It wasn't exactly coffee at the White House but then again it doesn't cost $40,000 to attend. The Woodcliff Lake Republican Club's annual Lincoln Awards Dinner was the opportunity to rub elbows with who's who of Bergen County Republicans.
John Spirig, president of the Woodcliff Lake Republican Club, acted as Master of Ceremonies and presented the annual awards to Congresswoman Marge Roukema and Bergen County Sheriff Jack Terhune. In addition to the local dignitaries, the audience also included Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk and Assemblyman John Rooney, Freeholders Barbara Chadwick and Jim Sheehan, also Tim O'Reilly, Mayor of Hillsdale.
Fred Singer, the municipal chairman, and former chairman of the planning board was presented with a plaque commemorating his 31 years of community service.
In addition to the awards, special notice was paid to our latest Councilman, Jeff Klein. Jeff's remarks, though brief, were worth the price of admission. He described in humorous terms his indoctrination into the wonderful world of politics in Woodcliff Lake.
The speeches were brief, the food was good and the music kept the crowd on the dance floor. The dancers even got a lesson on doing the Macarena. Too bad Al Gore missed the affair, but then again, he wasn't invited.
The Woodcliff Lake Republican Club unanimously approved the nominating committee's selection of Andre' DiMino and Paul Camella to represent the party in the November election for two council seats.
At a recent meeting of the club at the Woodcliff Manor, Tony DeVito, the Nominating Committee Chairman, outlined the candidate's qualifications.
DiMino who has served 4 terms on the council has done it all, said DeVito. During his many years of service as council president he has steered our town through some difficult periods and varying economic trends. As finance chairman he maintained below average tax increases and earned a most cherished "AA+" bond rating from Standard & Poors, a major bond rating services firm. DiMino is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of ADM Tronics, a high-tech manufacturing company in Northvale. He and his wife Jenny live on Glen Rd. He earned an MBA in Finance.
DeVito, introducing Paul Camella, noted Paul's previous run for council and said he was not new to the political fray -- no doubt a reference to his hard fought campaign last year when he lost by 15 votes. Camella serves on the Woodcliff Lake Zoning Board of Adjustment and is 1st Vice President of the Woodcliff Lake Republican Club. He previously served on the planning board. His community service also includes being a coach in soccer, basketball and baseball. He is also a member of the Woodcliff Lake Educational Foundation. Paul is a Senior Real Estate Negotiator for Pathmark Stores, Inc. He and his wife Anna and two children live on Princeton Drive. He has an MBA in Financial Management.
It's hard to believe but we've done it again. For the third year in a row we have been able to maintain the same municipal tax rate without reducing services, and for the second consecutive year the county tax rate has decreased or stayed the same.
Of course, we realize that our tax bill includes other taxes, such as regional high school, local school and county taxes, over which the council has no control.
The fact that the Republicans have controlled the council for 11 out of the last 12 years has, in addition to providing fiscal responsibility, merited the town a "AA+" rating by Standard and Poors investment rating service. This top rating allowed the town to borrow money to meet its state mandated affordable housing obligation. The local schools also benefited for the proposed media center, boilers and other improvements to the schools.
Our political philosophy is in keeping with mainstream Republicans who are fiscally conservative and socially moderate. It's hard to relate to that on a local level other than to use the local tax rate to measure the efforts of the party to control spending and provide necessary services. We think we've done that and are dedicated to continuing on that path.
Many of you may have read the articles in the Bergen Record last month about the recent state superior court decision to uphold the Norwood majority council members claim that they have the right to advise the mayor and approve committee appointments for themselves. In the court ruling Judge Doyne states "A review of the Borough Act's statutory design leads the court to conclude without reservation that the role of the borough council is paramount." Unfortunately for the Mayor and Council of Norwood and more importantly the residents of Norwood, the town and its officials had to go through a court battle to obtain a decision that was already clearly defined in the Statutes of the State of New Jersey, the Borough's ordinances and the bylaws of the Council.
