipal Utilities Authority (EMUA) give away our sewer plant to Bergen County Utility Authority (BCUA), where he used to be Executive Director? Would the council screw over EMUA employees by transferring them to BCUA, where they can now be assigned anywhere? Would the council throw away the $2000/unit connection fee EMUA received? Would the council do all this without hiring its own expert to review the deal?
Your neighbors spoke about a number of things, including where the affordable housing money the town collects from developers goes, since it's not being spent. Special thanks to Paul Eisenmann of Cliffside, who popularized the term DINO (Democrat in Name Only). Paul came to the meeting to ask why the council voted against the pay-to-play ordinance, and asked that pay-to-play be put on the ballot in November.
And, to conclude, the July 16 council meeting.
The meeting began with the swearing in of 5 new police officers. We've asked for this for a long time, as the force was at its lowest level since the 1970s. Better late than never.
Stars of the show were Kathryn Gregory and Grant Morgan. Grant founded the Myrtle Avenue Preservation Committee, whose purview now supposedly encompasses all Edgewater. Apparently, not all the voters in Edgewater live on Myrtle Avenue. Gregory is the borough planner. She is on the "wait and see plan" with Merse and Co. They wait and see if she contributes.
Gregory says the obvious solution to large houses on small lots is to increase minimum lot size. That's a great idea! We wish we'd thought of it first, but that's why Kathryn gets paid the big bucks. History buffs may remember a similar concept called Lebensraum. Anyhow, Kathryn says with larger lots, the house size could be preserved, side yards and setbacks would be adequate, and curb cuts could be narrower because a longer driveway would allow for maneuvering. Neda Rose asked, and we're not making this up, about potential architectural changes such as putting the garage in the back of the house. Beatrice asked about a floor-area-ratio, since whatever zoning we have now obviously isn't cutting it. Actually, as Donald and Jack pointed out when the meeting was opened to the public, the town doesn't enforce whatever zoning it does have.
Grant led off by stating the obvious, that developers can make a lot of money shoehorning duplexes onto 50'x100' lots. This, in turn, makes the lots more valuable and drives their taxes up, potentially forcing the owners out of Edgewater. He added that other towns either don't permit duplexes or require larger lots. He then discussed other towns' shade tree ordinances (basically, opposite of Edgewater) and personality ordinances (basically, opposite of Edgewater). He was just getting wound up, relating criticism of Edgewater by another town, when Her Honor Merse cut him off.
The Transcontinental Pipeline Company will be working on a large gas pipe and using a borough park as a staging area. Remember, if you see their workers running, try to keep up.
The so-called marina generated eight (count 'em) change orders. Dredging hopefully begins late this year.
The NJ Department of Environmental Protection sent Octagon a notice of deficiency. That means whatever they submitted to the State regarding the site had one or more technical problems. Meanwhile, workers are on site with no protective gear.
Denis brought up the St. Moritz fire exits. If you haven't been following this, we have a 26-story building with numerous glaring safety problems, one of which is a fire exit that leads to the edge of a cliff. Denis placed the blame where it belongs, on John Candelmo. Maureen Holtje blamed our fire official Chuck Batch, who got himself on the Dem hit list by criticizing their favorite developers building. The code book backs Chuck up: It's Candelmo's fault.
Speaking of Candelmo, he's apparently been taking town vehicle home. Too bad he doesn't live anywhere near Edgewater. In fact he works for another town after 5pm, why are Edgewater taxpayers paying for his transportation to another town, or his trip home to Oakland, NJ. Or, that the ordinance requires the approval of the Borough Administrator, which hasn't been forthcoming, to take vehicles home.
Beatrice asked for a breakdown of ferry grants received and their application to the components of the project. Holtje and Jordan have been insisting the ferry didn't cost anything, which is fine except taxpayers are on the hook for about $6 million now and the cost is still climbing. Could be worse: we could have built TWO ferry landings.
She's also still trying to get meetings televised and she and Greg Franz are meeting with Time Warner Cable. Some day, you too will be enable to experience your sneering, sleeping councilpersons and mayor.
Cheers for now,
July 2, 2007
On Thursday July 5 there will be a special meeting of the mayor and council to vote on the Bergen County MUA taking over what has been our MUA -- that is, our sewer system. We're not crazy about the terms, which are somewhere between our giving it to them and our paying them to take it off our hands.
We receive connection fees from all new developments, which we will lose when the county takes over. In addition, we will still have to maintain the pump stations and we will no longer have any oversight over the management of the facility or it's employees.
The dems have touted this as a win-win. However, what they are not saying is the fact that we will still be paying for this service through our county taxes, and we are still going to be responsible for the previous incurred debt.
We know it's a holiday week, but if you can come to the meeting to let them know you are concerned, it would be great. Meanwhile, have a happy 4th!
June 7, 2007
Greetings from the May 21 council meeting. Since it's never a dull moment with this crowd, we'll lead off with fiscal responsibility. The borough is now bonding to pay bills associated with Veterans Field improvements. In English, the project relied on grants the town didn't get and ended up underfunded. In even simpler terms, this isn't how it's done.
