Articles Archive for November 2010
I announced today the creation of web live streaming for all Council meetings. It will pave the way for the City to launch the initial broadcast at the Council Meeting on December 7th. The live broadcast can be seen on the Bergen Record’s website at www.northjersey.com and Englewood One’s website, thereafter the Council would have to vote to allow transparency into council meetings to fund true open government at a nominal cost.
Stayed tuned, the next step to open the doors of City government will be the creation of a new collaboration with our high school children and cable TV to televise Council meetings. This will be an extraordinary opportunity for our children to simultaneously learn the skills of broadcasting and the workings of our city government.
It is obvious that we are in trying economic times and faced with many challenges in the upcoming year. Since taking office, I have said time after time that government must change and needs to be more accessible and transparent to its residents. The key to a great City lies in its people and the amount of resident’s participation and communication with their government officials. But what is needed first is access to information about the inner workings of the City so that they can effectively participate and communicate to their elected officials.
In my first few months of taking office, I launched this website, Englewood One Community, for the purpose of making government more transparent, accessible, and understandable to the ordinary resident. Englewood One Community is Englewood’s first online community for residents to connect and share information about City Government. Live streaming of council meetings is the next step of sharing information and further opens the doors to City Government so that all can be informed, educated and be encouraged to participate in City government.
With today’s technology, there is simply no excuse as to why we cannot have access to City government in our own homes. Thus, I believe that our Council Meetings should be streamed live so that our residents can tune in, participate in government, and stay informed on issues that are affecting our City. Streaming this footage is especially advantageous to those individuals who cannot always make it out to a Council Meeting.
As elected officials, it is our responsibility to make sure that everyone has access to our government and that the information they are seeking is readily accessible. I feel strongly that as our resident’s level of knowledge grows, so will our City’s. Ultimately, this effort is all about communication between the people and the government. Since the people are the basis of the government, we cannot be a great City without first making sure they are informed.
Many speak about open government and transparency; it is time for all elected officials to put words into action. Let’s open the doors and go live in downtown Englewood.
Mayor Frank Huttle III
The agenda for this week’s City Council meeting is now available. Click here to download a pdf of the agenda.
The Volunteer Awards Ceremony preceded the Council Meeting and gave special recognition to individuals in Englewood that give their time to sit on various boards and committees, volunteering their time and services. I am pleased that Englewood has such a large number of volunteers, and believe that is truly what makes Englewood a wonderful city. I commend each and every one of these individuals for all of their hard work.
I greatly appreciate the comments that City Manager Dan Fitzpatrick made at the beginning of the meeting regarding the “controversy” over the police promotions that were recently made. Councilmember Lynne Algrant mentioned that she did not like to have information coming from third party sources. Instead, the City Manager discussed his new procedure, which would provide all members of the Council and myself a summary of all personnel action that has occurred during the week. This will be instituted immediately, and will help to keep each and every one of us updated, so events like this will not occur in the future.
However, this “controversy” was about much more than just the police being promoted. In August, the police ordinance I vetoed was to send a message to everyone that we should be following procedures. I was highly concerned that the majority of the council voted on this ordinance in a matter of 17 seconds – the same night that the council voted on the 2010 budget – eight months into a twelve month year. Additionally, these recent promotions came only two days after the election. You simply cannot vote on something without looking at all of the relevant information. It is about performing the proper studies. We should all have this information available to us, and then be able to debate about it; it is all about transparency. Governments are not run like private industries, and they should be. I believe that I was elected by the people to change this. I give Chief O’Keefe my utmost respect and deference, but I only ask that we all question why things are the way they are – not just to accept them. This is what will make us a more effective city overall.
I also extend my sincere thanks to Acting Fire Chief Gerald Marion, the Englewood Fire Department, and the other surrounding town’s fire departments for the action they took in responding to the three alarm fire that occurred next door to my home. Lives could have been lost, but thankfully were not, and I can only commend the fire department for doing the best they could in this emergency situation.
I am pleased to say that the Finance and Budget Commission has also had its first successful meeting and we are now plowing through an extensive amount of documents. We are working together to prepare and present a budget to the City Manager so we can avoid last year’s budget failures.
