This opinion piece is about the Proposed Changes to the Englewood Cliffs Master Plan to allow hi-rises on the Palisades north of the George Washington Bridge and east of 9W that will destroy the Palisades views from absolutely everywhere. The hearing is supposed to be April 30 at 7:30 pm at 143 Charlotte Place in Englewood Cliffs even though the Borough as of Saturday refused to include it on their Borough Calendar. This article is cross-posted at my column at Epoch Times.
A friend involved in NJ politics always tells me, when it comes to political corruption, if you want to stop a strategy – expose the strategy. Her father made a living turning over rocks in NJ and fighting whatever corrupt mobsters were under them – often at great risk to himself. Another NJ Councilwoman I know had a grandfather who became famous for cleaning up the Hudson County waterfront from something out of a gritty Marlon Brando movie into the respectable and expensive “Gold Coast” it is now.
These things were hard, even dangerous, but the results speak for themselves. Sunshine on the problems we faced then was the best disinfectant and led to the laws we now have in NJ that have improved quality of life for residents: the Open Public Meetings Act and the Open Public Records Act. These laws were championed by former Senator Byron Baer of Bergen County. Baer preceeded Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who now co-chairs the Bridgegate Legislative Committee.
Far to go
Despite these laws, we have a ways to go. When elected officials choose to keep residents in the dark, restrict access to their actions and intent from the press, and blatantly ignore the Open Public Records and Meetings laws, we lose that tenuous grip on our democracy. As Benjamin Franklin said when asked if we had a monarchy or a republic, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Democracy demands constant vigilance. I often felt, while we were fighting corruption in Bergen County, that it was like babysitting a strong-willed 2 year old. You need to follow them everywhere, they want what they want, and there is no telling what they will get into next. And when they are quiet – that’s when you really have to hunt them down to see what they are up to. (Ryan Lizza’s Bridgegate article in the New Yorker explains Loretta Weinberg’s description of raising teenagers who would hide their parties, but leave the telltale beer cans behind.)