Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Money Doesn't Always Talk

Final Returns for Bloomfield BOE

Three 3-Year Terms
√ Catherine Catzel Bumpus 1,388
JoAnn Castro 972
Derek Grimes 379
Joel Rosen 727
√ Emily M. Smith 1,554
Susan Wolf* 944
√ Paula R. Zaccone 1,448

School Budget
√ Yes 1,603
No 774

Monday, April 25, 2011

Following the BOE Money -- Into the Mud

Bloomfield voters have had several ways to determine the 3 candidates most deserving of their votes for their Board of Education representatives on Wednesday. Besides a personal conversation, they could have compared the 7 candidates responses at last week's Forum on the town's cable station. They may have read the editorial endorsement in either
Bloomfield Life or The Bloomfield Independent Press. Or they may have checked out a website. But by far the most expensive vehicle is the only one that can potentially reach all voters is the direct mailing. Saturday's mail gave Bloomfield voters a glimpse into the power of machine politics in our town. Every registered voter received three different color mailing cards and brochures(on center and right in photo above.) for the three official Democratic Committee endorsed candidates for the Board of Education. Each one was a slick well designed mailing piece addressed to each prospective voter. Some homes got 12 or more -- at an estimated cost of tens of thousands of dollars. Why go to such great expense for a nonpaying position on the "nonpartisan" school board? Answers can be found in the recent history of how "pay to play" campaign contributions have influenced BOE elections.

The BOE election is Wednesday, April 27, and polls are open from 1 PM – 9 PM.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Semi-Serious Proposal for the Garden State Pkwy

The latest revenue raising idea to be advanced by NJ's best and brightest is to allow trucks of all sizes on the Garden State Parkway north of exit 105. Although it may slightly reduce the truck flow on Bloomfield's Broad St., the overall increase in congestion on the GSP, could lead to continual gridlock -- especially at entrances and exits. As it is, most trucks don't seem to have a problem detouring via rts287, 280, or The Turnpike. Comments are flying fast and furious in'a news site.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

About That Storm

Last night may have seen the first official Bloomfield flood of the year.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mapping T-Mobile in Bloomfield

Last night's Zoning Board Meeting introduced T-Mobile's RF Expert, Joseph Minio, who used a battery of GIS Maps(click on map to enlarge) and overlays to show the need for atan additional tower Broad and Bay Streets . My favorite punchline came in response to a resident's comment that T-Mobile's website map suggests great reception for the area in question. Medio's response was essentially that their website was designed to promote their service to consumers or as Steve Colbert might have tweeted: #notintendedtobefactual, The pink area in the map indicates weaker cell reception.
An excellent summary of the evening's highlights can be found on Baristanet. In the comments section, Pat Gilleran, from Bloomfield's Open Space Fund, echoes the Town Administrator's suggestion that an alternative site might be found on Liongate. If it has to go anywhere, this may be the best alternative. At least two more meetings will be needed to address this issue.

Monday, April 11, 2011

April Showers on Bloomfield Politics

Tonight's Conference Meeting of Bloomfield's Council has several controversial agenda items.
It;s scheduled for 7PM for the Mayor's Conference room, but expect it to move the the main Council room if there's a large turnout -- as has become the rule in recent months.

This year's budget is in the final stages of discussion.
Last weeks tabled cuts to the Open Space Fund is expected to be resubmitted.
Will there be changes?
A tax abatement is being finalized for the massive Oak's Pond/225 Belleville Condo project. Is anybody buying?
A new affordable housing ordinance is being proposed.
Is funding for the Board of Health and Animal Shelter still in jeopardy.

Finally, the "top secret" issue of Watsessing's Methadone clinic will be one of many issues saved for closed session -- although unanswered question's are likely to to be raised during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Tonight is also the deadline for applications for candidates to town and county offices this year. Rumors abound on the local Democratic Committee running candidates to oppose incumbent ward Democrats Nick Joanow, Janice Maly, and Robert Ruane.
The Mayor may even throw his hat into the County Freeholder race.

Thursday's Zoning Board meeting will continue to see and hear the proposed Ban/Broad cell tower issue unfold.

All 3 incumbent Democrats will have Dem. Com. sponsored opponents:
Ward 1: -Elias Chalet
Ward 2: -Paul Halligan
Ward 3: - Carlos Bernard
Stay tuned...

Friday, April 08, 2011

A Great Weekend for Bloomfield Volunteers and Families!

Hop on down to the Bloomfield Animal Shelter with your dogs, cats, and/or children to get their picture taken with the Easter Bunny for a $10 donation!