Couple of interesting resolutions. Our favorite is the Tarragon Driveway Acceptance, which Her Honor presented to the council as fait accompli. If you haven't been following it, Merse arranged with the One Hudson Park developer to put a curb cut on Thompson Lane, into the parking lot. Some of us scratched our head wondering what meeting we had missed where this driveway was discussed. We needn't have bothered, because it never was. Never mind the fact that our borough engineer never saw any plans (probably because none exist). Never mind the fact that a permit has never been issued either. The resolution reads, "Merse appealed to their spirit of neighborly cooperation." This sounds like a shakedown, except no one in Shadyside ever asked for the thing. The curb cut, assuming the council had actually wanted and was willing to pay for it, is worth approximately $20-thousand.
The council hired a couple of $70K+ DPW employees. Regarding their identities, as Einstein said, "Everyone's relative."
No news yet on the new Borough Hall, though you probably weren't wondering, anyway.
Predictable news on the Kleiser house. Her Honor says the developer isn't interested in meeting and Attorney Boggia says there is nothing that can be done about it. Meanwhile, the Planning Board is canceling every meeting in which the house is on the agenda. Evan Johnson is doing too good a job keeping it in the news, so they're just going to wait until everyone goes on vacation and hear the application then. Figure July 23 or August 27.
The circus is coming to town! Yay! Edgewater's favorite developer is kicking in $5 grand in lieu of paying for fireworks on Family Day. (yay?) Lots of free tickets for the Dems to hand out at EVG. Ayyyy! Attractions are said to include the Fort Lee Fat Lady; a clown jitney; and, some trick shooting by Her Honor.
Denis commented on Board of Adjustment approvals. His remarks were prompted by a 48-foot tall house just approved. In case you were wondering, this is 10 feet higher than permitted under a newly-enacted ordinance intended to prevent 48-foot-tall houses. The Board isn't even going through the motions any more.
Beatrice's motion to televise council meetings failed 4-2. As we've said before, some people have faces made for radio.
Bunch of people spoke. One person complained about diesel vehicles and construction equipment idling. She said it's affecting her health. Technically, idling more than 3 minutes is illegal, but the reality is it's difficult to enforce. Neda Rose recommends people affected by fumes hold their breath. Or, they can sell to one of those nice developers and move.
Mary, following up on the Chuck Batch fiasco, asked Mr. Boggia what state law gives the mayor the power to investigate a public employee. Still no answer.
That's all for now. See you Sunday at the giant yard sale, Edgehill garage, 1110 River Road, across from Veterans' Field.
June 7, 2007
Greetings from the May 7 council meeting. Dr. Jordan was unable to join us. Darn. As often happens, the most interesting stuff wasn't on the agenda. Keep reading.
Greg Franz reported on a capital ordinance. Basically, it will take about one million to fix some of the little annoyances around town, such as the flooding at Hilliard, and the problems on Hudson Terrace. If you really want to fix the major annoyances around town, vote INDEPENDENT this November.
Greg also reported that our alleged marina project manager wants a contract extension to handle a punch-list of remaining items such as the canopy and building fire alarms. In other words, they want additional money to do what they were supposed to do the first time around. This was too much for even Holtje. The council thought the better of it and is going to have Franz and the DPW finish the project instead.
Finally, Greg reported on Borough Hall renovations. It will reportedly be difficult to begin repair with the building occupied, which is too bad because the DEP has 13 pages of issues with the new site. If you haven't been following UniLever, i.Park submitted a couple of reports. The one covering the Borough Hall parcel was picked to pieces. The other, covering the entire site, it voluntarily withdrew. If you hear that the project is moving along, that's literally true, but within an unknown timeframe.
If you recall last meeting's write-up, we told you about Chuck Batch. Denis brought this up and her honor told him they couldn't discuss personnel matters in public. Further, she said if he's unhappy then he should take her to court. Truly a piece of work. BTW, our benighted borough attorney has never offered a shred of support for his assertion the mayor has the power to unilaterally investigate borough employees.
Denis also questioned the Tarragon deal. That's the one where the mayor gave the OK for the One Hudson Park developer to put a new entrance into the Thompson Lane parking lot. She might have brought it before the council first and gotten their approval, but her honor does whatever she damn well pleases.
One more thing you should follow. Our borough attorney hasn't been spending too much time determining what private parties have built on borough land, but he did enlighten everyone with a new distinction between riparian rights and riparian grants. Just a guess his distinction is either garbage or irrelevant, and its main purpose is to give away the town's rights to a certain developer.
Minor piece of good news. Edgewater received its first-year Tree City award from Tree City, USA. You don't often see tree and Edgewater mentioned in the same sentence. Neda Rose would like to remind you that she and Lois Fein personally planted fully half the trees in town, which they grew from seed in their bathtubs.
