Monday, May 27, 2013

Hackensack celebrates Memorial Day

This morning, Ernest Keahey (Past Exalted Ruler of the Hackensack Elks and Commander of the American Legion) served as the Master of Ceremony for the Annual Memorial Day Ceremony.  Father Laffler of St. Anthony's gave the invocation and benediction and Sgt. Jaclyn Richardson of the United States Army spoke.  Present were members of the community, city workers, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the incoming City Council.  Presentations were made by the members of Boy Scout Troop 5, the Hackensack Police Color Guard, the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the Hackensack Fire Department, the Hackensack Police PBA and FOP locals, and UNICO.

Ernest Keahey served as the Master of Ceremony

Father Laffler of St. Anthony's

Members of Hackensack Police and Fire

As we all enjoy Memorial Day grilling with our friends and family, let us not forget the meaning of this day.  Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, is a day of remembrance and serves to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.  Let us not forget our fallen heroes.  Please click here for a list of North Jersey's post 9/11 fallen heroes.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hackensack High School students attend leadership retreat

This past week was the annual Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) conference for Rotary District 7490.  RYLA is one of Rotary International's many service projects.  The RYLA program seeks to promote the ideals of Rotary International's motto "Service Above Self" while developing leadership, service ethics, and an appreciation of community in young people.

Every May, local Rotary Clubs from District 7490 (Bergen, Hudson and Passaic Counties) sponsor High School Juniors for this all-expense paid six-day conference focusing on leadership, team building, professional development, and community service ethics.  The conference was held at Indian Head Camp in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.

This year, 108 students were selected to attend including seven students from Hackensack High School.  The Hackensack Rotary Club sponsored three candidates for this scholarship opportunity.

The RYLA program is executed by college-aged students and young professionals ranging from 19 to 26, all of whom are alumni of the program.  The RYLA program for Rotary District 7490 has strong Hackensack roots boasting a number of former counselors, the program currently has three counselors who are HHS alumni including both of the program's facilitators--Katie Zoch and (myself) Steve Gelber.

Through the course of the week the RYLA candidates (RYLAteers) took part in team building exercises that challenged them to face their fears, break through barriers, build stronger teams, and ultimately bring their individual teams into a greater sense of community.

The RYLAteers also had the opportunity to hear from a diverse group of presenters.

Doug O'Brien, a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, gave RYLAteers the tools to reframe their state of mind and break through their fears.  As a metaphor, the RYLAteers faced their fears, written on one side of a wooden board, to break through to their goals and dreams, written on the other side.

The RYLAteers had the opportunity to hear from Jay Jay French, the founder, manager, and a guitarists for the chart-topping heavy metal rock band Twisted Sister.  Jay Jay had an open dialogue with the RYLAteers about his journey from a rebellious drug-abusing youth to a rock idol.  Jay Jay discussed Twisted Sister's subsequent break-up, his bankruptcy, and eventual resurgence--a true example of persistence overcoming resistance.

The RYLAteers also heard from a number of Rotarians and former RYLA Facilitators about the ideals of servant leadership, Rotary's avenues of service, and initiatives of both their local Rotary clubs and Rotary International.

For pictures and information about the week you can view the RYLA 7490 facebook page by clicking here.  For a slideshow of the week, please click here. You can also see the RYLAteer produced "Newsletter" by clicking here.

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 Amanda Missey @ phone: 201-489-9454 x 119 or email:

Friday, May 24, 2013


UPDATE: Ruben has moved to 4 Bergen Street, Hackensack!

A nice tobacco shop is hard to come by, Ruben's Smoke Stack in Hackensack (326 Main Street) is a true gem!  Whether you are a cigar aficionado, a new smoker, or looking for a gift, Ruben's is going to have what you are after in their 450+ square foot humidor.

UPDATE: Ruben's has moved to 4 Bergen Street, Hackensack, NJ

I have been coming to Ruben's since I first started enjoying cigars five years ago.  Ruben has cultivated a warm and friendly environment where you can relax and enjoy your cigar with the company of a magazine, a friendly conversation with familiar faces, or enjoy a movie on his flat screen (he always has a good flick playing).  You can even sit outside on Main Street and take in some sun in the spring and summer.

