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Category: News

Bloomfield’s Hamilton looks for voting change

Bernard Hamilton


By Ron Leir


Party politics – it’s the dominant part of the electoral process in many communities around the country – from the Presidential right down to the local level. As part of that process, a candidate is linked to a political party, for good or ill.

But in Bloomfield, one elected official wants to change that way of doing business.

Councilman-at-large Bernard Hamilton wants to shed the mantle of partisan elections when it comes to Bloomfield voters having to declare themselves Democrats or Republicans to vote the party line for mayor and Township Council.

“I want to have a more inclusive electoral process,” Hamilton said. “The majority of voters here are non-registered independents. People tend to flip back and forth (between the major parties) just so they can vote in primary elections.”

Then there’s the practical matter of dollars.

This year, township residents are being asked to vote in three elections: the Board of Education election/budget in April, the June primary for state offices and the November Presidential and general election – the cost of which is passed on the taxpayers, he said.

That expense can be reduced, in part, by aligning the school election with the November election so they can be on the same November ballot, Hamilton suggested.

Now that the State Legislature has cleared the way for such a shift and the governor has signed off on it, Hamilton said the change can be implemented on the local level by a resolution of the mayor and Township Council, by a public referendum or by Board of Education action.

“It’s important to be more inclusive and get more participation from the public,” he said. “Typically for our Board of Education elections, we barely get 2,000 people to come out. That’s 2.5% of our 48,000 population.”

And, Hamilton said, for municipal elections, with a turnout that averages between 8,000 and 9,000, “all you need is 600 to 700 votes to win a ward seat (on the Township Council).”

“There’s too much pressure to support candidates by joining a political party,” Hamilton said.

Currently, the local political roster on the Bloomfield governing body is exclusively Democratic, including Hamilton, and the Dems hold a 500- vote plurality over the GOP on the township party registration rolls, according to Hamilton.

“I’m a registered Democrat but I’m not backed by a machine but rather by substance,” he said.

It would be a much better system, he said, if candidates ran in non-partisan elections where they aren’t tied to a political party and they can stand on their own and articulate their positions. And, at the same time, all those independent voters can come out in one fell swoop, thereby opening up the electoral process.

“This is an issue that affects every single person in Bloomfield,” Hamilton says.

At a recent Township Council conference session, Hamilton brought up for discussion the notion of jettisoning partisan municipal elections in favor of non-partisan contests but when it came to a vote to bring the issue to the table, the matter deadlocked 3-3, with one council member absent.

Joining Hamilton in the vote were Mayor Raymond McCarthy and Second Ward Councilman Nicholas Joanow. Opposed were First Ward Councilman Eric Chalet, Third Ward Councilman Carlos Bernard and Councilman-at-large Michael Venezia.

Councilwoman-at-large Peggy O’Boyle Dunigan, recovering from knee surgery, couldn’t attend.

But Hamilton isn’t about to let the matter die.

“I’m going to bring it up again,” he says.

However, instead of forming a PAC (Political Action Committee) to push it, Hamilton’s present strategy is to “let some groundswell build. I feel Bloomfield residents are smart enough to vet this out as being in the best interests of the township.”

In the meantime, he’s asked the township attorney to research the issue.

Since the next municipal election won’t happen until 2013 – when the mayoralty and three at-large council seats are up for grabs – Hamilton has got time to make his case.

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: Guidelines for stepparenting



Last week I received a phone call from a Harrison woman. She mentioned that she had a possible story for me. She didn’t claim to be a journalist; in fact she went out of her way to point this out. She just felt compelled to write on the behalf of custodial stepparents.

After reading her letter I couldn’t agree more with her assessment. I myself went through the trials and tribulations of stepparenting. Contrary to what some people believe, you don’t have to bear a child in order to love and care for one. But it takes time, patience and a set of ground rules on both parts. I want to thank Pujo for taking the time to send in her story and for opening up this important conversation. The letter reads as follows:

Custodial Stepparents:

Overworked and Underappreciated

While going through a difficult time within my blended family, I went online looking for support and advice from other stepmothers. I was surprised to find that in this day and age with family dynamics vastly changing, there isn’t much support out there for custodial stepparents. Although both roles are important and extremely complex, there is a big difference between a stepparent who lives with the children and a stepparent who sees the children every other weekend or once a week.

There are many articles and forums that talk about a stepparent’s boundaries and what they should not say or what they should not do, but when you live with the children it is extremely hard to see that boundary line.

Although a noncustodial stepparent wants to bond and get to know the children, the task can be hard to achieve when they spend a short amount of time with them.

