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Category: News

Borough voters getting school question

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 

EAST NEWARK – 

A court ruling has cleared the way – over objections by Harrison – for a Nov. 4 nonbinding referendum asking borough voters, “Should East Newark high school students be sent to Kearny High School instead of Harrison High School?”

Harrison Board of Education argued that the question shouldn’t go on the ballot because the proposal came, not from the borough school board, but from the municipality, which, Harrison said, has no statutory authority to pitch such a school-related issue.

But Hudson County Assignment Judge Peter Bariso Jr., in an Oct. 20 opinion, found that the potential shifting of students from Harrison to Kearny can have local tax ramifications borne by the East Newark Board of School Estimate, whose members represent both the borough school board and municipality.

For that reason, the court ruled, “East Newark has the authority not only to take action on the sending receiving relationship within the scope of its budgetary responsibilities but also to proffer the referendum related to it.”

Read more »

Halloween Pawrade in Kearny

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Photos by Karen Zautyk

Top r.: KUEZ Among 50+ pups at KUEZ costume contest Saturday were a cat, a cheeseburger, a trio of lobsters, a bumble bee, a ladybug. Shepherd (r.) wore robe and shower cap. One pooch even turned green for the occasion. Top r.: Winners Harry Potter, elephant, hot potato, spaghetti platter.

Once around the park, please

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HARRISON – 

Northbound traffic on Davis Ave. in Harrison has been detoured around West Hudson Park for several months pending completion of work being done in the county park.

Hudson County spokesman Jim Kennelly said the re-routing of traffic is related to a $1,657,395 bridge project in the park which began on May 15.

“The project ran into a problem with a 16-inch gas main on Davis Ave. that needs to be relocated,” Kennelly said.

He said that PSE&G’s contractor Fletcher Creamer is expected to start excavation shortly to install a new pipe.

The county anticipates that the contractor will complete the relocation of the gas main by mid-November, Kennelly said.

Other work remaining to be done as part of the county bridge project includes new curbing, curb wall, sidewalks, pavement and ornamental fencing, he said.

All of that work should be finished before Christmas, Kennelly said.

– Ron Leir 

Around Town

Belleville

Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., hosts a Saturday craft program on Nov. 8 at 3 p.m. For more information, call the library at 973-450-3434 or visit www. bellepl.org or belleplcr. blogspot.com. T

he Woman’s Club of Belleville meets the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at its clubhouse, 51 Rossmore Place. Prospective members are welcome. For more information, contact Terry Landon at 973- 751-6529.

Bloomfield 

Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., will host a Halloween blood drive Oct. 31, from noon to 4 p.m. All donors must present signed ID, know their social security number and weigh at least 120. For more information, call 973-676-4700, ext. 144.

East Newark

West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets the last Friday of every month, 7 to 9 p.m., at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa at 201-246-7750, Fatima at 973-485-4236 or email emidura2@yahoo.com.

Borough Council urges residents to sign up for free breast and prostate cancer screenings by filling out an eligibility form at the Municipal Building, 34 Sherman Ave., on Mondays and Wednesdays, between 5 and 7 p.m. Screenings are open to women ages 35 and 64 for mammography, women ages 21 and 64 for pap smear and men ages 50 and 64 for prostate/colon screenings. Eligible participants must have no insurance or indicate that their current insurance will not pay for these screenings. Income limits vary with the degree of insurance, so those with limited or no insurance are advised to fill out an initial eligibility form.

Harrison

Harrison American Legion Post 282, 8 Patterson St., hosts a Harrison Police Department vs. Harrison Fire Department chili cook-off on Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. Representatives from both departments will bring their best chili to be judged by a few locals. All are welcome.

Kearny 

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/Coccia Realty continues a coat drive for the area’s less fortunate, through Nov. 15, at its Kearny, Lyndhurst and Rutherford offices. Drop off gently used or new coats between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays or from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends at any of these participating offices: 636 Kearny Ave., Kearny; 273 Ridge Road, Lyndhurst; or 11 Park Ave., Rutherford. For more information, call Randy Wine at 201-939- 0001.

