Letter: Hey councilman, ‘Where’ve you been these past few years?’

THE WRITER: Barbara Cifelli-Sherry
THE WRITER: Barbara Cifelli-Sherry

To the Editor:

As an avid reader of The Observer and a member of the Kearny Board of Education, I read with great interest Ron Leir’s front-page article, “Konopka: ‘That school’s a disaster.’”

The story detailed Councilman Rich Konopka’s dismay at the state of the Kearny High School capital project during the last town meeting.

Konopka’s remarks seemed to exhibit surprise, embarrassment and anger at the construction situation at Kearny High School, all of which leads me to wonder where he has been for the past few years?

Certainly, he has not been attending BOE meetings, which would have been the perfect venue for him to air his concerns, ask questions and receive the updates given as part of every single agenda.

The Second Ward councilman certainly should not be surprised by the construction since the school is right in the middle of his ward. Does he not walk his ward occasionally to assess matters of interest?

When I was in his position, I traveled my ward daily, making notes on potential problems and contacting the appropriate agencies.


Why would one be embarrassed by a project that has been fraught with inherent problems, none of which is the result of anything undertaken by the current administration? Perhaps the Councilman’s chagrin should be based in the fact that he is sorely lacking regarding the history of this plagued project. If Konopka is angry, he can only imagine the anger and angst of the current board members (who incidentally inherited this mess).

As upsetting as Mr. Konopka’s diatribe was, I was really disappointed to read that some of the senior members of the Council, who are more than familiar with government red tape and the detriment of lengthy litigation, chimed in to bolster his rhetoric.

Eileen Eckel, the Third Ward councilwoman, spoke of “accountability” for the delay in finishing the building. She has worked with me; she knows every member of the Board of Education. Which of us does she see as not being accountable?

Mike Landy, the Fourth Ward councilman, lamented the condition of the school as looking “like a third world country.” Landy’s perception of such a dire situation might be somewhat skewed since he has the good fortune of working in an Abbott School District, where administrators do not experience the constant worry of being under-funded.

As someone who proudly served as a member of the Town Council for many years, knowing the difficulties of the position, I have always defended our Mayor and Council against unfounded attacks. I respect their work and admire their ethics. I had always hoped I could expect the same in return.

Barbara Cifelli-Sherry
Kearny Board of Education member

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