Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hackensack Rotary feeds more than 200 hungry in annual holiday luncheon

For over twenty years, Michele Hart-Loughin, Susin Christador, and John McCarthy have been feeding the hungry a holiday feast during the week between Christmas and New Years.

With the assistance of local charitable organizations, this event has continued to grow.  Today, more than 200 were provided with a hot meal.

Michele Hart-Loughin, Michael Loughlin, Susin Christador, and John McCarthy
Thanks to the annual event, many members of the community, who would otherwise go without, are given a hot meal.  Hats, scarves, and warm clothing are also distributed to those in need.  Many attendees stay for the entire two hour sitting to listen to the band, stay out of the cold, and simply to enjoy the company of others. To-go containers are also packaged for attendees.

For the past several years, the Hackensack Rotary has been the lead sponsor of this annual luncheon which is held at the Christ Church on State Street.  Organizing this annual event, however, is no small feat:
  • Judy Banes of the On Our Own Self Help Center (179 Main Street) spreads the word to those in need.  
  • Lou Knaub, a Teaneck Rotarian and Churchwarden for the Christ Church, arranges for the use of the church hall.  
  • Meals are provided by the Hackensack Rotary. 
  • The Hackensack Golf Club assisted with the donation of hams.  
  • Members of the Hackensack Rotary, their families, and many local volunteers serve meals.
  • More than a dozen local volunteers assemble, instruments in hand, to provide entertainment.  
  • Michele, Susin, and John prepare and coordinate the service of each meal.












Rotary is a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders. Members of Rotary clubs, known as Rotarians, provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.

There are 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world.

Anyone interested in joining is encouraged to contact Sharon Bregman @ sharonbregman@hotmail.com.

Friday, December 20, 2013

HFD supports YCS children with toy drive

VIA HFD:

On Tuesday, December 17, 2013, members of the Hackensack Fire Department IAFF locals 2081 & 3172 purchased gifts for 75 children, ranging in age from 3 months to 17 years.  They are all part of the Youth Consultation Services (YCS) of Bergen County which is located in Hackensack.  Most, if not all, of these children do not have parents and are all residents of a youth group home.

Members of the department wanted the children to be in the holiday spirit and were glad to assist (YCS) with this toy drive. "Without our drive, many of these kids would not have received presents for Christmas," said Roberto Burgos of IAFF local 2081, he went on that "the look on the kids faces when they received their gifts was priceless."

Photo credit: HFD Facebook page
YCS, a 501(C)3 organization, was founded in 1918 to help the women and children left alone and/or abandoned by the aftermath of World War I. Programs and services grew from this beginning and today YCS maintains programs throughout the state for children with special needs, from birth to 25 years of age. Programs include: educational, psycho-therapeutic and psychiatric services in home and in our residential facilities, crisis intervention, foster care and treatment home placements, as well as our newest in home and residential programs for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. If you, your company, or organization would like to make a donation to or get involved with the YCS Foundation you can contact Kathy Mongon at KMongon@ycs.org.

Monday, December 9, 2013

City Council executes shared services agreement, but did they understand it?

At the October 22, 2013 meeting of the City Council residents came by the dozens to plead with the Council regarding the placement of a Student Resource Officer at the high school, see Misguided residents fire at City Council.

The room was divided.  Many wanted to put the nearly $1,000,000 the Board of Education knowingly did not reimburse the City behind them and move forward.  Others wanted the Council to demand payment.  I for one gave this new Council their first thumbs up as they identified the problem and indicated that they were going to pursue reimbursement.  Unfortunately, I must withdraw my metaphorical tip of the hat (as seen in the video below from that meeting).


On November 25, 2013 the City Council voted to approve a shared services agreement agreeing to terms and conditions for the 2013-2014 school year and they reinstated a Student Resource Office in the Hackensack High School.

I addressed the Council in an effort to ensure they had not laid down on the nearly $1,000,000 in payments that the Board of Education knowingly did not pay to (or bring to the attention of) the City.  Mayor LaBrosse and City Manager LoIacono emphatically answered "no" when asked if the shared service agreement addressed the payments that were not made up to the 2013-2014 school year.


The agreement fully releases the BOE of any arrears billings

Mayor LaBrosse signed this agreement


My question was clear, as were the Mayor and City Manager's answers of "NO."  Given the answer received, and the lack of correction from the rest of the Council, I can only assume that the City Manager, Mayor, and Council did not understand the agreement as written.  What is even scarier is that the City Attorney did not step in and correct the Mayor or City Manager.

As before this meeting the City Council had already began to back pedal from their early position demanding payment, I had researched the remedies available to the residents and tax payers.  Under NJSA 2A:15-18 a resident has the right to bring an action on behalf of a municipality in the event the governing body fails to do so.  The City Council has not only (apparently unknowingly) walked away from a potential $1,000,000 reimbursement from the Board of Education but closed the door for any tax payer wishing to explore the potential of taking action.

Were they advised?  Did they understand?  There are too many big question marks left open for a group that is managing OUR $92 million budget.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Elks Host Annual Hoop Shoot

This Saturday, the Elks hosted their annual Hoop Shoot.  The Hoop Shoot, a free throw competition for children from ages 8-13, is one of the Elks' many programs designed for youth.  Students compete by age group and gender in a 25 basket free throw contest.  The boy and girl winners of each age group go on to district, state and national competition.

The Hoop Shoot National Finals are held annually in Springfield, Massachusetts, home of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  Finalists compete on the campus of Western New England University.  In the end, one boy and one girl from each age group will win a national title and have their names permanently inscribed at the Basketball Hall of Fame.









The Elks is a national service organization with a 140+ year history and nearly one million members in 2,000 lodges around the country. Local lodges invests in their communities through programs that help children grow up healthy and drug-free, by undertaking projects that address unmet needs, and by honoring the service and sacrifice of our veterans. The Order of Elks spends more than $80,000,000 per year in charitable programs. If you are interested in becoming an Elk you can contact the Hackensack Lodge at 201-487-0658.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hackensack Elks and Rotary team up to feed veteran families

"So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them."  This is the Elks National Veterans Service pledge, and it is something that has always stuck with Leonard Agrusti, an Elk and current Governor of Rotary District 7490 (Bergen, Hudson, and Passaic Counties).

Elks give generously of their time, energy, and resources to assist in veteran causes.  In each of the 172 VA Medical Centers nationwide, there is an Elks Committee at work.  Elks also run the Army of Hope which offers assistance to families of active duty servicemen, the adopt-a-veteran program, the veterans leather program, among others.  Click here to learn more about the Elks commitment to our veterans.

The Rotary Clubs of District 7490 have joined together to open the Rotary Military Family Assistance Center (Rotary MFAC), a regional food pantry to support the families of active duty reservists and military members, veterans with a medical discharge and the families of military personnel that lost their lives during active service.

In Governor Lenny's year serving, one of his major initiatives has been the opening of a veteran family food pantry in each county within the District.  With office space just secured in Paterson, and shelving units assembled, the Passaic County food pantry is nearly ready to be opened.  Hearing this news, the Hackensack Elks and Rotary teamed up to ensure that the shelves were stocked for families in need.  Both clubs donated the funds necessary to deliver a trailer full of food and stock the food pantry shelves.  Thanks to their efforts, food baskets will be delivered to many area veteran families in time for the holidays.

Anyone interested in donating to the veteran family food pantry can contact your local Rotary Club or  Steve Jarahian at svjarahian@aol.com for more information.



These recently assembled shelves are now filled for Veteran families

The Elks is a national service organization with a 140+ year history and nearly one million members in 2,000 lodges around the country. Local lodges invests in their communities through programs that help children grow up healthy and drug-free, by undertaking projects that address unmet needs, and by honoring the service and sacrifice of our veterans. The Order of Elks spends more than $80,000,000 per year in charitable programs. If you are interested in becoming an Elk you can contact the Hackensack Lodge at 201-487-0658.

Rotary is a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders. Members of Rotary clubs, known as Rotarians, provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. There are 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world.  Anyone interested in joining is encouraged to contact Club President Sharon Bregman: sharonbregman@hotmail.com.

