To those that still check this website for any rare updates, I would like to wish EVERYONE a happy and healthy new year. Many people are asking me why this website is no longer updated regularly. There will be an article coming up in the future explaining why I am no longer active in any advocacy of ANY sorts. I am not "burnt out", I have not been threatened, I am not worried about shidduchim for my children, nor have I been paid off to keep silent. Suffice it to say that we are at a point where repairing the problems in Lakewood is highly unlikely. There is a litany of issues, and players with conflicts of interest that are destroying our town. Until now I felt that shining a light on these problems could be beneficial in resolving them, but there is only so much I can do.
I would like to thank all those that supported my efforts until now. I am in the process of writing what is becoming a novel about the inner (non) workings of Lakewood politics. Until that is completed, all I can say is we really need to pray for a good year.
A controversial electronic billboard along the Margate Causeway could be demolished by December, following a judge’s order that it be torn down.
Superior Court Judge Julio J. Mendez on Aug. 23 ordered the owners of the billboard to file a demolition plan within 45 days, with the teardown happening 60 days later. Mendez’s order became public Wednesday.
Richard Levitt, a Northfield resident who challenged the billboard when its brilliant glare made sleeping difficult for him and his wife, said he was glad.
“Well, we’re obviously thrilled,” Levitt said. “We knew from the beginning it was constructed illegally, and now we are on the path to having the right thing done.”
His attorney, Stephen Hankin, described the potential demolition as “a major victory for the public.”
“You have no idea of the scores of calls I have gotten from people I haven’t heard from in years” who wanted the billboard gone, Hankin said.
Chet Atkins, president of billboard owner Jersey Outdoor Media, said, “The only thing I really have to say is it’s not over until it’s over.” He declined to say whether he had filed or planned to file an appeal.
His attorney, Peter Boyer, said he had seen the order but declined comment because he had not talked with his client. Boyer also would not comment on plans to appeal.
At issue is a 50-foot-tall electronic billboard approved by the Egg Harbor Township Planning Board in September 2011 and built on the causeway in early 2012. It operated for only two months before legal challenges pulled the plug by June 1, 2012.
The state Department of Environmental Protection found that wetlands had been improperly filled in to put up the billboard. The application was refiled and subsequent township Planning Board hearings reauthorized the billboard, but it remained dark.
Mendez’s ruling last week was a victory for the people who opposed putting up the billboard, but it was also a sharp rebuke to the township’s Planning Board.
Mendez ruled the board authorized the proposal without two key variances from the township’s Zoning Board, improperly mixed business and commercial zones, and ignored the clear intent of the relevant billboard ordinance.
Levitt, who chairs Northfield’s Planning Board, called on Egg Harbor Township leaders to step in.
“I would just hope at this point the township takes a responsible look at what the citizens of adjoining towns are asking them,” Levitt said. “I hope they are willing to listen to the public at this point.”
Do cities gain from subsidizing sports teams?
The National Hockey League season doesn't start for another three weeks, but already hockey fans in Glendale, Ariz., are counting an unexpected victory. Four years after the Phoenix Coyotes went bankrupt and were taken over by the league, prompting endless rumors that the struggling franchise would relocate to Quebec, Seattle or parts unknown, new owners were approved this month who have promised to keep the team in Arizona.
It's a victory, though, that will come at a high price. To secure the sale, the Glendale city council agreed to a new lease that requires the city to pay the Coyotes' owners $15 million a year as an "arena management fee." If the deal runs its full 15-year course — not a given, because the new lease allows the team to leave town if it’s losing money after five years — the Coyotes' new owners, a pair of Canadian investment bankers, will end up collecting more from the city of Glendale to run the team than the $170 million they're spending to buy it in the first place.
City officials say they had little choice. Glendale mayor Jerry Weiers, who in his acceptance speech last fall warned the Coyotes, "Glendale is not your cash register," has now resigned himself to paying for pro sports, saying, "The council made its decision, and my job at this point is to do everything in my power to make this thing a success." His predecessor, Elaine Scruggs, insisted that paying the Coyotes was cheaper than letting the team leave: "What shall we do — lock it up, turn off the lights and then pay the debt on the arena?"
The answer, say many economists and sports business experts, is very likely yes. There's no way a city like Glendale will see enough of a boost to its local economy to make lease subsidies pay off. And, they warn, the Coyotes deal is a sign of a new trend in the sports industry: After a 20-year period during which, according to Harvard researcher Judith Grant Long, about $18 billion in public money was spent on a wave of new stadiums and arenas, team owners looking for a leg up on their competition are now demanding additional cash to run the buildings they got for free.
"They always do come up with clever little tricks," says Rick Eckstein, sociology professor at Villanova University and co-author of the book Public Dollars, Private Stadiums. "Just when we think we’ve seen it all, they come up with something else."
