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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Westfield Police Issue Tickets Warning Vehicle Owners of New Parking Ordinance

     Today's snowstorm exceeded the 3" that allows the Westfield Police Department to enforce Mayor Skibitsky's new town ordinance requiring all motor vehicles to be removed from Westfield's roadways so that the department of public works can plow residential streets from curb to curb.
     The town ordinance was passed by the Westfield town council despite the fact that there are many residents that do not have access to off street parking.  Those living in apartments, 2-family homes without driveway access, and others visiting friends or family overnight don't have the luxury of a garage, driveway, or parking lot to park their car overnight.
     The police were out issuing tickets warning vehicle owners to move their vehicles.  See pictures below.  (Westfield Ave. across from Holy Trinity Church)
     Did you receive a fine?  Or, were you lucky enough to receive a warning from Officer Friendly?
     If only Mayor Skibitsky would instruct his police department to enforce the snow shoveling town ordinance that has been on the books for decades.  Or, maybe enforce the minimum distance between downtown sidewalk cafe tables/chairs and the curb so that pedestrians can pass by safely during the outdoor dining season.
     On second thought, forget the sidewalk cafe ordinance for now, Punxsutawney Phil says we should expect 6 more weeks of winter-like weather.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Westfield Board of Education Approves Request by Soccer Association to Illuminate Kehler Stadium

     At last night's Westfield Board of Education meeting, members of the board voted to approve the Westfield Soccer Association's request to illuminate Kehler Stadium with temporary lights for the months of March and April.
WBOE Brendan Galligan
BOE Facilities Committee chairman Brendan Galligan, recently re-elected to the BOE, "flipped" the no vote that he cast in 2015 citing the Westfield Soccer Associations compliance to a list of changes to the lighting program that caused issues in the Kehler Stadium neighborhood.
     Galligan stated that the Westfield Soccer Association will comply with height restrictions of the portable generator driven lights.  When pressed for what restrictions he was referring to, Galligan could not answer and deferred to Westfield Soccer Association trustee Peter Franks to answer the question.
     Peter Franks stated that the height of the lights would not exceed the height that they were at in 2015. When asked what height he was referring to, Franks stated "About 22 feet."  Note: In 2015 the lights were measured at a height of 25 feet by TFoTM.
WSA Trustee Peter Franks
(Photo credit: TAPinto Westfield)
     Franks admitted that the higher the lights are positioned, they can be pointed down and would cause less spillage of light into the neighborhood.  He continued by stating that the lower the lights are positioned, it would cause them to be pointed straight out which would cause the adjacent neighborhood to be lit up.  At no time did either BOE Facilities Committee chairman Brendan Galligan or Peter Franks acknowledge Westfield Town Code Ordinance 16-28a, restricting the height of the lights at 15 feet.  
     WBOE President Gretchen Ohlig was asked if a professional engineering report was provided by the Westfield Soccer Association regarding light spillage into neighboring yards from the portable lighting to which she answered, "No."  Ohlig also announced that members of the board of education will not be on site at Kehler Stadium to address neighborhood complaints, during the time the lights are in operation, as they were in 2015.  She stated that the WSA will have a contact number and that WSA trustee Peter Franks will field all calls.  TFoTM suggests that this is no different than the fox guarding the hen house.
     The WBOE continues to charge Westfield elementary, middle school, and high school students a participation fee between $60 and $125 a year to partake in a sport, club, drama production, band, chorus, and other after school activities but continue to allow a private business (Westfield Soccer Association) to utilize BOE fields free of charge and on the backs of the Westfield taxpayer. 
     It's been 2 years since a request was made by TFoTM, to the WBOE, to consider a user fee for private entities to pay when using the fields to offset the costs incurred by the BOE/taxpayer to maintain the fields.  As of last night's meeting, WBOE president Gretchen Ohlig has not presented a plan.  
     While a 2015 court case resulted in a Mountainside judge dismissing complaint summonses issued against the Westfield Board of Education for violation of generator use/noise, summonses issued for violating height restrictions and the required shielding of the lights were never properly addressed by the court on their individual merit, setting up a legal challenge this spring season, should the Westfield Soccer Association violate town ordinances governing height and proper shielding.
     The Westfield Soccer Association lists twenty one fields on their website that they use for their soccer activities......14 of those fields are in Westfield.  Of the 14 fields in Westfield, 5 are owned by the town of Westfield and 9 are owned by the Board of Education.
     The town of Westfield requires a $10 fee for each player of the WSA to use a town own field. This one time fee is assessed to Westfield Soccer Association members through a registration fee.
     As of last year, the Westfield soccer association website listed this fee at $15 on it's registration page, $5 more than the what town ordinance mandates.  That disclaimer has since been deleted.
     With approximately 2600 soccer association members, the town of Westfield would have  collected approximately $26,000. However, the soccer association took in $39,000, netting them a profit of $13,000.  It appears that the WSA has lumped the field usage fee into its registration fees.
     Nontheless, residents in the neighborhood surrounding Kehler Stadium will be subjected to the fumes, noise, and light generated from the diesel powered portable lights in addition to the eyesore created when the WSA erects a mesh barrier attached to the visitor side of the field bleachers and fence in an attempt to shield the Westfield Ave. neighborhood from the intrusive lights.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Westfield Police Chief Domesticates Police Department Personel

     Westfield Police Chief David Wayman continues to issue general orders to all subordinate personnel that has the rank and file wondering why.  
     Wayman has struggled to legitimize his regime ever since he was promoted under a questionable promotional testing process that many allege was tainted by Westfield Town Administrator Jim Gildea and Mayor Andy Skibitsky. 
     TFoTM is wondering if Chief Wayman will be offering a departmental training program to certify officers in sanitary cleaning procedures and domesticated appliance operations (vacuuming.)
     Perhaps, Wayman is establishing a need for a department maid in addition to the janatorial services already provided by the town.  
     TFoTM continues to obtain information through confidential sources and other channels of communication that Chief Wayman and town officials have unsuccessfully attempted to thwart through departmental investigations and a court ordered subpoena, ultimately wasting taxpayer dollars. 
     What's next......a general order on toilet paper roll replacement?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mayor Skibitsky Jeopardizes Safety of School Children

