Wednesday, June 3, 2015

LOCAL BUSINESS PROMOTION: Guajillo Restaurant

Ever have a craving for good Mexican food?  Go beyond a plate of nachos or bowl of guacamole and enjoy true authentic, and delicious, Mexican fare at Guajillo Restaurant at 10 Sussex Street in Hackensack!

With generous serving sizes, and the most reasonable of prices, you can enjoy quite the feast!  Check out what we shared on our first visit, all for under $50!

We started out with Al Pastor (seasoned pork) and Fish tacos and an order of homemade Salsa, Guacamole, and chips.  Delicious and fresh are the only words to describe what was delivered to our table.






We went on to enjoy the "Fajitas Mix" which was a "sampler" and the Pollo Mole.  The Pollo Mole was a chicken cooked in Guajillo's signature "mole" sauce which is a combination of cloves, sesame, nutmeg.  The "Fajita Mix" included steak, chicken, shrimp, rice and beans, and a fried egg served over chips and salsa verde.  




We finished with an order of bread pudding which was prepared at the time of ordering, served hot, and complete with a sweet syrup and candied pecans.  I generally don't like sweets, but I will order this time and time again!


We have been back twice since and the food has consistently been fresh and delicious.  

Exclusive through HACKENSACK SCOOP, enjoy this 15% off coupon on your first visit for dinner to Guajillo Mexican Restaurant!  Just print this coupon, put your name on it, and present it at the time of order!



GUAJILLO RESTAURANT
10 SUSSEX STREET 
HACKENSACK
Open until 7:00 pm on Mondays, 8:00 pm Tuesday-Friday, and 9:00 pm on Saturdays






Tuesday, May 19, 2015

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Council Sells Out Residents to Mayor’s Employer, Resident Files Suit

Council remains silent as they are questioned by residents

In 2008, the City Council, under advice of special counsel Richard Salkin, Esq., entered into an agreement with the Hackensack University Medical Center regarding the development of certain properties owned by the hospital.  Under the agreement, HUMC paid $400,000 per year in rent, scheduled to rise to nearly $1,000,000 per year for a 50-year air right for a walk way constructed over Atlantic Street. 

According to Richard Salkin, who largely crafted the agreement, the formula for the annual rent was negotiated by HUMC and tied to the City’s tax rate, which has increased since 2008.  HUMC has seen larger than expected increases to their annual rent for these air rights, and came back to the city to renegotiate.  Using several tax appeals as leverage, HUMC (according to Salkin) “bullied” and “stampeded” the Council into renegotiating the deal out of fear. 

Under the new agreement with HUMC, the hospital will pay the City $4.5 million, they will drop their $3 million in tax appeals, their annual air space rent will be reduced to $200,000 for the remainder of the lease (with no annual increases), and the City will stop being billed for ambulance services (more on that below). 

A key, and very controversial, aspect of the 2008 agreement included the disbanding of Hackensack’s paid-EMS services.  Under the 2008 agreement, HUMC provides ambulance services to the City of Hackensack and bills the City for any fees above and beyond $140,000 (done at gratis) for service billings not collected from patients’ insurance companies.  In the past 8 years, this billings averaged between $15,000 and $20,000 per year.  

Under the new agreement, the City will not be billed for any services, instead all residents will be billed directly.  This represents an additional at least $160,000 in billings for the hospital on the backs of tax payers, all so that the City can save about $20,000 per year.   Despite the agreement being signed, and a resolution adopting it having been passed, the City Manager David Troast (presumably in a lame attempt at defending this terrible BLUNDER) has continued to assert the billing for services is still under negotiation.  Outraged residents countered the Council’s assertion the ambulance services were not openly discussed by pointing to emails circulated in November where HUMC clearly wrote of the ambulance service billing being done direct to residents.

Resident Jason Nunnermacker spoke at the council meeting this evening charging the council with negligence, laziness, and incompetence in their negotiation of this contract.  Nunnermacker pointed the Council’s attention to the fact that the resolution authorizing the agreement was passed in March, however a draft circulated in as early as December clearly reflected the removal of providing free services to residents.  Nunnermacker told HACKENSACK SCOOP, “Incompetence, neglect and laziness run rampant in this administration with the true victims being the City’s residents.  It is sad, and a shame.”

