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Still Not Satisfied

Firefighter Brian Bonilla who also spoke.
*Photos by Carolyn Maxwell

6/26/17 Caucus

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez apologizes to Fire Department Personnel for remarks made to the media.

PERTH AMBOY – One of the topics for discussion at the 6/26/17 Caucus Meeting was the PILOT for Bridge. Business Administrator Adam Cruz was beside himself and showed his exasperation as he told the Council, “The Administration has brought in three experts such as the PARA Director and outside PILOT experts who talked about the benefits of having PILOTs. Everyone has been rejected and it’s getting frustrating. The Council did not want to see a 30 year PILOT. We went down to 22 years and then it went down to 12 years with an option of a 5 year renewal.”

Councilman Joel Pabon said, “I have no problem with 12 years, but I’m concerned how this would affect the City in the future, especially with 2 more perspective projects coming up who may ask for PILOTs. We are making decisions that are using taxpayer’s money.”

Councilman Jelmin Caba addressed his concerns, “I agree with Mr. Cruz. We all understand that PILOTs are here. It can help our blighted areas. We have to be fair. Bridge negotiated with us to go down to 12 years. Bridge will be building more. For us to discourage Bridge, we’ll make other developers not want to develop here.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez added his remarks, “I’m not saying no to a PILOT for Bridge. If it was just for 5 years, we could see how that goes. I have met with you (Cruz) and others about PILOTs. We are looking at the year 2000 proposal. I just want more knowledge to see if we can get more professionals to come here. Most views on this project have been one-sided. With more professionals we can see how it will affect the City’s future.”

At this point Cruz, showing his frustration stated, “I can bring Jesus Christ here and you still will reject what he says regarding PILOTs!”

At that point, Council President Bill Petrick told Cruz he was out of order.

Councilman Fernando Irizarry questioned why some of the Council Members wanted an Independent Market Analysis now. “This has been going on for 6 months. We can’t negotiate the contract. Only the Administration can and then we approve it. Surrounding towns are getting PILOTs and how can we be competitive when other cities are willing to do PILOTs (with developers). What other professionals do you want to get? Who? We had the top state professionals here at least 3 times. Who are we going to get, now?”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez spoke again. Showing his frustrations he stated, “This is a plan from 1998 thru 2000 and it’s not adequate. We are supposed to so a plan every 5 years. It hasn’t been done since 1998. I know because I was on the Redevelopment Board. Just do an RFP for an expert for an appraisal.”

Councilman Irizarry spoke again. “You are not looking at the whereas clauses. You are taking it out of context.”

Council President Bill Petrick answered Irizarry, “You are looking at land that is no longer contaminated and Beneke (one of the PILOT Experts) just spoke about the Bridge PILOT.”

B.A. Cruz then told the Council, “We have to put out an RFP that has to be posted for 20 days.”

Petrick came back and stated, “There is activity that is constantly going in and out of the Bridge property.

Ken Fedles, President of Local #286 (front row) Seated behind him (Center) Battalion Chief Ed Mullen.

After the conclusion of the Bridge PILOT discussion, the floor was open up to the public.

Former Councilwoman Lisa Nanton came up to speak about who can be members of the Arts Council. “There doesn’t have to be an age limit or occupation restriction. We are just restructuring so that it does not have to include at least one teacher and one student on the Arts Council.”

This upset Councilman Jelmin Caba who felt that there was a need to have at least two positions held by at least one teacher and one student. “We need to make sure we have in place that a person had to be involved in the arts. A lot of times students will join the Arts Council, but they feel that their voice is not being heard and they need an incentive to stay.”

Another resolution that was discussed was R-261-6/17 – Authorizing submission of an application to the 2017 PetSafe Bark for Your Park Program.

CFO Jill Goldy came forward to shed some life on this resolution. She stated, “I am the one who wanted this on the agenda. I saw information about it at the League of Municipalities. This program is to support municipalities who will be building dog parks to help offset the cost. I thought this would be good for the City.”

