Up-close & personal to learn about jobs

By Jeff Bahr


A mix of specially selected juniors and sophomores from Bloomfield High School took part in Bloomfield Youth Day on May 21. The annual event, designed to bring students up-close-and-personal with vocational opportunities in the township, was a few minutes late in getting started, but after event leaders ironed out the small details, the event progressed without a hitch.

The idea behind the day is straightforward. If the mystery of each job is removed, and the steps involved to reach each position are revealed, there is that much more likelihood that a student will consider it as a potential vocational goal.

During Youth Day, students visit with various municipal departments including administrative, legal, police and fi re. They listen to an overview of each job by the people who hold the positions, and are encouraged to follow up each presentation with questions. In this way, the students discover the requirements necessary to obtain each job, as well as the day-to-day intricacies involved in performing each task.

The event got underway with an orientation held in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. “We know that you have this special thing about you,” Mayor Raymond McCarthy told the students, “because you’ve been chosen by your peers and by the teachers – which means that you are leaders in this community.”

The mayor then described the electoral process governing Bloomfi eld’s mayoralty and Township Council and pointed out how the township is “a lot different” from most communities in New Jersey since it operates under a “no commission form of government.”

District Assemblyman Ralph R. Caputo (D) elaborated, explaining that, “Our form of government was produced by a special charter. We are one of 16 of the 566 communities in the state of New Jersey that have a special charter. Back in 1953, the people of Bloomfield decided that they wanted to change their form of government… And they changed it. It was a commission form of government like Nutley is now. So they (the citizens) filed a petition with the state of New Jersey, put it on the ballot and it won overwhelmingly.”

Caputo catalogued the differences between the two forms of government, noting that Bloomfi eld has “three-year terms” for its elected offi cials versus four for most other municipalities statewide. “The other thing that’s signifi cantly different (about Bloomfi eld) is the fact that the township is run by our township administrator, said Caputo. “The people back in 1953 didn’t like the commission form of government because each elected offi cial ran his/her own department.”

Bloomfield Second Ward Councilman Nicholas Joanow spoke of the importance of knowing the different levels of government. “When we talk about government, we talk about the many layers of government,” said Joanow. “It’s like making a sandwich. We’ve got the local municipal level; we’ve got the county level; the state and the federal (levels). The mayor, council and assemblyman are your first line of defense… So it starts with the grass roots when there are concerns.”

Before the students moved out of the municipal building to begin their tour, they posed questions to the department heads and administrators. “What was your most interesting case?” Christine Dino asked Municipal Court Judge Vincent A. Pirone.

The judge recalled an amusing case wherein a man, who was appearing before the court on motor vehicle related charges, claimed sovereignty. “He never referred to his car as a car,” said Pirone, chuckling. “He referred to it as his vessel. When he asked the offi cer (in court), ‘Did you see me in my vessel?’, (the officer) looked at him like a deer in the headlights!”

Another student asked the judge about the temperament that the job requires. “Attorneys will push you to the wall,” said Pirone. “They’ll try to get your goat. You can’t let them get your goat ‘cause once you do that you give away all your marbles. I didn’t know whether I had the disposition or temperament to sit here and basically conduct court in the manner in which it should be conducted, so I really had to think about it.” After seeking the council of friends and law colleagues, Pirone ultimately decided to give it try.

Bloomfield Police Chief Christopher Goul made a fi nal comment before the students continued on with Youth Day. “I give you guys credit,” said Goul. “(When I was your age) I had no idea what I was going to do. Back in 1980, I was going to open a pizzeria. But then my father said, ‘Have you ever seen a Polish pizzeria?’ It was the wisest thing he ever told me… Have fun, and I’ll see you all later!”

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