The public had a lot to say. Valory Bardinas told the council that the borough attorney was investigating her, Beatrice, Denis, and Mary, using social security numbers obtained from the town. While Barbara Rae says personnel files are locked up, the SSNs are on insurance company invoices. Now that the horses have fled the barn, Greg Franz is having the SSNs removed from the invoices.
Valory also asked if the Hudson Terrace wall is staying up (yes), whether a marina operator is going to be hired (yes), and whether the COAH units in the St. Moritz have been affirmatively marketed (no). Keep following that last one.
Evan Johnson spoke about the Kleiser house, which is one of the 10 most endangered historical sites in NJ. He has looked into outside resources, but says the governing body has to have a consensus to save the house. The Dems were too polite or disinterested to snicker. The owner of the Kleiser house is also landlord at Dem HQ.
Mary spoke about the disconnect between the tax maps and tax records. She told the council that the Board of Adjustment is aware of the problem but says applicants have a right to rely on information provided by the borough, even if it's wrong. Mary thinks the borough is going to be liable when people don't get notice of applications for projects next to them.
May 26, 2007
Greetings from the April 16 council meeting. The meeting led off with recognition of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) graduates.
The council adopted three salary ordinances. DEMonstrating their priorities, the Dems gave retroactive raises to former employees, kept an unneeded Recreation Director position open, didn't fund any new police officers, and gave the department heads automatic raises, rather than tie them to merit. Two received bonuses besides their raises. We're mentioning this because the same two received rather large bonuses in the recent past. Denis, Beatrice, Valory, Mary, and Katie gave it their best, but "orders" must be obeyed. Truly the party of fiscal responsibility. Not.
The council received a letter from Evan Johnson regarding the Kleiser house. Since the house isn't on Merse's block, it's beneath her notice and also unworthy of the august auspices of the Myrtle Avenue Preservation Committee. Nevertheless, the council voted to authorize the borough attorney to contact the owner and see if anything can be arranged before he demolishes it and shoehorns five soaring McMansionettes into an area not zoned for them. For the uninitiated, the owner also owns the building where the Dems have had their HQ for the past five years, and provides it to them rent-free. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.
Speaking of the part-time EMTS mentioned earlier, one quit already, if you can believe that. Beatrice inquired why they're being paid the same as our bus drivers. Denis asked why there are two different standards of care. Seriously, depending on what time of the day and week you require medical assistance; you will either get a paid EMT supervised by the borough's physician medical director or a volunteer supervised by Englewood Hospital. Denis's motion to invite the hospital to discuss its supervision was adopted.
The council settled litigation with its former marina operator. If you didn't follow that little exercise in Dem project management, they tried three times to find a marina operator and then fired the one they hired, so there was no boating season (which is a story in itself). The settlement was only forty-five grand, so, for that and legal fees, we're back where we started.
Speaking of someone begging to be sued, Her Honor and her (so she claims) hall monitor, otherwise known as the borough attorney, were in fine form. Our fire code official, Chuck Batch, wrote up a damning report on the St. Moritz. Among other things he noted that one of the emergency exits led nowhere and that the sprinklers didn't work. Technically, these problems preclude issuing a certificate of occupancy, but the St. Moritz is owned by you-know-who. In response to Mr. Batch and his report, Merse sicced the borough auditor on him regarding overtime. While the mayor doesn't have the authority to do this -- spending funds is the council's prerogative -- our borough attorney said the mayor unilaterally engaging the auditor is fine. He added that he agrees with everything the mayor ever said or thought in her life. We note that one of the reasons for Batch's overtime is they've turned him into an ambulance driver and he can't do his main job in a regular workweek.
Your neighbors had a lot to say. Much of it concerned flooding from the heavy rain. We figure we're stating the obvious, but if the town is going to allow every square foot of land to be covered, and water cascades down from similarly-afflicted Fort Lee and Cliffside, Edgewater will have increasing flood issues.
Finally, a Rose anecdote. Neda Rose is so stupid. (Everyone in unison: How stupid is she?!) She's so stupid that she brought up the Garden State Preservation Trust under "new business" RIGHT AFTER SHE'D JUST VOTED ON IT. It was on the agenda! Time to retire Neda. Take Merse, Big Mo, and Jordan with you.
More soon. Have a nice holiday weekend.
May 21, 2007
Hi friends and members,
Just got word that they have removed the "amendment of bylaws" item from the agenda. Unclear why, but I wanted you all to know in case you've saved your energy to come to Boro Hall for this issue only. If not, please come to the meeting. There are sure to be other things to witness. But if so, hold on to this rain check, and I'll try to keep you up to date. Those bylaws will be back. Just not tonight.
May 19, 2007
As I wrote day before yesterday, those new draconian bylaws are on the agenda for Monday's meeting. Last time they were on the agenda the public outcry was finally enough for the Dems to table it. But now they're back, which we knew they would be, and the dems have the votes to pass it if they don't hear the same strong opposition. So once again I ask you to come make your feelings known. The public is still allowed to speak about anything for 5 minutes in the first portion of the meeting. If these new bylaws are accepted our time will be limited to only resolutions and ordinances on the evening's agenda. The extra 3 minutes we would get to bring up a local issue or a personal concern would come at the end of the meeting, which is often after 11:00 pm.