PBA holding annual toy drive

The Hackensack PBA Local #9 is hosting their annual toy drive.  New, unwrapped, toys for children can be donated at headquarters (225 State Street).  Toys collected will benefit the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, New Hope, Shelter our Sisters, Tomorrow's Children, and the Wounded Warrior Project.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Elks play Secret Santa to the children of YCS

This year, the Hackensack Elks have played Secret Santa to many children of the Holley Child Care and Development Center in Hackensack.  The Holley Center is a long-term intensive residence of Youth Consultation Services (YCS) for 45 children between ages 6 and 13.  The Elks filled the Christmas lists of ten children and donated an additional fifteen gift certificates to Target for the children.

Popular gift requests included Skull Candy headphones, Bath and Body Works gift sets, Nike Snap Back hats, books, Nike Elite athletic socks, and drawing supplies.


Members Barbara Weronko and Steve Gelber wrap presents

YCS, a 501(C)3 organization, was founded in 1918 to help the women and children left alone and/or abandoned by the aftermath of World War I. Programs and services grew from this beginning and today YCS maintains programs throughout the state for children with special needs, from birth to 25 years of age. Programs include: educational, psycho-therapeutic and psychiatric services in home and in our residential facilities, crisis intervention, foster care and treatment home placements, as well as our newest in home and residential programs for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. If you, your company, or organization would like to make a donation to or get involved with the YCS Foundation you can contact Kathy Mongon at KMongon@ycs.org.

The Elks is a national service organization with a 140+ year history and nearly one million members in 2,000 lodges around the country. Local lodges invests in their communities through programs that help children grow up healthy and drug-free, by undertaking projects that address unmet needs, and by honoring the service and sacrifice of our veterans. The Order of Elks spends more than $80,000,000 per year in charitable programs. If you are interested in becoming an Elk you can contact the Hackensack Lodge at 201-487-0658.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hackensack and Teaneck rivals are hosted for annual luncheon by the Rotary

The Hackensack Comets and Teaneck Highwaymen are one of New Jersey's oldest rivalries.  The teams have played each other on Thanksgiving Day since 1931.  In their 81 meetings, the Comets have won 51 games, lost 26, and tied 4.

For nearly twenty five years the Hackensack and Teaneck Rotary Clubs have hosted a joint luncheon on the week of Thanksgiving for the captains of both school's football and cheerleading teams, their drum majors, and the captains of their color guards.  Administrators and coaches from both schools also attend.

Though the spirit of the luncheon celebrates a fierce rivalry, fellowship is promoted by the Rotary.  The coaches and administrators, many of whom played in the Thanksgiving Day rivalry game, offered memories and words of wisdom to the assembled student-athletes.  Dave Petrella the Hackensack Athletic Director is an alumni of HHS who played in this Thanksgiving Day rivalry.  Petrella remarked that no matter what championships your team may win, or records you may set, what you will always remember [and your relatives will always remind you of at Thanksgiving] is who won the Thanksgiving Day game.

The 2013 Thanksgiving Day game will be held at Teaneck High School (100 Elizabeth Avenue) at 10:30 am.




Thursday, November 21, 2013

More fringe benefits and jobs for political insiders

Rottino given unmarked city car, is an assistant next?


Citizens for Change political insider Anthony Rottino who was hired as the Director of Economic Redevelopment at a $130,000 salary (and brought the baggage of friends and fellow insiders) has been given additional fringe benefits.  Mr. Rottino now has been assigned an unmarked city car, and has requested that he be provided a full time assistant (see email excerpt below).  This $130,000 man appears to have been given the keys to the city.


A new city hire


Another insider to the Citizens for Change, William Russiello has landed a part time city job.


Russiello has been a longtime supporter of the Citizens for Change team.  In the 2009 election, Russiello donated $350 to the CFC (Canestrino and Labrosse were members of that slate).  The CFC team has yet to file their final 2013 election report.


Russiello has been hired as a part time property management inspector.  His position pays $15 per hour.  With all of the professional positions advertised and subsequently filled by this new council, I can only wonder why Mr. Russiello a practicing attorney is given what appears to be such a menial low level job.  Why would a practicing New Jersey attorney be accepting a $15 per hour part time position? Is this a pit stop?

