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Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Westfield Police Lieutenant Leonard Lugo Demoted to Sergeant

Westfield police Lieutenant Leonard Lugo has been demoted in rank to patrol sergeant in the wake of a Union County Prosecutors Office investigation into his involvement in alleged police corruption and misconduct including authoring reports that covered up disgraced ex-police Chief David Wayman’s hit and run accident that occurred in March of 2018.  Wayman resigned on August 1, 2018 during the UCPO investigation.  (See previous TFoTM blog coverage)
Lugo’s demotion stems from disciplinary action against him for his misconduct.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Westfield Dumps TAPintoWestfield as an Official Internet News Site

On Thursday night, at the annual Westfield Town Council reorganization meeting, Mayor Shelley Brindle announced that the town’s official news sources are The Westfield Leader and the Star Ledger, dumping Jackie Lieberman’s TAPintoWestfield.

New Jersey Advanced Media, which owns the Star Ledger generates 70 million pageviews per month which dwarfs TAPintoWestfield’s 2.3 million annual pageviews. 

The decision not to rename TAPintoWestfield, Jackie Lieberman’s online advertising site containing local stories, as an official Westfield news source, has riled a few supporters including another owner/editor of a TAPinto franchise. 

Elizabeth Parascandola-Clee, otherwise known as “Elizabeth PC” in numerous Facebook groups, is the co-owner/editor of the TAPintoClark franchise.  Her recent comments attached to a TAPintoWestfield Facebook post by Jackie Lieberman, that announced the change, attacks Mayor Brindle’s decision not to name Lieberman’s internet “ad agency” and news site as one of Westfield’s official news sources.  

Scotch Plains resident and TAPintoWestfield franchise owner/editor Jackie Lieberman is the administrator of the Westfield NJ and TAPintoWestfield Facebook groups that has routinely censored content including comments made by group members and has gone as far as to ban group members she disagrees with that have exercised freedom of speech. 

Friday, January 04, 2019

Christopher Battiloro Sworn In as Westfield Police Chief

A standing room only crowd saw Mayor Shelley Brindle administer the oath of office to Christopher Battiloro as he became the Westfield police department’s tenth police chief since the department was established in 1902.
Chief C. Battiloro is the son of former Westfield Fire Chief Paul Battiloro.
Photo credit to Town of Westfield

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Trust, Integrity, Accountability.......WPD Police Chief Needs to “Clean House”

     In today’s local news, Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle made some remarks regarding the selection of Chris Battiloro as Westfield’s new police chief to replace the disgraced David Wayman who resigned on August 1st in the midst of ongoing investigations into police corruption within the Westfield police department. 
     Mayor Brindle stated about Battiloro, “He is a superb public servant who brings exceptional experience, character and commitment to this critical role. When we began this search, I indicated that I was looking for someone who reflects the values of my administration and our community, with unquestionable integrity and the ability to transform the culture of the department into one that embodies trust and accountability. Chief Battiloro brings all of these qualities to the job, and is someone I know will dutifully represent our residents and the outstanding men and women in the department.”

     Wayman’s resignation was facilitated by TFoTM’s efforts to expose his hit & run accident and the fictitious reports filed by Westfield Police Det. Lt. Leonard Lugo. 

Lt. Leonard Lugo
     Lt. Lugo still remains employed and currently serves as a day shift patrol platoon commander after being removed from the detective bureau during a Union County Prosecutors Office investigation into Wayman's hit & run and other misconduct and corruption involving Wayman.
     TFoTM asks......Is Lt. Leonard Lugo a "superb public servant who brings exceptional experience, character and commitment to the critical role” as a patrol platoon commander in charge of the daily duties of his subordinates?  

Does Lt. Leonard Lugo reflect the values of Mayor Shelley Brindle’s administration and our community with "unquestionable integrity?"  

Does Lt. Leonard Lugo’s conduct "embody trust and accountability?"

