The Jersey InsiderOpen for BusinessJuly 10, 2009
Vol. X, Issue 1. Friday, January 1, 2014
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Open for Business

Published:

July 10, 2009

By:

Nicholas J. Veliky

Just when you thought Clifton’s Economic outlook couldn’t any bleaker we find our city caught in the middle of a securities fraud scam that will cost the city in excess of $900,000. When the city hired Ameripay to provide payroll services for the city’s employees, they never could have imagined they were playing into the hands of swindlers and thieves. Two Saddle River residents, Paul Bultmeyer and Arthur Piacentini used funds collected, from municipalities and other payroll clients like Clifton, that were to be paid to State and federal governments for employee withholding taxes, to cover up for the securities scam they created using their companies, Sherbourne Capital and Sherbourne Financial. This theft of funds has left Clifton in the awkward position of having to replace the over $900,000 payment to both federal and state governments. While few comments were made by the Mayor and council in regards to this situation, one of the few comments that was made was that there was research being done into having our insurance foot the bill for the loss. This statement was interesting since insurance policies do not usually cover losses as a result of fraud. This pay period city hall staffers as well as police and fire department will be paid via a paper check which they will have to take to the bank as opposed to the usual direct deposit. The city is currently making arrangements for a new payroll company to provide these services going forward.

Did you hear the one about the city employee who was awarded over $400,000 in settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against a male co-worker? Apparently a male co-worker made regular inappropriate and suggestive comments to the young woman. He was even accused of touching and grouping her inappropriately. After reporting the incident and in her opinion having no formal action taken against the male employee, she left her position with the city and filed her sexual harassment suit. As a result Clifton tax Payers ponied up over $400,000 to make amends for his indiscretions while on city time. What make this matter even worse is that the male who allegedly committed the sexual harassment is still gainfully employed by the City of Clifton. Isn’t that a slap in the face to the hard working, honest individuals that were dismissed as a result of a budget crisis? In light of this along with the sexual scandal that’s been brewing in the DPW, it’s high time the City Council took definitive action and adopted a zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct of any kind.

In the last edition of the Clifton Insider, questions were raised about the Clifton Recreation Department sponsoring a volleyball tournament in Robin Hood Park. The program that was being sponsored by a private business, PowerVolleyball, was charging more to area residents who were not members of PowerVolleyball than they were charging their members. While that issue was not answered in a conversation with City Manager Albert Greco, we did get clarification that the city was in fact entering into agreements with a number of businesses, in some cases using a public park, and being promoted as a recreation department event. These recreational activities provided by private businesses are being used to present to area residents expanded recreational offerings without impacting the municipal budget. Sounds like out of the box thinking.

School is out for the summer, however, all you had to do during the school year was listen to a police scanner and you would have heard police constantly being called to the Town Plaza (the small strip mall located on Clifton Avenue across from City Hall) to break up large groups of kids (mostly high school students) who according to the calls made to police, appear to be getting ready for a fight. This is nothing new, for years students have congregated in this small shopping area. Residents have been intimidated and one seriously assaulted, some merchants have complained about theft from their businesses and school administrators have been known to patrol the area trying to round up some of the getaway students. Since some of the businesses in the area have been known to entice students with special deals and discounts offered to those with a valid Clifton High School ID. These businesses have created a safe haven for truants and provided unauthorized off campus alternative food services. Perhaps come the new school year, these merchants should have to post and pay for a special police officer, the same as the contractors doing road work are required to do. If you are going to create the potential for a disturbance to develop, then you should have to pay the price when the disturbance becomes reality. For now school is closed so this will probably not be a problem until school opens in September.

Once again the City of Clifton celebrated the Fourth of July holiday with the annual city picnic and fireworks display. It was a beautiful day, blue skis, low humidity, and temperatures in the mid 80’s. It’s too bad there weren’t more people to join in the celebration. So much hard work and planning goes into the annual picnic, but for some reason the attendance always seems to be disappointing. Back in the day the picnic was a true community event with civic and fraternal organizations bidding for the opportunity to sell hamburgers, hot dogs soft drinks and yes even beer to the thousands that would make their way to Main Memorial Park, where they would undoubtedly meet friends, neighbors and renew old acquaintances. Over the years something has been lost. Today even paring the picnic with the annual Fourth of July fireworks has not proven a catalyst to increase attendance. The committee does a great job providing a very nice program, but for some reason the public just doesn’t seem to buy in.

Clifton’s culinary world is on the verge of yet another great event. In the past we have told you about Angelo’s Pizzeria located on Market Street and home of some of the best pizza and Italian cuisine available in Clifton. Let’s not forget Mr. Cupcakes opened just a short time ago with one focus, making the best cupcakes around in a variety of flavors and having lots of fun doing it. Mr. Cupcakes has grown from their flag ship store on Van Houten Ave. to now include a cupcake shop in the Shops at Riverside Mall. The newest culinary find in Clifton is Avenue Bistro, located at 755 Van Houten Ave. Chef Patrick, an admitted food lover has cooked up his specialties for the cast and crews of Rescue Me, 30 Rock and The Sopranos. He has also worked personally for Leoanrdo DiCaprio. His offerings include cilantro lime shrimp, bistro pear salad, a strawberry spinach salad, gourmet burgers and classic sandwiches like the sloppy Joe, Philly cheese steak and lighter fares of both the Sloppy Jane, made with roast turkey and the Philly Chicken, made with sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms. His menu also includes wraps, artisan sandwiches and Panini’s, and that’s just his lunch menu. The dinner menu you just have to taste it for yourself. Give Patrick a call at 973-272-8860 ask him to fax you his menu, place your order and get ready to enjoy. By the way make sure you tell him you read it in the Clifton Insider.
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