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Ridgewood Mayor says Civility should become the ‘new normal’ , we say show me !


Ridgewood Mayor says Civility should become the ‘new normal’ , we say show me !

Civility should become the ‘new normal’
December 24, 2014


We need to raise the bar with respect to acceptable conduct and take our public discourse to a higher level.

INCIVILITY. It seems all too common these days. The aggressive driver who tailgates you on the turnpike. The angry parent who berates the coach. The hostile resident who hurls personal attacks at public meetings. The anonymous commenter who spews hatred on the Internet. The rude government official who speaks in dismissive tones. The governor who admonishes the heckler to “sit down and shut up.”

These people and these behaviors have become all too familiar. And, sadly, they have become all too accepted. Rudeness seems normal. Civility appears optional.

To be sure, this lack of civility is not standard practice. Most people don’t act this way. Most people open doors, are polite and treat others with respect.

But the seeming increase in incivility is very real and is very destructive. It is tearing at the fabric of communities. We not only see it on TV and read about it in newspapers. We live it in our own lives. In fact, at times, it may be we who are using the bad language, exhibiting the bad behavior, making the bad decisions.

In Ridgewood, we have acknowledged this and have decided to do something about it.

Recently, community leaders and members of the public came together to discuss the need for more civility in our public discourse. Government officials. Educators. Clergy. Organizational leaders. Parents. The group represented somewhat of a cross-section of our village.

It was a timely event — coming in the wake of one of the nastiest election seasons ever — and it was an appropriate event, being held in a town known for its profound sense of commu-nity.

At the meeting, people shared a variety of views. Some said there is too much incivility in Ridgewood, while others said everything is basically fine. Some focused on behavior at public meetings, while others focused on behavior at youth sports events. Some spoke of people’s anger and hostility, while others spoke of people’s fears. Most, however, seemed to agree that incivility is the exception to the rule in Ridgewood, but regardless, most seemed to agree that we need to address it – head on.

Hence, their participation in the meeting.

Going forward, our plan is to reconvene the group in mid-January. Our discussion will concentrate on ways in which we can and should take this conversation forward.

Beyond Ridgewood, we are seeing additional reasons to be optimistic. In Washington, since the November election, we have heard more talk about bipartisanship coming from President Obama and Republican leaders. In Bergen, incoming County Executive James Tedesco ran a campaign centered on “bringing Bergen together again” and promising a less combative style to governance. And local officials and residents — most recently in Hackensack — are actively exploring ways to bring civility back into public life.

Ultimately, I believe we need to create a “new normal” with respect to the way we treat each other. More civility. More respect. Disagreement is fine and often good, but we need to disagree without being disagreeable.

We need to raise the bar with respect to acceptable conduct and take our public discourse to a higher level. That means community leaders and parents modeling appropriate behavior. That means everyone — individually as well as collectively — stepping back, taking a deep breath and realizing that we are stronger and better when we work together.

Although incivility is nothing new, it seems that 2009 was a pivotal year that began a steady decline. That year, a congressman from South Carolina broke tradition and yelled out during a presidential address to a joint session of Congress — effectively calling the president of the United States a liar. It was also in that year that New Jersey elected a governor who felt it was fine to vilify public workers, talk down to reporters and shout down residents at town meetings.

Now, five years later, it is time for us to declare that enough is enough. Our period of incivility must come to an end. We are better than this. We deserve better than this.

Paul Aronsohn is mayor of Ridgewood.

22 thoughts on “Ridgewood Mayor says Civility should become the ‘new normal’ , we say show me !

  1. Yes after he and his two cohorts lambasted other council member ,employees and residents for over two years now he wants to be civil. This sound to me the beginning of his re-election campaign or his election to higher office in the state or federal government. His political buss words are really over the top. He believes like other in the government that voters are “stupid”. Make no mistake about it everything he does is simple done to promote his political agenda.

  2. I wonder who write his material and how many people proof read it before he submits it to his press release officer Mr Harris?

