Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back

Bloomfield's Bicentennial year started out with a focus on developments and redevelopments at the Planning Board and wound up with the dog days of August sparking a growing controversy over the fate of a dog named Memphis and the competence of our Board of Health. How many of these thumbnails can you connect to their relavent posts?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hacky Sack

Most of our local public officials have kept a low profile in the social media. Bloomfield's Board of Health officials keep an even lower profile by not even speaking at their own meetings.  I've repeatedly asked the Board for examples of public discussions on issues, since they always seem to come to unanimous votes on affirming proposals raised by their current director. I have yet to find any examples of discussion or dissension from this board.
One of the "silent majority" finally broke her silence last week with an angry attack on a councilman on his public Facebook page.
The diatribe had apparently been precipitated by a spammy comment posted by a hacker who hijacked his profile. As is customary with BOH members, no attempt was made to dig beneath the surface. Although her comments amount to much ado about nothing, they reflect a degree of contempt the BOH has expressed for our Town Council. Here is her comment without corrections in spelling or grammar:
Since I am not a "facebook" person, I just read what you posted dated in August, 2012, in December , 2012. Needless to say your comments are just as absurb and asinine as you and as this picture you are referring to that you saw on face book. I did try to paste the link that you posted but did not see whatever it is you are referring to. However, what I did read on that link was that it was linked to some kind of scam/virus and was getting and using picures off facebooks of individuals. With that being said, the next time you assume or make accussation about someone you should first get the "facts" which is also known as the "truth". Any ntelligenct person who knows me, would have saw whatever it is that you saw, and immediately know or knew that it was a scam and contacted me in outrage, not with a "hahaha ha" as you did. So, therefore, no I am not "Embarrased" and the joke is on you..HAHAHA" And I do expect an applogy from you for your preposterous comments....
Residents are reminded that there is still time to submit a resume for open seats on several town boards and committees -- including the BOH.  Current members may want to update their original resumes, since the town clerk's office reports that they've been destroyed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Free Benefit for Sandy Victims Today

337 Belleville Ave, Bloomfield
The Bloomfield Human Services Division Neighbor to Neighbor Network Presents:
The Bloomfield HURRICANE SANDY, and others in need, Holiday Relief Benefit
                  Featuring :
BOBBY VALLI and his Jersey Dreams Show
The Bloomfield High School Madrigals Singers
Living Nativity Enactment
Live Animals for the kids
           SPECIAL GUEST
        MAYOR Raymond McCarthy
SATURDAY DECEMBER 22, 2012 , 2-5 pm
337 Belleville Ave---Bloomfield
Donations will be colleected by : The Bloomfield Human Services Divison for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Final BOH Meeting of Year May Bring Resolution of Memphis Issue

Please join your neighbors at this year's final Bloomfield Board of Health meeting - Thursday 12/20/12 6:30pm in the Bloomfield Law Building (next to the Municipal Building - 2nd floor.

We have heard that the BOH will be voting on Memphis and when he will be re-leased from his incarceration in South Dakota. We will likely find out if he will be released to Jeff and Diana Coltenback. However the vote goes, Bloomfield residents are urged to sign and share this petition to the mayor and council to stop the abuses by the Board of Health.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Open Letter to Bloomfield Parents from Superintendent Bing

A letter to parents/guardians from Superintendent Bing
December 14, 2012

Dear Parents/Guardians-

We were just informed of the tragedy at a Newtown Elementary School in Fairfield County, Connecticut. I want to assure you all that the Bloomfield Township Police and the school district work collaboratively to ensure the safety of our children and staff. All schools are under a 24/7 lockdown which requires visitors to be buzzed in electronically or checked in by security. Our Middle and High Schools each have a full time policeman in their building along with security guards.
Our elementary buildings utilize a video screening system and its doors are locked throughout the day. Our schools are also part of the routine patrols done by the Bloomfield Police every day.

All staff are trained in emergency drill procedures and practice those procedures monthly.

I ask that you keep the victims and families of this tragedy in your hearts. Our district will be holding a parent workshop on School Safety on Wednesday, January 30th in the BHS Media Center (7:00 pm). We will be presenting with the Bloomfield Police.

Please feel free to contact my office with any questions/concerns. I thank you.

Jason Bing
Superintendent of Schools

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

No Parking

Monday's Town Council meeting opened with a presentation by the developers for the north eastern segment of Bloomfield's Downtown redevelopment projects. Located at the corner of Broad and Franklin streets, it extends the boundary of Bloomfield College by adding 234 dormitory units on top of a ground floor of retail storefronts.

No one from the neighborhood was present to comment on the issue, but several have made their feelings known on public forums in the past two days. The most articulate critic so far goes by the nickname of hrhppg. She began posting on Baristanet and extended her objections on the NJO Bloomfield forum. We've collected several of her comments here:

The town council has approved Bloomfield College to build 234 dorm suites with a total of 21 parking spaces because of those students "most are not expected to own cars." Suites usually hold 4 students so we are talking over 900 students in that one building. I live in that area and parking is already a nightmare when - and only when - school is in session. I am shocked at the ignorance of the town council on this issue.
How does this help our ratables if the college is exempt from taxes? How does this do anything but hurt the current residents, businesses and congestion of the area. I have no kids and spend money in the center everyday and I'm now looking to move after 20 years in the area over this mess. 
Now what about the addition of a few hundred cars parking on the street in that area ? To assume college kids won't have cars is ridiculous and even if it is a small percent - a small percent of 900 students is too much. And there is nothing the school could do to stop them as they would be parking on public streets. For a town building rental units screwing over the current tenants is bad business. And even people who commute into the city for work a large percentage will have a car for other purposes. 
This town council is either short sighted or getting some kind of payoff to make such stupid decisions. And for the records calling BC a college is like putting lipstick on a pig and calling it a debutant. I've taken classes there and the math department is a joke - to it's own math professors. The woman running that department can't do basic algebra, I know I've been in her class and still have the study guides she provided with their incorrect answers

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Time to Volunteer!

