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>From the New York Times Freakonomics Blog re: Planning Boards

>Who Joins Zoning Boards?

What kind of person would volunteer to serve on a zoning board? It’s not exactly a lucrative position. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that a new study by Jerry L. Anderson, Aaron Brees, and Emily Renninger finds that most zoning board members have something to gain from their positions: “[C]ertain types of professional occupations — business, real estate, law, bankers, planners, and architects — are disproportionately represented. In some cities, the majority of board members have some direct or indirect interest in the development process.” The authors argue that this disproportionate representation may lead to predictable building patterns — the prevalence of urban sprawl and gated communities or why “high-impact land uses are located most often in poorer sections of town.” In Norway, there’s a quota for women on corporate boards, which seems to be working out well; is there a corollary to consider for U.S. zoning boards? (11)

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>This is what happens when you have weak form of local government

>This is what happens when you have weak form of local government. The Faulknarian, non-partisan, village charter is proving our undoing. There is no counter balance or opposing parties to keep the other in check. While this Utopian set-up worked for many decades, due to the fact that we were in essence a one party village, in the past few years it has made governing all but impossible.

Without political parties to provide support to elected officials and a counter weight to the other, a void of political courage arises in times of trouble and hence no one takes responsibility for anything.

In the meantime, a hired hand runs our village. We have effectively, removed our representatives from governing us and placed our fate in bureaucrats. Our model of local government is a relic of days gone by and should be replaced with one which fosters the competition of ideas. The Rockwellian world of Ridgewood being a sleepy little commuter town is a thing of the past. We need real leadership in this day and age and our form of government prohibits such.

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>Kent Smith Pastor at the West Side Presbyterian Church :The recent Planning Board meeting at George Washington was peculiar and seemed, to the church management, to be set up for confrontation and anger.

>This was in the Record as an editorial.

As the institution that provides parking for events at George Washington Middle School in Ridgewood, the West Side Presbyterian Church is used to large events there. The recent Planning Board meeting at George Washington was peculiar and seemed, to the church management, to be set up for confrontation and anger.

Why was the meeting suddenly (from our perspective) moved from the larger venue with parking to the smaller venue without parking? Since it would be providing parking, why wasn’t the church informed? We read about it in the paper on Monday morning, then scrambled to make as much parking as possible available. Two events were scheduled at the church that night, so we could not have accommodated the overflow from George Washington.

We asked the village for police help to direct traffic, which would have maximized our parking and assured safety. Our request was refused. For a meeting of this sort, would not police support just be a given? It should have been in the plan from the beginning to have village police there, without having to call in police from other agencies in such a dramatic fashion.

We have never before seen a crowd not allowed into the George Washington School. There are massive meetings at George Washington requiring use of the entire parking lot and the field below our Youth Barn in addition to neighborhood parking.

For the June 21 meeting, was it not possible to televise the meeting in the dining hall so people could be inside? Any attempt at accommodation could have worked wonders in defusing an ugly situation. Creating a crowd outside, as happened June 21, invited a riot.

From the church’s perspective across the street, the whole thing seemed to be designed to be confrontational. This is probably not the case, but we are curious why this was so different from every other large event.

Kent Smith

Ridgewood, June 28

The writer is a pastor at the West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood.

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>Chris Christie to keep pressure on the Legislature

>New Jersey Governor Defies Political Expectations

A momentous deal to cap property taxes was all but done, but Gov. Chris Christie was taking no chances, barnstorming the state to commiserate with squeezed homeowners and keep pressure on the Legislature. Outside a farmhouse here in central New Jersey last week, buttoned up in a dark suit despite the triple-digit heat, Mr. Christie promised to tackle rising pension costs, transportation financing, municipal spending — all while poking fun at his opponents, the news media and, mostly, himself. (Perez-Pena, The New York Times)

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/12/nyregion/12christie.html?src=mv

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>"Renaissance" of Graydon Pool

>”renaissance” of Graydon Pool.

The Record: Everyone in the pool
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Last updated: Sunday July 11, 2010, 10:50 AM
The Record

http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/98186909_Everyone_in_the_pool.html

THESE STEAMY, hot summer days are tiring and tough to get through. Good thing there’s Graydon Pool.

The number of members is up an astounding 37 percent after seasons of decline, thanks to the tireless lobbying of a core group of citizens that helped clean and preserve Ridgewood’s century-old jewel.
 Set in a 7-acre park, historic Graydon is a nearly all-natural swimming experience, complete with minnows and the occasional duck. It was created in 1918 by damming the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook, expanded in 1936 and filled with eager swimmers for decades.

