Monday, December 22, 2014

The End or the Beginning for Historic Preservation in Bloomfield?

This weekend, several of Bloomfield's most active Facebook pages lit up with the revelation that one of this town's oldest homes had been destroyed. Rich Rockwell, a  trustee of the Historical Society of Bloomfield, posted photos that elicited over 100 responses by shocked residents on several social media groups. Mayor Venezia noted that the action was done without notice or application for permits.

 The property at 43 Montgomery St.had been listed on the Multiple Listing Service earlier in the year for 250k, but attempts to show it to Bloomfield representatives interested in preserving it were discouraged. It was ultimately sold outside of the MLS for 212k.

Fines of $1,000/day are being assessed the new owner of the property, but the leveling if this potential landmark cannot be undone. However this was not the last potential landmark to be available for purchase and preservation. A much larger and better maintained historic home is still on the market in Brookdale. Located at 1694 Broad St., it is a stone's throw from the Clifton line which may explain why it was believed to have been occupied by such historic dynasties as the Van Houtens and Van Ripers.

Beginning in January, Bloomfield's Historic Review Board will have expanded powers to consider the landmarking of structures beyond the Historic District.. Residents who have visited historic homes such as Crane House in Montclair and Kingsland Manor in Nutley are well aware of the value of such homes as a hub for community education and pride,

It took the destruction of Penn Station in NYC to create a Landmarks Preservation Commission that ultimately kept Grand Central Station from the wrecking ball. Perhaps the outrage over 43 Montgomery will lead to more successful efforts in preserving and celebrating Bloomfield's history.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Watching Out for Your Neighborhood

At a recent town hall meeting hosted by our new Police Director which was taped by WBMA-TV, residents were given the opportunity to ask Director Sam DiMaio about changes planned for Bloomfield's Police Department. I asked him if any incidents from the department's weekly Police Blotter report were held back from the public, He stated that everything was included and revealed plans to add continuing comprehensive statistical updates to their public website in the near future(Many local stats can be found on the state police website. , but it requires scrolling through hundreds of NJ town stats.)

The issue of neighborhood watches was one of several issues raised by Maria Probst, Bloomfield Pulse Editor(photo). Since that initial meeting discussion threads on The Pulse and Citizens of Bloomfield Facebook groups have followed up on the idea by organizing several new neighborhood watch groups. Mike Lo has started a new Facebook crime watch group for the Halcyon Park area that is a good source of info for any interested neighborhood or block. Lo's FB site also has dates of many planned crimewatch meetings with the BPD throughout December.
A former lifelong resident,Vinnie Mossucco Esposito, posted this recollection of how neighborhood watches have worked in the past:
 " I lived in Bloomfield for 50+ years. In all those years we always had a neighborhood watch with a monthly meeting. We alternated homes for the monthly meetings. A PO would attend the monthly meetings. It was not only informative but it brought a sense of closeness and bonding between the neighbors. We all looked out for each other. The PO would ask us questions as we asked him many questions. He would advise us on safety, crime, do's and don't's along with giving us lessons in self defense. Our street was patrolled day and night. 
I'm a bit puzzled as to why some people seem to think this neighborhood watch is something new? Every town has a neighborhood watch. It's been in Blfd, like I said for over 50+ years I lived there. The biggest problem home owners and renters face is not having outside lights on from dusk to dawn. 
Also a (inside) light in your front window and never keep high bushes or trees covering your front windows. And never pull shades down, keeping your home in total darkness day and night. It appears you're not at home. Our street was lit up like Christmas all year round due to outdoor lights both front and back. And we knew every single neighbor and their kids. The best thing you can do instead of dividing the town between north/middle/south when it's ONE town only is get involved and make sure you become members of your neighborhood watch program and you'll begin to see more police patrolling your streets. Ban together instead of fighting which side of town is better then the other. It gets you no where fast!!! You're all ONE and ONE for ALL." 