This is the time of the year to think about volunteering your time and making a difference to Bloomfield. For most Boards (except Planning and Zoning) the committment is minimal - a couple of hours per month. You do need to be a Bloomfield resident for most boards.
Positions are available on the following Boards:

Zoning Board
Division of Health (Board of Health)
Public Library
Youth Guidance Council
Historic District Review Board
Board of Recreation Planning Board
 Oakeside - Bloomfield Cultural Center
Beautification Committee
Open Space Trust Fund
Recycling Commission

If you would like to become a Board member please submit your resume to both the Town Clerk and the Town Council ASAP. E-mail addresses for submission can be found here. Don't forget to send your resume (including which board you are interested in) to the Mayor as well - some of the boards are appointed solely by him.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Three Touchdowns and The Bengals Are In!

By beating Union City 20 - 7, Bloomfield will be going to the the Finals for the State Championship. The Championship game will be played next Saturday at MetLife Stadium in The Meadowlands,

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tree Strikes and You're Out

If a tree falls in a forest, would it make a sound if no one is around to hear it? So goes the classic oft repeated philosophical thought experiment. Councilman Bernard Hamilton raised the stakes boy making us wonder if a thousand trees were to fall in the  "Tree City"  of Bloomfield, would anyone want to stay here?

Monday's Council Conference Meeting climaxed with Hamilton's stunning suggestion that any tree taller than 15 feet or 20 inches around should be cut down below the wires or removed in order to prevent future problems from storms like Sandy. Township Forester Steve Schuckman was on hand to respond to Hamilton’s proposal.  Schuckman suggested that the council would be choosing between forest and desert.

If he had made such a proposal in Montclair or many other towns, Hamilton’s ‘modest proposal’ would have got him laughed out of the meeting. Thankfully, Schuckman was present to provide a reality check. Besides making the town even more flood prone and just plain ugly, it would bankrupt the budget and make Bloomfield even more notorious to prospective residents than the Memphis issue has done. At the end of the discussion, Hamilton promised to return with a revised plan.

Hamilton is reportedly planning to run for Essex County Freeholder next year. Will the tree chopping plan become a plank of his platform?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Board of Health Agrees to Give Memphis to Jeff

Mondays Town Council Conference meeting opened and closed in closed session. In between was a revealing period of public comments concerning mushrooming revelations of improprieties within the Health Department, the Bloomfield Animal Shelter, and Neighbor to Neighbor Network(NtNN).

The initial closed session focused on NtNN Director Karen Lore's proposed negotiation with her BOH counterpart to take over full control of the Shelter.
When the public session resumed,  Mayor McCarthy that a decision had been made to make no decision and keep the status quo until at least January regarding the  shelter. Nothing was announced about what was discussed in the 2nd closed session, but 24 hours later Jeff Coltenback went on Facebook to break the stunning news that the BOH had agreed to a framework for ultimately letting him adopt Memphis when his South Dakota trainer certified that he was ready to be released.

No word yet as to when or how the BOH took control back from NtNN. While all this is going on,
I clicked on a Bloomfield link on Facebook and was greeted by profile photos of my top 5 friends(click on graphic to enlarge). Coincidence?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Takeaway on Lore's Takeover Plans

I wasn't at the 6PM Conference Meeting on Monday in the Mayor's conference room, but Karen Lore reportedly showed up and said nothing. Then stayed for the closed session at the end -- presumably to make her case for her Neighbor to Neighbor Network's plan for taking over the Bloomfield Animal Shelter.

Over half of the subsequent Town Council Meeting, at 7:30PM, was taken up by public comments regarding what we knew of the plan. ALL of them were critical of Lore's recent actions. There was one written comment and about 8 others by folks who ALL chose to speak out on issues that were raised at last week's Board of Health meeting. The video of both meetings is now available for streaming on the WBMA-TV website.  Public Comments start at the 59 minute mark. Here is the gist of my comments:
Like a few other Neighbor to Neighbor Network volunteers,  I applied for both the shelter and neighbor to neighbor at the same time. I was told in February that the shelter was suspending volunteer applications for a few months. This was shortly before the mass firing of dozens of the most experienced volunteers.
I've since learned from one of them that she saw about 75 applications ripped up and trashed.
At about the same time, a convicted felon was retained and promoted despite evidence of serious crimes and a falsified resume.
Why were so many experienced Shelter volunteers fired? My best guess is that most of them tended to to work along  side each other and saw and knew too much about such improprieties. On the other hand, at Neighbor to Neighbor, we work independently of each other and only know the people we help. We sign a nondisclosure statement to protect their privacy. This makes total sense. What doesn't make sense is to not disclose to donors or the township where their money goes.

 At last week's BOH meeting, I asked Ms. Lore specifics about the Board's vote in September to transfer Memphis to Neighbor to Neighbor. What did the Board know about what they were voting on? They stopped me in my tracks by telling me that NtN is a private organization and has nothing to do with the town. I would need to ask them.
Who is "them"?  Lore, Fitzpatrick and Ricci were all sitting in front of me at the time, and clearly knew all the answers. Lore claimed to be wearing her BOH Board Secretary hat at the time. 
Thankfully, Mimi Michalski was there to report on the meeting for Baristanet. I learned from Mimi's article the later in the meeting, Lore put on her Shelter Director or NTNN hat, (I'm not sure which) and made a general update on what has happened with Memphis since the September meeting 
It was also disclosed that she is apparently negotiating with herself to have NtNN take over the shelter. Will that mean the town no longer has any say in Shelter policies either?
Bear in mind that the town website has several links to NtN info. my NtN directives come from the Human Services office in room 231 of Town Hall. The emails come from a town email address. Phone calls usually come from the town switchboard. 
And yet Ms Lore has reportedly bragged that she is accountable to no one.
 In the 19th century, Lord Acton first spoke what has become a truism that "power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Whatever happens with her negotiation with herself to put the shelter entirely under her control, any lawsuits lost because of her continued poor judgement will still probably have to be covered by the deepest pockets around. Won't that be our town and it's taxpayers?
The next conference meeting is scheduled for Monday in the Mayor's Conference Room.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Curioser and Curioser

At last night's Board of Health meeting I asked for details about the Memphis move to South Dakota. This was the first time I've seen Board Attorney Ricci present for the comments portion; he and Joel Elkins couldn't wait to inform me that the BOH no longer had anything to do with Memphis, since he was the property of Bloomfield's Neighbor to Neighbor Network -- which is "a private organisation with no connection to the BOH."

