During the public comment portion of Tuesday evening's meeting of the Westfield Town Council, resident Greg Kasko began by noting that his speaking time at the last meeting was cut short leaving him unable to thank Council members Keith Loughlin, Mark LoGrippo, Vicki Kimmins and David Haas for treating him with "decorum."
Kasko, who regularly attends Town Council meetings to question not only the midblock location of the pedestrian-activated HAWK light on Central Avenue but also to ask how the light ended up at that location, has had his credibility called into question by both Town Administrator Jim Gildea and Mayor Andrew Skibitsky in recent months.
On more than one occasion, Gildea has referred to Kasko as “a disgraced former police officer.”
“Half the things you say aren’t true,” Skibitsky told Kasko at the meeting held on Sept. 18. “Don’t you have any conscience?”
Wearing a black t-shirt that displayed the address of his website, The Fact of the Matter, Kasko addressed the Council, minus Skibitsky, whom Acting Mayor JoAnn Neylan said was stuck in traffic on his way home from a business trip, and LoGrippo.
"Town Administator Jim Gildea claims that I have no credibility with him or this Town Council," he said. "I am not interested in his opinion, I am interested in facts, as, Mayor, you should be, with facts."
Kasko then said when he presented a letter from the State Comptroller's office that contradicted a quote from Gildea, is it Gildea's credibility that should be questioned and not his own.
"He attacks the messenger in order to evade the message," Kasko said. "Mayor Skibitsky said the town is fortunate not to have me as a police officer since my retirement. It would seem that the mayor overlooks my entire career as a police officer before I made a complaint against his then-Chief of Police Bernard Tracy. It would then seem that he ignores the protection the law gives to what has been designated as the whistleblower."
Kasko continued by saying "Mayor Skibitsky's police department is so taken" with his credibility that a 30-plus-point questionnaire was created to determine, which, if any, officers had had contact with him and could have given him information that appears on his website. Every police officer and civilian employee of the Westfield Police Department was required to fill it out and sign it, he said.
"The questionnaire was worthy of Senator McCarthy and resulted in nothing except the reprimand of a police officer who had the misfortune to copy that questionnaire. The investigation was a waste of taxpayer money that funded it," he said.
Kasko said the town is so taken with his lack of credibility "that it leaned on its friends at the Union County Prosecutor's Office" to have him subpoenaed to divulge the sources of information for the content that appears on his website. Kasko said attorney John Blake, who has also appeared at past council meetings, "used his influence with the American Civil Liberties Union to obtain a withdrawal of that subpoena." Kasko offered to produce the letter that states as much and referred to the subpoenaing as another waste of taxpayer money.
Kasko went on to discuss safety and the HAWK light, saying that he has brought accident reports with him to council meetings to prove that accidents did not occur where the Town of Westfield's report said they did.
"Mayor Skibitsky keeps saying that the Town did not put the light on Central in front of Mrs. Enculescu's home. Yet the County Freeholders and the County Engineer have specifically stated that the Town of Westfield requested the location of the light midblock. When the County told the Town that its engineer's location of the light did not comply with the rules set forth in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, this council had the ability to relent and move the light back to the corner of Central and Clover. This council insisted that it be placed midblock," he said.
After stating that he has a copy of the letter sent from the county engineer to Enculescu, Kasko said, for the second time, "This is a fact on which the mayor's credibility will be judged, not mine."
Kasko said he intends to continue to come before the council with facts and figures and if the mayor can't disprove those facts, that is no reflection of Kasko's credibility.
"The mayor's opinion or any other opinion concerning my credibility is irrelevant unless you prove my facts to be wrong," Kasko said. "Please remember that at one time, the official teachings were that the world was flat and the Earth was the center of the universe. At the time, the Pope had declared Galileo a heretic and excommunicated him. Mayor Skibitsky has accused me at the last Town Council meeting of giving a revisionist version of history. I believe, in the mayor's opinion, the pope would still be right and Galileo a heretic."