Changes to the agenda, presently allowed only by a unanimous vote, would be made by a majority vote of the council members. Guess who has the majority. At any meeting the Dems can surprise us with something they want to pass (and can pass), and the Independent council members would have no time for preparation. The public would only know about it after the fact.
A sergeant at arms is still being proposed, creating a nice friendly mood in council chambers.
The language about making offensive remarks is still there. Anyone saying something the Dems don't like can be removed and barred from future meetings.
And so on. This proposal was tabled, presumably to make it more palatable. However, it has not changed. Please come out once again to protest. This is one of the chores of living in a democracy. Thank you all.
Monday May 21, 7:00, Borough Hall.
May 5, 2007
The April 9 council meeting was fairly short and inconsequential.
Michael Neglia, our new borough engineer addressed the council. The short story is the tax map and tax book don't agree. In English, that means the town isn't exactly sure who owns what. The long story is the town has been collecting $500 each from developers over the years to keep the tax map up-to-date. Maybe Harvey can come out of retirement to explain what he thinks the town did with the money. And how about that revaluation?
The River Palm is still parking patrons' cars in the street, notwithstanding they have the GW school parking lot/playground at their disposal. Yes, there's an ordinance against it. Parking in the street is fine because it's not the mayor's street.
Speaking of which, the "Myrtle Avenue Preservation Committee" is gearing up, aided by town-paid professionals. The "Shadyside Demolition Committee" is also cranking up.
i.Park submitted a remediation plan to the DEP for the new borough hall. The town apparently wasn't copied on it. We're told the plan can be summed up thusly: "Crap." The DEP submitted their own report and it seems iPark is trying to pull a fast one.
Neda Rose disputes Jack Bredin's recount of modern Shadyside history. Her version is more like a Walt Disney tale. She'd like us to think that the Waterford saved Shadyside's views and the new high-rise will gain several residents a "parkette."
Finally, doesn't look like meetings will ever be televised. The cable co. will run video of meetings if someone provides them with the tape. The I.C.B.E has suggested the borough contact the Bergen Academies, which runs a program training students in television/video production. Don't hold your breath on this. The Democrats will not tolerate open government in any form.
Your neighbors spoke about emergency medical care; riparian land in the Colony; and, conversion of City Place rental units and efforts to force renters out. Star of the night was Jack Bredin, with his "Second Address to the Council on Shadyside."
Stay tuned for the April 16th meeting, and....
Monday May 7th, mayor and council meeting, 7:00 pm, boro hall. See 07020.com for the agenda.
April 23, 2007
Planning Board meeting tonight at Boro Hall, 7:00 pm. They will be hearing ugly plans for the Kleiser home -- one of New Jersey's most endangered historic sites. Please join Evan Johnson and others (including me) at the meeting to protest Developer Ben-Moshe's plans to raze it and put up yet another McMansionette.
April 14, 2007
Sorry to once again be so long in getting this out. Let's start by correcting a misimpression. If you've read our previous meeting reports, you might think Merse is the worst possible mayor Edgewater could have. Not even close. That distinction belongs to Maureen Holtje.
Merse couldn't make the March 19 meeting on time, and rather than keep a room of people waiting, she put Maureen Holtje in charge. Maureen proceeded to pound her gavel for the next hour. Seriously, you know how when a five-year-old has a hammer, everything needs hammering? Well, when you give Holtje a gavel, everything needs gaveling.
Maureen also added her own wrinkle to the perfunctory exercise that is the public speaking portion: no interaction whatsoever. Speakers address the chair. After the public session closes, the chair "responds." Pray for Merse's continued health, at least until November. Fortunately, she showed up later in the meeting. The other bit of good news is the council approved, 5-1, a motion to contact Time Warner Cable regarding having the meetings televised. The dissenter has a "face made for radio."
Highlight of the night was retroactive salary increases to FORMER borough employees. We're not sure what prompted this largesse, but in some jurisdictions they'd refer to it as "hush money."
Speaking of former employees, the council provided for a Recreation Director position, even though it doesn't intend to rehire one. So, there's money for this position, but the police force is the same size it was in 1975. One thing that's probably higher than 1975 is PD overtime. Anyone know why? Anyone? Additionally, the department heads are getting automatic increases. During the public session, both Mary Hogan and Valory Bardinas said their increases should be based on merit.
The other ordinance of note was a transfer of land at the top of River Road to Bergen County for no consideration. While the council is big on giveaways, this one was too big to swallow, even for the Dinos (Democrats In Name Only), who want something in return. Pay attention to this one, because some nonsense is sure to ensue.
Speaking of nonsense, Greg Franz finally told the council what the Arts Festival cost the town last year: $2,156, not including the $1000 it gave the Neda Rose Personal Arts Council.