What many of you may NOT be aware of is that we have a very similar situation right here in Woodcliff Lake. At the council's reorganization meeting in January of 1997, Mayor Higgins presented a slate of committee assignments that provided her political allies on the council most of the committee responsibilities. This was obviously a blatant act of defiance not only of the talents of council members that were affected by this, some of whom have as many as 12 years council experience, but also to the voters of Woodcliff Lake who elected all six council members to office, not just the two that the Mayor feels are the only ones qualified to do anything for Woodcliff Lake.
This scenario was obviously unacceptable to the majority council members who summarily did not vote to accept the proposal. However, much to everyone's surprise, the Mayor decided to unilaterally defy State statute, the town's bylaws, past practices and the will of the voters by ignoring the vote of the council. Despite this outrageous move by the Mayor, the council members in the spirit of cooperation continued to move forward with their borough responsibilities while continuing to object to the Mayor's ruling. Once the decision came down on the Norwood situation, it was time to revisit the committee appointments in Woodcliff Lake. The Mayor continues to use lame excuses as to why she should not reconsider changing her position, despite numerous appeals by the council. The council has even gone as far as introducing an ordinance that clarifies the council's bylaws so that there is no discrepancy between them and the State Statute.
It is time for this nonsense to stop. For the sake of the town and the will of the voters, we urge the Mayor to abide by the state statutes and stop playing what appears to be the epitome of partisan politics. Accept the ruling of the courts and create committee assignments that use the talents of all the elected members of the council, fairly and evenly, and allow them to perform the duties they were elected to do.
Thanks to a grant called "Cops First", we were able to hire a new officer to bring the total force to 17. For those of you who have lived in town a while, it's safe to say you'd hardly recognize our "new" force. It now includes two female officers. One is from Montvale and previously served as an Arizona State Trooper and the other is from Upper Saddle River.
Our Chief, Richard Poliey, has been instrumental in hiring new officers who have been through the Police Academy. This saves us weeks of training and puts an officer on the road immediately. Two of our new officers were trained before being hired and one was trained as a transit cop in Newark and only needed supplemental training.
All these moves have resulted in savings to the community and contribute to a stable tax rate with a minimum interruption in service to the Borough. A consistent goal of our party.
It's hard to believe that it was almost six years ago that a bright young attorney named Sal Princiotto raised his hand to take the oath of office to serve on the council. It was the start of an outstanding career that saw Sal operate in various areas of town Government making major contributions to the borough.
His accomplishments spanned many areas but he really made major strides while serving as the council representative on Parks & Recreation and as Police Commissioner. The children's safety was a major concern and he spearheaded efforts to have safety "on deck cages" at the knickerbocker field and the two fields at the school.
As police commissioner, he acted with the chief to hire four replacement officers during his tenure including the first female police officer in the Pascack Valley. (see related story)
His legal background was put to the test on the ordinance committee where he drafted an ordinance requiring the borough engineer to review construction plans for compliance with borough ordinances prior to issuing a building permit. He is presently working on a soil removal ordinance.
The police department newsletter to the town was instituted while he was police commissioner. The ordinance to promote good sportsmanship in the borough's sports programs received national attention and is the model nationally for similar town ordinances.
Sal will surely be missed. He decided not to run for re-election in order to spend more time with his lovely wife Debbie and their four children. We would be remiss if we didn't say a sincere Thank You to Debbie for sharing Sal with us. We hope someday in the not too distant future Sal will again serve in town government. We know he will continue to be active in community service.
To you too Sal, we say Thanks!!
If there's a meeting place in town it's got to be the Recycling Center. Recycling has turned into a social happening. Apparently this isn't only true in Woodcliff Lake, it must be happening in cities and towns all over the country, judging from the prices we're receiving for our recyclables.
Last year we were being paid $180 a ton for waste paper, this year we have to give it away. Junk mail magazine has dropped from $160 a ton, to $10 a ton. Our return on plastic has dropped from $140 a ton to $70 a ton. The price of aluminum cans remains fairly constant.
All the news isn't bad. We are saving the environment and in dollars & cents it means a savings to our town of $104 for every ton we don't send to the landfill. And on top of that when you go to the ecology center, you meet all your friends and neighbors.
Keep up the good work!