Saturday, October 31, 2015

Council Candidate Receives Endorsement, or Does She?

Council-Candidate, though she hasn't gone to either candidates night and is absent from Council meetings to voice her concerns (other than to beat up our Police Department and to attempt to cripple our finances), Deborah Keeling-Geddis has received the endorsement of the Hackensack Education Association.  Or has she? I can't really figure it out....

Deborah Keeling-Geddis is featured in an article published on Bergen Dispatch for having received the endorsement of the Hackensack Education Association.  In the article, a quote is presented from HEA President Chris Ryan.  Ryan says, "The HEA is proud of Deborah Keeling Geddis' commitment to our community both in school and now with her candidacy to serve the entire Hackensack population. Few step up to such challenges, and we are happy to see one of our own offer herself as willing to take on the challenge of elected public office. We commend Debbie and wish her all the luck in her campaign."

The quote reads more like a non-committal kind word than an endorsement. Of the "endorsement," Chris Ryan, the HEA President said: "The HEA has a policy of not endorsing candidates for city office. Since Debbie is one of our members, we offered the statement applauding her efforts, expressing our pride that a member would want to be involved in serving the city, and encouraging any of our other members to serve if they hear the call. But that pride and that praise should not be considered an endorsement. However, we continue to be happy for Debbie, and we continue to applaud her efforts, as we do many others who are running for city office. It is true that that I made that statement for her, and I have made positive comments about Jason Nunnamaker as well. And I'm sure if I knew the other candidates well I would be complementing them too. But praise, while sometimes noteworthy, is not an endorsement." 

A request for comment from Keeling-Geddis also went un answered.  A link to the article has been removed from Keeling-Geddis' Facebook page and replaced with "I'm proud to have the support of my union, the Hackensack Education Association, behind me." I am still not seeing the statement of support, but maybe Keeling-Geddis does.  Well I commend all four candidates for getting involved in the political process and I wish them all the best of luck on Tuesday.  Did I just endorse everyone?

This wouldn't be the first time that Keeling-Geddis misunderstood or misrepresented facts.  Remember when she went to Trenton to try to stop the Finance Board from approving a bond ordinance and misrepresented facts about the police contract negotiations?

While the article that I believe misrepresents the HEA's statement has been removed from Keeling-Geddis' Facebook page, a poster "Sachem Oratam" has taken to Keeling-Geddis' page with their comments.  Sachem Oratam contends that the HEA does not issue endorsements and chastises Keeling-Geddis for misrepresenting the HEA's statement.  Sachem Oratam goes on to criticize Keeling-Geddis' affiliation with ousted members of the administration and questions her motives for running for office which Sachem feels are to further her agenda of politics, favors, and patronage jobs.  Needless to say these comments were removed from Facebook, but Hackensack Scoop has provided them below.  For more on Keeling-Geddis' past attempts at patronage jobs and how this bid is nothing more than a sour grapes attempt to regain a seat at the round table after being turned away by the Citizens for Change, click here. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Resident Cites Election Law Violation and Requests Investigation of Candidate Jason Some

A Hackensack resident who has requested to remain anonymous has filed a confidential request for an investigation with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC).

Jason Some, a candidate for the Hackensack City Council, has published campaign literature that according to the confidential report filed with the Commission violates NJSA 19:44A-22.3 which requires that all campaign literature clearly identifies the person or committe financing the campaign materials and literature.  While the offense carries a penalty of up to $6,000, a review of NJ ELEC final decisions shows that similar infractions have carried fines of a few hundred dollars.

Of the omission, Some states it was an "error" in the printing process.  Some contends that proofs of the material had the disclosure but the printed material did not.  It seems like a pass the buck excuse, so I can't help but say that Some's literature also lacks a Union Bug.  This is notable as Some is backed by the Citizens for Change (current administration) who have appointed Anthony Rottino and David Troast to the position of City Manager.  Both Rottino and Troast have taken a hard line stance in negotiating with our Collective Bargaining Units.  Perhaps Some, the Citizens for Change, and Troast will all take this campaign literature snafu as a lesson in the benefits of supporting union labor.

At a recent debate Some was critiqued for calling the Anderson Street area "blighted."  Some fired back stating that he never referred to the area as "blighted." The piece of literature, which Some has admitted to Hackensack Scoop lacks the required disclosures, calls for aggressive "development to other blighted areas in the City such as Anderson and Hudson streets."  Despite being superficially offended by being "accused" of calling areas of Hackensack blighted, in an email Some says "I did in fact use that term" and went on that "it is a common term used when discussing redevelopment."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Debate for Vacant Council Seat Held

This evening, a debate was hosted at Temple Beth El for the four candidates for a one unexpired term on the City Council.  The council seat was made available by Rose Greenman's resignation.  Candidate Jason Some was appointed to that seat in April of this year. The candidates had the opportunity to share their platform and discuss issues facing the City of Hackensack.

The candidates vying for the one council seat are:

  • Richard Cerbo, a life-long resident of the City of Hackensack and non-profit fundraiser.  
  • Debra Keeling-Geddis, a paraprofessional in the Hackensack Public Schools.  Debra Keeling-Geddis declined the invitation to the event electing not to attend and share her platform or position with voters.  
  • Jason Nunnermacker, a life-long resident of Hackensack, an attorney, and current President of the Board of Education. 
  • Jason Some, a life-long resident of the City of Hackensack, sales director of the local Some's Uniforms, and current appointed member of the City Council. 

