Wednesday, January 30, 2013
The Northern Valley Press and the Suburbanite are available free in newspaper boxes located at the southwest corner of Palisade Avenue and Summit Avenue, near the bus shelter.
The January 28, 2013 edition of the Northern Valley Press had a front page article on the emergency sirens.
The January 28, 2013 edition of the Northern Valley Press had a front page article on the emergency sirens.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Letters: Northern Valley, Jan. 17
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Northern Valley Suburbanite
Professionals reappointed 'triple dipping' reader says
To the Editor:
Englewood Cliffs' Democratic-controlled Council began a new year by reappointing three professionals who participated in the Democrats' vicious, win at all costs campaign and authorizing triple dipping for two employees. Unfortunately, taxpayer funded rewards for their supporters and intimidation of political opponents are business as usual with Englewood Cliffs' Democrats.
The three professionals who participated in the "Mayor's Newsletter" likely contributed to the destruction of democracy in Englewood Cliffs. Who will be willing to run against the Democrats if the price is vicious, unsubstantiated personal attacks and retaliation against their family? The borough attorney, tax appeal attorney and borough auditor indisputably benefit from uncontested elections. When Republicans controlled the Englewood Cliffs' Council, these three professionals were not reappointed. However, uncontested elections certainly aren't in the best interest of Englewood Cliffs.
The council also appointed Caterina Scancarella Planning Board secretary and Paul Duffy recreation director. Ms. Scancarella already works full time as Englewood Cliffs' Building Department assistant and part time as Englewood Cliffs' COAH Trust Fund Report preparer. The council did not say what hour Ms. Scancarella will work as Planning Board secretary . Will it be the same hours that she is working as Building Department assistant and COAH Trust Fund Report preparer? The council should rescind Ms. Scancarella's appointment as Planning Board secretary and hire someone else for that position. The borough recently advertised for someone to assist Ms. Scancarella with the Building Department's work. Adding another employee to the borough's payroll so that Ms. Scancarella can triple dip is irresponsible, particularly at a time when the mayor is claiming that Englewood Cliffs has a "major budget deficit."
Likewise, Paul Duffy already works full time as Englewood Cliffs' property tax clerk and part time as Englewood Cliffs' soccer coordinator. During what hours will Mr. Duffy be working as recreation director? Will it be the same hours he is working in the property tax office? Will he be receiving recreation related calls at the property tax office? Triple dipping by employees – in this case concurrently holding a full-time government job and two part-time government jobs – is not in Englewood Cliffs' best interests.
Now that election season is over and character assassination no longer benefits them, Englewood Cliffs' Democrats say they want to "play nice," "put…differences aside," and end political bickering. Expecting Englewood Cliffs' Republicans to remain silent in the interests of community harmony after attacking them from the dais throughout 2012 and running a campaign centered on vicious personal attacks is a textbook example of hypocrisy. The mayor and the Democratic members of Englewood Cliffs Council need to begin leading by example instead of asking residents to do as they say, not as they do.
Lauren J. Eastwood
Lawsuit filed over installing fire sirens in Englewood Cliffs
Thursday January 10, 2013, 11:00 AM
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS - After the borough council voted to lift the stop-work order on the replacement of fire sirens in the borough, Gerard Misk, a vocal opponent of the replacement, retaliated by filing a lawsuit against the installation, saying it violates the state's Noise Control Law and that the process to replace them was "tainted."
The re-installment locations are between Bayview Avenue and 9W and between Johnson Avenue and Sanford Drive.
Misk, who lives near the siren on Johnson Avenue, filed the suit Dec. 24, which claims the "tainted bid process" invalidates the borough's contract with Tactical Communications of Connecticut, which allegedly failed to provide necessary documents with its bid. The suit also said the borough improperly paid Tactical the full amount of $63,861, even though 15 percent, or about $10,000, should have been withheld until the sirens were installed and tested.
The suit also claims the new sirens on Johnson Avenue and Bayview Avenue would violate the state's Noise Control Act because they're within 250 feet of a playground and school. The old sirens, installed at least 40 years ago, were grandfathered in.