Introduction and First Reading…
Ordinance 10-35 would authorize the lease of a portion of Lot 2 in Block 2604 for the location of a cellular communications tower.
Second Reading and Public Hearing…
Ordinance 10-34 was to establish a Citizen’s Finance Committee
227-11-09-10: state contract purchase of DPW truck chassis
228-11-09-10: cancellation of taxes on the Nigerian Consulate
229-11-09-10: authorize award of contract for cleaning and removal of debris from the Overpeck Creek culvert
230-11-09-10: authorize rejection of bid supplementary snow plow services
231-11-09-10: rescind award of contract for emergency curb and sidewalk replacement project
232-11-09-10: authorize award of contract for emergency curb and sidewalk replacement project
233-11-09-10: authorize award of contract for garage lighting entrance
234-11-09-10: authorize application for BC CDBG Grant – Family Teen Center $53,105
235-11-09-10: authorize application for BC CDBG Grant – Family Teen Center $680,100
236-11-09-10: authorize application for BC CDBG Grant – Family Teen Center $60,000
212-11-09-10: simultaneous acquisition and conveyance of premises located at 55-63 West Palisade Avenue and 9 James Street in the City of Englewood
222-11-09-10: amending Chapter 48 Resolution Addendum, withdrawn from the Agenda
Michael Cohen, Councilmember Ward 2-Elect, made great points during the public session. First and foremost, he said that our town is our own responsibility. We should not compare ourselves to other towns – our ambitions should be to just do better than what we are doing right now. Likewise, we will have to make a lot of difficult decisions in 2011 and our city will have to trust us in order to make these decisions properly. We have to understand the time we are living in is incredibly tough, and that we need to be communicating with the public more readily so we have openness in government.
Thank you all for coming out to the Council Meeting, staying active in Englewood, and providing us with your comments. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you need anything.
The agenda for the November 23rd Council Meeting will be posted as soon as it is available.
At the Planning Board Meeting on October 26, 2010, we revisited the Master Plan of 2009.
To begin the night, I had the honor of swearing in our newest Planning Board Member, Robin Klehr Avia, who I am pleased to say has joined our team.
We revisited the Master Plan for a number of reasons of which I mentioned during the work session:
* The Russell C. Major Liberty School and the John T. Wright Ice Arena were not extensively studied prior to the creation of the Master Plan last year. The newly available Preiss Study focuses on the adaptive reuse of these two real estate assets. Because these assets are clearly underutilized, the report extensively describes how they can be utilized to their full potential. It is important that the Planning Board and I examine this report carefully and review our options so that we can effectively discuss where to go next.
* The Northern Branch Corridor Project by NJTRANSIT is another issue that was not incorporated into the Master Plan. This Project, funded dually by the federal government and by the state, would create three additional light rail stations in Englewood and even more stations in other neighboring towns. The Project is currently in the Environmental Impact Phase, where it must be approved by the Federal Transit Administration before they move on to the next phase, in which representatives from NJTRANSIT would go from town to town to hold public hearings informing the public about the Project and also hearing the public’s concerns. The Planning Board and I must look at this Project to determine if it is feasible in the City of Englewood and whether or not we will support it.
* The idea of a Community Center was also briefly discussed as it has been brought up numerous times recently. Again, we need to discuss this idea more in depth.
* In addition, the 2010 Census is to come out in the near future which can have an impact on the Master Plan depending on how much demographics have changed in our City over the past ten years. The old Master Plan was based on 2000 numbers, and it is highly probable these numbers are significantly different and will thus change the way we look at ideas in the Master Plan.
We need City Planners that will know how to effectively organize the City and take public opinion into consideration. Planning Board Member Marian Imperatore agreed, also making a good point that we should spend the money getting a planning company to come into the City. If it is done this way, we would not have to spend so much money on smaller studies. Though the Preiss Study proves informative, we cannot afford to do little evaluations here and there; we must do it right the first time so that problems like this do not arise after the fact.
The Planning Board and I set up a new committee which would work with different planning firms to consider what was left out of the Master Plan last year and will eventually be funded by approval of the City Council. The volunteers appointed to the Committee are Lewis Baer, Curtis Cavenis, Jordan Comet, Marian Imperatore, and myself.