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  4. “The rude government official who speaks in dismissive tones.”

    And who might this be?

  5. Effectively, The President of the United States is a liar.

  6. I am still wondering who wrote the letter or email to Mike Sedon’s former employer saying Mike shouldn’t be allowed to run for Ridgewood council because he is news reporter in Staten Island.

    I am sure it wasn’t his wife or mother. That was an uncivil act if I ever saw one. But wait, are we talking about courtesy and politeness only, the veneer of civility. Because in the dictionary that’s what civility means, acting polite and courteous. Or are we talking about ethical and moral behavior too.

  7. The Mike Sedon incident casts a long dark shadow over the august council chambers. Civil behavior will not make it go away.

  8. Anonymous:

    Effectively, The President of the United States is a liar.

    All politicians are liars!

  9. Let’s bring civility back to the Planning board meetings by replacing the current attorney and by enforcing rules of order that protect the rights of Villagers. Has anyone noticed that the planning board attorney sits in the middle of the table and effectively runs the meeting? I would like our fellow Villagers to be in control of and responsible for the meetings — for good or for bad — and not a lawyer who seems to make up the rules as she goes along.

  10. I thought Charles Nalbatian controlled the meeting. I thought Gail Price was there to answer legal issues and questions that came up and to ensure that legal protocol was followed along with Nalbatian.

  11. Time Out now that the 3 amigos have had their way in being uncivil he THE MAYOR wants to create a “NEW NORM” Now that they have shown us what happens if you disagree let start over again.

  12. I have to go into my meditation room and contemplate the true meaning of this letter and ask the holy spirt to give me guidance

  13. This editorial is so well written that you could almost believe it……except that those of us who know him and his sneaky techniques are well aware that it is complete and total bullshit.

    He and his two buddies have been nasty, then contrite, then well-behaved, then nasty again, then contrite again….it is just a ridiculous cycle. If there had been one incident of incivility from Aronsohn and Pucciarelli and Hauck, then maybe this stupid editorial would be believable. But this has been a repetitive cycle that never ends, just that right now the mayor is in the contrite phase. The pendulum will swing again, just wait.

    This can be compared to spousal abuse in some ways, where the violent person is so very sorry and swears never to do it again…..until the next time. Their repeated behavior from the dais has brought the outspoken outrage of many, many citizens, not just the few hard-core residents who regularly go to the meetings. There have been long lines of people at some Village Council meetings, waiting to go to the microphone and express their disgust with the INCIVILITY of these three elected officials. And, we have also seen and heard such nasty language off the record from them, in the hallways, after the videocameras go off, even during encounters outside of Village Hall. We know you three read the blog incessantly, and you know what incidents of verbal violence you have been involved in. And, in one instance that I know off, a bystander videotaped a certain someone screaming at a village resident.

    And regarding the crime (in my opinion it was a crime) against Mike Sedon, the three of them NEVER, not once EVER showed any outrage about that. It was horrifying how they just ignored it. If a couple of citizens had not pushed for an investigation, it never would have gotten underway. Mayor Aronsohn should have used his connections to push push PUSH for answers as to who sent that despicable email to Mike’s employer. He should have left no stone unturned until answers were clearly revealed. This makes it seem pretty obvious that the stones could not be turned, because lurking under one of them is the guilty party. And all indications are that it is someone who had a vested interest in keeping Mr Sedon off the ballot (and he and Ms. Knudsen won by a LANDSLIDE while a certain elected official fumed in the hallway, making a cell call during which outrage over Albano’s loss was clearly and loudly stated).

    So, sorry Mayor Paul, your editorial might make you feel all pumped up and proud, but we see it for what it is, empty words from a nasty man.

  14. we all need to smoke pot, soon we all will go on rt 17 and just walk in. 2017 yeahhhhhhhhhhhh.

  15. Feckless, frustrated, Paul “making my 10 year political comeback” Aronsohn has peaked politically as mayor of RW.

    His lack of political skills to move to higher office unfortunately means we are stuck with him.