This despite the fact that Lore, Fitzpatrick, and Ricci were sitting in front of me and clearly knew the answers to my questions -- and despite NTNN's multiple locations on our town's official website. All my questions were answered by Ricci and Elkins with words to the effect of: "You need to ask them, not us." I reminded them that I'm a volunteer for NTNN, but have never had any answers to questions written to either Lore or the Board. In the 6 months, I've been associated with them, I've seen no news of meetings or updates on their activities.

Anyone for tea?

We later learned that the Health Department is negotiating with Neighbor to Neighbor to give the group total control over the Bloomfield Shelter as well as Memphis. As one of the fired volunteers explained it:
" a nutshell, Karen Lore went into an agreement with herself, basically, and all of the (current) volunteers who have made consistently derogatory statements about Memphis, to anyone and everyone. Presently, Karen Lore (the Health Dept) has agreed, at the direction of the Board of Health who has repeatedly stated they cannot direct the Health Dept (Karen Lore) on what to do, to enter into negotiations with Karen Lore (NTNN) to take over control of the Animal Shelter. And if Karen Lore cannot negotiate with Karen Lore by December 31, 2012, control of the Animal Shelter automatically goes to the Town Council (Mayor and Council members)."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2 - 4 Legged Food Drives for Sandy Victims

The Four Legged Food Drive aims to bring pet food to dogs cats who are victims of the home foreclosure crisis, through your donations. This year, Keller Wiliams Realty in Montclair is leading the drive to feed pets that have fallen victim to Hurricane Sandy. The nearest dropoff point in Bloomfield is
Brookdale Pet Center
1054 N. Broad Street (next to Rita’s / across from Holsten’s)
Bloomfield, NJ 07003

For the rest of our two legged folks in North Essex, we're assisting the Food Pantry of Montclair.  Bloomfield's Neighbor to Neighbor to program has an ongoing affiliation with them. Right now, they're looking for donations of Thanksgiving related food from turkeys to pumpkin pie.  For their ongoing needs, check out their website.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Council Cancels Tomorrow's Meeting -- Double Header Set for Next Monday

*The Mayor and Council of the Township of Bloomfield have cancelled the Conference Meeting previously scheduled for Tuesday, November 13, 2012. It has been rescheduled for Monday, November 19, 2012 at 6:00 p.m., and will be held prior to the Regular Meeting already scheduled for that date. The Conference Meeting will be held in Room 205 of the Law Enforcement Building, and the Regular Meeting will be held in the Council Chambers on the Second Floor of the Municipal Building.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Free Shuttles to NYC

For many commuters, there is now a brighter side to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. NJ Transit is temporarily providing free bus service from Bloomfield's Lackawanna RR station -- and many other NNJ stations -- to the Poet Imperial Ferry in Weehawken where you can catch a free ferry to Manhattan.
We received this release from NJ Transit:
Customers using the emergency bus service plan can ride the buses at no cost. Customers can also use ferry service at no cost on Statue Cruise Lines in Liberty State Park and from Weehawken/Port Imperial to Pier 79 at 39th Street ONLY. Two one-way tickets will be provided for the ferry trip to/from Weehawken/Port Imperial and Pier 79 at 39th Street. Bus operators will NOT collect any tickets.
 Buses will operate to and from the following limited-capacity transportation hubs: The bus shuttle/ferry services will operate weekdays between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. (inbound) and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (outbound) except the Liberty State Park shuttle - Bus shuttles will operate on a load and go basis every10 minutes.
 Montclair-Boonton Line Free shuttle bus service between Bay Street, Glen Ridge and Bloomfield stations and Weehawken Ferry Terminal. Free ferry service between Weehawken and Pier 79 at West 39th Street in Manhattan (Midtown Manhattan).
Standard parking rules and fees are in effect at all rail station parking lots.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Coltenbacks Dismiss Dismissal of Memphis Lawsuit

At Friday morning's Superior Court hearing in Newark, Judge Walter Koprowski dismissed the $1 million lawsuit involving Memphis, the Bloomfield pit bull. An appeal is under consideration. The Coltenbacks released the following statement:
We are disappointed but definitely not discouraged. We have no regrets for fighting for Memphis. And, we have every intention of continuing to do so. We are not going anywhere. This morning's outcome is just a bump in the road. We look forward to seeing many of you at Just Jakes tomorrow and we greatly appreciate your continued support. We will continue to keep you posted on the next steps... Rest assured, this is not over!!i
- Jeff & Diana Coltenback

 Danielle Loffredo shared her impressions of today's hearing in General Equity Superior Court in Newark:
The judge, in my opinion, clearly seemed to sympathize with pet owners and the fact that they are much more than personal property. He was so positive that it didn't seem evident which direction he was moving towards. However he ruled there was no standing because the statute defines that the trust must be on behalf of the owners which is solely the BOH; not The Lexus Project or Jeff.
After two months of secrecy, it was finally revealed that Memphis has been relocated to a sanctuary in South Dakota. Where in South Dakota. The only rescue sanctuary we can locate dedicated to Pit Bulls is the Pit Rescue of The Great Plains group located in Sioux Falls. They may have changed their name and focus since their website has shut down and this is the only link we can find for them as of today. It raises several new questions:

How was the South Dakota rescue group chosen and by who? Why the need to conceal this information as well as details of his training?  Was the move done by truck or plane? Was a trainer with him for reassurance?

