County News

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45 CANDIDATES ON FIVE TOWNS' MAY 12 ELECTION BALLOT

By Walter Elliott


ORANGE - The contests for this city's mayor and the three at-large council seats, among the 23 open municipal seats on the May 12 nonpartisan municipal election ballot here and four other "Local Talk" towns, have become thus clear as of 3 p.m. May 13:


· Two at-large council members have decided to forgo their re-election bids so they can compete against incumbent and four other challengers for mayor.

· At least one moral challenger has formed a team along with two other challenging council candidates.

· The overall candidates’ field of 17, pending a majority of participating registered voters' approval here, may determine the balance of Orange's political power by filling the mayor and three at-large council seats.

· The balance of power may also be changed by a majority of Irvington and Belleville voters. Montclair and Nutley's entire administrative and legislative leadership is also up for approval.


The above is prefaced this year, however, on what Gov. Philip Murphy may decide on the scheduled May 12, April 21 school board and June 2 major party primary elections.


Murphy (D-Rumson), may have decided on whether to postpone, modify or cancel the Spring elections in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak when you read this.


The Governor, on March 16, said he would arrive at a decision "later this week," after holding a telephonic conference with Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver (D-East Orange), New Jersey Elections Division Director Bob Giles, Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin (D-South Orange) and Durkin's 20 county colleagues.


At issue is whether the three elections would violate Murphy's ban on "unessential" governmental operations and public gatherings of 50 or more people. There are concerns of having election and poll workers, voters, challengers and candidates risk exposure to the virus. Newark has 25 polling stations in senior citizens buildings - which have been closed to all home health aides and other medical professionals.


There is also a question of whether there are enough parts from Mainland China to fully equip and deploy Essex County's 750 new generation voting machines.


One contingency plan is to have the April 21 and May 12 elections go all-Vote-By-Mail. Another contingency is to cancel the May 12 and June 2 county committee elections - they are for the ward district foot soldiers and party Presidential National Convention state delegates - and extend their terms for the 2021 elections.


Postponing the county committee elections a year would be ironic since the State Democratic Party Committee had prevailed on county boards of elections some two weeks ago to hold the May 12 election filing deadline of 4 p.m. March 11 to 3 p.m. March 13. Keeping that window open 47 more hours supposedly allowed Democratic Party officials to fill committee vacancies.


It is also not clear whether Orange City Clerk Joyce Lanier has held her intended May 16 ballot drawing as of press time. Orange, along with other levels of government within and outside of "Local Talk" Land, has shut down all but essential services and offices for at least two weeks to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus.


The forgoing has provided an incomplete official picture of who is running for which municipal office. While Lanier provided an official confirmation of Orange's 17 candidates May 13, County Clerk Durkin's Election Division staff were still verifying petition signatures for the other four towns candidates when Murphy and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo (D-Roseland) ordered their respective shutdowns.


Also please note that the following individual candidates can and may have formed common tickets among themselves. Candidates in nonpartisan municipal and school board elections are allowed to do that instead of campaigning under a major party's banner.


Returning to ORANGE, Incumbent Dwayne D. Warren have five challengers to his attempt at a third mayoral term here.


A majority of participating Orange voters granted Warren a second term despite his running by himself May 10, 2016. The former Orange Council Legislative Research Officer outdrew East Ward Councilman Kerry Coley and Janice L. Morrell.


Challenging are Shawn D. Hunter, At-Large Councilman Christopher G. Jackson, Michael Jean Baptiste, former councilman Rayfield R. Morton and At-large Councilwoman Donna K. Williams.


Jackson and Williams silenced critics by submitting their petitions to run for mayor instead of petitions for council re-elections. Several observers began to cry foul when they gathered petitions from Lanier's office some two months ago, saying that they had to run for one or the other office.


The two council members chose by filing their mayoral petitions to Lanier before March 11 - by state law.


Williams has also formed an Orange NJ 2020 ticket with Antionett A. Hall Weldon M. Montage III and Kenneth Toussaint. Hall, Montage and Toussaint are running for all three at-large council seats.


Adrienne Wooton, who is running for her second term, is this year's sole incumbent council candidate. 2016 voters had given her more votes than the fourth member of Coley's "Home Team" ticket. Jackson and Williams, who were re-elected in 2016, also ran with Coley that year.


Also challenging for the three Orange council seats are former councilmen Edward Marable, Jr. and Coram J. Rimes, Jr., Quantavia Hilton, Dwight E. Holmes, Lynval H. James, Dr. Joseph M. Juiliano and Clifford R. Ross.


Dr. Juiliano is running on his own (as of press time) "Getting Orange Back on Track" platform.


MONTCLAIR, with its mayor and all six Township Council seats up for grabs, have three slates among 14 candidates.


Respective Second Ward Councilman Sean M. Spillar and Fourth Ward Councilwoman Dr. Renee E. Baskerville have decided to run as Mayor Robert Jackson's successor. Jackson has declined running for a third term.


Spillar has brought with him a combination of incumbent and new-coming council candidates onto his "Montclair 2020 Progress in Action" team. Current Deputy Mayor Robert J. Russo and retired Montclair Deputy Police Chief Roger Terry are running for the two at-large council seats.


Incumbent First Ward Councilman William "Bill" Hurlock and Third Ward Councilwoman Robin Schlager have joined Spillar's team. Newcomer Lori Price Abrams is seeking the Third Ward seat; Spillar had not fielded a runner for the Fourth Ward.


Dr. Baskerville is running with a full "Your Voice, Montclair" slate. James Cotter and Peter Yacobellis are running for at-large council.


Baskerville has also fielded John Hearn for First Ward, Christina "Chrissy" Thomas for Second Ward, Maguerite "Maggie" Joralemon for the Third Ward, and David Cummings for the Fourth Ward.


Montclair Planning Board member Carmel Loughman is running for an at-large council seat on his own "Independent View - Working for You" flag.


There appears to be at least one change and one contest in IRVINGTON's Ward Council Election lineup for township voters' consideration.


Mayor Anthony "Tony" Vauss has replaced incumbent Paul J. Inman with Rev. Sean Evans for East Ward Council. It is not clear whether two-term Inman is running as an independent as of press time.


Vauss has added Rev. Evans to his "Team Irvington Strong" lineup - which is looking to sweep its 10th straight council or school board slate since 2014.