First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, 663 Kearny Ave., will hold its annual fair on Saturday, Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy a bake table, tricky tray, Christmas crafts and more. Lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Raffle drawings are at 4 p.m.

First Baptist Church of Arlington, 650 Kearny Ave., holds a free clothing giveaway on Saturday, Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. to noon.

The church holds worship services Sundays at 11 a.m. with Spanish worship at 5 p.m. and Bible study on Fridays at 8 p.m.

Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., hosts the following free programs:

  • The movie premiere series continues with a special screening of Disney’s “Maleficent” (PG) featuring Angelina Jolie on Friday, Nov. 7, at 4 p.m.
  • Saturday Family Film Matinees continue on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 11 a.m., with a screening of “Planes: Fire and Rescue” (PG).
  • An Adult Painting Party, open to ages 14 and up, is set for Saturday, Nov. 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A $5 registration fee helps cover the cost of paints and canvases. Class size is limited. To reserve a spot, call the library at 201-998-2666.

For more information on any library programs, call 201-998-2666 or visit www.kearnylibrary.org.

Trinity Church, 575 Kearny Ave., will hold its monthly flea market on Nov. 8. Refreshments are available. Vendors are invited. Tables are one for $15 or two for $25. Call the church at 201-991-5894 to schedule your table or call Annamarie at 201-998-2360 after 5:30 p.m. Walk-in vendors are welcome.

Lyndhurst 

Lyndhurst Public Library, 353 Valley Brook Ave., hosts the following events:

  • Kids in pr e-k to grade 3 will step off in a Halloween Parade Friday, Oct. 31, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Book Club discusses “The Body in the Library” by Agatha Christie Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m. Call the library to obtain a copy of the book. Space is limited.
  • LetHistoryLive.net presents “The Real History of Thanksgiving” on Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 6:15 p.m. Space is limited. To register, call the library or email romeo@ lyndhurst.bccls.org.

Registration is required for all of these events. To register, call the library at 201-804-2478.

New Jersey Meadowlands Commission announces the following programs:

  • The Beauty of Gray: Charcoal Still Life with Shells and Skulls, a sketching and drawing class for ages 12 and up (including adults), is offered Saturday, Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Science Center, 2 Dekorte Park Plaza. Takehome supplies are provided. Cost is $20; $15 for MEC members. Registration is recommended. To register, go to http://mec.rst2.edu/ environment. For more information, call 201-460- 8300.
  • Free First-Sunday-ofthe- Month Bird Walk, held in conjunction with the Bergen County Audubon Society, runs from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Nov. 2, at Harrier Meadow, on Disposal Road near Schuyler Ave., North Arlington. Check meadowblog.net for lastminute updates. Walkers are asked to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS or call 201- 230-4983.
  • Art of the Heavens, a program open to all ages on how humans created art as inspiration from the cosmos, will be held on Thursday, Nov. 6, from 2 to 3 p.m., at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 1 DeKorte Park Plaza. Cost is $5; $4 for MEC members. Registration is recommended and appreciated. To register, go to http://mec.rst2.edu/environment. For more 201-460- 8300.

North Arlington 

American Legion Alexander Stover Post 37 meets on Monday, Nov. 3, at 3 p.m. at the VFW hall, 222 River Road. For more information, call 201-214-8253.

North Arlington Recreation Department’s Halloween costume parade and Trunk or Treat celebration is set for Oct. 30. Participants will assemble in the Boston Market parking lot at Ridge Road and Bergen Ave. at 6 p.m. The parade will kick off at 6:30 p.m. and will end behind North Arlington High School, where the Trunk or Treat celebration will be held.

Donations of candy or snacks are welcome. Parents are asked to bring canned food that the Recreation Department is collecting for the local food pantry.

For more information, call Recreation Director Michele Stirone at 201-852- 0119.

Nutley 

Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, announces the following programs.

