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Village Budget : Taxpayers On The Hook for Cell Phone Bills of 102 Village Employees

cell-phone-stack

During a municipal budget review held on Wednesday April 14th, Dylan Hansen, the Village’s Network Administrator, publically revealed that 102 Village of Ridgewood employees are currently using cell phones that were paid for by Ridgewood taxpayers. Additionally, all monthly usages fees, in connection with business and/or personal calls, are also paid by Ridgewood taxpayers.

Clearly, the Village Manager and Village Council were either asleep at the switch or absent when cell phones were distributed at Village Hall. It is not possible that there are 102 Village employees whose positions warrant unlimited business and personal use of taxpayer provided cell phone service. This is simply an outrageous situation that must be brought to an immediate end.

The Fly has several questions for the Village Council:

1) What is the percentage of Village employees who have taxpayer provided cell phone service?
2) What is the formal approval process for obtaining taxpayer provided cell phone service?
3) When an employee retires, resigns, or is terminated, is someone checking to make certain that taxpayers aren’t continuing to provide the individual with cell phone service?
4) Is there a list kept of who has these phones or do we just know that 102 are out there? Is the list available for public viewing?
5) Is the value of cell phone service for personal use being reported as income on W2 forms?

The Fly suggests that now is the right time for Village Council members to hang up most of the Village issued cell phones.

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St. Patrick’s Day

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Well now St. Patrick’s Day wouldn’t exist if not for the man himself! But how much do we know about him? Did you know that he spent six years of slavery in Ireland until he escaped and undertook religious training abroad?

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig is the Gaelic way of expressing a wish that you have all the blessings of St Patrick’s Day and the “luck of the Irish” to go with it. There are many humorous explanations for this expression. One comes from the legend of the ‘Little People’ of the land, know as leprechauns. Finding or catching a leprechaun (who would then give you gold) was a lucky event that could only take place in Ireland ! The Irish are descendants of great Celtic and Viking fighters and invaders. Their natural fighting skills often ensured survival & hence they became known as the ‘lucky’ people .a classic case of making your own luck ! But then “The Luck of the Irish” may all be legend.

Saint Patricks Day Parades Worldwide, Irish Pubs all around the globe, Fun Runs, Irish Associations, Irish Music Festivals, Irish Names, Irish Dancing Schools,Irish Music Irish Roots, Irish Festivals,Scottish Highland Games USA & Canada, as well as, Scottish Pipes & Drum Bands.
St Patricks Day is for thinking about our Saint as well as a time to think of loved ones across the water.

So, why is it celebrated on March 17th? One theory is that that is the day that St. Patrick died. Since the holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out around the world, they took with them their history and celebrations. The biggest observance of all is, of course, in Ireland. With the exception of restaurants and pubs, almost all businesses close on March 17th. Being a religious holiday as well, many Irish attend mass, where March 17th is the traditional day for offering prayers for missionaries worldwide before the serious celebrating begins.

http://www.st-patricks-day.com/

 

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The Golden Toilet : Government has become a self perpetuating beast

>Come on, is this a surprise to anyone? This is just one more example of how inefficient and costly Government is. Take a look at the cost of the bandshell bathrooms. Is there anyone who doesn’t believe that a private contractor couldn’t have built those for a fraction of the cost the Village spent?

Government has become a self perpetuating beast; enacting regulations (to protect the people!) which require people to enforce, require extra hours and costs to adhere to them and thus driving up costs for everyone else. The private sector has profit as motivation, government has service as its mandate. Government should not be running businesses that private enterprises can provide cheaper.

Did you see what happened with the school system up in Providence the other day? They fired every single teacher in the system. One of the alternatives they are looking at is hiring a private contracter to provide teachers and manage the school system. Think they can do it cheaper?

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History of the Village of Ridgewood

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The Village of Ridgewood wasn’t organized as a separate municipality until 1876. By then, the settlement we call Ridgewood was almost two centuries old. The land that Ridgewood occupies was originally a hunting and fishing ground of the Lenni Lenape Indians that became a part of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam founded in 1624. Forty years later, the British captured New Amsterdam and renamed it New York.

After New Amsterdam became British, King Charles 2nd gave New Jersey to Sir Carteret and Lord Berkeley, two of his most loyal supporters. In 1674, Lord Berkeley needed money to finish his mansion in London, and sold his half of the colony to two Quakers. New Jersey was then divided into the Province of East Jersey owned by Sir Carteret and the Quaker Province of West Jersey. In 1687, the East Jersey Proprietors granted several hundred acres in Bergen County to Isaac Kingsland. Johannes Van Emburgh bought some of this land in 1698. The area was then known as Hoachas (now Ho Ho Kus) and as Paramus by 1725.

