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Category: News

New Kearny entry; borough war

Photo courtesy Jonathan Giordano Jonathan Giordano

Photo courtesy Jonathan Giordano
Jonathan Giordano

Here are the latest political developments for other upcoming municipal elections in West Hudson:

In Kearny, longtime Town Council incumbent Laura Cifelli-Pettigrew, a Democrat, will be calling it quits when her term expires on Dec. 31. Running in her stead for a Second Ward council seat is newcomer Jonathan Giordano, a local businessman and a member of the Kearny Planning Board.

Giordano will be on the same Democratic ticket as Town Council incumbents Albino Cardoso (First Ward), Eileen Eckel (Third Ward) and Susan McCurrie (Fourth Ward). All are running under the banner Regular Democratic Organization of Kearny.

No Republicans filed nominating petitions to run. Independents, if any, don’t file until Primary Day, June 3. Mayor Alberto Santos, a Democrat, won’t be up for reelection until 2017.

Asked why she chose not to run again, Cifelli-Pettigrew, a teacher at Harrison’s Washington Middle School, said: “I’m just done. Fourteen years on the council, and before that, four years on the school board, and prior to that, several years at St. Cecilia on the parish council, school board and food pantry. I’m done with meetings. I was fully extended. And now, my son and his wife just had twins, my daughter bought a new home. I’m going to stay home and cook and be happy.

Photo courtesy Laura Cifelli-Pettigrew Laura Cifelli-Pettigrew

Photo courtesy Laura Cifelli-Pettigrew
Laura Cifelli-Pettigrew

Cifelli-Pettigrew, who has been in the classroom 25 years, said she plans to “continuing teaching a few more years.” And she plans to continue attending Board of Education meetings but she says there’s “no truth to the rumors about me running for school board.” Looking back on her council tenure, she said she takes pride in playing a role in returning control of the previously outsourced water department to Kearny and persuading Rich Ferraioli to come back from the private sector and run it. Her biggest disappointment is not seeing development of a train station off Bergen Ave. which, she said, could have resulted in an influx of new residents to Kearny.

Giordano, a lifelong Kearny resident, is owner/operator of a family carpentry business on Arlington Ave., has served on the Planning Board for the past five years.

“The mayor had asked me to consider running a few years ago,” Giordano said, “and I respectfully declined. This time it’s after the [Sandy-triggered] flood, I’m trying to rebuild my shop and I figured I could probably manage that. I have no plans of leaving this town. I want to see what I can do to try and make it better and inject the opinion of the business owner.”

Photos courtesy Michael Magliotti Gianni Donates (l.) and Michael Magliotti

Photos courtesy Michael Magliotti
Gianni Donates (l.) and Michael Magliotti

Santos said that Giordano “is very aware of the core issues involving the Second Ward,” and, in particular, the problem of flooding.

A year ago, Giordano’s business was approved for a loan from the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone Corp. for improvements related to a proposed conversion of a vacant property to accommodate an indoor gun range but the loan application has since been amended to fund a reconstruction of a portion of Arlington Ave. owned by the business, according to Santos.

If Giordano is elected, and “should any matter relating to his business come before the council for deliberation, [Giordano] would recuse himself from voting,” Santos said.

In East Newark, political newcomers Gianni Donates and Michael Magliotti, who are aligned under the slogan, “Put East Newark First,” will be opposing incumbents Hans Peter Lucas and Jeanne Zincavage for Borough Council seats in the June Democratic Primary.

Zincavage has been on the council since 2001 while Lucas served initially from January 1983 to December 1985 and was re-elected in November 1993. They are running under the banner of the Hudson County Regular Democratic Organization.

Magliotti, who has owned and operated a local contracting business for the past four years, said he and Donates, a CPA, aim to cut “wasteful spending” by the borough and provide more transparency.

“The borough website isn’t updated, there are lawsuits by former police officers suing over money owed them, we had to pay outside contractors for snow removal this winter, there’s no recreation for our kids and what little play area we have gets too crowded, our kids are not prepared to go into high school, and yet we’re facing a 7% [municipal] tax increase,” Magliotti said.

– Ron Leir

Bidding farewell

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By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent

NUTLEY –

In 1955, the USS Forrestal was commissioned as America’s first post-World War II aircraft carrier — a 1,067-foot “supercarrier.” For nearly four decades, it sailed the seas, serving this nation in peace and in war — and surviving a disastrous 1967 accident in which 134 crewmen died and more than 160 were injured.

In 1993, it was decommissioned and put in “storage,” first at Newport, R.I., and then at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

And where is this historic vessel now? Being torn asunder and turned into scrap metal in Brownsville, Texas. Read more »

It’s Bianchi vs. Massa for mayor

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

NORTH ARLINGTON –

A pair of septuagenarians will square off against each other for the borough’s highest office in this year’s municipal election in North Arlington.

It’ll be Democratic incumbent Peter Massa, seeking a third term, facing Republican Councilman Joseph Bianchi for mayor.

This is Bianchi’s first try for the mayoralty. Since his 3-year term on the council runs through 2016, he can reclaim his seat if he’s unsuccessful in the mayoralty race.

Bianchi’s GOP running mates for Borough Council will be incumbent Dan Pronti, a retired cop who works now as a realtor, and newcomer Kerry Anne Cruz, a realtor, while, on the Democratic side, Massa’s ticket will include incumbent Councilman Mark Yampaglia, an attorney, and Dan Castro, who ran unsuccessfully in 2013. Read more »

Sewer rehab nightmare for locals

Sewer_web

HARRISON –

You can’t blame people living along the eastern stretch of Hamilton St., between Kingsland and Schuyler Aves., for feeling like they’re in a sort of war zone.

