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


July 24, 2009


Nicholas J. Veliky

Fun For All The July 22 meeting of Clifton's Board of Education has to go down in local history as one of the most shameful performances by Board of Education (BOE) commissioners ever seen. The childish banter back and forth was reminiscent of a school yard full of kids, yelling and screaming back and forth, picking teams for what had been dubbed the neighborhood World Series stick ball tournament. Inevitably a fight would break out to see who would be up at bat first. No, there was no stickball game and it never came to blows, but they were picking attorneys, something far more important than anyone realizes. As for the game, besides the power struggle between board members, it's playing with $150 million of our taxpayer dollars. One resident approaching the microphone put it best. He suggested bringing kindergarten teachers in to tutor the board on how to act. . . As for choosing attorneys, forget the litigation route Commissioner John Traier has chosen. It will cost tens of thousands of dollars to resolve and as a community; we will be no further along than we are now, as for the bickering, it is equally non-productive. Perhaps it's best to remove all present and past law firms and look for new attorneys with no ties to anyone on the board. Who knows maybe we can get an attorney that will cost us less than the hundreds of thousands of dollars we currently pay for lawyers.

Commissioner Norm Tahan has crashed both facilities and finance committee meetings in the past few weeks. Apparently Norm isn't happy with his current assignment on the residency committee because he hasn't attended any of those committee meetings. Commissioner Tahan stated at the July 22 BOE meeting that the reason for showing up at the meetings uninvited, was because he had notes he had from his years of experience and he wanted to share the information with his fellow commissioners. Instead of using e-mail or memos through the BOE offices Commissioner Tahan felt crashing the meetings was the best way to deliver his message.

When a developer presents plans to be considered for a project to be built in the city of Clifton, one of the first things he or she is told is that Clifton is a designated tree city and you must include green space, landscaping, trees, and shrubs as part of your plan. In fact, the city frequently uses the services of a landscape architect to review plans presented to the Zoning and Planning boards to make sure the proper plantings are designated to add to the beauty of the project in its infancy and as the project matures. It's just the way it's done in Clifton and it really pays off, when you see the finished product with lush beautiful landscaping. Developers are also required to maintain the landscaping, if a tree or shrub dies, they need to replace it. It's the way we keep Clifton looking good. . . Have you seen the 290 Brighton Road High School Annex? With all the huge lush trees that were removed to make way for the pavement and concrete in the front of the building it's surprising to see few if any new plantings on the property. With all the concrete, asphalt and building covering the lot, there is no space for trees. I guess that's what the famous singer, Joanie Mitchell meant when she wrote "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

The residents of Karen Drive were out in force to confront the BOE regarding the "World Cup" soccer as one resident called it. The residents have had it with the noise, traffic, garbage, and public urination all just feet from their back yards. After about an hour of discussion going nowhere, Superintendent Tardalo suggested suspending the permit, which by the way was issued by the BOE, until they had time to review what was actually happening. It seems the BOE Policy Committee had issued guidelines that would have prevented a situation like this from developing, but somewhere between the Policy Committee and the Facilities Committee something got sidelined and the policy was never put in effect. In fact it was revealed that the permit in question was issued without ever going before the Facilities Committee. The sympathies that were extended to the Karen Drive residents were well meaning but it seems if things were done correctly to begin with none of this would have happened.

The 2010 Clifton City Council race is starting to attract some interest. Besides a few incumbents making their intentions known, some newcomers have been talking campaigning to family and friends. Those challengers to watch are George Silva who hails from the Botany section of the city; Matt Grabowski, real-estate mogul from Athenia. With plenty of current and retired police officers living in the city, the Clifton PBA plan on taking a very active role in the 2010 election.

If you happened to see a copy of the July 17th Star Ledger you may have noticed a familiar face in the background of the front page photo of President Obama at the PNC Art Center. Clifton Councilman Peter Eagler was seen prominently in the photo just behind and to the right of President Obama. Peter did get a chance to say a few words to the commander and chief. Peter said to the President "I'm praying for you Mr. President." To which President Obama responded "I don't hear that enough." . . . County Democrats and elected officials were a bit put off as they sat in "regular" seats watching Peter on the stage with the president.

Word is the city will be hiring nine new firefighters only months after closing a fire station and laying off 12 firefighters stating the city could do without them. Two questions: with Clifton's current economic crisis, where did the funds come from to hire nine new firefighters? Secondly, was our safety compromised for the sake of economics when the fire station was closed and the 12 firefighters were off the job? The police department is down 15 from the recommended table of organization and the city has no money in the budget to hire additional officers or to give raises.

Mark your calendars; August 4th will mark the annual "National Night Out Against Crime" which will be held at 7:00 pm. This year the festivities will take place on city hall grounds.

Downtown Clifton Economic Development Group held their annual Salsa night recently. On hand were Michael Andalaft, Downtown Clifton President, Councilman Frank Fusco and Mayor James Anzaldi, along with hundreds of visitors to the Avenue, all there to have fun, enjoy some good food provided by El Mexicano, Mid Town Grill, Al Limon Peruvian Restaurant and Papaya King and of course to Salsa Dance.

It's almost time for St Andrew Carnival, this year's event will take place September 9th through the 13th. This year's event is sponsored by P and A Auto Parts and Mr. Cupcakes. Word has it there will be entertainment at this year's event as well. Watch the Clifton Insider for details.
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