Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Misguided residents fire at City Council

In a shameless political ploy, misinformation has been doled out to residents and students in an effort to paint the city council as the big bad monster putting the Hackensack High School students in danger.

Fliers distributed at Hackensack High School
It is no secret that I have not agreed with many of the actions of this new council, but in demanding payment from the Board of Education for services they utilized--I am in full support.

There is a great deal of misinformation being disseminated and scare tactics being utilized to incite the masses.  A misinformed mob is a dangerous thing.  Let us review some of the facts.....

There has been no Student Resource Officer present at the Hackensack High School?

A Hackensack Police Officer has been assigned full time to the Hackensack High School since the opening of school.  In fact, Mr. LoIacono has demanded the same of Police Director Mordaga in a September internal memorandum.  Director Mordaga addressed the audience at this evenings meeting and assured students and their parents that the grounds are being routinely patrolled and a full time officer is assigned to the High School.

The Schools are being put at risk?

Publications, available online, by both the NASRO and DOJ both reiterate and show that effective policing of schools begin with the outside.  The first and most effective method of patrol, as reiterated by Director Mordaga, is the perimeter and grounds of the building.  This is currently being done, a Police Officer is assigned to the High School from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm with Youth Division Officers routinely visiting the school.

Information shared with The Scoop shows that the number of felony arrests (primarily drug related) have actually significantly increased this year.  The Scoop has been advised that in the first six weeks of the school year there have been more felony drug arrests than in entire individual school years past.

Residents weigh in

There was a mixed response from residents.  Many support the council in their effort to collect this debt as the tax payer is essentially being burdened with the entire cost of a resource the Board of Education is using.  There is a reason that they are separate entities with separate budgets.  One resident, Pedra DelVechio, attempted to compare this demand for payment to a demanding that the Board of Education pay the city for a response to a fire alarm in the schools.  Unfortunately, this is an apples and oranges comparison.  Is a Fire Official being assigned full time to the Hackensack Schools?  As Mayor LaBrosse pointed out, if that were the case the Fire Department would be contracting with the Board of Education the same as the Police Department did.

Candi Stuart pointed out that this is an item that was previously budgeted for within the Board of Education budget.  She indicated, and Mr. Salkin the Board Attorney agreed, that she had raised questions regarding these reimbursements as early as 2008.  If Ms. Stuart's astute recognition of a possible problem were not enough for an investigation, Deputy Mayor Canestrino explained how and why the Board of Education knew that this payment was due and ignored making it.  Canestrino explained that the Board of Education budgeted for the SRO in three years (before removing the item from their budget), yet at the end of the year when closing their books recognized these funds as a surplus rather than raising the question with the city.

Questions surface, why did the Board of Education stop paying?

The Board of Education, through attorney Richard Salkin, have made their position known that without an invoice they could not pay a bill.  However, we also now know that the Board of Education budgeted for the use of an SRO, knew the payment was due, and when no invoice was received they took the position they would not pay.  Resident Richard Gelber pointed out that Mr. Salkin was the City Attorney for over a decade before becoming the Board of Education attorney and having seen both sides of the deal, no one better than he should know what went wrong.  

A gentleman James Brady who found $850 on the street while homeless, and turned that money into the Police Department, was recognized at this meeting.  In her closing remarks Councilwoman Greenman reiterated how uplifting it was to hear Mr. Brady's story, she went on that here we are with a Board of Education having found money in their budget at the end of the year, knowing that they should have paid the money to the city, and stuffing the funds back into their pocket.  She placed the burden on Salkin's shoulders for which he erupted in outrage from the rear of council chambers. 

Unfortunately, the city council has become the sole blame of this issue in the eyes of the students and many residents.  I am left only to wonder why all of the upset students and residents are only concerned with why the city has not renewed a full time SRO.  Should they not be wondering why the Board of Education has stopped paying and refuses to pay the entire debt they owe the city?  I can only imagine the answer to this lies in where the misinformation and scare tactics are being disseminated.  Clearly this Zisa/Hurwitz controlled Board of Education has successfully spun their mismanagement into a misguided public safety concern.

Do not pass go.  Do not collect $1,000,000

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