    He is keenly aware of his failed political career and is desperate to make a (any) mark and has become increasingly nasty in this pursuit.

  16. Mr. Aronsohn needs to find a new community to lead around by the nose like a bunch of rubes, or to remake in his image.

    Here in Ridgewood we saw his announcement of ‘a new normal’ coming ten miles away. Or perhaps he got the idea while reading this blog?

    Consider the following, posted in this very blog nearly a month ago:

    “To his mind, now that we’ve gone and taken the trouble of having a silly public meeting about the need for ‘civility in public discourse’, we have established a new norm, in accordance with which anyone who goes to the microphone to disagree with or criticize the Mayor or his friends is, by definition, engaging in a social ‘taboo’, and will therefore have voluntarily opened themselves up to immediate public abuse from the elected official DuJour, shamelessly served with a culturally toxic side-dish of relish, impunity, and maddening condescension. Problem solved!”

    Mr. Mayor, next time you plan to implement PR advice you obtained from a third party, you might want to think about paying for it…

  17. Yes #13 She hides behind that plastic smile and tries to impress us at council meeting by tell us how much research she has done on a project all the time she is in line with Paul and Albert. She can be just as nasty and vindictive as them.

  18. “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

    Get over yourself, Mr. Mayor. The playbook is Saul Alinsky’s, and the major practitioner of Alinsky’s techniques is the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The above is from his speech given at the United Nations in NYC while he was still trying to blame the murder of four Americans in Benghazi on a two-bit director and his crummy movie. Sure, he set up and knocked down other straw men to whom ownership of the future should ostensibly be denied, but everyone knew the passage quoted above was his “money” quote…the real message.

    Every trick you’re trying to pull, Mr. Mayor, has long since been attempted (and revealed as a naked political tactic) on the national stage in full view of your Ridgewood neighbors. We are not so gullible as to fall for your rhetoric. Nor are we so meek as to be cowed into silence by threats of being deemed outside your “new normal”.

    It won’t be long now before we’re treated to a reprise of Charlie (nicknamed ‘Charlianna’) whose sole purpose in life was seemingly to troll this blog and accuse people with whom he disagreed of occupying “the lunatic fringe”. See the similarity? Freeze your opponent, isolate them, then freely pour on their head all the ridicule, scorn, and disdain you can generate.

    Get a new schtick, mayor Aronsohn. We’ve had it with your self-righteous nonsense and wish that you and your two amigos would simply cut out the condescension and do the jobs you were elected to do. Show some humility and leave the moralizing to people who still have at least a shred of credibility on the topic. And stop basing your political life on tactics from a book dedicated by Alinsky to the father of all lies.

  19. What is so discouraging is the idea that being the Mayor of Ridgewood is the best he can ever hope for. I mean, I hope he does not go any further politically, but on the other hand this makes it seem that the Mayor of Ridgewood is a lowly office. We citizens deserve much, much better than our current mayor and his two unprofessional cronies.

  20. Aronsohnize

    New Normal = If you disagree with me you are against me and

    Transparency = Don’t ask what Im doing. I know better whats
    right for my agenda

    Raise the Bar= The bar is for the resident,no me.

    Moving forward= Don’t look back at what I have done or said
    and how many people I vilified

  21. Anonymous:

    What is so discouraging is the idea that being the Mayor of Ridgewood is the best he can ever hope for. I mean, I hope he does not go any further politically, but on the other hand this makes it seem that the Mayor of Ridgewood is a lowly office. We citizens deserve much, much better than our current mayor and his two unprofessional cronies.

    1. I agree with you 100%

    2. I cannot make the entire world a better place – at best I can hope to make my corner of it a little better. If this means that the only way to be rid of Aronsohn is to have him advance politically – then so be it. Let him be the governor of Arkansas for all i care… just get out of here.

  22. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone #21 but id he does go it should be a clean sweep and take his other 2 with him.

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