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: