County News



By Walter Elliott

NEWARK - Authorities said that the trail of Marc Lamparello, who was arrested in New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral April 18 on suspicion of attempted arson, went through Newark and South Orange days and weeks earlier.

Lamparello, 37, of North Bergen, may be getting a mental examination in a New York City hospital while you read this. A New York County judge, in a 20-minute arraignment hearing April 24, had ordered the exam to see if he is mentally competent to stand trial.

Lamparello took part in Wednesday's hearing from his hospital room. He has been so confined since his April 18 arrest.

He may be taking a second video arraignment, set by the Essex County Prosecutor's Office for May 1, to answer to a defiant trespass charge at Newark's Sacred Heart Basilica.

New York State Prosecutors, citing two airline tickets to Rome found on Lamparello, further asked for his continued confinement as a flight risk. He is being held on $500,000 bail.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said that St. Patrick's security saw Lamparello walked into the cathedral, carrying a pair of two-gallon plastic jerry cans used for gasoline, at 7:55 p.m. that Wednesday. He was also carrying a bag holding two bottles of charcoal grill lighter fluid and a pair of igniters.

"As he enters the cathedral, he is approached by a security officer who asked him where he was going and they he couldn't proceed with those things," said Miller, a former local tv news reporter. "At that point, some gasoline had apparently spilled onto the floor."

Two NYPD counterterrorism officers were summoned while Lamparello walked back out St. Patrick's Fifth Avenue entrance. They caught up with him along East 50th Street.

"His basic story was that he was cutting through the cathedral to Madison Avenue and his car had ran out of gas," said Miller. "His answers were inconsistent and evasive. We took a look at the vehicle (a minivan parked by Fifth Avenue): it wasn't out of gas."

He was found with two tickets, worth $2,600, for a flight to Rome.

The NYPD and Archdiocese of New York's security were on heightened alert that night for two reasons.

The first was that many Christians were observing Easter Week there, Newark's Sacred Heart Basilica and most other houses of worship. The second was that the cause of Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral was still being determined. (A preliminary investigation, as of April 24, is indicating an electrical short in a renovation area led to the fire that seriously damaged the historic sanctuary.)

Miller said that NYPD detectives had been delving into Lamparello's past in an attempt to find a motive. That search led to an April 16 Newark Police report on him at the basilica.

Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, on April 19, said that his officers noticed Lamparello entering the basilica 10 p.m. April 16. He took off his hat, made a blessing and sat down in one of the front pews.

Officers, a priest and an assistant bishop told him that he would have to leave, since it was closing time. Even after the clerics' prayers and blessing, Lamparello refused to leave and eventually threw himself onto the floor. He was led out in handcuffs and also charged with resisting arrest and obstructing the administration of law.

Lamparello's New Jersey connections included a job at Seton Hall University. An SHU spokesman confirmed that he was an adjunct philosophy instructor in 2010 - and that he was not currently employed there.

"The Setonian" student newspaper said that he was to teach a class April 18 but cancelled by calling in sick.

Lamparello was supposedly pursuing a doctorate in philosophy. He had also been a part-time teacher at New York's Lehman College. He had been living with his parents in Hasbrouck Heights and had worshiped in an East Rutherford parish.


By Walter Elliott

IRVINGTON - Public buildings here and of Essex County have not waited for Lebby Jones' funeral announcement to start lowering their flags to half-staff since Jan. 9.

The township and county's mourning for the longtime educator, councilwoman and freeholder may last past her scheduled 11 a.m. Jan. 17 funeral at Jones' own Franklin St. John (s) United Methodist Church in Newark. County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo (D-Roseland), the Freeholders and public speakers may add to Jones' tributes at that night's freeholder's meeting at Newark's Hall of Records 7 p.m. that night.

News of Jones' absence, due to her battle against cancer, rippled through the Cong. Donald M. Payne, Sr. Essex County Technical High School auditorium in Newark just prior to the county's Board of Chosen Freeholders' 7 p.m. annual reorganization.

The news of the 75-year-old's Jan. 9 death still came as a shock.