Incumbents/TIS members Orlander Glen Vick (North Ward) and Vernon A. Cox (West Ward) - barring a write-in campaign - are running unopposed.


Jamillah Beasley, for the second time in seven months, will be challenged in the South Ward by Al-Tariq Shabazz. South Ward voters had elected the previously-appointed Beasley over Shabazz Nov. 5 to complete the late Sandra Jones' term.


BELLEVILLE voters may also face a change to consider among its four ward council elections.


Belleville Mayor Michael Melham seeks to replace incumbent Marie Strumolo-Burke with newcomer Carmine Mattia, Jr. in the First Ward.


It is not known whether Strumolo-Burke is running an independent re-election campaign.


Mattia joins respective incumbent council members Steven J. Rovell (Second Ward), Vincent A. Cozzarelli, Jr. (Third Ward) and John Notari (Fourth Ward) on Melham's "A Better Belleville" team. ABB is looking for a fifth straight Township Council/Board of Education sweep since 2018.


NUTLEY, with 13 candidates vying for all five Board of Commissioners seats, may be the closest to a free-for-all election in 

"Local Talk" Land.


Incumbents Dr. Joseph Scarpelli, Thomas J. Evans, Alphonse "Al" Petracco and Mauro Tucci are running for re-election. While Dr. Scarpelli has the honorary title of "Mayor," longtime Commissioner Steve Rogers has declined re-election so he can locally concentrate on re-electing President Donald J. Trump.


The four incumbents are being challenged by Carmine Allessio, Daniel A. "Danny" Carcinella, Frank V. Contella, Christopher Cullan, Sanford "Sam" Fleitell, Maria Hamlin, John V. Kelly III, Lorenzo Marchese and Ken Reilly.


Contella, Fleitell and Kelly had run in May 10, 2016's election.

BOXING CHAMPION SHAKUR STEVENSON PRESENTED KEY TO ESSEX COUNTY

NEWARK - Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. presented WBO Featherweight Boxing Champion and Newark native Shakur Stevenson with the Key to Essex County during a spirited ceremony on Wednesday, January 8th.


"Shakur Stevenson has dedicated himself to his boxing career, earning accolades at the highest levels - an Olympic Silver Medal and several professional featherweight title belts. Throughout his successful run, he has never forgotten his hometown, reminding boxing fans of his Newark roots by wearing the city's name on his trunks and headband. His pride in Newark and Essex County, and his tireless work ethic are inspirations to our young residents and demonstrate that through hard work they can achieve anything," DiVincenzo said.


"When I fight, I think of Newark and all the kids who look up to me. I am trying to become better than I am now; I'm still motivated and I thank you for this award and for coming out to support me today," Stevenson said.


"You have had an enormous opportunity to show the world what Newark is about and who we are. I encourage you to stay focused because this is a long-term venture. The work ethic that goes into being a champion is extraordinary, so you should feel proud," NJ State Senator and Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz said.


"We are so proud of what you have accomplished, especially how you give back to the community and make yourself accessible to young people," Freeholder Vice President Wayne Richardson said. "Newark is a fantastic city, but what is even better is the fact that it produces such remarkable people like Shakur," Freeholder Patricia Sebold said. "We like to highlight residents who have achieved greatness. To see what you have accomplished will inspire all young people to work hard and emulate what you have done," Freeholder Len Luciano said.


"We are all very proud of you. You are Newark and you have a piece of every ward in your body," Sheriff Armando Fontoura said.


Along with the Key to Essex County, DiVincenzo presented Mr. Stevenson with a plaque, which states: “Born and raised in the City of Newark, Shakur Stevenson started to box at the age of 5. He was an exceptional youth competitor, with his amateur career pinnacling at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, where he took home a Silver Medal. Now a professional, Shakur has continued to impress. Along with an undefeated record, he's become the international face of featherweight boxing, earning the IBF Intercontinental, WBC Continental, WBO NABO and, most recently, the WBO title belts. This success has led analysts to compare Shakur to several legendary boxing greats. 


“With all his achievements, he remains connected to and proud of his roots, wearing the name of his hometown on his boxing trunks and visiting schools, community centers and senior programs to inspire others. He is role model for all of us, showing that no matter from where you come, through hard work, you can become the best.”


At just 22 years of age, Stevenson has had a successful career in the boxing ring. He started boxing at the age of 5 and his amateur career culminated with him winning the Silver Medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. He currently has an undefeated record of 13-0 with seven knockouts as a professional and is the featherweight champion for the IBF Intercontinental, WBC Continental, WBO NABO and the WBO. He won the WBO title belt in October 2019.

ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DiVINCENZO PRESENTS BUDGET PROPOSAL FOR 2020

 

NEWARK - On Jan. 10, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. presented a balanced and responsible 2020 budget of $769.9 million that stabilizes the County's financial plan and addresses the challenges due to the ongoing national economic conditions. Layoffs have been avoided since 2004 and budgets have been unveiled before the State's statutory deadline of January 15th for 17 consecutive years.


"Every year we are faced with a variety of challenges that affect our County. By starting our planning process early and presenting our budget by the January 15th statutory deadline, we are able to create a strong groundwork and sound financial plan for our Department and Division Directors and Constitutional Officers to follow throughout the year," DiVincenzo said. "Presenting our budget by January 15th is important because it gives our municipal partners and constituents a clear snapshot of what to expect from the county," he noted.


"We have worked aggressively over the last 18 years to address long-standing issues affecting Essex County and strengthen our finances. These past few years, we have seen the fruits of our labor - getting a Aaa bond rating, helping Newark accelerate the replacement of its lead water service lines and partnering with our municipalities and public school districts to purchase equipment. These would not have been possible if we did not remain vigilant about keeping our financial house in order," the County Executive said.


The County Executive pointed out that his administration monitors the budget throughout the year and started preparing the 2020 budget in June 2019. Getting an early start enabled Department and Division Directors, Constitutional Officers and County agencies to identify and address issues, investigate ways to reduce expenses and generate new revenue, and have a plan in place by the statutory January 15th deadline. "This rigorous planning and constant vigilance has helped us to respond proactively when we are faced with challenges brought on by the national economy, unexpected events or new laws," DiVincenzo said.


