The Jersey InsiderOpen for BusinessApril 24, 2009
Vol. X, Issue 1. Friday, January 1, 2014
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Open for Business

Published:

April 24, 2009

By:

Nicholas J. Veliky

No matter how hard they tried, Clifton’s voting public saw through what appeared to be a misleading ballot statement listing the “Budget Question” simply titled as a “Public Question” and read “Resolved- That there should be raised for the General Fund $114,121,372.00 for the ensuing School Year (2009 – 2010).” It said nothing about the true tax levy it is, rather it sounded more like the public was giving permission to “raise” these funds through fundraising efforts, you know bake sales, fashion shows, car washes etc. What kind of fools does the Current Board of Education and their slick legal talent take us for? It’s a tax levy, plain and simple, for the purpose of funding the educational process in Clifton, let’s call it what it is. In spite of all their automated phone calls to parents, and the flyers that some Home and School Associations distributed in residents mailboxes, promising teacher layoffs, the loss of school nurses and full time principals, the voters made their feelings known and defeated the “Public Question”. Probably canceling the budget discussion meeting with the full City Council and cancelling the final BOE meeting prior to the election wasn’t such a good idea after all! Transparency guys, remember, transparency. . .

No doubt about it, the voters of Clifton were obviously not satisfied with the way the current BOE was running things. Board President Michael Urciuoli, who many thought had a promising political career using the BOE as a starting point, was sent packing after only one term, despite the best efforts of his loyal board supporters and we also hear the “Republican Machine” who worked tirelessly to get his lawn signs out. (Remember lawn signs don’t vote people do!). . . Lizz Gagnon, the off again, on again candidate who decided to run because she couldn’t see herself “watching television”, and had a feeling she needed to stay involved as the longest sitting commissioner, did not earn enough votes to allow her to retain her seat. In fact she finished dead last behind Urciuoli. . . Jack Houston who made a decent showing, coming in fourth place in the seven candidate contest, was defeated in this, his second attempt to win a seat on Clifton’s BOE. While many saw Jack as a candidate who has the knowledge and experience to make a positive impact as a member of the board, too many saw him as aligning himself with the group that delivered the same old, same old and didn’t see him as the change agent he has the talent and ability to be and this city desperately needs. Instead they saw him as a candidate that would cave to the status quo. Who knows Jack, maybe next year the third time’s the charm. . . Carlo Santelli, the self proclaimed voice of the students, finished fifth and defeated both Urciuoli and Gagnon. . . Michael Paitchell, who served most of his first term under siege of ethics charges leveled on behalf of the Board of Education by the late Marie Hakim (other commissioners had the opportunity to sign on to the complaint but opted not to, that was until after Marie died and Norman Tahan attempted to continue the charges and take the lead, stating the charges could be dropped if the outcome of the election came out in a positive way for the district, but the charges were subsequently dropped by the State. ) and under the continual suppression of a BOE will finally be able to work with a bit less encumbrances. . . Jim Daley, perhaps best known for putting the 290 Brighton Road puzzle together by gathering and sifting through mountains of information in an attempt to give Clifton Residents a clear picture of what exactly went on regarding the 290 Brighton Road School project. Brings a new vision and emphasizes the need for a transparent BOE. Jim will be a welcomed addition to the BOE as will first place finisher Joe Yeamans, a well known community activist. This was Daley’s and Yeaman’s first run at public office. Congratulations to the 1-5-7 ticket on your stunning victory.

Councilman Matt Ward, Councilman Peter Eagler and Roy Noonberg all made an appearance at Mario’s Restaurant to congratulate the winning 1-5-7 ticket.

John Traier has been telling people around town that it was Ron Fava not he who nominated Norman Tahan as a member of the Passaic County Republican County Committee. Why is there a need to explain?

Verbal arguments in the 290 Brighton Road appeal took place this past week and we hear that counsel for the Board of Education used the argument that the school construction is 90% complete as reason for getting the appeal thrown out of court. Latest word is that some of those who supported building the 290 Brighton Road School are now concerned that their children may end up attending the new facility.

The automated telephone calling system that was installed to announce school closings and emergency notification was “tested” prior to the Board of Education election to contact school families and inform them of the upcoming election and the pending “Budget” –Public Question Vote on April 20th. While the use of the system was deemed a test by the administration many have questioned if this emergency notification system will be used to alert families of fundraising events and other trivial announcements from the Board of Education or will the system be relegated to the emergency notification tool it was intended to be? If we set the standard too low can we expect to see bake sales and the like being heralded via this latest technology? Interestingly enough a warning about a sexual predator lurking in a white SUV around area schools performing lewd acts in his car was sent home via a paper flyer in the school backpack. Apparently the budget vote was more important and warranted use of the emergency communication system and news of the predator did not. And so it goes . . .

Election night results were greeted with many comments from the many people who were at the BOE to get the election results. One Councilman at the Board of Education, after hearing the results of the election was heard to say “it’s time to put your kids in private school”, commenting on the outcome of the BOE election. Now is this any way to move ahead and start working for the benefit of the kids or can we expect the same old rhetoric as we enter this new era with the Board of Education and the Council. One question that has arisen as a result of Commissioner Norman Tahan’s comments at a recent Board of Education meeting, does the district see this election outcome as a positive outcome for the district? Or did the voters choose other that what the District had wanted? Just wondering if the fact that certain candidates were introduced at what were supposed to be non-political budget discussion sessions had anything to do with who the district was hoping to get elected?

The Fire Fighters are back on the job after a hiatus of almost 6 weeks. Fire station 2 will be open once again and the 12 firefighters originally laid off in the city’s cost saving initiative will be returning to the job. The contract renegotiation was eventually successful and the outcome is said to be a win win for both the FMBA and the City. Things did get ugly during the layoff but most important is the fact that the firehouse is open and the community has its fire department coverage restored.

Mr. Cupcake, the very popular bakery on Van Houten Avenue will be expending to Riverside Square Mall in early May. Meeting with Nickelodeon to pitch idea about Mr. Cupcake – If Sponge Bob could do it why not a cupcake?

Our office telephones have been ringing off the hook regarding a billboard on Route 3 West just past Giants Stadium advertising a gentleman’s entertainment club in “Clifton”. The truth be told, the club is in Passaic, a corner of the parking lot is in Clifton – the Clifton address is being used to make the location more desirable to those gentlemen in search of scantily clad women dancing with the aid of a brass pole. The culture allure of our neighboring city has much to be desired.

April 30th is Career Exploration Day. The North Jersey Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Boys and Girls Club of Clifton sponsor this annual event in their effort to help young people make career decisions by experiencing first hand various careers in a day of shadowing professionals in their fields of interest.
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