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Archive for March, 2010

Happy Passover

Posted by edison1205 on March 29, 2010

No (or very little) blogging for the next 2 days as we travel and celebrate Passover with family.  But we’ll be back Wednesday evening the 31st as the school budget hearing gets underway at 7pm at JP Stevens High School.   Hope to see you there!

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New business administrator

Posted by edison1205 on March 26, 2010

The mayor has nominated Dennis Gonzalez as Edison’s new business administrator and the council confirmed him even before word of his nomination was widely known (although there has been speculation for a while).   While I have never met the man, I have to say that what I read about him gives me some concerns.

The Trenton papers call him “Gonzo,” and some of the comments on his tenure in this article raise concerns about “money wasted on court cases and charges against firefighters and police officers.”  It doesn’t bode well given all the litigation pending here.

Journalists have also observed that he had an “abrasive style” during his tenure in Trenton and council persons have commented on his “arrogance.”

According to the author of this site, Gonzalez threatened a citizen with a lawsuit “for asking questions about Trenton’s economic development activities, or lack thereof.”  Threats like that will not go over here very well, especially considering the outspokenness and litigiousness of the township’s residents and employees.

Finally, this post claims he often makes “disrespectful gestures” and “snicker[s]” during public council meetings.  It goes on to urge the Trenton City Council to show him the door.  In addition to Snickers, we have heard concerns about Milky Ways and 3 Musketeers as well.

All kidding aside, however, this process lacked the necessary transparency.

Anyone with a long career in government, as he has had, is sure to have made some enemies.  We aren’t knowledgeable enough about Trenton to know whether these allegations are legit, or simply exaggerations raised by political rivals or disgruntled citizens.

The mayor of Edison won her election nearly 4 1/2 months ago, and we are not going to fault her for taking time to select a candidate.  But having decided, it was wrong to not allow for a public vetting and airing of views about this nominee.

Gonzalez will be the chief operating officer of an organization still without a budget for this year, but with some $120 million a year in revenues and expenses.  That’s bad enough, but Ricigliano’s failure to allow more public scrutiny of this nomination was a big disappointment.

Let’s hope this lack of transparency is not repeated, and that Gonzalez’s attitude toward Edison taxpayers will be a positive one.

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Real bad school budget news (corrected)

Posted by edison1205 on March 25, 2010

(edited 3/27/10 to correct information about the affiliation of the bestedison.com website)

The HNT reports, “Edison school board looks at cutting nearly 170 jobs.”   More word will come at the budget hearing next Wednesday, the 31st, at JP Stevens school.

Candidate Veena Iyer has a website up at www.iyerforboe.com.  Anyone knowing of other candidate sites, please pass them along and I will post the links. 

Separately, another webpage endorsing Iyer and candidates Theresa Ward and Lori Bonderowitz has gone up at http://www.bestedison.com/.

As a reminder, next Tuesday the 30th is the last day to register to vote in the school election.  Click on the voter registration link on the right side of the page to get the free application, and exercise your civic duty!  Let’s shoot for some real impressive turnout numbers this time.  Let’s get real community involvement.  Enough with the teachers union vs. seniors dyamic for once!

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Poll results on Blue Laws

Posted by edison1205 on March 23, 2010

Admittedly, it’s an unscientific poll, but the respondents have voted decisively against Blue Laws (Sunday Closing Laws) in Middlesex County.  Of the 79 respondents, 11 (or 14%) voted in favor of blue laws, 66 (or 84 percent) voted against blue laws, and two respondents (4%) picked “other” and left comments, which I interpret as being in the “no” category.  In other words, responders to this poll reject blue laws by nearly an 8-1 margin.  I expected that the ‘no’ voters would win, but never imagined that it would be so lopsided.  Bergen County is clearly in a class of its own in its continued support of these measures there.

Thanks to all who posted thoughtful comments both here and on the nj.com/forum boards where we advertised the poll.

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Blue laws

Posted by edison1205 on March 20, 2010

In New Jersey, it is illegal to buy or sell a motor vehicle on Sunday.  In Bergen County, most retailing is forbidden on Sunday (restaurants, groceries and pharmacies are notable exceptions).

Middlesex County could have such a law if the voters approved it at a referendum. What do you think? Would you support or oppose such a law? Do you think it’s a good idea to have a day free from consumeristic pressure and traffic (much from out of town or from Staten Island)? Or do you prefer the convenience of satisfying your shopping whims whenever you want?

Please vote in the poll below.

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Edison to lose $3.4 million in state municipal aid

Posted by edison1205 on March 18, 2010

Continuing with its punitive measures against towns like Edison, the state government released figures this evening showing that Edison Township’s state aid for next fiscal year will be cut by $3,431,507, or 17.6 percent.  This is over and above the school aid cuts announced yesterday (see post below).

In the meantime, here we are, 2 1/2 months into the current year, and the Mayor, Business Administrator, and Council have yet to propose a budget for the full year, continuing instead to rely on temporary stop-gap resolutions.

In the face of nothing but punishment coming from Trenton, we need leadership locally.  We hope to see it soon.

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Edison to lose $9.7 million in state school aid

Posted by edison1205 on March 17, 2010

Breaking news: Edison is slated to lose $9,743,671 in state aid for its schools for the 2010-11 school year. That represents a 55.8 percent reduction from the current year’s funding level.

This is sure to raise our taxes, and devastate our schools’ educational achievements, unless our elected representatives are able to reverse these cuts.

Apparently, anyone who believed yesterday’s speech by the Governor that the cut was going to be five percent — has been deceived.

And anyone who believed Education Commissioner Bret Schundler’s statements back on Feb. 18 that the cut would be fifteen percent — has also been deceived.  No, it’s a 55.8 percent cut!  And this, in a town that supported Gov. Christie in the Nov. election by over 500 votes!

Well, it’s not as if this is the first time that Republican officeholders have been accused of deceiving the public.

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Yackel v. Choi dismissed; Davanne Realty affirmed.

Posted by edison1205 on March 17, 2010

Céad míle fáilte!

Edison’s taxpayers scored two big wins in the Courts this week:

Yackel v. Choi

Yesterday, federal judge Katherine Hayden dismissed the lawsuit by firefighter Peter Yackel, which claimed that he was wrongfully suspended from his job for his opposition to former Edison mayor Jun Choi.

The opinion can be read here.

The township’s taxpayers were represented by attorneys Eric Harrison and Louis Rainone.  Congratulations, gentlemen, on a job well done on behalf of the Edison taxpayers!

Davanne Realty v. Edison

Davanne Realty, owner of a commercial warehouse at 200 Raritan Center Parkway, claimed that state tax procedures that apply to them are an unconstitutional “fine, forfeiture or penalty.”  The appeals court rejected the appeal, finding that the procedures were reasonable.  Today, the State Supreme Court affirmed the appellate ruling.

Edison taxpayers were represented in this case by attorney Martin Allen, a partner of former township attorney Jeff Lehrer, who successfully fought the misguided efforts of this commercial landlord to reduce his tax bill.

Congratulations, Mr. Allen!

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BOE candidates

Posted by edison1205 on March 2, 2010

And the candidates for BOE are:

Lori Bonderowitz
Ralph Errico (incumbent)
Veena Iyer
Rosemary Meade (incumbent)
Susan Scerbo (incumbent)
John Szilagyi (withdrew)
Theresa E. Ward

Feedback/comments on these candidates is welcome below.

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