Today, Richard Salkin filed a complaint in lieu of prerogative writ seeking to have the new agreement thrown out by a judge.  Salkin asserts that there are conflicts of interest abound, and charges Mayor Labrosse with a history of flagrant disregard for ethics laws in his serving as Mayor of Hackensack. 

Labrosse, who works for HUMC (and was promoted from a Janitorial position to a white collar title “Safety Inspector” after obtaining the seat of Mayor), and whose wife is a Board of Education employee, has voted on at least two occasions on matters before the Council pertaining to the hospital and voted to approve an $800,000 settlement agreement with the Board of Education last year.  Salkin contends that Labrosse continues to disregard his ethical obligations in this deal with HUMC.  Labrosse was present for closed door negotiation discussions pertaining to the renegotiated deal, and according to the suit was “kept in the loop” on email exchanges post-deal as the Council scrambled to craft talking points around the deal when questioned on the blunders and give-aways to the hospital.

According to Salkin, this renegotiated deal is a $16,000,000 windfall for the medical center.  Salkin is seeking to have the renegotiated deal overturned by a judge for two reasons.  First, Mayor Labrosse’s involvement in confidential negotiation discussions, despite his employment with HUMC.  Second, the technicality that the council has sought to revise an ordinance passed in 2009 (the 2008 agreement) through a resolution, which he asserts is not proper under the law.   Salkin contends that this deal was so hastily negotiated and settled that the city attorney (who has no problem billing the City) only spent 24 minutes reviewing the contract.

When asked by Editor-in-Chief Steve Gelber of HACKENSACK SCOOP, no member of the council, City Attorney Tom Scrivo, and Chief Financial Officer Jim Mangin could not identify who represented the City’s interests as an attorney in the negotiation of this deal.  They pointed the finger at City Tax Assessor Art Karlsson.  When asked if any more than 24 minutes to review the final contract billed by Tom Scrivo was expended by attorneys assisting the City in negotiating this mammoth contract, there was absolute silence.  When Gelber elaborated asking if the City relied solely on our Tax Assessor to review legally binding documents and contracts, the silence continued. 

Salkin told HACKENSACK SCOOP, “The most generous way I can describe the Council’s performance in this matter is collective negligence.”  Salkin, of his suit stated, “I believe that someone has to at least try to stand up for the residents of Hackensack.  For those who are sick of hearing about litigation in Hackensack, I hope they understand that this type of litigation proceeding, challenging the action of a public entity does not seek money damages.  I am only trying to get this God-awful action of the City Council set aside by the court.” 


Jason Nunnermacker, of the suit, stated “I am thankful that Mr. Salkin is looking out for the best interests of the City’s residents, it’s shameful and alarming that this City Council has turned their backs on those they took an oath to serve.” 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Councilwoman Greenman Files Suit

Former Councilwoman Rose Greenman has filed a civil suit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Greeman is suing the City of Hackensack, Mayor John Labrosse, Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino, Richard Salkin, Art Koster, and Al Borelli in their individual and professional capacities.

Rose Greenman

In her complaint, Greenman alleges that she was discriminated against based upon her national origin, ethnicity, and Jewish faith, which led to her resignation from the council last month.

Despite Labrosse having led the ticket for the slate of candidates that swept into office in May of 2013, Greenman alleges that shortly after the election Labrosse told Greenman that he was “going to make [Plaintiff’s] life a living hell,” because she was “not a real Hackensackian, not a real American.” The claim is actually comical considering that Labrosse ran on the same slate as Greenman, in fact he led the ticket, just a few short months before the alleged comments were made.

Greenman goes on to state that Labrosse refused to allow a rabbi to be present at the swearing in ceremony because a rabbi would make the event “boring.” Greenman alleges that Labrosse has a dislike for members of the Jewish faith because he owned a fish market in Teaneck that failed as it was not kosher certified and the large Jewish population of Teaneck would therefore not shop at his establishment.

Greeman goes on to state that at a political function held at a church, Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino stated “the holy water will make you fizzle and melt into a puddle of scum.” On a separate event Canestrino allegedly criticized the display of Hanukkah decorations stating “who cares about Hanukkah anyway.”