Often, a blended family will rely on the custodial stepparent for food, clothing, financial and emotional support, but when it comes to the rights of custodial stepparents, there are none. This is one of the hardest realities a custodial stepparent has to face. Unless you have been in this situation before, you have no idea how hard it is for a custodial stepparent to deal with these realities. Besides having no legal rights to the children that you provide and care for, a custodial stepparent also has to face the fact that society often judges them as “trying to be the mom or dad” when that is not the case.

A custodial parent does not ask to be a “step in” parent. They are given this role with no guidelines and have to figure it out on their own. People often say, “ They are not your kids, you do not have to worry about it that much.” So it is okay for me to care for and love these children as if they are mine because they live with me, but when things get a little hard society assumes I should not care because they are not biologically mine. What is wrong here? A stepparent knows the children are not biologically theirs – we do not need society reminding us of the obvious.

It is now 2012 and we as a society know that blended families have become quite common. The reality is most custodial stepparents “step in” when a biological parent “steps out.” That by itself deserves a standing ovation.

Whether the children you live with are yours, adopted, foster or stepchildren you have an obligation as a member of society to raise them to the best of your ability, no matter what people think. I believe the bond I have with my stepchildren is unbreakable. After years of raising these kids as my own, they have become a part of me and I have become a part of them. This might be a difficult concept for some people to grasp, but we are bonded by love, not blood.

— Puja Oquendo

Editor’s note: Are you a custodial stepparent with your own unique experiences to share? We’d like to hear about it. Please send an email to jeffbahr@theobserver.com.

In Memoriam – Ken Russell

Ken Russell


By Jeff Bahr

Kearny —

Kearny lost one of its most beloved citizens on Friday, Jan. 27 with the passing of 71-year-old Ken Russell. Russell was well known within the community for his involvement in civic groups, and for his uncommon concern for the poor and disenfranchised.

“Ken was a larger-than-life personality who really lived to be involved with his grandchildren and to be involved with his community,” said Russell’s son-in-law Mark Wiggins, who went on to recount his first meeting with his future father-in-law. “The first time I met him I was a Pioneer boy and Ken came in and he was showing us how to juggle and do magic tricks” said Wiggins. “I never imagined that my children would be blessed with such a wonderful grandfather. My parents are lucky to have had him.”

In addition to his work with several other organizations, Russell served for the past seven years as a member of the Salvation Army’s Kearny Corps Advisory Board. “Ken’s passing is a loss to our Advisory Board and so many civic groups in our communities,” said Rebecca Escobar, Administrative Assistant of Kearny Corps. Escobar added that she was thrilled that Russell will be honored this year at Kearny Corps’ annual dinner.

Russell worked closely with the Salvation Army, particularly during their annual campaign to raise funds for the poor. According to Maj. Brenda Suarez, Russell was “well connected in the community” and was always ready to help out where he could. “Every year he would help with our ‘Kettle Campaign” explained Suarez. “He really touched a lot of lives within the organization.”

Maj. Alberto Suarez also spoke fondly of Russell. “He was very compassionate, especially for social justice issues, said Suarez in describing his friend. “He had a great compassion for poor people.”

Russell was a member of the West Hudson chapter of The Pioneer Boys & Girls of America.

Harrison Police Blotter

Jan. 24

Harold Gadsden, 33, of Harrison, was arrested on a traffic warrant issued by North Arlington. He was released on his own recognizance by North Arlington.

Jan. 23

Someone broke into a car while it was parked beneath Rt. 280 on Sussex St. In breaking a window, the culprit apparently cut himself on the glass and left blood on the glass, which police collected for DNA analysis.


A 1999 Jeep Cherokee was broken into while it was parked on Kingsland Ave. Both door locks were damaged and the car’s ignition was tampered with but nothing was reported stolen. Jan. 21 Someone broke into a BMW while it was parked at Third and Warren Sts. Although the passenger side window was smashed and the vehicle was ransacked, nothing was reported missing by the owner.

Jan. 20

A 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck was stolen from a parking lot on Essex St. while parked there overnight.

Jesus Delvalle, 25, of Newark, was stopped for a motor vehicle violation on Frank Rodgers Blvd. South when police detected the odor of what they suspected was burnt marijuana coming from his vehicle. After police found he was in possession of two small bags of marijuana, they issued him a summons and released him pending court action.

A 2000 Honda Civic was stolen from Grant Ave. While investigating the theft, police realized that a 1990 Toyota Camry reported stolen from Newark on Jan. 17 was abandoned in the same area where the Civic was stolen from.