"As a freeholder, councilwoman and educator, Lebby Janes had a legacy of public service and was dedicated to improving our residents' quality of life," Tweeted DiVincenzo. "With the late D. Bilal Beasley (1946-2014), she helped start the revival of Irvington and was a mentor for our next generation of leaders."

"Freeholder Lebby Jones was a dear friend and a community leader in her hometown of Irvington and throughout Essex County," Tweeted Gov. Phil Murphy (D-Rumson). "She set an example of what it means to serve the public with dignity and kindness."

"Lebby was a leader on our Board, in our communities and meant so much to everyone she touched," stated the Freeholders on their website. "Board and raised in the South, she settled in Essex County settled in Irvington and the community became her home."

Lebby C. Jones, who was born in South Carolina March 3, 1943, indeed came to Irvington by way of Newark. Jones added a master’s degree from the now-Kean University School of Counseling and Social Work to her social studies bachelor's degree from S.C.'s Clafin University. The elementary education certification holder also added doctorate credits in Education from Kean.

Jones served 33 years as a teacher and guidance counselor in the Newark Public Schools. The former American and Essex County Guidance Associations member doubled as a Newark Teachers Union shop steward.

Jones, who meanwhile joined Newark's Franklin St. John’s United Methodist Church, became a member - and later president of the Laventhal Avenue Block Association. The National Action Network Irvington Chapter founder also presided over the NAACP Irvington Branch and Irvington's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Committee.

Jones entered public life with a 1993-94 term on the Irvington Board of Education. She was first elected onto the Irvington Township Council as South Ward Councilwoman in 1994, starting a 20-year run as ward and at-large councilwoman.

"Local Talk" remembers L. Jones as a patient listener on the Township Council dais, fielding questions and/or complaints from parking to neighbor disputes. Most of her responses and/or referrals were plain and matter-of-fact.

Jones, at the urging of Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones, Jr. (D-East Orange), ran as an at-large freeholder in 2014. She was succeeding Beasley, himself an Irvington councilman and council president, as freeholder. She was "L. Jones" on roll call votes to distinguish herself from "S. (for Sandra) Jones."

A majority of county-wide voters selected Jones as freeholder in 2014 and re-elected her in 2017.

Jones' awards included those from the Irvington, East Orange and Orange Political Action Committees, Irvington Small Fry Determined to Achieve Parent Network, Greater Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Newark and the D. Bilal Beasley Civic Association for community service. Newark Board of Education also bestowed her a service award. Mayor Wayne Smith, Gov. James McGreevey (D-Woodbridge) and the Irvington High School Peer Leadership Program also bestowed honors on her.

Jones and county Democrats are to start finding a successor to Jones by holding their own convention on or before Feb. 14. A special election is to be held with the Nov. 5 General Election for her remaining 14 months' term.

"Whether she was sacrificing for freedom during the Civil Rights Movement, or championing the rights of people through her governance, she was a fighter," concluded Freeholder President Brendan Gill (D-Montclair). "The essence of her spirit will live in our hearts forever. We send our deepest condolences to her family."


By Walter Elliott

EAST ORANGE - "What a difference a year makes" may well apply in comparing Mayor Theodore "Ted" Green's part of this city's annual Jan. 1 Reorganization Meeting to his inauguration same time last year.

Pomp and circumstance followed Green and the City Council before a capacity Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts Auditorium Jan. 1, 2018. Green himself was being inaugurated as the city's 14th mayor since 1900.

"Green in '17" running mates Christopher D. James (First Ward), Romal Bullock (Second Ward), Bergson Leneus (Third Ward), Tyshammie Cooper (Fourth Ward) and Alicia Holman (Fifth Ward) were similarly sworn onto the City Council that day.

Green, for Jan. 1, 2019, sat among the City Hall Council Chamber Gallery front row, watching James be selected by his peers as Council President.

The mayor, sitting with his wife, also waited out the council's passage of 12 resolutions, including a temporary budget appropriation of the Calendar Year 2019 Municipal Budget and official newspaper designation ("Local Talk News," made its now annual designation.)

When James called for the mayor to make his annual remarks, Green, among applause from the capacity-gallery, simply walked up to the lectern on James' left.

