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Ridgewood Mayor Arbitrarily Cuts Public Comment Session

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, On March 8, 2023, Resolution 23-108 was approved by the Village Council . Resolution 23-108  Establish Waivable Policy for End Time of Village Council Meetings – establishes a policy for Village Council meetings to end at 11:00 pm, which can be waived by a consensus of a majority of the Village Council.

Continue reading Ridgewood Mayor Arbitrarily Cuts Public Comment Session

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Public Comment for Hudson Garage Bidder Interviews or Not?

Mayor Susan Knudsen

February 15,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ,  the Village manager and Mayor appeared at odds in last nights council meeting as to whether or not to allow questions by residents or hold a public comment period  during the council interview process of the Hudson Street garage bidders .

The Village Council will be interviewing the four companies who responded to the RFP for the Hudson Street parking garage on February 21, 2018, beginning at 7:00 p.m. This meeting will be held in the Sydney V. Stoldt, Jr. Court Room on the fourth floor of Village Hall, and will also be televised on the Public Access channel. Each company will summarize their proposals and will present their concept plan(s).

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A new tone for public comment limits in 2017?

Village Council Special Public Meeting

file photo by Boyd Loving Village Council Meeting

Matt Kadosh , Staff Writer, @MattKadosh6:30 p.m. EST December 25, 2016

Belleville BOE may ditch ‘Gong Show’ clock


Such is the sound heard by residents who speak longer than the permitted times during Belleville Board of Education meetings.

In Essex County, time lmiits are imposed by some municipal councils and boards of education, and not by others.

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Ex Mayor’s Attempt to Squelch Free Speech at Ridgewood Council Meetings Falls Short with Mayor Kundsen

Councilwoman Knudsen
file photo by Boyd Loving
August 11th 2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Siobhan Winograd, self-appointed Mistress of Niceness, went to the podium and started whining about why can’t everyone be nice and how people’s comments are not pleasant  and then she suggested that people’s comments should be cut to three minutes from five.  Said she had done a bunch of research about other towns and we have more time allowed than many towns.    And then she went on past the buzzer for more than five minutes.

Mayor Knudsen stated that she was trying to think of how to accommodate MORE speakers, not fewer. She was considering one possibility of shortening each speaker’s time but lengthening the time slot to 40 minutes.  Clearly the Mayor is an advocate for the people and wants to hear from all of us.

The meeting went really smoothly and was very business like.  Even residents who had frustrations to air were treated respectfully.  All the former moaning and groaning about CIVILITY was completely unnecessary because really all we had to do was get rid of Aronsohn-Pucciarelli-Hauck and the air in the room cleared instantly.
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Paul Aronsohn Allies Push to Curtail Public Comment at Ridgewood Village Council Meetings

3 amigos
August 11,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, an odd occurrence at the Village Council meeting last night  Siobhan Crann Winograd who has recently joined the League of Women Voters along with some other notables including Paul Aronsohn. Asked to curtail public comment at Village Council meetings . Given the former mayor and his cronies tried engineer the turning the Village into Union City despite the public out cry . The 3 amigos were famous for presenting done deals to residents then ignoring both their questions and objections. Siobhan who was involved with the horrible “civility committee ” also spoke in praise of Roberta as well as Rurik Halaby.
Jim Griffith also spoke about the garage and some ambiguities in Susan’s position but the new mayor handled it very well.  One other thing of particular interest was when the council was going over bills and the one for the garage video came up Mike and Susan both stated that they had never been informed of the decision to pay for the video and voiced real discomfort about. Jeff Voigt also voiced his concern and Bernie abstained from voting without comment. It was 4 yeses and one abstain but with vocal criticism.
Anne Loving asked whether the authorization of this video should be investigated and that those responsible should foot the bill.  Boyd Loving also spoke about not reducing public comment.
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The Importance of Public Comment at Village Council Meetings

New Ridgewood Village Council

Dear Village Officials and Citizens,

Having been around forever and remembering all the long battles to increase opportunities for public comment both at the council level and at the Board of Education, I would like to make an observation .  Public comment only becomes a bit unwieldy when there are hot button issues.  Years can go by when the only people at the mic are the regulars. I can’t remember a time like these last several months when there were so many controversial issues on the agenda at the same time:  housing density ordinances, Schedler, Parking Garage, Habernickel Park to name a few.  Everyone and there brother had an opinion and felt the necessity to voice it.  Limiting public comment in situations like this only leaves people more frustrated and when that happens the tone of a meeting can alter.  It was like ” The Perfect Storm”.

I think the council does a great job in allowing multiple opportunities to speak.  I would hate to see that change because of the past several months. The council can always allow for more public comment or curtail it due to the late hour or hold special meetings when necessary.If someone becomes somewhat contentious or too personal, that person can be asked to refrain from that behavior.  Last, Marcia Ringle made a great point regarding the location of the speakers podium.  Many of us have commented that having it directly in the center aisle makes it difficult for those attending the meeting to hear and also for the home viewers.  That simple change to place it back on the side wouldn’t cost a penny. How  rare! A cheap fix!  Thank you to all for your service both at the dais and attendance at meetings.

Linda McNamara

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Village Council digs in its heels at public meetings

Paul_Aronsohn_theridgewood blog

August 5,2015

Boyd A. Loving

Ridgewood NJ, Faced with an ever increasing number of meeting attendees who publicly disagree with his administration’s policies, Mayor Paul Aronsohn has invoked a protocol of accepting “comments only” from certain meeting attendees.  If the Mayor doesn’t like your comment/question, no response is offered, and you are asked to leave the podium and return to your seat.

Long gone are the days when a taxpayer could go to the microphone during a public meeting of the Village Council and engage in meaningful dialog with a Council member or members, regardless of your support for the “Council majority” or the issue at hand.  When asked why the new protocol was being instituted, Aronsohn said only that he’d “received complaints” about the interactive nature of the meetings’ public comment segment.  He did not say who had “complained.”

Here’s a comment for you Mr. Mayor – If you can’t stand the heat, don’t change the rules, just get out of the fire.

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Let’s set the record straight, Mayor Aronsohn

Village _council_meeting_theridgewoodblog

file photo by Boyd Loving
June 11th 2015
Boyd A. Loving

Ridgewood NJ, During Wednesday evening’s Village Council meeting (06/10/2015), Mayor Paul Aronsohn boasted that he and other members the current Council were personally responsible for enhancing the public comment segment(s) of Village Council meetings by increasing the amount of speaking time allotted from 3 minutes to 5 minutes per individual speaker.

In reality, the 5 minute time limit per individual speaker was established by Ordinance 2442, which was adopted on January 11, 1994.  Neither Mr. Aronsohn, nor any other current Village Council member, served on the Council at that time.

On July 11, 2014, a resident became aware that the then in place 3 minute time limit per individual speaker was not consistent with what was established by Ordinance 2442 (a 5 minute time limit), and made Village Clerk Heather Mailander aware of the discrepancy.

Subsequent to receipt of this resident’s advisory, Ms. Mailander notified Mr. Aronsohn and other Council members of the issue and the time limit was adjusted to be consistent with the aforementioned ordinance.

I do so wish that Mr. Aronsohn would stop stretching the truth to bolster his political career.

Fortunately, some of us have been around long enough to remember things as they actually happened as opposed to the “world according to Paul Aronsohn.”