For many months, the area has been inundated with a tangle of above-ground pipes and barricades blocking traffic flow and uprooting curbside parking for the entire block.

Harrison Gardens, the sprawling public housing complex, sits on the south side of Hamilton and Harrison High School fronts on the north side.

The issue is a massive infrastructure project being tackled by the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) which has dragged on since last summer, seemingly with no end in sight. Read more »

Move to create middle school

Campus_web

By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

KEARNY–

The Kearny Board of Education is on record endorsing a middle school campus.

The board voted 6-0 at a special meeting last Monday, March 24, to get the ball rollling. Missing from the scene were Vice President John Leadbeater and members John Plaugic and Dan Esteves.

On the subject of the middle school (grades 6, 7 and 8 combined into a centralized “campus”), the board authorized district officials to begin formal negotiations with the owners of the St. Stephen’s School (or, as it was most recently known, Mater Dei Academy) on Midland Ave. for its purchase and/or lease. Read more »

Brushfires plague meadows

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By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent

Last week’s windy weather, combined with dry conditions in the meadowlands, kept local firefighters busy with brushfires, including three within one day.

On Wednesday, the first blaze was reported at 12:30 p.m. along the N.J. Turnpike in Kearny. Kearny Fire Chief Steve Dyl noted that it was a small one and, despite the winds, was “under control quickly.”

But as soon as that was quenched, a much larger brushfire was reported at 12:46 p.m. near Rt. 280 along the Harrison-Kearny border — and there, Dyl noted, “the wind played a major role,” with 35-45 mph gusts spreading the flames.

Crews from Harrison, Kearny, East Newark and Secaucus responded. Read more »

Guard smuggled drugs into prison

njdoc

KEARNY–

A former corrections officer at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center satellite unit in Kearny was sentenced to state prison Friday for smuggling heroin and marijuana into the facility, which houses sex offenders.

Acting N.J. Attorney General John J. Hoffman reported that Bobby Singletary, 55, of Paterson, was sentenced to seven years in state prison, including five years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Mitzy Galis-Menendez in Hudson County.

Singletary was also ordered to forfeit his entire pension and is permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey. Read more »

Is N.J. going to pot? Cops hope not

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

Even if the state legislature legalizes the possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana for people age 21 and older, it appears that several area communities would still look to ban the practice.

And that’s an option that municipalities could exercise, through the passage of a local ordinance, under the proposed law.

The bill, S1896, as introduced March 27 by State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), with a companion bill in the Assembly, has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further debate. Read more »

This ‘Sweeney’ sure to be on cutting edge

Photo courtesy Matt Boryszewski The Harrison High School Drama Club cast of “Sweeney Todd.”

Photo courtesy Matt Boryszewski
The Harrison High School Drama Club cast of “Sweeney Todd.”

 

 

By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

HARRISON –

Ready for a bit of skullduggery flavored with some twisted Sondheim music?

Then you’ll want to see the Harrison High School Drama Club’s deliciously dark depiction of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

Yes, it’s the Broadway thriller musical with music by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler that featured Len Cariou as the British barber back from an Australian exile with a vengeance and Angela Lansbury as the doomed pie maker Mrs. Lovett in the original cast from 1979 which won a Tony for Best Musical. Read more »

Kudos to detectives who cracked case

Photo courtesy Belleville PD Andy Kohut of AAY presents plaques to, from l. Dets. Matthew Dox, Joseph Mundy and Rafael Reyes.

Photo courtesy Belleville PD
Andy Kohut of AAY presents plaques to, from l. Dets. Matthew Dox, Joseph Mundy and Rafael Reyes.

 

BELLEVILLE –

Three members of the Belleville Police Department have been singled out for special credit for helping break a local theft case.

They are: Dets. Joseph Mundy, a 19-year veteran including the last eight years in the detective bureau; Matthew Dox, a 6-year officer in the bureau since November; and 4-year officer Rafael Reyes, also in the bureau since November.

At the March 25 Township Council meeting, the trio received plaques from AAY Associates, a Garden City, N.Y., security management firm, and T-Mobile in appreciation of their work.

Mundy said the case involved a theft at Uncle Bob’s Self-Storage, 125 Franklin St., reported on Nov. 18, 2013, by Andy Kohut, a retired NYPD detective who runs AAY Associates, which provides security services for T-Mobile, which has a cell-tower setup and related equipment in an upper level storage unit at Uncle Bob’s.

That unit had been tampered with during the night and someone had removed four 12-volt backup batteries, copper grounding rods and wireless equipment, all valued at more than $1,000, Mundy said.

There was no sign of forced entry to the storage unit.

Reviewing an electronic data base maintained by the storage facility to track access to storage units, the detectives discovered that the T-Mobile storage unit had been accessed, via a passkey, four times during the night, between 8:49 and 9:06 p.m.

Additionally, a review of internal surveillance video footage provided by AAY revealed a man in the storage facility elevator with a push cart containing materials covered by a tarp corresponding to the unit’s entry times recorded in the electronic log, Mundy said.

“So we came up with a suspect,” he said.

The detectives got another break when a member of Uncle Bob’s management team recognized the man caught on the surveillance tape as someone who lived a few blocks away who would often walk his dog near the facility.

And, Mundy said, detectives learned that the same man used to install equipment for T-Mobile. So, they reasoned, he would likely have familiarity with the company’s operations.

On Nov. 26, 2013, detectives arrested their suspect, Manuel Veliz, 26, of Belleville, at the suspect’s residence and charged him with burglary and theft. None of the items listed as stolen were recovered, Mundy said.

Because Veliz has a history of prior arrests on narcotics charges, detectives surmised that Veliz fenced the merchandise and used the proceeds to buy drugs.

Veliz subsequently pleaded guilty to the burglary and theft charge.

– Ron Leir