     Lt. Leonard Lugo came to Westfield PD from the Patterson police department as a patrolman and was hired by ex-police Chief Bernard Tracy.  Lugo allegedly left Patterson out of necessity as a result of that department's rampant misconduct and corruption.

Westfield Police Chief Chris Battiloro needs to clean house of the culprits of corruption and misconduct in order to restore the integrity, trust, and accountability to the WPD.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Battiloro to Lead WPD

Copied from Town of Westfield 
Mayor Shelley Brindle announced that Christopher Battiloro has been named Westfield Chief of Police, effective December 12. After an extensive and thorough search process, Town Administrator Jim Gildea made the recommendation, which received the consent of the Mayor and the unanimous approval of the Town Council.

“I am thrilled to announce Chief Battiloro’s appointment today,” said Brindle. “He is a superb public servant who brings exceptional experience, character, and commitment to this critical role. When we began this search, I indicated that I was looking for someone who reflects the values of my administration and our community, with unquestionable integrity and the ability to transform the culture of the department into one that embodies trust and accountability. Chief Battiloro brings all of these qualities to the job, and is someone I know will dutifully represent our residents and the outstanding men and women in the department.”

“I’m honored to accept this role and represent a department of so many exceptional public servants,” said Battiloro. “I look forward to building further community engagement between the Police Department and the residents of Westfield, and remain committed to the highest standards with which I have been entrusted by the Mayor and Town Council.”

Battiloro joined the Westfield Police Department in 1997 as a Patrol Officer and, in his 21 years of service, has held a variety of roles, completed a broad range of specialized training, and has received numerous commendations, including two Westfield Police Department Life Saving Awards and four Westfield Police Department Command Citation Awards. Most recently, he served as Captain of Police as the commanding officer of the Administrative Division from 2013 to his August 2018 appointment as Acting Chief of Police. Chief Battiloro is a graduate of Westfield High School and Clemson University, and resides in Cranford with his wife and three children.

Chief Battiloro will be formally sworn in at the Town’s Annual Reorganization Meeting on January 3 at 6:30pm.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Bilking Overtime at Westfield DPW

     The Fact of The Matter has obtained photos containing the handwritten names and employee ID numbers of Westfield DPW workers that were allegedly clocked into and out of work when they were not present at the DPW.
     The list also contains the name of a department supervisor that allegedly condoned the illegal practice of “buddy punching” that ultimately costs taxpayers as a result of the bilking of overtime not worked. 
     TFoTM has learned that town officials will be addressing a grievance this week filed by a DPW worker regarding the allocation of overtime to employees. 
     Claims of favoritism by a department supervisor(s) in distributing overtime is the basis for the complaint that was previously brought to the attention of Westfield DPW Superintendent Greg O’Neil. 
     Town officials were made aware of the alleged theft of time, weeks ago, but have yet to conduct a thorough and complete investigation to address the alleged criminal misconduct. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Westfield Police Widow & Mayor Shelley Brindle Interviewed by Eyewitness News

Tap on internet link to view video.

Westfield Mayor Updates Public on Widow Tammy Lieberman’s Demand for Health Benefits


DECEMBER 3, 2018

In addition to last week’s statement provided by our Town Administrator and PBA President, I would also like to add some further clarity to the ongoing media inquiries regarding health benefits for the Lieberman family. I do not take providing additional personnel details lightly; however, I would like to shed light on our labor contracts, which are already public. Additionally, in this case, an abundance of misinformation continues to circulate and, as Mayor, I operate from a place of facts. As such, the public has a right to know how we care for our employees while responsibly managing taxpayer dollars.

First and foremost, contrary to some reports, the Lieberman family has never been in danger of losing their health insurance. Our focus since Detective Lieberman’s untimely death has been on finding a resolution to this terrible and rare situation, well before any media attention was involved. The following is intended to summarize the issue at hand and communicate how we plan on resolving it in collaboration with our PBA partner.