     Years ago, Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky, and members of his town council, voted to approve a pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Cambridge Rd. and Central Ave.
     Cambridge Road was turned into a dead-end/cul-de-sac, making the pedestrian crossing a "mid-block crossing" which statistics have proven to be a more dangerous location for a crossing instead of locating it at an intersection.
     While Mayor Skibitsky will insist that the mid-block crossing is "a safer location," he has never provided any engineering report, study, or other documentation to support his opinion.
TFoTM provided statistics, reports, and a study done by the inventor of the HAWK pedestrian light installed on Central Ave., proving that a crossing at the nearest intersection of Clover and Central is a safer location.  Unfortunately, Mayor Skibitsky's political game outweighed common sense and professional advice.  Skibitsky sacrificed safety for his own political gain.
     Mayor Skibitsky burdened an elderly Central Ave. homeowner with a new sidewalk on the opposite side of the street from the Cambridge Rd. cul-de-sac.  As a result, the homeowner is subject to the Westfield town ordinance requiring her to have the sidewalk shoveled within 24 hours after a snow storm.
     She has abided by the town ordinance ever since the sidewalk was constructed, having the sidewalk cleared as well as the ADA (American with Disabilities Act) handicapped ramp in front of her property.
     The ADA ramp located on the opposite side of Central Ave., at the cul-de-sac constructed closed street of Cambridge Rd. is pictured below.  A full 3 days (72 hours) after this past weekend's snowstorm ended, the ADA ramp on town owned property has yet to be shoveled.
     This in not the first time this hazard has jeopardized the safety of school children and adults using the crosswalk at the HAWK pedestrian crossing.
     The Mayor has consistently inflated the number of school children and pedestrians that use the crossing in an attempt to justify the crossings existence, stating that "hundreds of people use the crossing each month."
     If in fact, Mayor Skibitsky's "guesstimate" were true, wouldn't he want the ADA ramp cleared of snow for the "hundreds" of people crossing Central Ave. each month, at this location?
     The fact of the matter is.....before the town adds another snow related town ordinance to the books as they did recently, regarding the removal of vehicles from parking in the roadway during a snow storm of 3 inches or more, how about enforcing the ones on the books now.
     How about practicing what you preach Mayor Skibitsky, at the "safest location" for the HAWK pedestrian crossing.  Shovel the ADA ramp, Mayor.
     Residents are still waiting for acting Mayor Jo Ann Neylan to distribute pamphlets to pedestrians/motorists/residents educating them on the procedures to follow when the HAWK pedestrian light is activated and the unique lighting sequence commences after a pedestrian pushes the crossing button to activate the light.   She suggested that years ago, at a town council meeting, after a disproportionate number of motor vehicle accidents were occurring immediately after the HAWK light was installed.

     Don't hold your breath waiting.

HAWK Pedestrian Crossing on Central Ave. at Cambridge Rd.
(72 hours after this weekends snowstorm)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mayor Skibitsky is a "No-Show".....Again.... at Town Council Meeting

     Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky was a "no-show" once again last night for the town council meeting.  This has become a habit of his and only adds to the belief he is merely keeping his political poker in the fire until he can run for a higher political office......but even that might be on the back burner since Govenor Chris Christie and his "political hacks" have been left out of President-elect Donald Trump's future staffing plans.
     Until NJ State Assemblyman Jon Bramnick vacates his state office, possibly running for governor, which is now a long-shot at best, Skibitsky will continue to dabble in local politics.  Westfield deserves better.
     Skibitsky has overstayed his welcome, occupying the mayor's office longer than any other Westfield mayor and long after the "gentlemen's agreement" of no more than 2 consecutive terms that has been honored by every previous mayor before him.
     Maybe, Mayor Skibitsky chose to dodge the public, knowing that many residents are concerned about vacancies in downtown store properties.  Perhaps he did not want to face questions regarding the anticipated decision from his politically appointed planning board members on whether to allow the demolition of the "Watcher" house on the Boulevard.  (See previous TFoTM story below.)  Or, maybe he regrets the town councils approval to ban on street parking during snow storms resulting in an accumulation of 3 inches or more, with no contingency plans for residents that don't have access to off-street parking.  Also, allowing the new 7-Eleven to operate 24hrs a day has some residents requesting face time with Skibitsky.
     BTW......  Who will measure the depth of the snow?  Will the Westfield police be equipped with a ruler to check the depth?
     Assemblyman Keith Laughlin suggested that the new rule was established as a result of residents recommending it........really?  The fact of the matter is that the town council has the authority to institute rules, town ordinances, etc., and they voted in the affirmative for this "suggestion."  Nice try Keith, pinning this one on the residents of Westfield.
     Maybe those without off-street parking should park in Mayor Skibitsky's driveway as one person  recently suggested in an online Westfield Patch forum.  Councilman Laughlin, will you back that suggestion?  Maybe Mayor Skibitsky can charge $$$ for off-street parking on his property and donate the money to his political party.
     Once again, Westfield Councilwoman Jo Ann Neylan was "Acting Mayor" in Skibitsky's absence. She's auditioning for the lead role of Mayor once Skibitsky seeks to leave Broadway (Westfield) for Hollywood (Trenton).
     TFoTM believes 3rd ward Councilman Mark LoGrippo will arrive in Trenton long before Skibitsky, if the prognosticators are correct.
     Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!  If anyone should receive a gift-ticket from the Westfield Police Department for parking on the street during a 3 inch snow "storm," understand that they are merely the messenger of a town council that has a stockpile of coal to fill your holiday stocking.  Kinda like Santa's elves.
     Oh, and let's not forget that former Westfield Town Councilman Jim Foerst is representing the Broaddus family, owners of the "Watcher" house, when they go before the planning board with their request to demolish a historic home to make way for two smaller "McMansions."
Does Jim address the members of the planning board by their first names or does he use a more formal greeting to mask his political relationship with them?
     While Governor Chris Christie's approval rate has sunk to an all-time low of around 18 percent, Mayor Skibitsky shares in common, with the governor, a common trait.....both have been a "no-show" during their current terms in office.  The only difference is that Skibitsky has no respect for Westfield's unwritten term limit while Governor Christie is a "lame duck" while serving out the rest of his final term in office.
     At least Trader Joe's is open once again.  Take a bow Andy after you cut that ribbon.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The "Watcher" House....A Historical Home Faces Demolition

