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Saturday, May 27, 2017

TFoTM Archive: The Arrest Of An Out-Spoken Citizen Part I

On June 1, 2004, Westfield resident James Abate was arrested. The arrest of James Abate, after he had spoken at a Westfield Town Council Meeting, had some people claiming it was an act of retaliation.
 

Monday, May 22, 2017

TFoTM Archive: The Arrest Of An Out-Spoken Citizen Part II

The following is a continuation of last nights blog story. 

     The arrest of James Abate came as no surprise to some of the rank and file of the Westfield Police Department.  It wouldn’t be the only time that Chief Bernard Tracy would be accused of impropriety with regards to obtaining information on a person illegally.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Councilman Mark LoGrippo, You Can Delete a Facebook Comment, You Can't Delete the Truth

Councilman Frank Arena
     At tonight's Westfield Town Council meeting, Councilman Frank Arena attempted to divert from the message by once again attacking the messenger.  He apologized to the public stating, "I'm so sorry you had to see this and hear this tonight," referring to comments made during the open public discussion. He called the remarks "self-serving" and never addressed the fact of the matter which was Councilman Mark LoGrippo's ill-advised and racially charged comment in the public Facebook group "Westfield, NJ."
     The text below is in response to a comment made by Councilman Mark LoGrippo at approximately 11:20 a.m. on April 21st, on the "Westfield, NJ" Facebook group moderated by TapIntoWestfield editor Jackie Lieberman with a membership of 8,760 people.  
     Tonight, Councilman LoGrippo denied posting the racially charged comment by stating, "Where are you getting this from?" Councilman LoGrippo would not acknowledge the fact that he had the incendiary comment deleted from Facebook moments after I commented accusing him of the bigoted comment on April 21st.
     Members of the  town council denied that race is an issue in Westfield and that it's a national issue and taboo to talk about in local politics.  Members of the audience were shocked that the town council denied that race should be a topic of discussion in local politics. 
     Westfield resident Pam Brug approached the microphone to refute this, using personal anecdotes to prove that it is in fact a concern for Westfield residents as it affects them on a daily basis. 

The following was read to the members of the Westfield Town Council and residents in attendance.

"On April 21st I got involved in an exchange of comments in a Westfield Facebook group after another member had posted in the group hosted by TapInto Westfield editor Jackie Lieberman.  A Westfield Councilman joined in on the discussion.

The original person posting, had attended a Westfield "meet the candidates" night and had described how inspired she was by this year's slate of candidates from the Democratic Party. 

What followed were comments from the public in support of these candidates, until a comment was posted by Westfield resident John Barker.  John Barker's wife Alicia Barker, who is here tonight, happens to be mayor Skibitsky's campaign manager for the upcoming fall elections. 

I responded with comments of my own, basically rebutting John Barkers comments, I kept it respectful, as did Mr. Barker.
My comments had gained the support of others in that comment thread, in fact one person posted..... "Mr. Kasko, your comments make so much sense and are so appreciated on here! Thank you!"  

Councilman Mark LoGrippo soon joined the conversation. 

Perhaps councilman LoGrippo felt the need to halt whatever momentum and support these new candidates were receiving, or maybe he was attempting to  contradict my comments.  

He reminded me that as a longtime resident of Westfield, I should be familiar with what happened in Plainfield and eluded to that when the governing body went from Republican to Democrat, stating, “you saw what happened to Plainfield.”

Councilman LoGrippo’s response to my comments, was directed at me, but clearly he was sending a message to each and every other person that was in the discussion, reminding everyone, what he thought had happened to Plainfield and why it has become what it is today.  He insinuated that the demise of Plainfield was attributed to the city government going from a Republican stronghold to a Democrat governing body.  

I then responded with a brief history lesson for councilman LoGrippo and admonished him for posting such an inflammatory comment that wreaked of racial bias. 

After I posted my response, and before I could screenshot his comment, it disappeared. It's quite obvious that he realized the mistake he had made with his inflammatory comment. 