City planning is important. The Master Plan is something that requires visionary planning and a long hard look into the future. We have a lot of assets here in Englewood, and we should utilize all of these assets to the best of our abilities and make Englewood the best City there is.
Resolution 216-10-19-10 honored Brian Paton, who saved a life by using the Heimlich Maneuver on July 10, 2010.
Members of Englewood’s Fire Department were commended for their service to the City of Englewood; some members were honored for their (1) Hurricane Katrina Service; (2) HAZMAT Team Service; and (3) Community Service.
During my remarks, I mentioned the new Finance and Budget Commission I formed within the Office of Mayor under the power granted to me by the City Charter. You can find a copy of my letter addressed to the City Clerk, Council, Manager, and Attorney here, which explains the purpose, justification, duties, and members of the Commission.
Ordinances – Introduction and First Reading:
Ordinance #10-34: is for the establishment of a permanent Citizen Advisory Committee which would be made up of no less than 5 and no more than 7 residents. All residents would serve 3 year terms. Appointments would be staggered with 2 one-year terms; 3 two-year terms; and 2 three-year terms. The Committee would be appointed by the City Council and one member will serve as the Finance Chair. The duties of this committee would be to: (1) advise the Mayor and Council on appropriate revenue, expenditures, and financial policies; (2) review annual financial statements of the city; (3) review annual preliminary budgets of the city; and (4) undertake all other studies as assigned to them.
Resolution 212-10-19-10: regards the City’s acquisition and conveyance of 55-63 West Palisade Avenue and 9 James Street; this was withdrawn from the Agenda.
Resolution 217-10-19-10: authorizes block grant funds of $10,000 for a renovation project for Ideal Lodge #470 of the World Application for Bergen County CD.
Resolution 218-10-19-10: authorizes block grant funds of $185,000 for road improvements to West Linden Avenue and Columbus Avenue.
Resolution 219-10-19-10: authorizes block grant funds of $40,000 for Henry Douglas Post #58 for Bergen County CD.
Resolution 220-10-19-10: renews Joe II Wines & Liquor, Inc.’s liquor license for 2010-2011.
Resolution 221-10-19-10: certifies a review of the annual audit by the governing body.
Resolution 222-10-19-10: clarifies the Chapter 48 resolution which deals with health benefits for public employees; it changes the text from “for the retiree and dependents” to “for the retiree and spouse only;” this was tabled by Council President Reddin.
Resolution 223-10-19-10: authorizes the sale of special emergency notes by the Chief Financial Officer in order to meet extraordinary expenses incurred for the preparation and execution of a city-wide property reassessment.
Three additional Resolutions were added last minute to the Agenda, but were not voted on; they all authorize block grant funds for the establishment of a Family Teen Center facility in Englewood. The following will be added to the agenda for November 9th’s Council Meeting: (1) Equipment – $30,000; (2) Leasing – $680,000; and (3) Renovations – $60,000.
Many comments during the public session were with regard to many of tree stumps that have not been removed and sidewalks that have not been repaired since the March nor’easter. It is unacceptable that seven months later, there are still hazards and eyesores from this storm in Englewood. It has been far too long and this problem must be dealt with immediately. I will work with City officials in order to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Thank you to all who came out last night and expressed comments and concerns. Your public participation is greatly appreciated and helpful to making our City better. Once again, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
From: The Northern Valley Suburbanite, November 12, 2010 by Mike Curley, Staff Writer
ENGLEWOOD — Mayor Frank Huttle and council members conveyed their disappointment Tuesday night about not being informed prior to the city manager’s decision to approve promotions for several police officers.
Huttle also clashed briefly with Council President Scott Reddin over comments made to The Record earlier in the week.
The previous week, City Manager Daniel Fitzpatrick authorized several police officers to be promoted, after receiving a letter of request from Police Chief Arthur O’Keefe dated Oct. 15.
The promotions, O’Keefe said, were made to fill positions needed for the proper supervision of the police force, and were driven by a concern for public safety.
Huttle and other members of the council said they were displeased that the promotions had taken place without being discussed among the whole council.
