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Reader says Councilwoman Hauck claimed on Facebook that all of the Village Council unanimously wanted her to serve on the mediation team

gwenn hauck

Councilwoman Hauck claimed on Facebook that all of the Village Council unanimously wanted her to serve on the mediation team. She wrote that “all five” of them wanted her to serve. This proved to be inaccurate. She asked to be on the mediation team so she could “learn about the litigation.” Susan Knudsen did not want her to be, Mike Sedon was interested but had childcare issues, Albert was recused from the discussion, and Aronsohn wanted Gwenn to serve. According to public comments by Councilman Sedon, the four of them “conceded” to allow Mrs. Hauck to serve. Valley got exactly what they wanted. A friend and generous donor served on the mediation team that was in place to help the residents of Ridgewood. And who won? Surprise, surprise, The Valley rode herd on us.

And oh, by the way, Councilwoman Hauck violated the confidentiality of the Closed Session meeting on December 2nd by announcing on social media how the discussion went. Not only did she violate the closed session meeting confidentiality, but what she said was also grossly inaccurate.

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Reader says Councilwoman Hauck, Mayor Aronsohn, Deputy Mayor Pucciarelli, and the Village Manager are behind this unfortunate development in Ridgewood

signs in Ridgewood

Political signs in the village-owned planters and in the sidewalk cutouts (for the shade trees) in the Central Business District were unheard of in Ridgewood until someone (as yet unidentified) paid to have the “Vote Yes” signs printed, assembled, and distributed around the Village last Fall in time to influence the Parking Garage vote. And now we are told that there is some kind of regulation in place for political signs that permitted these kinds of signs to be put up in this manner?

What is the text of that regulation as it appears today? How did it appear last fall when the “Vote Yes” signs were erected? What earlier iterations of that regulation existed by which these kinds of shenanigans were completely prevented in the past? Or are we just now seeing the results of a creative interpretation on an old, unchanged regulation by an enterprising new election lawyer or cynical political operator? If that regulation was changed in such a way as to permit or encourage this kind of nonsense, what was the “before” and “after” of this change, and exactly how and when did it occur?

The guiding hands of Councilwoman Hauck, Mayor Aronsohn, Deputy Mayor Pucciarelli, and the Village Manager so clearly appear to be behind this unfortunate development that nobody should ever accept an explanation that does not implicate them. If we want to revert back to a non-partisan form of local government, which we are supposed to be guranteed under the Faulkner Act, nobody that supported the Three Amigos in their misbehavior in recent years, or who is currently receiving political support from them, should ever be elected to Village Council, even by mistake.

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Police summoned to disturbance at Ridgewood Council meeting

village council meeting assult

photo by Boyd A. Loving
Police summoned to disturbance at Council meeting
February 11,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridhewood NJ, resident Dana Glazer had his cell phone knocked out of his hand by a meeting attendee.  Police investigation underway.  No charges pressed as of this writing.

Witnesses state that it happened when Jim Griffiths was being honored and was especially disturbing especially with so many small children in the room. But, it did happen, “and the choice of timing was fully in the hands of the person who hit the man with the camera. I saw the entire thing because it had caught my attention that one resident was inches from another,bothering him, so I was watching. When the “aggressor” hit the man with the cell phone and knocked the phone to the ground, that was when I ran to get the police.”

The witness went on , “By the time I got to the police desk, one flight down, an officer was already radioing in to get to the courtroom, so either someone else called the police or the police saw on closed circuit camera I counted four officers that came up. What was even more shocking was that at the end, was that Councilwoman Hauck had the audacity to suggest that “no one saw it happen” (you can watch the tape tomorrow, I don’t want to put words in her mouth) – so if she didn’t see it then does that mean it did not happen? And the suggestion that I could have handled it differently, really? So if I see one person hit another, but something nice is going on at the same time, I should just sit back and do nothing.”

A long time resident who did not witness the attack said ,” I think it a sad day for Ridgewood when members of the pubic are afraid to come to meeting for fear of possible assault   or harassment by other members of the public.. This was all fueled by the council majority who berated this same member of the public in recent council meeting for video taping them,  We have sunk to a new low here in Ridgewood. Never in all my years in town have I see such distrust, in fighting,berating of the public by council members and i’ve been here a long time.  ”

The victim Dana Glazer is also someone who has been threatened repeatedly for recording public meetings. This has now opened up the gates for others to attack those who wish to record.