This summer's new lease isn't the first time that Glendale has anted up public cash for its hockey team. The suburb of 230,000 people was already on the hook for $9 million a year in debt payments on its new arena, a building for which the team's owners paid only $1 a year in rent. (Glendale also spent $200 million on Camelback Ranch, a spring-training baseball facility for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.) In 2010, after the Coyotes' bankruptcy, Scruggs poured in an additional $50 million in management fees over two years, raiding its landfill, sanitation, water and sewer funds to raise the cash.
The result of all this sports spending has been a massive hit to the city's budget at a time when Glendale was already furloughing firefighters, closing public pools and shortening public libraries' hours. Last month's Coyotes lease subsidy came shortly after the Glendale council discussed a proposal to sell off its city hall to help pay for the previous round of Coyotes payments.
"Our police and fire departments were the first ones that started seeing their budget cut back," says Ken Jones, a Glendale resident who led several unsuccessful attempts to force a public vote that could have overturned the Coyotes lease deal. "Libraries were hit pretty hard. They raised our water bills 80 percent, our sales tax was raised, and our property tax was raised. They have robbed the things that people really expect to get from their taxes in order to keep supporting sports."
The first sports team owner to cash in on this pay-to-play tactic was the New Orleans Saints' Tom Benson, who in 2001 capitalized on rumors that he was considering moving his NFL team to convince the state of Louisiana to pay him $186.5 million over the next 10 years to keep playing at the Superdome. In 2010, the owners of the Indiana Pacers basketball team followed suit by demanding — and receiving — $30 million in "operating subsidies" over three years to remain at Conseco Fieldhouse, the arena that the city of Indianapolis had spent $183 million to build nine years earlier. (As in Glendale, Pacers owner Herb Simon, a billionaire real estate developer, paid just $1 a year rent.)
To pay off the initial Pacers arena cost — plus the $650 million that it sank into a new stadium for the Colts football team — Indianapolis' Capital Improvement Board had already cut off all of its arts and tourism grants the year before. To help fill the new gap, Mayor Greg Ballard funneled city property-tax revenues to the board, even as he asked city agencies to reduce library hours and close public pools because of budget shortfalls.
"Indianapolis might be a great place to visit, but it should be a better place to live," says Pat Andrews, a longtime Indianapolis community activist and blogger who has closely followed the Pacers deal. In addition to cuts to parks, transit and other services, she notes, the city police force has stopped recruiting new officers because of budget cuts, and murders have risen dramatically this year. "The basic services of the city are suffering at the same time the Simons and [Colts owner Jim] Irsay are making out like bandits."
Simon, meanwhile, agreed only to keep the Pacers in town through 2013 in exchange for his $30 million in cash. The city's Capital Improvement Board has since negotiated a one-year lease extension — along with yet another $10 million in payments to the Pacers — while it works out a long-term deal, one that Andrews worries will cement annual operating subsidies in place for good. (CIB officials declined to comment for this story.)
Even team owners building new stadiums have begun seeking annual operating subsidies.Earlier this year, when Atlanta agreed to provide billionaire Atlanta Falcons owner (and Home Depot founder) Arthur Blank with $200 million in hotel tax money to help pay for a new stadium to replace the 20-year-old Georgia Dome, it tacked on an additional bonus: Any leftover hotel tax money after the first $200 million would spill over into a so-called waterfall fund that Blank could then tap for any future maintenance or operating expenses. Estimated cost: an extra $300 million.
In an effort to be transparent the Lakewood BOE attorney responds to Mr. Inzelbuch claims posted on the scoop.
Below is the Lakewood Board of Education's official response, to the article that appeared on the Lakewood Scoop.
It was sent to TLS, yet Lazer Hasenfeld, owner and editor of that website REFUSED to post it or acknowledge it altogether.
Instead suggested that the BOE debate MI on these issues.
The public has a right to know that TLS is feeding them pure propaganda.
PRESS RELEASE FROM
LAKEWOOD BOARD OF EDUCATION
On August 8, 2013, an article that appeared on the Lakewood Scoop website entitled, “Following Multiple Lawsuits, School District to Approve Services for 17 Special Needs Children”.
The Lakewood Board of Education wishes to set the record straight because that article (which still appears on the site) is filled with misinformation, exaggerations and gross distortions of the truth. First, the “victory” to which the article refers involved a preliminary decision by an Administrative Law Judge that a preschool student should be educated, for the time being, in the program identified in his Individualized Education Plan, rather than in a different school during the ensuing litigation. While the article refers to a “victory” for the parents, the case is by no means over despite the suggestion in the article to the contrary. In fact, the case has not even been scheduled for trial. Moreover, the only reason that the District was proposing a different placement for the child was solely because the Department of Education, through the County Office, directed that the District no longer place students in that unapproved school.