According to Tammy Zucca, the city CFO, the council now has to approve all purchases made by city departments.


Are we in financial trouble?  Here we are with a council micromanaging the purchase of pencils and canceling the purchase of much needed police cars, but they are able to find the funds to create a new position and dole out political favors.  I wonder if Mr. Rottino's car assignment required as many initials as a city purchase order for pencils now does....



With all the political insiders continuing to be rewarded by this new council, I am left only to wonder if there should be a new sign at city hall.....


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hackensack Elks honor students of the month

Elks Lodges across the country honor outstanding young men and women for achievements in school and community life-fine arts, hobbies, athletics, church, school, club and community service, industry and farming.

This month the Hackensack Elks began a student of the month program honoring students from the 5ive/6ix School and Middle School.  Hackensack Elk Regina DiPasqua in cooperation with Hackensack Middle School Anti Bullying Specialist Heather Coleman formed a student selection committee in both schools.  These student committees nominated their peers and selected a male and female student of the month from each school.

This program is notable as youths are selected not by their teachers but by their peers for displaying leadership in both their schools and communities.  Congratulations to the following honorees:
 
5ive/6ix Female Student of the Month: Yasmeen Johnson
5ive/6ix Male Student of the Month: Carlos Sanchez
Middle School Female Student of the Month: Nasimeh Salem
Middle School Male Student of the Month: James Saleh
 
 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hackensack Rotary holds eyeglass drive

The Hackensack Rotary Club held an eyeglass collection drive today at their weekly meeting.  Club President, Sharon Bregman, was pleased to announce that 75 pairs of glasses were collected.  The eyeglasses were donated to The New Eyes for the Needy Organization and the Hackensack Lions Club.  Both organizations are dedicated to help provide better sight by distributing recycled glasses to those in need.

75 pairs of recycled eyeglasses were collected
For more information on these organizations, or to learn how you can donate your old eyeglasses, please visit their websites: New Eyes for the Needy  and Hackensack Lions.

The Hackensack Rotary Club also hosted District 7490 Governor Lenny Agrusti for his annual club visit today.  Governor Lenny had nothing but praise for the Hackensack club.  He noted their extensive work with military and homeless projects.

Governor Agrusti and Club President Sharon Bregman
Rotary is a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders.  Members of Rotary clubs, known as Rotarians, provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.  There are 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.  Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds.  The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world.  Anyone interested in joining is encouraged to contact Sharon Bregman via email at sharonbregman@hotmail.com.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Center for Food Action holding Thanksgiving Food Drive

The Center for Food Action is preparing to distribute Thanksgiving packages to over 3,000 Bergen County families in need and can definitely use any and all help.  Food donations, including grocery store gift cards, may be placed in the food collection bin inside the Hackensack Bank branch lobby at 9 Polifly Road.  For more information on the Center for Food Action and the vital work they do helping to combat hunger and homelessness, please visit their website.

Please make a donation of food for those less fortunate.  Donations will be collected through Wednesday, November 20th.

Bank of Hackensack
9 Polifly Road 
Hackensack, NJ 07601 
(Corner of Essex St. and Polifly Road, across from the Arena Diner)
201-457-0400 
Hours: Mon - Fri 9am- 5pm 
Saturday 9am-12pm 

A list of food items in need: 

  • 12-15 Lb Frozen Turkey* 
  • Bag of Carrots* 
  • Juices – Apple or Cranberry 
  • Canned Fruit 
  • Parmalat Milk 
  • Canned Vegetables & Yams 
  • Coffee and Tea 
  • Canned Gravy 
  • Sugar, Flour, Baking Mix 
  • Cranberry Sauce 
  • Mayonnaise 
  • Salad Dressing 
  • Nuts, Trail Mix, Raisins 
  • Pumpkin Pie Filling & Ready Pie Crust Rice
  • Stuffing 
  • Bag of Potatoes 
  • Bag of Apples 
  • Bag of Onions 
 *Please present these perishable items to a bank representative to ensure proper storage

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hackensack holds Veterans Day Ceremony


Today, the City of Hackensack hosted a Veterans Day Ceremony at the Court House Green to honor and recognize all past, retired and current military personnel who so proudly and courageously fought for our freedom.  Ernest Keahey, American Legion Commander and Chairman of Veterans Affairs for the Elks, served as the master of ceremony.  Father Brian Laffler of St. Anthony's offered the invocation and benediction.