What Councilman LoGrippo didn't realize, is that the riots that started on July 14th, 1967 and lasted 4 days/3 nights, is what brought about Plainfields demise.

The Plainfield riots caused the beating death of a police officer, countless arrests, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage.     

The Riots were started by a group of 150-200 residents from the west end of Plainfield. 

Civil unrest was occurring around the country in over 150 other cities most notably in New Jersey’s city of Newark.

For years black residents in Plainfield–including the local NAACP chapter, black ministers and others–had complained about various forms of racial discrimination, including housing segregation and slum conditions, school segregation, racist hiring practices by major employers (including the city government and the local hospital), low-wage jobs, lack of recreational facilities for West End young people (especially a neighborhood swimming pool) and harassment by local police. 

By 1967 only five of Plainfield’s eighty-one police officers were black. Black leaders and their white liberal allies complained that cops and radio dispatchers often used the "N" word to describe suspects over the police radio.

Emotions were at a boiling point. 

Historians have labeled what subsequently happened to Plainfield, after the riots, as the "white flight." 

Plainfield had a number of Republicans serve as mayor from 1915 until 1981. The last Democrat to lead Plainfield as mayor had been Percy Hamilton Stewart in 1914. It wasn't until 15 years after the 1967 riots that a Democrat was elected Mayor again in Plainfield, that was 1982.

During the riots of 1967, nine of the 11 council members in Plainfield were white and two of the council members were black, one of which was a Republican. So at the start of the riots, 10 of the 11 council members were Republican. 

At the time, the Plainfield town Council was dominated by Republican businessman and lawyers not unlike what we have here in Westfield. 

In fact, the Republican town Council in Plainfield in 1967 was reluctant to bring federal job training and other anti-poverty programs to the city which caused more animosity from the African-American community. 

Factories shutdown, businesses left and jobs were lost.  The city of Plainfield never rebounded to it’s glory days of the 40's, 50's, and early to mid 1960's.  

The city of Plainfield's demise had nothing to do with a changing of political party in town government as Councilman LoGrippo insinuated to in his comment, in fact some might say that the Republican leadership in Plainfield and its refusal to accommodate an ever changing demographic is what led to what Plainfield has become today. 

When I ran for town Council as an independent in 2011 against Mark LoGrippo and Democrat nominee Matt Sontz, I took part in a candidates forum here in this Chamber, with Lauren Barr of the Westfield Leader moderating. 

There were approximately 10 to 12 questions we had to be prepared to answer.  

Having been a resident of Westfield, at the time, for almost 40 years and having retired from the police department with some intimate knowledge of how things were being run, the questions were not that difficult to answer. 

I had a few index cards with some key bullet-points I wanted to emphasize, should I be asked a specific question.  Each candidate was asked two questions of the 10 or 12.

Democrat candidate Matt Sontz was well-prepared that night, being able to answer questions extemporaneously. 

Councilman Mark LoGrippo
Councilman LoGrippo sat to my left that night and each time he was asked a question he had to refer to what I now call the "Republican playbook" for his answer. 

When he was asked a question Mark would pause and look down at a three ring binder, flip to the page that would address the question asked, and then would read verbatim, a prepared answer of what was written on the page for him. 

On April 21st, in the Westfield Facebook  forum, Councilman LoGrippo posted an incendiary comment without the knowledge of local history necessary for a factual rebuttal. 

Instead, he posted a comment, reminiscent of that "Republican playbook" in that he had no intimate knowledge on the topic being discussed.  Only this time, his remarks were misguided and are an example of “fear mongering” in an attempt to possibly sway votes.

This town council needs members that will represent the people of Westfield regardless of political party, and not just be a rubber stamp to the policy's of Westfield's mayor, regardless of who it will be. 

Councilman LoGrippo, I believe you owe the residents of Plainfield and Westfield an apology for your public comment on April 21st.

