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The Conflicts Continue

6/28/17 Council Meeting

PERTH AMBOY – Resident Ken Balut had a comment to make regarding Ordinance No. 2 restricting parking spaces for use by a handicapped person.

He wanted to know, “Was there an ordinance to give Mary Street Residents personalized parking spots? And they didn’t have to pay.”

Resident Stanley Sierakowski came up to speak about Communication No. 4 regarding Berkley Accident and Health as a carrier for the City’s Reinsurance Services. “This is not a proposal.” He wanted to know if the Council had reviewed the paperwork.

Council President Bill Petrick answered Sierakowski’s question, “We (the Council) did not get personal copies, but they were available for us to review in the Clerk’s Office.”

Sierakowski continued, “How is it that in the past there were various bids amounts, but this time all the bids that came in for insurance were all the same? Is there a relationship between Fairview (who recommended Berkley) and Berkley in any way? How many clients does Berkley have and who are they?”

During the public comments on agenda items only, Balut came up to speak again on R-262 which entails leasing of body-worn and vehicle mounted cameras for the PAPD.

Balut urged the Council to table this item. He also mentioned the low starting salary for new Police Officers. “This is why a lot of them don’t stay in Perth Amboy after they’ve been trained.” He suggested they start their salary at $33,000, then go up by $10,000 after that, and then they should put the steps back in for their pay raises like they used to do in the past.

Balut also spoke about Berkeley Insurance Company. “This is how Garland got into trouble. We’re going back to this system with campaign contributors getting contracts. Did you get other perks such as expensive gifts? And is anybody getting money from Fairview Insurance?”

Business Administrator Adam Cruz answered Balut, “This Council voted for submitted RFP’s for a contract. For $44,000, the City is getting millions of dollars in savings.”

Resident David Caba came up referencing Communications No. 8 & 9 where representatives of the Fire Department were disappointed with a Councilman divulging personal information to the media about the death of Fire Chief Abraham Pitre.

Caba stated, “This individual was very human and whatever were the circumstances, you’re not here to judge. After one of the Council Meetings, I had talked to Fire Chief Pitre and asked him where he lived. He responded, “I still live in the City.” The Chief lived in the City and gave of his time. I knew I could count on him. The Fire Chief of the City of Perth Amboy lived on Charles Street – not on High and Rector Streets. I would like to get an extra minute to give a tribute to the Chief.”

Before continuing, he addressed Councilman Fernando Gonzalez and said, “Did you say anything? I wasn’t there. One thing, Mr. Gonzalez, I do respect that you always gave me extra time (when I request it) to speak at meetings. There should be more tributes to Pitre.”

Resident Jeremy Baratta came up to speak next. He had a question about Fairview Insurance, “Where will they be saving us millions of dollars?”

B.A. Cruz responded, “The rates will be cheaper. We will be getting 6 months of savings this year and next year. The Council will see it on the financial report. The surplus money will go into the general fund. Money is not budgeted, but kept in the surplus.”

Deputy Police Chief Larry Cattano came up to give more information about the body-worn cameras. “The technology being used is called “Cloud” which is used to transmit data. The cameras will sit in a pouch on the Officer’s uniform. There could be a transmission of data, but certain data cannot be showed under certain circumstances especially when it involves minors. Cell phones and data is restricted to certain individuals. There are 11 hours of continuous showing. It will also indicate how much battery time is left.”

When it came time to vote on the agenda, R-247 and R-249 thru R-263 was moved by Councilman Fernando Irizarry and seconded by Councilman Jelmin Caba. The vote was unanimous “Yes.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez requested that R-248 be pulled for discussion before being voted on. He stated, “There seems to be one major reason for denial for handicapped spaces. There may be two handicapped spaces already assigned per alternate sides of the street.”

Deputy Chief Cattano came forward to answer. “There’s a clause in the ordinance which limits handicapped spots, especially curb to curb. The space must be in front of the applicant’s house. There is a mechanism in place in the ordinance if an applicant wishes to make an appeal.”

Councilman Fernando Irizarry, who is also a member of the Handicapped Parking Committee said, “Decisions are based on the clause limiting the amount of handicapped spaces on one block.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez said, “I just want to make sure that these are not just blanketed denials.”

The motion was moved by Councilman Gonzalez and seconded by Councilman Irizarry

After the voting session was complete, the public came forward to speak.