Jan. 19

Miguel Cartagena, 37, of Newark, was arrested on an outstanding Newark warrant in a Harrison Ave. store. He was released on his own recognizance by the Newark Municipal Court.

A 2000 Honda Civic was stolen from a private parking lot on Railroad Ave. while it was parked there during the day. The vehicle was recovered the following day a few blocks from where it had been stolen.

A 1998 Honda Civic was stolen from the 400 block of Cleveland Ave. during the early evening hours. It was recovered on Jan. 22 in Newark.

Around Town


The Bloomfield Public Library is partnering with Bloomfield resident Gene Nichols to preserve family stories. Nichols, a retired journalist and public relations executive, is offering to videotape community members 65 and older as they recount memories and milestones in their lives.

Life Story Cam sessions will be held free of charge (for those age 65 and over) at the Bloomfield Public library by appointment. Call Gene Nichols at (347)-560-8056 to schedule. Nichols will conduct an on-camera interview with each participant, which he will format, edit, and create a DVD. “If anyone is unhappy with the results, the material will be discarded,” says Nichols. However if people like it, Nichols will instruct them how to upload their “story” to a website that, with proper access codes, can be viewed by friends and family from far and wide. Samples of the questions he will ask as well as a video explaining the process can be viewed on his website at http://www. lifestorycam.com. Currently, the sessions are by appointment and will (mostly) take place at the library at 90 Broad St. To find out more information and to arrange an interview time, please contact Gene Nichols at (347)560-8056.

Bloomfield Public Library announces the following schedule for its Thursday Afternoon at the Movies program: Feb. 2 – “The Adjustment Bureau” (R) (Matt Damon); Feb. 9 – “Murder, He Says” (NR) (Fred MacMurray); Feb. 16 – “Nothing But a Man” (NR) (Ivan Dixon); Feb. 23 – “The Reader” (R) (Kate Winslet).

The following schedule is for the library’s Monday Afternoon at the Movies program: Feb. 6 – “Rachel Getting Married” (R) (Anne Hathaway); Feb. 13 – “For the Love of Ivy” (G) (Abbey Lincoln); Feb. 20 – “Bridesmaids” (R) (Maya Rudolph); Feb. 27 – “No Name on the Bullet” (NR) (Audie Murphy). Films for both programs start at 12:15 p.m. in the library theater. Admission is free and all are welcome.

East Newark

West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets on the last Friday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. The group will provide an atmosphere of warmth and comfort for patients and family. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa 201-246- 7750, Fatima 973-485-4236 or email emidura2@yahoo.com. Together we will fight this disease.

Harrison Health educators from the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) will conduct a free poison prevention education program, sponsored by Washington Middle School on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 1 North 5th St., Harrison, at 3:30 p.m. Programs are designed to give New Jersey residents necessary information to adhere to poison safe practices in their home, workplace, and community. Interactive activities and a question and answer period are included in each session, which is about an hour in length. Free educational materials are provided to all participants. The New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES), also known as the Poison Control Center, is a non-profit organization. It is the state’s only poison control center and its free, 24/7 emergency and information hotline (1-800-222-1222) is answered by specially trained healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, and pharmacists). They can assist callers who speak many different languages.

Molly the Therapy Dog made her first visit to the Harrison Public Library. Over 20 children attended the program. Molly will visit the library every month. Contact the library for future dates at 973-483-2366.


The Rosary Society of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., Kearny, will hold its first meeting of the new year on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. in the church hall. Snow date is Thursday, Feb. 9. Cecilian Seniors announce a trip to Resorts Casino on Feb. 8. The bus will leave at 9:30 a.m. from in front of St. Cecilia’s Church. If interested, call Johnnie B. at 201-997- 9552 after 6 to 9 p.m.

Mater Dei Academy presents it’s Annual Raffle Auction on Friday, Feb. 17. On the Red Carpet will be held at St. Stephen’s church hall on Kearny Avenue. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and tickets are only $15. Thousands of dollars in prizes! You can purchase tickets at the school office. Tickets sell out quickly so don’t wait!


The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst has placed a decorated Valentine box on each floor of the Lyndhurst Public Library. Please support this project by placing a Valentine card in one of the boxes for a veteran.

The library is collecting nonperishable food items for the Lyndhurst Health Department’s Food Pantry. The drop-off box is located inside the library’s back entrance. It will remain there year-round. For questions regarding the Food Pantry, call the Lyndhurst Health Department at 201-804-2500.

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, One Dekorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst, will host “Mad Science: Wonders of Water!” on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m. Marvel as the mad scientist performs wondrous experiments with ice and liquids to illustrate amazing scientific principles in this educational entertainment program perfect for children and their parents. Admission is $5 per person and $4 for MEC members.

