Residents from Cranford, Garwood, as well as Westfield, peppered Mayor Skibitsky and his fellow town council members with questions that, for the most part, were answered as best as they could be. Mayor Skibitsky often deferred to his town attorney when he had no answer often looking to and asking Russ Finestein to bail him out
Other times, when Mayor Skibitsky appeared befuddled, Councilman Jim Foerst seized the opportunity to interject his infinite wisdom in an attempt to answer the unanswerable. That is when the meeting became somewhat entertaining.
When Councilman Foerst answered a resident's question as to whether or not the housing units/apartments/condos or whatever is to be built, would have basements, Councilman Foerst couldn't decide between "yes" and "no" and finally settled on "parking" which brought laughter from the audience.
As a councilman who often portrays an image of certainty in his response to questions, Foerst's wavering appeared to have caught his own self by surprise, Unpredictable questions are not as predictable as tax appeals, a process Councilman Foerst knows well. At one point, while being asked a question by an attorney representing a concerned resident, Foerst's response sounded "adversarial" as described by the representing attorney. Jim Foerst sound adversarial? Never.
The council chambers cleared out after the town council voted to approve the ordinances related to the future construction of affordable housing and the microphone was once again open for public comment.
Mayor Skibitsky was asked a series of questions surrounding the manner in which Westfield recently came into the possession of a Mobile Strategic Operations Center otherwise referred to as a Mobile Command Center, for the Westfield Police Department.
Mayor Skibitsky became visibly "adversarial" when asked the following, "Did anything of value change hands between the vendor and Westfield prior to the bid specifications being advertised or the first reading of special ordinance 2180? First reading was on March 5, 2013?"
Skibitsky clearly wanted no part of answering the question, or any of the other 15 questions that were asked. Whatever happened to the transparency for which the Mayor is allegedly such a proponent?
Mayor Skibitsky lacked the transparency one would expect from a Mayor that had voted in the affirmative to allow nearly $300,000 to be spent on redundant "public safety equipment" using public tax dollars.
Election 2013 is shaping up to be one for the Westfield history books. A mayor seeking a third consecutive term is unprecedented. However, the lack of transparency by a mayor, seeking re-election or with possibly something to hide, is not.