Ruben's is a true boutique tobacco shop.  He always has a rare and hard to come by cigar whether it be the coveted Opus X by Arturo Fuente or a hard to find Estate Sun Grown by Ashton.  He also has small boutique cigar lines that you may have never heard of, but will certainly enjoy!  

You will never have to be stuck in a smoking rut at Ruben's.  After a few visits to Ruben's, when I first started to enjoy cigars, Ruben said "Steve, I notice that you are always smoking either a Fuente Sun Grown or a Don Carlos, I want you to try this today and let me know how you like it." Just tell Ruben a cigar or two that you have had, and enjoyed, and he will point you in the direction of something tasty.

Ruben has great relations with his vendors.  He hosts special events featuring promotions by different lines regularly.  He has hosted events with major lines such as La Aurora, Joya De Nicaragua, Drew Estate, Tatuaje, and he has even had the Rocky Patel of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars present for an event in his Hackensack Shop.

Rocky Patel at The Stack
I give Ruben's Smoke Stack two thumbs way up high and I look forward to enjoying a nice smoke with you all at "The Stack."

Ruben's Smoke Stack 
4 Bergen Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601
(201) 498-0332
Facebook- watch out for upcoming events!

Ruben Abreu

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I am a frequent of Bocconi on Essex Street, for weeks I have been saying that I needed to try the new restaurant, The Fire Pit, that is right next door at 357 Essex Street.

Last week, I took my mother out for dinner and we stopped in for a quick bite, I am glad that we did.  I ordered a Chicken and Ribs combo, before my mother could place her order the waiter informed that the food was more than enough for two.  It sure was.  Though the amount of food in the order was not disclosed on the menu, the meal came with half a two pound chicken, eight pork ribs, french fries and rice.  It was a true delight, and only $15!

Unlike traditional American Barbecue that we are used to, the chicken and ribs were not greasy and doused in sauce.  This Portuguese barbecue was seasoned in dry rubs.  The meat fell off the bone, was tender, and a true delight.  For those of you that like the greasy sauce, have no fear, the barbecue and buffalo sauce were available at the table.  

The fries were fresh cut potato, not frozen, and fried in shortening not oil.  They were not greasy and were seasoned just right.  We were very surprised by the lack of grease and actually commented that it tasted almost as though the fries were baked.  

The only draw back--no cole slaw.  I would have loved a pulled pork sandwich but not without the slaw!

All in all, I give The Fire Pit two big thumbs up for a quick bite on the cheap, I will definitely go back! And they deliver too.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hackensack Fire Department rated as a class 1 department

VIA HFD Press Release:

Effective April 28, 2013, the Hackensack Fire Department has been upgraded to a Class 1 Fire Department by the Insurance Services Office (ISO). As a result of this achievement, the Hackensack Fire Department proudly joins an elite group of Class 1 fire departments. Of the more than 47,000 fire departments in the United States subject to the ISO survey, only 61 are rated as Class 1. In the state of New Jersey, Hackensack and Hoboken are the only Class 1 fire departments.

In the past year, Chief Freeman and other chief officers worked with members of the ISO gathering and reviewing the required information for the ISO rating. After the ISO’s data analysis was completed, Chief Freeman was notified by ISO of the department’s new rating of Class 1. This was a considerable upgrade from the department’s previous rating of class 3. Chief Freeman credits the department’s continued improvements in apparatus, training, equipment and communications to this superior ISO rating. He also credits the members of the Hackensack Fire Department for their hard work and dedication to the City Of Hackensack. Chief Freeman would like to thank the Mayor and Council as well as the City Manager for their continued support of the fire department.

It is important to note that the new ISO rating may improve insurance rates for residential, commercial, and industrial properties. Insurance companies often offer lower premiums in communities with better protection; therefore, residents, businesses, and industries should contact their current insurance provider to ascertain whether they qualify for a lower rate.