Lyndhurst Knights of Columbus Council #2396 is hosting its third annual Tricky Tray on Friday, Feb. 10, at the Senior Citizens Building, 250 Cleveland Ave., Lyndhurst. Tickets are $10, which includes coffee and cake. You can bring your own appetizers for your table. Doors open 6 p.m. Contact Sal Russo 201-446-7244, Michelle Rogan 201-438-2444 or Maria Lesny 201-507-9766.

The Lyndhurst Health Department is hosting a monthly health lecture series, made possible through a partnership with Clara Maass Medical Center. The next lecture will be held on Friday, Feb. 17, starting at 10 a.m. A light breakfast will be served. February’s lecture topic will be: Preventing Heart Attack and Stroke. Please call the Lyndhurst Health Department at 201-804-2500 to reserve a seat.

North Arlington

The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Queen of Peace Parish will be conducting a blood drive on Sunday, Jan. 29, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 1:00 p.m. at the LaSalle Center (located across the street from Queen of Peace Church) on Church Street. Every successful donor will be given a $10 Shop- Rite gift card.

The North Arlington Senior Activity Center, 11 York Road, announces a Valentine luncheon and dance will be held on Friday, Feb. 17, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A trip to Mohegan Sun Casino with a St. Patrick’s Day show in Mystic Village is scheduled for Saturday, March 17. For more information, call 201-998-5636.


The Wednesday Afternoon Knitting Club meets at the Nutley Public Library every week from 1 to 3 p.m. Come share your love of knitting and crocheting with both beginning and experienced knitters. Meet fellow knitters, brush-up on your skills, and learn some new techniques. Please bring your own supplies. This group meets every Wednesday.

Adult Scrabble Night will be held at the library on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. Prizes will be awarded for first and second place scores. Matinee Fridays: Classic Films program will be held on at the library every Friday at 2 p.m. Please check the monthly calendar, flyer or Facebook for the titles of the films. Saturday Story Time and crafts for children of all ages is held at the library on Saturdays at 10 a.m. Registration is not required.

LOL – Laugh Out Loud

Like many of you, I fear failure. So where do we go when we suffer such letdowns? How do we heal and regain our strength back? For some, recovery happens quickly. For others it’s a longer journey. It is in times like these that alternative beliefs bring solace. I believe in laughter therapy. I trust it completely to elevate me from my situation and begin afresh.

In India, it is not uncommon to find clubs where people gather purely for this therapy every morning. It is considered one of the most effective forms of exercise and has been extremely popular with learned yogis for centuries. Laughter is a powerful antidote to emotional distress, conflict, stress and pain. Laughing aloud helps release endorphins in the brain that enable an individual to think clearly, gain confidence and perform better at dealing with troubles. Nothing works better or faster to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burden and inspires fresh hope. It also acts as a catalyst to help you connect with others on a more grounded and focused level. The art of tricking the mind to laugh off your worries works brilliantly since the body cannot differentiate between a genuine laugh and an artificial one. Laughing is also one of the most economical treatments.

I have personally benefitted by combining this therapy with deep breathing exercises – better known as Yoga. The stretching and discipline that these exercises demand help to rejuvenate one’s senses. It enhances the quality of your life. Knowledge is power.

Understand how your body needs to be in complete balance for you to experience a perfect state of well being. Let us learn to love ourselves today. A healthy body and a happy mind can help you live longer too. So give yourself a break and laugh out loud today.


Visit Shweta Punjabi at her website solutionsbyshweta.com for more information or email her at magictaara@yahoo.com

A great idea for retirement savings


By Randy Neumann

Recently, a client came in to discuss a retirement idea. Someone told him that, although he is still working, he is eligible to collect his Social Security retirement benefits. He said, “I’ve been making money for my employers all of my life, now I’d like to do something for myself.”

First a little background. Today, this situation is not unusual. Economic conditions have caused many baby boomers (the first wave turned 65 this year) to change their retirement strategies. Some are delaying retirement. Others are planning to work after retirement, or interrupting their retirement to take a job or start a business. For many, the question becomes whether they can work and still collect Social Security, and what happens if they do.

Social Security was created in 1935. Sixty-five years later, Bill Clinton signed the Senior Citizen’s Freedom to Work Act of 2000. This was a great piece of legislation. Times were quite different then: 2000 was the ninth consecutive year of economic growth. The unemployment rate was at 4%, its lowest level in more than three decades, and the overall poverty rate dropped to its lowest level since 1979.