Fitzpatrick apologized for this, saying he had followed the proper legal and procedural protocols for the promotions. Going forward, Fitzpatrick said he would inform the governing body weekly about any personnel action.
Fitzpatrick said that the promotions shouldn’t be seen as “a reward,” but were necessary to fill positions, and represented a larger burden on those being promoted. The police department, he said, will be more efficient.
Huttle said he appreciated Fitzpatrick’s comments and apology.
However, the mayor’s objection wasn’t to the actual promotions, but that it was another case where a decision was made without proper information.
Huttle referred to an ordinance concerning the structure of the Police Department he had vetoed earlier in the year. For that ordinance, he said, he could find no record of discussion in any council meeting. As a result, the mayor concluded that either the council discussed it in private, or not at all, echoing comments he had made in The Record.
With respect to the promotions in particular, Huttle said he respects O’Keefe, and believes that respect to be mutual. He said he considers public safety to be his number one concern, but the impact of all decisions needs to be known, and information has to be disseminated for discussion.
He said he did not like learning about the promotions through phone calls to him after the fact from other sources.
“There’s something wrong when I’m getting my information from The Record,” he said, adding there should not be a discussion about it in the newspaper when the council was unaware of the move. He called it a “crying shame,” that something as important as police promotions wasn’t discussed with the entire council.
Councilwoman Lynne Algrant echoed his sentiments, saying the controversy has unfortunately taken away from the proud congratulations that the officers should expect on promotion.
Like Huttle, she said she appreciated the city manager’s comments, adding the council needs as much information as possible, because, “Well-discussed decisions are always better.”
Reddin said he was “dismayed” at the accusation that the council members have been meeting in private, adding there was no truth to such allegations.
Huttle responded that his comments in the paper were not an accusation. He restated that because he could find no record of a discussion on the vetoed ordinance, he could conclude either that there was private discussion, or “you voted blind.”
Several members of the public also commented on the promotions, with some focusing more on the financial implications of the promotions. One resident said while he is sure the officers deserve the promotions, the current economic times should be considered. He questioned whether the council could afford the promotions.
O’Keefe, reached after the meeting, said the positions had been budgeted for, and were necessary to correct “an absence of supervision” in the police chain of command.
Another resident said the promotions should have been held off, as they represent pay raises for the officers in question. Upcoming negotiations with the police department at the end of their current contracts will likely result in another pay increase, he said.
From: The Record, November 9, 2010 by Giovanna Fabiano, Staff Writer
Chief Arthur O’Keefe said the promotions “were budgeted for” and fill several vacant supervisory positions.
The promotions — which bump a lieutenant to captain, two sergeants to lieutenants and three officers to sergeants — comply with a 2009 ordinance that details the maximum number of staff allowed in the police department.
The promotions, requested in an Oct. 15 letter from O’Keefe to City Manager Dan Fitzpatrick, were made Thursday.
“This is designed to ensure the chain of command and provide clear authority, responsibility, and oversight,” O’Keefe wrote in an e-mail Monday.
But Mayor Frank Huttle took issue with the promotions, saying they should have been brought to the attention of the mayor and the full council for a vote.
Huttle said Monday that he should have been informed of the decision to fill the positions, given that the city is in a “financial crisis” and that his budget and finance commission has been pouring through budget documents.
“Promotions were made, they’ve known since October 15, and the mayor has not received any information … it’s inexcusable,” Huttle said.
“We’re sitting at a time when there’s a separate finance and budget commission that was formed, volunteers working around the clock and going through budget documents, and here was a decision that was made privately,” he said.
In August, Huttle vetoed an ordinance adopted by the council, which would have increased the number of lieutenants while decreasing the maximum number of sergeants and captains. It also would have reduced the maximum number of rank-and-file police officers from 64 to 60.
Huttle said he supports the police, but he vetoed the ordinance because elected officials were not provided with enough information about the impact the restructuring would have on public safety as well as the budget. He added that after the veto, he requested documents from the city manager on the budgetary impacts of a restructuring, but was told that information would be discussed in upcoming budget hearings.
Fitzpatrick could not be reached for comment Monday.