To reiterate, we are trying to solve for a horrific circumstance where Detective Lieberman tragically died in May at the age of 47, leaving behind a spouse and two sons. This specific scenario -- one in which a police officer who was eligible to retire, but for his own reasons elected not to do so, and died as an active employee -- is not one that has ever occurred in Westfield, which is why it hasn’t previously been contemplated in the Town’s union contracts.

Mrs. Lieberman, as her husband’s beneficiary, is receiving the following benefits provided by the State of New Jersey Division of Pensions and Federal law that apply to active officers regardless of retirement eligibility:

• A life insurance payout at 3.5 times her    husband’s annual salary

• Approximately 80% of her husband’s pension for life

• Three years of COBRA health insurance, if she elects to accept it, with a market rate premium contribution (which is about double what Detective Lieberman was paying as an officer)

These are the same benefits offered to, and accepted by, the families of our fallen firefighters, three of whom we lost in the last eight years. The intention of the higher life insurance payout for active officers is to provide financial peace of mind for the family, including offsetting costs for things like increases in healthcare premiums.

For context, if Detective Lieberman had been retired when he passed away, Mrs. Lieberman would have received the following:

• A life insurance payout of 1.5 times, instead of 3.5 times, her husband's salary

• 100% of her husband’s pension for life

• Health insurance benefits until the age of 65 with a reduced contribution (about 30% of the COBRA premium)

I am sharing this context so that the public may understand that each provision relates to another, and it is hard to solve for one issue without unintended consequences for another one.

That being said, Detective Lieberman’s untimely death revealed an unintended gap in our health insurance benefit plan for the families of retirement eligible officers who die while still employed by the Town. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to address this gap as we are in the process of finalizing our FMBA (Firemen’s Mutual Benevolent Association) contract, and are entering into negotiations with the PBA, whose contract expires at the end of this month. As a result, we have already been working on solutions with both unions to close the financial gap in coverage that this experience has revealed.

Regarding Mrs. Lieberman, we had already let her know that if she elects COBRA coverage, no contribution is required in 2019 before April 1, at a minimum, to allow the Town and the PBA to agree on a solution for her family and any other similar situation that may happen in the future. Any report that the Town is expecting a $25,000 health insurance premium payment in January is simply untrue.

Lastly, while many who are less informed about the actual facts are demanding an immediate solution, please know that I am not able to do this unilaterally and without the partnership of the PBA and the input of the Town Council – nor would it be appropriate for me to do so. There is no daylight between the Town and the PBA, which represents all of our police officers, regarding our mutual commitment to doing the right thing for the Lieberman family and for all of those who bravely serve. Any solution we reach concerning contribution rates and length of coverage will be retroactive to January 1, 2019 and apply to the Lieberman family.

This has been a tough few weeks for the fine men and women of our police department who continue to grieve the loss of one of their own. I have seen first-hand their grief and commitment to honor Detective Lieberman’s memory, and have heard from many of them how discouraging it is to have the PBA and the Town administration be accused of abdicating their responsibility for his family’s care.

I gave Tammy Lieberman my personal commitment to ensure her family would be cared for when I first spoke to her several months ago. As the daughter of a young widow myself, I recognize the fear of a mom who is afraid of leaving her children parentless and I am committed to providing her peace and security.

Thanks to everyone in our community for your care, compassion and concern.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Westfield Police Detective's Widow Seeks Lifetime Health Benefits

     Westfield Police Detective Eric Lieberman’s untimely death on May 22, 2018, left a wife and two teenage children, ages 14 and 19, without their main source of income and health benefits.