Comparing what could happen here in Westfield, to what happened in Plainfield, should voters elect democrats to this town council, was not only disingenuous in an attempt to sway voters, it was reprehensible. 

Once again, thank you for the time I've been allotted here tonight, I thank you all for your service to the town, and I wish all the candidates for town council the best of luck in November." 


Greg Kasko

     Immediately after I finished speaking I was accused of bringing race into the discussion, however, my comments were in response to Councilman LoGrippo interjecting race and the demise of Plainfield, into his own public online comment.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky Denies Collusion During Purchase of Emergency Mobile Command Center

     When confronted Tuesday evening with facts regarding the purchase of the police department's emergency mobile command center, Mayor Andy Skibitsky denied any collusion between town officials and the command center's manufacturer.
     You be the judge after considering the following.
     *In fall of 2012 - Westfield police chief David Wayman and police captain Chris Battiloro boarded a flight to meet with Power Innovations International Inc. President/CEO Robert Mount in American Fork, Utah.  The purpose of this trip was to shop for an emergency mobile command center.
     *In January 2013 - The Westfield police department held an exhibition at the armory on Rahway Ave., for town officials and other agencies to get a glimpse, for the first time, a mobile command center that Chief Wayman wanted to obtain.
     *February 11, 2013 - A 96 hour motor vehicle "In Transit Permit" was issued by the state of Utah, to the Westfield Police Department, to have a 2008 Ford Expedition, from Power Innovations International, delivered to Westfield.  The permit lists Westfield as the owner.  See photo below.
     *March 5, 2013 - Westfield town council presents the first reading of a bond ordinance to purchase emergency equipment.
     *March 15, 2013 - pictures are taken of a Ford F-350 Pickup truck parked inside a closed garage of Sevells Auto Body on South Ave. in Westfield.  The Ford F-350 was used to tow the emergency mobile command center to Westfield, from Utah, in January.  The mobile command center was stored at another unknown location.  See photo below.
     *March 19, 2013 - Westfield town council presents the second reading of a bond ordinance to purchase emergency equipment.  A vote was taken and the bond ordinance to purchase emergency equipment passed.
     *April 4, 2013 - Town of Westfield advertises a Public Notice in the Westfield Leader Newspaper, an "Invitation to Bid" to those interested in submitting a proposal to deliver "public safety equipment."  All bids are to be submitted by 10:00 am. on April 16, 2013.
     *April 9, 2013 - Power Innovations International Inc. of Utah is issued a State of New Jersey "Business Registration Certificate" which allows Robert Mount/Power Innovations to obtain specifications to submit a sealed bid proposal to Westfield.  Note: The certificate's effective date is backdated to April 5, 2013.
     *Robert Mount of Power Innovations International submits a "Noncollusion Affidavit of Prime Bidder."  See photo below.
     The "Technical Specifications" are a listing of public safety equipment Westfield is seeking to purchase.  The specifications are a blueprint of the general items, communications equipment, computing equipment, generator transfer switch equipment, and other fixtures of a mobile command center that Westfield is looking to purchase.  Only two companies answer Westfield's public notice inviting companies to submit bid proposals.  Only one company, Power Innovations International, submitted a bid proposal.
     The Town of Westfield accepts Power Innovation International's bid proposal to supply the town with "public safety equipment"......equipment now known as the emergency mobile command center that was brought to Westfield in January, along with the Ford Expedition and the Ford F-350 truck used to tow the command center.
     Westfield Police Chief David Wayman is praised by Councilman Sam Della Fera, at a town council meeting, for his negotiating skills and the great deal he got on the town's purchase of the emergency mobile command center.
     It is discovered that Power Innovations International is delivering a "demo" model and not building a new mobile command center based on the specifications supplied by Westfield.
All the while, the "demo" model emergency mobile command center is being hidden in Westfield since its arrival in January long before any bond resolution was voted on.  This alone, calls into question, who wrote the specifications that Westfield supplied to potential bidders?
     The specifications allegedly match the "demo" emergency mobile command center already in Westfield.  Did Power Innovations International supply the specifications to Westfield prior to being a liscensed New Jersey bidder?
     A former Westfield town council member revealed to the Fact of The Matter that Westfield Police Chief David Wayman had appeared before Mayor Skibitsky's finance committee and stated that he could get a better price on the emergency mobile command center if Westfield town officials agreed to allow Power Innovations International to showcase the command center, after Westfield makes the purchase, at expos and other police related exhibitions.
     Was this agreement listed in the specifications or anywhere else in legal bid documents?
     Westfield's emergency mobile command center showed up in Atlantic City and again in Philadelphia at police related exhibitions.
     When Mayor Skibitsky was asked numerous times, at town council meetings, if a "backroom deal" was made with Power Innovations International to showcase the emergency mobile command center at exhibitions in return for a discounted purchase price......Mayor Skibitsky refused to answer and remained silent.  The mayor has a right to remain silent, anything he says can and will be used.....etc.
     A phone call was placed to Power Innovations International in 2013, after Westfield's purchase.  When asked if the same purchase price, for the same unit Westfield received would be available if another police department was interested in buying an emergency mobile command center, Robert Mount stated, "We gave Westfield a special deal."
     When the Union County Prosecutors Office was contacted regarding the questionable bidding process that took place to obtain the emergency mobile command center, it was determined that there was no bribery that took place.
     With the information received from a former Westfield Councilman, months after the Union County Prosecutor released it's findings, should the investigation be reopened?  TFoTM has been advised the the former Westfield Town Council member would cooperate and provide a statement to investigators.
     This investigation should not be done by Union County.  It should be done by a state law enforcement agency or a federal agency employing a municipal corruption unit.
     Why don't  local news agencies question the purchase process now that they are presented with these facts?
     With a municipal election this November, an election that will decide who represents Westfield citizens for the next four years, voters and candidates need to question Mayor Skibitsky and his town council members regarding the wasteful spending, mismanagement, and lack of transparency that has infested Mayor Skibitsky's administration.
     Mindowaskin Pond was drained last year.  Time to drain the "swamp" of what has become a tainted administration run by arrogance, entitlement, and partisan politics.

