Near the end of last Monday night's Woodcliff Lake Mayor and Council meeting Barbara Fusco, who is known for her many volunteer activities and life-long dedication to the town, rose and questioned Councilman Jon Vogel as to the reasons why he approved a voucher for Fusco's Market with a written comment of "reluctantly" next to his signature.
The voucher was for $76 worth of 9-volt batteries for air packs for the Fire Department. Mrs. Fusco believed that Mr. Vogel made the comment because the vendor was Fusco's. Mrs. Fusco was extremely upset that Mr. Vogel would do such a thing, to the point that she was almost in tears. She was frustrated and angry since the batteries were sold at her cost. To quote her, "I did not make a single penny on those batteries. I gave them to you at my cost. The arrogance of Mr. Vogel prompted him to reply that he might have saved a few dollars by going elsewhere.
During the commotion at close of the meeting, Mr. Vogel, who sits across the dais from me, stood up and started shouting accusatory unpleasantries at me. He stated, "You are a muckraker. You have never done anything good for this town. If you ever do anything good for this town I will take out an ad and advertise it."
And what was the reason for his outburst? His implication was that I showed the voucher (a public record) to Mrs. Fusco after he made a notation on it.
He couldn't be further from the truth! One would only have to look at the dates and order of the various signatures on the voucher to determine where the information came from. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out, this puzzle.
Incidentally, I thank Mr. Vogel for the compliment. For anyone who knows their American history, a muckraker is someone who publicly searches out and publicly exposes the misconduct of individuals.
It is a shame that we can't maintain appropriate civility, respect and professionalism during the course of council meetings. People love to blame politics for these outbreaks. In reality, it's personalities.
Joanne C. Howley
Councilwoman - Woodcliff Lake
Councilman Rosenblatt's letter to the editor in the Feb. 20th Community Life accuses as being obstructionists those who criticize the mayor and council Democrats for their recent misdeeds. He calls for "non-partisan" government and urges us to "reassess our priorities" and to "set examples for our children." He uses other words like neighbor, country, compassion, etc. Fine words. Cherished values. But, in Mr. Rosenblatt's now familiar (and fast becoming worn out) style, he trivializes these cherished precepts.
How does Mr. Rosenblatt explain why his council colleague, twice in one year, falsely accused a borough employee of wrongdoings, only to publicly apologize within minutes of making the accusations?
How does Mr. Rosenblatt explain tossing out our highly respected 22-year borough administrator? He and the mayor promised us an explanation. We never received one. How does Mr. Rosenblatt explain the sudden demotion of the town's, popular recreation director and the almost doubling of the department's payroll with a replacement? Political patronage? How does Mr. Rosenblatt explain the attempted creation of the new payroll position of "Property Maintenance" at $42,000 a year, plus a $16,000 part-time secretary. Inquiring residents were promised an explanation. They never received one and the positions were dropped.
No, Mr. Rosenblatt, it's not about obstructionists against council Democrats. It's about the overflow groups of well-meaning residents at your council meetings -both Republicans and Democrats- who demand answers for these misdeeds. Will a change to your suggested non-partisan form of government change these misdeeds and the behavior of some of our elected officials?
Oh, Mr. Rosenblatt, let's agree that we all share similar basic values. So when you do get around to answering these questions, just stick to the facts, and leave our children, country and compassion out of it.
Tony De Vito