After the Revolution, the settlement had grown to about 20 families and was known as Godwinville, after a war hero. However, Godwinville was never a separate municipality. The entire northwest corner of Bergen County was a large municipality known as Franklin Township formed in 1771 from a section of Saddle River Township. Within Franklin Township, there were numerous unincorporated settlements such as Godwinville.

In 1848, the Patterson and Ramapo Railroad was completed providing Godwinville with easy access to New York City. In 1853, Samuel Dayton bought the Van Emburgh estate and with the idea of establishing a suburb. Cornelia Dayton renamed Godwinville “Ridgewood” to attract buyers from the city. The population exploded from several hundred in 1850 to over 1,200 by the time of the centennial. Ridgewood built its own school but was still a part of Franklin Township. The population doubled again by the turn of the century.

On March 30, 1876, Ridgewood finally became a separate Township. Actually, Ridgewood was fifteen years ahead of the rest of the state. It wasn’t until the early 1890s that New Jersey adopted legislation requiring each municipality to establish a Board of Education and fund all public schools with a municipal-wide property tax. In just a few months in 1894, numerous settlements with schools incorporated as separate municipalities. Twenty-eight municipalities were incorporated in Bergen County alone. Part of Ridgewood Township went to the new Borough of Midland Park and another part went to the new Borough of Glen Rock. At the same time, Ridgewood changed its municipal form of government from a Township to a Village. However, to this day the school system is still officially known as the “Ridgewood Township Board of Education”.

Almost all of the 1894 municipalities were incorporated as Boroughs, the most common plan of municipal government in New Jersey. In a Borough, the governing body consists of six Council Members and a directly elected Mayor who acts as the chief executive.

Ridgewood was one of the few municipalities that incorporated as a “Village.” In this rare form of local government, the public elected five trustees who selected one of their members as Village President to preside over the meetings. There was no Mayor. The Village plan proved unsuccessful because it lacked clearly defined management responsibilities.

During this period, the Trustees organized the village departments and planned a civic center just west of the train station. However, the civic center was defeated in 1909 and the Village built a municipal building and firehouse at Hudson and Broad streets. This remained as the municipal complex until 1955 when the Village purchased the Elk lodge built in 1928 on North Maple Avenue and converted it into the current Village Hall.

In 1911, Ridgewood reorganized for a second time adopting the Commissioner plan of municipal government, but retaining the name “Village”. The municipality was divided into three departments – Public Safety, Finance and Public Works. The voters elected three Commissioners who each had full executive authority over one of the departments. The Commissioners also selected one of their members as Mayor to preside over the meetings, but the Mayor had no executive power other than as a Commissioner of one of the departments. At the time, the Commissioner form was considered as a reform, but today few municipalities retain this plan. Each department tends to become a fiefdom and is too dependent on the management skills of its Commissioner.

In 1970, Ridgewood recognized the need to professionalize municipal management and adopted the more modern Faulkner Act Council-Manager plan. Under this form, the public elects five Council Members who act as a Board of Directors. Their principle responsibility is to hire and oversee a professional Village Manager who has full executive power for all departments. The Council also selects one of its members as Mayor who presides over the meetings but has no executive authority.

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The Plot Thickens : Ridgewood’s downtown voted Bergen’s best

>The question is: Are these papers being truly objective or are the articles an attempt to placate the Village Council and bring an end to the antagonism between it and the President of the Chamber of Commerce, who happens to be the son in law of the owner of the North Jersey Media Group? If the answer is the latter, then we can only look to the Blogs for any kind of truth about what goes on in the Village!

Ridgewood’s downtown voted Bergen’s best
Friday, January 29, 2010
BY DOLORES ALFIERI
The Ridgewood News
STAFF WRITER

http://www.northjersey.com/community/83004592_Village_voted_Bergen_s_best.html

Bergen County residents voted a host of village establishments as “The Best of Bergen.”

The annual poll, conducted by (201) magazine, asks readers to vote on a range of categories, from best florist to best steak, best museum to best tailor.

http://www.northjersey.com/community/83004592_Village_voted_Bergen_s_best.html

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Graydon Pool : Ms. Mailander clearly points out in her statements that the Village Council only seems interested in hearing what it wants to hear.

As reported in the Ridgewood News by Michael Sedon and Kipp Clark , attorney Stuart J. Lieberman, of Princeton-based Lieberman & Blecher, who represents the Preserve Graydon Group contends that a Nov. 16 letter written by Village Clerk Heather Mailander failed to answer the group’s concerns about why the village is taking all the information gathered by the RPP “at face value without reviewing them,” as well as questions why municipal employees have been made available to help the group. With these questions yet unanswered, Lieberman contends the RFP should never have been issued.