   





   
   
   
   
   

Friday, March 31, 2017

Westfield Police Chief David Wayman Hypocritically Disciplines Subordinate

   



     Should a police chief plagued with past disciplinary issues himself, be judge, jury, and executioner, in the decision to levy disciplinary penalties on a subordinate?
     Should a police chief that knowingly broke rules and regulations and allegedly criminal law, during his career as a police officer, be involved in any part of the process that resulted in a recent decision to penalize a subordinate?
     Why is a police chief that was never disciplined after he had his service weapon stolen while he partied with scantily clad women in an "adult entertainment" bar, judging anyone?  Keep in mind, the stolen police issue 9mm handgun was subsequently used in a crime and recovered after an arrest was made.
     Why is a police chief that has allegedly been banned from instructing at the Union County Police Academy, due to an incident with a police recruit, allowed to sign off on any subordinates departmental discipline?
     How can a police chief, who during his career had criminal charges filed against him by another police officer, that if found guilty of those charges would have had to resign from his job or face termination, institute disciplinary actions against anyone?
     A Westfield police chief that has avoided disciplinary penalties for infractions that violate departmental rules and regulations, and potentially criminal law, recently approved of the penalties levied on a subordinate police officer.
     The police officer was involved in a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Lawrence Ave. & E. Dudley Ave.  The officer was transported to the hospital for treatment after his patrol vehicle rolled over and onto the front lawn of a residence.
An internal investigation resulted in the following penalties to the police officer:
*Loss of vacation time for a period of 2 years.
*Suspended from overtime off-duty jobs for 9 months.
*Suspended from duty for 2 weeks with loss of pay.
     The fact of the matter is that Westfield Police Chief David Wayman shouldn't have any authority with regards to the disciplinary actions levied on subordinates.  Time and time again, Wayman has committed violations of departmental rules and regulations with impunity, taking advantage of the relationship he has had with disgraced former police chiefs Bernard Tracy and John Parizeau.
   