Monday, October 27, 2014

On Overcoming What My Be the Last Hurdle to Scientific Glass Purchase

Our guest comments are by former BOE President Mary Shaunessy:
Great news about the Scientific Glass site in the mayor's announcement below, but we can't forget that the effort to save this, our last substantial piece of open space, was started in 2001 by a small group of determined citizens who formed the Third River Bank Association. Led with unwavering strength by now Councilman Nick Joanow, the group--dubbed "the river rats" and crackpots by its detractors, distributed thousands of pamplets, held multiple fundraisers to hire technical experts (this was crucial to our success), penned scores of letters and editorials, held informational seminars with environmental leaders from across the state, and took multiple trips to Trenton to plead the case in front of the DEP. (Please see link to the Third River Bank blog below, created and sustained by Susan Hebert and Geoff Gove). 

Other steadfast sources of inspiration and support: Senator Ronald Rice, who helped us when our local politicians ridiculed us, Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic and Greg Remaud, of New York/New Jersey Baykeepers, who not only lent moral support to keep us going, but provided financial and expert resources to acquire nearly six acres of land. Several of the BTRA founding members who worked so hard to keep the fight going have passed, notably Larry Kramer and Anne Delker. They would have been so proud to see the completion of their efforts, which finally came to fruition with a council majority who finally understood the importance of saving this environmentally sensitive land. A dozen or so really committed people with common dreams can make a difference. 
I'm encouraged to see other Bloomfield groups taking on the charge for other worthwhile causes. Herewith the old BTRA blog:

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Green Space for the Third Ward?

With the purchase of Heartbreakers, our new Mayor and Town Council have demonstrated a willingness to take dramatic steps to transform problematic properties into assets for this township.

It was followed soon after by a creative 30 year bond proposal to purchase the former Scientific Glass site for use as active and passive recreation space. Councilmen Lopez and Bernard justified their dissents on the Liongate site, in part, by comments that stoked up a south end vs north end debate on Facebook forums. Updated reports on contamination at Felton Field have also fueled the debates on the need for more usable open space in the Third Ward.

Most recently, Clinton residents of Watsessing Heights have begun a movement to turn a blighted property located off Clinton St. into potential green space. Tonight"s Town Council meeting has reportedly added the possibility of purchasing the site for discussion in Closed Session. Also on the town's wish list are historical landmarks that have recently come onto the residential real estate market such as this one on the Clifton border.,

Sunday, June 15, 2014


The best thing you can say about Heart-Breakers GoGo is that it has a catchy name and is centrally located.  It never had an especially great reputation -- even among strip club devotees. After years of late night disturbances. both inside and outside, the x-rated night club, the town recently shut down the club and sold off their liquor license. Now the council has decided to make sure another after hours club doesn't replace Heart-Breakers by buying the club outright.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Forum in Brookdale on Energy Aggregaation Issue

Energy Aggregation & What it Means for You
-- at Councilman Joanow's May Town Hall Meeting Wednesday May 21 at 7:30 PM in IHOP at 1129 Broad St. in Bloomfield

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Ins and Outs of Bloomfield's Facebook Groups

Bloomfield can now claim the distinction of having the most Facebook groups of any New Jersey town. Some are more active than others. "Closed"  groups require you to join them in order to read posts.

This is still a work in progress, so links need to be copied and pasted. Let us know of any we've left out.  Citizens of Bloomfield 1936 members 295  512 open closed  150 Halcyon 127 closed 4329
(Residents of Bloomfield NJ) 24 pba 5,098 nj chat 84 closed 112 closed 16 closed closed Save Bloomfield Now page HAAL page 769  257 page 1408 page 6908 1055

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Why Aggregation is Enticing to Some but Aggravating to Others

Most NJ homeowners have been subject to mail and phone campaigns offering alternative energy options to PSE&G. More recently, town officials have been getting similar offers, but not just for municipal energy sources. Changes in NJ regulatory laws now allow for towns to switch ALL homes to alternative systems unless they formally opt out.

 When a recent council meeting passed such a proposal with neither a discussion or dissenting votes, a few residents began their own discussion of the issue on Bloomfield's growing number of Facebook forums. While council members appeared confident the switch would resulting in a reduction of utility bills for both the town and it's individual residents,many had their doubts. No details had been presented except of the fact that they would only have a week to opt out once they were notified by mail.
According to reports in, that kind of reduction would lower the average NJ bill by about $9 a month for residential customers who buy their power from PSE&G, by $7 for JCP&L’s and $10 for those served by Rockland Electric.