With unemployment at a paltry 4%, compared to the present 9+%, businesses were desperately searching for workers. Somebody in Congress had a brilliant idea. Why not encourage seniors to go back to the workplace by removing the penalties for working while collecting Social Security.

It worked!

Many seniors were happy to get back into the workforce, and many employers were happy to have them. They did not need to learn new skills – they already had them. And, without fear of being called an “ageist,” ditto for their work ethic.

Getting back to my client’s situation. We went online to the SSA.gov website and entered his information. He was born in 1945, which makes him 66-years-old. Bingo! That is his full retirement age; therefore, he is entitled to $1,833 per month which is $21,996 per year.

Continuing the conversation I asked,” Does your company have a 401(k) plan?” The answer was, “Yes, and they match 3 percent if you put in 6 percent.” I reached into the conference room cabinet and pulled out a one-page tax summary. The maximum dollar contribution for 2011, for someone over the age of 50, is $22,000 which is four dollars more than his SS income. I said to my client, “I think someone is telling us something.”

I hypothesized, “Your salary is approximately $100,000 per year. You can collect $21,996 from Social Security without any penalties; therefore, your taxable income would be $121,996. However, only 85% of your Social Security benefits are taxable, so your taxable income is really $118,696.”

But wait a minute, he can contribute $22,000 to his 401(k) plan and get a deduction for the contribution. So, basically, he can sock away his Social Security payments into a retirement plan that will grow tax-deferred until he begins taking withdrawals.

And, let’s not forget about the company match of 3% which is $660. This does not come out of my client’s pocket; instead, it comes from the employer, but it goes into his account. So his annual contribution is $22,660. If he were to do this for five years, assuming a 6 percent return on the portfolio, the value of the account would be $158,060.

There’s one more wrinkle to this story. My client, like everyone else, must take Required Minimum Distributions from all of his qualified plans at age 70 1/2, except for one – his 401(k). A provision of the RMD rules say that if you are still working after age 70 1/2, and do not own more than 5% of the company, you are not required to take RMDs from the company retirement plan. You may continue making contributions and deferring the earnings in the plan until April 1 of the calendar year following the year in which you retire.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for the individual. Randy Neumann CFP® is a registered representative with securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 600 East Crescent Avenue, Upper Saddle River, 201-291-9000.

Online Exclusive: Nutley Police Blotter

Nutley Police Blotter


Police went to a Hancox Ave. residence at about 1:50 a.m. where an individual was reportedly looking to harm himself and another occupant, both about age 50, but a police negotiator managed to calm him down. No weapons were involved and no charges were filed.

Jan. 27

At 1:58 a.m. police stopped a motor vehicle on Park Ave. after noticing its rear lights weren’t operational and then detected a strong odor of suspected marijuana. The driver, Victor Jiminez, 23, of Newark, was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia and received a motor vehicle summons before being released pending a court hearing.

Jan. 26

A Washington Ave. homeowner reported a burglary at 5:37 p.m.. The resident told police that a side door had been forced open and that a number of items had been taken from the home. Detectives are investigating.

Police assisted state Treasury Dept. agents in shutting down a Franklin Ave. gas station at 11:41 a.m.. The treasury agents took possession of the business and secured the property.

At 8:13 a.m., police mediated a dispute between two neighbors, one being upset with the other’s positioning a security camera (not yet operational) so that it focused directly on her home, invading her privacy. The owner of the camera agreed to relocate it.

Police responded to a complaint that someone was picking up recyclables from Nutley residents, other than the public works department. Police located the individual around 7:41 a.m. who told them that he was only collecting from private vendors.

Jan. 25

Relatives of a 79-year-old Nutley woman called police to report a scam around at 3:47 p.m.. They told police that the woman had received a call telling her that her grandson was in an accident in Peru and asked her to send money via Western Union, which she then did. The caller phoned back after the transaction to ask for an additional $2,800 but was told she couldn’t make another transaction the same date. It was then that a family member realized she’d been scammed and notified police.

Police pulled over a 2000 Nissan around 10:44 a.m. for a traffic stop on Union Ave. and found that the vehicle was unregistered. Police issued the driver a summons and impounded the vehicle.

At 2:26 a.m. police stopped a 2004 Saturn with a non-functioning tail light at the intersection of Union and Conover Aves. and learned that the vehicle was unregistered. Police issued a summons to the driver and impounded the car.

Jan. 24

Police were called to Nutley High School at 1:36 p.m. where a school employee told them someone had carved letters into their vehicle. Police are investigating.