"The one thing I enjoy is that because the county's financial situation so strong, the Freeholder Board can work on a lot of other issues that come before us. I want to thank the County Executive and his team for running the County so efficiently," said Freeholder President Brendan Gill, who was accompanied by Freeholder Vice President Wayne Richardson and Freeholders Carlos Pomares, Tyshammie Cooper, Patricia Sebold and Robert Mercado.


This constant attention to detail in preparing the budget has enabled Essex County to do the following:


· In August 2018, Essex County earned a Aaa bond rating with a Stable Outlook from Moody's Investors Services, the first time in history that Essex attained the highest rating available. To put this in perspective, when DiVincenzo entered office, the County's bond rating was just above junk bond status. Having a strong bond rating demonstrates the fiscal health of a government and helps save money because lower interest rates generally are offered.
· Starting in 2007, DiVincenzo implemented a "debt diet" initiative to stabilize the County's debt service by refinancing existing debt without extending its maturity date and limiting the amount of new debt to a maximum of $20 million annually. In 2019, the debt service payment is $124.6 million, which will be reduced to just $49.3 million in 2026.
· With its strong financial footing, Essex County has been able to utilize its Aaa rating to help municipalities and school districts obtain interest savings when borrowing for capital projects and equipment purchases. Essex partnered with Newark to loan $120 million to expedite the replacement of lead water service lines and, through its first-ever Pooled Government Loan Program, Essex bonded $11.9 million to help the municipalities of Irvington, Roseland and West Caldwell and the public school districts in Belleville, Cedar Grove and Livingston borrow money for equipment purchases at reduced interest rates.
· DiVincenzo has downsized the County workforce by not filling open positions unless they are essential to public safety and public health operations. This includes positions such as nurses at the Hospital Center or Corrections Officers at the Correctional Facility. Under DiVincenzo's leadership, over the last 18 years, Essex County's workforce has been reduced from a high of almost 4,000 employees in 2003 to 3,544 in the 2020 budget proposal.
· Over the years, Essex County has built a strong fund balance by realizing savings in previous years' budgets. The fund balance projected for 2020 is about $76.8 million. This reserve helps the County respond to emergencies, displays fiscal stability to bond rating agencies and has helped improve the County's cash flow and avoid taking out Tax Anticipation Notes for the last five years. (When DiVincenzo took office in 2003, the previous administration left a budget deficit of $64 million.)
· $30 million in fund balance is being used as revenue in the 2020 budget.
· The strong fund balance also has been utilized to pay for capital projects, one example being the construction of the third parking deck at Turtle Back Zoo. This helps the County avoid borrowing money for capital improvements and paying interest.
· Under DiVincenzo's direction, the county continually looks for new opportunities for recurring revenue, which includes shared service agreements with other governments and government agencies and new fees. The 2020 budget is projected to have about $98.8 million of new, recurring revenue, which lessens the County's reliance on raising property taxes.
· The 2020 budget includes just a 0.5 percent property tax increase, well below the 2.0 percent cap limit mandated by the state and the second consecutive year the increase was held to 0.5 percent.
· Over the last eight years, Essex County has held the increase in property taxes to about 1.37 percent, which is under the state cap of 2.0 percent.
· Over the last 18 years, Essex County has held the increase in property taxes to about 2.28 percent, which is the fifth lowest percentage rate of increase of all New Jersey counties behind Hunterdon, Monmouth, Burlington and Somerset counties.


The DiVincenzo administration has worked hard since 2003 to eliminate the structural budget deficit and ensure that Essex does not spend more than the revenue it collects. Austere budgeting, downsizing the workforce, eliminating unnecessary contracts and conservative spending practices have strengthened Essex County's financial position, raised its bond rating and restored the County's fiscal health. Essex's bond rating has improved 18 times and is now Aaa with a Stable Financial Outlook by Moody's Investors Services. This is the first time in history that Essex County has earned a "triple A" rating, which is the highest rating available. (The County has a AA-plus rating with Fitch Ratings.)


The 2020 budget proposal has been forwarded to the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders for review.

CITIES REORGANIZE FOR 2020

By Walter Elliott


"What you are witnessing at this time of year is the peaceful transfer of power." Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin.


EAST ORANGE - The City of East Orange, like Maplewood Township and thousands of other municipal governing bodies across the country, conducted its regularly scheduled reorganization meeting on New Year's Day Wednesday.


East Orange, Maplewood and others within and beyond "Local Talk News" territory reset their municipal governing house in order on Jan. 1 or as soon as possible under New Jersey state law. The reordering ranges from swearing-in new members and selecting a governing chairman or woman down to setting council committees and designating official newspapers.


Some reorganization meetings, like these two Jan. 1, 2020, are more monumental.


Two longtime East Orange City Council Members - the Second Ward's Jacquelyn E. Johnson and the Third Ward's Quilla E. Talmadge - have retired and yielded to elected newcomers Brittany D. Claybrooks and Vernon Pullins, Jr.


Maplewood's Victor De Luca has meanwhile ended his 14-year stay as mayor by yielding to former deputy mayor Frank McGhee. Township Committeeman Dean Dafis was promoted to succeed McGhee as Deputy Mayor.


Pullins and Claybrooks were sworn in as respective Second and Third Ward council members before an overflow Council Chamber audience of nearly 300 at 12:05 and 12:27 p.m. Wednesday.


A majority of registered city primary and General Election voters chose Pullens, an outgoing East Orange School District Board of Education member, and Claybrooks, of late Mayor Ted Green's Planning Project Manager, to succeed Johnson and Talmadge.


Claybrooks and Pullins were part of a six-member "Team Green in '19" ticket who were swept in along with returning council members Amy Lewis (First Ward), Casim Gomez, Sr. and Tameika Garrett-Ward (Fourth Ward) and Mustafa Al-M. Brent (Fifth Ward). That Line A team was supported by the East Orange and Essex County Democratic committees via joint chairman LeRoy J. Jones, Jr.


Jones, who was thanked by Green and all 10 council members, was among a host of dignitaries ranging from New Jersey General Assembly Members Britnee Timberlake (D-East Orange), Thomas P. Giblin (D-Montclair) and Benjie E. Wimberly (D-Paterson) to various present and past council and board of education members from here, Orange and Irvington. Lester Taylor III, Green's predecessor as mayor, headed the city's delegation.


Essex County level officials present - and who are city residents - included Freeholder Tyshammie Cooper and Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II.