The borough hired fire siren expert Larry Robertson of Teaneck to advise the borough on the best locations for the sirens. He recommended the sirens stay where they are and said any other locations would shortchange the borough. Misk's lawsuit claims Robertson was never told he could consider rights-of-way along the road as potential sites.
Several other residents have come forward questioning the need for the sirens, saying they favored better technology and the fire department carries pagers, but Fire Chief George Drimones said they aren't as reliable as the sirens.
Many other residents approve of the decision to reinstall them and noted that residents weren't completely informed during recent Hurricane Sandy and could've used the sirens in that instance.
"We are replacing a system where it was that will also have a voice capability...we have gone four months without a full signal and we are suffering," resident Steven Rubinsky said.
In addition to alerting the department to a fire emergency, the new sirens would have a public address system that could broadcast messages in emergencies.
During the Dec. 12 meeting when the stop-work order was lifted Mayor Joseph Parisi said the sirens would improve the quality of life in the borough, especially during storms that might mirror Hurricane Sandy.
"We need to move forward and we could have used the siren during the storm," Parisi said. "In addition to that, we have a volunteer fire department that makes less than 400 calls a year and it will not be going off constantly."
Englewood Cliffs resident sues to stop new fire sirens
Monday, December 31, 2012 Last updated: Monday December 31, 2012, 5:12 PM
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS – A homeowner is suing to stop the borough from installing three new fire sirens, saying it violates the state’s Noise Control Law and that the process to replace them was “tainted.”
Gerard Misk, who lives near the siren on Johnson Avenue, filed the suit Dec. 24, less than two weeks after the Borough Council lifted a stop-work order allowing a contractor to finish installing the sirens.
Only one of the sirens, near Borough Hall, has been installed. The other sirens to be replaced are on Bayview Avenue and in Witte Field near Misk’s home.
Borough officials stopped the project after learning from Misk that crews were replacing the siren pole across from his Samford Avenue house. An investigation revealed that the bid for the project, awarded to Tactical Communications of Connecticut, was never advertised and that Police Chief Michael Cioffi signed the agreement, even though he doesn’t have the authority to sign municipal contracts.
Cioffi has declined to comment on the matter, but borough officials have said Cioffi apparently signed the contract at the direction of Susan Spohn, the borough administrator at the time, who died earlier this year.
Borough Attorney E. Carter Corriston told town officials the borough could not legally rescind the vendor's agreement because the vendor submitted it after legally receiving bid specifications. He also said the council had accepted the bid through a legally binding resolution.
But Misk’s lawsuit claims the “tainted bid process” invalidates the borough’s contract with Tactical, which allegedly failed to provide necessary documents with their bid. It also claims the borough improperly paid Tactical the full amount of $63,861, even though 15 percent, or about $10,000, should have been withheld until the sirens were installed and tested.
The suit also claims the new sirens on Johnson Avenue and Bayview Avenue would violate the state’s Noise Control Act because they’re within 250 feet of a playground and school. The old sirens, installed at least 40 years ago, were grandfathered in.
Misk, a New York City attorney and a member of the Englewood Cliffs Board of Education, said in the suit that the borough ignored provisions in an April 2011 resolution authorizing the new sirens be placed in non-residential areas.
The borough hired a consultant, Larry Robertson of Teaneck, to advise the borough on the best locations for the sirens. He recommended the sirens stay where they are. Misk’s lawsuit claims Robertson was never told he could consider rights-of-way along the road as potential sites.
The sirens, located in the northern, central and southern part of town, have alerted volunteer firefighters to report for duty. Some residents have questioned the need for sirens, saying they’ve been surpassed by better technology. The department's 38 volunteers all have pagers, but Fire Chief George Drimones said they aren't as reliable as the sirens.
Mayor Joseph Parisi did not want to comment on pending litigation, but pointed out other residents, including some of Misk’s neighbors, have had no problems with the sirens. Parisi said the new sirens would have a public address system that could broadcast messages in emergencies.
“We have every right to protect the town,” he said.