Police searched the area around Yantacaw School after learning from a teacher that a 9-year-old girl on her way into school had been confronted by man believed to over age 50 who may have been power-walking and who asked the girl several questions but didn’t attempt to grab or harm the girl. Anyone with information that may help identify the man is asked to call Nutley Police at 973-284-4940. The initial incident was reported at 9:23 a.m.

At 1 a.m. police went to a Nutley home to investigate a report called into 911 that there was a hostage situation at the location. Police determined, however, that the alleged victim lived in Mt. Holly, was safe inside his home and had no knowledge of the call. Police are trying to learn how the call originated and, if they can identify the caller, they intend to charge the person with making a false report and creating a false public alarm. Police Director Alphonse Petracco and Police Chief John Holland said that such false reports are taken very seriously, particularly, when a phony distress call makes police unavailable to respond to a real emergency.

Jan. 23

Police responded at 12:51 a.m. to an activated alarm at the Old Canal Inn on E. Passaic Ave. where detectives discovered the front door had been smashed with a rock and a large-screen TV torn from its mount had been stolen. Based on investigation, police are seeking a man with dreadlocks driving a grey or silver Nissan Xtera. Anyone with information is asked to call Nutley Police at 973-284-4940.

Jan. 22

Police responded to an accident on High St. around 11:09 p.m. where they found Thomas Undegrove, 51, of Clifton, standing outside his vehicle. Undegrove was summonsed for DWI and released to his wife.

Jan. 21

At 8:28 p.m. police arrested Robert Pisarczyk, 41, of Clifton, on DWI charges.

A Hopper Ave. resident contacted police at 4:59 p.m. after reportedly being contacted by a U.S. military representative via the Internet and Skype with a request to go to the Ghanian Embassy in New York to pick up jewels and a large sum of money.

Police went to a Bloomfield Ave. residence around 1:21 p.m. where the homeowner showed them about nine paintball marks on the house. Police determined that the marks were made by a juvenile. Charges are pending.

Police were sent to Memorial Park at 10:19 a.m. to check a dispute between two people over a dog. One person had been hit in the face, accidentally, by a dog leash. Police advised both of their rights to sign complaints and issued a summons to the dog owner for having an unlicensed dog.

At 9:14 a.m. police impounded a snow-covered vehicle parked on the shoulder of Rt. 21. Police ticketed the vehicle for abandonment and secured it at their impound site pending release to the owner.

Jan. 20

Police went to a Bloomfield Ave. residence at 7:11 p.m. where the owner’s car had been “keyed” along its side. Police are investigating.

Police responded to a Franklin Ave. business around 4 p.m. where a food handler had accidentally cut his wrist with a knife. He was taken to an area hospital for treatment.

Police and EMS went to a Washington Ave. auto repair garage around 12:20 p.m. where a tire had exploded, injuring a mechanic’s hand. The employee was transported to an area hospital for treatment.

Online Exclusive: Kearny Police Blotter

The Kearny Police Department aided their Harrison counterparts on Jan. 20th. At around 5:20 p.m., Officer Neil Nelson overheard broadcasts from the Harrison Police Department reporting a series of thefts in motor vehicles on the Kearny/Harrison border. Nelson then observed a man near some parked vehicles with a screwdriver in his hand. Upon seeing Nelson, the man slipped the screwdriver into his pocket. After conducting a field inquiry, the man blurted out, “I don’t got noting but a screw driver and I’m in computer school.”

The man volunteered he was 26-years-old but was unable to provide a date of birth. After Nelson was able to get enough information, he conducted a check for warrants, and the subject had three active warrants out for his arrest. A search of the man revealed a bag of suspected marijuana, a blunt cigar, and a screwdriver.

The man, 24-year-old David Castillo, of Kearny, was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. He was held pending pickup by other municipalities.

On the 22nd, Officer Pat Becker was dispatched to the gas station at Linden and Kearny Aves. on the report that a man was, “begging for alms,” to the point that the gas station attendant called the police because he was harassing customers. When Becker arrived on scene, the car the man had been in was gone, but got the description. A patrol of the surrounding area found a car fitting the description in a prohibited area at Seeley and Kearny Aves.  Becker approached the vehicle and questioned the driver, who admitted that he had been at the gas station. A check of the man’s identification revealed that he had a driver’s license number, but no license and that he was wanted by North Arlington on a $500 warrant. The 64-year-old North Arlington resident, Robert Clark, was arrested for the warrant and additionally charged with driving while suspended.