     Westfield social media forums have been debating the issue since widow Tammy Lieberman began posting in online Facebook groups, with a petition started on titled “Approve Health Coverage for Detective Lieberman’s Family."  So far, the petition has garnered 1,136 signatures with a goal of 1500.  Some signatures from as far away as California and Florida.
     There is also a separate Facebook group established and titled "Tammy Lieberman's Community."  Tammy Lieberman has stated she is currently battling stage 4 breast cancer.
     Tammy Lieberman and her children moved to Florida after selling her family home in Roselle Park back in August for a reported $330,000 according to Zillow.
     According to the Asbury Park Press Data Universe, a database that lists all public employee salaries in the state of New Jersey, Eric Lieberman’s last reported salary was $123,706.  This amount may or may not include a longevity bump of 9%.
Facebook Group
     Based on the Westfield PBA 90 contract and NJ Police and Fireman’s Retirement System, Eric Liberman’s surviving spouse is entitled to 3.5 times his reported salary.
     Using the $123,706 reported salary, Tammy Lieberman should have received a check totaling at least $432,971 as a lump sum life insurance payout.
     Additionally, the surviving beneficiary is entitled to the pension earned by Eric Lieberman during his career.  During his career, Eric Lieberman contributed between 8% and 10% of his annual income to the Police and Fireman’s Retirement System.  Based on Eric Lieberman’s contributions over a 27 year career, the yearly pension Tammy Lieberman will collect is equal to 50% of her estranged husband’s last yearly salary or 50% of $123,796. ($62,000 per year.)
     As per the PBA contract with the Town, Eric Lieberman's surviving spouse and children are not entitled to the Town's healthcare benefits that Eric Lieberman was paying for, which was approximately 30% of the yearly cost.  The contract stipulates that an employee that has completed XX amount of years of service with the Town of Westfield and 25 years service in the Police and Fireman's Retirement System is eligible to collect healthcare coverage for the employee and his spouse, including dependent children, upon retirement and until the age of 65.

     Eric Lieberman had not retired from the Westfield Police Department at the time of his off-duty death and therefore the town is not required to fund health insurance for his beneficiaries.
     Tammy Lieberman has been offered the opportunity to purchase insurance coverage under federal COBRA laws which would cost approximately $25,000 per year.
Det. Eric Lieberman
     The current status of Eric Lieberman’s marriage has been the topic of debate with Tammy Lieberman stating they were working to reconcile a marriage that had them living separately for years.  Sources have confirmed that Eric Lieberman remained married to allow his wife to continue receiving the health benefits provided by the Town of Westfield as per the PBA’s contract but both maintained a dating relationship with others.
     Another source has stated that Tammy Lieberman currently collects social security disability benefits and that she is entitled to Medicare.  Lieberman’s youngest son (14) is eligible for social security benefits until he turns 18 years old.
     Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle provided an update to the media which includes a statement from Town Administrator Jim Gildea and PBA President Paul Ferry, on Tuesday, November 27, 2018.  Mayor Brindle stated, “I fully support the ongoing partnership between the town and the PBA as they work together to address this issue, and I hope that their joint statement below provide some helpful clarity.”

Statement from Gildea & Ferry:

     “The town and the Westfield PBA continue to mourn the loss of detective Eric Lieberman, and he is sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family.
     Although we remain strictly prohibited from discussing the details of personnel matters, it is important that this obligation not be misconstrued as a lack of assistance or compassion for Detective Lieberman’s family.
    We have, in fact, been privately working toward a solution to address their healthcare coverage concerns, and continue to do so.
     We find it unfortunate that, in this process, their personal situation has been made public, with many comments being made in the absence of complete facts.
We remain firmly committed to keeping the personal details of these discussions between the town and the Lieberman family private.
     More broadly, there are state and federal laws in place that guide us in these matters, and, the town has gladly exceeded it’s legal obligations on several fronts in an effort to assist Detective Lieberman‘s family during this trying time.
     That being said, Detective Lieberman‘s passing has identified unintentional health coverage gaps in our collective bargaining agreement in the face of an untimely tragedy. In the absence of a contractual provision to address continuing health care coverage in this case, our policy is to defer to the federal COBRA laws, with the knowledge that a substantial life insurance payout and pension benefit traditionally assist in easing any financial burden.
Both the town and the PBA consider this an opportunity to work together to discuss improved protections moving forward.
We are committed to finding a mutually agreeable resolution that is legally, contractually, and fiscally viable in a timely manner to bring peace and security to the Lieberman family. With the current contract expiring this month, we look forward to addressing the continuation of health coverage in our negotiations. Thank you to the Westfield community for the care and compassion demonstrated to one of our own.” 