The "Watcher" House........Could It's Fate be Politically Affected?
The Westfield Planning Board will convene tonight and could possibly decide the fate of the "Watcher" house owned by Derek and Maria Broaddus.
The Broadduss are seeking to demolish the "historic" home and construct two new homes on the property.
Tonight's planning board meeting is the last meeting of the year and is expected to feature a significant turnout in opposition of the Brodduses attempt to sub-divide the property which would require a variance.
A search has revealed that the "Watcher" house is located in one of Westfield's historic districts.  (See below information.)
Former Westfield Town Councilman, and local attorney, Jim Foerst, has been retained by Derek and Maria Broaddus to represent them before the Westfield Planning Board.
Could politics be in play?  Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky and Jim Foerst have served together, on the town council, and the mayor appoints members to the planning board.

Historic District [1]
This area, centered on "The Boulevard" — a wide, grand street, consists mainly of large, turn-of-the-century revival style houses. Some notable structures in the district are the Squires Clubhouse (545 Boulevard), which is an 1890 Federal Revival house with an imposing semi-circular entrance portico and a 1906 Queen Anne/Romanesque house (317 Park Street) with a round Romanesque tower with conical roof. 
Between 1866 and 1896, Chauncey B. Ripley was the principal developer of the section of the growing suburb south of the railroad tracks. He was a teacher, lawyer, and heir-by-marriage to the large estate of Gideon Ross, Esq. (1794-1861). Ripley expanded the land holdings, particularly along the railroad, between 1866 and 1869. In 1872 he filed a map laying out "Boulevard Ripley" on paper between South Avenue and the Clark line. After waiting out the depression of the mid-seventies, he and his estate resumed the purchase of lands from 1878 to 1901, beyond his death. 
The 500 block of the Boulevard, together with the adjacent Park Street properties included in the Boulevard Historic District, was developed in the 1880's and 1890's. This neighborhood succeeded Westfield Avenue and preceded Dudley Avenue as the most affluent address in town. 
The 600 block of the Boulevard (the name "Ripley" was dropped around 1900) was, for the most part, developed between 1900 and 1915 and carried on the tradition of tasteful, upper middle class elegance. As the Boulevard was developed in stages in the decades that followed, it maintained its high reputation by adhering to generous standards of setback and side yard, street side tree planting and spacious malls between curb and sidewalk that give the thoroughfare its distinctively "boulevardian" flavor. Today, fulfilling Ripley's 1872 plan, it offers a virtual architectural history of east coast suburbia in the 20th century. 
Of the two blocks within the suggested boundaries, the 500 block is more threatened by modernization, but it still preserves much of its old charm. It is largely a block of spacious Queen Anne style houses. Numbers 503, 509 and 515 are especially fine examples of this vintage. No. 515 was once the residence of Henry C. Sergeant, a founder of Ingersoll Rand. No. 545 was the early residence of Charles N. Codding, the county and municipal Republican leader and a prominent attorney. Architect Charles Darsh, a disciple of Stanford White, remodeled the house along Federal Revival lines in the early 1920's. Darsh, who also remodeled No. 546, resided at No. 534. 
  1. Town of Westfield, Planning Board Master Plan: Historic Preservation Plan,2002,, accessed June, 2012.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Westfield Needs To "Drain the Pond"....Westfield Political Power Broker Bill Palatuuci...."You're Fired"

     Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky is in Atlantic City this week, along with fellow town council members, attending the 101st Annual New Jersey State League of Municipalities Conference.  The 2016 conference is the nation's largest gathering of municipal officials.
     The cost of attending the conference, including meals, transportation, rooms at luxury hotels, is paid for by Westfield taxpayers.  Riding the coat-tails of the mayor and town council are members of the Westfield police department.  As the old saying goes, "If it's free, it's for me, and I'll take three."
     Our nation's President Elect Donald Trump has vowed to "drain the swamp," referring to ridding the federal government of political elites and lobbyists.  Governor Chris Christie's attempt to reward his "political back scratchers" Richard Bagger and William Palatucci were unsuccessful.  After briefly joining Donald Trump's transition planning team, having been endorsed by his friend Chris Christie, Palatucci was removed from the transition team by Donald Trump.  Essentially, Donald Trump reminded Palatucci of the famous television line, "You're fired." The swamp continues to be drained.
     It's time to "drain the pond" in Westfield.  TFoTM is not referring to the dredging of Mindowaskin Pond, but the ridding of the wasteful spending, mismanagement of resources, and the political caste system that has permeated Mayor Skibitsky's administration.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Democrat Majority Supports Clinton in Westfield, a Town With Zero Democrats On The Town Council

     Ever wonder why the Westfield Town Council is made up of all Republicans in a town that has unofficially seen 8429 residents vote for Hillary Clinton while only 5261 voted for Donald Trump during this year's election?

     With voter turnout close to 64% in Westfield for this year's presidential election, it is an off year for town council seats to be determined........this is the Republican plan put in place during Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky's tenure.

     With town council seats being changed to 4 year terms, and elections occurring in odd numbered years, opposite the presidential election, town Republicans count on low voter turnout to secure victory.  Four town council seats are up for election in 2017 followed by 4 more in 2019.