In Essex County, West Orange and Montclair have jumped on the bandwagon. Montlair Deputy Mayor Bob Russo has been an advocate of community energy aggregation since he was first educated on the topic during a meeting of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors.

Many groups have questioned assurances of savings from such a switch and see a risk of possible rage increases. Among the larger towns to reject such a plan is Parsippany.

Monday's April conference meeting will be the first public presentation of the plan by Commercial Utility Consultants followed by questions and comments by residents. Because of an expected large public turnout concerning this issue -- among others -- the meeting has been moved to the larger council chambers in Town Hall. The Mayor has also announced that the final vote is being delayed until June.

UPDATE: Energy Aggregation & What it Means for You -- at Councilman Joanow's May Town Hall Meeting
Wednesday May 21 at 19:30
IHOP at 1129 Broad St. in Bloomfield, New Jersey

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Meeting Bloomfield's GOP Congressman at "Meet the Mayors"

Six local Chambers of Commerce joined the League of Women Voters of the Montclair area as hosts of the annual “Meet the Mayors” Breakfast from on Saturday, March 22 at the Crane’s Mill assisted living complex in West Caldwell Mayors were invited from 22 communities within Essex County as well as Little Falls and Clifton. About a dozen showed up including Bloomfield's new mayor who was invited to sit at the congressman's table.
Many were there to network with local political leaders and Chamber members. Essex County Executive Joe De Vincenzo gave some brief welcoming remarks before taking early leave to make 3 more previously scheduled campaign stops.

One of the event's many sponsors, PSE&G, made a brief statement reassuring everyone that there was nothing to be concerned about regarding it's local natural gas line expansion projects.

 U.S. Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen of NJ's 11th District was the keynote speaker and introduced himself to me the minute I entered the room.
Although he wouldn't commit to conducting a Town Hall meeting in Bloomfield.  he seemed to be considering the possibility.
Later on, he did not hesitate to speak his mind on a variety of subjects including the impact of The Affordable Care Act on New Jersey. While he has always opposed the legislation, he acknowledged that it has had 3 years to take root and cannot be repealed. Many local health care advocates were in attendance and addressed issues that could improve its effectiveness.

Among other topical issues he addressed were the Russian annexation of Ukraine and the National Security Agency(NSA). He responded to an attendee's question of concern for the NSA's surveillance expansion with a vigorous defense of it's role in defending the U/S. from terrorism.

 Congressman Frelinghuysen represents 54 municipalities, including communities in Morris, Sussex, Passaic and Essex Counties. He is serving his tenth term in Congress.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Public Safety vs The Public

It did not take long for the major local TV news media to react after Acting Police Behr made his dramatic attack on Bloomfield Councilman Carlos Bernard. The first was NBC News 4 who came to the next meeting to film segments and interview the opposing subjects.

A few days later, ABC News 7's leading investigative reporter, Sarah Wallace, ran several exclusives on the indictment of 3 BPD officers for assaulting a resident and covering up dashcam evidence that proved his innocence.

At Monday's council meeting, it was announced that Newark's newly retired Police chief was being hired to manage a major investigation of the BPD.

On Tuesday Eyewitness News7 ran an exclusive interview with the two newly cleared veterans and other officers who repeatedly zeroed in on Internal Affairs Detective Sergant John Seirchio for posting a "hit list" of officers he was focussing on.

On Ash Wednesday, Bloomfield Life filed one of many recaps of the events leading to Monday's Council Meeting. It referenced Sergant Seirchio's founding in 2013 of a lobbying group called Public Safety United.
".....In November of 2009, Mr. Sierchio was appointed by Governor Christopher Christie to serve on his transition team. He served as a member of Governor Christie’s Law and Public Safety subcommittee....." 
The above quote was from Seirchio's lengthy bio on the Public Safety United website. Seirchio's goals in founding the group are clearly stated to include: 
...Public Safety United will strive to improve the relationship and to share ideas between government leaders and its membership.
...Public Safety United will encourage, through the establishment of a voter data base, all of its members, their families and friends, to engage in the electoral process in all Local, County, State and Federal elections.
...Public Safety United will be a lobbying organization for all retired public safety officers in the State of New Jersey and throughout the United States of America and make its voice heard.
...Public Safety United will establish a Political Action Committee and Fund to help promote and finance the campaigns of candidates who support public safety and the issues.
While the group is open to all, memberships for Public Safety personnel is subsidized by higher rates for the public and $1,000 sponsorship status. Despite the sophisticated website. it's difficult to find any online news of their accomplishments. Yet with dozens of local sponsors and hundreds of members, the group seems to be one of the most profitable businesses in Bloomfield.