Later that afternoon, around 4 p.m., 2nd precinct patrol officers in south Kearny were alerted that there was a stolen tractor-trailer being operated within the area. Officers Giovanni Rodriguez and Frank West were supplied with the description of the 2012 Kenworth truck and eventually observed  the truck on Hackensack Ave. The truck was pulled over and confirmed stolen. The two men, 55-year-old Luis Berrios from Bayonne and 40-year-old Angel Dominguez from Union City were placed under arrest and charged with receiving stolen property.

In what became a busy afternoon for Kearny Police, Officer Pat Becker was sent to a dispute in the 700 block of Elm St. He arrived on scene and interviewed people in the area and compiled a description of the individual who fled the scene. A check of the surrounding area saw a man who fit the description and was stopped. The man admitted he had been involved in the fray and was placed under arrest. A search of the man found that he was wanted in Hawthorne and had a warrant for $15,000 from Bergen County. The individual, 58-year-old Kearny resident John Berry, was arrested for the simple assault and the two outstanding warrants.

On Jan. 23rd, officers received  a call from a frantic homeowner on Wilson Ave. stating that he had just had an encounter with an individual who had broken into his apartment about 1:40 p.m. Officer Jack Corbett responed to the scene and interviewed the individual. Corbett got a description of the suspect and broadcasted the information to responding units. One of those units, Det. Mike Gonzalez, confirmed there was a burglary and was fortunate enough to find video footage near the scene and gave a better description and the route that he took to escape. A wide perimeter was set up and a canvas of the area led to another residence on Wilson Ave. where Corbett and Gonzalez confronted an individual who fit the description. Corbett and Gonzalez confronted the individual in a hallway at the residence. After advising him of their reasons for being there and the evidence, he resisted violently and had to be forced to the floor to be handcuffed. 18-year-old Kearny resident Eric Wheeler was arrested for burglary and resisting arrest.

In the early morning of Jan. 25th, Sgt. John Becker was on patrol in the area of Kearny Ave. and Liberty St. when a citizen advised him that he saw individuals that he didn’t think belonged in the area. He drove to the area of the high school parking lot and placed the area under surveillance. It was then that Sgt. Becker saw three individuals breaking into a parked vehicle. Becker alerted headquarters and approached the individuals who began to flee the scene. Becker took a foot persuit and captured one of the individuals near the steps of the high school. Officers Thomas Floyd and Derek Hemphill responded to the area and took one of the individuals into custody. The third individual still remains at large. The vehicle was confirmed broken into and a screwdriver was found at the scene. Kearny Police arrested the two individuals, a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, both male residents of Newark, on possession of burglary tools, conspiracy to commit burglary, and criminal attempted theft of an auto. The men were released to their parents and guardians.

Later that day, Officer Cesar Negron was made aware of the situation and was patrolling the area of the 300 block of Forest St. Negron came on a vehicle that, based on his experience patrolling through the area, was probably stolen. Further observation of the vehicle found materials inside the vehicle indicative of theft and his follow up investigation concluded that suspicion. A look up of the car showed that the car had just been reported stolen in Newark. The items were recovered and are going to be used to attempt to link the individuals from earlier in the morning to this car. The investigation is still ongoing.

Also on the 25th, Officer Jay Ward responded to the high school on a report that several students had been accosted, assaulted, and robbed upon dismissal. After conversing with individuals who had been compromised, he obtained a description of the individuals, anywhere between four and six in number. Patrol units flooded the area. Officer Chris Medina, who was off duty but was monitoring the radio observed and intercepted two individuals fleeing Davis Ave. Detectives Mike Gonzalez and Ray Lopes responded as backup. The two individuals made statements indicating that they were in the area, but had no involvement and were willing to help. Based on the information they provided, hey narrowed their focus, got names of the indiiduals, and ultimately charged three individuals. A further follow up conducted by the Detectives and Detective Sgt. John View  with the assistance of OfficersPaul Bershefski and Steve Hroncich led hem to Nwark and found an adult who is believed to be the ring leader. A 20-year-old Newark resident who had a history of robbery could possibly be charged with the actual robbery. Ultimately, four Newark residents, two 14-year-olds, a 15-year-old, and a 16-year-old, were all charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.

Finally, around 2:30 a.m., a woman as arguing with a boyfriend on her cell phone while driving. The argument became so heated that the female struck several parked vehicles and overturned her vehicle. Officers Mike Santucci and Angelo Palagano responded to the scene to find the car overturned. The female had crawled out of the vehicle and had been unsteady at her feel. Officers smelt the odor of alcohol. After interviewing the woman, she admitted that she was traveling on Ivy St. while talking on her cell phone and lost control, swerved into and stuck several parked vehicles and had flipped over. The woman admitted she had been drinking in Newark prior to the incident. She was offered medical attention, but ultimately declined. The owners of the three struck vehicles were notified and the female was placed under arrest. The female, 30-year-old Newark resident Jessica Moreno, was charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, talking on the cell phone while operating a vehicle, and failing to submit to a breath test.