The fact of the matter is that the mayor and town administrator can't award someone benefits they are not contractually entitled to, without opening the door to other claims made by past, current, and future employee's family members is a similar situation.

While awarding Tammy Lieberman lifetime health benefits might be the right thing to do emotionally and morally, the mayor and town administrator can't legally or contractually do it.  As harsh as it might sound, she is only entitled to that which the PBA contract stipulates.  Anything different has to be negotiated during contract negotiations.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Westfield Police Chief Selection Process Underway

     The Town of Westfield is in the process of selecting its next police chief to fill the void left by disgraced police Chief David Wayman who resigned on August 1st amid an ongoing Union County Prosecutor’s office investigation into corruption and misconduct exposed by The Fact of The Matter. 
     Wayman’s alleged coverup of his own hit and run accident was the precursor to a wider investigation that ensued and ensnared other Westfield police officers. 
     Left in Wayman’s wake of lies and deceit is a police department trying to emerge from a shadow of dishonest leadership fostered by the office of the chief of police over the past 15 years beginning with Bernard Tracy and John Parizeau. 

Candidates for Westfield Police Chief, from top to bottom:  Captain Christopher Battiloro (Acting Police Chief), Lieutenant Frank Padovano, Lieutenant Jason McErlean, Lieutenant Jason Carter

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018

Westfield’s “The Watcher” by New York Magazine’s Reeves Wiedman

All new information including persons of interest/suspects, and more. 

If story text is blurry when screen is enlarged, tap on individual text/picture for clarity. 

Friday, November 02, 2018

WPD Awards Officers

The Westfield police department honored its members at an awards ceremony that usually takes place each year.  
Last night’s awards ceremony was the first since 2013 and the first since disgraced Westfield police chief David Wayman was forced to resign after a Union County Prosecutor’s office investigation into his hit & run accident.  The accident coverup was exposed by TFoTM. 
Wayman’s neglect in acknowledging the rank and file, and their accomplishments, comes as no surprise to those that have worked with him over the years. 
Under the department’s new leadership, “Acting” police chief Chris Battiloro has given members of the WPD a reason to look forward to a positive future. 
An officer that wishes to remain anonymous stated, “Eveyone is smiling and upbeat around here ever since Wayman left.”
TFoTM congratulates the WPD award winners on a job well done!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Positive Public Relations with WPD

Westfield celebrated the first annual Addams Fest this past weekend that brought together the community for scheduled events including a masquerade ball, beer garden, parade, and other community events. 
TFoTM applauds the Westfield Police Departments renewed commitment to community policing and positive interaction with community leaders to make the event a success!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Police Corruption Whistleblower Faces Retaliation

Whistleblower cop says he was punished for reporting wrongdoing in town rife with corruption.
Retaliation and false departments charges filed against the whistleblower to combat a civil suit?  ....... no surprise

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Westfield Police Chase

Westfield police chase ends in accident. Eyewitness account posted on social media contradicts TAPintoScotchPlains press release. 

Photo credit to TAP

Monday, October 15, 2018

Corrupt Westfield Police Chief Collects Lump Sum Check

Corrupt Westfield Police Chief David Wayman abruptly resigned on August 1, 2018.  Wayman was the target of a Union County Prosecutor’s office investigation into alleged misconduct.  (See previous TFOTM coverage)

A $26,047.32 payment was made to the disgraced police chief 12 days after his resignation.......there’s a pot of gold at the end of the WPD rainbow and Wayman cashed in.

Town officials had previously confirmed Wayman received no payout for accrued sick time.

Monday, October 01, 2018

What did Skibitsky and Council Know about Corrupt Police Chief

April 25, 2012 at 7:01 AM
WESTFIELD, NJ - At the April 24 Westfield town council meeting, Police Captain David Wayman officially became Chief Wayman when he was sworn in by Acting Mayor Jo Ann Neylan.