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How can the Village Council put together Bond Ordnance before the final Parking Garage Design is Decided ?

Village_Manager_Roberta_Sonenfeld_theridgewoodblog
November 13,2015
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ , Prior to the Nov 3rd referendum, Mayor Aronsohn and Councilwoman Hauck were telling people “If you think we need more parking, vote yes. This is not the final design. We will get public input about the size, design, financials, etc before decisions are made.” It appears now that many people voted yes on the bond referendum, trusting those statements and that they would have input.

At the Nov 9th council meeting, during the manager’s report, Roberta spoke of the parking committee coming to the Dec 9th council meeting with their recommendations. She said the parking committee has taken input from residents. That seems to be news to a lot of people .Most residents were not aware of any meeting where the public was allowed to give their input on record. The informal “parking forums” that took place were not “on the record” . Residents expected there to be council meetings dedicated to the discussion of the parking garage. Members of the parking steering committee should be present to hear all comments. After public comments, the council should discuss in front of the public, their thoughts on the structure.

During the managers report on Nov 9th, Roberta also suggested putting together the bond ordinance for the garage at the Dec 9th council meeting. This clearly sounds to us that things are being done backwards yet again. How exactly can you have a dollar figure for a bond when the design has not been decided? How can the design be decided before you have had a formal public meeting where everybody can express there opinions?  Why is money being wasted asking the architects for different renderings, when you haven’t heard the public yet? Maybe someone will have ideas that should be incorporated into the new designs and should be heard before the architects are asked to come back with multiple designs?

Once again it seems that the residents  are feeling their voices are not being listened to again regarding the many significant issues facing the village: high density housing, parking  Schedler, and Habernickel.

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East Side, West Side all Around the town Ridgewood Taxpayers Continue to get the shaft from Mayor Aronsohn, Deputy Mayor Pucciarelli, and Councilwoman Hauck

3 amigos in action Ridgewood NJ

file photo by Boyd Loving

November 8,2015

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

 

Ridgewood NJ, On Wednesday November 4, the agenda for the Village Council’s Public Workshop Agenda included a single line item:  Public Hearing – Change in Use of 1057 Hillcrest Road (The Gate House) at Irene Habernickel Family Park.  No one in the neighborhood of the park had been informed via any official channels.  A small, almost unreadable sign posted at the park informed of the meeting, but few saw it and many who might have would not have read such an insignificant posting.  Many found out about the meeting through a grapevine of neighbors.  One was told, off the record, by a police officer.  Another heard about it from a contractor working at her home.  Some learned as they were arriving home from work that night.

The basic gist of what is going on is as follows.  For many years, the Gate House had been rented to a family, who opted not to renew their lease.  An ad placed for a new renter yielded no interested parties.  A business, however, had indicated an interest in acquiring the property.  Late in the summer, on September 16, an ordinance was introduced to change the use of 1057 Hillcrest Road to “recreational/educational purposes.”  Health Barn USA won the bid, and soon thereafter the business website indicated the new address in Ridgewood.  The website, should you care to read further, is https://www.healthbarnusa.com/

Some reached out to one of our elected officials, Councilwoman Susan Knudsen in advance of Wednesday’s meeting.  Responding appropriately and promptly, Councilwoman Knudsen explained to those who inquired how to speak their concerns at a Council Meeting, and who to speak with at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection regarding the regulations involved using a property that was purchased with Green Acres Funding for business purposes.

Many residents of the neighborhood arrived at the November 4 meeting, not sure what to expect, but certain that they wanted to speak their opposition to this plan.  For most, this was the first Village Council meeting they had attended.  They waited patiently while other business items were discussed and presented.

When the Public Hearing began, the owner of Health Barn USA, Ms. Stacey Antine, explained the mission and purpose of her business.  She also denied some allegations that had been swirling prior to this meeting, stating that she was not involved in any litigation with her former landlord (Abmas Farm in Wyckoff) and that no children from inner cities would be bused in for the programs.  Following her presentation, several clients of Health Barn USA gave testimonials, and employees of the Village of Ridgewood spoke about safety and other concerns surrounding the changed use of the property.