– Anthony J. Machcinski

Aiming to be ‘safe at home,’ town seeking recreation aid

Photos by Anthony J. Machcinski/ A new playing surface may be in store for Veteran’s Field.


By Ron Leir

KEARNY – It’s a tie game, runner on second. The batter singles to right and the runner legs it to third, ready to dash home.

But as he rounds the base, his cleat catches in a hole along the baseline and he trips.

An unfortunate scenario, indeed, but one that’s happened more than once at the Little League East field at Kearny’s Gunnel Oval sports complex off Schuyler Ave.

Town officials are hoping to remedy that pitfall – and others – by installing synthetic turf there – and at Veterans Field off Belgrove Drive – if they can manage to finance it.

To that end, the Town Council voted Jan. 10 to apply for state Green Acres matching grants and for Hudson County Open Space funding to facilitate various recreation improvements.

Mayor Alberto Santos said that Neglia Engineering is now preparing an estimate for the turfing of Little League East field and building a track around the center portion of the Oval to submit to Green Acres by next month.

“We expect both of those projects to be in the range of our Harvey Field turf project, which was around $800,000,” Santos said.

If Green Acres agrees to fund the projects, Kearny would have to provide a 50% “match” of the amount funded and repay the state share at a low cost interest rate of probably below 2%, Santos said.

At the same time, Santos said, Kearny will seek $300,000 from the county’s Open Space trust fund to supplement municipal funds already budgeted for these projects: turfi ng of a multi-purpose playing surface at Veterans Field, completion of the Brighton Ave. playground and creation of an outdoor reading garden at the Public Library on Kearny Ave.

Replacing the grass and dirt Little League East and Veterans Field with synthetic turf should very much improve the lay of the land, said Ralph Cattafi , the town’s assistant recreation superintendent.

“It’s ideal,” Cattafi said, “because it cuts the cost of maintenance and it gives you a safer playing surface – it takes away the bad hops.”

No question about it, agreed Councilman Michael Landy, who chairs the council recreation committee. “Once you go turf, maintenance becomes non-existent.”

Photo by Anthony Machcinski/ Little League East fi eld will get turfed if Kearny can line up the fi nancing needed for the job.


As things now stand, Landy said, Veterans Field “gets beat up during football season” and also gets heavy use during the spring when baseball and girls’ softball take over. The fi elds are shared, to some extent, with the Board of Education. Several hundred kids participate year-round, he said.

Currently, the town recreation program operates two turf fields, both for soccer, at Harvey Field, at Schuyler and Bergen Aves., and at Futsal Field on Passaic Ave., Landy said.

“That would be a dream if you could turf everything,” he said. “If we could take care of one fi eld at a time, that would be a tremendous boon. As a high school coach, I would say you get fewer injuries on turf because it’s a flatter surface, you don’t have to worry about bumps or holes or the grass wearing out.”

“Plus it can rain all day and you can still play because there’s no accumulation of water,” Landy said. “They build the drainage underneath, with a layer of gravel above that, and sand over that. On the surface, you’re actually playing on pieces of rubber inside synthetic grass material.”

It can’t happen too soon for Little League coach Dan Elliott, whose team plays at the Oval’s East field.

“That field is dangerous,” Elliott said. “The way the grass and dirt is laid out, it’s not even – there are holes and patches on the edge of the infield grass – and the ball takes bad hops. Last season, a 9-year-old kid playing second base got hit under the eye (by a batted ball). Another kid rounding third twisted his ankle when his foot caught in a trench. The outfi eld grass has patches and little holes where kids can trip.”

Turf would certainly help, Elliott said. “I have played adult baseball on a turf fi eld and it’s like playing on a carpet. And my son, who’s on a baseball travel team, plays on a turf fi eld in Jersey City and he loves it.”

In the meantime, though, Elliott hopes something can be done to make the East fi eld safer. “This is my fourth year coaching on that fi eld and, since I started, it’s been the same (condition).”

Of course, even if Kearny gets the money it’s seeking, it won’t happen overnight.

“By the time the money gets awarded and the plans get approved and the contractor starts working, you’re lucky if you can do something by summer or fall,” Landy said. So it’s almost certain the work will cut into playing time at the Oval and Veterans Field, he said.

“We’ve got to arrange the schedule so the impact will be minimal,” Landy said.