None of the promised updates ever came from BOH.  Did they know any of the key details when they all voted on the move?  Who is really paying for all this?  What else is our Health Department trying to hide?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Update on Delays in Trash Pickup

From: Paul Lasek---TOWNSHIP ENGINEER--
I just received a call from Future Sanitation. They will work into the evening in an attempt to catch up on the garbage pick-up. If after working today, they remain behind, they will continue to pick up garbage tomorrow for today’s pick-up and tomorrow’s (Thursday’s). They believe that they will be caught up and back to regular pick-up by Friday.
Resident’s should be informed that any garbage left on the curbside from today’s pick-up (Wednesday) should be left at the curb for pick-up sometime tomorrow.
Future Sanitation is working under adverse conditions. The Essex County incinerator is shut down until at least Monday November 12th. Future is using alternate sites which, due to the Essex County closure, are experiencing long lines for tipping. This, in addition to the weather and larger volumes of trash, is resulting in the pick-up delays.
We must all be patient.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Dinner at 7 or 8, Courtesy of K of C

The Bloomfield Knights of Columbus will be hosting a free spaghetti dinner for anyone in the Bloomfield and immediate surrounding communities still effected by the storm and or any power outages. It will be tonight, starting at 7PM, at the Bloomfield Knights Hall located at 190 State Street in Bloomfield. Anyone is welcome to come and have a hot meal as well as charge their phones or laptops or have a drink if they want to. Please pass this message around! I'm including a link here that will also give you a direct link to the "event." I look forward to seeing you there. Sincerely, Rajiv Fernando 201-341-1539

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Back to School -- and Halloween--on Monday

 Carteret School got it's power back today, so all Bloomfield's schools will resume classes tomorrow. We were just retweeted news that the mayor has given the green light for trick or treating as well.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Sandy Survival Contact Info.

The biggest problem for most of us, besides power outages, are the increasingly long lines for gas. Prices have spiked up again, but there are limits and regulations concerning how much and how often.In, NJ, the limit is 10% although a few suggest that there should be no limits.

Here's an interactive map of some stations that may be more up to date then any we could list here.

Here's the number to report any obvious price gouging: (800) 242-5846.

Along with the library, Civic Center is now open for device charging and internet access.

The Bloomfield Parking Authority has announced that it will suspend the ticketing of meters through at least today and probably Saturday.

The High School band festival at Foley field has been delayed a week until November 10.

Bloomfield's Press Conference on Sandy's aftermath is here:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Power Plays for Those of Us Still in the Dark

Sandy has been a life changing experience for we digitally dependent folks who are constantly checking our emails and Facebook updates. Much of Bloomfield was shrouded in darkness Monday night by falling trees and power lines. After initially being reassured by PSE&G that our power would be back in 45 minutes"at 7:59PM," a second call yielded an update that suggested an expectation of  7 days or more.
Blackouts were haphazard south of Bay, but nearly universal north of Bay. Most of our friends and neighbors were in the same boar, but were were finally able to at leas charge our dead phone Tuesday night. Hearing that the Bloomfield Library would reopen on Wednesday, we were first in line. Their 8 computer stations filled up very quickly, (and they may close early today) so here are some alternatives:

 Montclair's library on S.Fullerton has many more outlets(and free parking next door) but a higher percentage of blacked out patrons(80%). Montclair's YMCA and Town Council Chambers are also open to those looking for juice. We don't believe they check for ID, but if it gets crowded they may. Starbucks and Paneras have also just reopened.

Clifton's Allwood Library is also a good prospect, but call first to verify their hours(Clifton Commons was totally dark except for generator-enhanced Stop-N Shop) .

Whole Foods in West Orange is actually inviting folks to plug in.

PSE&G has updated its twitter page for fast moving progress reports.Stay tuned and plugged:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Halloween Spooktacular

Bloomfield's Bicentennial Committee outdid itself again with the most spectacular Spooktacular ever.  Children enjoyed Trick or Treating through a mini-village of decorated cardboard houses and shops.

Other fun and games included a Bean Bag Toss, a Magic Act,  a Pumpkin Patch,  a Contest to Guess the Weight of the Biggest Pumpkin, A Costume Contest,  A Haunted Courtyard in front of the Library, and a Jack-O-Lantern Contest.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Confronting the Board of Health

At last night's Board of Health meeting, more than a dozen people made comments before being stopped by the notorious Marimba ring tone 5 minute timer. I began by reading an excerpt from a letter that my wife, Rebecca wrote to the Mayor and Town Council. It was read at Monday's Council meeting:
"....the idea that the township has no authority over the Board of Health decisions is ludicrous - the Board of Health has to be responsible to somebody. You appointed the Board of Health. And although they may do a good job when it comes to Town Health issues involving humans, they know little about taking care of animals or running an animal shelter.
 Ms. Lore is one person making decisions that affect the entire township, and she appears to have no supervision above her, and no input from the public. Especially in the case of a director who is only an acting director, you would think there would be some sort of supervisor working with her and watching to see if she indeed, could handle the position. 
Whenever I have attended a BOH meeting, it seems like Ms. Lore makes a decision and no one even discusses or questions her - They seem to be "Yes" people who rubber-stamp what she decides to do."
Jeff Coltenback reaffirmed the commitment he made at Monday's meeting to take over responsibility for the training and adoption of all the dogs now at Bloomfield;s shelter -- including Memphis. I was able to shoot a video clip of his concluding comments.

 Some of my comments:
One of my unanswered questions in my September letter was whether you could refer me to a recent meeting where there had been a non-unanimous vote on an issue that Ms. Lore raised. 
I believe it was Mr. Mcloughlin who told us--at a recent meeting--that you never talk to each other between meetings regarding any issues that are on the agenda. Well many of us on the outside talk every day in the social media about some of the major issues that you seem determined to ignore. We do it publicly, so folks like Mr. Fitzpatrick can cherry pick rumors that he finds inaccurate. We do it partially out of frustration that we can't get all the facts we'd like to get from the Health Department or the Shelter.  
This week, our frustration at the lack of accurate information from this Board has led some residents to start yet another Facebook page. This one is not primarily about Memphis -- it's about YOU. It's called "The Truth About Bloomfield's Health Department." Rather than sharing rumors, anyone can share verifiable facts and documents about what's been going on with the Board and the Health Department. This may be your first chance for one or more of you to make a difference on your Board -- OR your last chance. 
Not sure if it was in response to many of our complaints about their unresponsiveness, but one of the members, Mcloughlin, actually chose to engage in a brief discussion with several of the commenters. Elkins also made a couple of comments. The 3 women on the Board, however, still seem to have lost their voices.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lighting Up the Historic District

Once upon a time, when Glen Ridge was a part of Bloomfield, gas lamps were ubiquitous throughout the township. The last two lamps have been continuously maintained by the residents living on the charming cul de sac of East Church Street.