Through the Public Protection Classification (PPC™) program, ISO evaluates municipal fire-protection efforts in communities throughout the United States. Many communities use the PPC as a benchmark for measuring the effectiveness of their fire-protection services. The PPC program is also a tool that helps communities plan for improvements. A community's investment in fire mitigation is a proven and reliable predictor of future fire losses. ISO collects information on municipal fire-protection efforts in communities throughout the United States. In each of those communities, ISO analyzes the relevant data using a Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS), which is the guideline ISO uses in reviewing the fire-fighting capabilities of individual communities. The schedule measures the major elements of a community’s fire-suppression system and develops a numerical grading called a Public Protection Classification (PPC™). This is how (ISO) breaks down the percentages and determines the community’s rating. They then assign a Public Protection Classification from 1 to 10. Class 1 represents superior property fire protection, and Class 10 indicates that the area's fire-suppression program does not meet ISO’s minimum criteria.

Fire alarms- Ten percent of the overall grading is based on how well the fire department receives fire alarms and dispatches its fire-fighting resources. ISO field representatives evaluate the communications center, looking at the number of operators at the center; the telephone service, including the number of telephone lines coming into the center; and the listing of emergency numbers in the telephone book. Field representatives also look at the dispatch circuits and how the center notifies firefighters about the location of the emergency.

Fire companies- Fifty percent of the overall grading is based on the number of fire companies and the amount of water a community needs to fight a fire. ISO reviews the distribution of fire companies throughout the area and their response times. ISO also checks that the fire department tests its pumps regularly, tests its aerial ladders, and inventories each engine company’s nozzles, hoses, breathing apparatus, and other equipment. ISO also reviews the fire-company records to determine type and extent of training provided to fire-company personnel, number of people who participate in training & drills, firefighter response to emergencies, and maintenance and testing of the fire department’s equipment.

Water supply- Forty percent of the grading is based on the community’s water supply. This part of the survey focuses on whether the community has sufficient water supply for fire suppression beyond daily maximum consumption. ISO surveys all components of the water supply system, including pumps, storage, and filtration. To determine the rate of flow the water mains provide, evaluators from ISO observe fire-flow tests at representative locations in the community to determine the rate of flow the water mains provide. They also review the condition and maintenance of fire hydrants. Lastly, ISO counts the distribution of fire hydrants no more than 1,000 feet from the representative locations.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hackensack Rotary Club Provides Clean Water in the Dominican Republic

HACKENSACK – Hackensack Rotary Club has partnered with other clubs to provide 75 biosand water filters to needy families in the Dominican Republic.

Water is a main area of focus for Rotary International. The majority of people in the Dominican Republic do not have direct access to clean drinking water. Water is collected by hand from rivers, and illness is prevalent when consuming contaminated water. Rotary’s solution is to provide biosand water filters that use no electricity and require no maintenance. These filters are constructed on site and can provide 10 people with clean drinking water for 20 years.

For more information on the project, the biosand water filters, and how to participate, please see

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 Amanda Missey @ phone: 201-489-9454 x 119 or email:

A mother in the Dominican Republic takes clean drinking water from a biosand water filter donated by Hackensack Rotary Club.

Saturday, May 18, 2013



Anyone in the mood for some steak?  Head on down to Choripan Rodizio at 76 Main Street.  You will be greeted by a warm and friendly staff, and the smell of burning wood and roasting delicious fine Argentinian meat.  I visited Choripan shortly after their opening this winter, I keep coming back, and it keeps getting better!

Note- This restaurant is BYOB.  If heading down on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night call ahead and make a reservation!

I am not sure where to start, it is all so good, so let me just start at the appetizers.  You may want to order one of each, if you can, and call it a night....

The empenadas, are delicious.  The beef empanada is made with juicy sliced sirloin, not ground beef, and stuffed with egg and peas.  The "Caprese" empanada is a mozzarella cheese base with tomato and basil, fantastic.

The Matambre Arrollado, an "Argentinian style meat cut with filling" is a cold dish of stuffed meat.  The meat is stuffed with egg, peas, carrot and a breaded stuffing mix.  Served with potato salad, it is enough food for an entree, or at least a big lunch!