Registration is not required unless otherwise noted. To register, call 973- 667-0405:

  • The Monday Night Book Club welcomes author Lisa Gornick to discuss her book “Tinderbox” on Monday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. Copies of the book and discussion guide are available at the library. This event is free and open to the public.
  • Conversational ESL takes place every Wednesday at 10 a.m. No registration is required.
  • Wednesday Afternoon Knitters share their love of knitting and crocheting with both beginning and experienced knitters every week at 1 p.m. Bring your own supplies.
  • P.J. Story Time, open to all ages, offers songs, stories and a craft, on Mondays, Nov. 3, 10 and 7, at 7 p.m. • Preschool Story Time, open to ages 3 to 5, includes picture books and arts and crafts on Wednesdays, Nov. 5, 12, 19, at 9:30 a.m. aand 10:45 a.m. Registration is required.
  • Two-Year-old Story Time, open to ages 24 to 35 months, offers picture books and arts and crafts on Fridays, Nov. 7, 14, 21 at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Registration is required.
  • First Friday Films continue with a screening of “Godzilla” Friday, Nov. 7, at 2 p.m.
  • A Drop-in Craft Saturday, open to all ages, takes place Nov. 8 and 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. No registration is required. Offered while supplies last.
  • Author Janet Mueller reads and signs copies of her book “Gradie Girl” on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 11 a.m. Create a cat craft and enjoy refreshments.

Chiropractic treatment of auto injuries

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Injuries to the neck and back as a result of a motor vehicle accident can leave patients with serious and permanent injuries when left untreated. The most common types of car accidents are rearend and side impact collisions. The greatest types of injury are to the neck, mid-back and lower back. Pain medications and muscle relaxers are only just temporary solutions to reducing pain and discomfort and do not treat the structural trauma and stress placed on the spine, muscles, nerves and joints. Although initially helpful, these medications eventually lose their effectiveness and the patient realizes that their injuries are more serious than a gentle bruise or muscle sprain/strain. Chiropractic physicians are highly trained specialists experienced in diagnosing and treating traumatic injuries to the spine, muscles, nerves and joints.

When the neck and back are subjected to a traumatic injury, there are usually a combination of factors that contribute to intense pain and discomfort. The doctor of chiropractic treats the body without medication using a “holistic” and natural healing approach. Chiropractic physicians treat neck and back pain, headaches, arm, shoulder and leg pain along with numbness and tingling caused by auto accidents in a gentle and painfree manner. Left untreated, these types of symptoms can lead to permanent injuries and chronic nerve and muscle inflammation causing severe pain and suffering.

The force of an auto accident can also cause injury to the discs between the vertebrae where small tears can develop. If the gelatinous middle of the disc seeps out, it can irritate the nerve endings in this area. Occasionally, the gel material can seep all the way out and press on a nerve root exiting the spinal cord behind the disc known as a disc herniation. A disc bulge, although not as serious, can also cause pressure and irritation to the nerves. A herniated disc can cause pain in the neck as well as sharp, shooting pain down the arm into the hands and neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. A herniated disc in the lower back can cause back pain as well as sharp, severe shooting pain into the buttocks and legs with neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling and muscle weakness into the legs and feet.

One area chiropractor who treats people involved in a motor vehicle accident is Dr. Louis Stimmel, D.C. at Harrison Spine & Rehabilitation Center for a free consultation and evaluation. Stimmel is board certified with over 25 years of clinical practice experience. Stimmel has been board certified as a chiropractic sports physician and in hospital protocols and privileges. He has frequently lectured to orthopedic surgeons and medical physicians on the benefits of chiropractic care. Stimmel says he is highly trained and experienced in treating injuries caused by an auto accident utilizing a variety of safe, gentle and painfree techniques along with the latest physical therapies to relieve your pain and discomfort. Contact our office today at 973-483-3380 for your free consult and evaluation.

– Louis Stimmel, D.C. 

Harrison Spine & Rehabilitation Center 

Diabetes screening

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St. Michael’s Medical Center will offer free blood pressure and glucose screenings on Friday, Nov. 14, from 9 to 11 a.m., in the main lobby at 111 Central Ave., Newark.

November marks American Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Additionally, 67 million have hypertension (high blood pressure).

A two-hour fast is recommended for glucose screenings. Walk-ins are welcome and attendees will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more about this event or the Diabetes and Hypertension Care Program at SMMC, call 973-690-3604.