It may become even more profitable if it decides to sponsor lawsuits against our town.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Community Reacts to Friday's Newest Televised Scandal

WABC 7 broke the latest embarrassing  news during it's 5PM hour. Within hours hundreds more residents had seen the video link posted on all of our many Facebook forums. The sense of shock and outrage was felt by nearly everyone, Most residents have shared there reactions on the Citizens of Bloomfield Facebook page. Here's a selection of comments from Bloomfield's smaller forums that many may have missed:
What is going on in our town? Between the police department and the town council it sounds like Bloomfield is really falling apart. I saw on Eyewitness news about the cops that were arrested.
Jeanne Talamini DuChemin Internal Affairs needs a thorough cleaning out. And who was in charge at the time?? Chief Goul & Captain Behr.
Bill Sluk Makes me start to question Behr's claims about Bernard. How can we trust anyone in the BPD?
Maria Probst I think each situation is different Bill is just now everything is coming out...wonder if we will ever know the true story in what has transpired now or in the past...
Judy Cardona this video could be the reason the chief stepped down...U behr was put in his place u can't blame him when this happened BEFORE he was placed...this is an older case...

  • Susana Sotillo Unbelievable! Who can we trust in this town
  • Karen Banda No one it seems. What a freaking mess this place is. PD, HD, BoH...what the hell else? Where the hell are/were the mayor and council and the MANY TA's we've had? Our tax dollars at work at the local, state and federal level.

  • Donna Donofrio-Paterson Falsifying records SMH!!! This town disgusts me 
  • Brown Santa ABSOLUTELY SHAMEFUL!!! i hope he sues everyone involved; especially the prosecutors for their lack of due diligence!


Pat Ritchings   Unbelievable

Noreen Flaherty Reyes  Disgusted.

  • Ben Morse @#%!!
  • Peggy Jurow Holy smokes!
  • Bibi Zizic Bell Wow. Speechless.
  • Derrick Miller The Attorney Stephen Brown, is one of my clients and a close friend as well. I also have known one of the police officer, Orlando, since he joined the police force. Very disturbing to say the least for this to happen in Our town!!

  • Sandra Cummins I just saw this on the news! It's one embarrassment after another in Bloomfield lately. Not the town it used to be.
    Noreen Flaherty Reyes I also saw this earlier on the news. At a loss for words. I'm so glad for the dash cams in that this man could've faced prison time.
  • Pat Gilleran Checking on how long the 3 police have been working in our Township - Orlando Trinidad (also charged with assault) made $96,180 per year in 2012 as did Sean Courter who was also indicted.
    In 2012 the salary of a 5th year police officer and above was $89,749 so these officers have been around for a while. Will we see and Internal Affairs investigation into their cases to see if this has happened before?
  • Then there was this comment on ABC 7 reporter Sarah Wallace's Facebook page:
  • "Every time I do a story about evidence not being turned over to defense attorneys, it makes me furious. I hear it over and over. And this story also highlights why dashcams should be rolling in every police vehicle that makes a car stop. Last session, the New Jersey legislature passed a bill mandating them; Governor Christie vetoed it. It's been re-introduced. It protects everybody: both drivers and cops. No brainer."
  • Questions remain about the timing of the indictments that may never be answered:

  • Were they expedited by the new mayor who works full time for Essex County in Newark?
  • Were the revelations by Acting Chief Behr timed to rally police officers and put pressure on the council to appoint him before the indictments?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Vet-Gate Linked to Latest Corruption Mess