Friday, October 12, 2012

New Walking Tour of Bloomfield Historic District Begins This Saturday

In 1937, Bloomfield had 525 retail stores, with a total annual sales of over $15 million (approximately $246 million in 2011 dollars) with employment for over 1,000 men and women.

Come to the Bloomfield Civic Center at 84 Broad Street and enjoy a 30 minute slide show of the Bloomfield Historic District and Bloomfield Center exploring historic sites from the late 1800s to early 1900s, many of them taken during the Centennial celebrations in 1912, with ‘now’ photos showing the same locations today.

The slide show, produced by Rich Rockwell, will be shown continuously between 1:30 and 3:30. Pick up a self-guided tour guide, then take a self-guided tour at your own pace at your convenience.
Refreshments will be served at the Civic Center. In case of rain, the refreshments and slide show will be held, and self-guided tour guides will be handed out so you can the tour in the future at your convenience.

The Women’s Club, corner of Montgomery and Franklin Streets. Replaced by a parking lot.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Don't Miss Free Bicentennial Bus Tour of Bloomfield This Saturday

In 1937 Bloomfield had 68 plants employing approximately 6,500 people manufacturing products valued in excess of $53 million (approximately $830 million in 2011 dollars). Explore the locations of some of Bloomfield's past industrial sites and other historic sites - houses, churches, the Morris Canal, schools and businesses on this 90 minute tour with a handout of photos and maps of historic sites.

Sponsored by the Bloomfield Bicentennial Committee, Bus tours will leave the Bloomfield College parking lot on Liberty Street near Austin Place every half hour between 10 am and 2:30 pm. A handicapped accessible bus will be available. Parking is available in the College parking lot. Refreshments will be served at the end of the tour at Westminster Hall, corner of Fremont Street and Austin Place.

Photo at right of Westinghouse Factory is part of the souvenir booklet that will be given to all participants in the tour.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

BOH Rebuffs Council Efforts to Resolve Memphis Issue

Much has transpired in the week since the Council voted unanimously to urge all the attorneys involved in the Memphis lawsuit to reach a positive outcome that would return Memphis to Jeff Coltenback:

 1. The BOH has reiterated their version of events -- with too many misstatements to go into here -- and told the council it has no authority over them.
2. The BOH attorney has taken to the internet to further misrepresent the situation. Basically claiming that the Lexis Attorney is now on Ricci's side, and blaming Jeff for scaring alternative trainers away, but suggesting that their undisclosed new trainer is successfully re-educating Memphis at their undisclosed location for adoption by an undisclosed family to be named later.
3. Ricci has closed down his e-mail and Facebook site and refused to participate in any serious discussions with other attorneys.
4. The intake report on Memphis's arrival at our shelter was finally released, through Opra, showing that he was originally characterized as NON- Aggressive.
5 The ACO officer who originally caught and gave Memphis his name, has come forth with a chronology of events that belies many of Karen Lore's statements on the case. Moira may have been fired for staying within Health Department channels and spelling out truths that did not corroborate Lore's agenda.
6. Our Board of Health is still advertising online for another Animal control officer to replace Moira.
7. The shelter has announced that it is returning to it's old hours of 1 to 4 every day.
8. The largest of several petitions to free Memphis has hit 40,000 signatures.
9. The first legal hearing on the Lexis lawsuit against Bloomfield has been rescheduled to November 9. 10. Hundreds of Memphis supporters turned out to support the return of the dog to Jeff and Diana Coltenback.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Tragedy on Broughton

All news reports indicate that there was a drag race in progress on  Saturday night on Broughton Avenue -- at speeds excedung 80 mph.  R. I. P. Christine Lembo.

I don't drive on Broughton every day, but I happened to have business in the area yesterday. I find myself driving much slower than on Broad even tho the speed limit is the same. There are so many side streets and kids playing on the sidewalks, it just seems appropriate to go closer to 20 on many occasions. Of course I'm frequently tailgated, but that's OK.

After a tragedy like this, I'm sure I'm not the first one to suggest that a couple of speed bumps might have saved a life. In fact someone posted on the Patch today that they've asked the town to do just that in the past. Was there any followup on that suggestion?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Yet Another Open House on Montgomery

Interesting to see there are still 2 townhouses for sale at 102 Montgomery. It has been over 4 years since they listed the first units of their modestly sized development on the MLS. They're in a great location near shops, schools, and RR. They were as good a value then at 339k as they are now at 299k.

Yet Bloomfield's Planning Board is about to vote on a MUCH larger 332 unit condo/apartment complex at 225 Belleville Ave. Unlike the Montgomery units, the Belleville units are at a very isolated location in a flood zone. Care to guess how many years it will take them to sell?

Friday, September 28, 2012

What's Up With Watsessing?

About two dozen Bloomfield residents got together at the Civic Center, last night, for what was billed as an "evening of brainstorming and strategizing to create a plan for land use, pedestrian mobility, traffic calming and redevelopment" in the area surrounding Watsessing RR Station. They were encouraged to take advantage of a recently awarded $50,000 Smart Future Planning Grant from from the state’s Division of Community Affairs. During the initial brainstorming session,  a consensus developed that new apartment projects should be avoided with a preference for commercial or light manufacturing developments. Ben Morse pointed out that RR tracks that cross Bloomfield avenue near Grove could become an asset:
"I asked about the train line that runs past Hartz Mt, and whether it hooks up with the Newark Port.They are expanding the port, so having a container line going to the port could be attractive. The shale gas boom is for real and will facilitate trade to those areas that have logistic capabilities. Not to export gas but finished products."

Attendees were shown slides of visual options for street layout and building types for residents to select their picks for aesthetic and practical preferences. Some of them seemed like visual "push polling"(would you prefer an intersection with more visible or less visible crosswalks?)

Pictured is one of several breakout sessions where map overlays were used to design a better flow of auto and foot traffic. Town engineer, Paul Lasek (r) monitored their progress.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Psst! It's HarvestFest Time!

You'd hardly know if from our local media, but this is our annual Harvest Fest weekend. Both Bloomfield weeklies ran this ad from the Downtown Alliance. Good old Shoprite incorporated reminders of the festival into its weekly back page ad (we love those coupons). But, curiously, we couldn't find any editorial copy about the Saturday and Sunday events. Not even a press release marking the 20th anniversary year.

Even the official festival website is simply a copy of the Harvest Fest poster with links to websites for several of the musical attractions and the major sponsors. But it's guaranteed to provide some great photo opps for next week's papers.

Among the under-publicized attractions are the nonprofits and community oriented groups. They can usually be found on the south end of the Green.

Friday, September 21, 2012


An Open Letter to Bloomfield's Board of Health:

I find it a bit ironic that we happened to be at a Board of Health meeting in the town courtroom, last night.  Karen Lore may have been trying to put Jeff on trial, but in a real sense it's Karen Lore,  F. Michael Fitzpatrick -- and this board -- that are on trial right now.  And the rest of us in that room were the jury -- along with the Town Council.  If you doubt this,  I'd suggest googling "Karen Lore," Bloomfield, or "Board of Health," Bloomfield, and take a look at the "Images" tab.

At your September meeting, you may have set a record for violations of the Open Public Meetings Act. You began by announcing, without justification, that no photography or video would be allowed, and promptly went into an unscheduled closed session before finally allowing comments 55 minutes later. You then announced that a decision had been reached on Memphis that would be announced the next morning.  So we were then allowed to comment on an issue that had already been decided -- except we would be told nothing about the decision. Kafka would be proud!
 Kafkaesque is commonly defined as:
 1. Marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity. Kafkaesque bureaucracies

 1. Marked by surreal distortion and often a sense of impending danger.

Your continued unresponsiveness to the worldwide condemnation
of your actions truly fits all these definitions.  You've also dismissed Facebook comments on the subject by saying that many of them are inaccurate belying the fact that Lore's misleading statements and refusal to interact with volunteers about shelter issues -- as well as Memphis -- have sparked thousands of passionate reactions in the social media.

Bloomfield residents and animal lovers from throughout the region have pled Jeff's case to a stonewalling BOH.  Joel argued with a Zoning Board member who called attention to your violations of the Open Public Meetings Act.  Maybe it's time for an "intervention" by Bloomfielders on other volunteer boards.  I know members of virtually all of them who are incredulous at the actions of Lore and the BOH: That includes the BOE, Planning, Zoning, Recycling, Open Space, Downtown Alliance, Oakside, Bicentennial, Watsessing Heights, Halcyon Park, Save Bloomfield Now, Bloomfield Neighborhood Assoc., and Friends of Clarks Pond.

 Like many of them, I literally don't have a dog in this hunt. But I react strongly when I see injustice.  As others have stated about their rescued pets,  the dog I rescued as a teenager, would not have passed Crosby's evaluation.

I e-mailed Lore and Fittzpatrick 5 months ago for a legal justification for your continued unresponsiveness to pertinent questions at BOH meetings and got no response.  I assumed she never read the e-mail until I was confronted by your fundraising chair who angrily referenced other Shelter issues raised in the the email. This occurred in the shelter office in early spring when my wife and I were applying to adopt a cat. Of course, our application was never acknowledged. Instead, we wound up adopting two wonderful cats through PAWS.

 In going over the minutes of several of your meetings and watching the last two in person, one gets the impression that your main function is to rubber stamp every item on Lore's agenda. I've been to a number of other board meetings in Bloomfield, and this appears to be the one with the most unanimity and the least discussion. Please advise me of an issue that provoked a divergence of views or a dissent from Ms. Lore, as I'm still looking for one. Undisputedly, the Health Department has a vital role to play in Bloomfield's continued well being. But your arrogant procedures and practices is dragging our town into international notoriety and threatening the security of its taxpaying residents.

Not only aren't they from this area, Lore and Fitzpatrick may be insulated against lawsuits like this one.  They'll get their hefty paychecks and pensions no matter what.  Bloomfield's taxpayers will pay in the end. That said, I still hope Jeff wins it all.  Maybe HE could take over the shelter and begin repairing Bloomfield's severely tarnished reputation.


Geoff Gove

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Vote Possible on 225 Belleville Plans at Tonight's PB Meeting

From Save Bloomfield Now: The Township of Bloomfield is considering a massive 5 story 332 rental unit at 225 Belleville Avenue (aka Oakes Pond) leaving taxpayers with a 30 year bill of $2.46 million. Approved by Bloomfield’s town council with the developer, Garden Commercial Properties--headed by Minnesota Vikings billionaire owner Zygi Wilf—it is not only a financial negative for the town, it will worsen traffic jams, and stretch a school system already using trailers to house its ballooning school population.

The project is a precedent setting development, and with over 1600 rental units in other proposals across town, Bloomfield faces choices that will impact more than its fiscal health for years to come. It is a picture of poor planning.
Residents have been against the project and their concerns have largely been ignored, except for a demand to generate a fiscal impact study.

The report will be reviewed at the next Planning Board meeting on Tuesday September 18 at 7pm in council chambers at 1 Muncipal Plaza, Bloomfield. The study has galvanized the town’s Board of Education who will appear at (tonight's) meeting to plead its case. Schools near the project are at capacity and the estimated 33 more students that would live in the development create the need for more costly trailers and buses. Also, with 653 more parking spaces, the anticipation for extreme traffic jams at peak hours has been met with heated discussions and no solutions.

The environmental non-remediation aspect to the project is another issue. The developer was grandfathered in to clean the site to 1999 non-residential standards per DEP, instead of more strict residential standards enacted in 2008. With 150 years of industry and toxic waste on the site, the health of future residents could be at risk.
 Save Bloomfield Now is nonpartisan group of Bloomfield residents committed to keeping Bloomfield an affordable town, with a high quality of life and good schools.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Walking for Memphis

A planning meeting for October's Bicentennial bus tour of Bloomfield kept me from joining the 200 participants in today's peaceful walk around Town Hall, The Green, and the downtown area. (Photo at right by Vishous Rhage; click on photos to enlarge.)
Fortunately for those of us who could not be there, an extensive slide show captures the hopeful and peaceful atmosphere (thanks largely to police support to insure their safety at intersections) of the event on the Save Memohis Facebook page. Memphis supporters are expecting another large turnout at Monday's town council meeting, as well as as Thursday's Board of Health meeting -- at a location yet to be disclosed.