Relief for commuters

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

LYNDHURST – 

After what Lyndhurst Mayor Robert Giangeruso characterized as “33 years of starts and stops,” the township – with help from Bergen County – is finally beginning to see the start of improvements to the intersection at Kingsland and Riverside Aves.

The changes – being undertaken under a contract awarded by the county – are designed with the aim of relieving commuter backups at the approach to the DeJessa Memorial Bridge, linking Lyndhurst and Nutley over the Passaic River, and from Rt. 21 on the Nutley side of the bridge.

Contributing to the problem – accentuated during rush hour periods – are bad traffic signal synchronization, coupled with the age (more than a century old) and limited capacity (one lane in each direction) of the truss swing span over which more than 26,000 vehicles cross on a daily average.

Since coming into office nine years ago, Giangeruso has been pressing for action to alleviate the persistent commuter nightmare that has afflicted residents of both Lyndhurst and Nutley and beyond.

It took eight years, the mayor noted, just for Lyndhurst and Bergen County to come up with a project design, for Lyndhurst to acquire privately owned rights of way easements, to move commercial signs for 601 Riverside and an Exxon station, and to coordinate relocation of utility poles, before the county could bid out the intersection work.

Bids from three firms were submitted, ranging to a high of nearly $1 million, with J C Contracting Inc. of Bloomfield coming in as low bidder with a price of $813,725. A contract was awarded recently by the Bergen County Freeholders and work began in earnest Oct. 6.

A temporary traffic signal has been installed and was activated when PSE&G connected the electrical service and the project’s construction will be phased so that one corner of the intersection is completed at a time to minimize inconvenience and to keep the intersection open to traffic, Giangeruso said.

Brian Intindola, director of traffic engineering services for Neglia Engineering, the township’s consulting engineering firm, outlined the improvements as follows:

For traffic flowing from Nutley to Lyndhurst, there will be a “fully signalized” dedicated left turn lane, from Kingsland Ave. eastbound to Riverside Ave. northbound, along with a dedicated through lane and a dedicated right turn lane, coming from the bridge to Riverside southbound.

“The idea is we’re trying to move as much traffic off the bridge as possible, given its capacity being restrained,” Intindola said.

As a complement to that flow, for traffic moving from Lyndhurst to Nutley coming off the bridge, there will be a fully signalized dedicated left turn lane from Kingsland westbound to Riverside southbound and a shared through lane and right turn lane for Nutley-bound motorists.

For traffic southbound on Riverside, a new right turn lane will be constructed to allow motorists improved access to the bridge to cross into Nutley; there will also be a dedicated left turn lane for local traffic to Kingsland eastbound and a through lane to continue southbound on Riverside.

Traffic northbound on Riverside will get a dedicated left turn lane to cross the bridge, along with a shared right turn to Kingsland eastbound and northbound through lane.

“We have worked out the signal timing to be as efficient as possible,” Intindola said. “As eastbound Kingsland traffic coming off the bridge from Nutley to Lyndhurst gets a green light, drivers making right turns from Riverside to Kingsland will proceed at the same time.”

“We’re also attempting to do video detection where you can optimize signalization time to process as much traffic as possible and to facilitate better coordination with the Rt. 21 ramp traffic signal and River Road (County Rt. 622) on the Essex County side,” said Intindola.

As things are now, he said, coordination of the signals isn’t aligned, “so we’re going to use a GPS-based clock mechanism to stay in sync.”

Additionally, Intindola said, for public safety, there will be “full pedestrian actuation,” meaning push-button activated Walk/Don’t Walk signals for people looking to cross Kingsland or Riverside, and new curbside disabled-access ramps.

Intindola credited Giangeruso for having “invested a lot of time and effort to bring this project together,” since it was first pitched as a concept back in 1981.

If Mother Nature cooperates, Inindola said that the contractor could wrap up the project with paving by spring 2015.

Convicted in mortgage swindle

A Belleville man was among three defendants convicted earlier this month in federal court for their roles in a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme involving condominiums in New Jersey and Florida, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reported.

Last month, another Belleville resident pleaded guilty in the same scam.

According to Fishman’s office, the scheme used phony documents and “straw buyers” to defraud financial institutions and make illegal profits on condos overbuilt by financially stressed developers. Thus far, 13 persons have been arrested in the case.