Letters: Northern Valley, Oct. 11
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Northern Valley Suburbanite
Red light cameras are an insult to citizens
To the Editor:
I have been a citizen, taxpayer and biker for over 50 years in Englewood, Tenafly and Cresskill, and have used the 9W/Sylvan Avenue intersection, probably more than 5,000 times. Fortunately, I have never encountered that plethora of automobile accidents that the mayor of that town now uses as "his" excuse for installing photo technology to keep the streets of Englewood Cliffs, safe.
If the statistics quoted in your newspaper are correct, that "67,000 vehicles enter and leave that intersection every day," with 360 days, that would be 24+ million cars each year. At the rate of 40 accidents/year, that is .000002 accidents per vehicle traveling through this intersection, easily making this the safest intersection on the planet!
Statistics aside, the town recently underwent a six-month upgrade of the intersection, which probably cost many thousands of dollars. If the politicians were so concerned with the safety problems, they could have installed better lighting, wider shoulders and maybe even a traffic light which would have instructed drivers in the art of proper turning "right on red."
If there was such a dire need to slow down or even stop those aggressive drivers causing all those accidents, then simply adjust the traffic lights, and install a $10 sign….no turn on red. Unfortunately, that would not have helped offset a community budget sorely in need of financial management. If only one percent of the drivers who encounter this intersection daily, fail to stop (based on a light influenced by two lanes of traffic movement), the town benefits by more than $23,000/day or $8 million/year, without ever needing the trained eye of a police officer….now that's efficiency, and the company in Arizona who makes the cameras, gets as much of the "booty" as the town.
I think it is insulting to the citizens of Englewood Cliffs and to the great corporate population of workers, who also pay taxes in this town. For this town's political leaders to hide behind the pretext of "safety" as the measuring stick for such greed, it only shows the limitations of their public management skills.
Ironically, there is sign on that corner, upgraded many times, but which says that this is the "Billion Dollar Mile" for the value of all the corporations on the road. Now the politicians have given the sign a new meaning….the billions of dollars they steal from those corporations and their own citizens, in the name of safety!
….and yes, I am a contributor to this bounty!
Englewood Cliffs stops work on fire sirens to review contract legality
Monday October 8, 2012, 6:23 PM
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS – Borough officials have halted work on a $63,000 upgrade of its three fire sirens while they try to determine if the contract, which was signed by the police chief, is legal.
The project, which Council President Joseph Favaro called “one screwed-up mess,” will be discussed at a public work session at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers in the police department, 10 Kahn Terrace.
The problems with the siren upgrade came to light this summer when Gerald Misk, who lives near the siren on Johnson Avenue and wanted the borough to relocate it, complained that crews were replacing, rather than removing, the siren pole across from his house.
“We were all shocked to find out” work had begun, Councilwoman Carrol McMorrow said Monday.
Technical Communications of Connecticut was the sole bidder on the project, and the council had awarded it the contract. But as far as anyone on the council could recall, no contract had ever been signed.
Mayor Joseph Parisi was particularly surprised because he has to sign all city contracts.
“I was left in the dark,” Parisi said.
Borough officials issued a stop-work order soon after receiving Misk’s complaint, and began investigating the contract. What they’ve been able to determine, according to Parisi and Favaro, is Police Chief Michael Cioffi signed the contract — even though he doesn’t have that authority — apparently at the direction of Susan Spohn, the borough administrator who died in March.
The contract, they said, seemed to have been written by the company, which has already been paid in full for the work. They also discovered the request for bids was never advertised and that the company learned about the request for bids from someone in Borough Hall. Favaro and Parisi didn’t know who tipped off the company.
“This never should’ve happened,” said Favaro, who served for years as the borough administrator and clerk. “Somehow, this company got a copy of the bid specs from someone.”
Former Borough Attorney Douglas Doyle could not be reached for comment Monday. Cioffi declined to comment on the situation on Monday, saying the matter is in the council’s hands.
Parisi said he didn’t ask why the contract hadn’t been brought to him sooner, saying he thought the administration was handling the details.
“I’m a part-time mayor; I have to rely on the professionals,” he said.