When the residents finally got their chance to speak, they were amazing.  Twenty one individuals spoke, ranging in age from 18 to “retired.”  One after the next they voiced valid objections to the change in use, to the way the matter has been handled  by The Village Council, and to the legality of defying the NJ-DEP Green Acres guidelines.  They were all clear, determined, insistent, polite, even while frustrated.  Many expressed a sense of wonder that their elected officials had actually changed the use and drafted (although not finalized) a lease on a business BEFORE the Public Hearing.   You can hear their excellent comments on the Village of Ridgewood website U-Stream.

Here are a few highlights, in no particular order:

1. One resident was reprimanded sarcastically and loudly by Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck.  Yes, you read that correctly, a member of the public, a taxpayer, was publicly humiliated by one of our elected officials.

2. Results of a traffic study conducted by the Ridgewood Police Department seemed to greatly differ from the neighbors’ observations of traffic at the site.

3. While the original presentation by the Health Barn USA owner indicated that busses would not be coming in and out of the park, later in the evening it was revealed that mini-busses and full-size school busses could be expected on a regular basis.

4. The business has been granted permission by the Village to use a large plot on the park property  for gardening;  this is separate from the home and its immediate surrounds.

5. Assistant to the Village Manager, Ms. Janet Fricke, expressed frustration that one of our elected officials assisted residents in navigating the process without including her in the discussion.  Likewise, Village Manager Ms. Roberta Sonenfeld indicated that no such communications between a councilmember and the public should take place without everyone being cc’ed.  SINCE WHEN DO EMPLOYEES TELL ELECTED OFFICIALS WHAT THEY CAN OR CANNOT DO?  Does anyone actually believe that an elected official should not assist residents who ask for assistance?

6. No resident, not one, criticized the business in any way or maligned Ms. Antine for having sought this location.  Their argument was not with Health Barn USA; it is with the proposed presence of any business in their quiet residential neighborhood.

7. In summary, Mayor Aronsohn, Deputy Mayor Pucciarelli, and Councilwoman Hauck all indicated that with some minor adjustments to satisfy the NJ-DEP, they will be looking forward to welcoming this wonderful new business, thereby completely ignoring the impassioned pleas of these residents.

So, are the Habernickel Park neighbors getting the shaft just like the Schedler Park residents?  Sure looks like it.  Once again, the Council Majority is running a steam roller right over the taxpayers.

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The Ridgewood blog asks, “How many times can the Mayor , Deputy Mayor and a fair haired Councilwoman , in cooperation with Village Manager , disregard our local laws?

3 amigos

file photo by Boyd Loving

September 16,2015

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, so how many times can Mayor Aronsohn, Deputy Mayor Pucciarelli and Councilwoman Hauck, in cooperation with Village Manager Sonenfeld, disregard our local laws? Let us count the ways :

1. Resolution 13-87 (April 24, 2013), item #4 reads as follows:

Telephonic or electronic communication between or among Councilmembers or between a Councilmember and a member of the public during public meetings is prohibited.    This resolution was written by the Deputy Mayor (and former councilwoman Bernadette Walsh).  When questioned publicly, Aronsohn admitted that his wife texts him, Hauck admitted that she “forgets” to turn her phone off, and Pucciarelli stated that he must be able to hear from his family at all times.  So this rule is bent, disregarded, or ignored by the three of them as they see fit.  Councilman Sedon and Councilwoman Knudsen stated that they do not use their phones or email during meetings.

2. A Human Resources Director (or confidential secretary, or whatever the title turned out to be) was hired before the position even existed.  Once they got her up and running then they decided to create the position by rewriting the organizational chart.  This was done over the objections of Sedon and Knudsen, who wanted the law to be followed.  The position should have been created and then the person could be hired.

3. Local laws dictate that for certain positions, new hires must come in at the lowest end of the salary range.  This has not always been happening. So now they are writing a new ordinance allowing for salary flexibility in such hirings.  Once again, break the law, then rewrite the law.  Once again, Sedon and Knudsen voiced objections while the other three smiled and nodded approval.

4. The most recent application for a grant for the Schedler property has a complete inaccuracy as well as some “sins of omission.”  It was not shown to certain council members before it was sent (can we guess who did not see it and who did?).  When this was pointed out, with a suggestion that the application be pulled and amended before being resubmitted, the reply was that “these things happen all the time,” you know, what’s a little inaccuracy among government agencies?  Are we seeing a pattern here?

Our lawyer on the Council, Mr. Pucciarelli, characterized their behavior best when he stated that  “Maybe we’re breaking the law, but it’s not a good law.”