At the beginning of the town council meeting, Neylan said, “Mayor (Andy) Skibitsky regrets that he cannot be here. Only illness could keep him away.” She read a letter from Skibitsky thanking retiring Police Chief John Parizeau for his years of hard work and dedication and congratulating Wayman, as well as thanking all of those who volunteered in Westfield for Earth Day.
Wayman’s swearing-in was received by the crowd with thunderous applause and a standing ovation by most of those present. Many in the room were police officers from Westfield and other nearby towns.

“That was the first time I ever received a standing ovation,” responded Wayman. He thanked the mayor and town council for their confidence in him.
“I will not let you down, nor will I let down the residents of Westfield,” said Wayman. 

Wayman, who has been with the department for 24 years, will immediately succeed Chief John Parizeau.

Following Tuesday evening's regular meeting, Mayor Andy Skibitsky, members of the Town Council and Town Administrator Jim Gildea met in a private executive session and returned approximately 20 minutes later to make the announcement.

Councilwoman JoAnn Neylan, chair of the public safety, transportation and parking committee, said it was her "pleasure and honor" to introduce the resolution to name Wayman chief.

"I think the public over the next few weeks will get a chance to meet soon-to-be Chief Wayman, now Capt. Wayman, and I just want to say I hope they'll be very impressed with him," Skibitsky said. "He's going to be a great police chief. He's had the experience of working under our past chief for over six and a half years and has done a wonderful job and so I'm very excited that we're going to be voting on this tonight and I'm very excited Capt. Wayman is going to become our next chief, assuming our Council approves that." 

Following the meeting, Gildea said Wayman, 46, a Westfield resident, has been with the department for the past 24 years. For the past 11, he has risen through the ranks, serving as sergeant, lieutenant and captain. Wayman could possibly remain in his new position for the next 19 years, as the mandatory retirement age is 65.

"He has worked in every facet of the department with the exception of the records bureau," Gildea said. 

Gildea said according to the town code, the chief of police is recommended by the Town Administrator with the consent of the mayor and the approval of the Town Council. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

When Discipline Becomes Excessive, Vindictive, and Retaliatory

In any para military organization, discipline is necessary to keep order and remind those committing offenses that they are going to be held accountable for their actions.  Discipline must be firm but also fair, not excessive or retaliatory in nature.

In a police department, the police chief is responsible for determining the officers penalties resulting from a departmental infraction(s).  Criminal offenses are forwarded to the appropriate authority for investigation, usually landing in the lap of a county prosecutor or state attorney general.

The rank and file of the Westfield Police Department is breathing a sigh of relief with the recent removal of ex-police chief David Wayman.

Wayman’s forced resignation on  August 1, 2018 after a Union County Prosecutor’s office investigation into his alleged misconduct has changed the atmosphere in the basement of 425 E. Broad Street where the police department is housed.

Under Wayman’s command, officers were subjected to punitive punishment in excess of what would be deemed firm and fair, including loss of vacation time, suspensions, removal from access to overtime, monetary fines, demotion in rank, and termination from employment.

Many officers questioned why Wayman, who was involved in numerous departmental infractions and alleged criminal behavior, could sit in judgement of anyone.  Fortunately, for Wayman, he was protected during his years as a corrupt police officer, by disgraced police chief Bernard Tracy who would eventually resign from the police department mired in his own scandals.

What discipline did David Wayman receive for having his department issued firearm stolen and used in the commission of a crime while he was entertaining himself in a Route 22 Go-Go bar.
What discipline did David Wayman receive for leaving the town of Westfield without permission while on patrol duty?
What discipline did David Wayman receive when he berated and harassed a cadet at the police academy?
What discipline did David Wayman receive for berating and harassing another police officer, who signed a criminal complaint against him, which if found guilty he would’ve been forced to forfeit his job? Despite the criminal complaint being withdrawn, what departmental discipline did he face?
What discipline did David Wayman face when he was involved in the hit & run accident at the Westfield conservation center?
What discipline or criminal charges will David Wayman face due to matters pending?