We hope for a great turnout to clear out trash to make the pond and river a little nicer for the people and wildlife there. (In the past, a volunteer rescued a duckling that was entangled in a piece of plastic garbage!) There’s plenty to do, so come on out! We'll provide gloves, bags, tools -- and refreshments!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Bloomfield Official Wins Suit Against Online Attackers

Insults and invective have been flying fast in furious over at the public forums at Most towns in Nj are given space to vent on these forums, but few have been as nasty as Bloomfield's forum has been -- especially leading up to elections. Under cover of anonymity, some posters have long felt they could attack public officials and volunteers by name without fear of attribution or retribution. Bloomfield's weekly Independent Press is breaking a story in Thursday's issue, about a successful lawsuit by former Board of Ed member, Nicholas Rizzitello, against two "John Doe" critics. Rizzitello was narrowly defeated in 2009 after being the subject of false allegations on the forum. Interestingly, both plaintiffs paid substantial out of court settlements to avoid revealing their identities.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Bukowski Shelter Survival Fight Goes Viral

Hell hath no fury as a volunteer scorned. The mostly volunteer Bloomfield/Bukowski Animal Shelter has been fighting for its life for several weeks now -- ever since the town's 2011 budget was announced with a 100k cut. The volunteers maintain that this cut would eliminate so many vital functions that the shelter would have to either close or send most of it's animals to other shelters that can euthanize unadopted animals after as little as 7 days. After pleading their case at packed town council meetings with shelter supporters. Mayor Ray McCarthy assured the Shelter advocates that money would be found to eliminate the cutbacks. Yet the Board of Health has continued to be pressured to make deeper cuts by trading off the needs of people and animals.

Monday's Council meeting is scheduled to include a final vote on a revised budget, and Shelter supporters are taking no chances. A Facebook page was recently setup to spread the word and marshall support from no-kill supporters from around the state and beyond. Earlier today, Volunteer Marc Mercer revealed himself to be the creator of the page.

"My role was really just as a social media consultant. I thought that this page would max out at about 1200 and that it would take a lot longer to reach that. I underestimated the passion that so many people have for shelter pets, which is something of an irony since my shelter beagle is behind me on a big dog bed, keeping an eye on the boss " In only a couple of weeks the FB page has gained more "Likes" that any other page in Bloomfield.

At this writing, it has over 3000 followers including nationally known comedienne Elayne Boosler. In her role as president of the animal advocacy group Tails of Joy, she concluded her extended written comments to the council with this plea:
" …As city planners I appeal to your good sense in what will best serve your community and actually enhance your budget. The rescue community in America is organized and strong, and watching. You are judged by how you treat the weakest among you. Often that is not only animals, but people as well. Please look again; at the end of every leash is a vote."

Friday, April 01, 2011

Who's the Fool?

One of Bloomfield's semi-dubious distinctions is that it has more Garden State Parkway entrances and exits than any other town in NJ. So many of us Bloomfielders who rely on exact change lanes found that local media stories on the GSP's new "camera tracking" policy raised more issues than they claimed to have resolved.
The story was one of many in that foolishly seemed to accept the GSP talking points without question.
There are more unanswered questions in this story than I've seen in a long time:

1. Who's to blame when the coin readers fail? Do we have to get out and photograph the jammed receptacle?
2. How can drivers prove that they actually paid the exact fare -- or more?
3. Where can they appeal an erroneous fine?
4. What proportion of failures happen at unmanned Pkwy entrances?
5. Isn't this a penalty for those who will never use EZ-passes because
they're rarely on toll roads, have too many cars to cover,
or are wary of the failures and abuses of a computer driven system?
6. Why can't a dollar bill machine(or a smart phone reader) be installed?

Perhaps, the GSP press release was taken at face value because most reporters use EZ Passes to save time and have never had to deal with the realities and insanities of exact change lanes. (Of course the GSP officials who design these policies NEVER need to use exact change lanes.)

Thankfully, many of the online versions of the story allow for reader comments.
These were a few I found on from Bloomfield drivers:

" Will they allow you to back up and go to the next exit? They might want to put a sign on the main line warning people that exiting without exact change or EZ Pass will cost $50 I hope they are also ready for the backups. Because I'd spend a few minutes looking through my car for the money before paying the fine. 15 minutes of checking under the seats, floormats, trunk, etc would be worth not paying $50."
Or this solution: "Better yet, get rid of the tolls that are expensive to collect, and raise the NJ gas tax by 3 cents to maintain these highways."
"Okay, there was a great comment on The $50 for non-exact change is completely unconstitutional...>>>The federal government states that our money is valid "for all debts, public and private". You can not refuse to accept paper money (this has already been to the US Supreme Court). If the state does not make provisions for paper money then they will lose in court…"
"I seem to find that more and more, I'm having to honk and wait, as my toll money goes down the chute but never seems t register. And to top it all off, the Ledger posts a pic of the plaza in Bloomfield, which could easily be the poster child for busted toll baskets!"

The wisest course for non-pass holders right now would seem to be keeping a piggy bank in your trunk.