The Jersey InsiderOpen For BusinessOctober 13, 2006
Vol. X, Issue 1. Friday, January 1, 2014
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Open for Business

October 13, 2006


Nicholas J. Veliky

October eighth marked the first 100 days of Clifton's new City Council. There has been plenty of public commentary, praise and criticism of the new administration. In order to keep things in perspective, the Clifton Insider contacted members of the Council and offered them an opportunity to give their feelings of their first 100 days in office. All members of the Council responded and their comments, included in this issue, are printed verbatim and are certainly worth a read. You'll see there has been a lot going on.

The Clifton Insider phones were ringing off the hook after Councilman Antonio Latona's announcement that he would be returning to work as a Clifton firefighter. The callers wondered if Latona would still be a councilman. With some of the areas greatest legal minds pondering this matter, obviously there is no easy answer. One thing for sure Clifton residents are watching and waiting for the outcome to the question can the second highest vote getter in the city council election serve. Another question remains will the decision be handed down before Latona leaves for his scheduled National Guard training session in Israel?

Where to build the new school has certainly consumed and at times divided this community. However, the more important issue may be to build a new school or not to build a new school. It seems to be the pressing question, with documentation showing low class numbers making the rounds and the administration not being too forthcoming with enrollment figures, it might make one think that we possibly don't need a new school after all. Perhaps its time to shed some light on these mysterious figures. There are many more significant issues that the Board of Education needs to address. Case in point, Christopher Columbus Middle School has consistently been deficient in the No Child Left Behind standards set by the state. Obviously something is amiss. Let's work together to develop a solution that will remedy the situation rather than explaining away our shortcomings. Lets all remember it's really about the student's education.

There is a forum in our cyber community that offers concerned citizens a place to voice their frustration and concern over a system and a government that they feel has failed to meet their needs. Hidden from reality by pseudonyms, individuals' comments often go well beyond what they would if held accountable for what they say. Yet from behind the many screen names, hateful, hurtful and sometimes damaging commentary flows freely. People have a right to their opinions and an exchange of ideas is at the basis for a strong community, however those that spread these hateful messages serve no purpose other than to sound off like a hollow gong. I was faxed a copy of a particularly disturbing post, from a local newspaper inviting “hate mail.”

Is the role of the media in this community to encourage and foster messages of hate? The anger in the forum is evident, the hate surfaces without any help.

"What no Bratwurst?" was the cry of many of the visitors to the Main Avenue Oktoberfest who were disappointed by the lack of the variety of ethnic food traditionally associated with an Oktoberfest. Vendors and Main Avenue merchants alike are not happy with the Oktoberfest either. Some vendors reported not generating enough sales to cover the $200 fee for participation in the event. The street fair, billed as an Oktoberfest, was promoted by Allen Consulting, a Holmdel, NJ based marketing communications firm. Allen Consulting is under contract to the Downtown Clifton Development Group to the tune of $50,000 a year to promote events such as these. The Downtown Clifton Development Group's annual street fair held in June was a washout with no rain date scheduled. Owners Jerry Dimitratos along with his Cousin Jimmy Dorris of the Famous Mid Town Grill were particularly perturbed that the street fair, boundaries were not extended to include all member merchants along the Avenue. It seems Jerry had to set up his stand almost 2 blocks from his restaurant which is located next to the Clifton Recreation Center. There was also a sense of frustration at the lack of communication between the consulting firm and the merchants and vendors. The expectations were high and the event didn't deliver. Many commented on the success of the Athenia Merchant's street fair which was organized and promoted by local merchants.

Sheriff Jerry Speziale's JSCOF (Jerry Speziale Community Outreach Foundation, Inc.) is holding their first annual walk-a-thon on Saturday October 14, 2006 at the Garret Mountain Reservation. The proceeds from the event will be used for foundation scholarships, the Junior Police Academy, Holiday Gifts for the needy and funding for programs that support mental health.

Clifton Councilman Steven Hatala is hosting a campaign breakfast for the Republican Freeholder Candidates on Saturday, October 21 at Mario's Restaurant on Van Houten Avenue. We have it on good authority that tickets are still available. Clifton's own Freeholder candidate, Board of Education Commissioner Keith Laforgia will be on hand. This is a great opportunity to meet the candidates, hear their views and enjoy a breakfast with concerned and civic minded residents. After all, our county taxes have risen 65.6% since 2000. It might be in all our best interest to pay close attention to this November 7th election. We all have a lot at stake.

Local Clifton businessman and political watchdog George Silva helped put Clifton on the map. Silva was featured in an article in the Inside Business Trends of Time Magazine! The focus of the issue was funeral services and Silva, owner of Competitive Casket was mentioned for shaking up this otherwise static industry by "selling retail" caskets.

Don't blame the City Council for the new regulation eliminating curb side leaf collection. For years city residents and landscapers have gotten use to raking their leaves into the streets only to have the city's vacuum trucks pick them up in a day or two. The system worked well, the residents were happy and properties were free from falling leaf debris. Along comes the State of New Jersey's new regulations which make it impossible for the time tried method of leaf collection to exist within the new law. To the City Council's credit they discussed this issue long and hard, and will continue the city's leaf pick up program, the only difference, the leaves must be either bagged in a biodegradable paper bag or in containers. If you don't like that option, you can always opt to have a landscaper do the job for you. Landscapers have been forced to make difficult decisions on making significant investments in new equipment that will enable them to remove leaves from their client's property. JSK Landscape Design is one local firm that has opted to take the plunge and invest in the equipment. Keith Bassford, owner of JSK said that he will offer the service at competitive rates to both residents and other landscapers. Things change, and change isn't always fun, as a community we have to adapt, this is something new but we'll all survive.

Alternative Chiropractic celebrated their 3rd anniversary on October 2nd. This Clifton Avenue Chiropractic office, headed by Dr. Andreas Skounakis, is one of the most innovative practices in town. Skounakis' dynamic personality combined with his approach to Chiropractics and rehabilitation has patients beating down his door.

The City of Clifton suffered a great loss this past week through the loss of Elisa Leib. Elisa was a person of action who made a difference in the lives of all she touched. Her record of accomplishments and list of good deeds could fill volumes. Her commitment to community went well beyond words; Elisa was a compassionate and caring person who loved her family and cared for those in her community. One thing we can all be sure of is that Elisa made good use of her "dash". My prayers and sympathies go out to Elisa's husband, Mark Schneider and her parents Harold and Doris Leib.
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