The article also states that since that decision there have been countless lawsuits filed on behalf of classified and non-classified students in Lakewood. While it is true that the District is embroiled in a significant amount of litigation with these students, all of whom are represented by Mr. Inzelbuch, the fact remains that the District’s arguments have not been “categorically rejected.” In fact, no final decision has been rendered in any of those cases –most of which have not even gone to a trial on the merits. The suggestion that the District has lost those cases is patently false. Finally, the article states that there is a “change of direction on the horizon” for the Board because seventeen (17) students were approved at its August 9, 2013 meeting for placements in unapproved and sectarian programs. However, if the author had read the agenda item carefully, he/she would have seen that the Board was reapproving students in their current placements. Therefore, the Board of Education was simply ratifying and continuing the placements of the students listed on the agenda, which were made by the Board and/or Child Study team in prior years. In short, the Board of Education’s most valuable asset is its children, both public and non-public students alike. The Board is deeply committed to providing all children with the highest quality education possible in the appropriate setting. For the author to suggest otherwise is disingenuous, self-serving and insulting.
Lakewood is world famous! Not for its rural beauty. Not worth its stellar institutions of learning. Not for its mix of cultures. Not for its special businesses. It is famous for its Tent City. In this must see video you will see how a couple from Holland cope with living in Tent City for a reality TV show.
To the right to the left.
This singular line sends shudders down the spine of every living Jewish man and woman. "The selection" process of yimach shmoSS-Hauptsturmführer Joseph Mengele personifies perhaps the most barbaric and inhumane period in our long and storied journey through golus. If you appeared strong you lived, weak straight to the gas chambers, if you were privileged, subjected to an experiment.
Outward appearance dictated fate.
There is a strong and poignant lesson we can learn from this. Are we as a community in a subtle yet similar vein guilty of this same approach? The torah teaches us in the parshaof egla arufa "yadeinu lo shofchu es hadam hazeh" and chazal teach us to examine whether we did anything that may have assisted and possibly caused the calamity. Lo potarnu blo levaya and see Rashi there who elaborates. Are we student of “left and right”? Are we judging and condemning young and innocent eighth graders to a "selection" process based upon the criteria of what looks good for my school and not the essence of her true neshama?
"To the right to the left."
Did we do everything in our power not to alienate these bnos yisroel and setting them on a path of destruction because of our refusal to accept them in our community schools? Are we confident heading into a yom hadin to face our creator and ask him to judge us favorably and not look at our sins and condemn uslamoves? We seem to be very proud of our 11th hour ability to make sure that all girls are accepted into schools at the beginning of the school year. We pat ourselves on the back for a job well done once again. ”We did it!” Every girl has a place in school! Amazing! "Mi keamcha Yisroel!"
Yet the public school system manages to function without practicing "to the right to the left" and manages to place every child in school without the hypocrisy of the 11th hour “heroics.” Mi keamcha Yisroel indeed.
Yadeinu shafchu es hadam hazeh! By the time the innocent “11th hour girl” is “placed” the damage is already done. We have alienated, lost, and "killed" the soul of a bas Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel v’Leah. We pat ourselves on the back, "Mi keamcha Yisroel!" They suffer humiliation at the hand of a system run by ruthless mechanchim who judged them and sent them to the left: a system that these innocent souls can no longer believe in.
Yadeinu shafchu es hadam hazeh.
Written by a Lakewood mechanech and parent afraid to identify himself out of fear of retaliation against his children.
Rockland County, NY - Over one hundred angry residents held a rally calling for a “regime change” outside the Ramapo Town Hall on Tuesday before storming a scheduled Planning Board meeting where they planned to voice their opposition to the “political favoritism” they say is ruining their town.
LOHUD.com (http://lohud.us/1cvhcVN) reports that many protesters held signs dedicated to the town’s latest hot-button issue, the granting of a temporary permit to the ultra-Orthodox congregation Mosdos Sanz Klausenburg to operate a yeshiva out of a single-family residence on Eckerson Lane.
“People are just fed up,” said 40 year-old activist Michael Miller, who is leading the charge against the Eckerson Lane yeshiva. “They are fed up with the obvious corruption in this community and the favoritism and mistreatment.”
The bulk of the protesters’ ire was directed at Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and his perceived favoritism towards the rapidly-growing ultra-Orthodox community on decisions involving land use and development—-opposition ultra-Orthodox leaders often claim is religion-based, but which opponents in attendance denied.
Video Below: A large crowd turns out to protest political corruption and favoritism given to the ultra-orthodox Jewish community at Ramapo Town Hall. ( Video by Peter Carr/The Journal News courtesy to VINnews.com)
“I don’t care what your religion is,” said the Rev. Weldon McWilliams IV of the activist group Wake Up Rockland, “If your value system is to exploit the community, I want you out of the way. This has nothing to do with religion.”
