A legal complaint originally filed in April by community activist Mike Morris and attorney Peter Cresci against the City of Bayonne for violating a local residency ordinancewas dismissed by a Superior Court judge on Friday, October 27. Morris later removed himself from the complaint.
The dismissal comes after the city council passed a revised residency ordinance in August that exempts some city employees hired after October 1, 2017, from the rule, which requires city workers to live in Bayonne.
A number of defendants named in the complaint were dismissed by the court in August because the state statute specifically names their positions as exemptions to the rule. The legal complaint asked that employees in violation either quit or be required to move to Bayonne.
The ordinance (20-16.1) on which the complaint is based is pliable, acknowledging that if the City deems the local pool of applicants insufficient, it should look elsewhere according to a list of preferences, which includes Hudson County residents, residents of counties contiguous to Hudson County, and the state.
Police officers, firefighters, and teachers are already legally exempt from local residency requirements. Municipalities rarely enforce residency requirements, especially for senior staff. The system that allows mayors to appoint much of the senior staff usually results in mostly local employees.
The argument for a stricter interpretation of the ordinance is twofold: that residency promotes responsibility and accountability, and that the local economy would benefit by residents spending their salaries in Bayonne.
While job titles named in the complaint, such as law director, are exempt from the rule, the person primarily targeted in the complaint, Business Administrator Joe DeMarco,is now grandfathered in.
Cresci, as the plaintiff, was ordered to pay the legal fees for four city employees who were not formerly dismissed.
Bayonne Police Department to participate in No-Shave November
Bayonne police officers may look scruffier than usual this month. The Bayonne Police Department announced that its officers will participate in No-Shave November, a growing trend that brings attention to issues of men’s health. The BPD, however, will raise money for Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund, a charity that provides services to children with cancer and blood disorders, and their families.
The BPD awareness campaign will be in honor of Michael Romano, a Bayonne boy who died at the age of 11 in 2005 after being diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer of the nerve cells at age four. His mother, Sharon, sits on the board of Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund.
Officers will pool donations for the charity and grow out their beards for the entire month of November, a style that officers are not used to.
“I’m a bit of a stickler for uniform and officers in uniform being clean shaven,” said Police Chief Drew Sisk, who last sported a beard 30 years ago. “It was a lot darker then than it is now. So, I’ll have to navigate Thanksgiving with a gray beard.”
NJ Transit rail system breaking down more often this year
NJ Transit trains have been breaking down more often in 2017 than they did in 2016, and are running fewer miles between breakdowns than trains on the Long Island Rail Road or on Metro North. NJ.com says the trend isn't new. The agency's train, bus, and light rail fleet were already traveling fewer miles in order to prevent breakdowns than they did in 2013 before breaking down.
Meanwhile, NJ Transit has received conditional approval from federal regulators to begin testing its train collision avoidance system, known as “positive train control,” on the Morristown Line. The Record reports that the testing will begin on about 10 miles of track between Madison and Denville, and will not involve trains carrying passengers.
Local author writes book on father’s life and death
Bayonne native Estelle Sladowski O’Connell is publishing a book titled, “Je t’aime,”
about her father, Stephen F. Sladowski,who tragically died at the hands of a serial killer in the 1970s. Growing up in the close-knit Polish community of Bayonne, O’Connell married an Irish boy who lived next door and later moved to the suburbs of Princeton. A career in corporate relocation took her to Rochester, NY, where she now lives. In retirement, she is dedicated to remembering meaningful moments and recording them in her writing.
“His life of service to church, charity and community was cut short by an act of violence, but his legacy lives on through the many lives he influenced and the goodness he inspired. He deserves to be remembered for his exemplary life, his exuberant personality and the extraordinary romance he shared with his loving bride,” said O’Connell about her book.
O’Connell will dedicate a portrait of her father to City Hall on November 3 and will hold a book signing at the Bayonne Library at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 4.
Art show at Jewish Community Center
Charlann Meluso, who retired in 2014 after decades as an art and computer graphics teacher at Bayonne High School, has been traveling around the state exhibiting her photography and artwork. She, and fellow artist, Elliot Appel, will be featured at the Bayonne Jewish Community Center from November 12 through January 6. Meluso describes her portfolio as an “eclectic mix of street photography, abstract images, and montages that fuel the never-ending search for unusual, compelling, and striking images to satisfy her passion for the art of photography.”