Wreaths were presented by the Hackensack University Medical Center, City of Hackensack, UNICO, Elks, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, PBA, IAFF, and the American Legion.

The Hackensack Elks 
The Hackensack Rotary

The Hackensack Police Honor Guard

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Does Write Associates work for the City or the Citizens for Change?

I have written before on Thom "The Curmudgeon" Ammirato and his adept ability to win friends and influence people.  Actually, in his tenure he has been so friendly he has made his way into not one, not two, but three Scoops.  Well, we all know that Ammirato the Citizens for Change paid campaign strategist was hired as a political insider to serve as the city spokesman/public relations consultant.

The city put out a request for qualifications seeking a public relations consultant and received four replies.  You can review all four by clicking the links below.  Based on a review of these qualification statements, who would you have considered?  
Why should the city have even advertised or put out a request for qualification?  It doesn't look to me like the impressive, thorough, and go-getter qualification statement was what landed Ammirato the lucrative contract.  

Many cited possible conflicts of interest that could arise from Ammirato the "Citizens for Change Cheerleader" now serving as the city public relations consultant.  


It appears from the above screenshot of the Citizens for Change facebook page that Write Associates, based out of Caldwell, is managing the Citizens for Change POLITICAL ORGANIZATION facebook page.  Why has this page not been converted to the "Hackensack City Council" or "City of Hackensack" page?  

The election is over, it is time for the Citizens for Change to become the City Council and start working for all of the resident, tax payer, property owner, and business owners' interests.  But no, instead, the Citizens for Change continue to bash the former administration.  The last three posts by the Citizens for Change facebook page have been more focused on the Zisa's and the last administration than what the new council is doing!




Now I as a resident posted on the Citizens for Change facebook page asking why the page APPEARS to continue to be managed by Write Associates who is supposed to be representing the city and not a political slate of candidates' interests.  Rather than getting answers like other residents who asked questions, I was removed from the page and my write to post in the page has been revoked.  

We have already established that the Citizens for Change slate has not exactly turned out to be the end to back room deals and rewards to political insiders that we voted for, but are they First Amendment suppressers too?


Hackensack Elks take Boys and Girls Club to the Bronx Zoo

Thanks to the Elks National Foundation (ENF), funds are available for Elks to invest back into and build stronger communities.  Today, the Hackensack Elks hosted an educational trip to the Bronx Zoo for 25 youth from the Boys and Girls Club of Lodi in Hackensack.

The children not only spent the day at the zoo but also experienced a 90-minute guided tour of the "Congo Gorilla Rainforest." Five docents offering an interactive education experience to small groups led the tour. The children learned about the jungle habitat and got up close and personal with monkeys, okapis, red river hogs, Western lowland gorillas, and more.









Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hackensack Elks adopt the B Company of the 2-87, 3BCT, 10th Mountain Division

Thanks to the Elks National Foundation (ENF), funds are available for Elks to invest back into and build stronger communities.  With the support of ENF, the Hackensack Elks have adopted actively deployed servicemen in Afghanistan.

This evening Elks met and assembled care packages that will be shipped to Afghanistan tomorrow by the Adopt a Soldier Platoon (AASP).  The care packages will benefit the platoons of the B Company, 2-87, 3BCT, 10th MTN Division.  Some of the requested items by servicemen included Keurig Machines, Gillette Razors, snack foods, personal care products, and even cigars and chewing tobacco. 

The Hackensack Elks present their donation to the Troops to the Adopt a Soldier Platoon
AASP is a recognized 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to boosting the morale of our active servicemen, veterans, and their families. AASP makes several visits a year to deployed troops and provides individualized care packages. They currently support approximately 150 active units in Afghanistan and Kuwait. AASP boasts a 95.5% project expense ratio meaning that 95.5 cents of every $1 received goes directly to servicemen and women!