Giblin was among those officials who had to stand for part of the two-hour, 30-minute ceremony along one of the two outer aisles until they were found seats. Those who arrived and did not have reserved seats by 11:45 a.m. were hard-pressed to find a place to sit; "Local Talk" counted 80 people standing in the outer aisles and along the back wall.


Giblin, Timberlake and Wimberly were among those officials who had to leave at the first opportunity to attend other inaugurations and reorganizational meetings on, for them, a busy Jan. 1. Jones, by contrast, arrived early to find a near-the-front seat.


Johnson and Talmadge meanwhile took their near-the-front seats in the gallery. More than one council member remarked that it was taking them some time to adjust seeing them, now private citizens, sitting on the public side of the council rail.


Talmadge and Johnson independently decided not to run for what would have been their respective seventh and sixth council terms in early 2019. They take a collective 32 years council experience with them.


Talmadge leaves holding the record for the longest-serving East Orange Council President. Her council colleagues selected her to lead them in 1990-92 and 2006-14. She would yield the helm to then-Third Ward Councilman Green in an attempt to rotate the presidency among all 10 members.


The Jordan Baris associate relator and then-Essex County Parks Department employee left the city council 1992-99. She was appointed to succeed the now-Stephanie Bush-Baskette as 27th State Legislative District Assemblywoman October 1992- Jan. 8, 1994. She was returned to the council while running on then-Mayor Robert Bowser's ticket in 1999.


A majority of Second Ward voters elected Johnson in 1999 and re-elected her three more times. The 2003 Council President was liaison to the East Orange Water Commission, headed three council committees and was member of three others.


"I still have to work - I'm far from retirement," said Johnson, a former National League of Cities director, to "Local Talk" Wednesday afternoon. "I'm an advisor for Mayor Green."


Talmadge revealed no post-council plans for at least the immediate future.


Claybrooks, at 28, became the youngest East Orange Council member elected to office. She put that distinction in context of where she was in the gallery in 2009.


"It's hard to believe that I, who was considered an at-risk youth 10 years ago, is seated here now," said Claybrooks, who halted to regain her composure. "I have said, 'Public service is not what I do - it's who I am.' I thank God and my family for being there while I was going through some frustrating times while at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University."


Claybrooks went on to earn degrees in health care management at Florida A&M and in urban planning and development at NYU. Her service included stints with the National Black Caucus Foundation and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's office.


Pullins also paused to collect himself when recollecting and thanking his family, among others, for helping him arrive at the council Wednesday.


"I thank my mother, who used to put in12-hour shifts at the local Foodtown so we can have a better life," said Pullins. "I would like to think that my father is looking down from above, approving and blessing. This has been a 30-year journey, which started when I asked Ted Green after the (1989) election, 'Where do we go from here?' "


There were as many humorous moments during the ceremony.


Timberlake, for example, pointed to her child and County Surrogate Alturrick Kenney's son on the official's seating section floor in her greeting remarks, declaring, "You don't have to clean this part of the floor; our children did it for you."


It took about five minutes to bring all of Councilman Brent's family to the council front podium for his swearing-in. Both Green and City Clerk Cynthia Brown remarked that Brent has a large family.


The history-making continued with six council members being sworn-in instead of the usual five. While Fourth Ward voters returned Gomez, they also endorsed Garrett-Ward with her first career primary and General Election victories. Garrett-Ward was first appointed to Cooper's council seat when the latter was promoted to Freeholder in 2018.


Council members, once Claybrooks and Pullins were sworn-in, unanimously returned colleague Christopher Jones to his second full-year term as Council President. The First Ward Councilman was first promoted when then-president Romal Bullock resigned to become the city's tax assessor in mid-2018.


A nomination and vote for a council vice-president, however, was not taken. It may be due to the meeting being three-times reordered to have Councilwoman Lewis' swearing-in done later and to have newcomers Pullins and Claybrooks to speak first.


At least two council members looked beyond Jan. 1 in terms of holiday occasions.


Garrett-Ward reminded the audience to apply the seven principals of Kwannzaa - whose last day of observance was that Wednesday.


Third Ward Councilman Bergson Leneus closed his remarks in French Creole - in recognition of Jan. 1 also being Haitian Independence Day or, in his words, "the birth of the first Black republic in the Americas."


The ceremony included remarks by Mayor Green.


"Today is the continuation of making East Orange a destination city," said Green. "I wake up every morning with a passion for East Orange since my first day in office in 2005. We're continuing the path of one city and one community with one goal - progress."


"Local Talk News," for the record, was named an official East Orange newspaper.


As for Maplewood, Frank McGhee found himself taking an oath of office as a re-elected Township Committeeman and taking the Mayor's seat a few minutes apart here at the Maplewood Municipal Building Jan. 1.


McGhee, whom 98 percent of township voters granted a second term Nov. 5, was sworn in by Township Attorney Roger J. Desidero before a capacity Council Chamber Gallery and Verizon cable access channel viewers. Desidero was substituting for Township Clerk Elizabeth Fritzen who missed her first reorganization in 40 years due to a broken wrist.


McGhee's four committee colleagues the unanimously nominated and elected him to succeed Victor De Luca as mayor. Township elders also promoted Dean Dafis to succeed McGhee as deputy mayor.


McGhee becomes the second African American Maplewoodian, after Ken Pettis 2007-08, to become mayor. Dafis becomes the first deputy mayor who happens to be openly gay.


The newly-appointed mayor, in his "Let's Establish a Culture of Care in 2020" address, thanked Committeeman De Luca, who ended his 14-year run as mayor.


"Three years ago today, Mayor De Luca congratulated me on my first election and that I had 1,094 days to go," said McGhee. "Well, it's Day One again and 1,096 days to go - but what a journey it has been. Vic has led with over two decades of leadership and has led with integrity and passion."


McGhee and Dafis' promotion were witnessed, among others, by State Assembly members Mila Jasey (D-South Orange) and John McKeon (D-West Orange) and South Orange Village President Sheena Collum.

2019

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NYC "SOTA" STOPS SENDING ITS HOMELESS TO NEWARK AND OTHER NJ LOCALES

By Walter Elliott


NEWARK - The City of New York, after closed door talks with Newark city officials Dec. 9, has at least temporarily stopped sending more of its Special One-Time Assistance clients to here and other Garden State locales.


That is the word given out by Newark Corporate Counsel Kenyatta Stewart after he and Assistant Corp. Counsel Gary Lipschutz while they left the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Building & U.S. Courthouse here Monday night.