Borough Attorney E. Carter Corriston Sr. is looking into whether the project has to be rebid and if the city can ask for a refund. Favaro said that even if the process was improper and the borough decides to scrap the project, Englewood Cliffs may not be able to get its money back.
“We can’t hold the vendor liable because he did nothing wrong,” Favaro said.
The stop-work order has left Englewood Cliffs with just one working fire siren, near borough hall, to alert volunteer firefighters to report to duty. The two other sirens are on Bayview Avenue near the senior citizens center and in Woody Field off Johnson Avenue. All three were installed at least 40 years ago, Favaro said.
The department’s 38 volunteers now must rely on pagers, which Fire Chief George Drimones said aren’t as reliable as the sirens.
“Not everyone carries their pagers during the day,” he said. “”But they hear the siren and they come to the fire house.”
A consultant, Larry Robertson of Teaneck, has been hired for about $300 to advise the borough on the best locations for the sirens. His report, which Favaro said recommends the sirens stay where they are, will be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.
Drimones said the new sirens would be higher in the air and softer than the old sirens. Residents had complained the sirens were too loud and could damage children’s hearing because they were near a playground and school.
Drimones also said the new sirens also could act as a public address system, allowing the borough to alert residents to tornados and other emergencies.
But Misk, the resident whose complaint brought the contract irregularities to the council’s attention, said the borough should look at whether it needs the sirens anymore.
“With all the modern technology, you just don’t need it,” he said.
The Suburbanite: Red light cameras getting people for failing to make complete stop in Englewood Cliffs
Red light cameras getting people for failing to make complete stop in Englewood Cliffs
Thursday, September 27, 2012
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS — Red light cameras installed at the intersection of Palisade and Sylvan avenues continue to be a hot topic in Englewood Cliffs, with residents and even council members receiving tickets for not coming to a complete stop.
Police Chief Michael Cioffi stressed to residents and officials at the mayor and council meeting on Sept. 12 to come to a complete stop before turning on red, as many people have been performing rolling stops and receiving tickets.
"We looked a long time ago into the red light program to hopefully lessen accidents and lessen the injury and property damage that occurs with accidents," Cioffi said.
He said the borough did a 30-day trial and gave warnings that the test was occurring. As of May, the cameras became active and the police started to issue summonses to violators.
In June, the state Department of Transportation halted the use of all but 22 cameras in the state after determining that the yellow lights might not be giving drivers enough time to pass through the intersections.
After the DOT conducted speed surveys and ensured all cameras were in compliance with the law they restored the use of the cameras.
"Everything was proper, the engineer did their testing and we were cleared," Cioffi said.
He added the traffic department is behind on summons.
"We have 90 days to issue the summons; we are a bit backed up. The traffic office is reviewing the violations and if there is a violation they issue the tickets," Cioffi said.
The fine for running a red light at this intersection is $85. Of this amount, the state gets $11.50, The Red Flex Group, which the borough hired in March 2011, will get $38.50 and the borough gets $35.
The borough sent a letter to residents and businesses about the cameras, and put up signs and warnings in the newspapers about the cameras, Cioffi said.
"We put messages at each intersection to try to make people cautious and to be aware, and we might be putting them back out there again. We don't want to give out tickets to everyone," Cioffi said.
A survey from the DOT reported that approximately 66,976 vehicles enter the intersection everyday and there are 35-40 motor vehicle accidents at this location annually.
Cioffi said the accidents have slowed down a bit since the cameras were installed, but added it would take some time to see the real effects. He added the borough is looking into adding the cameras at Bayview Avenue to see if they might be useful, but he said they need the statistics to back this up.
One resident at the mayor and council meeting said sometimes when he does come to a full stop, the camera will still take a photo if he didn't stop directly on the line.
He also asked how much money the borough has made so far. Mayor Joseph Parisi said a lot of money has been made, but did not give a precise figure.
Another issue with the fines was that residents and non-residents cannot currently pay with a credit card.
Cioffi confirmed that the judge is requesting a credit card machine and added violators have been paying online and people can also come in and pay with checks.
"A lot of checks have been coming in," Cioffi said.