The Borough Hall restoration grant from the state for $750,000 was denied. Just a guess, but the borough might have been in better shape if intended to use the building as Borough Hall. At any rate, the restoration will cost close to $1.75 million (give or take a couple million) and the town has $500,000 to pay for it. Kiss the building goodbye.
The council rejected the latest marina operator bid. So, after three rounds the borough has no operator and is being sued for breach of contract by its former operator.
The council approved a "Corrective Action Plan" to address its auditor's findings. Presently, the town doesn't seem to have much control over either its cash or purchasing, maybe that's because it's auditor refers to anything in the hundred thousands, as "change." Ignorance is bliss.
In hysterical preservation news, the council rejected, 4-2, Beatrice's motion to rename the Myrtle Avenue Preservation Committee the Edgewater Preservation Committee. Apparently, only streets the mayor lives on are eligible for protection. That includes services of the borough planner at taxpayer expense. Only good news is they are revisiting a zoning ordinance regarding side yards; this part of the ordinance mysteriously disappeared last year.
Finally, the mayor proved what a fount of information she is. No idea about the Octagon (the contaminant-riddled building by the sewage plant). No idea about Vreeland (the COAH warehouse). No idea about i.Park, though she's on the Planning Board. And, misguided optimism about groundbreaking for the new Borough Hall, notwithstanding the DEP hasn't received i.Park's remediation plans, let alone approved them.
Speaking of the south end of town, our neighbors in North Bergen are trying to put 500 units on our border.
The public had a lot on its mind, even if the council wasn't interested in hearing it. Both Jack Bredin and Tina Munson spoke about Shadyside's history from the mid-90s to the present. They explained how development diverged from the Master Plan. Basically, if you ever hear Neda Rose saying the residents down there wanted high-rises, you can laugh your head off. Or cry.
Mary wants the town's pay-to-play ordinance submitted to the State. She also suggested that the billboard-size signs the DOT put on the Rt5 sidewalks should be replaced with smaller ones that people can get past.
Valory mentioned the St. Moritz. That's the building that our land use administrator, John Candelmo gave a certificate of occupancy to after being told not to. Some of the units were to be set aside for affordable housing but were duly rented at market. Apparently, some of the developers have problems with the COAH deed restrictions. Cue the violins. She also said the council's efforts on behalf of Myrtle Ave. are spot zoning.
That's all for now, folks. Stay tuned...
April 12, 2007
This is from ICBE member and historic preservation specialist Evan Johnson:
HISTORIC DESTRUCTION ALERT
There will be a Planning Board hearing on Monday, April 23, at 7PM to decide whether to grant Jacob Ben-Moshe variances that would allow him to tear down the Kleiser House (670 Undercliff Ave.), a building of great historic value to Edgewater.
This stone house was built in 1922 by Lorentz Kleiser, the internationally distinguished artist and founder of the Edgewater Tapestry Looms. It was listed on Preservation NJ's list of "10 Most Endangered Historic Sites" last year.
Demolishing this house would be a tremendous loss for Edgewater because the highly original Arts and Crafts style building made from local stone is one of the few that still remain to reinforce the unique character of the town's cliff-side setting. Kleiser incorporated part of the stone road that George Washington built to move his troops up to Ft. Lee into the house, giving it additional historic significance.
Before the building is lost forever, Edgewater should be given a chance to take responsibility for this part of our heritage. Transferring the property to the town by donation, by grant, or by sale are possibilities that should be given time to investigate. Please come to the April 23 hearing to help us ask Mr. Ben-Moshe to delay his plans for this property until we can figure out with him what our negotiating options are.
March 9, 2007
Hello friends and members,
The February 20 council meeting went just about as we expected. The meeting led off with the Edgewater Municipal Utilities Authority deal. We're giving Bergen County our sewage plant and getting something or other in return. You can read all about it in the Dems' campaign advertising. We're still not sure if it's a good deal the Dems refused to have independent experts look at it on behalf of the borough but it was shepherded by professionals who have spent their careers looking out for their cronies and themselves.
The meeting then led into Merse et al.'s latest pet project: draconian changes to the borough by-laws (See my email of 2/19).
Briefly stated, the new rules allow that if you have anything to say that isn't on the agenda, you will get three minutes at the end of the meeting. If either you or a council member says or does anything the mayor didn't like, the newly created Sergeant at Arms will escort you out.
Fortunately, the ICBE got hold of the ordinance and showed up in force. The media also showed up: NY Times, Bergen Record, Edgewater View, and the NY1 cable channel. We're told Doug Hall from the Bergen News was also there, but there's no mention of the meeting in his paper so he presumably went as a concerned citizen.
Not surprisingly, the Dem council members spoke in favor of the ordinance as providing MORE time to speak. Of course. To our knowledge, none of them have ever addressed the council as a private citizen.
The council roused its genius attorney and asked his opinion. Aside from not being able to name a single town in the State with a comparable ordinance, he thought it was fine.