Stewart and Lipschutz said they had just spent seven hours with NYC Department of Homeless Services attorneys in making an initial agreement before a federal judge.


The accord calls for NYC to stop adding to Newark's Oct. 25 count of 1,198 SOTA clients while "Big Apple" and "Brick City" officials work out a longer-term agreement.


NYC DHS will also give Newark something that other municipalities within "Local Talk" territory and from as distant as Honolulu and Puerto Rico want: a list of clients and the addresses of where they went to.


"We want to make sure that people who are here have the social services they need," said Stewart. "We also want to make sure that those who decide to stay here will have those services."


"The idea is to take care of people immediately," added Lipschutz, "that's our goal."


"This' about the dignity of the homeless," said Newark Baraka. "We want to make sure they're not taken advantage of by bad landlords. We want to make sure we can provide them with the necessary social and educational services - and not jettisoned out here."


Housing inspectors from Newark and NYC will meanwhile make joint inspections of those addresses for habitability.


Baraka and NYC Mayor Bill di Blasio arranged Monday's meeting a week after Baraka filed a request in U.S. Federal Court - Southern New York District for an injunction to sever DHS' SOTA pipeline to Newark. Barak filed his suit about three weeks after the Municipal Council passed resolutions that keep landlords from taking more than a month's rent in advance and to apply for a certificate of habitation.


That suit, which includes NYC Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks, is still active.


A court hearing was scheduled in Manhattan between plaintiff Newark and respondent NYC for Dec. 12. The assigned judge, however, may need a larger courtroom.


Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, for example, has asked Baraka Dec. 5 to join the suit's list of plaintiffs. Bollwage, in a Dec. 6 television interview, said he has "had calls from mayor of 60 other towns" who told him they have found SOTA clients in their locales. Elizabeth's longtime mayor said he knows of 34 SOTA families residing there.


Both U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-Newark) and Robert Menendez (D-Paramus) have asked Gov. Phil Murphy (D-Rumson0 to join the suit. One report has "two N.J. Republican state senators" and the Union County Board of Freeholders calling on Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to similarly get involved.


It is not currently clear whether East Orange and/or Irvington will have representatives in that New York courtroom. Both cities, in the same Oct. 25 report of 1,198 SOTA clients in Newark, reportedly have 278 each. Jersey City reportedly has 176, followed by Mt. Vernon, N.Y.'s 138.


One problem with NYC DHS's SOTA program is that the figures do not mesh. The city agency said that it has sent 2,226 clients to New Jersey since SOTA's Sept. 1, 2017 inception. While DHS said that Newark gets the bulk of its sent clients, that leaves 28 to be spread among Irvington, East Orange, Elizabeth and 56 other Garden State municipalities.


SOTA essentially takes families who have been in a NYC homeless shelter and sends them to an apartment with a year's rent in hand. The clients pre-pay the landlord and have to decide whether to stay there or return to the big city when the year is up. (DHS also paid for the bus, train or plane fare out.)


The DHS program had formerly homeless clients living in apartments (it does not apply to rented rooms or boarding houses), in places where the rent would be, at least in theory, relatively cheaper.


Gotham has lost more than 150,000 affordable housing units 1994-2012 and have seen monthly rents rise on average 18.4 percent 2005-15. The city has between 60,000 (NYC count) to 78,604 (U.S Housing and Urban Development) homeless people in 2018.


DHS said that "over 5,704 families - 12,482 individuals - have been served by SOTA, 35 percent staying within New York's five boroughs."


The NYC agency's data means that the other 3,250 SOTA clients left the city - some of whom moving to here or another 363 cities among 32 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Those "receiving" locales suddenly find more requests from SOTA clients for other social services and/or public assistance.


The 1,198 added to Newark's population of 270,000 may seem small. A Jan. 22 head count of homeless taken by Essex County, however, found Newark having 1,927 such residents. Newark made up 87 percent of the 2,214 countywide homeless counted among 10 towns that day.


Some SOTA clients, in Newark's suit and press reports, said they were felt pressured by DHS to take SOTA. They often find themselves at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who move them into uninspected, sub-habitable apartments.


The NYC Department of Investigation, in a Dec. 5 report, verified the SOTA clients' complaints. The 32-page report includes eight pages of violations and evidence filed by Newark code enforcers Oct. 1, 2018-Feb. 11, 2019.


It was several SOTA clients' complaints in Newark, East Orange and Irvington last summer where 'Local Talk" area officials first learned of the program. A "New York Post"-WCBS TV Channel 2 News joint investigation that season also shed light on SOTA and its problems.


"SOTA recipients are the population of citizens who require ongoing social services and resources," said Irvington Mayor Anthony “Tony” Vauss. "Once SOTA ceases funding, program recipients end up using our state and local resources to maintain themselves."


DHS, by its own admission, said 224 SOTA families have moved back to NYC shelters when the one-year period was up. Some clients have also complained that they were left to find services in their "host" towns on their own.


Local town elders are not the only ones angered by NYC DHS' lack of notice.


"We're scrambling now to put resources in place to help them transition from that unfortunate place and to become successful citizens," said Fayette, N.C. Mayor Mitch Colvin Dec. 1. "I'm upset about it. I think it's irresponsible and their (NYC) part and I didn't appreciate it." (Colvin's city has 209,871 residents as of 2017.)


Upstate New York Broome County Executive Jason Garner has taken DHS to court as early as March 8, 2018. Garner filed suit in Superior Court-Binghamton, saying that the New York City agency had violated state social services statute 148, were one jurisdiction shall not cause a person to make him or her a public charge of that district.


Garner filed suit after five SOTA families appeared in Binghamton, pop 47,376. He was asking DHS to meanwhile pay for the five clients' expenses.


"In the spirit of productive conversations and with the goal of moving forward an improved program, we'll be temporarily pausing placements in Newark," said Di Blasio press secretary Freddi Goldstein Monday. "we'll resume discussions Thursday (Dec. 12). If a satisfactory agreement isn't met, we'll file a formal challenge to the (Newark Municipal Council) ordinance the next day."

WEST ORANGE'S MORGAN HONORS TOPS 2019 ESSEX COUNTY VETERANS DAY OBSERVANCE

By Walter Elliott


NEWARK - April and Christopher Morgan, Sr., traveled some five miles east from West Orange to receive a unique honor for their late son here at Essex County's Veterans Memorial Park in Newark Nov. 1.