Menendez calls for investigation into reversal of EPA chemical safety standards
Following a report by the New York Times which exposed the Trump administration’s efforts to revise the way the federal government evaluates the health and environmental risks of hazardous chemicals to prioritize the wishes of industry over health and safety, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez has called on the EPA Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. to immediately investigate political interference and scientific suppression in EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
“I am writing to request that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of the Inspector General initiate an investigation into a recent New York Times report detailing political interference, suppression of science, and prioritization of industry recommendations over public health in EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and throughout the agency at large,” Sen Menendez’s letter said.
He asked for an investigation into the suppression of science relating to the public health impacts of toxic and dangerous chemicals; the use of “administratively determined” hiring practices, and the extent to which these practices are used to circumvent EPA’s ethics or conflict of interest standards; and deference to industry requests, rather than scientific and technical analysis, in the context of the agency’s rulemaking process.
“EPA’s chemical safety work is essential to protecting human health in a society where interaction with chemicals is both pervasive and unavoidable,” Menendez said. “The public has the right to know whether EPA employees are working on their behalf, or on the behalf of industries the agency purports to regulate.”
Bayonne NAACP honoring five
The NAACP will honor people in five categories at the 90th annual Freedom Fund Dinner at the Chandelier Restaurant in Bayonne on Nov. 5.
Joseph Barbero will be honored for education, Deon Golfphin for entrepreneurship, Rev. Gary Grindeland for church service, Helene J. Lee for community service, and David Watson for humanitarianism.
The keynote speaker is journalist and author Dominic Carter. Tickets are $75. To purchase tickets, email Irene Pyke at email@example.com or Sussanne Gerald at G5389@aol.com.
Federal government to fund $230 million flood-control project
Five years after Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it will release $230 million to fund a huge project that would protect Hoboken and the surrounding towns from future flooding and storm surges. The project, called “Rebuild by Design,” will combine innovative features, including the use of green infrastructure in new development to protect the three communities from the kinds of storm surges that left them inundated when Sandy hit.
“This is a major milestone for the long-term resiliency of our city,” said Zimmer in the press release. “Thanks to strong community support, Hoboken is now on track to work with the state of New Jersey, Weehawken, and Jersey City toward the final design of this project over approximately the next 18 months. These federal funds are dedicated specifically for the Hudson River RBD project and are no longer at risk of being repurposed by the federal government for any reason.”
Last year the city chose a final alternative after months of community meetings. The plan, also known as the “Alleyway Alignment,” calls for construction of a “flood resistance structure” beginning at the Lincoln Harbor light rail station and following the rail track south, down along Weehawken Cove and into Harborside Park. It then turns east up the alleyway located between 14th and 15th streets and turns south on Washington Street for about one block. The southern end of the resist structure has two options either running west along Observer Highway or West through the New Jersey Transit rail yard.
Congressman Sires issues statement on Republican budget proposal
Congressman Albio Sires released a statement following the passage of the Senate Amendment to the House Republican Fiscal Year 2018 budget resolution by a vote of 216-212.
“This budget follows a pattern of partisan proposals that slash vital services to provide tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and corporations. It cuts Medicare, Medicaid, student loan programs, as well as investments in infrastructure, job training, and clean energy research and development. Not only does this budget threaten our country’s economic growth and make it harder for the middle class to afford essential services, it creates a fast-track for the Ryan-McConnell tax plan to pass in the Senate. If that tax plan were to pass, it would provide massive tax cuts to the wealthy while increasing base rates for middle-class families and is predicted to increase the deficit by $1.5trillion over 10 years. I am extremely disappointed that 216 of my colleagues have voted to prioritize the wealthiest over the needs of American families.”
Mistrial motion fails, defense rests in Menendez case
After seven and a half weeks of testimony, the defense in the Menendez trial rested on Monday, bringing the case one step closer to the finish line. NJTV reports the day began with Judge William Walls denying a defense motion for a mistrial after the defense argued that the judge was biased against them. Jurors are expected to return on Wednesday, November 1 to hear closing arguments before the case goes to the jury later this week or early next week.