As stubborn as the Dems are, even they got the message: don't do anything unpopular in public. Introduction of the ordinance was tabled 6-0. We know it will be back it's on the agenda for the March 5 meeting which is why you need to come to meetings. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. The meeting, a work session, is in progress as I write. The council is sure to reintroduce the ordinance at a regular session very soon. We must continue to come to meetings. If they smell weakness in our resolve, they will proceed to the kill with no holds barred.
In other news, Greg Franz is the borough's new housing officer. Unfortunately, he doesn't have much experience with the subject, but like with the borough attorney position, it's an earn-while-you-learn prospect. He replaces Bob Regan, whose legal career began around the time Greg was in kindergarten.
Speaking of professionals, the borough appointed Kathryn Gregory as planner. In a typical Edgewater disjointed sequence of events that wouldn't be out of place in Alice in Wonderland, Ms. Gregory has been representing the borough all along and the mayor referred to her as planner weeks before the council appointed her. This is bass-ackwards under NJ's Open Public Contract Law. Attorney Boggia says it's fine. Boggia also says he agrees with everything Merse ever said or thought in her life.
Some of you may have read about Fort Lee implicitly criticizing the size of Edgewater's police force because of the number of mutual aid requests to Edgewater. Edgewater's force is the same size as it was in the 1970s. Chief Martin advised the council that Edgewater actually provides more assistance to Fort Lee than Fort Lee does Edgewater. Later in the meeting, he advised the council that the department doesn't have the staff to enforce parking restrictions in Shadyside while enforcing parking stickers for the ferry. Hmm.
Oh, and if you're looking for the Shadyside business directory, it "fell down and the DPW has it."
Denis and Beatrice had a couple of land use questions and comments. Might as well bring them up WHILE THEY STILL CAN. Denis wants the council to revisit the 2006 zoning changes regarding side yards. They inexplicably "vanished" while the ordinance was wending its way through the council and planning boards. He also asked about i.Park's COAH units. Funny how at this stage of the game i.Park and the borough are still arguing about how many units are required and who gets credit for them.
Beatrice wants the council to carefully examine the Master Plan. Most of us would be happy if they would just FOLLOW the Master Plan.
Finally, Denis inquired about a pile of rocks at Unilever. We're sure it's nothing to be concerned about, just because the site is heavily contaminated and no excavation can be done there without the DEP signing off. Not surprisingly, the mayor didn't know anything about it. That's because she never gets down there, presumably because it's inconvenient. Maybe someone can ask her, while they still can.
February 22, 2007
Greetings from the February 5 council meeting. Sorry this is so long in coming. This one featured the Edgewater Municipal Utilities Authority (EMUA). If you read anything about a purported $1 million per year saving, please remember that these figures were prepared by Bill "Debarred by HUD" Katchen and Steve "Fired from Dumont, etc." Wielkotz. They're worth several million dollars, according to the tax office. Maybe tens of millions. EMUA didn't even bother valuing them. Councilwoman Holtje was quoted in the Record calling the deal a "no-brainer." This is the same party that lied about the cost of the new municipal building and called that deal a "no-brainer."
The borough audit is both financial and operational. Wielkotz said there were a couple of minor problems with the latter. For instance, the check number on some checks doesn't match the number in the borough computer system. In a normal business, the checks would be spoiled and voided. Which requires someone to actually look at the checks before they go out and compare them to what was approved. And to make sure that checks are always in sequence, not that we have a problem with dishonesty around here.
Denis pressed our new borough attorney, Phil Boggia, about the rules of conduct, and why they only applied to the Independents. He pointed out that the Dems consistently violated our boro code by adding things on the agenda when without consent of the full council as stated in the by laws. When pressed for a legal answer Boggia replied "can we just move on councilman Gallagher." For more on this issue, see my email on the proposed changes to the bylaws of the Mayor and Council, which were tabled (!!!) on Tuesday. More to come on this.
The ferry and marina came up a couple of times. Amazingly, there were no change orders. The council is being sued by the marina operator they fired. You know, the one who expected there to be actual boat slips and actual boats, except that the slips are silted in because the dems forwent a dredging permit in their haste to get the ferry in.
The council rejected the replacement operator bids they did receive and decided to solicit additional bids. That would be round number three.
Finally, there was arguing over the fare. Holtje insists it is $7 per the contract. Franz agrees with her, never mind that he couldn't state the fare one meeting ago. Our understanding is NY Waterway controls the initial fare and route, and that it is $9 each way. We predict the fare will start out at $7 and a few days after the ferry starts running it will be increased.
Shadyside came up a couple of times. Neda Rose is hard at work down there, doing what she does best. Anyhow, Beatrice mentioned the problem construction is causing the merchants. The mayor said she had only received one complaint. Or, she had only listened to one complaint. No matter. The developer is ignoring the developer's agreement with impunity. He's also ignoring it with Rose, Merse, Candelmo, etc.
Holtje wants the council to consider an ordinance governing construction deliveries and traffic control. Coincidentally, there's a variance application before the Board of Adjustments for a development on Casta Lane, where she happens to live. She also wants signs on River Road asking motorists not to block side streets. Like, everyone join in . . . Casta Lane.