The Morgans came to the Central Ward county park, 10 days ahead of the traditional Veteran's Day holiday, to receive the Essex County Community Star Award in honor of their son, Christopher "CJ" Morgan, Jr.


"CJ Morgan was a natural leader who became the first person from West Orange to attend West Point," said County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. while presenting the award's plaque to Morgan's parents. "His story has been an inspiration to us. We hope his legacy will encourage other young men and women to follow in his footsteps to serve their country."


Christopher Jordan Lynn Morgan, West Orange High School Class of 2015, brought his wrestling and JROTC experiences with him to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. upon graduation.


"I hope you can feel our debt of gratitude for CJ," said Cong. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) to the Morgans. "You raised an incredible man whose life was taken too soon."


Morgan and 22 other cadets and training officers were being taken on exercises when their 2.5-ton transport truck somehow flipped on the USMA grounds June 6. An Army judicial inquest on the crash is continuing.


All 23 soldiers and cadets suffered various injuries. Morgan, 22, who was headed for graduation as Second Lieutenant in 2020, was declared dead at the scene.


DiVincenzo's remarks on other men and women following Morgan's legacy into service was more than wishful thinking. WOHS Class of 2017's Andrei Rosu is in West Point now. Class of 2019's Vanessa Lettman and younger brother Colin Morgan had received their appointments.


"We're thankful to the many communities that have supported us," said Chris Morgan, Sr. "The love and support has been overwhelming and we're thankful for it."


The presentation made by DiVincenzo (D-Roseland) to the Morgans was made in the presences of 16 public officials and/or veterans and before a statue of Essex County Sheriff's Det. Jorge Oliveria.


The dignitaries ranged from Sherrill, who was an 11-year Navy helicopter pilot, to West Orange Councilwoman Cindy Matute-Brown. Newark South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James, a Gulf War veteran, also wore his service hat. Several county freeholders and state legislators were also present.


Army Staff Sgt. Oliveria, pointed out Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, was killed in action while deployed in Afghanistan Oct. 19, 2011. His 2014 statute was the last installation in turning the former 1960s-era parking garage site into a veteran's park.

PEOPLE SHOW FAITH IN ESSEX COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY

By Walter Elliott


EAST ORANGE - Participating registered Democrats nominated established party candidates over a progressive slate and/or independents on the municipal, county and state levels here June 4 towards the Nov. 5 General Election.


Both Democrats and Republicans selected organizational candidates to face each other - and whoever have successfully filed their "minor party" or independent candidacies June 4 - on Nov. 5's ballot.


The East Orange Democratic Committee-backed candidates were chosen over East Orange Progressive Democrats for five council seats by three- or four- to-one ratios.


Similar pluralities were found in Tuesday night results for Democratic nominations for Essex County Freeholder and Register (Registrar) of Deeds and Mortgages plus the three State Legislature General Assembly races affecting Local Talk News area representation.


Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin's Election Division staff, as of 10:14 p.m. Tuesday, counted 21,242 party voters pulling levers or filling out ballots from among an Essex County-wide pool of 521,999 registered voters. (The results are with 529 of 550 deployed voting machines reporting.)


Tuesday's unofficial turnout comes out to 5.41 percent of the county's registered voters. This is comparable to the June 2, 2015 primaries' 4/12 percent, when some of Tuesday's offices were up for nomination. There were 20,132 voters participating from a county pool of 488,239.


June 4's turnout is a third less than who voted for General Assembly nominations in June 6, 2017. The 73,166 voters from 483,148 amounted to 15.140 percent. The 2017 race to succeed Chris Christie (R-Mendham) for governor may well account for the voting spike.


Keep in mind that all June 4 result figures remain unofficial until June 18. Durkin and his staff are allowing 14 days grace in case a challenge or a recount is called. The New Jersey State Police has impounded all voting machines for the two weeks.


In EAST ORANGE, the EODC candidates, also billed as "Team Green in '19" after Mayor Ted Green, swept all six council seats. There were the traditional five in each ward plus a sixth to fill an unexpired term.


Incumbent First Ward Councilwoman Amy Lewis received her nomination by a 4:1 ratio. Lewis drew 1,061 votes for 83.35 percent of the vote. Challenging EOPD runner Mia Williamson amassed 210 for 16.50 percent. Two write-in votes rounded out the remaining .16 percent.


Second Ward voters meanwhile selected ECDC's Brittany D. Claybrooks over EOPD's Khalfani Alleyne and independent Gerard Georges to succeed the retiring Jacquelyn Johnson. Claybrooks received 558 for 60.19. Alleyne drew 344 for 37.11. Georges amassed 24 for 2.59. There was a write-in vote for .11.


Third Ward Voters selected EODC runner Vernon Pullins, Jr. over EOPD challenger Chijike Ndukwu by similar margins to succeed the outgoing Quilla Talmadge. Pullins attained 983 for 86.99. Ndukwu mustered 146 for 12.92. There was one write-in vote for .09.


There were two primary elections for both Fourth Ward seats.


Only three write-in votes kept EODC incumbent Casim Gomez from a perfect Tuesday result. Gomez got 599 votes for 99.5 percent.


Fourth Ward Democrats gave Tameika Garrett-Ward her first elective office victory to succeed now-Essex County Freeholder Tyshammie Cooper. City Democrats, on city and county chairman Leroy Jones, Jr.'s recommendation, appointed Garrett-Ward in January. Garrett-Ward gathered 569 for 86.08. EOPD runner Patrick Reid tallied 91 for 13.77. There was one write-in vote.


Fifth Ward voters completed EODC's streak by favoring incumbent Mustafa Al-M. Brent over EOPD challenger Royster Allman. Brent gathered 734 for 67.34. Allman amassed 356 for the other 32.66.


There were no write-in votes made among registered city Republican voters in any of the six council primaries. East Orange, given its recent 8:1 Democratic-to-Republican ratio on registration rolls, may have prompted Grand Old Party members to save their resources for the Nov. 5 General Election.


June 4's results may not necessarily mean Nov. 5 will be an EODC coronation.


Some may recall Kevin Taylor's write-in challenge to EODC-backed Lester Taylor III to succeed Mayor Robert L. Bowser in 2011. Democratic voters nominated L. Taylor over K. Taylor and Bowser, among several runners in that June's Primary.