Greenman goes on to accuse Canestrino of posing as an online forum poster “Ethel Rosenberg” and criticizing Greenman. Ethel Rosenberg was an infamous American-Jewish woman executed for conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union, “moreover, the online comment…questioned whether plaintiff was a ‘Manchurian candidate…’ planted…by the ‘KGB.”

Greenman accuses Canestrino and Labrosse of blocking Councilman David Sims (the second highest vote getter) from being Deputy Mayor due largely to his color. Greenman states that the pair repeatedly referred to Sims as “dumb” and “stupid” and stated they would rather have constituents (which she alleges they called “Niggers”) riot than name Sims the Deputy Mayor.

In August of 2014 the City Council passed a resolution ending the payment of health insurance benefits for council members and part-time workers. Greenman alleges that this was a retaliatory act for her attendance and vocal opposition of a bond ordinance (and bashing of the PBA) at a Department of Consumer Affairs hearing in Trenton. Greenman alleges that this was done to target her as she was the only member of the council affected by the decision as all other members of the council received tax payer funded insurance through their own employment, or their spouses’ employment at the city or board of education.

Greenman goes on to accuse Al Borelli of intimidation and improper use of city zoning laws to harass and intimidate her regarding her allegedly improper use of her apartment as a registered place of business. A violation cited by residents Richard Salkin and Jason Nunnermacker.

In an ironic twist of fate, Richard Salkin (who as a public official sued me for defamation) is named as a defendant and charged with defamation (by this public official) due to his comments calling Rose Greenman a “sociopath” and law breaker. In response, Salkin states “Rose Greenman’s lawsuit is beyond frivolous. I expect it will be dismissed in short order. As a taxpayer I can only hope that the City does not reward this nonsense with any kind of settlement.”

Requests for comment from Labrosse and Canestrino were unanswered.

Of the suit, resident Regina Dipasqua says “this complaint is the definition of frivolous…sanctions are in order for her and [her attorney] for wasting government resources on this.” Dipasqua says the case is full of he said-she said and “she has a real proof problem with these allegations.” Dipasqua went on that “I certainly hope nobody is going to consider settlement.”

Monday, April 20, 2015

LOCAL BUSINESS PROMOTION: The Artistic Giraffe

Painting parties, fundraisers, and night outs are becoming more and more popular.  This winter, I took my mother to a "paint night" at a local chain art studio.  Neither one of us had ever painted on a canvas before and we expected, well, not much for our artistic abilities.  We could not have had a better time and with the step-by-step instruction over a two hour paint class, our paintings actually looked quite good!

This past weekend, we went to a birthday party at The Artistic Giraffe, 193 1/2 Main Street.  The experience was completely different--better!  Needless to say, next time we paint again, it will be with The Artistic Giraffe!



At the chain art studios, classes are run as a step-by-step tutorial where the class paints the same picture.  It can be quite frustrating to stalk the schedule of the studio looking for a picture that you want to paint--too get sold out before you can register for a seat.  Not at The Artistic Giraffe!

At The Artistic Giraffe, everyone chooses their own painting.  There are hundreds available for you to choose from, or you can even bring your own picture or landscape to paint.  Stephanie O'Connor gives a quick crash course in drawing followed by a tutorial in painting and mixing colors.  Over the next two and a half hours, she somehow gives individual attention and assistance to every one of the class attendees.  It is truly amazing considering there were 48 people in attendance for our class!

And all this at almost half the price of the big chain competitors.  The standard class rate at The Artistic Giraffe is $25.  And you can bring your own food, beverages, etc.

We were a party of ten, and everyone had an amazing time.  If you are looking for a fundraiser idea, a fun night out, or even a new hobby, The Artistic Giraffe will not disappoint!










The Artistic Giraffe 
 193 1/2 Main Street 
Hackensack, New Jersey 07601 
Phone: 201 – 362 – 3462 
Email: TheArtisticGiraffe@gmail.com





Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hackensack Rotary holding annual raffle for scholarships!