"Our Municipal Clerk, Cynthia Brown, asked me if I wanted to be brought from my office upstairs," opened Green. "I said we don't have to do that; the council and I have been working so well together this last year."

East Orange's council is the one "Local Talk" town which stands on the formality of inviting the mayor into their chamber. It is among other municipalities worldwide that follow a separation of powers' practice to when England's Parliament was created in 1801.

East Orange and Maplewood are also two "Local Talk" towns which inaugurate or reorganize at Noon, Jan. 1. State law grants leeway to towns who want to change hands up to Jan. 7.

Green soon launched into an assessment of 2018's performance and what he sees in store for the city in 2019.

Green's administration and council's 2018 drive towards "One City, One Community, One Goal = Progress" felt like a racing driver's first lap of his or her Indianapolis 500 qualifying run. That first lap is like a shakedown run of the equipment and of the course - but it, like the next three laps, count towards making the field or grade for history.

"Local Talk" had noticed the infrequent procedural gaffes that were corrected. There were also noticeable council and administrative changes. Green, working in "measure twice, cut once" mode, took his time last year in filling some key directorships.

James first received the council presidency when Romal Bullock resigned last summer to become the city's tax assessor. Christopher Awe was appointed to Bullock's Second Ward council seat.

Jan. 1 was the second council meeting for Tamekia Garrett-Ward. The former Mildred Barry Garvin School principal was appointed Dec. 17 to Cooper's seat when the latter was elected to the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders Nov. 6.

"East Orange is returning as a destination place in the crossroads of New Jersey," said Green. "More people are coming to City Hall, wanting to develop or do business here."

Green said that other towns "now want to partner with our water department" before hailing Public Works Director/Acting East Orange Water Commission Executive Director Christopher Coke. Coke would be one of several dozen directors, commissioners and board members asked by the mayor to take a bow.

Green, after noting the joint East Orange/Newark/Bloomfield border police patrols, also had newly appointed Acting Public Safety Director Domingos Saldida and Chief of Police Phyllis Bindi to receive applause.

"The golf course had a $1 million year in revenue," continued the mayor. "People are coming from all over for memberships."

Green more than received applause for his address. State 34th District Assembly members Tom Giblin (D-Montclair) and Britnee Timberlake (D-East Orange) also bestowed praise.

"I've seen Ted Green work his way up the ranks," said Giblin. "I can tell you that your name, when mentioned in Trenton, is respected."

"East Orange's name is also well regarded," added Timberlake. "You have Sheila Oliver as Lt. Governor and Ty Cooper on the Freeholder board. Then you have LeRoy Jones, Jr., the best Democratic party committee organizer in the state."

"One of the things we had to do was to do more with less," Green later told "Local Talk" on what he had learned on his first year as mayor. "We have several people multitasking. It's important that we have everyone working together."

Garrett-Ward's council comments also stood out. The city's latest councilwoman referenced Kwanzaa’s principals of Umoja, for Unity, and Imani, for Faith, for her guidance.

"By Umoja, we are a village raising children," she said. "Without Imani - in God, in the community and in myself - I cannot do anything."

DeLuca Gives His Final Maplewood Mayoral Address.

Victor DeLuca and Frank McGehee were sworn into their respective 12th and second year as Township Mayor and Deputy Mayor Tuesday. DeLuca, however, made good his Dec. 18 promise that this year will be his last as mayor by delivering his final State of the Township Address.

DeLuca, in his 11-point speech, announced that several township offices have been merged into two "super departments." The Department of Community Development puts "building, code enforcement, economic development and zoning under one tent." The Department of Community Services "places cultural affairs, the health department, the pool, recreation, senior services and the welfare office under one roof to foster synergy."

The mayor appraised progress in community-police relations, including the establishment of a first-of-its-kind-in-the-state Community Board on Police.  Adding, "but we definitely have more to do in rebuild trust between police and the community," DeLuca announced a Jan. 14 community forum on "The Force Report" that ranked the MPD as using the most force in the state.