8 Republican council members + 1 Republican mayor = partisan politics in Westfield.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Local "Rag"....The Westfield Leader.....Is At It Again

     Reporters misquoting people and Leader editors approving's no wonder owner/editor Horace Corbin is constantly looking for new reporters.  Some weeks, not one front page story is about Westfield but coverage of events occurring in adjacent towns.  The Westfield Leader, once the front-runner of local journalism, has become the follower.

Tapinto Westfield reports the following:

Westfield Board of Education Candidates Say Newspaper Misinformed Readers About Them

WESTFIELD, NJ — Two Westfield Board of Education candidates  — J. Brendan Galligan and Michael Bielen — said that local weekly print newspaper The Westfield Leader ran misinformation about them in its special election issueThursday.
The amount of space dedicated to information on Galligan is also less than a third of what was given to the other candidates.
Horace Corbin, publisher of The Leader, declined to comment.

Galligan said that the candidate statement posted on TAPinto Westfield, which contains biographical information, was also submitted to The Leader on or around Oct. 1 and again at 4 p.m. on Tuesday of last week, the afternoon before the publication goes to press.
“To be clear, I don't believe it was intentional,” Galligan said. “The Leaderhas generally covered all candidates equally, for all offices. I think they try to be as impartial as possible. Trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, I think it was just an honest mistake on their part.”
In the information it did run about Galligan, the paper printed that he was pursuing a degree in civil engineering by taking evening, weekend and online classes. Galligan said he studied civil engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, but eventually finished his degree elsewhere in management.
“The part about pursing an online civil engineering degree was first misquoted by a now defunct upstart magazine — I think it was called Westfield Today — back in 2012, and I think whoever wrote the article just copied/pasted from that,” he said. “I don't know why they would use that, when it didn't come from me and wasn’t directed to their publication in the first place.” 
He added, “Even if they never received my emails, which is a stretch, the basic info about committees and leadership roles is all plainly available on the district site,” Galligan said. “One would think they'd want to validate claims and keep candidate statements roughly the same length for visual symmetry.” 
Bielen said he experienced some of the same issues.
“I submitted an article to The Leaderbefore the publishing deadline and asked for a confirmation of receipt,” he said. “When I looked at the online version on Wednesday evening, there were incorrect snippets of past articles. My children are in eighth grade at Edison – not sixth. My career information should have also been updated. I wrote immediately wrote them back and have yet to receive a response.”
Both Root and Leiz said that they had no issues with what The Leader printed about them.
The four candidates are vying for three seats on the Westfield school board.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Westfield Teacher Arrested for Marijuana Possession

The following was reported in TAPinto Westfield. 
October 27, 2016 3:42 pm.  
Officer Domanoski and Officer Doherty arrested Mercedes Poyntz, age 56, of Westfield, NJ, for  of a controlled dangerous substance (marijuana) under 50 grams pursuant to a motor vehicle stop in the area of Tamaques Way and Norwood Drive. Subject was transported to Westfield Police Department headquarters where she was processed and released on a complaint summons.

In 2011, another Westfield teacher was arrested for possession of marijuana.  The following was reported in the Star Ledger newspaper  

WESTFIELD — A fourth-grade teacher and coach of two high school sports teams was charged with marijuana possession last week, authorities said.  Brendan Hickey, a 31-year-old Scotch Plains man, had a “small bag of marijuana” in his car when officers stopped him on Feb. 9, said Capt. Cliff Auchter, a spokesman for Westfield police. Officers searched the car after smelling marijuana, Auchter said. He was arrested and charged with possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana after it was “easily determined to be a small amount,” the captain said. He was released on a ticket to appear in court.Hickey teaches at McKinley Elementary School and coaches high school ice hockey and girls lacrosse in Westfield, according to the school district’s website.

Should New Jersey legalize marijuana possession for personal use?  Poll question located to the right of TFoTM webpage. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Don't Be Scammed: Phone Solicitors on Behalf of Police Officers

     It's that time of the year again when the phone rings or you receive a mailer requesting a monetary donation to support a law enforcement fund.  Typically, the solicitor or the mailing is not a police officer and has no affiliation with law enforcement except that they say they are collecting money for the families of fallen officers, police equipment, training, etc.  DON'T BE FOOLED......ASK QUESTIONS.
     The first question should be, "What percentage of my donation directly benefits the families of the police officers you are collecting money for?"
     Today, I received a call from a "fund raiser" and when I asked the question regarding what percentage of my donation is passed onto the families in need,  the caller stated, "By law, we must contribute at least 10% of money collected to the families of police officers."
     This is reprehensible......90% of the money you donate can be used for what the solicitor called "administrative costs."
     The fact of the matter is, you should only contribute to your local, county, state, or federal law enforcement agency that you are familiar with and that you know will distribute your donation with the least amount of "administrative fees."

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Westfield Police Chief David Wayman: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

     In another example of the double standard that exists with Westfield Police Chief David Wayman, subordinates were issued a new departmental general order today.  Read the order below.
    This order might cause some subordinates to question Chief Wayman's "extra long" lunch breaks with his secretary, lunch breaks where they have disappeared from the police department for hours.
     Chief Wayman has always been a "Do as I say, not as I do" kind of hypocrite.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 13, 2016
SUBJECT: Relieving of Officers at Extra Duty Jobs
ISSUING AUTHORITY: David C. Wayman, Chief of Police

Effective this date, the relieving of an Officer working an “extra duty” assignment by “on duty” Officers; so that the Officer working the “extra duty” assignment can make a “pickup” or leave his assignment for any other reason shall cease immediately.

Personnel working “extra duty” assignments shall be responsible to make their own arrangements for procuring food and drinks without utilizing “on duty” officers to stand-by their location, i.e. bring their lunch and drinks.

