Monday, August 3, 2015

First Candidate Files for November Special Election for City Council

On November 3, 2015 there will be a special election to fill the vacancy on the Hackensack City Council created by the resignation of Rose Greenman.  A seat temporarily occupied by Jason Some who was appointed by the council in a "fair, open, and transparent" process.  

The first candidate for Council has formally announced their bid for the open seat.  Jason Nunnermacker, a frequent critic of the current administration filed his nomination petition for the election with more than two times the required signatures (189) to run.  



Jason has deep Hackensack roots.  He is a graduate of Hackensack High School, is a current Trustee of the Board of Education (a post he has held since 2012) and is the current President of the Board.  Jason also serves as a Trustee of the Hackensack Blue and Gold Scholarship Fund and a member of the Hackensack Troast Athletic Club.  

Jason feels that "a person should have a proven track record of dedication, talent, common sense and commitment to open, honest, and ethical government.  My service to the people of Hackensack demonstrates these qualities and is a record of which I am proud."  Jason went on that he is "a voice, not an echo," and is running to be an independent voice who is "not afraid to speak up and provide constructive criticism to point out errors and mistakes" on the Council.  Jason says that "during the past 2 years [he has] observed serious blunders made by this City Council."  Jason pledges to voters to "give the best of my ability to make it a better place to live, work, and raise our children."  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Two New Suits Hit Hackensack

The sitting City Council ran on a platform of change.  They promised to put an end to political cronyism, the lawsuits, and to curb our astronomical legal fees.  In their two years since taking office, they have failed in each of these three areas.

Two new suits have now been added to the ever growing list of employees claiming retaliation.

Sanitation Worker Files Suit for Civil Rights Violations


Since taking office on July 1, 2013, Councilman David Sims has allegedly been on a power trip and taken it upon himself to meddle in the affairs of the Department of Public Works and Sanitation.  Sims came under fire after allegedly proclaiming to a female police officer that he was the "head nigga," and for utilizing business cards and the title "Police Commissioner" which according to one resident is a chargeable offense.  Many members of the Sanitation and Department of Public Works have come forward asking for Councilman Sims to stop meddling in their affairs and harassing them.

On July 1st, Carl Magby, a sanitation worker filed suit against the City of Hackensack claiming a violation of his civil rights.  Magby alleges that despite his not being involved in politics, Sims has identified him as a supporter of a different political group and he has since been reassigned to a position which significantly reduces his ability to secure overtime and has adversely affected his compensation.

Councilman Battaglia's Wife Gets 21% Raise.  Coworkers File Suit


Councilman Battaglia's wife is a clerk in the violations bureau of the municipal court.  In August of 2013 Councilman Battaglia's wife was given a $10,000 raise and a promotion to "Deputy Court Administrator."  Her promotion was later rescinded, but her raise remained.   After hell was raised by residents, the raise was rescinded, to later be restored by City Manager David Troast.

Today, Mrs. Battaglia's seven coworkers have filed a suit alleging that they have been retaliated against by virtue of this raise.  The suit alleges that despite the position being governed by civil service, Mrs. Battaglia makes $13,000 per year more than a counterpart in her identical job with similar seniority.  The seven coworkers suing the City allege that by choosing not to be involved in local politics (unlike Battaglia) they were retaliated against by not being awarded erroneous raises like Battaglia.

So who do we thank? Battaglia or Troast? After all, Troast exclaimed at a meeting that he gave Battaglia back her raise on his own accord, and not because he was asked ,or told, to.  But something tells me this new lawsuit won't get him canned.  Nor will the medical center debacle.  One would think this dud who was out of work for over a year before being hired by this council has 9 lives. Truth of the matter he has 2 years of unlimited lives.  I guess having a council who can't admit to another hiring mistake and go on to a 5th City Manager in their third year in office is the best job security you can get....

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.