But in recent years, the 2.8 acre “plake” was losing its luster and revenues as its reputation shifted from relaxing to dirty. A $13 million plan to replace it with four concrete, chlorinated pools emerged. Thankfully, Graydon fans lobbied against that plan and pushed for improvements.

Waters are clearer now that they are being aerated by new diffusers and treated with natural chemicals. Workers are covering rafts with tarps and employing border collies to chase geese away.

The results are good. Some 3,410 badges have been sold this year, compared to 2,426 last year, according to the parks department. Along with more visitors and revenues, activities are coming back too, with a lending library and story times for children. The redevelopment plan appears dead, since recent municipal elections brought more plake supporters to the Village Council.

Credit the Great Recession for keeping families closer to home. Credit the blistering heat for sending them into the water. But especially, credit the fact that citizens cared, that volunteers rallied, that voters supported a cause.

Whatever the reasons, the push and the pull both, we’re heartened to see more interest, and more swimming, in Graydon Pool.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/98186909_Everyone_in_the_pool.html

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>Christie looks to privatize state services

>

Christie looks to privatize motor vehicle inspections, other services
Friday, July 9, 2010
Last updated: Saturday July 10, 2010, 3:02 PM
State House Bureau
STATE HO– USE BUREAU
 http://www.northjersey.com/news/politics/070910_Christie_looks_to_privatize_motor_vehicle_inspections.html

New Jersey would close its centralized car inspection lanes and motorists would pay for their own emissions tests under a sweeping set of recommendations set to be released by the Christie administration today.

State parks, psychiatric hospitals and even turnpike toll booths could also be run by private operators, according to the 57-page report on privatization obtained by The Star-Ledger. Preschool classrooms would no longer be built at public expense, state employees would pay for parking and private vendors would dish out food, deliver health care and run education programs behind prison walls.

All told, the report says, New Jersey could save at least $210 million a year by delivering an array of services through private hands.

“The question has to be, ‘Why do you continue to operate in a manner that’s more costly and less effective?’ rather than, ‘Why change?’ ” said Richard Zimmer, the former Republican congressman who chaired the task force.

It is unclear how many of the recommendations will be adopted by Governor Christie, who commissioned the report in March. Christie’s spokesman declined comment Thursday.

But the car inspection proposal is sure to stir up controversy in a state with a tortured history of privatizing emissions testing.

The report says that beginning next July, “New Jersey should withdraw entirely from direct participation in the vehicle inspection process.” Before then, the state would develop a plan to certify service stations and other shops “to make the transition seamless for motorists and assure that private inspection fees will be transparent and reasonable.”

The state would then sell the land where its facilities now operate.

The proposal would require breaking the state’s contract with Parsons Corp., which is two years into a five-year, $276 million deal to do emissions and mechanical inspections. The mechanical inspections were already phased out under the budget that went into effect July 1.

The state conducts more than 1.94 million initial inspections a year and pays for all of them. Drivers pay only if they fail the inspections and have to make repairs.

Zimmer pointed out that motorists are already paying for the system through their tax dollars.

Critics said Christie is returning to dangerous territory after Parsons’ early years of managing the inspection program were steeped in controversy. When the inspection network was opened in December 1999, it was plagued by computer malfunctions and frozen equipment that left drivers fuming in lines four hours long.

Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey director of the Communications Workers of America state workers union, said the plans outlined in the report would create “bad service” and “less safety” while failing to save the state money.

But Zimmer stressed “stringent” controls will be put in place.

Despite past predictions that up to 2,000 public employees could lose their jobs to privatization, the report does not specify the number of layoffs to come. But its impact could be felt from parks — where private recreation firms would run concessions, operate facilities and perhaps collect a fee — to preschools.

The report says the state should end public funding to construct preschools and change rules to make it easier for private providers to run them.

David Sciarra, an attorney and advocate for children in the poorest districts where the state Supreme Court has mandated the preschool program, said the report is “misleading and erroneous” in claiming the private sector is being crowded out.

“If anything, the collaboration between districts and providers … has grown stronger, and the private sector is an integral part of the program,” he said. “They should go back to the drawing board on this one.”

E-mail: cheininger@starledger.com

New Jersey would close its centralized car inspection lanes and motorists would pay for their own emissions tests under a sweeping set of recommendations set to be released by the Christie administration today.

Governor Christie

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Governor Christie

State parks, psychiatric hospitals and even turnpike toll booths could also be run by private operators, according to the 57-page report on privatization obtained by The Star-Ledger. Preschool classrooms would no longer be built at public expense, state employees would pay for parking and private vendors would dish out food, deliver health care and run education programs behind prison walls.
All told, the report says, New Jersey could save at least $210 million a year by delivering an array of services through private hands.