Resident Jermy Baratta was not happy with Business Administrator’s Adam Cruz’s comments. Baratta stated, “I have been going to many meetings in other towns and I have never seen conduct such as what is exhibited by the Business Administrator. He is angry and combative. He is disrespectful and it’s disgusting to the Council and to the citizens. I am in awe of your (the Council) restraint. I have never ever seen anything like this. If he (B.A. Cruz) doesn’t have an answer to a question, he should apologize. His job is to represent the administration. His attitude is representative of the administration. If he can’t handle the job, he should go elsewhere.”

Business Administrator Cruz waited before responding to these acousticians. Cruz said, “This is the portion for the public to speak.”

Council President Bill Petrick told Cruz, “In the past, we have interacted with the audience  when they ask questions.”

Cruz then remarked, “Some people (when they come up to speak) mock and show disrespect to the Administration, Directors and experts who make presentations.”

Council President Bill Petrick responded, “The audience can say what they want, as long as it’s not profanity.”

Resident Stanley Sierakowski talked about Resolution R-262 (Lease/Purchase Agreement with ASPIRE) for the purchase of Body Worn and Vehicle Mounted Cameras.

Sierakowski thought that the lease agreement was too long. “At the end of Year One, the Police Department should ask what equipment can be replaced.”

Sierakowski then turned his attention to the request by speakers for extra time during the public portion/comments. “It should be by majority rule – not that if one Council Member says “No” the extra time is not given.”

He also wanted to know if the current attorney (Peter King) asked for information from the past administrator about the Armory contract.

Resident Ken Balut came up to speak next. He asked, “The Police are calling me about problems (they are having).  If the Council wants to make comments on what I say, please do so when I’m here. There’s a file missing in Code Enforcement.”

Acting Law Director Peter King responded, “Some departments lose files. For instance, if they change buildings.”

Balut responded to Mr. King stating, “I want a answer about that lost file.”

Balut continued, commenting about the $1.7 million no-bid contract. “I put in an OPRA Request. There’s no paperwork.”

Council President Bill Petrick responded, “That’s the Goldberg Property.”

Balut then continued to talk, “You’ve had the OPRA Request for three months. People are afraid to talk, because they are afraid of harassment by Code Enforcement.”

Council President Petrick then requested that Acting Attorney King get information on the missing files and where they might be and what happened to them.”

King responded, “It’s with the Economic Development Office in the County.”

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez spoke up, “The people who were involved with this property are still employed by the City.”

Balut continued, “I’ve got two C/O’s. One has two signatures and a stamp; the other one has one signature, but no stamp. I was a Police Officer in the City for 25 years and I still live here. Your campaign (Irizarry and Caba) hired someone who had a huge campaign violation.”

Councilman Irizarry responded and asked if the Engineer can come back.

King responded, “The County has to be ORPRA’d for what he (Balut) was asking for.”

Resident Sharon Hubberman spoke next, “There’s a horrible stench of sewage throughout the City. What’s going on with the sewage and water system? I did an OPRA request. We need to get our Administration paperwork in order. I’ve been going to other Faulkner Towns to see how they run their meetings. They show detailed item lists on their budgets and ask if there were any public comments. This shows transparency. We don’t have any numbers that shows savings. You (the Council) have the voice to hold the Administration accountable.”

Resident David Caba came up to speak. He asked, “Who owns the part of Rector Street near the Landings and who maintains the roads? For the 80,000 people in our City, can we get the Redevelopment Attorney here to answer questions and put him under oath?”
Council President Petrick answered, “We can request that the Redevelopment Attorney be here at our next Meeting.”

Caba continued, “I’ve been coming here for the last 7 meetings and I still haven’t gotten an answer as to who owns that part of Rector Street. The Mayor went to New York to a wedding to get businesses to come here. Did we get any? Do we have any Chaplains who are from Lakewood? I hope what happened in Lakewood doesn’t trickle down to here. Trump should build a wall around Lakewood.”

After Caba sat down, Resident Herschel Chomsky came up to speak. He was very upset when he said he hadn’t intended to speak at the Meeting, but he found it very insulting about  the comments made by the last person who just spoke, “Especially when he said they should build a wall around Lakewood. All those that were accused are innocent until found otherwise. If they are guilty, then I agree they should be punished. My late father was a Rabbi and was very well respected in this town. Everybody should not be judged by a few.”

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