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Westfield Mayor Skibitsky Ignores Pedestrian Safety Request

     On January 10th, The Fact of The Matter posted a picture of the un-shoveled ADA (American with Disabilities Act) ramp/sidewalk installed at the HAWK pedestrian crossing at the cul-de-sac intersection of Cambridge Rd. and Central Ave.
     This crosswalk's location was requested by Mayor Andy Skibitsky and the Westfield Town Council.
     The construction of the sidewalk requires it to be maintained, but the town refuses to do so even when the safety of elementary school children is at stake.
     The picture below was taken this morning, 36 hours after Tuesday's snowstorm.  An email to Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky and 3rd ward councilmen Mark LoGrippo and David Oliveira included this picture and asked when would the Town shovel the ADA ramp and adjoining sidewalk.
     No response has been received.
Central Ave HAWK Pedestrian Crossing

Mayor Skibitsky Refuses to Respond to Calls & Emails Addressing Pedestrian Safety

     So much for Mayor Skibitsky's claim that his administration is transparent and open to communication with residents.
     Multiple emails and phone calls remain unanswered by Mayor Skibitsky regarding questions surrounding the new town ordinance mandating that motor vehicles be removed from Westfield roadways when a snowstorm of 3" or more is predicted.
     Skibitsky refuses to answer why he has the police department enforcing this new town ordinance when an ordinance requiring the removal of snow and ice from sidewalks has been on the books for decades and is ignored by town officials.
     Snow covered pedestrian walkways/sidewalks, accessed by school students, are a hazard and safety issue in need of immediate attention.
     Downtown sidewalk "sandwich boards" advertising a stores menu are also banned by town ordinance and with springtime just around the corner, Mayor Skibitsky will no doubt turn a blind eye to the enforcement of the town ordinance.
     This "selective enforcement" of town ordinances is quite obvious when you consider Mayor Skibitsky having his zoning official recently warn the residents/owners of a fence on Rahway Ave. to remove a "love trumps hate" banner and dozens of heart shaped messages attached to the fence.
     Mayor Skibitsky has his town ordinance enforcement priorities all screwed up.  How about addressing the safety related ordinances, Mayor.  How about enforcing all town ordinances instead of the ones that benefit you politically.
     Voters need to remember this coming November, at the polls, when Skibitsky runs for another term in office as Mayor of Westfield.
     Skibitsky has gotten way too comfortable smiling for the cameras at ribbon cuttings, rescue squad dinners, resolution announcements at town council meetings.....when he actually shows up......and other photo ops for publicity.
     It's time for new leadership.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

TFoTM Archive: Westfield Mayor Skibitsky Fails at Delegitimizing TFoTM. Calls It Innuendo, TFoTM Provides FACTS

     Today, 12-10-14, this site and this story/editorial are dedicated to E.M.  It is E.M. that once asked, "You're a cop, what goes on behind the closed doors of town hall?"  "You never read about the dirt in the local newspaper."
     It would appear that facts have caused some cracks in Mayor Skibitsky's rose colored glasses.
Westfield Mayor Andrew Skibitsky likes to divert from the facts that are damning to his administration.  At a recent town council meeting the mayor couldn't help himself by claiming that facts, presented to him, were innuendo..
     Claiming facts to be "innuendo" is Mayor Skibitsky's excuse and defense anytime he can't defend himself or defend against criticism supported by facts.
PARIZEAU
     Case in point:  When asked whether the following "Confidential Police Department Memo," that was referenced at a town council meeting, is "innuendo" or fact, Mayor Skibitsky refused to answer.  Instead, he stated that innuendo is "always" presented.  He then changed his response to "regularly" presented.  Mayor Skibitsky has a bad habit of backpedaling.
     TFoTM will let its readers decide.
     Here is the "factual" memo that was referenced to.  In the memo, then Westfield Police Chief John Parizeau admits to evidence of stealing/theft by one of his superior officers, but chose to do nothing but cover it up and sweep it under the rug.
   