Following the rally, protesters filed into the Town Hall to voice their opposition on the Eckerson Lane yeshiva, only to see their hopes dashed when the topic was tabled by the Planning Board at the “congregation’s request.”
Activists reaffirmed their commitment to return in “full force” at any future meetings on the matter.
“This town, it’s in bad shape,” said Michael Miller. “And we can’t go back to where we were. But if we don’t do something, it’s only going to get worse.
man hired as a corporate lawyer has filed suit in state court claiming that he was subjected to a hostile work environment because of his military-service obligations.
Stephen Schwartz is suing a number of entities all run by the same Lakewood-based management office where, according to the lawsuit, he was hired under a two-year contract to serve as an attorney. The named defendants in the suit, filed Monday in state Superior Court in Paterson
, are Oorah Inc., Kars 4 Kids and J.O.Y. For Our Youth.
Other than characterizing them as corporations conducting business within the state of New Jersey, the suit does not describe the function of any of the named entities, nor would the plaintiff's attorney explain when reached by phone what kind of work they do.
Schwartz is suing the defendants under New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination for harassment, discriminatory discharge, retaliation and breach of contract. He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, along with attorney fees.
Schwartz was hired in September 2012 in a two-year contract "only terminable upon showing of good cause," the suit states. At all times during his employment, he was in the U.S. military service. In October 2012, the suit states, Schwartz advised the defendants' director of human resources of his status in the National Guard and his need for leave. He further told his human resources director that he would withdraw from his military enrollment if the defendants provided him with health care coverage, according to the suit.
The human resources director, the suit states, advised Schwartz that "we can't tell the CEO you're in the Army. He'll think it's disloyal. He'll be upset you didn't tell him in the interview." The human resources director further advised him that she would rather that he continue to take time off than to provide him with health insurance, but that they would revisit the issue in April 2013, the suit states.
It is unclear from the suit specifically how much time he needed for leave, and how periodically.
In April, Schwartz was called into a meeting with company CEO Alwyn Gordon and human resources Director Dina Stern. "Mr. Gordon stated to plaintiff that the defendants would have never hired plaintiff if they had known of his military service. Throughout the meeting, Mr. Gordon spoke to the plaintiff in an aggressive and degrading fashion. … Thereafter, plaintiff was treated in a hostile, intimidating and abusive fashion."
On June 25, the suit states, Gordon presented Schwartz with a paper agreement that his contract was to be terminated. Schwartz refused to sign the agreement because it removed the guaranteed time from his initial contract and essentially made him an employee at-will, the suit states.
"Plaintiff was sent home on June 27, 2013. Plaintiff has not been returned to work since June 27, 2013. Plaintiff has been terminated from his employment with defendants. A determinative and/or motivating factor in the plaintiff's discharge was his military status."
Read more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/219084461_Clifton_man_sues_over_Guard_duty.html#sthash.2LZiVBi3.dpuf
In this Week's Mishpacha magazine there is a long article about the benefits of having Farmer's Markets in a community. Benefits that our out of touch, and uninformed, Senator Singer, and his proteges, did not understand when they stopped a new Farmer's Market from opening in Lakewood's downtown on Sunday mornings.
Growing up in spanking-new suburban housing, my family didn’t live far from local farmlands. My mother used to drive us to a nearby farm stand named Styer’s, where freshly picked fruits and vegetables lay heaped in bins and the plank floors were strewn with straw and caked mud. I still remember how in the summer the backseat would be loaded with bags of sweet corn, blushing peaches, and juicy tomatoes; the fall harvest brought pumpkins, crisp apples, and fragrant pears.
Nowadays I buy my produce in the supermarket, but the results are often disappointing. My husband complains the grapes are tasteless and the peaches degenerate with frightening rapidity from rock-hard to bruised mush. But what should I expect? As Barbara Kingsolver notes in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, “The average food item on aUS grocery shelf has traveled farther than most families go on their annual vacation.” Her husband, Stephen Hopp, quantifies this more precisely: Each item travels an average of 1,500 miles.
Director Jack Ballo Discussing His Film
Destiny's Bridge, a documentary about Lakewood,s Tent City premiered last night at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. The film focused on the efforts of Minister Steve Brigham to build a campus for the homeless in Ocean County to help rebuild their lives. It focused solely on the challenges that the homeless camp faces. After the film there was Question and answer session with the lawyer for tent city discussing the legal battles ahead to make sure adequate housing is provided for the residents. Jack Ballo discussed the need for politicians to take a lead in providing shelter for the homeless. Mayor Akerman was interviewed in the film discussing his efforts to solve the housing crisis for tent city residents.