The list of Wayman’s alleged misconduct and past transgressions in the line of duty is lengthy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Corrupt Police Chief Loses Sick Time Payout

Disgraced former Westfield police chief David Wayman will not receive any sick time payout from the town after his sudden resignation on August 1, 2018.

Wayman had accumulated at least 90 sick days, the maximum amount allowed to be “banked” and saved for a substantial payout upon retirement.

A source not authorized to speak on behalf of the police department has indicated the loss of sick time payout is allegedly a result of the Union County Prosecutors Office investigation into Wayman’s misconduct, forcing his resignation as police chief.

Additional coverage at the following links

Friday, September 21, 2018

Fire on South Ave.

6:52am. 9/21/18
The Westfield fire department responded to Mavis Tire & Auto Center on South Ave. at approx 6:30am. today to extinguish a fire on the roof of the building.
It appears that the buildings HVAC unit located on the roof was on fire according to an eyewitness that had seen flames coming from the unit.
Firefighters were quick to put out the fire before it could spread to other parts of the building.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Positive Proactive Partnership with Police

The Fact of The Matter applauds this partnership in an effort to reestablish Westfield’s community policing concept.

Another Accident Waiting to Happen

Westfield school crossing guards provide a valuable service assisting our children across busy intersections on their way to and from school.

State law gives a crossing guard the authority to stop traffic with their handheld “STOP” paddle to allow gaps in traffic for pedestrians to safely cross a street.

There is no state law that gives a crossing guard the authority to stand in the middle of the street and direct a vehicle through a STOP sign in violation of Title 39 motor vehicle law.

The intersection of Rahway Ave & Grove St., in front of Edison Intermediate School, is one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in town for students walking to and from school.  The intersection has been the scene of multiple accidents involving pedestrians and motor vehicles.

In the picture below, the crossing guard stood in the roadway for several minutes, absent any pedestrians, and directed vehicles through the STOP sign, controlling Grove St., in violation of N.J. motor vehicle law governing crossing guards authority.

This illegal practice has been condoned by the Westfield police department’s traffic safety bureau for years, in order to facilitate the flow of traffic backed up at busy intersections around schools.  It’s a safety hazard whether students are present or not.

Often, a crossing guards hand gestures to motor vehicles can be confusing, causing those with the right of way to think they may proceed when the crossing guard is allowing vehicles from the STOP sign controlled street to enter the intersection. This is when accidents can occur.

Representatives from three separate insurance companies, State Farm, All-State, and N.J. Manufacturers, all stated that the motorist at a STOP sign must stop and yield the right of way to oncoming traffic before they proceed safely.

When asked if the presence of a crossing guard directing traffic through a STOP sign relieved a motorist of their legal responsibility to stop, each insurance company representative said “no.”  Even if pedestrians are present and crossing the street while the crossing guard holds up a handheld “STOP” paddle to stop all traffic, the crossing guard does not have the legal authority to instruct motor vehicles to proceed through a STOP sign without first coming to a complete stop.

The crossing guard does not have the authority to hold up motor vehicle traffic on the through street, in this case the vehicles on Rahway Ave., in absence of crossing pedestrians.

More egregious is the parking of a motor scooter in the intersection where “No Parking” is posted.

Again, as previously stated, the intersection in front of Edison Intermediate school has been the scene of pedestrian/vehicle accidents and the added distraction of a motor scooter parked illegally, within 20 feet of a crosswalk, contributes to the mayhem.

This is another accident waiting to happen.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Assumption About Transparency Merits Retraction of Blog Story

The Fact of The Matter has retracted a blog story recently published, after additional information was obtained that supports the integrity of Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle’s administration, regarding the transparency of information disseminated in the wake of Westfield police chief David Wayman’s sudden resignation. 