So much for the office of the chief of police abiding by the oath he took when placing his hand on the Bible.  It has been alleged that the superior officer caught stealing time was John Rowe, a very close friend to Parizeau and the current police chief David Wayman.


     At the same town council meeting, and caught off guard, one of Mayor Skibitsky's staunch supporters on the town council came to his defense and stated, "Why don't we investigate how you got your hands on a confidential memo."
ANSWER: Because your police department already investigated it and couldn't find out how TFoTM got our hands on the memo.  Just like how town officials couldn't find out how TFoTM obtained a hand written memo by then Captain Dave Wayman, that instructed the municipal building's custodial staff to keep the handicapped bathroom across from Wayman's office locked at all times and to not give the key out to anyone.  It was revealed that Wayman was using the handicapped bathroom as his own personal commode.

     The Westfield Police Department's Internal Affairs Division, led by Wayman and Lt. Chris Battiloro, now a police captain, conducted an investigation within the police department to try and find out how The Fact of The Matter was obtaining information.  Questionnaires were handed out to both sworn and civilian employees asking over thirty questions regarding the employees' on-duty and off-duty internet activity with regards to this website and its moderators.  While the investigation went nowhere, $$$thousands$$$ of Westfield taxpayer dollars that funded Wayman's investigation were wasted.
   
WAYMAN
      If that wasn't enough, town officials contacted the Union County
Prosecutor's Office and asked them to step in.  At the time, Chief Parizeau and Captain Wayman's "Elite" police department, as he now likes to call it, needed help.
     A Union County Grand Jury subpoena was issued and the wheels of justice began to spin again until they were stopped by the American Civil Liberties Union.  The ACLU stepped in to defend The Fact of The Matter and have the subpoena "quashed."  New Jersey's "Shield Law," that protects journalists from revealing sources, was cited.
     Ultimately, the subpoena was withdrawn after motions were made to the court by the ACLU, and town officials were left empty handed and embarrassed once again.  More wasted tax dollars because Mayor Skibitsky and his police department don't want the public to know what really goes on.

     So it's reasonably understandable why Mayor Skibitsky, allies on the town council, and other town officials, will go to any length to discredit this website and the information it obtains.
     TFoTM will continue to bring information to its readers that can't be obtained anywhere else.  Our avenues of information remain open and protected despite attempts by town officials to thwart the process by wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars to satisfy their own, in the words of Councilman Frank Arena, "self serving ad-nauseam propaganda" .
     To Mayor Skibitsky, Town Administrator Jim Gildea, and Police Chief David Wayman:
There is a reason why there are those that share information with The Fact of The Matter.  It's because, believe it or not, some town employees are disgusted with the nepotism, back room wheeling and dealing, wasted tax dollars, favoritism, and corruption that has permeated Mayor Skibitsky's administration.
     No different than when I reported to the town, prior to my retirement, that former disgraced Westfield Police Chief Barney Tracy was having illegal criminal history checks done on Westfield residents, members of the press, and a sitting councilman during the infamous parking decks debate.  It is because of the town's retaliatory tactics towards an employee reporting corruption that has forced current employees to remain silent for fear of retribution.  TFoTM  can't blame them and will continue to provide an avenue of relief.      
   