If the work crew breaks for lunch, the Officer assigned to that work site IS NOT excused from that location so that they may obtain lunch or take a break. The Officer’s responsibility is to ensure safety to the public which includes pedestrians and motor vehicles; this responsibility does not stop when a work crew is not actually physically working. Therefore, the Officer working an “extra duty” assignment shall remain on scene during the entire duration of the assignment and/or while the work crew is present. At no time shall an Officer leave their “extra duty” assignment unless exigent circumstances exist and therefore are ordered to do so.

If an Officer working an “extra duty” assignment must leave their post for a “personal” reason. That Officer will request a relief from the Watch Commander, if approved, when a relieving Officer arrives, the Officer working the “extra duty” assignment shall come to headquarters to address their “personal” issue. Upon arrival at headquarter the Officer shall notify the Watch Commander that they are present and upon completion, that Officer shall notify the Watch Commander that they are leaving headquarters and returning to their assignment.

Monday, October 10, 2016

State Assemblyman Jon Bramnick Votes "Yes" to Increase Gas Tax

     New Jersey state assemblyman, and Westfield resident, Jon Bramnick has said that New Jersey taxpayers want the Legislature to focus on lowering taxes but yet he recently voted to increase New Jersey's gas tax by .23 cents per gallon.
     This tax increase will cut into the budgets of New Jerseyans costing close to $1000 a year for some commuters and residents.
     Bramnick, a Republican, voted last week to increase the state's gas tax, along with state Democrats, that will hit the wallets and pocketbooks of those he had told he wanted to lower taxes for.
     This gas tax increase is the largest tax increase in 25 years, nearly 10%, since Governor Jim Florio.
     New Jersey's gas tax will now rise to 37.5 cents per gallon, elevating the Garden State from the second lowest in the United States to the seventh-highest.
    The vote to increase New Jersey's gas tax was mostly along party lines with Republicans voting against the increase, and Democrats for it.
     Westfield voters need to remember Bramnick's vote the next time he is up for re-election and vote this "comedian" (pun intended) out of office.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dear Anonymous: A Recent Coverup by Intimidation?

     In a previous TFoTM posting, a comment by Anonymous asked if there was a more recent incident covered up by Westfield police to protect one of their own.
     The question posted was, "How about something that might have happened in this decade, or with the current chief?"
     Here is something that happened in the last decade that allegedly involved the Westfield police chief.
     Chief David Wayman travelled to Toronto, Canada to play in a softball tournament with a group of other law enforcement officers.  He travelled with another Westfield police officer.
     Allegedly, after a night of drinking, and while walking the streets of downtown Toronto, Wayman allegedly broke the plate glass window of a liquor store and stole a bottle of alcohol from a display.
     When TFoTM was attempting to confirm facts of the alleged incident which included speaking to a detective in the Toronto police department that runs the softball tournament, I was paid a visit by the Westfield Police department at my home.
     Two Westfield police officers rang my doorbell and I was told, by them, not to make any further contact with the Toronto police.  I was not given a reason why.
     Why was I being silenced by local law enforcement while attempting to investigate a crime allegedly committed by Westfield police chief David Wayman?
     It's time for town officials and county law enforcement to intervene and look into Wayman's past issues regarding racial profiling, questionable practices as a Union County police academy physical fitness instructor, and his off duty indescretions.
     Another incident involving alleged sexual harassment at the FBI training academy that Wayman was allegedly a party to, should be questioned.
     Mayor Andy Skibitsky has recently expressed his displeasure, to others, with Chief Wayman.  Problem is, he approved Wayman's promotion to police chief despite multiple warnings, not to promote him. Skibitsky is stuck with him.  Unfortunately, so are we the taxpayer.
     Anonymous, if you want to read about another alleged cover-up involving Westfield police chief David Wayman, read "Theft from a Police Department Safe? An Inside Job?  You can find the story at the top of the webpage side bar.....just click on the link to the right, at the top of the main page.

Friday, September 16, 2016

It Happened There, It Happened Here...Only It Was Covered Up

 Retired Scotch Plains police chief arrested for drunken driving following motor vehicle accident in South Plainfield.