Liberman went on , “In short, the basis for my client’s concern is that the municipality has clearly and extensively relied on the work product of the RPP in creating the draft RFP, apparently taking its conclusions at face value and without reviewing them thoroughly or perhaps at all,” Lieberman wrote. “For reasons more fully explained in my letter dated to you Nov. 30, 2009, we believe the draft RFP violates state law.”

Once again Village Government business seems to be driven by the price of a particular project and not the value of the improvements the project will bring to the quality of life in the Village .

Again this blog was proven correct in its objections to the original $13 million dollar proposal because as Ms. Mailander clearly points out in her statements that the Village Council only seems interested in hearing what it wants to hear.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with what an amazing town Ridgewood used to be ,in the olds days had you pulled a stunt like this you would have been quietly asked to leave town in no uncertain terms and your house would have been put on the market the next day. It really was a beautiful place to live and no one would have ever put up with this type of behavior or even known someone would have even tried to get away with it . It just wont happen in Ridgewood.
Oh well …

Merry Christmas to all ,

James Rose

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Chamber of Commerce vs Anne Zusy : Blame it on the Ridgewood Blog ?

>Conflicting views
Friday, November 6, 2009
The Ridgewood News

http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/69349832.html

In late July, a sportswriter for The New York Daily News, Adam Rubin, found himself and his newspaper in the middle of a media circus. During a press conference, New York Mets General Manager Omar Minaya claimed that he couldn’t completely trust Rubin’s journalism skills because he had once supposedly lobbied for a job with the team.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/69349832.html

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Bolger Prods Village Council on Installation of Spy Cameras

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During last night’s Village Council Special Public Meeting, it was revealed that Village officials recently received a rather tersely worded letter from local philanthropist and real estate tycoon David F. Bolger concerning installation of the proposed Bolger Foundation funded, central business district, spy camera system.

It seems as though the installation project isn’t moving fast enough for Mr. Bolger, and he is concerned that the cameras may never be installed. To that end, he has made known his intent to bill Village officials for “engineering and legal fees” of approximately $60K in the event the spy camera project doesn’t progress quickly.

Nice guy that Mr. Bolger, isn’t he? See what happens Mr. Mayor when you take money when strings are attached? I guess the Village will soon be getting a similar letter about the Pease Library project?

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

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Valley expansion plan under fire

Valley_Hospital_theridgewoodblog

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Valley expansion plan under fire

Saturday, March 22, 2008
Last Updated Saturday March 22, 2008, EDT 9:48 AMBY BOB GROVESThe cost of Valley Hospital’s proposed expansion would threaten Ridgewood’s taxpayers and the future of the facility, critics charged.

Valley’s $750 million plan to replace two of its older buildings with three new ones over the next decade could balloon, with interest, to $1 billion — and that would require the hospital to earn an additional $40 million a year for 25 years to pay it off, said Paul Gould. He is a member and spokesman of Concerned Residents of Ridgewood, a neighborhood group that has opposed Valley’s expansion plans for months.

“Where will it come from?” Gould said. “Will we end up with another Pascack Valley?” The Westwood hospital went bankrupt and closed last year after building a $50 million addition.

On the contrary, Valley’s plan “is vital to its success,” said Maureen Curran Kleinman, a hospital spokeswoman.

“If Valley is not allowed to renew over time, we will not be the hospital that the community will choose for its medical care in the future,” Kleinman said in a statement. “It will impede our ability to attract the best physicians and staff, and the hospital would be at risk of facing the same unfortunate fate as Pascack Valley and many other New Jersey hospitals that have been forced to close their doors.”

The Ridgewood Planning Board is deciding whether to approve separate requests, by Valley and by Concerned Residents, for changes in the village’s hospital zone ordinances and master plan. Those changes would either allow the hospital to expand or preserve the surrounding neighborhood.

Beyond financial concerns about the hospital’s plan, Gould and other members of his group worry how much Valley’s expansion would cost the village.

“Taxpayers would absorb the additional infrastructure costs of roads, fire and police, which are paid for by the residents of Ridgewood,” he said.

If, for example, Valley increased its occupancy rate from its current 87 percent to 100 percent, to help pay for the expansion, that could add 80,000 car trips on village streets to the hospital per year, on top of 600,000 vehicle visits already made there annually, Gould said.

While other area hospitals have expanded or renovated in recent years, Valley’s $750 million plan is one of the most ambitious.