   
   

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Mayor Skibitsky Approves Westfield Police Patrol at Hoboken LepreCon Pub Crawl

     It has become an annual ritual.......not just Hoboken's LepreCon pub crawl and the drunken mayhem that takes place during the pre-St. Patrick's Day event, but the Westfield police department sending manpower and equipment to the Hudson County city at the expense of the Westfield taxpayers.
     Westfield town councilman Frank Arena once tried to justify this waste of Westfield resources, and burden on the Westfield taxpayer, as a "shared service" agreement between Westfield and Hoboken.  
     There is no shared service agreement between Westfield and Hoboken that appears on the New Jersey League of Municipalities website........there isn't one.  
     Instead, disgraced former Westfield parking director John Morgan, who has been appointed by Mayor Skibitsky to be Westfield's delegate to the Union County Transportation Advisory Board, has allegedly been the  liaison between Westfield and Hoboken.  Morgan is now Hoboken's transportation and parking director.  It seems as though backroom wheeling and dealing, handshakes, and questionable negotiations regarding the acquisition and usage of the mobile command center are commonplace within Skibitsky's administration.  
     Whether it's a street fair in another city, a trade show in another state, or any other non-emergency event outside Westfield's borders, Westfield taxpayers continue to finance the emergency mobile command centers usage, even when it leaves Westfield.
     Just another waste of tax dollars by an administration that has no regrets when it comes to wasteful spending.


 Westfield police department vehicles parked in Hoboken, NJ



Westfield Emergency Mobile Command Center

Monday, February 27, 2017

Westfield Property Owner's Tax Rate Among the Highest in NJ

 
     The next time you look at your property tax bill, realize that living in Westfield isn't cheap.
     According to statistics from the state Department of Community Affairs, Westfield ranks #22 of the top thirty municipalities with the highest average property tax bill while ranking the lowest on that same list when it comes to the average residential property value.
     Westfield's average property tax bill in 2016 was $16,282, in part because of one of the highest tax rates in New Jersey at 9.03 percent.  That's approximately $9 for every $100 of assessed value.
     The average residential property value in Westfield is $180,342 thanks to the lack of a reassessment in decades.  Should a Westfield property tax reassessment occur in the near future, Westfield property taxes will rank #1 in the state if Mayor Skibitsky and his town council keep the property tax rate at 9%.
     Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky often touts a catch phrase of his own......"We are doing more with less."  He should consider rephrasing it to, "Westfield taxpayers are paying more for less."

Here is a list of the top 30 municipalities in NJ with the highest average property tax bill.
       Municipality                   Average Property Tax.          Average Property Value
30.  Deal.                                        $15,377.                             $2.2 million
29.  Chester.                                   $15,443.                             $665,750
28.  Glen Rock.                              $15,459.
27.  Rockleigh.                               $15,551.                             $1.6 million
26.  Woodcliff Lake.                      $15,562.                             $725,883
25.  Ho-Ho-Kus.                            $15,580
24.  Cresskill.                                 $15,718.                            $600,000
23.  Old Tappan.                             $16,071.                            $823,000
22.  Westfield.                                $16,282.                            $180,342
21.  Mantoloking.                           $16,561.                            $2.4 million
20.  Ridgewood.                             $17,180    
19.  Franklin Lakes.                       $17,198.                            $1 million
18.  Saddle River.                          $17,221.                            $1.69 million
17.  Upper Saddle River.               $17,462.                            $769,123
15.  (Tie)  South Orange Village.  $17,576.                            $459,258
15.  (Tie)  Summit.                        $17,576.                            $408,739
14.  Haworth.                                 $17,769.                            $601,751
13.  Montclair.                               $18,292.                            $503,448
12.  Princeton.                                $18,333.                            $809,991
11.  Demarest.                                $18,418.                            $753,388
10.  Essex Fells.                             $18,743.                            $923,039
 9.   Mendham.                               $18,752.                           $908,246
 8.   Glen Ridge.                             $19,045.                           $543,553
 7.   Rumson.                                  $19,146.                           $1.3 million
 6.   Mountain Lakes.                     $19,775.                           $782,636
 5.   Tenafly.                                   $19,866.                           $803,377
 4.   Alpine.                                    $20,910.                           $2.72 million
 3.   Loch Arbour.                          $22,323.                           $1.04 million
 2.   Millburn.                                $23,327  
 1.   Tavistock.                               $31,128.                          $1.72 million

*Fact and figures obtained from NJ.com

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, www.westfieldnj.gov, 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 misinformation......it'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.