Negotiations between Maplewood and South Orange over a consolidated fire department, anticipating a state $217 million bond issue for the Maplewood Main Library's "Library for the 21st Century," and working with state officials for an affordable senior housing plan were among the mayor's coming attractions points.




By Dhiren Shah

East Orange Mayor Ted Green and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka joined hands and signed a memorandum of understanding between their two cities. Now, Newark and East Orange will police officers ride together to protect its borders.

Mayor Green said, “We know where the major crimes are. The city of East Orange is committed to working day and night along with Newark to make sure that our resources work together to drive crime out of both cities. In the city of East Orange, we are driving to charge that we are one city, one community, we have one goal and that equals progress. This new partnership is really progress.”

Green thanked East Orange Liaison Jose Cordero and Police Chief Phyllis Bindi, with law officers stating that they are doing a great job. He added that they are trying to make East Orange a safe place for residents, business owners, and visitors, and this partnership will send a strong message to criminals.

Mayor Baraka said, “Thankfully, Newark opened up two additional precincts, the 6th and 7th precinct for services to different parts of our community, the West Ward, North Ward border line. Both precincts border East Orange. (By this partnership) our criminals no longer break the law, or do whatever they want to do. We have the ability to move from city to city. We will use our resources and our services combined.”

Anthony Ambrose, Newark Public Safety Director, said, “We share our information 24-7.”

Jose Cordero, Liaison to the East Orange Police, said, “You know that by acting together by interjurisdiction bases, the East Orange and Newark police departments send a clear message that we have the means to identify and stop criminals coming in and commit violent crime.”

Cordero said that the East Orange Police Department took a survey of over 1,400 residents and 68% agreed on the police presence in the city. 92% feel safe walking during the day time and 74% are walking safe at night. He also said that the accomplishments are not done, it’s just started.

Several years ago, former Newark Mayor Sharpe James came to East Orange council chambers and announced a similar partnership with former East Orange Mayor Robert Bowser. In response to my question about their border patrol agreement, Mayor Baraka said that he had no idea about that agreement. However, Baraka said that this agreement has no time limit. Also, Baraka said that back then they did not have the latest technology, whereas now they do to bring crime down.

The purpose of the partnership is definitely good.


TRENTON - On Sept. 6, New Jersey Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake announced she has sponsored crucial legislation aimed at ensuring people wishing to buy back their home from foreclosure or are purchasing a foreclosed home to live in can compete with investors.

The bill, numbered A4412, is another effort by Assemblywoman Timberlake to combat New Jersey’s foreclosure crisis and provide equitable housing to New Jersey residents. “There is a massive amount of community wealth lost to investors with deep pockets of cash at foreclosure auctions. With this foreclosure sales bill, those who want to actually live in the community as owner-occupants can now fairly compete,” says Assemblywoman Timberlake. 

“This bill levels the playing field for those seeking to live in the property by setting realistic down payment and full payment timeframes, which better enables financing options for those proving intent to purchase the home as their primary residence or to save the home they already live in.”

Specifically, bill A4412 would revise procedures for sheriff’s sales before and after residential foreclosure, lowering buyers’ required deposit to 3.5 percent from 20 percent, in line with down payment standards for FHA and many conventional mortgages. The bill requires the bidder to have a pre-approval from a NJHMFA approved lender and must prove intent to use the property as a primary residence. It also includes steep fines for those who seek to exploit the law by using the lower down payment amount and financing timeframe options for property flipping or other purposes other than owner occupancy.

“My constituents sent me to Trenton to be an advocate for New Jersey’s families, and this bill reflects the best interests of all our communities,” said Assemblywoman Timberlake. “Ensuring fair and attainable housing for everyone in New Jersey is a principle that every legislator should support.”

Assemblywoman Timberlake introduced bill A4412 on August 28 at the General Assembly meeting. The General Assembly resumes voting sessions on September 13.


By Walter Elliott

EAST ORANGE / NEWARK - What and who benefits from the Aug. 10 East Orange Water Commission's settlement of a seven-year-old lawsuit with the City of Newark over sewer charges may depend on which side one listens to.

