A letter came in the mail last week. Not my mail, but a neighbors mailbox. The letter was from Westfield Mayor Skibitsky and addressed "Dear Neighbor". I'm guessing that my "Dear Neighbor" got lost in the mail or is on the way and will arrive in the near future. I wonder if all 30,300 + "Dear Neighbors" of Mayor Skibitsky will be receiving their "Dear Neighbor" letter. After all, Mayor Skibitsky states in his letter "It has been an honor and a pleasure serving you as your Mayor." Serving who? The recipients of the "Dear Neighbor" letter, or all Westfielders?
Does anyone know if channel 13 PBS Kids, still broadcasts reruns of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood? Maybe at tomorrow night's town council meeting Skibitsky and Acting Mayor JoAnn Neylan will skip into council chambers holding hands and singing Mr. Rogers "Won't You Be My Neighbor." After all, Skibitsky has some brainwashed that it's a beautiful day in this neighborhood. Heck, would you be mine, could you be mine? It is a catchy tune.
Mayor Skibitsky brags that he is proud of the Council's accomplishments under his leadership and offers a "sampling" of promises fulfilled. What about the promises unfulfilled? He claims to of managed Westfield tax dollars efficiently, made public safety a priority, and used technology to improve communication, transparency and services. Finally, he claims to of encouraged resident outreach, well at least resident outreach that he reaches out to. At times you would think he has alligator arms.
If Mayor Skibitsky has made public safety a priority then why has he and his council reduced the number of fire fighters and police officers to a level 20% lower than what previous mayors had employed? Skibitsky claims that "Westfield is in safe hands." Based on what? No secret that the number of residential and commercial structure fires that have burned out of control until enough fire fighters were on scene to combat each blaze (since Skibitsky's reduction in staffing at the fire department) would indicate that the "safe hands" belonged to an unemployed Smokey the Bear.
When Westfield fire fighters are forced to wait for mutual aid from neighboring towns to fight a residential structure fire once fought by Westfield fire fighters alone, public safety is jeopardized and obviously no longer a priority as Mayor Skibitsky suggests.
It seems Mayor Skibitsky attempts to defend the reduction in staffing at the fire department by stating "Westfield is fortunate to be one of only 25% of communities in New Jersey with a paid professional fire department" as if we should all be thanking our lucky stars. Westfield's commitment to maintaining a professional fire department existed long before Skibitsky ever set foot in this town, however Skibitsky is the only Westfield mayor responsible for the steady reduction in manpower at the fire department.
When the town is re-evaluated by the insurance industry and our premiums go up, will Mayor Skibitsky continue to remind us how much money he has saved in the budget? As a politician, Skibitsky looks good by staying inside the restrictions set by Trenton, however as someone who is supposed to be looking out for you, the Westfielder, he is juggling figures by removing from the budget items such as sewage which is now billed separately to the tax paying land owner. You are not served better by a government who announces financial savings but allows your streets to remain in disrepair and increases the danger to your home.
Allowing a police department to drop 20% is not "Making Public Safety a Priority." When response times to calls for service increase, there is a decrease in service. This has been the case as recently as last year. Less cops on the beat leads to diminished law enforcement services.
Skibitsky states that he has encouraged resident outreach and that as Mayor he knows listening is just as important as speaking. Will Mayor Skibitsky's political handlers let him know that listening in no way guarantees understanding.
Mayor Skibitsky closes out his "Dear Neighbor" letter with a request for a contribution "in any amount you can afford" to his campaign coffer. Make the check out to "Skibitsky for Mayor" he says. I'll be sure to get right on that. In fact, I'm inclined to sign the check "Dear Neighbor" and wait for it to be returned for lack of a signature.
That brings us back to the "Dear Neighbor" pat on the back, grease job, buddy buddy opening to Skibitsky's solicitation. Skibitsky is not a Mayor of the people of Westfield. He is the Mayor of his own following. If not, why didn't every household receive a "Dear Neighbor" letter from Skibitsky?
Just a Neighbor
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