Friday, September 09, 2016

School is Open......Be Careful

     It's that time of year again.  Schools are open, teachers are back to work, kids are everywhere as they trek, bike, drive, and get chauffeured to school.  Roads around town are jammed with vehicles and intersections near schools get clogged.  That's why we have crossing guards....or is it?
     Crossing guards serve a vital role in protecting our children as they leave the house on their walk to school.  It seems less and less children are walking these days, opting to ride in a car with a friend to the high school, carpool with neighbors, or be chauffeured back and forth, from door to door, by a parent.
     Crossing guards wield a hand held STOP sign that they are authorized to hold up in the air to stop traffic when it is safe to do so when they see a gap in traffic.  This allows a crossing guard to safely cross pedestrians at a busy intersection.  Intersections like Rahway Ave. & Willow Grove Rd., Grove St. & Rahway Ave., Dudley Ave. & Clark St., Westfield Ave. & Park St. to name just a few.
     What that hand held STOP sign DOES NOT authorize a civilian crossing guard to do is to direct or wave motor vehicles thru a state certified STOP sign located on the corners of each of the aforementioned intersections.  New Jersey Title 39 Motor vehicle laws govern the laws of the road as does the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.)
     Westfield crossing guards have routinely been waving cars through STOP signs to facilitate traffic backed up for blocks, and as a result, accidents do occur.  TFoTM has left messages with Westfield Police Department Traffic Safety Officer Lieutenant Jason McErlean seeking an answer to the legal question surrounding Westfield crossing guards illegally directing motor vehicles through STOP signs. In 3 years, Lt. McErlean has not once returned a phone call with an explanation.  
     In fact, when Mayor Skibitsky was asked about the legality of civilian crossing guards directing motor vehicles to essentially break the law by not coming to a complete stop at a STOP sign and violating the STOP sign statute, he refused to answer.  The least he could have done was consulted with his police chief that is seated in the front row at every town council meeting.
     So TFoTM asked insurance companies what their ruling would be if a driver proceeded through a STOP sign at the direction of a civilian crossing guard, and an accident occurred.  Representatives from State Farm, All-State, and New Jersey Manufacturers all stated that the vehicle at the STOP sign must yield the right of way to the thru street traffic obeying motor vehicle laws.
     Westfield has unfortunately experienced some horrific accidents over the years including one at the intersection of Rahway Ave. & Grove St. where a civilian crossing guard, beloved by many, waved children across Rahway Ave. as a motor vehicle was approaching.  The civilian crossing guard did not properly stop oncoming traffic before instructing the children to cross Rahway and subsequently, a child was struck by the motor vehicle.
     So, before another tragedy occurs, it is time to STOP the long time illegal practice of civilian crossing guards directing traffic thru STOP signs.  Westfield Traffic Safety Supervisor Lt. Jason McErlean needs to stop turning a blind eye towards this potentially deadly practice.  If Lt. McErlean is instructing his civilian crossing guards, off the record, to facilitate backed-up traffic through STOP sign controlled intersections long after pedestrians have crossed the intersection, he should be relieved of his duties as a Traffic Safety Officer.
     If Lt. McErlean is being directed by his police chief David Wayman, the town administrator Jim Gildea, or Mayor Skibitsky to continue this unsafe practice, to satisfy Westfield commuters, parents, and chauffeurs, it's time to blow the stop whistle on it.
     Then again, we all know what happens to whistleblowers in the police department.  
NOTE:  If you are the victim of an accident as a result of the illegal actions of a civilian crossing guard, send your motor vehicle repair bill to The Town of Westfield, 425 E. Broad St., Westfield, N.J., 07090...Attn: Mayor Skibitsky.  
                                                                              BE SAFE!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky....a Career Politician

     Prior to Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky occupying the mayor's office for what is now his 11th year, there was a long standing tradition that no mayor would serve more than two consecutive 2-year terms.  
     Skibitsky refused to adhere to that tradition even while the Republican party had a list of candidates to run for the office in previous elections. 
     It's no secret that Skibitsky covets a job in Trenton as an assemblyman, biding his time until Westfield resident and NJ assemblyman Jon Bramnick announces his intention to run for governor of New Jersey.   Skibitsky needs to keep himself relevant in the world of politics in order to maintain any chance of being elected to a higher office. 
     Skibitsky has become what some might consider to be a "career politician."  Many of  the mayor's politically appointed positions to various town boards have remained the same during Skibitsky's tenure.  
     Westfield is long overdue for a change in leadership to promote new ideas and steer Westfield into the future.  Westfield should not be a stepping stone in a career politician's path to higher residents deserve better. 



Friday, August 05, 2016

Westfield Town Officials Wasteful Spending

     As a result of Westfield town officials refusing to disclose information requested through an O.P.R.A. (Open Public Records Act) request, a denial that has been ruled to be in violation of OPRA, Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky has many questions to answer.
     A recent ruling by the New Jersey Government Records Council has forced the town to comply with the original OPRA request and subjects the town to foot the bill for attorney's fees incurred during the legal process.  These fees are in addition to any fees charged by Westfield town attorney Russell Finestein to defend the town's losing position.
     TFoTM asks Mayor Skibitsky the following simple question:
If Westfield town clerk Claire Gray did not act alone in the decision to redact all of the specifications of the emergency mobile command center, from the OPRA request, who authorized the redactions that were ruled by the GRC to be revealed?
A.  Mayor Skibitsky
B.  Police Chief David Wayman
C.  Town Administrator Jim Gildea
D.  A combination of all of the above

     Mayor Skibitsky's stubbornness, arrogance, and lack of transparency is just another example of mismanagement that permeates his administration and costs the taxpayers of Westfield.
     TFoTM has documented the town's willful wasteful spending in the past.  This time, town officials will have no choice regarding expenditures to cover the cost of litigation as a result of their refusal to reveal something so simple as tables and chairs when asked about the contents of the emergency mobile command center.
Costly oversight or arrogant redaction?

It happened there, it could happen here when town officials refuse to disclose information to the public.  See related story of New Jersey town subjected to attorney's fees for OPRA litigation.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Town of Westfield Loses O.P.R.A. Request Appeal Filed by Resident

     The New Jersey Government Records Council ruled in favor of a complainant that was denied access to a public record by Westfield town officials.  
     The original OPRA request was filed in the fall of 2014 on the recommendation of Mayor Andy Skibitsky after he was asked, and refused, in an open public forum, for information regarding the questionable purchase of the emergency mobile command center for the town's police department.  
     Mayor Skibitsky's refusal to provide basic information started the process that has ended today with the decision of the Government Records Council.

*Please note that fees are allowable and allowed.  There is no intention to hurt the taxpayers of Westfield because of the actions of some of their servants.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Westfield Police Chief Creates Street Crimes Unit...aka S.W.A.T.

    Westfield Police Chief David Wayman has created another layer within the investigative branch of the police department. 
     TFoTM has obtained a copy of General Order 2016-04 that clearly defines the duties of the Community Response Tactical Unit.  The purpose of this unit is not much different than the duties of the current staff of the police department including detective personnel and patrol officers.
     Wayman states that these "highly trained and appropriately equipped police officers" will respond to the "ever-changing criminal enterprise" lurking in and around town. 
     Could this be the renaming of Westfield Police Deptartment's Emergency Services Unit (ESU) or is it a weak attempt to provide another title and/or resume booster for a current captain and sergeant?
     Westfield town administrator Jim Gildea and Mayor Andy Skibitsky have to question, on behalf of Westfield taxpayers, how much this redundant layer of investigative services will cost, considering Chief Wayman's intent to "appropriately equip" this unit.  
     A quick Google search of "Community Response Tactical Unit" and it's easy to find where Chief Wayman found the verbiage for his new general order.  Westfield S.W.A.T. In a neighborhood near you. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Accident Alert

Motor vehicle accident this morning at the crossing guard/STOP sign controlled intersection of Dudley Ave. And Clark St.
Westfield Police are on the scene.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Trader Joe's Property To Become Apartments?