 UPDATE: The Bloomfield Patch has just published a terrific group of pictures with their story -- including a picture of a Memphis look-alike parade participant, Dakota," whose adoption was also discouraged by Bloomfield Shelter staff.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Brookdale Stakeout

Le Taqueria, Bloomfield's popular new Mexican Restaurant is being featured on an upcoming edition of Restaurant Stakeout on the Food Network. A large production crew and their trucks took over a good chunk of Broad and Johnson streets.

The "Reality" show has become somewhat controversial for creating story lines for the staff and owners of the some of the featured eateries. One of it's latest episodes put Montclair's renowned Naunas under the spotlight.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Liongate Developer Blocked by Council

"The latest development in our neighborhood's two-decade long effort to prevent a massive townhouse development on Liongate's flood prone Scientific Glass site is: No Development"

 I wrote the above sentence over 3 1/2 years ago after the previous owner of the 12.7 acre section of Liongate put a For Sale sign on the flood prone property he had bought in 2003 for $3 Million. His asking price at the time was $13 Million.
The current developer bought the property last winter along with its previously approved plans for 104 Condos, for $1.2 Million.

On Monday, Bloomfield's town council stopped the developers plans in their tracks with a 3 to 3 vote. In the past 20+ years, that the property has been a tempting target for several ambitious developers, more 4 legged critters have lived on the site than 2 legged ones. Walking down Liongate Rd. this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of what may have been the same red fox that Pat Ciesla photographed in 2008.

I also saw two well dressed examples of the 2-legged variety, tailgating in front of the padlocked driveway to the site.  Stay tuned....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Coltenback vs. Aloia

Before the public comment portion of last night's council conference meeting, Mayor McCarthy acknowledged the town's latest lawsuit against them and stated they were advised by counsel not to comment on the situation because of the litigation. This caveat did not disuade anyone from stating their arguments for returning Memphis to the care of Jeff and Diana Coltenback, who filed the suit on Friday. The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard early in October in a County Courtroom in Newark.

The mayor waited for comments on all subjects to conclude before inviting Jeff to state his case and briefly explain the basis for his lawsuit agains the township. The details of the suit are yet to be made public, but one of the incidents that motivated the suit was his frustration at discussing the contract issues with it's author,town attorney, Brian Aloia -- who hung up on him. During Jeff's entire presentation, Aloia(above) could be seen staring intently at his Macbook without glancing up for a second to acknowledge Jeff. The Memphis issue goes way beyond just letting the dog out. Aside from the insanity of firing dozens of experienced volunteers and silencing whistle blowers, Bloomfield's unelected attorneys are the ones pulling the strings that have made us a magnet for costly lawsuits.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Sounds For Hounds in Brookdale Park

Music lovers and animal lovers joined forces on Saturday when Sound for the Hounds, a concert/festival sponsored by United Against Puppy Mills returned to Brookdale Park for their second annual fesdtival.

There were dozens of exhibitors from throughout participating in the the day long show including Bloomfield's Bukowski Animal Shelter. Many handed out samples of dog treats to the 4 legged visitors and dog training tips for the two legged ones. The event was devoted to raising awareness about “puppy mills” – large scale breeding operations notorious for putting profits before animal welfare.
The concert climaxed with the The WhiskeyHicken Boys rock band inviting all the attending dogs onto the stage for a doggy "be-in".

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Memphis Forum Now Online at WBMA-TV

Thursday's extraordinary "forum" on the current status of Memphis can now be seen in it's entirety online thanks to WBMA-TV.  This may mark the first time Bloomfield's Station has covered a Board of
Health event. Trainer Jim Crosby's assessment of Memphis's prospects for adoption with additional training helped answer many lingering questions that were left hanging during the last Board of Health meeting in August.

The ultimate irony was seeing Michael Fitzpatrick turn the meeting into a fund raising plea to everyone in attendance and watching on WBMA. In other words, he wants us to pay the Board of Health for the consequences of their decisions; decisions that included firing dozens of invaluable volunteers and separating Memphis from Jeff.  Not to mention the hiring of a poorly trained convicted felon who abused Memphis as a VetTech.  Witnesses to such abuse have been let go while the abusers remain at the shelter.

Lore's insistance on only answering written questions let her to refuse to address many more questions on shelter issues and the contract terms that let to the dog being ordered back. When Fitzpatrick said he didn't have a copy available to refer to, many in the audience offered to supply one -- including Jeff who politely raised his hand. At this point, Lore declared the meeting over, and Jeff served her with the first package of his lawsuit  documents.

To most of the 28,000 animal lovers who signed the petition, continuing to lock up Memphis was an irrational decision borne of spite and insecurity.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Special Forum on Memphis Tonight --- ABC News Coverage

This has been a week of major developments on the Memphis issue.
Bloomfield township has just announced a PUBLIC PRESENTATION section on their main website (NOT the animal shelter site) saying public forum will be held Thursday night.

At Tuesday's town council meeting, the mayor announced that the Board of Health had hired a new nationally known dog trainer,Jim Crosby of Jacksonville, Florida, to evaluate Memphis. There were many public comments by residents including Jeff Coltenback. The Bloomfield Patch published close up video clips as well as stills of the meeting highlights.  The official video of the entire meeting is now online.

 Last night, the bare essentials of the hastily scheduled meeting were posted on the town website -- not on the Main township page but an ancillary Public Notice tab -- the meeting on Memphis is tonight 6pm-8pm Town in Council Chambers. Crosby plans to explain the results of his findings to the public and town council.
"Animal Shelter Public Presentation Evaluation Forum for Memphis 9/06/12 6-8pm 
Council Chambers"
His petition has passed the 27,000 mark.

He now has fully funded legal representation by The Lexis Project.

ABC News 7 has just taped a report for its "7 on Your Side" series to be broadcast either Thursday or Friday at 5.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Repeal the Sewer Ordinance!