"Local Talk," as of June 6, does not know of any General Election write in campaigns for East Orange's ward council seats.


In ESSEX COUNTY, Essex County Democratic Committee runners were chosen by party faithful members over Essex County Progressive Democrats in two primaries.


In the COUNTY REGISTER nominations, Former Newark Public Schools Advisory Board of Education Member Juan M. Rivera, Jr. was picked by Democrats over former County Clerk Carol Y. Clark, of East Orange. Rivera attained 15,154 county-wide votes for 67.91. Clark, on the ECPD ticket, received 7,141 for 32 percent. there were 21 write-ins for .09.


Rivera is to vie with Essex Republican Party Organization-supported Kristina Christoforou, of Caldwell, to succeed the outgoing Dana Rone Nov. 5. Christoforou collected 2,764 for 99.57. the 12-write-ins accounted for the other .43.


For AT-LARGE COUNTY FREEHOLDER, ECDC's Romaine Graham, of Irvington, is to face ERPO's Adam Kraemer, of West Orange, to succeed the late Lebby Jones. Graham, who was appointed after Jones' January death, turned back East Orange challenger Dwight S. Saunders' bid.


Graham, the former Irvington Board of Education President, gathered 15,674 for 72.52. Saunders amassed 5,910 for 27.34. there were 30 write-ins.


Kraemer tallied 2,774 for 99.64 for the Republican nod. There were 10 write-ins.


Similar pluralities may be found in the N.J. GENERAL ASSEMBLY primaries. In the 34th STATE LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT (East Orange. Montclair, Orange and Passaic County's Clifton) Incumbent Democrats Thomas P. Giblin, of Montclair, and Britnee Timberlake, of East Orange, are to be pitted against Republican Cliftonites Irene DeVita and Bharat T. Rana.


ECDC members Giblin and Timberlake turned back East Orangeite Simone J. Jelks-Bandison's ECPD bid. 


Giblin was the night's top district vote getter at 6,637 for 44.21. Timberlake got the other nomination with 6,615 for 44.06. Jelks-Bandison amassed 1,734 for 11.55. There were 26 write-ins.


DeVita tallied 111 for 50.45. Rana received 107 for 48.64. Two write-ins made up the .94.


In the 29th LD (Belleville and most of Newark), Newark Democrats Eliana Pintor-Marin and Shanique Davis-Speight are slated against Republican challengers John Anello and Jeannette Veras.


Democrats picked ECDC's Pintor-Marin and Davis-Speight over two independent runners from Belleville. Pintor-Marin was the district's top vote-getter at 3,889 for 45.94. Davis-Speight, in her first primary election, tallied 3,690 for 43.59.


Awais Qazi garnered 450 for 5.32. Steve Jose Poveda 415 for 4.90. There were 21 write-ins.


Anello, of Belleville, got the top ERPO nomination with 375 for 52.37. Veras, of Newark garnered 333 for 46.51. There were eight write-ins.


In the 28th LD (Bloomfield, Glen Ridge and Nutley plus Newark's South Ward and part of West Ward), Incumbent Democrats Ralph Caputo and Cleopatra Tucker are bracketed with challenging Republicans Joy Bembry-Freeman and Antonio Pires for Nov. 5.


ECDC-running mates Caputo, of Bloomfield, and Tucker, of Newark, turned back Nutley independent Steven Burd's bid.


Tucker was the district's top vote-getter at 4,360 for 47.81. Caputo captured 4,147 for 45.47. Burd netted 589 for 6.46. There were 24 write-ins.


Bembry-Freeman, of Newark, took the ERPO lead with 396 for 51.16. Running-mate Pires, of Nutley, was next at 371 for 49.93. There were seven write-ins.


In the 27 LD (Maplewood, South Orange, West Orange, "West Essex" and 10 Morris County towns), incumbent Democrats John McKeon, of West Orange, and Mila Jasey, of South Orange are to be challenged by at least Republicans Michael Dailye and Mauro Tucci, Jr.


The ECDC-boosted McKeon and Jasey were 51 write-in votes from being unchallenged.


McKeon mustered 4,764 for 50.16, Jasey drew 4,680 for 49.28. the write-ins accounted for the remaining .56.


Dailey, of Madison, got GOP favor with 771 for 50.39. ERPO colleague Tucci, of Caldwell, collected 571 for 49.08. There were eight write-ins.


MORE MUNICIPAL nominations were decided in BLOOMFIELD, MAPLEWOOD and GLEN RIDGE.


In BLOOMFIELD, "Team Venezia" cruised to mayoral and at-large council Democratic nods.


Democrat Michael Venezia was 11 write-in votes of running unchallenged for mayor. The two-term incumbent drew 1,038 for 98.95. Venezia's three incumbent council running-mates also got Democratic nominations.


Wartyna "Nina" Davis got the night's top votes at 1,040 for 34.36. Richard Rockwell took second with 990 for 32.71. Ted Gamble was next at 989 for 32.61. There were eight write-ins.


There were 12 Republican write-ins for mayoral nomination and 16 for the three council nods. The ERPO's township committee had not fielded primary candidates. "Local Talk" will consult with Durkin and party officials on who, if any, write-ins will get on the Nov. 4 ballot.


In MAPLEWOOD, current Deputy Mayor Frank McGehee came six write-in votes short of running unopposed. The incumbent Democrat drew 1,024 for 99.42.


There was one write-in vote for the Republican nomination. Whether he or she will be automatically placed on Nov. 5's General Election ballot is not immediately known.


"Zero" was Tuesday night's winner for GLEN RIDGE's mayoral and two council member nominations.


There were no write-in votes cast, nor balloted nominees listed on borough voting machines. Borough politicians and voters are actually waiting ahead of Nov. 5 to see who will get Civic Conference Committee endorsement.


The CCC, formed shortly after Glen Ridge's 1895 separation from Bloomfield, has borough Democratic and Republican committee among its members. Voters tend to therefore choose between "CCC" and "Non-CCC" endorsees.

JUNE 2019 PRIMARY PREVIEW

By Walter Elliott


EAST ORANGE - Both the Essex County Democratic Committee and the Essex County Progressive Democrats have made a contest for elective offices within this city and in several selected county and state level offices for party faithful nomination June 4.


The established ECDC and challenging ECPD, within East Orange, have pitted candidates against each other in each of that city's five council wards.