Candidates were presented questions from the audience through the moderator, Larry Eisen.  
The topics discussed ranged from the candidates' qualifications, redevelopment, the controversial settlement agreement with the Hackensack University Medical Center, and relations between the City Council and Board of Education. 

Candidates Qualifications to Manage a Budget in Excess of $100 million
Richard Cerbo admits that he has no qualification to review, analyze, or approve a budget in excess of $100,000,000.  He believes that it would be his place to entrust qualified professionals to advise the Council and explain the budgeting needs of the City to him.  Jason Some relies on his experience in small business and agreed that qualified professionals are needed. Jason Nunnermacker is the only candidate who has experience managing a comparable budget as a member of the Board of Education.  Nunnermacker prides himself on the Board's ability to consistently pass budgets that were zero-based and within the State-mandated caps, unlike the current council.  

Scoop Declared Winner: Nunnermacker

Candidates Qualifications to Negotiate with Collective Bargaining Units 
Richard Cerbo took the position that the City should take a firmer stance with the Collective Bargaining Units and negotiate harder.  Given the give backs and concessions on health insurance and modest 1.5% annual raises under the current police contract, and modest raises in the fire department contract, and the controversy around the police negotiations, this may be a difficult pill for many to swallow--and frankly an unrealistic position.  Jason Nunnermacker was the only candidate with experience in Collective Bargaining Agreements and negotiations having sat on the Board of Education.  Nunnermacker and the Board of Education negotiates with four separate Collective Bargaining Units and handles employment issues with each of those unions every day.  

Scoop Declared Winner: Nunnermacker

Redevelopment and Tax Abatements 
Richard Cerbo sees tax abatements for redevelopment projects as the biggest issue plaguing the City. Cerbo sees the value of tax abatements to attract developers to revitalize Main Street and surrounding areas, but believes that the lavish twenty and thirty year tax abatements being handed out are shifting the burden of future tax increases to home owners.  

Jason Some sees tax abatements as absolutely necessary to attract developers and says that every hammer banging on a project on Main Street is a dollar sign of tax revenues.  

Jason Nunnermacker is a supporter of the redevelopment efforts.  Nunnermacker believes that the redevelopment should be expanded to areas like Anderson Street which is anchored by the NJ Transit train station.  Nunnermacker, however, is the only candidate who understands and articulates the long term effect on the City, and schools, of the tax abatements being offered to developers today.  As the City continues to attract development we create residents, children, and a greater demand for city services and seats in our overcrowded schools.  Where Nunnermacker faults the current council is with their lack of consideration of the mid and long term needs of the City that are created by development projects when granting extended tax abatements.

Scoop Declared Winner: Nunnermacker

Medical Waste Disposal Facility on Prospect Avenue
A resident posed a question regarding the proposed plan of a senior care facility on Prospect Avenue to neutralize medical waste on site.  Cerbo was unaware of the plan while Nunnermacker opposed the plan.  Some was well aware of the plan and cited his communication with the Freeholder John Felice to support the opposition of the facility and protect residents' interests.

Scoop Declared Winner: Some

Relations with Youth, Homeless, and Disadvantaged
Richard Cerbo wants to increase the use of crisis and help hotlines to address drug abuse and help those in need.  Jason Some cites his families mentoring and tutoring program helping the homeless to find and maintain employment as his commitment to the disadvantaged.  Some encouraged soliciting corporate support of the recreation programs to fund additional youth activities to keep the youth off the street.  Some also encouraged more police presence in youth programs to create a culture of trust and support between the police and children of the community. Nunnermacker cited his charitable work and commitment to doing what he can for those in need while seeking to work with the County to enhance programs that are available.  

Scoop Declared Winner: Some 

Hackensack University Medical Center Settlement Agreement 
This year, the City Council entered into a controversial settlement agreement with the Hackensack University Medical Center where the City surrendered long term revenues, the cost of ambulance services were passed on to residents, and several tax appeals were settled in favor of the hospital,  in exchange for a short term cash infusion into the City.  Emails made public reportedly show that the Council had not reviewed and understood critical parts of the agreement and when asked at a public meeting nobody on the council could identify the legal counsel who drafted or negotiated the multimillion dollar contract. Some declined to comment on the process but supports cash payments to the City.  Cerbo read about the agreement but did not know enough to comment on whether the deal was good for the City.  Nunnermacker has been a vocal opponent of the deal and believes that the City residents were sold short by a Council who was stampeded by the hospital. 

Scoop Declared Winner: Nunnermacker

Relations between City Council and Board of Education
Redevelopment projects undoubtedly put strain on our services and already over crowded schools.  The Board of Education has already entered into a $1,000,000 per year contract to rent the Padre Pio School due to overcrowding in the Hackensack Public Schools.  Tax abatements and redevelopment projects need input and consideration of not only the City but also the Board of Education.  Cerbo and Some both supported increased communication, while Nunnermacker demonstrated experience working with the City Council as a Board of Education member to bring about change and progress for the residents of the City.  Nunnermacker cited his work with Mayor John LaBrosse to bring recreational swim at the high school to residents, have city grounds used as playgrounds for special needs students, and bringing a youth police academy to Nellie K. Parker school.  

Scoop Declared Winner: Nunnermacker 

Hackensack Scoop Endorsement:
Jason Nunnermacker

VOTE: November 3, 2015