Found guilty Oct. 6 by a jury sitting in U.S. District Court, Camden, were Dwayne Onque, 46, of Belleville; his sister, Mashon Onque, 43, of East Orange, and Nancy Wolf-Fels, 57, of Toms River.

Each was each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In addition, Dwayne Onque was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The jury returned the verdicts after a four-week trial and just five hours of deliberation.

Authorities reported that, from late 2006 through mid 2007, Dwayne Onque served as a “straw buyer” of five properties in Middletown and Wildwood. For each of the five, he signed fraudulent loan applications and closing documents that resulted in the release of more than $2 million in mortgage funds.

In 2006 and 2008, Mashon Onque, employed by Tri-State Title Agency in Montclair, acted as the closing agent for fraudulent mortgage loans orchestrated by other conspirators, including her brother.

Wolf-Fels, a loan officer at Mortgage Now in Forked River from 2007 through mid-2008, assembled six fraudulent loan applications and sent them to victim financial institutions, which lent the unqualified buyers mortgage funds.

On Sept. 2, Larry Fullenwider, 63, of Belleville, pleaded guilty in the same court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He admitted purchasing four condos in North Wildwood after presenting a false identification and using fake documents to support fraudulent loan applications.

For wire fraud conspiracy, all four defendants face up to 30 years in prison and fines of $1 million. Dwayne Onque’s money laundering conspiracy conviction carries an additional potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Sentencing is scheduled for January.

– Karen Zautyk 

Walmart is keeping cops busy

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

The Walmart in Kearny is conveniently located on Harrison Ave., with easy access to Rt. 280, the N.J. Turnpike and feeder roads to Newark and Jersey City. This is a boon for shoppers. However, according to Kearny police, it is also a boon for shoplifters who can make a fast getaway.

Regular readers of the Kearny police blotter are aware that rarely a week goes by without at least one shoplifting incident at the store. On Friday, KPD Chief John Dowie told The Observer that, in 2013, his officers had responded to Walmart 300 times.

“We are already approaching 400 responses this year — with the best of the year [holiday shopping time] yet to come,” he said. “This amounts to least one a day.”

As of Oct. 13, Dowie noted, the KPD had made 113 arrests at the store, and many of those taken into custody “are not your stereotypical shoplifters.”

“They come with a lot more baggage,” he said, noting, for example, the number who have outstanding warrants from other jurisdictions.

The reported statistics are in no way intended to reflect badly on Walmart security; it is store security personnel who initially spot and detain — or attempt to detain — the suspects. But security has no arrest powers. And each incident takes Kearny officers off the road, sometimes for hours as they process arrestees and deal with required paperwork.

Last week was apparently a particularly busy one, so we are running a separate shoplifter “blotter.” As reported by Dowie the incidents included the following:

On Oct. 14, at 6:30 p.m., Officer Luis Moran responded to Walmart where security had detained Danny Morales, 36, of Newark, who allegedly had attempting to conceal numerous cans of Enfamil baby formula, worth a total of $80. Morales was charged with shoplifting. If all that sounds familiar, it’s because last week’s KPD blotter reported Morales’ Oct. 2 arrest, on a charge of shoplifting $88 worth of Enfamil from Walmart.

* * *

On Oct. 16, at 3:30 p.m., Officers Chris Levchak and Jose Resua responded to Walmart where security had in custody Brianna Young, 19, of Newark, who was charged with stealing $128 worth of merchandise. She was processed at HQ and released.

* * *

That same day, at 4:10 p.m., Levchak and Resua returned to the store on a report of two shoplifters. One of the suspects, Ashley Crenshaw, 23, of Orange, was arrested for allegedly attempting to steal merchandise valued at $229.

Police said the second suspect, Crenshaw’s alleged cohort Jasmine Moore, 24, of Newark, tried to intercede, refused to heed Levchak’s warnings to cease and desist, became hostile and profane and demanded to see the security video.

When Levchak tried to arrest Moore, a struggle ensued and she punched the officer in the head, police said. Cuffed by both cops and escorted from the store, she allegedly kicked and dented the squad car door.