The Proveleta is a grilled provolone with ham, olive oil, and oregano.  The presentation is wonderful, it comes in it's own frying pan, and the taste, for you cheese lovers, is even better!

If we go off menu, I had the treat of a carrot salad on my last trip.  Pablo, the owner, said it was a new dish he was trying before introducing it to the menu.  In a lemon and olive oil base this was a real treat. Be sure to ask for it on your trip, if they have it available, it is quite a light and refreshing delight. 

Now, if you have room, on to the main course.  Don't be fooled by the name, Choripan Rodizio offers much more than the traditional "all you can eat" rodizio.  

The skirt steak is seasoned just right and grilled to perfection.  The meat is succulent and juicy, and the chimichurri (a parsley based meat dressing) is a wonderful complement.  Your entree comes with a generous portion of rice and beans, mashed potatoes, french fries, sweet potato fries, or one of a variety of salad choices.

Choripan offers more than meat.  If you are in the mood for something from the sea, the salmon is wood-grilled and served with a generous helping of spinach and mashed potatoes.  The spinach is truly prepared to perfection in light oil and garlic.

If you are in the mood for a tasting, you can get the Parrillada Mixta.  An order for one is more than enough for two to share, an order for two can feed the family.  This mix of Argentinian meats offers something for everyone including sirloin, skirt steak, short ribs, sausage, chicken, and more.  The presentation is unique as it will be prepared on your own coal burning hot plate, it also comes with a generous helping of sides.

Choripan Rodizio has me as a repeat customer, I will be back time and time again. 

Choripan Rodizio 
10 Sussex Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601

Friday, May 17, 2013

HFD honored by Bergen 200 club


On May 26, 2012, members of the Hackensack Fire Department responded to a fire at 265 Clinton Place.  Firefighters Darren Oddo, Ronald Hellpap, Michael Greco, & Jose Portacio removed a Teaneck Fire Captain who was injured, and trapped, when part of the rear roof of the structure suddenly collapsed.

On Thursday, May 16, 2013, the same members of the HFD received Meritorious Service Awards for their actions at the 265 Clinton Place fire from the Bergen County 200 Club.

Well done HFD!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: 2013 Hackensack Municipal Election Results

The voters have spoken, and it appears they want change. The Citizens for Change ticket has ousted the political machine and taken the city council in a historic CLEAN SWEEP!

The totals are:

John LaBrosse: 2,006
David Sims: 1,911
Kathy Canestrino: 1,908
Leo Battaglia: 1,804
Rose Greenman: 1,788
Jason Nunnermacker: 1,677
Joanne Mania Colon: 1,660
Joe Barreto: 1,656
Kenny Martin: 1,651
Scott Young: 1,631
Victor Sasson: 344

Citizens for Change supporters watching the numbers being tallied
The Coalition for Open Government campaign headquarters looked like a Funeral Parlor
I requested a quote from Lynne and Howie Hurwitz at the Coalition for Open Government headquarters but was met with a cold shoulder as she turned her head, closed her car window, and laid on her car horn (see below).

Though we do not yet know how things will shake out for the city, one thing is for certain--a lot of lawyers are probably going to be looking for work.....

Coalition to keep Zisa in power

First, let's just get this out of the way.  If anyone was wondering if Lynne Hurwitz was working for the Coalition for Open Government.  Head down to 316 State Street, she is at campaign headquarters.

Now, this evening I had the distinct pleasure of showing up to the polls shortly before former Mayor Jack Zisa.  As I came out of the polls and conversed with fellow voters about the issues plaguing our city (thanks for most of those issues, Zisa's), I found Jack Zisa offering some words of encouragement to candidates Nunnermacker and Young (who were also receiving pats on the back from Zisa backed candidates for BOE Albolino and Hoffman).