     There is talk around town that Trader Joe's is being rebuffed by owners of the property that the store once occupied.  The store was demolished following the roof collapsing under the weight of snow after this past winters storm that dumped over 20 inches of snow on Westfield.
     Plans to rebuild the store were anticipated but lately rumors are circulating that the property owners are interested in constructing an apartment complex.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

WBOE Offers a Consolation to WSA

At Tuesday night's Westfield Board of Education meeting, board president Gretchen Ohlig offered a consolation to the Westfield Soccer Association by indicating proposals to temporarily light Kehler Stadium would be entertained next year.  The following is quoted from The Alternative Press.
"After a letter to the board suggested that town approval was needed in order to erect temporary lights on their own property and subsequent hesitation was given after a court case referenced by the Kehler Neighborhood Preservation Association, the board stood by its original disposition.
“We’ve received confirmation that our position remains valid,” Ohlig said. “We do not, in fact, need the town’s approval to move forward. The town [of Westfield] concurs with our position. However, the delay has rendered the possibility of moving forward to vote. There is no point in us taking any steps this season.”
According to Ohlig, if the WSA or any other organization brings forth a similar proposal next year, it will fall first within the discretion of the "facilities committee and then recommended to the board."
      Whether or not the WBOE has received confirmation that their position remains valid in that they do not need the town's approval to move forward with approving the use of temporary lights at Kehler Stadium, the fact of the matter is....the WBOE refuses to waste any more time or budget resources on the dispute between the Kehler Neighborhood Preservation Association and the Westfield Soccer Association.
     The WBOE is currently discussing requiring organizations, utilizing board of education fields, to pay a fee similar to the fee required by Westfield town ordinance to use town owned fields.  Currently, that ordinance requires a $10 fee for each player of each sport 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Westfield Leader Newspaper "Editor's Note"...a Contradiction

     The following Letter to the Editor of the Westfield Leader newspaper appears in this week's edition.  The "Editor's Note" at the bottom is a contradiction of sorts in that the newspaper HAS altered its reporter's news reporting.......just ask a reporter at the Westfield Leader.  
     A Westfield Leader reporter confirmed, to TFoTM, that a story has been altered after its submission for print.
     The Westfield Leader also creates it's own titles for letters submitted to the editor which don't always reflect that which the author has written.

Are Leader Reporters Biased on ‘Cap’ Bank’?
I smiled recently when I read two Westfield Leader reporters’ articles on the Westfield and Garwood Coun- cils, both voting to establish “cap banks” as part of their budgetary ac- tions.
When reporter Christina Hinke re- ported Westfield’s action, she de- scribed it as “utilizing an accounting measure that could ease budget re- strictions in the next three years.” When reporter Brian Trusdell re- ported on Garwood’s action, he de- scribed it as “essentially granting the borough council permission to use an accounting measure in coming years to evade state limits on budget expen- ditures.”
Wow! Same actions, two different value descriptions. It’s of further in- terest because both towns use audi- tors Suplee, Clooney, who supported the bank creation in both towns and yet have it reviewed so differently in each town. Could it be that publisher Horace Corbin is suing Garwood, and therefore paints Garwood in nega- tive light whenever he can? Or maybe it’s bias of individual reporters? Just asking.
Bill Nierstedt Garwood
Editor’s Note: This newspaper never alters its reporting to promote an agenda. Mr. Nierstedt might like to read the editorial on the complex subject of “cap bank” on page 4 of the March 31 edition. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

It Happened There, It Happend Here

     Police chief "ticket fixing" is nothing new.  It happens.....but the political landscape of each town is what determines how far the investigation goes and who gets investigated.  In Westfield, the "whistleblower" becomes the targeted.
     It's not what you know, it's who you know.  Connections to prominent politicians, county investigators, and local government officials inevitably trump corruption claims and thwart proper investigations.
     Just ask disgraced former Westfield police chiefs Bernard Tracy and John Parizeau.  Only time will tell, whether or not current Westfield Police Chief David Wayman can avoid the pitfalls of his own ignorance and arrogance.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Race Relations Panel Discussion

     Tonight's panel was gathered to discuss and address the issue of race relations and what the
Westfield community can do to better understand and resolve the racial divide that has permeated society.
     The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Westfield hosted the event inside the auditorium of Westfield High School.
     The members of the panel were asked questions by moderators Dr. Claudia Cohen and Rev. William E. Lawson and at one point, audience members were allowed to submit questions on an index card of which a handful were presented to members of the panel.
     Overall, it was a well received event and a start to opening up further discussion on race relations in Westfield.
     TFoTM prepared a question but unfortunately it was not selected by the moderators and presented to the panel.   
     Throughout the evening there were some very articulate answers provided by some of the panelists however, early on, it was clear that one member of the panel should have followed his own advice which was, "Maybe not speak so much but listen to everyone here tonight," so as not to expose his incompetence.

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

TFoTM will follow-up with a more detailed account after notes and audio recordings are processed.
We just can't make this stuff up.
*NOTE: The panel discussion was recorded by Westfield TV36.  The video will be posted here at TFoTM when we receive a copy so that readers can draw their own conclusions as to the success or failure of this event and formulate their own opinions.  

From left to right: Rev. Ronald Allen, WBOE President Gretchen Ohlig, Dr. Brenda Jemal, WPD Chief David Wayman, WHS Vice Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson, Tamecka Dixon, Rabbi Douglas Sagal

Westfield Police Chief David Wayman Featured Tonight on Race Relations Panel: Racist or Ignorant Fool?