The settlement, which first appeared on a City of Newark website page early Friday, ends Newark's claims that the EOWC had short changed them on transporting the latter's wastewater or sewerage through Newark's mains to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission's Newark Bay treatment plant.

Newark, since a 1919 agreement with the commission, had not charged for maintaining or repairing the mains or their interconnections that the EOWC uses to get to the PVSC plant. EOWC had, instead, been paying 8.658 percent of the cost of Newark's sewerage flow. Both Newark and East Orange, as PVSC members, use the same sewage treatment plant.

Newark, according to its settlement announcement, found on 2008-10 that the EWOC had not been making its full payments. New Jersey's largest city then sued the once-regional commission for being short-changed June 15, 2011.

The EOWC, in the agreement, is to pay Newark $5.6 million in outstanding sewer use payments. Newark, henceforth, will levy a monthly "wheeling fee" for continued transport of East Orange's sewerage.

The EOWC, furthermore, will become a direct bill customer with the PVSC. The two agreements replace their 1919 accord.

"This' a great victory for the taxpayers of the City of Newark," said Mayor Ras Baraka in Friday's announcement. "Since 1919, our residents have borne the costs associated with transmitting East Orange's sewerage and maintaining and repairing the pipes whose purpose is to move sewage from East Orange to the PVSC's treatment plant. I'm glad that the legal teams of both great municipalities have been able to resolve this matter after so long."

While Baraka sounds like he wants to run a victory lap, East Orange Mayor Ted Green took a more of a business problem resolved tone in his Aug. 14 response.

"The East Orange Board of Water Commissioners has closed yet another chapter in its efforts to rebuild our valuable water department and to restore the faith of our customers," said Green Tuesday. "We've had to make some tough choices to correct some past wrongs; however, the settlement and agreement we recently made with the City of Newark was in the best interest of our utility and constituents. We appreciate Newark's cooperation in striking an agreement that is fair to both of our municipalities and represents the best of municipal cooperation."

Neither party stated how much the 2011-18 litigation, aside from the $5.6 million arrears payment, cost the respective cities and taxpayers.

A New Jersey Superior Court-Newark judge, in 2012, appointed a special master to sort out facts in the "Newark v. EOWC" case.

Interim EOWC Executive Director Christopher Coke told "Local Talk" Aug. 13 that the Village of South Orange was initially Newark's co-plaintiff in 2011. The Village, indeed, lifted its 2011 "Notice of Emergency Relief" against the commission when the special master came aboard.

South Orange's complaint, back then, was that the EOWC had failed to notify the village and Newark of its emergency use of the latter's Holland Road Interconnection when the commission had a water supply shortage of its own. The EOWC, in the village's and Newark's joint suit, had failed to pay Newark for the interconnection's use.

"What we did was, Newark and South Orange, agreed jointly to bring an action against the commission," said Village Attorney Steven Rother June 16, 2011. "The Newark officials were very sympathetic, and we were sympathetic with them because obviously they haven't been treated in a way one would expect East Orange to treat Newark in supplying water."

South Orange, as the commission's last customer, switched its water supply to New Jersey American Water Jan. 1, 2017. The EOWC once had Orange and East Newark as its supply and/or managing customers.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, on Oct. 15, 2011, had suspended EOWC licensed operator William Mowell six months and fined him $17,000 for repeatedly failing to furnish records concerning supplying South Orange. The records would have determined why EOWC sampling were not accurate with water flow and why wells in the latter's Millburn-East Hanover field had been turned on and off.

Mowell, of Wyckoff, was sentenced to three-year prison term Dec. 12, 2014 for falsifying tetrachloroethane water level records and was banned from public employment. He and EOWC Executive Director Harry Mannsman were charged with conspiracy until Mannsman died March 24, 2014.

The EOWC woes prompted then-Mayor Lester Taylor III to appoint Coke as acting ED, brought in a water management firm and overhauled the board of commissioners.

Coke, Monday night added that South Orange had made an earlier, separate settlement with the EOWC.

Coke or the EOWC's attorney may issue a statement in the Aug. 10 settlement at its monthly Board of Water Commissioners meeting Aug. 21.