TFoTM questioned the administration’s lack of transparency for failing to communicate, to the public, intimate details of the circumstances surrounding the resignation.

State law prohibits the administration from disclosing the circumstances surrounding the administration’s decision to enter into a settlement with the disgraced police chief, ultimately facilitating his resignation. 

Wayman resigned abruptly on August 1, 2018 in the wake of a Union County Prosecutor’s office investigation.  

The investigation into the police chief’s alleged misconduct, including a “hit & run” accident at the Westfield conservation center on Lamberts Mill Rd., commenced after TFoTM exposed Wayman’s alleged cover-up, of the accident, to town officials. 

TFoTM’s decision to retract the original story that questioned the transparency of the Brindle administration’s decision to remain silent on the details of the Wayman resignation, was made to reflect the facts and not an opinion. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Administrative Decisions are in the Hands of the Administration

The attorney General Guidelines on internal affairs states: 

"Where county prosecutor has decided to terminate a criminal investigation and return the matter to the agency for appropriate disciplinary action [...] "The 45 day rule will apply.”

Once the Prosecutor determined he would bring no criminal charges, he could be asked to provide the subject of the investigation, and all named witnesses, with use immunity which would bar the use of their testimony in a criminal prosecution of each.

If the Prosecutor did not want to bring criminal charges, or felt there were no criminal acts, what reason could he have for refusing to grant use immunity?

Failure of a witness or accused to answer a question in an administrative hearing is grounds for dismissal.

The Town was not bound to spend years in litigation. It could hold its own hearing, obtain evidence, and come to a conclusion within thirty days.

The burden of proof in a disciplinary hearing is "by a preponderance of the evidence" not the more difficult criminal standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt."

How long would or could officers fight where they are forced to testify?

"Administrative Decisions are in the hand of the Administration." "If the Prosecutor has declared no criminal action will be taken, then the Town is free to correct or condone."

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Corrupt Police Chief’s Pension Application Approved?

Did Westfield town officials sign off on corrupt Westfield police chief David Wayman’s retirement pension application?

Wayman resigned on August 1, 2018 during a Union County Prosecutor’s office investigation.  Wayman was involved in the alleged cover-up of an accident at the Westfield conservation center on Lamberts Mill Rd. back in March of this year where he struck a parked UCPO vehicle.

Phony police reports filed by Det. Lt. Leonard Lugo document a “hit & run” accident with no suspects.

Go to page 14, by tapping the link below, to find disgraced police chief Wayman’s name in minutes of pension board meeting held yesterday, September 10, 2018

Monday, September 10, 2018

New Police Chief Will Create Opening In Rank

With the anticipation of a new police chief being appointed in Westfield, a selection process will soon be underway to determine who best fits Mayor Shelley Brindle’s expectations.

Mayor Brindle has stated that she is looking for, “Someone with unquestionable character and integrity that is capable of leading the department through a cultural transformation, with an emphasis on community policing.”

The new police chief will come from the ranks of the WPD as outlined by state statute.  The question will remain, if Acting Chief Chris Battiloro becomes the new police chief, who should he appoint as a captain to take his place?

Those currently holding the rank of Lieutenant are:
Frank Padovano
Jason McErlean
Jason Rodger
Leonard Lugo
Jason Carter

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Westfield Lieutenant Leonard Lugo Hires Criminal Defense Attorney

The Fact of The Matter has learned that Westfield Police Lieutenant Leonard Lugo, the police supervisor that authored the phony “hit & run” accident and investigation reports allegedly covering up disgraced ex-police chief David Wayman’s accident, has retained criminal defense attorney Scott Kraus.  

The Union County Prosecutor’s office continues to investigate corruption and misconduct by members of the Westfield Police Department exposed as a result of The Fact of The Matter uncovering the March 2018 hit & run accident that occurred inside the secure police lot located at the Westfield Conservation Center  on Lamberts Mill Rd. 

Tap on link to view Scott Kraus YouTube video.