Photo: Westfield Leader Newspaper
     Tonight, at 7:30pm., Westfield Police Chief David Wayman will take part in a panel discussion on race relations.  The gathering will take place in the Westfield High School auditorium.
     Wayman, a former resident of Clark, N.J. and graduate of ALJ High School, has been accused of racial profiling during his career as a Westfield police officer.
     In February 2014, TFoTM posted a story detailing some of Wayman's alleged racial tendencies.
     The public is welcome to attend tonight's event and ask questions.

Westfield Police Chief David Wayman was interviewed by Westfield Leader Newspaper reporter Paul Peyton for a story that appeared in the February 6th, 2014 edition of that newspaper.
     Peyton's "Puff Piece" detailed the use of Westfield's taxpayer funded emergency mobile command center for festivities in the city of Hoboken the week leading up to this year's Super Bowl.
     While Chief Wayman misleads the public with regards to the costs associated with having Westfield provide Hoboken with emergency response vehicles and manpower, Peyton falls short of asking investigative questions that would reveal a waste of taxpayer money and the overall mismanagement by Westfield's administration.  At no time does Wayman or Peyton address the issue sought at a previous town council meeting.
     There have been numerous uses of the purchased emergency equipment and the police of Westfield, distant from Westfield, that have gone unexplained by Mayor Skibitsky.  While it may be useful for Westfield policemen to learn how to control crowds of 50,000 to 100,000 people as Wayman described in his presentation to the town council, it would be interesting to determine when Westfield has such crowds.
     As the Mayor keeps pointing out, we must do "more with less."  How does the Mayor justify the priority given to displaying the Westfield police "toys" in foreign jurisdictions at occasions that can only be considered "equipment fairs."
     These various displays cost Westfield the money to own the vehicles, transport the vehicles. and the manpower needed to do so.  It also includes the overtime for those men and also for the men used to fill the void of the absent officers.
     On the topic of local crime, Wayman describes Westfield as an "attractive" target of criminals because of the "profits they can gain here."  Wayman states that Westfield's location between two of Union County's largest cities appears to be the culprit.  Here is an excerpt from the Westfield Leader of what Wayman suggested:
     "He said North and South Avenues both link Westfield to Plainfield to the west and Elizabeth to the east, enabling criminals to access the town via Route 22.  He said these roadways offer criminals an "easy escape" out of Westfield.  NJ Transit trains as well as the NJ Transit 59 bus, which runs from Plainfield to Elizabeth, stops in Westfield.  In conclusion, Wayman states, "Westfield police make motor vehicle stops and are out looking to prevent crimes, which creates an omnipresence."
     While assigned to patrol duties earlier in his law enforcement career, Wayman was not discreet in his description of minorities while creating his own "omnipresence."  Long before Westfield began tracking the race of the driver of a motor vehicle stopped by police, Wayman was accused of racial profiling, by an off-duty African American N.J. State Trooper believed to be Erskin Marks.
     Wayman has described the African American occupants of a motor vehicle as "a car load of coal."  He was also accused by another Westfield police officer as referring to that Hispanic officer as a "Spic."
     Wayman's actions as a Westfield police officer throughout his career speak louder than the ignorant words spoken from his own mouth.  However, those words bring to life the actions that other police officers have long suspected were racially motivated.
     Residents of Plainfield to the west, and residents of Elizabeth to the east, what say you?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Roosevelt Intermediate School Students Suspended

     A TFoTM source has confirmed that up to 10 students at Roosevelt Intermediate School have been suspended in the wake of students purchasing knives and selling them to classmates.
     The weapons, described as "butterfly" or "pocket" type knives, were allegedly purchased online and sold for a profit, in some cases close to four times the original purchase price.
     Story will be updated as information is made available.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

WSA Remains In The Dark About Kehler Stadium Lights

     At last night's Westfield Board of Education meeting, a brief update was given on the status of the Westfield Soccer Associations request to use temporary lights to illuminate Kehler Stadium. 
     Bd. of Ed. President Gretchen Ohlig was quick to dismiss WBOE member Chris Langhart's description of a recent letter, received by the WBOE, as a "lawsuit."  The letter, submitted by an attorney representing the Kehler Neighborhood Preservation Committee, has caused the WBOE to table a vote on approving the WSA's lighting request.  The WBOE has not set a date as to when the vote will take place and is waiting until legal matters addressed in the letter are resolved.
     The portable generator/light that was being stored at Kehler Stadium after a WSA demonstration for Westfield BOE members, in anticipation of the WBOE's approval to light Kehler Stadium, appears to have been removed from the site.
     Westfield Soccer Association Trustee Peter Franks has insisted that the WSA needs more fields to accommodate the privately run soccer association's increasing number of participants and lack of time afforded to the WSA on town owned recreation fields.  A check of the WSA website revealed that they currently utilize 21 fields, with 14 of those fields within the borders of Westfield.  Of the 14 fields in Westfield, 9 fields are owned by the Westfield Board of Education.      
     While the Town of Westfield requires a $10 fee to be paid by each member of the WSA to use a town owned field (the WSA imposes a $15 fee on each of its members to cover the cost), the Westfield Board of Education requires no such fee.  The Westfield taxpayer is left to foot the bill for the cost of maintenance and other expenditures associated with the Westfield Soccer Association's free use of WBOE fields.  The Westfield Soccer Association is a private organization not affiliated with the Westfield Recreation Department.
     The WBOE's operating budget has topped $100 million dollars of which 7.5% is allocated for "Maintenance, Insurance, and Utilities."  The BOE's "Maintenance Staff," which includes employees that maintain WBOE fields, makes up 7.3% of total staffing.
     The Westfield Board of Education requires middle school and high school athletes, band members, drama production participants and others to pay a one time yearly fee to the Westfield Board of Education to participate in school activities that offsets operating costs. Currently, that fee is $125.
     The Westfield Soccer Association pays nothing in participation fees to the WBOE to use their fields.......fields maintained using Westfield tax dollars.