Moore was booked for shoplifting, aggravated assault, criminal mischief and resisting arrest. Police said she also had two outstanding warrants, from East Orange and Long Hill Township.

Video of her conduct in the store parking lot has been recovered and entered into evidence.

2011 layoffs affirmed

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

Four former Kearny workers, including a union chief, have lost the first round of a bid to reverse their New Year’s Eve dismissals nearly three years ago.

In a 21-page ruling issued Sept. 3, the state Office of Administrative Law Judge Irene Jones dismissed an appeal by Kerry Kosick, Elizabeth Wainman, Mary Ann Ryan and Fatima Fowlkes, contesting their “economic” layoffs that took effect Dec. 31, 2011.

Ryan, president of Council 11, Civil Service Association, which represents most of the town’s civilian employees and crossing guards, said the judge’s decision has been appealed to the state Civil Service Commission, which must affirm or reject the ruling.

The town characterized the layoffs as a reduction in force prompted by reasons of “economy and efficiency” but the employees countered that the town acted in bad faith because the employees were let go, not for anything budget-related, but rather, in retaliation for complaints made against superiors.

Hearings were held in the OAL court in Newark Sept. 28 and Oct. 31, 2013, with attorney Paul Kleinbaum representing the employees and special counsel Jonathan Cohen appearing for the town.

Kosick, a senior librarian who earned $71,000, testified that she was targeted for a layoff in connection with a 2010 incident for not allowing a contracted artist to do portraits of two local politicians’ kids at a library program because the politicos arrived with only five minutes left in the program. Kosick said she was bawled out by her thenboss but acknowledged she wasn’t disciplined. She said that after she was let go, the town hired a part-time librarian in violation of its hiring freeze policy.

However, the court found that Kosick had no proof that she’d been targeted for a layoff and that the town had hired only “low-level” employees — not librarians – to handle some of her work.

Wainman, a clerk for the Construction Code Department who earned more than $55,000, claimed that she was targeted for a layoff after she filed a harassment complaint in 2010 for being told to bring a doctor’s note after being out sick for less than three days, for being told to leave and docked a half sick day after arriving to work 19 minutes late and for being yelled at by a supervisor to “get that baby out of there” while she was assisting a customer with a crying infant. After filing a verbal complaint, Wainman said she was branded a “pot stirrer” by the town’s personnel officer.

Again, the court found that no bad faith in Wainman’s case, noting that the harassment complaint was made “after the layoff plan for 2011 was formulated.” The court noted that it was Wainman’s choice not to apply for the position of permit clerk – which would have insulated her from the layoff – nor did she want to “bump” another employee who is the mother of three children.

Fowlkes, a $54,000 clerk typist bilingual in the Public Works Department, testified that in 2011, she filed a racial discrimination complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission, based on allegations of a hostile work environment, including the placement of a big black rubber rat on her work desk and an order by her boss to get out of his office. She said that Town Administrator Michael Martello found no evidence of racial discrimination or a hostile work environment but that everyone in the Public Works Department had to take a class on racial harassment. Subsequently, she got a new job at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission in Newark.

The court concluded that no bad faith had been demonstrated against Fowlkes, noting that the EEOC had investigated – and dismissed – her claim of racial discrimination. It also found that Fowlkes had three years’ less seniority than a second bilingual clerk in the Public Works Department.

Ryan, a $75,000 principal clerk typist in the Fire Department who worked there 28 years for six different fire chiefs, testified that she was targeted for layoff because of her union activism. She said that the town originally sought $785,000 in concessions from Council 11 but then upped that amount to $870,000. Also, she said, the town initially wanted 26 furlough days but then offered to take 20 days – and later, 13 days – if she retired.

The court found “no merit” to Ryan’s claim of retaliation due to her union activities. Instead, it concluded, “the record supports that the town and unions worked together to avoid layoffs in the prior year and to reduce the overall number of layoffs by agreeing to furlough days and other concessions.”

Ryan retired April 1, 2013, and began collecting pension benefits.

Mayor Alberto Santos said last week that he expected to begin negotiations with Council 11 on a new labor contract by the end of October or early November. The union currently represents about 55 civilian employees and 25 crossing guards.