Another update on my Lorax story. Bergenfield is getting more interesting by the minute. Now I understand the Chinese curse – “May you live in interesting times.”
At this moment, residents who have been writing letters in the newspaper opposing the destruction of Whittaker Park by the PAL under the direction of Councilman Gillman, have been subject to “visits” from the police department and also threatening phone calls. Fortunately, us Bergenfield types don’t scare easy.
Phil Stark – a retired construction worker who knows building codes and who has come to council meetings and written letters in opposition to the PAL project was “visited” by policemen to intimidate him into keeping quiet. The two residents against the project Norman Schmelz and John Smith who are running for office in town have been getting threats also.
The first few meetings the town historian came out in opposition because it was too close to a historic cemetary. Rumor has it that that historian was threatened with not getting money for another site in town if he spoke up against the project again.
Like I said – good folks being threatened to keep them silent.
The Mayor – Tim Driscoll who I have written about in the past favorably, just lost all my respect in this whole story. I know he was the victim of forgery during the Weinberg Zisa fight, but because he believes all the opposition to this project was something cooked up by his nemesis Kevin Clancy, he thinks Gillman – who is the villain in this particular story – is the victim.
I am sorry. but I was there 7 years ago. I know what went down because I blogged the whole sordid tale, and this PAL project has absolutely NOTHING to do with the forgery story.
The fact is Clancy used the negative publicity against Gillman only after MONTHS of Gillman being hammered by average citizens – including me. I was at EVERY council meeting. Every single one.
To complicate the story to the detriment of the honest folks who were rightly outraged that Gillman ordered Green Acres land destroyed and trees cut before a public hearing to rezone it, Clancy’s wife Elaine Rabbitt just filed another lawsuit related to the forgery trial against Driscoll and Gillman.
Clancy has also filed ethics complaints and a criminal complaint against Gillman for good measure based on a lot of this – which may be revenge for Gillman’s wife testifying against Rabbitt, but may have some merit, based on the use of Borough Employees to do the bidding of the PAL before the tree cutting was approved by the Council.
So now Driscoll really thinks this was all Clancy’s doing to stir up the pot.
Last time I checked, Clancy wasn’t head of the PAL and did not give the order to cut the trees down.
If Clancy – the Democratic Municipal Chair who hates Gillman did not use the debacle for political advantage when half the town was coming to every meeting (and would have brought pitchforks with them if they could have) against his nemesis, it would have been political malpractice.
The problem is the newspaper is conflating the two storylines now. Gillman’s wife may have been the victim 7 years ago and the lawsuit against her now may be frivolous – but Councilman Gillman violated the flood hazard act and violated residents civil rights and they are pissed off about it.
Being a victim 7 years ago, does not make you above the law now. The Mayor has such an affection for Gillman that it is clouding his judgment regarding Gillman. I also get the feeling he doesn’t care at all about trees or flooding.
Now the Mayor and his supporters in town are blaming ME for Gillman losing the primary by 11 votes. He just demanded a recount. Councilman Lodato – his running mate who showed some actual class and compassion for the residents near Whittaker Park won with the most votes. Which should tell you it had nothing to do with me or Clancy – who put up two challengers. It had to do with Councilman Gillman’s own actions that he needs to take responsiblity for.
At the last council meeting I brought up this chart:
http://www.reedconstructiondat… Gillman got very defensive and starting putting down both me and my uncle who basically told them that based on the actual estimates of cost to build by the standard used in the construction industry – they only budgeted less than $20 per square foot for the building. If you look at my chart – a 2 story building in the NY area costs $231 per sf. That means that the PAL has less than ONE TENTH the money they need to build what they expect to build. And Gillman was ready to break ground. The PAL and the Community Center Building Committee have been telling the town that this building will not cost the taxpayers anything. The fact is the building will be 15,000 sf and the town will pay the utility costs in addition – probably the cost to finish it too.
Gillman’s head about exploded when I handed out a copy of the chart to every Councilmember with the $231 figure circled in red. The Mayor and Gillman then proceeded to make it seem as if I pulled the number out of thin air. The timing was amazing. The first comments Councilman Lodato made at the meeting before I pulled out my chart (made into a show and tell 24 x 36 poster) was that he wanted to see the numbers. How much was this all going to cost – and Gillman had no numbers to give him. Which is why Gillman freaked out and started really being a bully when my uncle the architect who knows construction (he was Vice President of Design for Hartz Mountain) started rattling off the exact costs for the amount of concrete needed. Gillman then started to belittle my uncle and his experience – telling him he knew who he was he didn’t have to start throwing around his credentials again. My uncle also started to explain the types of heavy duty construction equipment needed to erect the thing. This was no dads with beers and a little plumbing know-how weekend project. You needed actual trained contractors to construct this thing.
If Mayor Driscoll had good intentions and good will when he took office to clean up politics in Bergenfield, he has now lost all that goodwill to protect his friend Robert Gillman, who may have been a good guy once apon a time but is now despised by a goodly chunk of the electorate in Bergenfield and a kid who grew up there – me. I find that incredibly sad. What is even sadder is being lobbied by friends of mine who used to be Real Bergen Dems who want me to lay off Gillman and want me to pipe down – even though they have not been to a single council meeting and have not listened to any of the flooded residents along Mezler’s Creek.
Here are my first two diaries on this topic.