Denis inquired about COAH. Regan and Burgis are still UNOFFICIALLY part of the borough's COAH team after being unceremoniously fired in January. The council is going to flesh out their status with some resolutions.
The public spoke about the EMUA deal, a Bergen Record editorial criticizing the Edgewater Dems (smirk), Candelmo not doing his job, the public not getting answers from the mayor, and the Dems disrespecting the Independents.
February 21, 2007
Thanks to all the people who came to the meeting last night and spoke so eloquently! There was not a person there who was for the proposed ordinance. And altho the meeting was not opened to the public until after 9:30, you stayed and waited it out and spoke. Thanks to you, the motion was tabled. The Dems were shamed into it. The press was there, too, including the New York Times. I guess word got out.
More about this and the previous meeting tomorrow.
Thanks thanks thanks!!!!!
February 16, 2007
Hello all --
On Tuesday's mayor and council meeting (Tuesday the 20th because Monday is a holiday), an ordinance will be introduced that will amend the bylaws in such a way as to silence all criticism. Here are some highlights:
The mayor will be the sole person to decide what goes on the agenda. If an Independent councilperson wants to put something on the agenda to discuss, the mayor can (and undoubtedly will) veto it.
The public portion of the meeting will only apply to matters on the agenda. If you have a problem (say parking due to the restaurants' abuse of street parking, for instance) but it isn't on the agenda, you will not be able to talk about it during the public portion, but must wait UNTIL THE END OF THE MEETING (USUALLY AROUND MIDNIGHT), and then you have just three minutes and nobody will be listening because they all want to go home and struggle with their consciences.....
There would be some form of police presence there who, at the discretion of the mayor, will remove any member of the public who annoys her.
This is what Valory posted on 07020.
I think it is time for all those who enjoy venting on this message board about our ethically challenged governing body, to leave the comfort of their nice warm homes and attend Tuesday's council meeting. I have read some very articulate and convincing posts, but we are basically singing to the choir here. I can tell you from experience, that our Independent council people need your support, even if you don't speak, your presence will send a message to the Mayor and her Democrat council members that there are more than just a few dissatisfied residents. I understand that some feel it is a waste of time, it is NOT. How else can we expect change if we ourselves are not willing to sacrifice two evenings a month to stand up and be counted. It is time to stop relying on the few, to do the work of the many. I'll be looking forward to seeing you, Tuesday 7:00 pm, Borough Hall, 916 River Road.
Please come to the meeting on Tuesday.
February 4, 2007
Mayor and Council Meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, February 5, 7:00. This will be a combined work session and regular session, the focus being on the proposed sale of our municipal utilities authority to the county. The Dems are in a hurry to do this. Why?
Come and find out.
January 26, 2007
The January 16 meeting was the usual stomach-churning exercise in Dem duplicity. We were all under the impression that our new glow-in-the-dark municipal building was only going to cost $3.7 million, probably because the figure was repeated like a mantra.
Borough auditor Steve Wielkotz was there to advise the council to cancel an old municipal complex bond ordinance and put in a new one for, are you ready? $5.5 million.
Upon questioning by Beatrice and Denis, Wielkotz and borough administrator Greg Franz led everyone through the trip from $3.7 to $5.5. Well, almost to $5.5. Besides the $3.7 purchase price, there is $350 thousand of professional fees, $400 thousand of furnishings, and a 150 thousand-dollar antenna. Add those together and you get $4.6 million. The remaining 900-thousand-dollars is "cushion."
The official story is the building was always going to cost more than $3.7. Adrienne Lu of the Record did a nice write-up of this abomination, which I sent you all last week.
The ferry survey has been tabulated. In Kafkaesque fashion, the borough tabulated the results but claims that since the survey was done by a private company, it's not releasing the results to the public. That makes sense. Not.
That's the end of the good ferry news. The bad news is they're spending about $39K to put HVAC equipment in that should have been included from Day 1. The other news is they're hiring part-time jitney drivers for $12/hr, which is the same salary that Edgewater pays part-time Emergency Medical Technicians. Aren't you proud to live in a town that pays retired school bus drivers and trained emergency medical personnel the same wage?
In other news, the mayor has had enough of tiresome council member requests and is only allowing them during work sessions, while giving herself free hand.
The borough is giving land to Bergen County for a roadway where Fort Lee and Edgewater meet. We are not getting anything in return, except maybe more cars from Fort Lee. The public spoke on a couple of matters including the ferry, the effect pay-to-play has on attracting quality professionals, the council's new-found civility, and comments from our good friends Lois Fein and Iris Borman on Edgewater being the laughing stock of Bergen County.
Cheers till next time,
January 15, 2007
Tomorrow, Tuesday January 16th, the mayor and council will meet at 7:00 at Boro Hall. The mayor, in her wisdom, has blocked any "council requests" to the agenda from Independent Councilwoman Beatrice Robbio. This, we believe, is an abuse of power. It would be great if the public (this means you) came to the meeting and said so.