ECPD and ECDC runners are also vying for County Registrar of Deeds and Mortgages.


The Democratic party factions are running three candidates for the three State Legislative District 34 General assembly seats up for nomination. There are also two independent Democrats who are challenging two incumbents in the 29th Legislative District and one challenging two incumbents for 28th LD nomination.


Those are the contests, barring any last-minute write-in campaigns, facing registered major party voters in four "Local Talk" towns, in Essex County and three state LDs.


The winning Democratic and Republican nominees are to face each other - and any "minor party" or independent candidates - on the Nov. 5 General Election ballot. That election will determine who will sit in all 80 New Jersey General Assembly seats.


Municipal Nominations


EAST ORANGE takes local primary center stage with East Orange Democratic Committee - also known as the (Mayor Ted) "Green Team in '19" and East Orange Progressive Democrats fielding candidates in each of the five wards.


Incumbent Councilwoman Amy Lewis, EODC, and challenger Mia Williamson, EOPD, are on the First Ward Democratic primary ballot.


There are three choices before Democratic Second Ward voters to succeed the outgoing Councilwoman Jacquelyn Johnson; EODC runner Brittany Claybrooks, EOPD candidate Alleyne Khalfani and "Democrat for Progress" Gerard Georges.


Third Ward Democrats are to choose as retiring Councilwoman Quilla Talmadge's successor either the EODC's Vernon Pullins, Jr. or the EOPD's Chijike Ndukwu.


Fourth Ward Democratic voters are to nominate candidates for both ward seats.


EODC incumbent Tameika Garrett-Ward and EOPD's Patrick M. Reid are seeking their first election victory. One or the other is to succeed Tyshammie Cooper, who was appointed as an Essex County Freeholder Jan. 3.


EODC ward incumbent Casim Gomez is running unopposed. Fifth Ward EODC incumbent Mustafa Al-M. Brent and EOPD Royston Allman are seeking Democrats' nomination.


June 4's primary here, where registered Democrats hold an eight-to-one ration to Republicans, will be the closest thing to a contested 2019 election in East Orange.


BLOOMFIELD's Mayor-At Large Council runners - all ECDC endorsed "Venezia 2019" members - are running on an unopposed ballot.


Mayor Michael Venezia is heading is same-name ticket. Wartyna "Nina" Davis, Ted Gamble and Richard Rockwell are also seeking re-nomination.


GLEN RIDGE parties faithful are facing blank ballots - but may write-in their choices. Borough voters are to likely wait until Nov. 4 to pick council members who either have - or have not Civic Conference Committee endorsement.


MAPLEWOOD party voters have Democratic incumbent Deputy Mayor Frank McGhee running unopposed on their ballot.


Essex County Nominations


Registrar of Deeds and Mortgages: Former Newark Public Schools Board of Education Member Juan M. Rivera, ECDC, and former County Clerk Carol Y. Clark, ECPD, are vying to succeed Dana Rone.


Essex Republican Party Organization-backed Adam Kraemer, of West Orange, is seeking GOP nomination towards the Nov. 5 General Election.


Rone, of Newark, had decided not to seek a second term.


Freeholder-At-Large: Appointed ECDC incumbent Romaine Graham, of Irvington and ECPD challenger Dwight S. Saunders, of East Orange, are seeking Democratic nomination. ERPO candidate Kristina Christoforou, of Caldwell, is looking for the Republican nod.


The June 4 primary winners will meet each other Nov. 5 to succeed the late Freeholder Lebby Jones, of Irvington.


New Jersey General Assembly Nominations


LD 34 (East Orange, Montclair, Orange and Passaic County's Clifton): Democrats have three candidates to choose from to fill their two Assembly seats.


Incumbents Thomas P. Giblin, of Montclair, and Britnee Timberlake, of East Orange, are running with ECDC endorsement. Challenging them is Simone Jelks-Bandison, of East Orange.


Cliftonites Irene Devita and Bharat T. Rana are running with Essex and Passaic Republican Party Organization endorsement.


LD 29 (Newark, Belleville) Democrats have four candidates - two established versus two independents - for their two Assembly representatives.


Eliana Pintor-Marin and Shanique Davis-Speight, both of Newark and ECDC, are looking for their respective third and first party primary nominations. Former NPSBOE President Marin is seeking her third elective term; Davis-Speight was appointed to succeed the retired Blonnie R. Watson Jan. 9, 2018.


Both challengers are from Belleville. Steve Jose Poveda is running as "Democrat for Congress." Qazi Awais is running under his own "Clean Water, Affordable Housing, Public Education" slogan.


The ERPO is fielding John Anello, of Belleville, and Jeannette Veras, of Newark.


LD 28(Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Nutley plus Newark's South Ward and part of West Ward) Democrats have to pick two nominees from a field of three.


ECDC incumbents Ralph Caputo, of Bloomfield, and Cleopatra Tucker, of Newark, are seeking their sixth nominations. Steven Burd, of Nutley, is on his own "Burd for NJ" ticket.


The ERPO has fielded Joy Bembry-Freeman, of Newark, and Antonio Pires, of Nutley.


LD 27(Maplewood, South Orange, West Orange, 10 "West Essex" and Morris County towns.) Democrats and Republicans have two respective established party candidates each to nominate.


Incumbent ECDC bearers Mila M. Jasey, of South Orange, and John F. McKeon, of West Orange, are running unchallenged.


Newcomers Michael Daily, of Madison, and Mauro Tucci, Jr., of Caldwell, have ERPO backing.


Please note that prospective June 4 voters must have either registered as a Republican or a Democrat, or declare so at the polls that Tuesday, to participate. Voters have until 4 p.m. to submit or postmark an absentee ballot. See essexclerk.com for details.

FORMER SETON HALL PROFESSOR RAISES HELL IN CATHEDRALS

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.

LEGISLATOR, EDUCATOR LEBBY JONES (1943-2019)

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."

NEW YEAR'S REORGANIZATION FOR EAST ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD

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.

2018

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EAST ORANGE & NEWARK JOINT BORDER PATROLS MAY REDUCE CRIME

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.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN TIMBERLAKE ANNOUNCES LEGISLATION TO CREATE HOUSING EQUITY & FAIRER FORECLOSURE ACTIONS

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.

EAST ORANGE & NEWARK SETTLE 2011 SEWER USE DISPUTE

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.