Deputy Police Chief Larry Cattano came forward to answer a question pertaining to R-262-6/17 – A lease purchase agreement with Aspire for the purchase of body warn and vehicle mounted cameras for the PAPD in the amount of $350,540.

Cattano stated, “This is a 6 year program. Under this agreement we can get new equipment in 3 years which will save the department money versus purchasing this equipment outright.”

Resident Ken Balut came up to speak and inquired about the vital statistics pertaining to the Police Department. He asked Acting Law Director Peter King why his OPRA’s have not been answered. “It seems that they have been lost. It’s amazing.” Balut also suggested that the Council check with Jersey City regarding R-262. “Everybody drives out of town to go home (Administration and Appointees). Councilmen Caba and Irizarry don’t know where their campaign money is coming from. Now that Caba is Perth Amboy Democratic Chair, you have to be careful when voting on contracts that bidders might have given money to your campaign. Talking about Bridge PILOTs, you have to talk numbers to the public so the people can understand. By the time the school is built, it will be too small. Jobs coming in have very little employment for Perth Amboy residents.”

Resident Stanley Sierakowski came up to speak. Addressing the Council he stated, “The lawyer is now the Assistant Law Director. Is that legal? The Bridge PILOT is 30 years. Read the Whereas Clauses – not 12 years. Look at Exhibit B. Money is being taken from the school and library.”

Councilman Jelmin Caba answered Sierakowski, “We are an Abbot District.”

Stanley Sierakowski countered, “The first and second year of the Bridge PILOT are zero monies coming in.”

Councilman Irizarry answered back, “Is that normal?”

Sierakowski countered, “I propose you don’t take from the Board of Education budget. Take from the Mayor’s budget.”

Irizarry answered, “The Board of Education will not lose a dime.”

Sierakowski then asked, “What is the duration of the financial agreement?”

King answered, “I have not reviewed the contract, yet. I am still the Acting Law Director.”

Business Administrator Cruz had a comment to make, “You (the Council) have a letter stating that King is the Acting Law Director – not the Assistant Law Director.”

Resident and Business Owner David Caba came up to speak. He wanted to know who was responsible for the part of Rector Street where the Landings is. “I eat, sleep and dine here.”

Business Administrator Cruz responded, “I was here (in Perth Amboy) Saturday and Sunday until 11:30 p.m.

David Caba responded, “We want to move the City forward in a different direction. Someone tied to Trump has abandoned the City. They did not maintain their property. If I had as a citizen done the same, I would have been fined. We’re going to reward a billionaire with 600 new rental units and give him a PILOT, too.”

After Caba spoke, some members of the Perth Amboy Fire Department came up to speak pertaining to two communications on the agenda. They were disappointed at a Council Member who provided sensitive information to the media regarding the late Fire Chief Abraham Pitre.

Ken Fedles, President of Local 286 came up to speak. He stated, “It was a difficult time for us (in the PAFD). We are mourning the loss of Abraham Pitre. There was an active investigation going on and we were disappointed about Councilman Gonzalez leaking sensitive information to the press.”

Firefighter Brian Bonilla said, “These are all my brothers and sisters. I thought better of you to divulge this information. I have respect for you (Gonzalez), but you owe us and Abraham’s family an apology. We need a written apology for us and everyone who loved Abraham.”

During the Council Comments, Jelmin Caba spoke first. He stated, “Resident Balut always comes here disrespecting the Police and then he leaves the Meeting. I never took money from any of these companies (that Balut talks about).”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez addressed the firemen that were present, “As for all of you that are here, you know that you are all my friends. I am also  concerned about Abraham’s legacy. My wife was his High School Counselor. I never said that (what was quoted in the media). I apologize to every member.”

Acting Fire Chief Ed Mullen said, “We’re going to move forward and I accept your apology.”

Councilman Irizarry wanted to let everyone know that he never votes on contracts based on campaign contributions. “Anyone can go to the election board to see who contributed to my campaign.

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