The following are belated (apologies) reports on two recent meetings:
The Planning Board met December 19. We don't usually mention their meetings because they're heavily scripted, the projects are already approved before the meeting opens, and they don't meet that often. Also, frankly, the Planning Board is comprised of people who are the developers dream. Their motto is "We never saw a variance we didn't like." Our correspondents checked out the meeting, anyway.
The meeting was to approve Phase I (and, formality aside, Phases II and III) of the Unilever redevelopment project.
Phase I includes Toxic Town Hall, renovation of the two large buildings by the river, and the famous research building that sits in the Quanta plumes.
Our favorite is Phase II, which includes the affordable housing. We were hoping they'd mix it into the rest of the development, as the council suggested but did not legislate. Suuuuuuuuuuuure. They've pushed it as far away from everything else as they could and used huge parking garages as barriers to keep everyone on their own side of the fence, so to speak. The notation on the site plan says, "Here will be the projects."
Phase III is more residential. All told, there will be 420 market rate units and 60 affordable.
On January 2, The reorganization meeting went well, if you don't give a hoot about Edgewater. In case you haven't been following the papers, they fired borough attorney Robert Regan after 28 years so they could replace him with someone more pliant. They also canned the borough planner and borough engineer, who, like Regan, neglected to make campaign contributions in 2006.
The mayor made some nifty new seating arrangements. We applaud the Independents for ignoring them.
Councilman Delaney has a very special seat, right next to Holtje's. All he has to do all evening is listen to how she votes and slavishly follow. He's free to spend the rest of the evening doodling, staring at the ceiling, etc. Meanwhile, Beatrice and Denis waste their time reading their packets and following up. Jim doesn't even open his packet. Why should he? They already feed him the answers!
We won't bother you with the board appointments, etc. They are cronies of this administration.
The mayor says Greg Franz is tabulating the ferry surveys. Haven't figured that one out. NY Waterway sent it out, so let them tabulate it. The only reason for the town to be involved is so the results are whatever the mayor wants them to be. Some of the things we're hearing are a bit disconcerting. No jitneys in the north end of town, for instance.
Only other item was the mayor's "state of the borough" speech. Nancy says everything is hunky dory, especially our new glow-in-the-dark municipal building and $18M and counting water taxi terminal/goose guano ranch.
Edgewater deserves better.
Bye for now,
December 18, 2006
Big news of the night was Beatrice and Valory telling the assembled public that the mayor was firing Bob Regan after over 25 years of service to the town. This was denied by the Dems, but then was enacted on January 2. To everything there is a season, a moment... Valory is filing a complaint with the Attorney General about a violation of the Sunshine Act.
Councilman-elect Delaney was in fine form. He didn't have a packet, take notes, or pay attention. And he hasn't changed in the new year either.
The ferry/marina generated Change Order number 11 for $31K. And, no, that is not the last one. The canopy should be in place by February. Unfortunately, there won't be a 2007 boating season because the Dems didn't want to apply for a dredging permit. Basically, we just spent $18 million for a water taxi landing good for nothing else, except maybe a goose restroom. No parking = no riders = no ferry. We keep hearing rumors about large parking garages. Oh, and the building doesn't have air conditioning. Can anyone say "Change order?"
The borough is hiring emergency medical technicians for $12/hr. It's also hiring a medical director with no emergency medical supervisory experience. Since they're not paying him anything, it's roughly a wash. Greg Franz conceded Fort Lee pays its EMTs over $20/hr and that the borough might have to revisit its compensation to attract qualified individuals. In the meantime, if you're going to need emergency medical attention, make sure you're in Fort Lee when you're stricken.
The Dems authorized negotiation of terms for the Bergen County Utilities Authority to acquire the Edgewater Municipal Utilities Authority. They didn't see the need to have an attorney present during negotiations. These are the same geniuses responsible for the community center, the marina, toxic town hall, etc. What could possibly go wrong?
The Dems also approved the Aventine developers agreement. 34 more units coming to Shadyside, not one of which is affordable. Matter of fact, there are no affordable units at all in Shadyside. We'll go out on a limb and predict there will never be any affordable units in Shadyside. The developer is giving the town $195K in lieu of building affordable units elsewhere.
Couple of other Shadyside tidbits. The county owns easements on the land the borough needs for sidewalks by Waterford. So, over 10 years after the fact, there will finally be some. They're also trying to beautify the area with decorative trashcans and streetlights.Rumor has it that our favorite local developer is pushing to have Shady Side re-zoned to allow more high-rise.
Valory noted that Candelmo issued an open-ended demolition permit for the Octagon. That's the nice building by the driving range where they used to make Agent Orange. The developer is dismantling it as I type this. Now, if they only had permission from the DEP.
Valory also questioned the strength of the police force, which is now its lowest since the 70s. She asked why we are funding the hiring of several Jitney bus drivers, instead of police officers to protect our town.
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