“I vetoed the ordinance because [Council President] Scott Reddin and some members of the council either met privately or they voted on it blindly in 17 seconds,” Huttle said.
But Reddin rebutted those allegations Monday, saying, “Any suggestion that myself and other members of the council has met behind closed doors is absolutely untrue.”
“I’ve never done that, I never will, and to make those allegations is improper,” Reddin said, adding that he trusted O’Keefe to make the necessary promotions.
“I’m very cognizant of money, but we need the proper structure for a police department and it is up to the chief to make the determination,” Reddin said, adding that under his tenure as council president, he helped save nearly $1 million in police costs, by decreasing overtime and eliminating positions.
Assistant City Manager Bob Gorman and O’Keefe said the promotions were made last week in compliance with the previous ordinance, thereby council approval was not necessary.
Under the city charter, the police chief makes recommendations to the city manager, and the city manager approves those recommendations and makes the appointments, Gorman said.
“The council is not involved as long as it’s within the numbers of the ordinance,” Gorman said Monday.
“We’re under the maximum number of sergeants by one and we’re running short as a result of retirements this year in the upper level ranks … we ended up being short on supervision,” Gorman said.
From: The Record, November 11, 2010 by Giovanna Fabiano, Staff Writer
ENGLEWOOD — The city manager publicly apologized to the mayor and City Council after complaints that officials were not informed of personnel matters, including the promotions of police officers last week.
Starting this week, council members will receive a biweekly summary of all personnel actions in the city, including a list of employees who were hired and fired or those who received bonuses or disciplinary action, City Manager Dan Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick’s apology came Tuesday during a public meeting in response to a comment from Councilwoman Lynne Algrant, who said she “did not want to hear about these types of things from a third party.”
He acknowledged he did not make the mayor and full council aware that six officers were promoted.
“I followed every proper protocol, but times have changed, and I didn’t recognize the extent they had changed, in regards to keeping everyone informed,” Fitzpatrick said.
The promotions bumped a lieutenant to captain, two sergeants to lieutenants and three officers to sergeants. They were included in the municipal budget and complied with a 2009 ordinance that details the maximum number of staff allowed in the department, Police Chief Arthur O’Keefe said, adding that council approval was not necessary.
They were approved by Fitzpatrick and Council President Scott Reddin last Thursday.
But Mayor Frank Huttle took issue with the decision, saying he vetoed a July ordinance that called for restructuring the Police Department because the council was not provided with any information about the impact on public safety and the budget. He also accused council members of either meeting privately to discuss the ordinance or “voting on it blindly.”
In a heated public statement in which he implied that some council members “make decisions in a vacuum,” Huttle said he has been “fighting for the police” for years, but noted that his issue was with the way decisions are made in the city.
“This is about corporate governance … you can’t simply vote on something without looking at the information,” Huttle said.
“Anytime the council wants to vote on something without a shred of documentation, it’s wrong.”
Reddin responded to Huttle in a prepared statement: “I’m dismayed that you made an accusation that council members are meeting privately.”
“I have no tolerance for people who don’t care what they say or who they hurt,” Reddin said.
Dozens of residents crowded into the meeting to speak out against the promotions, saying taxpayers could not withstand any more increases.
Howard Shafer, a city resident, said Fitzpatrick should have “held the line” on raises, because the police contract is set to expire.
“You’re going to go into negotiations, and is it safe to say these officers are going to ask for another raise?” Shafer said.
Fitzpatrick responded, “You can absolutely count on it,” adding, “We could be in arbitration for 24 months and we absolutely needed them.”
“My experience has taught me it’s generally not a good idea to give young men and women a badge and a gun and send them out without supervision,” Fitzpatrick said.
But Councilman Jack Drakeford rejected Fitzpatrick’s argument.
“If you did without it for six months, you don’t need it,” he said.
Please Join the City of Englewood for a
VETERANS DAY CEREMONY
Thursday, November 11, 2011
10:30 AM at the Monument
(in case of rain, at the Municipal Court)
On Veterans Day we honor all, alive or deceased, who have served our country in war to protect and preserve our freedom. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month throughout the United States, a moment of silence is observed.
Sponsored by the Englewood Commemorative Council.