“The question has to be, ‘Why do you continue to operate in a manner that’s more costly and less effective?’ rather than, ‘Why change?’ ” said Richard Zimmer, the former Republican congressman who chaired the task force.

It is unclear how many of the recommendations will be adopted by Governor Christie, who commissioned the report in March. Christie’s spokesman declined comment Thursday.
But the car inspection proposal is sure to stir up controversy in a state with a tortured history of privatizing emissions testing.

The report says that beginning next July, “New Jersey should withdraw entirely from direct participation in the vehicle inspection process.” Before then, the state would develop a plan to certify service stations and other shops “to make the transition seamless for motorists and assure that private inspection fees will be transparent and reasonable.”

The state would then sell the land where its facilities now operate.
The proposal would require breaking the state’s contract with Parsons Corp., which is two years into a five-year, $276 million deal to do emissions and mechanical inspections. The mechanical inspections were already phased out under the budget that went into effect July 1.

The state conducts more than 1.94 million initial inspections a year and pays for all of them. Drivers pay only if they fail the inspections and have to make repairs.

Zimmer pointed out that motorists are already paying for the system through their tax dollars.
Critics said Christie is returning to dangerous territory after Parsons’ early years of managing the inspection program were steeped in controversy. When the inspection network was opened in December 1999, it was plagued by computer malfunctions and frozen equipment that left drivers fuming in lines four hours long.
Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey director of the Communications Workers of America state workers union, said the plans outlined in the report would create “bad service” and “less safety” while failing to save the state money.

But Zimmer stressed “stringent” controls will be put in place.
Despite past predictions that up to 2,000 public employees could lose their jobs to privatization, the report does not specify the number of layoffs to come. But its impact could be felt from parks — where private recreation firms would run concessions, operate facilities and perhaps collect a fee — to preschools.
The report says the state should end public funding to construct preschools and change rules to make it easier for private providers to run them.

David Sciarra, an attorney and advocate for children in the poorest districts where the state Supreme Court has mandated the preschool program, said the report is “misleading and erroneous” in claiming the private sector is being crowded out.

“If anything, the collaboration between districts and providers … has grown stronger, and the private sector is an integral part of the program,” he said. “They should go back to the drawing board on this one.”
E-mail: cheininger@starledger.com

http://www.northjersey.com/news/politics/070910_Christie_looks_to_privatize_motor_vehicle_inspections.html

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>new water tank on Valley View is significantly smaller than what the village proposed as "necessary to serve the residents demand for water."

>For those of you complaining about the “monstrosity of a water tank” on Valley View…

If you recall, the new water tank on Valley View (which replaced an obsolete and much less attractive tank) is significantly smaller than what the village proposed as “necessary to serve the residents demand for water.” The new tank has improved landscaping and (I believe) has less visible height above ground than the old tank, even though it is slightly larger. It was NIMBYs in the area (who formed a steady “parade of protestors” at the microphone at public meetings), letters to the Editor of RN and posters on this blog, who pressured the village to compromise on a large reduction in the storage capacity of the tank, in the interest os aesthetics.

Eliminating the water tank is not an option. But, perhaps if you had listened to the people, who actually understand the facts and argued for the larger tank, we would not be facing stage 4 water restrictions now, and most likely, every summer in the future.

WAY TO GO, MORONS!

It was a mistake to reduce the size of the tank. We should have built the tank that was most appropriate for our future needs, as proposed by the village. It just goes to show that residents should be careful to understand the consequences of their demands. Does this sound similar to another current debate in town???

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Chamber of Commerce names new officers and Board of Directors

> Chamber of Commerce names new officers and Board of Directors
Friday, July 9, 2010
The Ridgewood News

http://www.northjersey.com/news/business/98088909_Chamber_of_Commerce_names_new_officers_and_Board_of_Directors.html

The Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce has announced their new officers and Board of Directors for the 2010 to 2011 year: President Scott Lief of NJ Lenders Corp. Mortgage Bankers, Vice President Tom Hillmann of Hillmann Lighting, Secretary Aaron Galileo of ISB Mortgage Company, Treasurer Diane Friedman of Alexandrite Group, Past President Doug Seiferling of North Jersey Media Group, David Merker of Merker Insurance Group, Ed Sullivan of Sullivan Associates, Zvia Barlev of La Piazza Bistro Italiano, Michael Velicu of Mediterraneo, Walter Boyer of Bookends, Megan Fraser of The Valley Hospital, James Parks of Parks Wealth Management and Paul Vagianos of It’s Greek to Me. http://www.northjersey.com/news/business/98088909_Chamber_of_Commerce_names_new_officers_and_Board_of_Directors.html

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