The Hackensack Rotary Club is holding their annual raffle to benefit the High School Scholarship Fund.  Hackensack Rotary scholarships are made available to graduating seniors who are residents of Hackensack.  Last year, the Scholarship Fund awarded more than $21,000 in scholarships to local High School seniors.

Raffle tickets are $10 and can be purchased from any Hackensack Rotarian or by emailing hackrotarytix@gmail.com.  Each raffle ticket has six chances to win.  Drawings to win $200 will be held on April 23, May 7, May 14, May 21, and June 12.  On June 18th, a $1,000 winner will be drawn.



Monday, April 6, 2015

Councilman's spouse has rescinded raise restored

Sorry loyal readers, things have been a little hectic lately.  But your tips have all been logged, your gripes with the council duly noted, and HACKENSACK SCOOP is on it....



Remember that time that Anthony Rottino, Rose Greenman, and their minions fabricated that the Hackensack Police received a 22% increase?  Well don't count on it, cause it just ain't true (see: Hackensack Police got a 22% raise? Don't count on it!).  Maybe they were all just making a stink because they were a little upset that (in their eyes) the PBA got 1% more than Councilman Battaglia's wife.... Yes, a Councilman's wife was arbitrarily awarded a staggering 21% raise (a 21% raise that no one else in her department received)... Yes, again, you read that right, 21% (see: Councilman's wife receives 21% raise)!

After HACKENSACK SCOOP released that story, there was public outcry.  Former City Attorney and Municipal Prosecutor Richard Salkin dutifully led the crusade to reverse this outrageous, fiscally irresponsible, and arbitrary increase of salary.  For months Salkin came to every meeting demanding not only answers, but a recision of the raise.

The City finally relented, well kind of.  The city did not reverse the raise, instead they reduced Maria Helena Battaglia's salary by $4,000 (reducing her raise to 13%).  They also charged her back the prorated portion of $4,000 that she had already received.   Rather than admitting the raise was egregious, the City's position was that the salary for Battaglia's position was limited by ordinance, and the 21% raise pushed her salary beyond that cap.

Well, just as the smoke has settled and they thought no one was looking...... City Manager David Troast has authorized that Maria Helena Battaglia not only get back that $4,000, but is given a RETROACTIVE raise for the 2014 year.


While it is said that City Manager David Troast is advising all department heads to cut their budgets by 10% and rumors of layoffs and consolidations buzz the halls, he has authorized an arbitrary 21% raise (RETROACTIVE FOR A YEAR!) for a Councilman's wife!

Is Kathy "THE MONEY GIRL" Canestrino really watching the City pocketbook?  Certainly she can't know about this.  Right? Perhaps it slipped by because she was just too busy selling the city on why we need to spend $100,000 to LOOK INTO building "Estadio de Battaglia."  Yes, we are spending $100,000 to talk about building an indoor soccer stadium (sorry, multi-purpose dome--four council members, a city manager, clerk, and attorney couldn't come up with the term "recreation"when voting on the resolution).

If I didn't know any better, this looks like nothing more than insider politics (with $110,000 of your tax dollars) to win over an estranged political ally, and his once so loyal vote.....



MORE TO COME.....

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Local Resident Hosting Benefit for Parkinson's Research

When Christine Cavallo's mother, Grace Rose, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, it was an eye opening event for her family.  When Christine was later diagnosed herself, she started Team Rockin' Roses to raise funds for Parkinson's research through the Parkinson's Unity Walk.


On Friday, March 20, 2015, Christine will be hosting a fundraising event for her team, Rockin' Roses!  They are asking for your help to bring the world a step closer to being Parkinson's free! 

Whether you are a child, adult, a fitness enthusiast, a dancer, or just looking to help, there will be something for you at the Rockin' Roses Parkinson's Fundraiser.  There will be 1 hour of Zumba with Osydancing and partying with DJ Gigi, there will be video games for the kids, and plenty of food from around the world!  Consultants from Jamberry Nails, Touchstone Crystals, and Mary Kay will also be on site.

The fundraiser will be held this Friday, March 20th, from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm at the Knights of Columbus (105 Grove Avenue, Maywood). 

If you are unable to attend, but would still like to help, please visit the Rockin' Roses fundraising page for the Parkinson's Unity Walk!