Gould’s group is worried that Valley will suffer the same fate as Pascack Valley, which succumbed to a $100 million annual debt after it opened an addition. The hospital closed in November.

“We do not want another bankrupt hospital,” Gould told the Planning Board during a public hearing this week.

But Valley officials say the hospital is not in financial danger.

Valley would finance the first phase of its expansion, estimated at $420 million, through tax-exempt bonds, fund-raising and existing cash, “as is typical financing for not-for-profit hospital projects,” Kleinman said.

Even after the project is complete, Valley’s debt will be “manageable and moderate in comparison to other hospitals,” Kleinman said.

Gould conceded that Valley “is very profitable today,” he said. At a time when many of the state’s hospitals are struggling financially, Valley hospital has $225 million in cash and investments and a $46 million debt, according to tax filings. Revenue increases by 8 percent each year, Gould said.

But to pay for the hospital to pay for the expansion, Gould said, net patient revenue would have to increase by an additional 8 percent a year. How will the hospital do that when it’s only adding three more beds to its current 451? he asked.

Valley officials have repeatedly said their building plan is being done to bring the hospital up to modern medical standards, not to bring in more patients. Will the hospital have to increase what it charges patients? the neighborhood group asked.

“Valley’s charges are among the absolute lowest of any hospital in the state,” Kleinman said. “Even after the project is in place we will still have charges well below other hospitals in New Jersey.”

The neighborhood group also claims that the Planning Board, through its attorney and other professional advisers, has already been negotiating with Valley officials about some terms of the expansion before it has been approved.

David Nicholson, chairman of the Planning Board, said its professionals had met with Valley officials, but denied that they had “negotiated” any of the proposal.

“The implication that this matter is already decided is simply not true,” Nicholson said.

Kleinman said the hospital met with village professionals to discuss the hospital ordinance and make a recommendation to the Planning Board, but not to negotiate terms of the proposed expansion.

E-mail: [email protected]

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Valley Hospital ‘at a pivotal point’

>Valley Hospital ‘at a pivotal point’

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Last Updated Tuesday March 11, 2008, EDT 9:01 AMBY BOB GROVESThe Valley Hospital needs more space to handle advances in medical technology and provide better patient care, officials said Monday.

“The hospital is at a pivotal point in its history,” Audrey Meyers, Valley’s president and chief executive officer, told the Ridgewood Planning Board. “Valley must be allowed to evolve over time.”

About 200 people, including supporters and opponents of Valley’s expansion plans, attended the public hearing. Valley’s $750 million plan includes adding a parking deck and replacing two buildings with three new ones, increasing the hospital’s size by 67 percent.

Although modern surgery involves less-invasive techniques, it requires bigger equipment than can be accommodated by Valley’s existing operating rooms, Meyers said. Under the plan, Valley would add just three beds to its existing 451 beds, but the hospital wants to make all its room private in keeping with current standards of care, Meyers said.

The population of Valley’s service area is relatively stable and expected to grow by only 4 percent in the next 10 years, she said. “The demand for change at Valley will be driven by changes in technology and patient care delivery,” she said.

Opponents say the proposed 80-foot-tall hospital buildings don’t belong in the residential neighborhood because they would overshadow homes as well as Benjamin Franklin Middle School.

Answering concerns by nearby residents that the expansion would increase traffic, Meyers said that the hospital’s nine off-site facilities have already eliminated more than 673,000 car trips per year to the hospital’s main campus.

Tuesday night’s special Planning Board meeting at George Washington Middle School was its fourth public hearing on Valley’s proposal.

The next meeting will take place next Tuesday, when Concerned Residents of Ridgewood, a group that opposes the hospital’s plan, will make their arguments before the Planning Board.

In January, the residents group applied to amend the village Master Plan and its hospital zone ordinance to “limit its impact on the community and preserve the village’s residential character.” The group also asked the Village Council and the Planning Board to amend the ordinance to change the minimum distance — from the current 40 feet, to a proposed 80 feet — that hospital buildings must be set back from North Van Dien and Linwood Avenues.

“We want further clarification about whether the hospital has changed any of its positions from 12 months ago — particularly the magnitude and scale of the proposed development — following the public outcry,” Paul Gould, a member of the group, said before the meeting.

David Nicholson, chairman of the Planning Board, said the board would consider the request by the hospital and concerned residents “as legitimate and equal” and will consider them simultaneously. “The board will then make its decision whether it will consider any changes — one or the other or one of our own devising — to the ordinances,” he said. “My hope is we will make a decision by the end of April.”

E-mail: [email protected]