Most residents realize that a property owner is responsable for repairing water and sewer line leaks or blockages that occur on their property up to their curb line. Bloomfield recently adopted an ordinance that makes homeowners responsible for repairs in their line that extend out well beyond their property line to the middle of the street. Under this ordinance, the town could force the owner to pay for the repairs.  If they can't afford the bill,  the town could put a lien on the property making it impossible to sell in the future.

On the agenda for Tuesday's town council meeting is the forst reading of a bill by Nick Joanow to repeal this ordinance.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Cutbacks at Shelter Stoke Shutdown Fears

The Bloomfield/Bukowski Animal Shelter appears to be circling its cages to reduce its exposure to public scrutiny and interaction. It has lately been spending more time deleting questions and comments than sharing info on the pets that are available for adoption.

Now, it has apparently given up competing with the Save the Bloomfield Shelter site. for fans on its Facebook page, with a status post that "For future updates on Memphis and other shelter activities, please visit us at

Just posted on the Bloomfield Township website, but NOT posted on the shelter website are the newly limited hours for public access:
Monday 12pm - 2pm
Tuesday 12pm - 2pm
Wednesday 12pm - 2pm
Thursday 12pm - 2pm
Friday 12pm - 2pm
Saturday 12pm - 2pm

There are also reports that the shelter is requiring all visitors to provide photo ID.
Tuesday's town council meeting is expected to draw a large turnout by animal lovers concerned about recent cutbacks and firings as well as the confinement of Memphis.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Crimes and Punishment Bring the Feds to Town

Bloomfield Life is breaking the news that a Bloomfield tax preparer was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for preparing returns he knew were false, in order to get his clients large refunds to which they were not entitled, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court: Rigot Joseph, the sole owner of RJM Professional Tax Services, aided and assisted in the preparation of tax returns that claimed fabricated and inflated Schedule A itemized deductions for his clients. Joseph met with clients at the business in East Orange, where he prepared their tax returns for a fee. For filing years 2003 through 2007, Joseph prepared client tax returns that claimed deductions based on false gifts to charity, false job expenses and other false miscellaneous expenses, in order to obtain large refunds for his clients.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Memphis in His Cage (Video)

Pat Gilleran, who happens to be a long time member of Bloomfield's Open Space Board, suggested that Saturday might be a a good time to visit Bloomfield's Bukowski Animal Shelter and check up on the status of Memphis. After stating we wanted to check out the dogs, we were led into the large dog section by the Animal Control Officer.  Pat followed him to the right and I pointed my camera to the far left where Memphis was. He seemed glad to see us and can be seen through a gap in the gate rapidly wagging his tail. After less than 15 seconds,  I was stopped by the ACO who called in the shelter manager to inform me that I was breaking the rules against taking pictures.

I informed her that I had made many visits to the shelter this year in search of a cat and taken many photos without mention of said rule.
She insisted that she had never seen me before even though I had talked with her in her office several times, most recently when my wife and I spent half an hour with her filling out their lengthy application to adopt.
Pat commented on what followed:
I asked if we could see the cats - while we were in the cat room the ACO came back in a told is that F. Michael Fitzpatrick (Head of the Board of Health) had been called and we had to leave. I asked why I had to leave- the ACO said "he took a picture". I said "but I'm not him". I was told that I had to leave anyway. 
We walked out and looked for signs that said NO PHOTOGRAPHY in the main room and outside of the shelter. There were none. As we exited onto Hoover Ave. a cop car with blazing lights pulled into Bukowski Drive.  It was followed by two more - I didn't stick around to see if they turned into Bukowski Drive- but assume they did. Wowee- 3 cop cars because we visited the shelter. Wonder what crime I committed? I guess it's now illegal to visit the shelter....

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Victorian Tea Time at Oakside

Many historically focussed Bloomfield Bicentennial events are on tap after Labor Day. The first is Sunday September 9th, 2 PM, at Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center 240 Belleville Avenue.

Finger sandwiches, scones, and cookies, an assortment of teas, and Docent led tours of the house will also be available. A cabaret performance by Corinna Sowers- Adler will cap the afternoon at 3:30 PM.
 Reservations are required and limited to 4 people per reservation Only 100 seats are available, so don’t wait too long! Call 973-429-0960 to save your spot.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bloomfield BOH Delays Final Decision on Memphis

I've been to meetings at the Civic Center on dozens of occasions but this one drew the biggest crowd yet.
Nearly 150 animal lovers came from all over NJ and beyond to plead the case for Memphis to be adopted by Jeff Coltenback.
Some drove for 2 hours and stood in the humid room for over 2 hours to make their feelings known. Jeff led the comments with a passionate plea to adopt Memphis. There were no microphones, so you could hear a pin drop as everyone strained to hear each speaker. Four cops were seen in both doorways presumably to defend the board members from the public. Among the speakers were
(photo), and Shelby Dwyer's best friend,  Joe Dwyer. Other than the 2 weekly papers and Baristanet, no other media were seen taking notes. I was one of the lucky few to get a seat so I waited until nearly all the standees had their turn:
I currently volunteer with Neighbor to Neighbor and consider it a wonderful program that many more towns should emulate. But an awful lot of the good that you've accomplished on the human side has been negated by your unforced errors on the animal side --- ironically because your people skills with your volunteers have been pathetic. 
My background has been in the media, but I don't think any media consultant would recommend your recent actions concerning volunteers an Memphis as a way to generate public support. In my humble opinion, you need mindful and DEDICATED volunteers more than you need mindlessly controllable volunteers. 
The Official Bukowski Shelter site follows your lead by censoring critical comments. It's not hard to see why the official Bukowski Shelter site has 641 followers while the uncensored "Save the Shelter" site -- which has become a refuge for exiled volunteers -- is now at 6,060. 
Here we are -- all pleading for the life a dog who is clearly obedient, loving, loved and well cared for by Jeff. This whole week long drama is totally unnecessary. Number 9 on your agenda? All these folks behind me have been standing for hours waiting your verdict. It's Loony Tunes! You're supposed to be a health panel, not a death panel. Vote for Life!