The Jersey InsiderOpen for BusinessAugust 18, 2009
Vol. X, Issue 1. Friday, January 1, 2014
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August 14, 2009


Nicholas J. Veliky

It was like a dream. You know, kind of like the dream sequence that is so frequently used in television dramas and movies (remember the television series Dallas? It turns out that a whole season was nothing more than a dream). A scenario is played out in the story, then the main characters wake up, and things are as they were when the dream, or in some cases the nightmare began. That’s what we experienced when the Board of Education attempted to choose their new legal counsel during the board’s reorganization. Before the dream began, we saw our BOE vote to not reappoint the board’s sitting legal counsel. We saw Angelo Biscelgie appointed as interim general counsel and an attorney review committee formed to issue RFPs and review CVs in the search for new legal advisors to the board.

This is where the dream begins. Before the Attorney Review Committee, made up of BOE Commissioners Lou Fraulo, Paul Graupe and Joe Yamens along with commissioner John Traier, (he actually turns out to be the star of this dream sequence since his actions were at the root of all that happened), could begin their work of selecting new attorneys for the board, Traier, filed a lawsuit against the BOE. Yes, the same BOE he is a member of. Traier’s suit is filed in an attempt to have the old BOE attorneys returned to their positions without a review board and with a simple majority vote.

Weeks of preparing legal briefs by a law firm from Fairfield, NJ were accompanied by allegations that the two firms, the subject of the suit, looking for their old jobs back, were working behind the scenes helping prepare the case. Then the plot thickens when other board members decided to join John in his noble and heroic quest to help his legal friends keep their jobs as counsel and push back the other attorneys who did not have the same political affiliation as he . . . Then the plot thickens even further when it is alleged that BOE members joining Traier’s suit simply turned in their paperwork. They didn’t realize it had to be notarized and when it was notarized it was done without their knowledge and the notary did not witness them sign the documents. When the forms were notarized, they were notarized by employees of the two law firms trying to get their jobs back. There is an affidavit filed in court attesting to those facts. Quite a dream sequence wouldn’t you say? If that were not enough, the BOE then files a counter suit against Commissioner Traier. By the way, all the legal fees for this action are being paid for with your hard earned taxpayer dollars. I hope you are enjoying this story because that’s about the only thing you will be getting for all the money that was spent.

Now for the trial, both sides go before the judge. After reviewing all the filings and briefs and documents and affidavits, the judge’s ruling is to tell the board to go back to square one, exactly where they originally started and follow the course set by the BOE to search for new legal representation.

Now that we have all awaken from our slumber and experienced a BOE nightmare, the Attorney Review committee made up of Commissioners Graupe, Fraulo, Yeamans, and yes even John Traier, will go about their work of selecting new counsel just as they were about to before the suit was filed and the dream sequence began.

Some good news from the BOE, Woodrow Wilson Middle School (WWMS) principal William Hahn can stay on the job. It seems there was a potential conflict of interest due to the adoption of an anti-nepotism regulation by the New Jersey Department of Education. Mr. Hahn and his daughter in-law both work at WWMS thereby causing a conflict when it comes time for evaluations by a superior. Mr. Biscelgie, interim general counsel to the board, provided the Commissioners with an opinion and proposed resolution that permits Mr. Hahn and his daughter in-law to remain at Woodrow Wilson and removing the potential conflict by having reviews and evaluation of Mr. Hahn’s daughter in-law performed by other supervisory personnel in the district and out of the purview of Mr. Hahn.

In the world that I live in, the phrase “democratic debate” is used to represent a series of educated and intelligent questions, answers, and comments between members of a group in a civilized manner. In Board of Education Commissioner Joe Yeamans’ “farsighted” world, however, the phrase must mean something else… something reminiscent of an episode of “The Jerry Springer Show.” If Joe Yeamans thinks he “is going to make a tenacious mind melt by using a few trite words,” he’s “living in another world.” Commissioner, maybe if you spent more time actually working with the Board of Education and less time simply making “irreverent, sardonic, and tongue-in-cheek” observations about its critics, then maybe, just maybe, something would get done to benefit the students of the City of Clifton… but that’s just my observation.

John E. Beigel, Jr. Clifton Avenue of Flags Chairman, announced that Clifton’s Avenue of Flags will be displayed on the grounds around Clifton City Hall on Friday, September 11th from 6:00 am till 6:00 pm in lieu of Labor Day. Be sure to come out on September 11th and remember all those who gave their lives and the day when the whole world changed. This just in! The City of Clifton will receive $266,000 to be used for streetscape renovation along Lakeview Avenue.
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