As we indicated in our latest post, Acting Chief of Police James Behr's challenge to Bloomfield's Town Council has had the side effect of dampening the feud between Bloomfield's two police unions: the Police Benevolent Association and the Fraternal Order of Police. While officers throughout NJ and beyond are urging their brethren to support Behr at Tuesday's Conference Meeting(now officially moved to the larger chamber in Town Hall), a local spokesman for the FOP is reminding their followers that the PBA dispute by veterans McCracken and Cartegena has not been forgotten:

"We hope that Bernard is disciplined and that Bloomfield also looks into who has let this behavior go on for so long and disciplines those individuals as well.
We're not sure why Behre continues to bring Cofone and Goul into the Behre/Bernard controversy. What's amusing is that we know for certain that the Bernard issue was going on while Goul was Chief and we were told he and Sierchio were well aware of it and let it go on.
We’re pretty sure that Ehrenburg "changed his mind" about Cofone about the time when both Cofone (1/17) and Sierchio (1/14) chose to make what we were told were staffing announcements with unauthorized FB posts (these posts are screen shot on our page, just go to the photos section to see them). Cofone’s post on FB prompted the Bloomfield PD to recirculate their social media policy that very same day (it was originally put in place in 2012, one would assume that these men in such positions of power would know their job’s policies and follow them- Sierchio’s latest violation of the policy happened this week). Cofone deleted his FB account shortly thereafter.
We are also pretty sure that according to policy, there will need to be a Chief’s test and normal procedure in place for Behre to actually be the official Chief of the Bloomfield PD.
We love how Behre says that “Goul had to leave because of political pressure.” Let’s remember that Goul was forced into retirement as was Sierchio (Mr. “Neutral Party”- ha!) because of the route they chose to take with the railroading of Hector and Michael. We cringe to think that Behre believed Goul and Sierchio acted accordingly with regard to Hector and Michael.
Personally, we think that both Sierchio and Goul should have been terminated vs. allowed to retire and collect their pensions (remember when they suspended Hector and Michael pending termination--- WITHOUT PAY? We do!).
We also feel that Bernard should be disciplined. There has been far too much corruption going on for far too long. And, don’t even get us started on Ehrenburg. He’s sat by and let too much go on for too long. Maybe Q1 will be a turning point for Bloomfield. We can only hope. Way too much to think about on a snowy Saturday. Tuesday's meeting will be interesting for sure."
Mayor Venezia appeared to be encouraging an even bigger turnout on Tuesday with his latest tweet:
  "... good results will come at tomorrow night council meeting, hope you can make to show support of Vets #BloomfieldNJ"

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Former Mayor Blasts New Mayor for Suspension of Police Chief

As Bloomfield braces for yet another blizzard, it was announced tonight that yet another police department head has been suspended from his job.  At Monday's town council meeting, acting Police Chief James Behr used the public comment period to publicly accuse 3rd Ward Councilman Carlos Bernard of attempting to trade several favors in order to insure the councils appointment as permanent chief.

The decision to place Behr on paid leave was made by a Township Administrator whose position is also considered shaky. TA Ted Ehrenburg is one of four to hold the post in about as many years.

The suspension was explained by Mayor Michael Venezia as due to "health concerns", but this was challenged by Behr who told the Star Ledger ...."instead of taking my concerns seriously and forward them to the Attorney General's Office, they relieve me of my duties."

Complicating the situation is the suspection that the Star Ledger was apparently tipped off by a Behr supporter, well in advance of the meeting, of his plan to speak. The state's largest daily newspaper has not covered a local council meeting in several years.

A few hours after the suspension announcement, former Mayor Raymond McCarthy took to Facebook to challenge the new mayor for sanctioning the TA's action. "....this reeks of the machine rejecting those who dare to differ with them."  He urged Bloomfield residents and police to "pack the Chambers" at next Tuesday's council meeting.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How Homebuyers Pick Bloomfield....

When moving to a new town, most homebuyers use the internet to check out the schools, taxes, parks, transportation, shopping, etc. On my own Real Estate office's website, it's pretty easy to pull up recent demographic information for any zip code. A screen shot of the basics can be seen below.

Drilling further down, many more detailed stats pop up. You can now also see an up to the month video update of any town's current Real Estate Market(click on graphics to enlarge):