Shortly after my taking this picture, Jack Zisa approached me to tell me that he did not like having his picture taken.  I informed him that he was standing on a public street and that as such I was well within my rights to take his photograph and even to post it at my website  He agreed that I was within my rights.  I went on to apologize that my taking his photograph offended him.  He answered me by informing me that I was "rude" and "immature."  I told him that his opinion was noted and appreciated, as all opinions should be, however my opinions are just as valid and that I will continue to share them with the more than 450 unique visitors that come to my website every day.  I again apologized that my opinions and my taking his picture offends him, I provided my contact information and invited him to contact me directly should he ever wish to discuss anything I publish, I would be sure to consider "his side" as I write my stories. 

I would consider my words, my offering of my apology that my opinions offend him, and even my offering to have further dialogue regarding matters as gentlemanly gestures.  I then extended my hand, thanked Mr. Zisa for his opinions and wished him a good evening.  Mr. Zisa's response?  He left my hand extended and told me that he "had no reason to shake my hand."  Who is rude and immature now, Jack?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Call to post in the 2013 Hackensack Stakes, a preview of the field

In just 24 hours there will be eleven running in the 2013 Hackensack Stakes, it is time "The Scoop" gives a preview of the race.   Few sports fluctuate as much as politics, but the powerhouse Zisa Stables have dominated the Hackensack Stakes for decades.  This year however, the stakes--as they should be--are anyone's for the grabbing.  This year, we have just one who has won a stakes race, a few seasoned veterans who have always come up short, and even more first timers to the stakes.  With all the rain of the past few weeks it is sure to be a sloppy one, mud will be kicked up all over.  Let's take a look at the field....

John LaBrosse
Kathy Canestrino
Dave Sims
Rose Greenman
Leo Battaglia
Kenny Martin
Jason Nunnermaker
Joanne Mania Colon
Joseph Barreto
Scott Young
Victor Sasson

On line one we have the driving horse, John LaBrosse.  LaBrosse, is one of the crowd favorites.  It is hard to distinguish the grooms from LaBrosse's trainer, he is sometimes seen chasing after anyone holding the carrot.  So long as the bridle is in place, this one will perform.

On line two we have the dam, Kathy Canestrino.  She is well conditioned having been hot walked for the past four years.  She doesn't like the slop, we'll see if she can power through.

On line three we have Dave Sims.  A quiet one with a gentle nicker he slipped into the field during roundup, many are wondering how he made his way to the stakes.  He is saddled on the paddock and with a look of fury in his eyes he is ready to race, heck you can't win it if you ain't in it.

On line four we have the mare, Rose Greenman.  Having been held in the stables too long, she suffers quite a case of weaving.  We hope that she can maintain her lane through the duration of this race.

On line five we have the veteran of the field, Leo Battaglia.  Battaglia is no newcomer to stakes races having come up short in a few big ones.  Having suffered laminitis that many thought was the end of his racing career, there is rumor he is coming out of retirement to plug a hole in the field.  We will see if he has the stamina to make it to the 10th furlong of this race.

On line six we have the stallion, Kenny Martin.  Martin, a favorite since entering the stakes, has a controversial history having come under fire of late in a suspected case of doping.  The crowd was far from surprised as Martin's trainer, Zisa Stables, has been the subject of controversy for years.  [disclaimer for all you litigious folk: in this instance doping would be a satirical way of alleging an attempt to gain an illegal unfair advantage by removing lawn signs, not illicit drug use]

On line seven we have the get, Jason Nunnermacker.  Good bloodlines here but this horse is not it's sire.  Having won his first stakes race last year many suggest he may have ran too hard in his juvenile season.

On line eight we have Joanne Mania Colon.  With more than twenty years of training at the Zisa Stables, Joanne is an upper-level dressage competitor who is ready to show her stride in this, her first, stakes race.  

On line nine we have the show hack, Joseph Barreto.  Well disciplined and presentable, he is the product of good grooming.  After this race he'll certainly need a good grooming, we'll see how he fairs here in the slop.

On line ten we have Scott Young.  Young is suspected of suffering a case of stringhalt, despite concerns his master let him out of the stable, but not without ensuring a good branding so that even if he gets a little lost, someone can bring him back home.

On line eleven we have the bronc, Sasson.  The outlaw horse was a little sour as he was being saddled on the paddock.