News in Brief …

NORTH ARLINGTON/EAST NEWARK – 

Residents of two Observer communities will shortly be seeing new faces in the police ranks.

North Arlington Borough Council appointed Officer Joseph Zarro as a “lateral transfer” from the Belleville Police Department, effective Dec. 1, at an annual salary of $45,321.

Zarro, who lives in North Arlington, had been working in Belleville “just under a year,” according to Borough Administrator Steven LoIacono.

LoIacono said that the state Civil Service Commission approved a waiver of normal hiring protocol to allow the transfer and the local governing body met in special session on Nov. 30 to ratify the hiring.

Since Zarro had already successfully gone through the mandated police academy training program, the borough will be spared that expense, said LoIacono.

Asked if the hiring brought the department up to full strength, LoIacono said: “We’re still short of our T.O. [Table of Organization] by two or three officers.”

And, in East Newark, Officer Yuri Defreitas graduated from his academy training course on Dec. 3, reported borough Police Chief Anthony Monteiro.

Defreitas will take the spot formerly occupied by Ken Sheehan Jr., who left the department earlier this year to take a post with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

A Kearny resident and an alumnus of Kearny High School, DeFreitas has an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Hudson County Community College. He served as a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps where he was trained as a radio operator stateside.

The rookie, who is undergoing several weeks of field training before he hits the streets, is drawing an annual pay of $27,500.

Monteiro said that with the addition of Defreitas, the department is now back at a “full T.O.” of nine members, including the chief.

– Ron Leir 

KEARNY – 

Negotiations with unions representing Kearny municipal and public school employees on new labor contracts are proceeding slowly for the most part with one breakthrough and one step backward.

The Kearny Board of Education voted last month to sign off on a memorandum of agreement with the Kearny School Employees Association, representing 62 custodial/ maintenance workers, which was previously ratified unanimously by the union membership.

The 3-year pact gives KSEA members wage hikes of 2.5% including increment, retroactive to July 1, 2014; 2.5% including increment, retroactive to July 1, 2015; and 3.5% including increment, effective July 1, 2016.

Salvatore Cartagna, head of the union, said those members at the top of the salary guide will see their yearly pay rise, from $52,707 to $56,388, over the life of the contract.

The union agreed that, effective July 1, 2016, “the traditional [insurance] plan shall be eliminated” in favor of what Cartagna described as a “PPO plan with co-pay.” And it agreed to eliminate Lincoln’s Birthday as a holiday day and replace it with the Monday after Easter. The union also won the right to one day off for members to attend the NJEA convention; creation of a new position, lead field person; $150 tool stipend for maintenance and utility personnel, $500 for tradesman license and $100 increase for Black Seal license, all effective July 1, 2015; and health care coverage to continue to family upon death of member for 30 days.

In a related development, the BOE voted Nov. 16 to appoint Kevin Dunwoodie as assistant head custodian at Kearny High School at a base pay of $55,856, plus $200 stipend for assistant head, $500 for boiler’s license and $3,680 longevity, effective Nov. 19; and to appoint Randy Coccora to day shift custodian at the high school at a base salary of $52,707, plus $500 for shift differential, $500 for boiler’s license and $3,340 longevity, also effective Nov. 19.

Meanwhile, bargaining continues between the BOE and the unions representing teachers, department heads and administrators.

On the municipal side, contract talks with unions representing uniformed employees are thus far, inconclusive, while Kearny Council 11, Civil Service Association, which bargains for civilian workers, has filed for mediation.

Council 11 President William Pettigrew, a municipal public health investigator, said that a memorandum of agreement between the town and the union was “in place and already approved by the state [monitor assigned to Kearny] when at the 11th hour, the mayor decides he wanted another issue.

“If they wanted it so badly, they should have brought up in the beginning [of bargaining], instead of at the end,” he said.

Pettigrew declined to elaborate on that issue, except to say it involved “the giveback of days.”

Mayor Alberto Santos declined comment on the matter.

 – Ron Leir 

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.