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Tuesday, March 05, 2013
You Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch Yours..Town Purchasing $500,000 Mobile Command Center
UPDATED: Upon delivery from the manufacturer, Mobile Command Center (Vehicle) to be housed at Westfield Fire Station 2 located on Central Ave.
The Westfield Town Council voted on Special Ordinance #2180 tonight during the town council meeting. The ordinance, which has been copied word for word from the Town Council's Proposed Agenda for the March 5, 2013 meeting, reads as follows:
"Bond Ordinance to authorize the making of various public improvements and the acquisition of new additional or replacement equipment and machinery in, by and for the Town of Westfield, in the County of Union, State of New Jersey, to appropriate the sum of $360,000 to pay the cost thereof, to make a down payment, to authorize the issuance of bonds to finance such appropriation and to provide for the issuance of bond anticipation notes in anticipation of the issuance of such bonds."
Chief Wayman and Lieutenant Chris Battiloro
But before Special Ordinance 2180 was voted on, Westfield Police Chief Dave Wayman and Lieutenant Chris Battiloro presented each member of the Westfield Town Council, and Town Administrator Jim Gildea, with a Hurricane Sandy Service Award and commemorative pin that was given to all Westfield police officers and civilian employees of the police department to honor their service during the storm.
The vote by members of the Westfield Town Council, in favor of Special Ordinance 2180, was unanimous. When Mayor Skibitsky was asked if this ordinance was for the purpose of purchasing a new mobile command center for the Westfield Police Department he responded, "Yes." See related story by clicking on the following link: http://07090.blogspot.com/2013/02/mobile-command-center-boys-toywasteful.html
Councilman Sam Della Fera
Councilman Sam Della Fera, chairman of the Town Council Finance Committee, defended the expensive purchase and stated, "There is a need for redundancy" when questioned why Westfield needed such a vehicle that comes with a price tag of approximately $500,000. Not more than a month ago Della Fera indicated that his finance committee had to make some "tough decisions" on bugetary matters.
Della Fera stated that a mobile command center vehicle could have been used during Super Storm Sandy. TFoTM asks, "Where, why, and how?" Councilman Della Fera was reminded that the municipal building has back up generators in the event the building loses power so that the police department and emergency services can still function. Vehicles such as the one being purchased by Westfield are typically found in cities and other urban areas where crowd control, major events, and the need for a mobile command center outside of the central dispatch of a police headquarters is needed.
Westfield's Money Tree has Blossomed
Councilman Della Fera cited other examples where the mobile command center could be utilized such as the Whitney Houston funeral, active shooter events, and the visitation of the United States President (George Bush). Della Fera also stated, "With the purchase of this equipment we will be ready." TFoTM asks, "Ready for what?" You mean to tell the taxpayer that Westfield wasn't ready for those events? That's the excuse for making a $500,000 purchase when local roads are disintergrating and public safety staffing has been reduced jeapordizing the safety of residents and employees of the police and fire departments?
Councilman Della Fera also stated that Westfield Police Chief David Wayman and Westfield Fire Chief Dan Kelly determined the need for the new equipment. With all due respect Councilman Della Ferra, what is the need that has all of a sudden appeared that will now make us "ready" in your own words? What will be interesting is to see who will be in charge of the mobile command center, Wayman or Kelly? Chief Wayman's history of micromanaging might come in conflict with Chief Kelly's authority as Westfield's OEM Coordinator.
Along with the purchase of this half million dollar vehicle will be the expenditures associated with building a garage to park the mobile command center in. The garage would most likely be built on the Department of Public Works site located at North Ave. and Crossway Pl. So taxpayers, tack on another $25,000 to $35,000.
TFoTM asks our readers, "What do you think the Mayor and Town Council should be spending $500,000 on?" To start, TFoTM could recommend a few streets that need paving
So much for Mayor Andy Skibitsky touting he and the Westfield Town Council are doing "More with Less."
Councilwoman JoAnn Neylan
PS.....Will someone on the Town Council please remind Councilwoman JoAnn Neylan that a school needing a back up generator falls under the decisions of the Westfield Board of Education's Budget Committee. Her attempt at tonight's council meeting to somehow justify the need of a mobile command center to power a school during a power outage is befuddling.
Neylan, who in defense of accusations that the Town Council's reduction of manpower in the fire department rendered their ladder truck impotent, once proclaimed that the ladder truck is used primarily for "scenic aerial views" at fire scenes in an attempt to minimize its absence from devastating fires at Ferraro's, Mountain Avenue's Hamilton House apartments, and several residential fires. Councilwoman Neylan must think that aerial rescues, roof top fire ventilation, and an aerial water attack on a structure fire take a back seat to "scenic aerial views."
Perhaps Councilwoman Neylan and the Town Council should consider the purchase of 10 mobile command centers in the event Westfield loses power again for 9 days. That way all 9 schools and the Board of Education building can power up to the tune of $5,000,000.