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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Two Words Mayor Skibitsky: Wasteful Spending

     On March 18th, Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky, once again, refused to answer simple questions regarding the use of the police department's mobile command center outside the town's borders.            Specifically, Skibitsky was asked why the mobile command center was being transported and operated, at taxpayer expense, in the cities of Hoboken and Philadelphia.
     Skibitsky also refused to answer a question regarding the connection between Westfield and Hoboken where disgraced Westfield parking director John Morgan served/serves as the supervisor of the parking authority.
     Morgan, an auxiliary police officer, aka "police special," has ties to Skibitsky's administration and is one of Skibitsky's political appointees to a mayoral committee.
     Mayor Skibitsky diverted from answering the public by recommending that an OPRA request be filed with the Westfield Town Clerk seeking the answers.  All this, from a Mayor that preaches transparency in his administration.
     Mayor Skibitsky has become known to "clam up" when the answer might reveal mismanagement and wasteful spending.  He never hesitates to address issues and answer the questions that make him look good in the eyes of the taxpayer.  He often touts his fiscal responsibility by claiming to do "more with less."  Example:  he continues to brag about reducing the municipal payroll to levels seen in 2006 while forgetting to remind the residents that he has cut public service employees by more than 20%.  Today, Westfield employs 20% less police officers and firemen than in 2006.   These are cuts to public safety that Westfield can't afford.  Hours of operation of departments within the police department have been cut making it more difficult to obtain reports, permits, and other law enforcement related information.  Overtime is necessary to cover police shifts once manned by full time officers.
     Not to be left alone to answer the questions, councilman Frank Arena offered his 2 cents. This is the same guy who proclaims during election years that the town needs to get more "bang for its buck" when it comes to county services but then justifies the spending of nearly $300,000 of Westfield tax dollars on a mobile command center that has been used out of town more than within the borders of Westfield.
While Skibitsky remained silent, Arena chimed in with two words.  In fact, he said, "two words, shared services."  This was his reasoning behind allowing the use of Westfield's mobile command center in Hoboken and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?
TFoTM has two words for Councilman Arena, "Nice try."
     An OPRA request was filed seeking the Shared Services Agreement between Hoboken and Westfield as well as the agreement between Philadelphia and Westfield.  TFoTM received an answer from the Westfield Town Clerk yesterday.........there are no Shared Service Agreements between Westfield and any other town regarding the usage of the police department's mobile command center.    
      Shared Service Agreements are official documents signed by each town's Mayor and other officials and then logged with the State of NJ.
REPEAT:  Westfield has no such documents detailing the use of Westfield's mobile command center outside of Westfield.
     When presented with these facts at the last town council meeting on Tuesday night (two days ago) Skibitsky deflected from the facts by claiming some conspiracy theory was being presented to him.
     TFoTM suggests that Mayor Skibitsky stick to the facts presented and answer fact based questions instead of diverting to his age old game of "Shoot the Messenger."
     The mobile command center world tour continued last week with the disappearance of Captain Battiloro and Chief Wayman to parts unknown to the Westfield taxpayer but not to TFoTM.
Stay tuned.

10 comments:

  1. Every town needs a TFOTM/Greg Kasko for holding politicians accountable! Thanks for all you do!

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  2. After Sandy, we volunteered to help Hoboken with cleanup and beginning their recovery. The key term here is volunteered. As a taxpayer of Westfield, I do not chose to donate police services to Hoboken or Philadelphia. The comment about shared services is simply untrue as is any attempt to construe these actions as mutual aid. I question not only the use of the equipment but the officers' time allocations. Were they sent on regular duty time leaving the town short handed? Was overtime used for this work?

    Good job with the OPRA requests....

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    1. Westfield police chief Dave Wayman read a prepared statement at a town council meeting last month stating no overtime was paid to the Westfield officers that worked in Hoboken. In fact, he stated that some of the officers worked on their own time......which would violate union rules. According to a source not authorized to speak on behalf of the the police department, the police department was forced to hire other officers at overtime pay in Westfield to replace some officers that were in Hoboken.

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    2. None of them volunteered their time - some didn't even want to be there. And yes, there was a decent amount of overtime generated by the Hoboken trip.

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    3. Not only does it violate Union Rules isnt it a violation of labor laws......and what would happen if they got injured while volunteering, would the town's insurance cover them????would workmans comp cover them....just curious.....

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  3. How is it that all of these issues talked about here on TFOTM are not "front page news," every day/week, in the Westfield Leader and on Patch? Do the people of Westfield, except for a small minority who proactively go out of their way to pay attention, just not care? Are the more "mainstream" media outlets just so tight with the current administration that they are so unwilling to rock the boat?

    Idea for a future article- Maybe TFOTM can prepare a "recap" of the "top 10" (or more or less) of the issues that the people of Westfield should be aware of... including but not limited to- Central Ave. light, Hot Spot traffic locations in general and how they have not been addressed, mobile command center - purchase/use in other cities/towns, fire dept. staffing, police dept. staffing, etc. I'd suggest for such a list, a brief summary of each issue- maybe just 3 or 4 sentences - and then maybe a regular re-visiting of those issues from time to time, to update readers on how the current administration has responded (or not) to each of those issues since the last report. Maybe even pay to publish this as a 1/4 page update/advertisement in the Westfield Leader too from time to time?

    These politicians need to be held accountable to the people of Westfield for their actions (and in-actions). Unfortunately, I think most people in our town are just too busy getting on the train, going to work in NYC, returning home and repeating the next day to be paying any attention to these important local issues.

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    1. Answer: The Westfield Leader is a "Republican approved publication."
      The town does a lot of advertising in the Westfield Leader "legal notices" section for which the newspaper is paid. The Town has designated the Westfield Leader as one of its official newspapers. Publisher Horace Corbin wouldn't want to bite the hand that feeds him. Mayor Skibitsky might consider that somewhat of a conspiracy theory

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    2. The Westfield Patch does not always send a reporter to the Westfield Town Council meetings. The Patch editor will offer a link to another online news source "The Alternative Press" directing readers to reporter Jackie Lieberman's coverage. It is unknown why she is not reporting these issues in her council meeting coverage. Mayor Skibitsky might believe there is a conspiracy on behalf of the police chief and other town officials to not provide information to a news source/reporter, on other issues, if that news source is going to cover issues that paint the town in a bad light. It's very frustrating for a reporter not to get a return phone call seeking comment from a town official.

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  4. When Mayor Skibitsky was asked why Westfield's mobile command center was in Philadelpia, he stated, "same as Hoboken." Far from the truth. The fact of the matter is that Westfield agreed to "showcase" the mobile command center on behalf of the manufacturer. The mobile command center was in Philly the same time as the International Police Chiefs Association conference which Westfield police chief Dave Wayman attended. Furthermore, councilman Sam Della Fera congratulated chief Wayman for such a great job negotiating the price of the mobile command center which allegedly included showcasing the command center on behalf of the manufacturer.
    TFoTM didn't realize that Westfield tax dollars are being used to allow the town to act as the sales department of an independent contractor.
    Is that legal considering NJ bidding laws? What say you Mayor Skibitsky?

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  5. It's politics. One hand washes the other. Take a look at The hands of Skibitsky, Gildea, Wayman, and the Leader owner Corbin.
    All very very clean.
    You no dirty me, I no dirty you.
    You don't think the cops know where the drunk drinks?

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