Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Fast Count Again

City Council business was over quickly Wednesday with no public comment on the matters Plaintalker listed earlier, including establishment of a public information officer post with a maximum salary of $72,000 during a time of layoffs.

Resident Ed Mendez came out to complain that parking terms for a Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall in his neighborhood are not being followed. Neighbors spent $17,000 to fight the construction of the church in the southeast section of the city, but it was approved with numerous conditions some time ago. Mendez said a judge’s rulings are not being followed.

City officials said they will check with Planning Director Bill Nierstedt on the original terms. Councilman Rashid Burney said an ordinance regulating parking might be a solution, but Councilman Harold Gibson said if parking is banned, it would apply to all, even people who might be visiting Mendez.

City Administrator Marc Dashield promised an analysis of the issue with options for the governing body.

Gibson raised the only objection to issues up for a council vote when he demurred on the Firemen’s Benevolent Protection Association contract that would make a trial 24-hour on, 72-hour off schedule permanent.

Gibson said he would not want a firefighter responding to a fire at his house after 15 to 18 hours on duty. He also questioned what would happen if a major fire required personnel to stay overtime after 24 hours’ duty.

Gibson said it was “totally inappropriate” to ask any uniformed services to work 24 hours straight.

In general public comment, a Municipal Court employee questioned the manner in which she was laid off, but officials said the city followed state guidelines. Due to personnel guidelines, the issue could not be discussed further in public.

The aggrieved speakers stayed on after the meeting to talk further to city officials.

After the meeting, city resident Tony Rucker was wondering how his cell phone image of a wild turkey on his block could be made public.

Wild turkeys have increased in Central Jersey in recent years. It’s a good thing or a bad thing, depending whether you are an ornithologist or a letter carrier. Angry turkeys can definitely subvert the “Neither rain nor snow” policy of mail delivery. But the presence of wild turkeys can also mean the environment is regressing to a better time.

No mention was made of other city issues, such as the disarray Wednesday at the high school which resulted in multiple arrests of students. Those reports will be in the MSM or mainstream media, as the saying goes.

--Bernice Paglia


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