It was, to quote the folk-rock band Dawes, a little bit of everything. It was the proclamation for the local boys’ soccer team, a parking ordinance, a demonstration of silence from a mayoral candidate, and a presentation of improvements to the township’s public-record Web site – all spread out over, first, a conference meeting, and then a regular meeting. Such was the Bloomfield Township Council’s activity on August 15.
The Bloomfield Township Council
The regular meeting found Mayor Michael Venezia taking care of standard business, such as unanimously passing a first-reading ordinance to prohibit parking on Locust Avenue from 7:30 A.M. to 9:00 and from 3:00 to 4:00 P.M. near Watsessing School to ensure the safety of children who walk to school, unanimously passing a resolution to purchases two new cab-and-chassis trucks with twelve-foot rubbish bodies, snowplows, and tailgate spreaders, and approving new appointments to the Bloomfield Fire Department. Mayor Venezia also swore in Fred Mamay as a new captain of the Bloomfield Fire Department, with many members of the department in attendance, as well as Captin Mamay’s family. The council also passed proclamations honoring the Bloomfield Cheetah Thunder boys’ soccer team for its wins over the state cup champions of Virginia, West Virginia, and eastern Pennsylvania and for becoming one of the top two national finalists for the United States Youth Soccer National Championship in Tulsa (though they lost, 2-1) and honoring Bloomfield resident Leroy Q. Davidson, who was killed in a plane crash while serving in the Army Air Corps in 1943. A sign honoring Davidson will be installed over a street sign at Clark Avenue.
Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia (center) swears in Fred Mamay as a new fire department captain, with council members and Mamay’s family looking on.
During public comment Republican mayoral candidate Dave Tucker charged Mayor Venezia and his Line A ticket mates on the June primary election ballot with illegally posting signs up and down the streets near polling places, and he noted that the Department of Public Works had to spend $600 to remove them. He wanted to ask if taxpayers would be reimbursed, but Mayor Venezia, admitting no wrongdoing, said that public comment was not a question-and-answer session, and Tucker asked how much time he had left. Township Clerk Louise Palagano told him he had exactly four minutes and 12 seconds . . . and that was exactly how Tucker spent his time at the podium in silence, thumbing though his copy of the agenda, before yielding.
Rich Galioto started talking about how the council voted in 2013 to dissociate itself from Birdsall Services Group, an engineering firm that had been indicted for making illegal political contributions, and then he turned to the January 2016 indictment of First Ward Councilman Elias Chalet. “I didn’t hear Councilman [Nicholas] Joanow try to sever ties with his colleague,” Galioto said. Do we live in a double standard?” Galioto said. “If you’re going to do a full front, you should be consistent.” He also complained about the “animals out there” – not stray cats or wild deer, but people who attack police officers. Specifically, he called for the community to be more supportive of the police, and he apologized for not being politically correct with his language.
Following Galioto was Steve DiMarzo, who suggested that there should be a prayer starting off at least one council meeting once a month to “help remind us of our greater duty.” He asked about a bridge by Clark’s Pond – “I think it’s at the end of Dewey Street,” he recalled – that is used by schoolchildren. Mayor Venezia, knowing which bridge DiMarzo meant, said there was a delay in fixing the bridge due to the need for a permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection. DiMarzo also said that the incident of Donald Trump supporter Peter Yankowski being assaulted outside Friendly’s should be seen as a hate crime, but the mayor reminded him that both Yankowski and the man who assaulted had hurled slurs against each other. DiMarzo made it clear that he was not saying that he was either for or against Trump.
In the conference meeting, Township Administrator Matthew U. Watkins asked for a renewal of the township’s energy aggregation program, saying it saved over $100,000 in energy costs for Bloomfield residents and represented a 2 percent decrease in the current rate for those participate in the program, equal to 6 percent less than what PSE&G was expected to charge. The council approved the renewal. Also, Councilwoman-at-Large Wartyna Davis updated the council on community conversations about community policing. She said she was “heartened” by community participation and their suggestions of what needed to be done and asking questions. Dr. Davis said that the next step would be to have a follow-up to foster more conversations with panels and community stakeholders on each panel.
Bloomfield Township intern Maria Hurtado explains improvements to the town’s public-records site to the council.
Also, intern Maria Hurtado gave an overview of improvements to Bloomfield’s public-record web site (http://publicrecord.bloomfieldtwpnj.com/) to make it easier to find public records, file Open Public Records Act requests, and research adopted ordinances and resolutions. Dr. Davis, a political scientist, was pleased, saying the improvements made municipal legislation more accessible and the mayor and council more accountable to the people.